Milton Road Weight Petition – 1816

By Muriel Bristol | March 13, 2022

Ten Milton men – the petition seemingly originated with them, – together with nine men from Farmington, six from Rochester, and four from Middleton, NH, petitioned the NH General Court for a weight-based road tax to be levied on two and four-wheeled carts, as well as regulations or requirements regarding the width of their wheel rims.

Details of this 1816 petition would seem to explain a bit more regarding the next link in the resource export chain sketched out by the Salmon Falls Sawmill petition of twenty years earlier. Milled lumber was then being floated down the Salmon Falls River and across Milton’s Three Ponds. (See Salmon Falls Sawmill Petition – 1797).

Here one may learn that locally milled lumber was loaded, as was local farm produce, onto two and four-wheeled carts or wagons carrying weights of between twelve hundred and thirty hundred pounds, and transported, judging by the habitations of the petitioners, from Farmington, Middleton, and Milton, then in through Rochester, and from there to points beyond. (Some of the sawmill petitioners of 1797 had been men from the more navigable Dover, NH, and the coastal ports of Portsmouth, NH, and even Boston, MA).

Thirty years earlier, in August 1785, petitioners Joshua Allen, Ichabod Hayes, William Jones, William Palmer, Joseph Plumer, and Joseph Walker had been among three hundred ten Rochester inhabitants that had petitioned the NH legislature for repeal of an act requiring milled boards to be square-edged and an inch thick (and other lumber in proportion). Those inhabitants described themselves then as being “largely Concerned in Lumber.” They sought also repeal of an act forbidding transport of lumber to the British West Indies (Hammond, 1884).

But the weight of those carts, exacerbated by too much weight on too-narrow wheels, was ruining the unpaved roads. The petitioners of 1816 proposed a schedule or system of weight-based taxes to supplement existing road taxes in maintaining roads. (The existing tax would seem to have been $1 for every $400-500 of value). Those with wider wheels would receive a remission or abatement of a part of their tax. They alluded to the already existing alternative of working off one’s taxes by performing town road work, at the rate of 75¢ per day. (Those would have been long, hard days).

To the Honorable the Senate and house of Representatives in General Court assembled ~

Respectfully shew,

The subscribers, citizens of Milton, Farmington & c., that living in a section of the country where much wheeling is done in transporting produce and lumber to market, they have witnessed the fatal effects of the narrow rimmed wheels to the roads over which they pass ~ that so fatal are those wheels to the roads, that notwithstanding the laws of the State are executed in assessing and collecting in some instances, the yearly tax of from four to five hundred dollars to each dollar of their proportion to the public taxes, for the repair of highways, those highways are for many months of the year nearly impassable, whereby the people are often much injured, besides being subject to prosecutions by way of information, indictments & c., which latter, from patriotic, or some other motives, often come upon us with no sparing hand ~ And that we are satisfied from long experience, that under existing laws, we never can have good and passable roads altho~ we are liable to exhaust our property in their repairs. Your petitioners therefore beg leave to call the attention of the Honorable Legislature to this subject, hoping that your wisdom will prescribe some salutary law that may effectually remedy an evil under which your petitioners, in common with thousands of others, have too long suffered ~

Your petitioners would beg leave to express their belief that a law expressing the principles hereinafter mentioned, with such others as may the Honorable Legislature may think expedient, would have the desired effect: To wit ~

That the owners of a two wheeled and cart used in transporting a weight, not exceeding thirty hundred, the rims of which shall be six inches wide on the face thereof, shall be have remitted out of his annual highway tax, the sum of two dollars ~ Those of eight inches, two dollars and one half ~ The owners of those carts having four wheels, for the purposes of transporting at one time thirty hundred weight, which wheels will be five inches on the face of them, shall have remitted two dollars ~ And those of six inches two dollars & fifty cents ~ That the owners of all carts having two wheels, whose rims are less than five inches on the face of them, used in transporting a weight at one time, not exceeding twelve hundred, at one time to be taxed two dollars yearly, which sum shall be laid out on the public highways at seventy-five cents for a day’s work ~ those having four wheels whose rims are less than four & three fourths of an inch on the face of the rims shall be taxed two dollars to be laid out as last aforesaid.

