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Reprinted from the Weirs Times - Article by Bruce Heald - Ref: Colby’s Indian History, Solon B. Colby, 1975.

“Previous to the settlement of central New Hampshire, the Pemigewasset Indians had a village near the junction of the Winnipesaukee and Pemigewasset Rivers. The site of their village was made into a public park and during that process, hundreds of artifacts were discovered, some of which resemble those used by the so called ‘Red Paint People’ in Archaic times.

“The Proctor collection, which contains several hundred specimens from the Franklin-Tilton area, can be seen at the Dartmouth College Museum in Hanover, NH.

“On the north side of the highway, on Willow Hill in Franklin, there is a glacial boulder with a large bowl-like depression that the Indians used as a mortar in which to pulverize their corn. The first white settlers also used this primitive mill when meal was needed. Pestles of stone or hard wood were used in conjunction with mortars. Heavy pestles were usually suspended from a limp which made the work much easier for the squaws.

“As their numbers diminished by smallpox, about 1680, they moved up river to the intervales above Plymouth where there had been a village many years ago. They were still known as the Pemigewasset tribe because their headquarters were still on that river. Abbe Maurault in his Histoire des Abenakis calls it the ‘Riviere a la Graisse D’Ours.’ (The Bear’s Grease River).

“Musgrove’s History of Bristol mentions the many artifacts found at Newfound Lake, near Whittemore’s point and Fowler’s River. The dam at the outlet of the lake raised the water level enough to cover practically all of their lakeside campsites. One of their favorite campsites was at Profile Falls on the Smith River, and another was at the spring near the old highway from Bristol to Hill, NH.

“The Pemigewasset and Pass-aqua-nik trails joined at Bristol with the Mascoma trail which followed the Smith River in from Danbury and Lebanon, NH. The Kancamagus trail joined the Pemigewasset trail at Woodstock, and the Asquamchumaukee trail joined it at their old village site near the mouth of the Baker River, just above Plymouth, NH.

“In October 1743, an Indian named Coaus came to a council held in Portsmouth and petitioned His Excellency the Governor to place a truck house or trading post ‘near Pemigewasset where they might have such supplies as was necessary for their furs and that they might not be imposed on as they often were when they came into the lower towns and that they thought it reasonable to have some satisfaction for the lands if the English settled it, they never having had any as set.’
“His Excellency ask him if, for the present, orders should be given to some suitable person at Canterbury to supply them, it would answer their end, to which he answered it would do very well.
The Governor asked, “How many Indians are there?”

The Indian replied, “There are but three or four that claim the lands at Pemigewasset.”
His Excellency asked what things would be most suitable.

“Powder, shot, bullets, flints, knives, blankets, shirts, cloth for stockings, pipes, tobacco and rum,” he replied.

“On being asked how many would come down, Coaus said there would be fifteen and they would come in the Spring when the snow was gone and if the Governor would send them word at Canterbury, they would give notice to the rest of the Indians and come at His Excellency’s Time. The Governor told Coaus that the matter of a truck house would be brought up at the next meeting of the Assembly.

“The House of Representatives met Thursday, October 29th, and in answer to the written message brought that day by Mr. Secretary about appointing a truckmaster to trade with ye Indians. The House unanimously came into this Resolution, ‘That if they can have no voice in appointing a Truck Master they will not make any supply for that trade. Sent up. His Excellency’s Message on file.’
“On the fertile intervales by Livermore Falls and at the junction of Baker’s River and the Pemigewasset, the early settlers found the hills and ridges of old corn fields and the ashes of old campfires with arrowheads, stone mortars, pestles and other implements. Priest Fowle found many traces of the ancient inhabitants on his land bordering Squam Lake. A French sword, a relic of the frontier wars, was dug up in Holderness village many years ago.

“Black bears have always been numerous in the Pemigewasset Valley. Thomas Locke, an early settler living near Danforth Brook in the town of Bristol from 1777 to 1782, killed sixteen bears on fall on Briar Hill. The prevailing growths of oak and beech trees produced tons of acorns and beechnuts which attracted bears, deer, raccoons and passenger pigeons. Indians from Coos, Ossipee, Penacook, and Winnipesaukee came to hunt with the friendly Pemigewassets who welcomed them with feasting and rollicking by young and old.”



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