George W. Nesmith by Rev. W. R. Cochrane
James Nesmith, one of the signers of the memorial to Gov. Shute, March
26, 1718, and one of the proprietors of Londonderry, was also one of the
original sixteen that first struck for settlement on the soil of that
ancient town. April 22, 1719. He was a strong man, worthy of respect,
and honored by his associates. Was appointed elder of the West Parish
Presbyterian church, at its formation in 1739. The date of his death was
1767, and his age seventy-five. He married, in Ireland, in 1714,
Elisabeth, daughter of James McKeen and Janet Cochran. This Elisabeth
McKeen was sister of Janet McKeen, Dea. Isaac Cochran's mother. She died
in 1763, aged sixty-seven. The Nesmiths lived in the valley of the Bann
in Ireland, and emigrated to that place from Scotland in 1690. Dea.
James Nesmith had two children in Ireland, and seems to have buried the
eldest child there. Seven children were born to them in America. The
names of all were: Arthur, buried in infancy in Ireland; James, born in
Ireland in 1718; Arthur, born in Londonderry April 3, 1721; Jean, born
March 12, 1723; Mary, born Jan. 24, 1726; John, born Feb. 11, 1728;
Elisabeth, born Jan. 8, 1730; Thomas, born March 26, 1732; Benjamin,
born Sept. 14, 1734.
James Nesmith, Jr., the son born in Ireland, was born early in 1718,
just before embarking for America, and was brought over in his mother's
arms. He married Mary Dinsmore and settled in the northern part of
Londonderry. Though an old man when the Revolutionary war broke out, he
went with all his heart into the struggle against the British; marched
among the minute-men at the first call, and was a participant in the
battle of Bunker Hill. He had children, James, Jonathan, Robert,
Elisabeth, Mary, and Sarah; and died where he settled, July 15, 1793. Of
these six children, we will only say as follows: James, the oldest, was
born in 1744; married Mary McClure (Parker's History is wrong in saying
Martha); was elder in the West Parish church; left children,—William
M., Robert, Isaac, James, Martha, Jane W., and Margaret,—of whom
William M., the first named, married Harriet Willis, and was father of
Hon. James W. Nesmith, long U. S. Senator from Oregon. Senator Nesmith
was born in 1820, married Pauline Goffe in 1846, and now lives in wealth
and honor at Dixie, Ore. The second child of James, Jr., was Jonathan of
Antrim; Robert, the third child, married Jane Anderson; Elisabeth, the
fourth child, married James Cochran of Windham; Mary, the fifth child,
married James McClure of Acworth; and Sarah, the sixth, married Daniel
Anderson of Londonderry.
Returning now to Arthur, the third child of Dea. James the emigrant, we
have to say that he was born April 3, 1721. He married Margaret Hopkins,
and settled in the south part of Londonderry; but in later life he moved
to the state of Maine. He had two sons in the Revolutionary army, one of
whom, John, was a captain noted for valor and strength, but died near
the close of the war from effects of excessive exposure and hardship. Of
Jean and Mary, daughters of the first Dea. James, I know nothing. But
John, the sixth child of the emigrant, married Elisabeth, sister of Gen.
George Reed of Londonderry, settled on the first Nesmith homestead with
his father, and died there in 1815, aged eighty-seven. His children
were: James of Antrim; Arthur of Antrim; John, Jr., who married, first,
Susan Hildreth, and, second, Lydia Sargent, and died on the homestead in
Londonderry in 1844; Ebenezer, who married Jane Trotter; Thomas;
Elisabeth, who married Dea. James Pinkerton; Mary, who married John
Miltimore, moving to Reading, Penn.; and Jane, who married Hugh
Anderson. Of Elisabeth, the emigrant's seventh child, I have no data.
Thomas, the eighth child, was born March 26, 1732; married Annis Wilson,
and settled in Londonderry (now the north part of Windham), and had
three children: John, Elisabeth, and Thomas, Jr. Of Benjamin, the ninth
child of the first Dea. James, I have no information of importance in
the present undertaking.