All of which is respectfully submitted ~

To the General Court of State of New Hampshire

[Column One:]

Of Farmington
Jeremiah Waldron, John Wingate Junr, Aaron Wingate, Joseph Jones Jr, Wm Barker, Nh Eastman, John Paine, James Davis, Benjamin Canney

Of Rochester
Joshua Allen, Jonathan Wingate, Jacob McDuffee, Leavitt Barker, Samuel Pray, Thomas McDuffee

[Column Two:]

[Of Milton]
Ichabod Hayes, Joseph Walker, James Roberts, Joseph Plumer, Isaac Scates, Levi Jones, Simon Chase, William Jones, Dodavah Palmer, Daniel Hayes

From Meddleton
Daniel Wingate, Joseph Goodwin, John Torr, Jona Buzzell

When such petitions were titled or summarized by legislative clerks, they would be characterized usually as the petition of this person, that person, and others. The persons signing at the top or, if there were multiple columns, at the top of the right-hand column, were often characterized as the “this person” and “that person” when titling. In this case, one might call this the petition of “Ichabod Hayes, Joseph Walker, and others.” It would seem that those initiating petitions usually signed in this position, and, in this case, the Milton signatures occupy that upper right-hand position. Additionally, the Milton signatures are the only ones not headed by a town label. One might suppose that they signed first. If so, the distinguishing location labels of Farmington, Rochester, and Middleton were needed only when the petition passed on to those other towns.

Milton petitioners Ichabod Hayes (1770-1830), Isaac Scates (b. 1785), and Levi Jones (1771-1847) were former selectmen. Petitioner Daniel Hayes [Jr.] (1759-1846) was the elder brother of petitioner Ichabod Hayes (1770-1830).

(Petitioners Aaron Wingate, Daniel Hayes [Jr.], and Jacob McDuffee, were subscribers at the Rochester Social Library Company (which had been established in 1792), as were Milton’s Levi Jones, Jotham Nute, Barnabas Palmer, Lt. William Palmer, Beard Plumer, and Joseph Walker (McDuffee, 1892). This private library remained active until about 1823, by which time it had acquired 400 volumes (McDuffee, 1892; NH State Librarian, 1892). (See also Milton Social Library – 1822)).

Petitioner Levi Jones was then Milton’s town clerk and its justice-of-the-peace in quorum. William Jones (1769-1845) was his elder brother. Joseph Plumer (1752-1821) was Levi Jones’s father-in-law and a brother-in-law of Farmington petitioner Aaron Wingate.

Petitioners Joseph Walker (1769-1850) and James Roberts (1783-1839) were two of Milton’s three then selectmen. (James Roberts would be appointed a Milton justice-of-the-peace in 1820).

Petitioner Dodavah Palmer (1794-1824), son of William Palmer, was a brother-in-law of Isaac Hayes (and a brother-in-law of Caleb Wingate).

On 10 March 1814 David [Farnham] sold lot #8, Middleton, NH, consisting of 100 acres, to William Palmer, for $5 and five annual mortgage payments of $255; in which David Farnham (likely his father) and Daniel Palmer were witnesses. On 20 Jan. 1817 David repurchased this land for $200 from Caleb Wingate and Dodavah Palmer of Milton, administrators [of] the estate of William Palmer, late of Milton, Esquire. Witnesses were James Roberts and Levi Jones (Farnham, 1999).

Petitioner Simon Chase (1786-1878) would move to Rochester in 1822. Simon Chase, Stephen Drew, and Joseph Walker would be among the thirteen men that in 1825 recommended Ebenezer D. Trickey (1799-1887) for appointment as a justice-of-the-peace for northwesterly Rochester, NH. (Trickey was so appointed July 1, 1826).

