Introduction: In the second half of the eighteenth century, after the French and Indian war, and into

the American Revolution, New Hampshire saw an enormous population growth and experienced an accelerated expansion throughout the state. However, the first half of the eighteenth century was not nearly as productive in its development throughout the region. New Hampshire was plagued with issues that impeded its growth. Uncertain land surveys created contradicting claims to territory, the locality of the frontiers made for dangerous living throughout most of the state, and close political ties to Massachusetts made a bureaucratic nightmare of settling townships. It wasn’t until the boundary decision of 1741 did New Hampshire start to make sincere progress toward expanded permanent settlement throughout the entirety of the state. These struggling early years of settlement were represented most clearly by the Manchester area settlers. In the first half of the eighteenth century one could indentify Manchester as any number of names. Tyng’s Town, Harrytown, Old Harry Town, and Derryfield, all were used to categorize the location along the east bank of the Merrimack River. Depending on who was laying claim to the land determined what the area was called. The Manchester area from Amoskeag falls to Goff’s falls was the site of competing interests and different religious sects. However, the proximity of the land to the frontier likely forced many who would have otherwise clashed, to cooperate and cohabitate. Manchester in the 1730’s and 40’s was becoming a mixed settlement of English Puritans and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians located dangerously close to frontiers that were plagued by Indian raids and French aggressions. New Hampshire at this time was the “wild west” but not in the sense we traditionally think of with cacti and cowboy. Rather, New Hampshire was the stage for French and Indian attacks, English scouting parties, hard living, and long winters. It is difficult to imagine the city of Manchester in this era, yet it has grown out of that harsh origin. The people who settled there experienced the hardships of colonial life and carved out a piece of that land. The brick mills of the Amoskeag were over one hundred years to the future and life was in every respect, a different experience. This article is designed to explore that experience through the story of a small fort built by a group of Scotch-Irish immigrants. The construction of this fort, known as Stark’s Fort, leads to a deeper understanding of the social climate of New Hampshire in the early days of its settlement. The narrative formed as a product of its building helps to shed light on the complicated fears and differences of the colonial people of New Hampshire. By understanding the social climate that produced this fort, we can better assess the lives in which these people lived. When looking back to colonial and provincial New Hampshire, most historians focus on the obviousness of the state’s history; the westward frontier, the Indian threat, the ebb and flow of provincial government attempting to carve its independence from Massachusetts Bay. However, there is a crucial aspect to this story which often goes untold, the story of diversity. More often than not, we popularize our colonial heritage with the notion that our English

ancestors came, settled, conquered, and seceded. That is not to say that there has been no sincere analysis of our complicated roots, however, there is often times a generalization of some of the more complex under currents. This fort, which has otherwise fallen into historical obscurity, tells a story of that diverse beginning often unnoted in New Hampshire history. Stark’s Fort was a physical manifestation of the assortment of peoples that populated New Hampshire in its early years and the fundamental differences between them. The competing interests in the area, steeped in religious and cultural dissimilarity, brought a quite but sincere hostility to the surface. This refined hostility between the people around Amoskeag falls was the motivation behind the construction of Stark’s Fort. Competing interests for desirable land were roiling animosities with every passing year and the growing Scotch-Irish Presbyterian community sought to secure themselves and their investment in the land. The building of Stark’s Fort was not defense against the chance of an Indian raid, as suggested by some historians; rather, it was a display of prowess by a community of immigrants that had been discriminated against throughout New England for over two decades. The construction of Stark’s Fort was a way for the Presbyterian community at Amoskeag falls to communicate their willingness to fight for the land they had gained, without explicitly inviting conflict. The First Settlers of Colonial Manchester: Many of the settlers of northern Manchester, near the Amoskeag falls were of ScotchIrish lineage. By and large they came from Nutfield (Londonderry) to claim and settle land that was desirable; as the falls were a major fishing area at the time. Generally, the Scotch-Irish who came and settled around the falls situated themselves to the east of the river and up as far as Pennycook (Penacook) or north Rumford (Concord). This area of the Merrimack River from Amoskeag to Goff’s falls was contentious territory. Land was being speculated and granted to multiple people, and over lapping claims to the same tracts of territory were creating controversy and complication in the area. Some of the first settlers of Manchester, such as John McNeil of Nutfield, were there to secure the ownership of the land. McNeil it appears was settling at Amoskeag in service to the town of Nutfield as a ferryman. He ferried fishermen from Nutfield, free of charge with his pay subsidized by the town. C.E. Potter notes this of McNeil in his History of Manchester, “Whether settling at the falls of his own accord, or sent there to hold possession of the land, or continued there as a ferryman, John McNeil was the man suited to such border service…”1 McNeil was one of the earliest Scotch-Irish settlers around Amoskeag falls but certainly not the last. The notable Manchester Stark family originally settled in Nutfield, however, when Archibald Stark’s estate burned down in 1736, he too transplanted his family to the banks of the Merrimack near Amoskeag. Archibald Stark, the patriarch of the family, located himself just north east of the torrents and established and laid claim to an expansive tract of land there. He and a number of other Scotch-Irish began to populate the area from the falls, up into Rumford