JONATHAN NESMITH, second child of James and Mary (Dinsmore) Nesmith, and
grandson of the proprietor Dea. James, was born in Londonderry, in
August, 1759. He came here in May, 1774, and began to clear the farm
that remained in possession of the family until 1865. He made successive
clearings each year, and with vigorous hand put up his log
cabin,—though only a boy of sixteen years when he began. He permanently
moved here in 1778. He subsequently had to pay for the most of his land
a second time. Was one of the leading spirits of the town. Was eleven
years selectman, and was four times chosen representative of the town.
Was always on important committees, and was known and confided in by
all. He was chosen one of the elders of the Presbyterian church at its
formation in 1778, though only twenty-nine years of age. For fifty years
he only failed of officiating at one communion. Dea. Nesmith was a man
of great sociality,—up to jokes,—genial, jolly, and good-natured; was
very hospitable and benevolent; anxious for the public welfare; stoutly
in earnest to maintain the faith of his fathers; a man of strong
ability, good judgment, and irreproachable character. He was an honor to
the town he helped to establish. His death occurred Oct. 15, 1845, aged
eighty-six. His first wife was Elenor Dickey, whom he married in 1781.
She was the daughter of Adam and Jane (Strahan) Dickey of Londonderry,
and grand-daughter of John and Margaret Dickey, of Londonderry, Ireland.
She was born Jan. 1, 1761, and died Sept. 17, 1818. He married, second,
Mrs. Sarah (Wetherbee) Hamblin, of Concord, Mass. She was twelve years
of age when she witnessed the battle of Lexington and Concord from her
father's door. She saw those brave men fall, remembered everything, and
was always fond of telling of those first blows for liberty. She died
Jan. 16, 1852, aged eighty-nine. Dea. Nesmith's cabin was burned one day
when the family were absent; and he used to remark, in after years, that
he never felt so poor as then. Yet, undismayed, he went about building
another, being generously aided by neighbors he had himself always been
forward to help. After several years he put up a substantial framed
house, which was burned March 4, 1841, from a spark catching on the
roof. In his old age Dea. Nesmith resigned his office in the church; and
it is spoken of as a remarkable scene, when he stood in the public
assembly and offered his resignation, and then, with trembling voice and
with uplifted and palsied hand, invoked God's blessing on his successors
in coming time. His children were:—
, b. Oct. 5, 1783; m. Polly Taylor April 10, 1810;
cleared and settled west of the pond and west of the Steele
place, on land now George Brown's,—often called the Boyd place;
went thence to Solon, N. Y., in 1822, with six children. There
his wife d. in 1846. In 1852 he m. 2d, Mrs. Susan Clark; moved
to Waukon, Io., and d. there in 1862. He had children:—
Mary, (b. in 1811; d. in infancy.)
Mary E., (b. in 1812; m. John Stillman of Cortlandville, N.
Y., in 1833; went to Waukon, Io., in 1857, where they now live.)
Rev. John T. G., (b. in 1814; studied at Cazenovia Seminary;
m. Harriet N. Taylor; entered the Methodist ministry; was a
faithful and able man; d. while pastor, at the age of 36.)
Hannah E., (b. in 1816; m. John Reed; moved to Waukon, Io., in
1857, and d. there in 1877.)
Abigail S., (b. in 1818; became second wife of Isaac Barker in
1847; went to Waukon, Io., in 1854.)
Mark W., (b. in 1820; d. unm., at Solon, N. Y., in 1848.)
James A., (b. in 1822; carried to Solon, N. Y., when an
infant; went thence to Illinois in 1844; m. Laura Post.)
George W., (b. in Solon, N. Y., in 1825; m. Mary C. Farrar of
Fairfield, Vt.; resides at Waukon, Io.)
Dr. Milton W., (b. in 1828; m. Margaret Donoughue in 1852; is
now physician and druggist at Waukon, Io.)
Woodbury T., (by second wife; b. in 1852; remains at Solon, N.