He [Simon Chase] removed to Rochester in 1822 and went into business, in company with Jonathan Torr. In 1825 he bought Torr’s interest in the business and built a new brick store. The same year he bought the house on Central Square which was his home until his death, which occurred January 31, 1878. His wife died June 14, 1870. Together with Charles Dennett and James C. Cole he was instrumental in building the first Methodist Church in Rochester, of which he was an active member (McDuffee, 1892).

Farmington petitioners Rev. Jeremiah Waldron, Esq. (1769-1851) and attorney Nehemiah Eastman (1782-1856) had been its NH state representatives in 1804-06 and 1813 respectively.

Squire Waldron, whose wife was Mary Scott, of Machias, Maine, lived in the northern part of the town where he built a handsome residence in 1812 (Mitchell-Cony, 1908) (Mitchell-Cony, 1908).

The titles “Squire” and “Esquire” indicate that Rev. Waldron was also a justice-of-the-peace. Petitioner Eastman would become a NH state senator (in 1821-25), a U.S. representative (in 1825-27), and president of the Strafford Agricultural Society (in 1829-30). His wife, Anstress (Woodbury) Eastman, gave a bible to a young Henry Wilson (1812-1875), who would eventually become Vice President of the United States (1873-75).

When he was eight years old Mrs. Eastman, wife of the Hon. Nehemiah Eastman and sister of the Hon. Levi Woodbury, gave him some clothes and promised to give him a Testament when he had read it through. Being anxious to have a book of his own, he read it through in seven days and passed a creditable examination. This little volume Mr. Wilson always kept, and asserted that the reading and the examination, with the encouragement given by the lady, constituted the starting-point of his intellectual life (Vermont Journal, November 27, 1875).

Petitioner Benjamin Canney (1772-1827) was married to Margaret Henderson, whose brother was married to a daughter of petitioner Thomas McDuffee (1784-1851).

… Benjamin Canney [(1772-1827)] was another early builder in the [Farmington] village (Mitchell-Cony, 1908). 

Petitioner Aaron Wingate (1744-1822) lived on the Chestnut Hill Road (Mitchell-Cony, 1908). He had been a Rochester selectman in 1783, an assessor in 1791, a NH state representative in 1792-95, Farmington’s first moderator in 1799 and was at this time a Strafford County Court of Common Pleas judge. (His wife, Elizabeth (Plumer) Wingate (1750-1841), was the elder sister of Milton petitioner Joseph Plumer (1752-1821)).

Petitioner Joseph Jones, Jr., Esq. (1779-1858) was a brother-in-law of petitioner Thomas McDuffee, having married in Rochester, NH, November 19, 1801, McDuffee’s older sister, Lydia McDuffee, he of Farmington, NH, and she of Rochester. He was a Farmington justice-of-the-peace. (She died in Farmington, NH, July 1, 1802).

Petitioner James Davis (1781-1861) was a farmer and stock raiser. He would be appointed a Farmington justice-of-the-peace, June 26, 1822. Petitioner John Wingate, Jr., would be appointed a Farmington justice-of-the-peace, June 13, 1818. When petitioner James Davis, Esq., moved to Somersworth, NH, John Wingate, Jr., recommended Job Varney in 1825 to cover the district of Farmington and Rochester at Chestnut Hill. (Nehemiah Eastman, Daniel Hayes, Hopley Meserve, and Jemmy Wingate recommended Varney also).

Rochester petitioner Dr. Samuel Pray (1769-1854) had practiced medicine in Rochester since 1792 and had been a founding member of the Strafford District Medical Society. (He had attended Milton militiaman Norton Scates when he was wounded in 1806).