Potter, Chandler Eastman. The History of Manchester, Formerly Derryfield, in New Hampshire. Manchester, NH. 1851. pp. 169

and eastward toward Chester, Suncook, and of course Nutfield. It was within this pocket of the state, a formidable Scotch-Irish Presbyterian community formed. Many of the early 18th century immigrants to Boston found themselves populating this area as they were not necessarily welcomed in the strict Puritan culture of Massachusetts. The decade before the Scotch-Irish began to take foothold around Amoskeag, people from Massachusetts Bay were laying claim to land around the southern limits of present day Manchester. By and large, the people coming up from Massachusetts were settling just south of the Amoskeag Falls upon a smaller tributary known as Cohas Brook. Upon this brook that empties into the Merrimack River at Goff’s falls, is where the most notable of these early settlers, John Goffe, situated himself around 1719.2 Goffe established a mill upon this rivulet and carved out a decent estate for himself. Alongside Goffe, Benjamin Kidder and Edward Lingfield3, also two Massachusetts Bay transplants, established themselves upon the lower east side of the Merrimack River within the limits of present day Manchester. As time went on Massachusetts Bay would continue to lay claim to land around Cohas Brook and eventually across the river to Narragansset Number 5 or Souhegan East, and what subsequently became present day Bedford. By the time the Scotch-Irish began to sincerely establish themselves to the north in the late 1730’s, Goffe had already entrusted his property to his father, John Goffe senior and began to focus his prospects on the west side of the river in Narragansett Number 5 (Bedford).4 Seemingly, there was a divide developing within the boundaries of Manchester in the 1720’s and 30’s, with the Scotch-Irish immigrants settling to the north and Massachusetts born Englishmen to the south. Although there was no doubt some overlap, the area remained well separated into the early years of the French and Indian War. Though this division of people did not prevent interaction between the settlers, nor open hostilities, it can be deduced that there was some measure of difference preventing them from completely cohabitating that likely stemmed from their pedigree. As William Brown notes of John Goffe senior who was living in Nutfield prior to his move to his son’s mill, “Doubtless the father [John Goffe Sr.] still felt a polite hostility on the part of his Londonderry [Nutfield] neighbors.”5 Although seemingly a passing note, it speaks volumes. It suggests that someone who was not Scotch-Irish living in Londonderry would feel alienated or hostile, and in equal measure, someone who was not of English lineage would feel similar living in Bedford or Cohas Brook. To complicate matters further for the earlier settlers of Manchester, Massachusetts Bay continued granting land in the area. As George Waldo Brown notes in his work on early Manchester, “Massachusetts, anxious to hold to the territory she claimed in the Merrimack valley, inaugurated quite a different system, which was to grant townships in New Hampshire
2 3

Ibid pp. 170 Blood, Grace Holbrook. Manchester on the Merrimack. Lew A. Cummings & Co., Manchester, NH 1948. UNH Special Collections holding. pp. 32 4 Brown, William Howard. Colonel John Goffe and Eighteenth Century New Hampshire. Lew A. Cumings & Co., Manchester, NH 1950. UNH Special Collections holding. pp. 53 5 Ibid. pp. 53

