From 1652 to 1674, 16,000 beaver pelts were exported not to mention the otter, muskrat, moose, lynx, fox, and raccoon that also were trapped and traded. ...
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An Industrious State
From Traders to Settlers
New Hampshires Beginnings
The first English people in New Hampshire arrived with the hope of making money!
For a time, a mutually satisfying relationship based on trade was established between Native Americans and the new settlers.
For one thing, Europeans wanted to be able to fish the waters in peace along the coast of North America and up its rivers.
Also, Europeans desired animal pelts, particularly beaver.
From 1652 to 1674, 16,000 beaver pelts were exported not to mention the otter, muskrat, moose, lynx, fox, and raccoon that also were trapped and traded.
Beaver were thought to be so plentiful that they were killed in great numbers.
Soon, they were virtually extinct in New Hampshire.
In addition, they began to exchange their leather dress for blue, red, and purple cloth purchased from Europeans.
But the harmony was short-lived.
Growing dependence on European goods began to undermine the Indians traditional way of life.
land that had once belonged to the Indians.
English settlements in
English settlements in
Land that once had been home to Indian villages, and later an occasional English fort or trading post, became the site of numerous colonial towns.
Farming and Domestic Industry
Village industry supported needs that could not easily be met by an individual farmer.
Every village had a grist mill and a sawmill, for example
and tanners produced leather needed for shoes and harnesses.
Samuel Lane ofStratham was afarmer.
Also, he was
and a shrewd tradesman.
John Dunlap, a prosperous Bedford farmer, also made fine furniture.
Thriving coastal towns like Portsmouth were major trading centers.
But the colonies chafed under English laws that permitted trade only within the British Empire and restricted the manufacture of finished goods.
Britain wished to confine the colonies to producing raw materialssuch as timber.
The tall trees in New Hampshires woods made the mast trade important.
Vestiges of that once-important trade may be seen in familiar names in many towns Mast Road, Mastway, or Mastyard, for example.
Here again, English policy angered colonists.
By law, white pines of certain size were marked by the Kings Arrow distinctive notches cut into the trees.
These trees were reserved for use as masts for English ships.
which had been caused in part by such unpopular laws and restrictions on trade
once again brought about a change in the way of life in the region.
The change of New Hampshires seal reveals a change in perception.
This provincial seal of 1775 showed the natural resources for which our colony was known.
This official seal was approved in 1931.
It is little changed since the images of a rising sun and a ship under construction were first approved in 1784.
A Young State
From Haystacks to Smokestacks
Even though the new state of New Hampshire was a land of small farms, residents depended upon commerce and exchange to supply goods they could not produce for themselves.
Domestic industry increased, and with the increase came the need for better roads to connect villages with each other and with major commercial centers.
Gradually, local industry was supplemented by cottage industries, or outwork, which involved a familys taking work into its home on contract from agents in cities like Boston. The agents supplied raw materials and collected the finished products.
The Hampstead area became well known for its production of braided palm leaf hats, like that above. Also, many farms had ten-footers, ten-foot square buildings set aside for the making of shoes using leather supplied by the agents.
In the early 1800s, technological developments made it possible to harness the power of water
and factories developed along every river in the southern half of the state.
Pulp & Paper Mills
In 1827, the Cocheco Manufacturing Company in Dover became one of the first producers of printed cottons in New England.
A section of the small farming village of Derryfield became Manchester, the largest industrialized city in the world. It surpassed even the English city for which it was named.
The Amoskeag Company of Manchester was so large that it controlled most of its own production operations, including making the machines that ran the mills and even locomotives for the trains to transport their goods.
By 1912, the Amoskeag Mills produced enough cloth each day to stretch from Concord to New York City and backabout 500 miles!
A State on the Move
From River to Rail
The coming of the railroads in the middle of the 1800s changed New Hampshire life in major ways.
Many of the states farmers took advantage of the improved transportation to leave New Hampshires rocky terrain.
Following the advice of Horace Greeley, a New Hampshire native, they headed west where soil was richer and farming more profitable.
But the railroad also brought people into the state
and created new opportunities for industry as well.
The convenience and speed of train travel made the beauty of New Hampshires many mountains and lakes easily accessible to city dwellers in Boston and New York.
Coaches made in Concord by the Abbot-Downing Company continued to transport people shorter distances in comfort
relative to the times, of course.
became even more important now that the North Country could be reached by railroad.
The mills produced the raw materials for boxes, bobbins, butter churns and even vehicles and refrigerators.
In addition to producing textiles and timber products, New Hampshire continued to manufacture other products, such as shoes and bricks and glassware.
And certainly we worked with stone. Remember, our nickname is
The Granite State
(Granite quarried in Concord was used to build the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.!)
The Present Day
Continuity or Change
Tourism is very much important to the economy of New Hampshire, but few grand hotels are still in operation.
Mill buildings still stand in many of our communities, but few serve in their original capacity.
Dovers Sawyer Woolen Mills eventually became a department store. More recently, it was divided into condominiums.
but sometimes it is hard to perceive what the future holds.
It is often easy to notice as old ways fade in importance
This postcard from 1912 shows a vision of the future for the town of Newport!
How accurate do you think the prediction was?
What is the nature of industry and commerce today? How is our state changing?
What do you think our future will be like? What will your community look like in twenty years?
2008-2010 Christopher MacLeod forthe NewHampshire Historical Society