Petitioner Col. Joshua Allen (1757-1817) had been a Rochester selectman, with Richard Dame and Beard Plumer, when they petitioned for incorporation of Rochester’s first parish in January 1799, and when they laid out the bounds of Rochester’s graveyard in August 1800. He commanded the NH Second Militia Regiment in 1812. He was a maternal uncle of petitioner Levi Jones (and brother-in-law of both Samuel Lord and Theodore C. Lyman).

Petitioners Jacob McDuffee (1770-1848) and Dr. Samuel Pray, together with Rev. Joseph Haven, John P. Hale, James Tebbetts, and Moses Roberts, Jr., had been Rochester’s first school committee in 1809. McDuffee would be on the executive committee of the Strafford Agricultural Society in 1825 (New England Farmer (Boston, MA), November 18, 1825). He took a prize for the best Merino buck in its annual cattle show in October 1829 (New England Farmer (Boston, MA), November 6, 1829).

Petitioner Thomas McDuffee (1784-1851), who was familiarly known in Rochester, NH, as “Selectman McDuffee,” was a cousin of petitioner Jacob McDuffee and a brother-in-law of petitioner Joseph Jones, Jr.

Petitioner Jonathan Wingate (1793-1882) was a carpenter, who resided in Rochester, NH, as late as 1829, but had removed to Somersworth, NH, by 1831.

Middleton petitioner Daniel Wingate (1755-1825) had been moderator of the Middleton-Brookfield election meeting in March 1779.

March 18. The voters of Brookfield and Middleton met according to act of the general court, and chose Daniel Wingate moderator; and William Chamberlin to represent said district of Brookfield and Middleton in the general court (Merrill, 1889).

Petitioner Jonathan Buzzell (1761-182[8]) had been a Revolutionary soldier in Col. Reed’s regiment. He was one of sixty-four Middleton inhabitants that petitioned, on February 10, 1790, to have Capt. Archelaus Woodman appointed as a Middleton justice-of-the-peace.

Petitioners Daniel Wingate and Jonathan Buzzell had signed also an earlier road-related petition, in 1796, asking that a 4¢-per-acre tax be levied in Middleton for maintenance of its roads.

Daniel Wingate had been appointed a Middleton justice-of-the-peace, June 16, 1802. He had been also Middleton and Brookfield’s NH state representative in 1806 and 1810.

Petitioners Daniel Wingate, Joseph Goodwin (1782-1868), and Jonathan Buzzell would also petition, on May 29, 1817, to have Lt. John Hill appointed as a Middleton justice-of-the-peace. Joseph Goodwin was among a lengthy list of inhabitants of Middleton, New Durham and Wakefield, NH, recommending appointment of Hill again, in 1820, for appointment to that post.

See also Salmon Falls Sawmill Petition – 1797


Find a Grave. (2005, March 1). Col. Joshua Allen. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2021, March 13). Pvt. Jonathan Buzzell. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2012, June 18). Simon Chase. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2012, April 4). James Davis. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2005, December 12). Nehemiah Eastman. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2016, September 13). Daniel Hayes. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2011, December 31). Ichabod Hayes. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2017, October 24). Levi Jones. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2021, October 5). Joseph Jones, Jr. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2020, October 22). William Jones. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2015, April 6). Jacob McDuffee. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2015, March 11). Thomas McDuffee. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2021, November 4). Joseph Plumer. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2009, November 19). Dr. Samuel Pray. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2011, May 20). Rev. Jeremiah Waldron. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2010, June 5). Joseph Walker. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2017, March 13). Daniel Wingate. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2019, May 13). Jonathan Wingate. Retrieved from

Hammond, Isaac W. (1884). Town Papers. Documents Relating to Towns in New Hampshire. Retrieved from

McDuffee, Franklin. (1892). History of the Town of Rochester, New Hampshire, from 1722 to 1890. Retrieved from

NH Department of State. (n.d.). New Hampshire, Government Petitions, 1700-1826: Box 44: 1816-Dec 1816. Concord, NH.

Wikipedia. (2022, February 16). Henry Wilson. Retrieved from

Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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