to certain individuals for what was thought proper to be [payment] for service in fighting the Indians.”6 Much of the land that was being granted by the Massachusetts government was already settled or claimed by families two generations strong in New Hampshire, again Brown notes, “Nearly twenty-five years after, seeing the grants being made to others no more deserving, the survivors of Capt. Tyng’s expedition petitioned to the General Assembly for their reward, and were favored by the grant of the tract of country on the Merrimack below Namaske [Amoskeag], which had gained the disreputable name of Old Harry’s Town, but which they changed to Tyng Township in honor of their leader, then dead. But claiming the territory by their grant from New Hampshire, the Scotch-Irish, several families of whom had now founded home in the district, stoutly maintained their claims, so an intense rivalry sprang up between the two factions.”7 Thus the name Tyngstown became the product of this erratic land granting; as members of Captain William Tyng’s snowshoe expedition into New Hampshire in 1703 was now resulting in land grants over twenty years later. Although the proprietors of Tyngstown never established themselves permanently, the land claims were not taken lightly nor dismissed. As late as 1755, over ten years after New Hampshire boundary decision (1741), some Massachusetts map makers were still identifying the area as Tyngstown, though the incorporation of the area into ‘Derryfield’ had already taken place four years earlier (1751).
To the left is a map printed and made in Massachusetts in 1755. As late as this year, Massachusetts map makers were still identifying the land around the Merrimack river as Harrytown or Tyngstown, which were the original names of the land grants from the Massachusetts Bay government.

The land around the Merrimack River continued to be settled by these competing interests. Townships in New Hampshire continued to petition the provincial government for land grants, as did the people Massachusetts Bay to their respective government. The district was steadily becoming an area divided. These early settlers were divided by their claim to land,

Brown, George Waldo. Snow Shoe Scouts and Early Manchester. Standard Book Company. Manchester, NH. 1923. UNH special collections holding. pp. 9 7 Ibid. pp. 10  Jefferys, Thomas. A map of the most inhabited part of New England; containing the provinces of Massachusets Bay and New Hampshire, with the colonies of Konektikut and Rhode Island, divided into counties and townships: The whole composed from actual surveys and its situation adjusted by astronomical observations. Published in London 1755. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C.

and more significantly, divided by the land they came from. Religious differences began to identify themselves within the community, as the Scotch-Irish Presbyterian population grew around Amoskeag Falls, and a staunch English Puritan community solidified themselves to the south of there.

Stark’s Fort: Archibald Stark, father to the celebrated Revolutionary war hero, John Stark, came to the Manchester area in 1736. As a Scotch-Irish immigrant coming into Boston in 1720,8 he found little to be welcoming about the area and was bound for Maine with the promise of land. As with most in the colonial period, he ended up settling with other like minded peoples, yet not in Maine. Rather, Stark would end up in the town of Nutfield, New Hampshire, where a community of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians had been steadily growing for nearly two decades. In 1736, Archibald Stark’s estate in Nutfield was destroyed by fire.9 Stark followed suit with other Nutfield residents, such as John McNeil, and acquired a grant for land from the town to settle along the west bank of the Merrimack River, near Amoskeag falls. It is from here he would live out his days. It is there in what is now present day Manchester, he and a group of volunteers built a fortification that has been overlooked by history. Little is mentioned about this fort known as Stark’s Fort. Tracing the grounds of where it once stood offers little in the way of cleared land or signs of a building that once was. The compiler of Early Records of the Town of Derryfield, George Browne, mentions it in passing in an editor’s note, “Captain Goffe's house, standing near the mouth of Cohas Brook, had been used as a place of refuge upon an alarm of Indians. But this was inadequate to afford protection for all who sought safety, and in the summer of 1746 the construction of a larger and more conveniently situated garrison was intrusted to Lieut. Archibald Stark. Accordingly he, assisted by the inhabitants in this vicinity, built what became known as Stark's Fort on the west shore at the outlet of Swager's (corruption of Sebage, meaning place of water), later called Fort Pond, now Nutt's, a large and substantial garrison. This was about one hundred and twenty-five feet square. A well was dug and stoned between the building and the pond, which is still to be seen, though nearly filled with debris. The situation was most favorable to the surrounding inhabitants, some of whom were living about the Falls, others at McMurphy's mills, and at Cohas Brook. No doubt it contributed its share toward the safety of the frontier during that anxious period.”10 This short editorial note is about the most extensive thing written on Stark’s Fort. There is little in the way of documentation or journaling of the fort’s construction, its architecture, or of its actual use. As Browne noted above, the popular understanding is that the fort was built because the garrison at Colonel John Goffe’s house was insufficient if there was an Indian attack. This sounds to be a completely logical explanation. It would seem perfectly reasonable to construct a fort, as many towns did, to secure the settlers of the region in the chance occasion there was an Indian raid. However, to draw such parallels, Stark’s Fort would have to

8 9

Dobson, David. Scots in New England, 1623-1873. Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 2002. Pp 206. Willey, George Franklin. Willey’s Semi-Centennial Book of Manchester, 1846-1896. George F. Willey Publisher, Manchester, 1896. pp. 307 10 Browne, George Waldo. Early Records of the Town of Derryfield now Manchester, New Hampshire, 1782-1800. Manchester Historic Association, Manchester, 1906. Pp. 169-70

have been built in an area of the New Hampshire frontier where there was a legitimate threat of Indian attack; the Manchester area in 1746 was not an example of such a location. None the less, Stark’s Fort was built for war. The only known image comes as a pencil sketch from the decade of its construction, and displays a typical frontier style fort from the era. It was drawn as having an emblematic log garrison house in the center surrounded by palisades constructed from fallen timbers. Behind the house, a tower was erected that gave its inhabitants an improved view over the land and the advantage of firing over the walls that encompassed the barracks. At the entry to the fort, a gate house, complete with windowed walls for defense against an attempted attack. Even the location was premeditated, with the security of the lake to one side and a small bluff to the opposite. Built by volunteers and the immediate surrounding resources, the fort did not reflect the well funded English forts; however, Stark’s Fort was an archetype of shoestring colonial engineering that was typical to the New Hampshire frontier towns.
To the right, the only known image of Stark’s Fort which is now located on the inner cover of Browne’s Early Records of the Town of Derryfield. The image is third hand account, as it is a pencil sketch of the original artists drawing of the Fort.

This sort of structure was not typical to the inner frontier however. Garrisons such as this were found more toward the edges of the expanding frontier to the north, west, and north west where there was a significantly more action. More common to the inner frontier would have been the garrison house. A garrison house was typical to most communities throughout New Hampshire. The garrison house was a house that was selected for its size, construction, and security. It would have been large enough to house a few families for a day, or two, if there were an Indian raid. The Manchester area already had a garrison house in operation at the time at the Goffe estate, and one that was arguably more than sufficient. In fact, the garrison house was manned with paid provincial troops, which was an unheard of expense to be taken by the provincial government. There is evidence of these paid soldiers from a muster roll being read at a provincial government meeting in December, 1746 calling for payment to troops in their services done on the frontier, “Messrs. MacMurphy & Jennes from the House bro't up the muster rolls of the following officers for service Done in Scouting & guarding the frontiers, viz. Two muster rolls of Capt. Clough: One Do. of Tho's Willee One Do. of Jethro Person One Do. of Jon Conner

One Do. of John Thompson One Do. of Sam Randall One Do. of Joseph Seias One Do. of Sam Heard One Do. of Eben Light One Do. of Nath Drake One Do. of Joseph Sanburn One Do. of Jon Towle. Alsoe one Do. for Two men at Goffs Garrison.”11 As one can see by the underline at the end, two men were being stationed at Goffe’s Garrison in 1746, which coincidently was the same year Stark’s Fort was built. It is questionable why a community of Scotch-Irish just a short distance north would have felt the need to further secure themselves from Indian attack; given the location’s inner frontier protection, the active Goffe garrison house, and the reality that the Scotch-Irish experienced little threat from Indian attacks at Amoskeag.
To the right is an example of a typical garrison house that would have existed on the inner frontier. Goffe’s garrison at Cohas Brook likely looked remarkably similar to this. This was the typical line of defense on the inner frontiers of New Hampshire, not the palisades that we see around Stark’s Fort.

The Supposed Threat: The popular reasoning for the building of Stark’s Fort was that there was a formidable Indian threat that needed addressing, and the garrison at Goffe’s house was not adequate (though it was above average) in the chance there was an attack. However, the reality was that the area around Amoskeag Falls in 1746 was surprisingly peaceful. The falls had long been a renowned Indian fishing ground, and the Indians who still caught there were small in number and on good terms with the Scotch-Irish community of the area. The Scotch-Irish around Amoskeag had an uncharacteristically good relationship with the natives when compared to other settlements. George Willey notes this in his semi-sentential of Manchester, “Garrison houses, to which people could flee when threatened by the Indians, were not as numerous in Nutfield as in most other colonies, for the reason that there was no great need of them.”12


Bouton, Nathaniel. Provincial and State Papers. Concord, 1867. New Hampshire Historical Society Holdings. Vol. 5 pp.849

