Salmon Falls Sawmill Petition – 1797

By Muriel Bristol | January 16, 2022

Twenty-four inhabitants of Wakefield, Rochester, and Dover, NH, and some from Massachusetts, in 1797 petitioned the NH General Court (its House and Senate in joint session) in hopes of keeping the Salmon Falls River clear between Wakefield and what would be Milton Mills through to what would be Milton Three Ponds.

To the Honorable General Court of New Hampshire convened at Concord in said State the 25th day of Decr in June in the Year of our Lord 1797 ~

The petition of the subscribers, Inhabitants of Wakefield, Rochester & Dover in said State with others, Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, humbly sheweth that whereas that part of Salmon fall River above the three ponds so called as far up as the mills is found to be of great benefit for transporting of timber boards & slit stuff from said mills by water a considerable ways towards the market, the length of the river from the mills to & across the said three ponds & whereas said part of the river is often times obstructed by mill logs & stuff thrown into & left in it by careless or designing men so that there is no transporting of timber or boards that way to the great damage of your Petitioners ~ therefore, the prayer of the Petition is that an act pass the General Court prohibiting any Obstructions being made by any person or persons in the said part of said river to hinder a free tranportn down the river to & across the said ponds, that through the Season of the Year for transporting by water, from the first day of May to the last of November. The priviledge we pray for we consider as a public priviledge & trust that the honorable Court will take the matter into consideration & in their wisdom make such Order as will be in our favor of the publick good, as in duty bound we shall ever pray ~

[Column 1:] Paul Jewett, Jona Palmer, Aaron Hubbard, Jonathan Gilman, Jeremiah Gilman, Charles Powers, Gershom Wentworth, Stephen Watson, Francis Hatch, Daniel Dore, Solomon Lowd, Jonathan Copp,

[Column 2:] Joseph Farnham, Avery Hall, Beard Plumer, Benjn Palmer, Levi Merrill, John Rollins, Zebulon Gilman, David Copp, Jno Manning, Sam Hall, Joseph Leavitt, Jeremiah Dearborn

Rochester, NH’s Northeast Parish would be split off to form the town of Milton in 1802. Petitioner Paul Jewett (1744-1835) would be appointed its first justice-of-the-peace. (His son, Gilman Jewett (1777-1856), would be its first town clerk).

Beard Plumer (1754-1816) was an early settler on Plummer’s Ridge in Milton, and would be a member of the town meetinghouse building committee, and a NH State Senator. (See also Milton Teacher of 1796-1805).

Daniel Dorr (1754-1831) settled at Miltonridge, i.e., Plummer’s Ridge. Gersom Wentworth would sign the Milton separation petition of 1802

Jonathan Palmer (1751-1841) was a son of Maj. Barnabas Palmer (1725-1816), and an elder brother of then Rep. William Palmer (1757-1815) (who would be one of Milton’s original selectmen). The elder brother moved from Rochester, NH, to Wakefield, NH, “when two or three families constituted the entire population, and when there was scarcely a dwelling between his own and the Canadas” (Portsmouth Journal, January 30, 1841).

Lt. Col. David Copp (1738-1817) of Wakefield, NH, was married to Margaret Palmer, daughter of Maj. Barnabas Palmer and sister of Jonathan and William Palmer. David Copp had a brother Jonathan (1731-1828) and a son Jonathan (1775-1858). Avery Hall received an appointment as a Wakefield, NH, justice-of-the-peace, September 15, 1801.

Zebulon Gilman, Jr. (1764-1838), Aaron Hubbard (1753-1814) and Dr. Charles Powers (1762-1844), all resided in Shapleigh, ME, apparently that western part that would become Acton, ME.

Solomon Lowd (1762-1840) resided in Lebanon, ME, in 1790, and Portsmouth, NH, in 1800. Stephen Watson (1762-1840) resided in Rochester, NH, in both 1790 and 1800.

State of New Hampshire } In the House of Representatives June 20th 1797

Upon reading and considering the foregoing petition voted, that the petitioners be heard thereon before the General Court on the Second Wednesday of the next Session and that the Petitioners Substance of the Petition and the Order of the Court thereon be published six weeks prior to said day of hearing in Bragg’s Sun a paper printed at Dover that any person or persons may then appear or shew cause, if any they have, why the prayer thereof may not be granted.

Sent up for Concurrence. Wm Plumer, Speaker.

In Senate the same Day Read & Concurred. Nathl Parker, Dey Sy

The petitioners spoke of their need to float their milled lumber from Wakefield and that part of Rochester that would soon be Milton Mills, down the Salmon Falls River to and across the Three Ponds, which was not the end destination, but only a “considerable way” to their market. They gave no indication in this document of how their lumber products might be transported further from there. (The Salmon Falls River below Milton Three Ponds was not considered navigable or, at least, not navigable by boat, and the railroad lay fifty years in the future).

The participation of petitioners from Rochester and Dover, NH, which are downstream from Three Ponds, and even from Massachusetts, suggests further “downstream” stages in this timber supply chain and perhaps even final destinations as far removed as Portsmouth, NH, and Boston, MA.

See also Milton Teacher of 1796-1805 and Northeast Parish in the Second (1800) Federal Census


Find a Grave. (2012, January 7). LTC David Copp. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2009, September 18). Daniel Dorr. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2013, August 14). Solomon Lowd. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2012, June 16). Col. Jonathan Palmer. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2021, November 8). Beard Plumer. Retrieved from

NH Department of State. (n.d.). New Hampshire, Government Petitions, 1700-1826: Box 35: 1797-1800

Wikipedia. (2021, December 23). Tragedy of the Commons. Retrieved from

Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: