JOSEPH B. WALKER –1896
Inasmuch as the proprietors of Penny Cook were to live on both sides of the river, a frequent crossing of it would be a necessity. To meet this, preliminary action was taken by the proprietors at a meeting holden on the 15th day of May, 1728. At this meeting it was voted :
” That Mr. Ebenezer Eastman, Mr. Abraham Foster and Mr. Joseph. Hall shall be a committee to agree with some suitable person to keep a ferry on Merrimack river, at Penny Cook, in the most convenient place they can find for that purpose ; and that they lay out and clear the best way they can to the ferry place, and after they have stated the place where the said ferry shall be kept, that the ferry-man shall have and receive the prices following, viz., For ferriage of each man and horse, six pence ; for each horned beast, four pence ; and this establishment to remain and be in force for six years.”
A year later, on the 6th day of May, 1729, at a meeting of the proprietors holden at the house of John Griffin, in Bradford, Mass., it was voted :
” That Mr. Nehemiah Carlton be desired to build a ferry boat of about nineteen feet long, and a suitable breadth, to be well timbered, and every way well built, workmanlike, at the charge of the community and to be done by the 20th of May current. Said boat to be delivered at Penny Cook for the use of the society. And a pair of good and suitable oars to be made by the said Carlton, for said boat. Said boat to be well and sufficiently caulked, pitched or turpentined, and finished, fit to carry people and creatures.”
And later, at the same meeting, it was also voted :
” That the sum of seven pounds, eighteen shillings and six pence, paid by several persons and several subscriptions to the sum of forty-one shillings and six pence, be put into the treasurer’s hands, and by him paid to Mr. Nehemiah Carlton for the ferry boat when it is finished,—which was accordingly delivered to the treasurer.”
Ten years later still, when the plantation had been pretty fully peopled and had become the town of Rumford, it was further voted:
” That Mr. Barrachias Farnum, Mr. James Osgood and Mr. George Abbot shall be a committee to agree with any person to take the Ferry against Wattanummon’s and make a return of their doings to the Proprietors for their acceptance.”
Some eleven years later (April 26, 1750) the proprietors appointed a committee, consisting of Dr. Ezra Carter, Lieut. Jeremiah Stickney, and Capt. John Chandler, ” To dispose of the Ferry against Wattanummon’s Field, so called, to such persons and upon such terms as they shall think will be for the Proprietors’ advantage.”
This ferry seems to have been known for a time as ” Eastman’s ferry,” and later, as ” Tucker’s ferry ” or the ferry of Lemuel Tucker, to whom the legislature, in 1785, granted the exclusive right of ferriage across the river for one mile above and below his house.
There was also another, possibly the one first above alluded to, near the south end of Main street, known as Merrill’s ferry, operated for many years by Deacon John Merrill, who came to Concord in 1729, and upon the organization of the church, the following year, was elected its first deacon. This ferry subsequently became the property of Samuel Butters, and was known as ” Butters’ ferry.”
Midway of these two, at the east end of Ferry street, Benjamin Kimball operated a third, between Hale’s Point and Sugar Ball, which was continued in use until 1831.
Of these three ferries, Tucker’s seems to have been the only one operated under the privileges and limitations of a charter, eleven only having been previously incorporated in the entire state. Its charter provided :
” That the sole and exclusive right and privilege of keeping a Ferry over said river in any place within one mile of the now dwelling house of the said Lemuel Tucker be and hereby is granted to and invested in the said Lemuel Tucker, his heirs and assigns, he and they from time to time as the same fall, giving bond, with surety, in the sum of one thousand pounds to the clerk of the Court of the General Sessions of the Peace for the county of Rockingham, that the said ferry shall be well kept and constantly attended.
” That if any person or persons shall for hire or reward, transport over said river within one mile of the said dwelling house, any person, creature or thing, such person so transporting shall forfeit and pay forty shillings for each person, creature or thing so transported, to be recovered by action of debt before any Justice of the Peace in said county, one moiety of which shall go to the complainants, and the other moiety to the county of Rockingham.”
In -addition to these, in the early part of the last century, a fourth ferry was established at the south end of Hall street, near the head of Turkey Falls. It appears to have been a private enterprise, and was managed for a time by Col. John Carter. For lack of sufficient patronage, or for some other cause, its maintenance was not of long continuance.
FIRST FERRY AND PUBLIC LANDING in PENACOOK.
When this village was first settled there were, of course, no bridges over the Merrimack or Contoocook rivers, and it was soon found necessary to establish ferries. The first was established in 1737 by the town of Boscawen, on the Merrimack river near the site of the present iron bridge, and Stephen Gerrish, the first settler on the intervale on the east side of the river, was the first ferryman. Later, towards the close of that century, the ferry at this village was owned by a private corporation known as Blanchard’s Ferry, and was doing a large and profitable business as late as 1800. The landing on the west side of the river was just above the freight station, and near the lower railroad bridge. All travel from the south was here carried across to Boscawen and to Canterbury for many years. This ferry continued in business until the first bridge was built across the Merrimack. at which time the stockholders of the bridge bought a controlling interest in the ferry, and the bridge corporation made a suitable contract with the remaining shareholders of Blanchard’s Ferry to compensate them for loss of business by reason of opening the bridge for public travel.
In the early days of the present century the land now occupied by the railroad station buildings, and extending from the Merrimack river west to the street running parallel to the tracks, was a public landing, and was used by the lumbermen for depositing logs and sawed lumber before putting it into the river to be floated down to market. Lumber was here made up into rafts of suitable size to be passed through the locks of the Middlesex canal, and so delivered to the Boston market. This lumber business was quite extensive about 1825, and was the leading industry of the village, the business being carried on by the Rolfe and Gage families at the lower falls, and by the Elliott and Morrill families at the Borough. Lumber was also brought to this landing from Hopkinton and Warner, being run down the Contoocook river as far as the upper falls at the Borough, and then taken out of the river and hauled overland down to the public landing, the Merrimack river at that time being the only available way for transporting lumber to the markets in Boston and the other cities of the coast.