Minding that this comment does not mean there were no garrisons, nor was it the case that there existed no threat at all, but the Scotch-Irish community in Nutfield, and subsequently Manchester, experienced a comparatively less strained relationship with the Indians. One could deduce that this relationship was built out of necessity, yet folk lore suggests otherwise, again Willey notes of this in his semi-centennial, “Tradition ascribes the preservation of the colony from the attacks of the Indians to the influence of Mr. McGregor [the Presbyterian minister] with the Marquis de Vaudreuil, the French Governor of Canada. It is said they were classmates in college, that a correspondence was maintained between them, and that at the request of his friend, the governor caused means to be used for the protection of the settlement. He was said to have induced the Catholic priests to charge the Indians not to injure any f the Nutfield settlers, as they were different from the English…”13 It is unlikely that there was some secret correspondence between the Presbyterian minister of Nutfield and the French Governor of Canada (not Canada at the time), however, this Scotch-Irish myth does communicate something about the atmosphere which produced it. The Presbyterian community of the Manchester area had distinct characteristics that were sought to be explained by this myth; they had a noticeably better relationship with the Indians, they were associated (whether sincerely or not) with the French Catholics, and they were considered a separate and different society from the English. Although the tall tale speaks volumes to the environment and profiling of the ScotchIrish community, folk lore such as this must be taken with a grain of salt. Willey himself suggests that this was likely not the reasoning behind the Scotch-Irish being on better terms with the Indians. Rather, he suggests that the relative peace between the Presbyterian community around Amoskeag and the local Indians was a result of how they obtained the land. Willey notes, “Another and perhaps more plausible reason for the immunity of the colony from Indian attacks was the fact that the settlers had a secured through Colonel Wheelwright, a fair and acknowledged Indian title to the lands.”14 The lacking Indian hazard, the existing garrison house(s), and the location of the settlement upon the inner frontier all draw into question whether or not there existed a formidable enough threat to build Stark’s Fort. The fort was very obviously built for war, but what war? The Scotch-Irish did not seek protection from the Indians. Rather, the fort was built for protection from a threat much closer, a threat much more subtle but equally as dangerous.


Willey, George Franklin. Willey’s Semi-Centennial Book of Manchester, 1846-1896. George F. Willey Publisher, Manchester, 1896. pp. 187 13 Ibid. pp. 187 14 Ibid. pp. 188

It was built to defend against a hazard to the community that was less tangible than any Indian raid and significantly more subversive than history affords. A Legacy of Distrust: Stark’s Fort was not built to protect the Scotch-Irish settlers from Indian attack, and if it was, it was a tertiary motivation for its construction. The fort was not as utilitarian as history suggests, rather, it had a much more subtle application. The Scotch-Irish Presbyterian communities, in Nutfield and throughout New England, were subject to discrimination at the hands of a Puritan culture that had deeply rooted itself throughout the region. A history of prejudice had produced a lineage of distrust between the Presbyterians and the Puritans. The misgivings the Scotch-Irish had manifested themselves physically in the form of Stark’s Fort. The Fort, built for war, sent a clear message to the English Puritan community developing to the south of Amoskeag Falls. The looming presence of its palisades reminded each of the competing parties that claimed land around the Merrimack that, although this community did not invite war, it was prepared for it. The land around Amoskeag Falls, as noted earlier, was being settled rapidly by different people from different areas. The Puritan English, the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, and a spattering of other people, such as the remaining soldiers from Captain William Tyng’s company, all laid claim around this area of the Merrimack River. Each of these communities felt, if not sincerely at least on the surface, that they were entitled to the land they were settling and had obtained it in a just and legal manner. As more people settled, the divide became more evident, and a legacy of distrust between the staunch Puritan culture and the Presbyterians became apparent. In the earlier years of the 18th century, New England experienced an increased immigration of Irish. Although these people were coming from Ireland, they strived to disassociate themselves with the negative connotation of being an Irishman; they stressed the lineage of their pedigree as being Scottish, who had removed to Ireland, and were now immigrating to the colonies. The Puritan community in Massachusetts couldn’t have cared less about the Scotch-Irish lineage, and took them at face value simply as Irish. Little differentiation was made between Irish and Scotch-Irish in the eyes of the Puritans. The Puritan community of Massachusetts did not except these Scotch-Irish immigrants hospitably, nor were they open minded to the Presbyterian following that came with them. As James Brennan notes in his work about the Scotch-Irish immigration, “These Englishmen [Puritans] always treated the emigrants from Ireland in a way calculated to discourage further Irish emigration, but this did not deter these hardy men, who, however, found the inhospitable and cold interior preferable to the section where the influence of Puritanism had established itself

