This is a transcription of the Walpole, NH description from New Hampshire As It Is by Edwin A. Charlton; Part II: A Gazetteer of New Hampshire by George Ticknor, Tracy and Sanford Publishers, Claremont, N. H., 1855.
WALPOLE, Cheshire county. Bounded north by Charlestown and Langdon, east by Alstead and Surrey, south by Surrey and Westmoreland, and west by Westminster and Rockingham, Vermont. Area, 24,301 acres. Distance from Concord, 60 miles, south-west; from Keene, 22, north-west, with which it is connected by the Cheshire Railroad. This town is beautifully diversified with hills and vales. The intervals, especially those on Connecticut River, are extensive, and afford excellent tillage. The uplands are inferior to none in the state. Walpole stands among the highest in New Hampshire as an agricultural town. Cold River passes through the north part of the town, and unites with the Connecticut about one mile south of Bellows Falls. Near these falls is a lofty hill 800 feet above the surface of the river. The rock composing this mountain is plumbaginous mica slate passing into argillaceous slate on one side, and hard mica slate containing fibriolite on the other. The principal village is situated on a large plain, about four miles south from Bellows Falls. The main street runs north and south, and is bordered on either side with houses, stores, and shops. Its common, handsomely laid out and ornamented with trees; its broad streets, adorned with majestic elms and maples; its many elegant and costly residences, with their spacious and beautiful yards and gardens, and the neatness and order which generally prevail, together with the picturesque beauty of the surrounding country, render it one of the most delightful villages in New Hampshire. This town is distinguished for its excellent schools, and its valuable efforts to promote the interests of education. It has within a few years adopted the Somersworth Act, and has erected a large, convenient, and handsome building for a high school. The school fund is $1577.50. In the village are seven stores, one hotel, three meeting houses,–one Unitarian, one Congregational, and one Methodist–and about a mile south-east from the village is a meeting house owned by the Universalist society. There are two shoe manufactories, with a capital of $1700, furnishing employment for 15 hands; one shirt manufactory, where about 250 hands are engaged; one carriage factory, employing 12 hands, besides some 12 or 15 other shops for various purposes. At the bridge which crosses the river near this place, first erected in 1785, is a most sublime and interesting view. The river is confined in a narrow channel between steep rocks, and for nearly a quarter of a mile is forced onward with great impetuosity, and loud, deep roaring. The fall is in no place perpendicular, the waters falling 42 feet in the distance of 160 rods. On the west side of the falls is a canal, with nine locks. Around the falls is an interesting locality of minerals. The almost incredible effects of the current of the river at this place afford striking and beautiful illustrations of the science of geology. A channel has been worn into a solid rock, or bed of granite, to a depth of 10 or 15 feet; and this was in all probability effected while the crater was pouring over the precipitous hillsides south of the present bed, and before the rocks which form the present cataract had ever been sprinkled by the foam of the dashing waves. Here the effects of the current upon the rocks are still more wonderful. Numerous holes are bored perpendicularly into them with all the symmetry and smoothness of the inner surface of a porcelain jar, some of which are capable of holding several barrels of water; and one is 18 feet deep. All these pot holes lie high and dry above the ordinary height of water, and are only reached by high floods or freshets. Indian relics of various kinds are found in the vicinity of the falls, and upon the rocks are chiseled portraits of savages, variously ornamented. Near this place are the Abenaqui Springs, whose waters possess remarkable medicinal properties. They are highly tonic, and efficacious in scrofulus and nearly all cutaneous affections. These springs were formerly visited by the various tribes of Indians who dwelt in this region, and are named after the Abenaqui, or St. Francis Indians. From a chemical analysis, one allon of this water was found to contain 13.34 grains of salts, which were decomposed into crenate of iron 7.10, crenate of lime 4.11, chloride of sodium, sulphates of soda, and lime, and silica 2.13.
At the base of Fall Mountain, and near the springs, is the Fall Mountain Hotel, located in a beautifully romantic and retired spot, for the accommodation of travelers, invalids, and persons of leisure. From the hotel a path leads directly to Table Rock, on the summit of the mountain, which commands an extensive and delightful view of the valley of the Connecticut. About two miles south of Bellows Falls is a cemetery, beautifully situated in a rural and quiet spot. Within these grounds a large marble monument has been erected to the memory of Colonel Benjamin Bellows-who was one of the first settlers of Walpole- by his numerous descendants.
Drewsville, a very pleasant village, is situated on Cold River, and contains an Episcopal church, several handsome residences, two stores, and several manufacturing establishments.
