by kind permission of the Dover Mercury, (KMG) 4th May 2006
New Hampshire, in northeast United States, is one of the original colonies and was given its name by Captain John Mason, in 1629, when he laid claim to an area between the Pisqutaqua and Merrimack rivers. At the time Abenakis people, part of the Algonquian group of native Americans, inhabited the area.
Dover is the seventh oldest city in the US and the oldest permanent settlement in New Hampshire. Initially centred on the confluence of the Pisqutaqua, Cochecho and Bellamy River, the first settlers were brothers William and Edward Hilton who arrived around 1623. Ten years later there was an influx Puritan sponsored settlers mainly from Bristol and by 1637 the settlement was going under the name of Dover.
Why the settlement was called Dover is something of a mystery but it is believed that it was named in honour of Robert Dover (1575-1641) an English soldier and lawyer who protested against the severity of Puritanism in the Cotswolds, England. It is also believed that the name came from Dover, England. There was a Hilton family living in Sellinge, near Faversham, at the time, which included brothers called William and Edward. Faversham is one of the limbs of the Cinque Ports and, at the time, had a special allegiance to Dover, England. In 1641 the towns which made up the fledgling New Hampshire put themselves under the protection of Massachusetts and thirty years later New Hampshire received its own royal Charter. The timber trade became the main industry with the 34 foot Cochecho River falls providing waterpower for saw mills. The houses the settlers built were called garrisons and clustered together they were surrounded by a stockade. One such house is the Damme Garrison, which still stands.
In the latter part of the seventeenth century Major Richard Waldron was appointed Chief Justice of the new colony and settled in Dover. At the time the colonists were locked in a hostilities against native Americans led by 'King Philip' chief of the Wampanoag tribe. Originally living in peace with the settlers, continual encroachments on native lands had led to an uprising, known as King Philip's War, in 1675.
Following a battle two hundred of 'King Philips' men had escaped to the Dover locality and in September 1676 Waldron invited the local native Americans to participate in a mock battle against the militia. When they arrived he took them prisoner and separated out about 200, whom he believed had been 'King Philip's, soldiers and sent them to Boston for trial. There about 7 or 8 were executed the rest were sold into slavery.
Thirteen years later on 27 June 1789, some local native American women came to Dover asking to be invited in so that they could by the fire and were let into four of the homes. During the night the women silently opened the undefended garrisons and their men came in. Waldron was captured and placed on his table where the Native American's sat down to eat. After dining, each cut him across the stomach saying, I cross out my account. Besides Waldron, 52 colonists were slain; houses were burnt along with the sawmills. The perpetrators were never caught.
The town recovered and in 1812 a Cotton factory opened helping Dover to become a national leader in the manufacture of textiles. With the coming of the railway brick manufacture and the shoe industry flourished. Up until the 1930s Depression the town flourished on industry. By 1939 things had changed dramatically.
Since that time there has been a diversification of industry. Electronics has become one of the major industries while such items as printing presses; aluminium goods and many kinds of machines are manufactured. Dover is now among the largest of the New Hampshire communities with a population of some 28,000. It has a nine-man council headed by a mayor, who is elected every two years. It has many public (state) schools, two Catholic schools, as well as a new Charter School, 16 churches, one of the finest hospitals in New Hampshire and is the home of McIntosh College. The city's library has more than 85,000 volumes and a yearly circulation of more than 240,000.
The Dover Chamber of Commerce sponsors the Cochero Arts Festival each year, while the town's amateur theatrical group, the Garrison Players, has an excellent reputation. The city has two cinemas and its own local radio station and one of the USA's oldest newspapers, Fosters Daily Democrat. Also residents can watch the City Council proceedings on DoverNet TV. Dover is also well known for its parks and playgrounds
Thanks: Denise La France, Reference Librarian, Dover New Hampshire.