and left the darkest record of intolerance to be found in the history of this country.”15 The five ships of Scotch-Irish that arrived in Boston in the summer of 1718 were not welcomed with kindness. A “polite hostility” encouraged these emigrants to seek out land away from the Boston area that had been so heavily infused with Puritan ideology; only to find that that hostility was even less “polite” in some other areas. To escape the arrogance of the Puritan community, a large number of these immigrants went westward to Worcester, again James Brennan, “In the summer of 1718 five ships, with a hundred or more emigrant families, came over from Ireland to Boston; some of them found their way to Worcester and thence to Palmer, Pelham, Coleraine and other towns in Massachusetts.”16 Yet Worcester would not be far enough to escape the cloistered community of Puritans that had been expanding in the state for decades. The arrival of Presbyterians in Worcester solidified and strengthened the differences between the religious communities. The Scotch-Irish attempted to construct a Presbyterian church that resulted in disaster. The Worcester town history notes the sorry occasion that seems archetypical of Puritan behavior in this era. “It has been already stated, that they [Presbyterian emigrants] commenced the erection of a meeting house on the Boston road; after the materials had been procured, the frame raised, and the building was fast rising, a body of the inhabitants [English Puritans], assembled by night, hewed down, and demolished the structure. The riotous act was sustained by the intolerant spirit of the day, and the injured foreigners were compelled to mourn in silence over the ruins of the alter, profaned by the hand of violence.”17 With the destruction of their church, a good number of these Presbyterian Scotch-Irish moved from Worcester, up to Nutfield, New Hampshire18, where a collective of like minded peoples had been settling. Sometime later, another attempt to raise a Presbyterian community in Worcester was made. A petition by a gentleman, John Clark, was put to the Massachusetts Bay Government to absolve the growing Presbyterian presence from paying taxes to the Congregationalist (Puritan) church. Henry Ford notes this in his work on Scotch-Irish in America, “In 1737 John Clark and nine other petitioned the town to free them from taxation for religious purposes. It is recorded that ‘ye Irish petition’ was voted down by ‘a grate majority.’ The point of the application was that the petitioners
15 16

Brenna, James F. The Irish Settlers of Southern New Hampshire. Peterborough, NH 1910. pp. 2 Ibid. pp. 2 17 Lincoln, William. History of Worcester, Massachusetts, from its Earliest Settlement to September, 1836. Worcester, MA 1837. pp. 192 18 Ford, Jones. The Scotch-Irish in America. Princeton University Press. Princeton, NJ 1915. pp. 344

wanted to be rid of the burden of contributing to the support of the established Congregational Church, in addition to supporting their own Presbyterian Church.”19 Worcester was not the only example of the New England Puritan community being closed minded about the influx of Presbyterians. Ford also notes a case in Milford, Connecticut around 1741 where a group of Presbyterians, fed up with the Congregational doctrine formed their church and called for a minister, “In Milford, New Haven County, some people revolted against doctrinal views of the town minister, and formed a Presbyterian congregation which sent a call to the Rev. Samuel Finley. For the offense of preaching to them, Mr. Finley was arrested and sentenced to be transported out of the colony as a vagrant and a disturber of the public peace.”20 It was exceedingly apparent that the Scotch-Irish Presbyterian community was an unwanted presence in Puritan New England. Most of the emigrants moved toward the interior and out into Appalachia, creating the largest pocket of Scotch-Irish on the continent.21 However, there were a significant number that retreated to New Hampshire, and settled in the town of Nutfield. It is from Nutfield these people, including Archibald Stark, were sent to settle and hold the land around Amoskeag. These emigrants, chased out of Massachusetts, brought with them to New Hampshire the legacy of distrust that had been afforded to them from their English neighbors. Reverend Edward Parker makes mention of this cultural gap between the English and Scotch-Irish in his history of Londonderry, “Owing to the difference in their language, habits, and modes of life, from those of their English neighbors, prejudices were early imbibed, and unreasonably indulged, against these settlers, and many things in their manners and practices were grossly misrepresented, and falsely reported and believed. Some of the inhabitants of the adjoining towns, not understanding their true origin and character, but supposing that, as they came from Ireland, they were of the native Catholic Irish, were greatly alarmed, and were anxious to have them removed from their immediate vicinity, if not expelled from the country.”22 This erroneous connection to the Catholic Church helped legitimize the Puritan community’s mistreatment of the Scotch-Irish, just as the myth of the correspondence between the Marquis de Vaudreuil and Rev. McGreggor had.