During the first years of its settlement, Walpole was the scene of many skirmishes with the Canadians and Indians. In the spring of 1755, an Indian, named Philip by the whites, who had acquired the English language sufficiently for conversation, came into the town of Walpole, and visited the house of one Mr. Kilburn, pretending that he was on a hunting excursion, and in want of provisions. He was kindly received, and furnished with every necessary, such as flints, flour, &c. Soon after he left, however, it was ascertained that he had visited nearly all the settlements on Connecticut River about the same time, and with the same plausible errand. Kilburn had already learned something of Indian finesse and strategy, and at once suspected, as it afterwards proved, that Philip was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Not long after this intelligence was sent by General Shirley, through a friendly Indian, to all the forts, that four or five hundred Indians were collected in Canada, whose designs were to destroy all the white population on Connecticut River. The reception of such news threw a gloom over the weak and defenseless settlements. What could they do? To desert their homes, their cattle, and crops would be to give up all to the destruction of the Canadian savages. Accustomed to all the hardships and dangers of the frontier life, they boldly resolved to defend themselves and their property, or die on their own thresholds. Kilburn and his men now strengthened their position with such fortifications as their rude implements and pressing circumstances would allow, hastily surrounding their dwellings with a palisade of stakes driven into the ground. Colonel Benjamin Bellows had at this time about 30 men under his command at the fort, which was about half a mile south from Kilburn’s house, but this could be no protection to him while attending to his cattle, crops, &c. The enemy were now daily expected, and the little band awaited their appearance with fearful anxiety.
On the 17th of August, 1755, as Kilburn and his son John, a youth 18 years of age, were returning home from work, in company with a man named Peak and his son they discovered the “red legs of the Indians among the alders as thick as grasshoppers.” They instantly hastened home, fastened the door, and made preparations for a desperate resistance. Besides the four men, there were in the house Kilburn’s wife and daughter Hitty, who greatly assisted and encouraged the men in their efforts to watch the movements of the enemy, and to provide means of defense. In a few minutes the Indians were seen crawling up the bank east of the house, and as they crossed a footpath one by one, 197 were counted. About the same number remained in ambush near the mouth of Cold River. The Indians learning that Colonel Bellows, with his men, was at work at his mill about a mile distant, decided that it would be best to waylay and destroy them before attacking Kilburn. Colonel Bellows and his party, about 30 in number, were returning homewards, each with a bag of meal on his back, when, on a sudden, their dogs began to growl and show signs of uneasiness. Bellows well understood the language of the dogs, and immediately took measures to thwart the plans of the Indians. He ordered his men to lay aside the meal, advance to the brow of the hill, crawl carefully up the bank, spring upon their feet, give a single whoop, and then instantly drop into the fern. This maneuvre had the desired effect; for, as soon as the whoop was given, the savages arose from their ambush in a semicircle around the path Bellows was pursuing. This gave his men “a fine chance for a shot,” which they at once improved. The first fire was so well directed that the Indians, panic-struck, darted into the bushes without discharging a gun. Bellows, seeing that their numbers were too great to risk an engagement, ordered his men to file off to the south, and make for the fort. The Indians now returned to Kilburn’s house, where the same Philip, to whom we have before alluded, came forward, and sheltering himself behind a tree, called out to the inmates to surrender. “Old John, young John,” said he, “come out here, we give you good quarter.” “Quarter!” vociferated Kilburn, in a voice of thunder, which sent a chill of terror through every Indian’s breast, and reverberated among the hills and valleys; “you black rascals, begone, or we’ll quarter you!” Philip returned to his companions; and, after a short consultation, the war whoop commenced. Kilburn got the first fire before the smoke of the Indian’s guns obstructed his aim, and was confident he saw an Indian fall, who, from his extraordinary size and other appearances, must have been Philip. The Indians then rushed forward, bent on the utter destruction of the house and its inmates; and probably not less than 400 bullets were lodged in its roof and sides at the first fire. “The roof was a perfect riddle sieve.” Some of them fell to butchering the cattle, others were busily employed in destroying the hay, grain, &c., while a shower of bullets was incessantly falling upon the house. Meanwhile Kilburn and his men were by no means idle. They had poured their powder into hats for convenience in loading their guns quickly, and every thing was in readiness for active defense. There were several guns in the house, and these were kept hot by incessant firing; and as they had no ammunition to spare, each one took special care that every bullet should tell with fatal effect upon the foe. The women assisted in loading the guns; and when their stock of lead was exhausted, they had the forethought to suspend blankets in the roof of the house to catch the bullets of the enemy; and these were immediately run into new bullets, and sent back to the original owners. Several attempts were made to burst open the doors, but the deadly fire from within compelled the savages to desist from this undertaking. The Indians, notwithstanding their numbers, sheltered themselves most of the time behind trees an
The result of this conflict proved an effectual check to the expedition of the Indians. They immediately returned to Canada; and it is within the bounds of reason to conclude that the heroic defense of Kilburn was the means of saving the other settlements from the horrors of an Indian devastation.
Walpole was granted by the government of New Hampshire, February 16, 1752, to Colonel Benjamin Bellows and 61 others. It was first settled in 1749 by John Kilburn and his family. Colonel Bellows settled here in 1751. The Congregational church was organized in 1761.
Number of legal voters in 1854, 435.
Value of lands, $609,278.
Stock in trade, $17,430.
Value of mills and factories, $16,500.
Money at interest, $129,347.
Shares in corporations, $28,900.
Number of sheep, 12,771.
Do. neat stock, 1538.
Do. horses, 370.