Chapter Two: A Quick Skim through History

NOTE: "Semi-Rough: A North Country Journal," is now available as a complete book, that includes these on-line essays and more. If you'd like a free pdf to download to your computer, send me a note at symbios@condortales.com and I'll email you a copy.

By New England standards, the town of Dummer, New Hampshire, was settled quite late. Although "granted" (to some people who never made it to the area) in 1773, no non-Indian person lived there for a quarter-century after that - and, as I read the sparse record, there weren't any regular Indian settlements in the area, either. The town was finally surveyed in 1806, but by 1810 the entire town had only seven inhabitants. Other families came after that, but in 1820 there were still only 27 residents.

The earliest history of our 92 acres is lost to irregular record keeping, and fires in courthouses. The first certain inhabitants were George and Emeline Grapes. George moved from Colebrook, New Hampshire, to Dummer with his parents some time after 1850, and married Emeline Green in Dummer in 1858. I don't think his parents ever lived up on The Hill; George and Emeline probably acquired the land about the time they were married, built a house, and lived there until selling to William Harrison Furbush in 1865. Part of the rock foundations of the Grapes' home and outbuildings are still identifiable in the woods just below the current field edge.

Ownership for the next 30 years is obscure. At some point, William Furbush (later, usually Forbush) sold the land to Kenaz Hoyt, a farmer from Berlin, New Hampshire. I doubt that either of them actually lived on the land. Some time later, Ebenezer Sanborn acquired it but, again, I doubt if he resided on the Hill. When he died (probably between 1870 and 1880), the property passed to his sons Abner and John. Abner Sanborn and his wife Hannah did live on the Hill. There is an old Dummer story of a tall man who "walked on his knees;" the 1880 census identified Abner as a "cripple," which sounds like he could be the man of legend. When Winston Emery surveyed our land, he identified what he thought was the Sanborn cellar hole near our north boundary. When we first saw the site, it was a mere depression on the forest floor, with no rock foundation. Sally did find an old button in the hollow, but we saw no other signs of occupancy. Slash that fell onto our land from logging on land adjacent to ours, fallen trees and debris from the 1998 Ice Storm, and a dense stand of raspberries and other brush that volunteered as the forest opened up have since made the cellar hole impossible to find and identify.

The Sanborns left the Hill in 1896, selling the property back to the Forbush family, this time to Perley, nephew of William Furbush. Perley held it only two years, before passing it on to his brother Willie (William M.). Willie was the one who made the major changes to the property. He built the big house in the field (see Chapter One), and later (1927) built the smaller cabin that eventually became our "Camp" (pictured above). He had a sawmill down in "The Swamp" below the field; before the Ice Storm changed the look of everything, I used to be able to locate the remains of it near Cedar Brook.

Willie occupied the property until 1934. He and his wife Tena traded the property back and forth (for $1.00 each time), perhaps to stay ahead of mounting debts by trying to confuse the records of who actually owned it. It eventually caught up with him, however, and he lost the land to foreclosure. Absentee owners had the property for the next nine years, and it probably sat idle until Edgar Bacon bought it in 1943. Edgar didn't live on the Hill, but he alternately grew potatoes and harvested timothy hay there, and it was from Edgar that Sally's folks bought "Camp" in 1947.


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Sanford Wilbur 2018