Historical Markers

Preserving History for over a Century

Putnam Grove pix
Under the regency of Mrs. Hattie Howard Miller (1915-1916), a boulder and tablet was placed in Putnam Grove, Peterborough, in memory of Miss Catherine Putnam.

Miss Putnam presented this tract of land on the right bank of the Nubanusit River to the town in 1862. Putnam Grove is almost three acres of land in the downtown area and has been used for public gatherings, picnics, and other celebrations.

pixMiss Catherine Putnam was a resident of Boston and was a lady of great wealth. She was born on June 9, 1778, to Jesse and Susannah Putnam and was their only child. Her father was a Harvard graduate and nephew of Revolutionary War General Israel Putnam. Finding herself in ill health in the city, Miss Putnam moved to Peterborough, where she experienced a great improvement in her health. She gave considerable attention to the sick and the needy, and contributed freely of her substance to the townspeople. She remained in Peterborough until her death on March 27, 1862, at age eighty-four.

The plaque reads, "Putnam Grove, Presented to the town of Peterborough by Miss Catherine Putnam, March 11, 1862. To be kept forever as a Public Grove. Erected 1915 by Peterborough Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution."

Old Bell Factory pix
The second cotton mill in New England, and the first in New Hampshire, was constructed on River Street in Peterborough in 1810.

Called the Bell Factory, but regarded as "Old Bell," the mill was built by the Honorable Samuel Smith, and the machinery was constructed by John Field. In May 1818, the first cloth was woven by water-powered looms in the state under the supervision of John H. Steele of North Carolina. Steele would later become Governor of New Hampshire (1844-1845). pix

The Old Bell burned in 1922.

During the regency of Mrs. Emma Pettee Cummings (1927-1930), a tablet was placed. The plaque reads, "This tablet marks the site of the Old Bell Factory, the first cotton factory run by water power in New Hampshire. Incorporated 1808. Placed by Peterborough Chapter DAR, 1929."

East Hill Cemetery pix
Located on Old Street Road in Peterborough, the East Hill Cemetery is the final resting place for several Revolutionary War soldiers. Under the regency of Mrs. Bethia Ames Alexander (1910-1912), thirty-eight graves of Revolutionary War soldiers were located and marked with bronze markers.

During the regency of Miss Mary Ellen Knight (1926-1927), a new gate and tablet, inscribed with the names of the soldiers buried in the cemetery, was dedicated on June 14, 1927.

First Meeting House pix
Also on a plaque at the gates of the East Hill Cemetery are words commemorating the site of the first meeting house in Peterborough.

Built in 1752, the meeting house was, for many years, "furnished with no other seats than rough boards laid loosely upon square blocks of wood." The building was thirty feet square. In 1760, the building was enlarged by an addition in the front, which was considerably larger than the main building.

Peter Prescott Dugout pix
Lieutenant Peter Prescott, the namesake of the town of Peterborough, was born in 1709 to Jonathan Prescott, a physician in Concord, Massachusetts. He was a descendant of John Prescott, pioneer and founder of Lancaster, Massachusetts. Prescott graduated from Harvard in 1730, and resided in Concord, Massachusetts, where he was deeply immersed in speculating in wild lands.

In 1738, the Massachusetts legislature granted what is now Peterborough to Prescott. As soon as Prescott got his first assignments of the lots, he began selling them. By May of 1740, he had disposed of all the lands except for 400 acres on which he lived. A note in Sawtelle's History of Townsend indicates that Prescott lived in a "semi-subterranean cave snugly ensconced in an abrupt hillside with a sunny outlook."

While Prescott served in the militia during the French and Indian War, he and his family moved to Nova Scotia prior to the Revolution. It has been debated if he was a Tory. He died in 1784.

Dedicated in 1928 during the regency of Mrs. Emma Pettee Cummings, the plaque reads, "The northerly hillside is the traditional site of the dugout of Peter Prescott, one of the original grantees practically concerned in the settlement of Peterborough. He was active officer and clerk for the proprietors of the town. Under his administration final surveys and divisions of lots were made and highways laid out. Tablet erected by Peterborough Chapter D.A.R., 1928." The marker is located on Cheney Road.

Wilson Tavern pix
Major Robert Wilson immigrated from Ireland to Cambridge, Massachusetts, before settling in Peterborough. Wilson opened the first tavern in town, which served as a central meeting place for many years. Wilson Tavern was located on what is now Old Street Road in what was the town center of Peterborough.

On April 19, 1775, Wilson was serving as a Captain in the militia when a rider from New Ipswich arrived to share the news of the Battle of Lexington. Captain Wilson quickly gathered his company in response to the Lexington Alarm. The men made it as far as Groton, Massachusetts, before learning the battle was over and they were ordered home. Two months later, the men were fighting at Bunker Hill.

Robert Wilson was promoted to Major in 1777 and was charged by General Stark with commanding the guard to escort Hessian prisoners of war from Bennington to Boston.

The Peterborough Chapter marked the location on September 8, 1914. The unveiling of the plaque was done by Miss Jennie S. Scott, great-granddaughter of Major Wilson; and the historical address given by Reverend J. L. Seward, a descendant of Major Wilson.

The plaque reads, "Site of the first tavern in this town kept in 1775 by Major Robert Wilson was fifty feet west of this spot from which on April 19, 1775, the men marched in response to the Lexington Alarm. Erected 1914 by Peterborough Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution."

Ritchie Fort pix
Captain John Taggart, William McNee, and William Ritchie were the earliest residents of Peterborough. William Ritchie's son, John, born February 11, 1750, was the first child born in town. The Ritchie place was located on the south side of town, near what is now Old Sharon Road.

Despite the end of the French and Indian War, peace between the settlers and the Native Americans was not guaranteed. In 1750, the townsmen built a small garrison fort on the Ritchie place for resort in case of danger.

The Peterborough Chapter marked this site with a boulder and a plaque. The plaque reads, "Ritchie Fort stood about 400 feet west of here in 1750 and was built by early Peterborough settlers to protect them from Indian raids. Erected by Peterborough Chapter N.S.D.A.R. 1963."