2. Jean, now called "Jane," or "Jenny;" b. May 14, 1787; m. John
Dunlap, June 26, 1807, and d. March 29, 1835.
3. Thomas D., b. March 22, 1789; m. Martha Weeks, March 30,
1813; succeeded his father on the homestead. His first wife d.
in 1828, aged 35, and he m. 2d, Nancy Gregg, Feb. 4, 1830. He d.
Sept. 10, 1841, aged 52. The second wife d. Feb. 9, 1856, aged
63. He was known in town as "Capt. Nesmith;" was captain of the
"Antrim Grenadiers," and was often marshal of the day on special
occasions. He was a useful man, and d. in his prime. His
Robert W., (b. May 3, 1814; m. Olive Dunlap of Bedford, June
1, 1839; settled in Jefferson, Tex., and d. at Sulphur Springs
in that state, Nov. 28, 1866. He left two daughters: Oriette,
now in the Metropolitan Railroad office, Boston; and Sally Y.,
who m. Com. Decatur Morris, and lives in Little Rock, Ark.)
Jonathan, (b. Jan. 24, 1816; m. Marietta F. Morrill of
Franklin, Nov. 15, 1841; inherited the homestead of his father
and grandfather, sold the same in 1865, and two or three years
later moved to Hancock, where he now resides. He was the last of
the name in town. At one time there were three Dea. Nesmiths in
town, known as "Dea. James," "Dea. Arthur," and "Dea. Jonathan,"
and they each had nine children,—making, with sisters and
friends, nearly forty by that name in this place. Jonathan's
children are: Jennie M., who was b. Sept. 23, 1842,—an
excellent teacher; Thomas S., who was b. May 12, 1846, and d. at
the age of three years; Fannie H., who was b. Dec. 8, 1848, and
m. Frank H. Baldwin, June 19, 1876, residing in Keene; Annie M.
T., who was b. Sept. 12, 1852; Abbie Isabel, who was b. Nov. 15,
1854, and d. 1856; Miles G., who was b. Sept. 26, 1857; Addie
M., who was b. Jan. 27, 1860; and John S., who was b. May 5,
Sarah E., (b. Dec. 24, 1818, m. John W. Buttrick, and lives in
Miles, (b. Feb. 2, 1821; went to California in 1849, and was
driver for the California Stage Company; the horses became
unmanageable, and the whole team was thrown down a fearful
precipice near Virginia City, Nev., by which the driver, all the
horses, and most of the passengers were instantly killed. This
sad event occurred in December, 1862.)
Harriet F., (b. Feb. 2, 1823, m. Walker Flanders, and lives in
Martha J., (b. June 9, 1825; m. Isaac P. Cochran of Windham,
Nov. 12, 1846.)
Melvin, (b. Dec. 20, 1830; d. in Sacramento, Cal., Dec. 31,
Hiram G., (b. Feb. 18, 1833; d. in Jefferson, Tex., in 1857.)
Nancy R., (b. Jan. 24, 1836, m. Josiah Melville, and lives in
4. Adam, b. March 5, 1792; m. Rebecca Dale; settled in Beverly,
Mass., and d. Jan. 15, 1865.
5. Mary D., "Molly Dinsmore" on town record, b. April 11, 1794;
called "Long Mary," being tall in form; a talented, respected,
and Christian woman; d. unm. April 6, 1874.
6. Margaret, b. May 4, 1796; d. unm. in 1827.
7. Isabel, b. March 6, 1798; d. unm. March 8, 1862.
8. Hon. George W., b. Oct. 23, 1800; was graduated at Dartmouth
College in 1820; m. Mary M. Brooks; settled in the practice of
law at Franklin; was long judge of the New Hampshire supreme
court, remaining on the bench until relieved by the
constitutional limitation of years. Is now president of the N.
H. Orphans' Home, and trustee of Dartmouth College; is a man of
noble principles and honored life, enjoying in his old age the
highest confidence and esteem of men. The degree of LL. D. was
conferred upon him by Dartmouth College. He stands among the
best and noblest of the sons of New Hampshire, and is an honor
to his native town.