19 20

Ibid. pp. 344 Ibid. pp. 345 21 Carroll, Brett E. The Routledge Historical Atlas of Religion in America. Routledge publishing. New York, NY 2000. pp. 32 22 Parker, Edward L. The History of Londonderry, Comprising of the Towns of Derry and Londonderry, N.H.. Perkins and Whipple. Boston, 1851. pp. 67-68

The English Puritans collected around Cohas Brook slightly more than a decade before John McNeil and Archibald Stark would settle at Amoskeag; they were no doubt displeased to see the Scotch-Irish coming to the falls from Nutfield. As the Scotch-Irish community grew through the 1730’s and 40’s, the legacy of conflict was no less present in the Manchester area, than it had been in Massachusetts. James Brennan notes of a nameless Puritan poet who apparently watched a boat of Scotch-Irishmen capsize in the falls on the Merrimack River, “They soon began to scream and bawl, As out they tumbled one and all, And, if the Devil had spread his net, He could have made a glorious haul.”23 This short poem reinforces the stigma that followed the Scotch-Irish and is symbolic of the lowly place they held in the eyes of the Puritan community. Given the history of hostility between these two groups, one begins to understand why the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians around Amoskeag felt the need to build the seemingly excessive fort at Nutt’s Pond. That is not to suggest that the Presbyterian community invited open battle between themselves and their Puritan neighbors, however, it does appear that they were sending a message. The excessiveness of Stark’s Fort, given the location’s relative safety, conveyed a message about the community that built it. The people who erected its walls were prepared for war, and it was very obvious that that war was not coming from the Indians. The building of this fort not only conveyed the notion that these people were capable of fighting for their land but they were there to stay. The permanency of the barracks added legitimacy to the community’s claims to the land and simultaneously provided a subtle intimidation to other intruding communities, specifically the Puritans. While there is no record of open conflict between the Puritans and Presbyterians in the Manchester area, it is likely out of circumstance that relations did not corrode to skirmishing. For as relatively safe as the inner frontier of New Hampshire was, there was still the fear of a formidable French and Indian attack, a fear that would become reality in 1754 with the Seven Years War. It was this fear that likely kept these communities in check and encouraged the “peaceful” cohabitation that existed. Home at Last: The Scotch-Irish Presbyterians that settled in Nutfield undoubtedly experienced the legacy of discrimination the Puritan community had afforded them. It seems impossible that these very same emigrants could have moved only a few short miles to the Manchester area, and left these fundamental differences behind. Coupling the religious tension was the reality that during the 1740s a religious revival was taking place throughout the colonies. “The Great Awakening” was a decade of disconnect between sections of religious beliefs that had been


Brenna, James F. The Irish Settlers of Southern New Hampshire. Peterborough, NH 1910. pp. 3

historically tolerant of each other. Communities divided, congregations split, and the entirety of colonial America was either on one side or the other. Manchester, New Hampshire was unable to hide from this sweeping wave of religious revival. While communities split between old sects and new sects, the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians solidified their ground around the Merrimack River. The settlers around Amoskeag likely saw their Puritan neighbors as a menace to their way of life, whether by their religious intolerance or through their increasing encroachment upon the land, the Presbyterian community sought to establish a defense against this threat. Falling within the parameters of the era, building a defensive structure did not seem entirely out of the norm, and therefore brought no question to the motivations of the Scotch-Irish. However, in building a structure such as Stark’s Fort, in all its excessiveness, the Scotch-Irish were able to communicate their discontent toward their neighbors without inviting open conflict between the communities. Stark’s Fort was a way for the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians of the Manchester area to finally lay claim to territory in New England and ward off the intrusions of a staunch Puritan community. No longer would the strict religious culture of Puritan New England be able to treat this group of emigrants with the same repugnant behavior they had in decades past. In conjunction with the Puritan distaste for the Scotch-Irish, the community also needed to send a message to the other intruding peoples. The Scotch-Irish Presbyterians had now found and secured a place for themselves on the Merrimack River and were willing to fight for it, if that day should ever come.

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