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ENDICOTT ROCK

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Endicott Rock is a monument to the first visit of white men of which there is any knowledge. The lettering upon the Rock was done to perpetuate the record of an official delegation sent by the Massachusetts Bay Colony to ascertain the northernmost boundary of its territory, in the summer of 1652, only thirty-two years after the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. The exact date, as specified in the report, included in the old colony records, was August 1, 1652, which deserves to be made Endicott Memorial Day and regularly observed.

Having reached what was considered the head of the Merrimack River, three miles north of which was to be established the northwest boundary point of the territory embraced in the Massachusetts Colony territorial tract, as specified in their charter from the king of England, they evidently deemed it unnecessary to attempt to go any further, as the stated distance, three miles further on, would but establish the point sought in the water or very near the northern shore of the lake, and the arm of the lake extending northerly, a little west of north, might have been deemed an inconvenient or impassable barrier, as it could not. have been known how far it extended.

Selecting this conveniently-located, large, round-topped boulder, at the mouth of the river channel, they chiseled upon its face the name of Governor Endicott, of the Bay Colony, and their own initials, and probably the date, which in some manner has been effaced. Captain Symon Willard and Captain Edward Johnson were the leaders in this party of explorers. They were assisted by John Sherman, Jonathan Ince and other white men and several dependable Indians. The complete report is available among the Massachusetts state records. The latitude of the place was stated to be 43 degrees, 40 miuutes, 12 seconds, “besides three miles more north wich runneth into the lake.” The party did not remain long.

After this important event many years rolled by before other white men came. “The ancient solitude reigned again about the lake,” except for aboriginal disturbances. Old Endicott Rock was entirely forgotten for 181 years after the inscriptions were engraved upon it. Finally, in 1833, it was rediscovered, after which some efforts were made to preserve it. But not until 1892 did the State of New Hampshire complete present protective measures, including the memorial structure of granite enclosing it, which was dedicated in the fall of that year.

The old log blockhouse, or fort, erected as a barrier against the Indians, by the first surveyors of land for the old town of Gilmantown, the northwest corner of which was specified to be here, was located on the point of land directly opposite Endicott Rock, on the east side of the river channel, in 1736, and the first log structures for dwelling purposes stood slightly to the southward, near the shore of the river channel.
“As we look back more than 250 years it seems a long time, but how insignificant when compared with the measureless years of solitude through which this grey old sentinel silently guarded the outlet of the lake, and the more distant aeons of time when Winnipesaukee turned its waters into the sea by another channel, and there was no `head of the Merrimack’ here; or with the glacial wanderings of this voiceless stone from its cradle bed in the infinite past, when there was no `Beautiful Water of the Highlands,’ and the `Smile of the Great Spirit’ had not rested among the hills.


“Wonderful, indeed, has been the unrecorded history of this now exalted wanderer. More wonderful, yet, are the vicissitudes which await it. It beheld nature’s tumultous uproar previous to and during the breaking up of the great ice-cap and the withdrawal of its waters, and beheld other awful conditions prior to the appearance of man.

Races had vanished and been buried in eternal oblivion before this primeval stone found a resting-place here. So shall our race perish and be forgotten, in the infinite years; and as our lifeless planet shall swing into the wild and stormy hereafter, relentless Time, scorning our efforts to perpetuate the work of human hands, with titanic blows shall beat Endicott Rock into impalpable dust.”

The foregoing quoted passages are from the dedicatory address of Endicott Memorial, written and delivered by Hon. E. P. Jewell of Laconia, an eloquent and perfectly reliable authority, who spent considerable time obtaining data for the article, going more into detail during the address as follows:

“Several of the principal nobility of England obtained from King James all the land in America between the degrees of 40 and 48 north latitude, by the name of New England. John Mason obtained from this corporation several grants, bearing date March 9, 1621; August 10, 1622; November 7, 1629, and April 22, 1633. He -vas instated in fee in a vast tract of land known as New Hampshire. November 27, 1629, Mason and Fernando Gorges procured a grant of territory by the name of Laconia. Mason transported settlers, built houses, forts and magazines, and furnished arms, including artillery and all necessary materials for establishing a plantation, at very great expense.

“In 1628 the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay of New England secured from the Council of New England a grant of lands therein described. A royal charter was obtained, March 4, 1629. The boundaries and descriptions of all these grants were imperfect and strangely confused. The interior had never been explored, and difficulties of the most perplexing nature arose as soon as settlements were undertaken upon territory which seemed to be included in both grants, to Mason and to the Bay Company. A section of the Massachusetts charter, referring to the northern boundary, was as follows: `and also all and singular lands and hereditaments whatsoever which lie and be within the space of three English miles to the northward of said river, called Monomack, alias Merrimack, or to the northward of any and every part thereof.’ “Mason’s New Hampshire grant of November 7, 1629, embraced all that part of the main land in New England lying upon the sea coast, beginning from the middle part of the Merrimack river, and from thence northward along the sea-. coast to the Piscataqua river, and so forwards up within the said river, and to the furthest head thereof, and from thence northwestward until three-score miles be finished from the first entrance of Piscataqua river; also from the Merrimack through the said river and to the furthest head thereof, and so forwards up into the lands westward until three score miles be finished,’ etc.

“In 1652 the Massachusetts Colony resolved upon an exploring expedition, to determine and to fix the northern boundaries of their patents. Prior to this time conflicting views upon the construction of the peculiar description in their charter had been entertained, and now, upon a careful perusal of the-instrument, it was determined that a point three miles northward of the head of the Merrimack river was the northern limit of their territory, and this notable expedition was organized to go up the river, to find the head thereof, and to establish the bounds. At this time probably no white man had ever approached the lake nearer than a point three miles north of the `forks’ of the river at Franklin.
“A previous expedition had explored the river as far as Franklin fills and made a partial survey. This committee placed the northern boundary line at a great pine tree, three miles north of the union of the Winnipesaukee and Pemigewasset rivers, then rightfully considered the head of the Merrimack, as has since been established. This first survey was doubtless made in the summer or early autumn of 1638. The pine tree was marked to indicate the extreme limit of the possessions under the colonial charter, and was known for many years as ‘Endicott ‘s tree.’ It is formally alluded to in the claim presented by Massachusetts to the celebrated Salisbury court, August 8, 1737, as `a certain tree commonly known for more than 7 0 years past by the name of Endicott’s tree, standing three miles northward of the parting of the Merrimack river,’ etc.

“The construction put upon the charter in the spring of 1652 made an authoritative exploration a necessity. Difficulties and complications had arisen, involving other charters and individual rights. The conflict was serious and the difficulties great. The men who came up the Merrimack 244 years ago did not penetrate the wilderness as adventurers. They were representatives of the Massachusett Colony and came to determine boundaries and to take possession. The order of the court, May 3, 1652, was as follows: For the better discovery of the north line of our patent it is ordered by this court. that Captain Symon Willard and Captain Edward Johnson be appointed as commissioners to procure such artists and other assistance as they shall judge meet. to go with them, to find out the most northerly part of Merrimack river, and that they be supplied with all manner of necessaries by the treasurer, fit for the journey, and they use their utmost skill and ability to make a true observation of the latitude of that place, and that they do it with all convenient speed and make return thereof to the next session of this court.’"

Endicott Rock is located in Endicott Park, accessed from Weirs Beach in Weirs, NH.

 


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