Place:Dover, Strafford, New Hampshire, United States


Alt namesCocheco
Coordinates43.191°N 70.879°W
Located inStrafford, New Hampshire, United States
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Dover is a city in Strafford County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 32,741 at the 2020 census,[1] making it the largest city in the New Hampshire Seacoast region and the fifth largest municipality in the state. It is the county seat of Strafford County, and home to Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, the Woodman Institute Museum, and the Children's Museum of New Hampshire.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia


Before European settlement, the area was inhabited by the Abenaki people. The first known European to explore the region was Martin Pring from Bristol, England, in 1603. In 1623, William and Edward Hilton settled at Pomeroy Cove on Dover Point, making Dover the oldest permanent settlement in New Hampshire, and seventh in the United States. One of the colony's four original townships, it then included Durham, Madbury, Newington, Lee, Somersworth and Rollinsford.

The Hiltons' name survives at Hilton Park on Dover Point (originally known as Hilton Point), where the brothers settled near the confluence of the Bellamy and Piscataqua rivers. They were fishmongers sent from London by the Company of Laconia to establish a colony and fishery on the Piscataqua. In 1631, however, it contained only three houses. William Hilton built a salt works on the property (salt-making was the principal industry in his hometown of Northwich, England). He also served as Deputy to the General Court (the colonial legislature).

In 1633, the plantation was bought by a group of English Puritans who planned to settle in New England, including Viscount Saye and Sele, Baron Brooke and John Pym. They promoted colonization in America, and that year Hilton's Point received numerous immigrants, many from Bristol. They renamed the settlement Bristol. Atop the nearby hill they built a meetinghouse surrounded by an entrenchment, with a jail nearby.

The town was called Dover in 1637 by the new governor, Reverend George Burdett. It was possibly named after Robert Dover, an English lawyer who resisted Puritanism. With the 1639 arrival of Thomas Larkham, however, it was renamed after Northam in Devon, where he had been preacher. But Lord Saye and Sele's group lost interest in their settlements, both here and at Saybrook, Connecticut, when their plan to establish a hereditary aristocracy in the colonies met disfavor in New England. Consequently, the plantation was sold in 1641 to Massachusetts and again named Dover.

Settlers built fortified log houses called garrisons, inspiring Dover's nickname "The Garrison City." The population and business center shifted from Dover Point to Cochecho Falls on the Cochecho River, where its drop of providing water power for industry (Cochecho means "the rapid foaming water" in the Abenaki language). What is now downtown Dover settlers called Cochecho village.

Cochecho Massacre

On June 28, 1689, Dover suffered a devastating attack by Native Americans. It was revenge for an incident on September 7, 1676, when 400 Native Americans were tricked by Major Richard Waldron into performing a "mock battle" near Cochecho Falls. After discharging their weapons, the Native American warriors were captured. Half were sent to Massachusetts for predations committed during King Philip's War, then either hanged or sold into slavery. Local Native Americans deemed innocent were released, but considered the deception a dishonorable breach of hospitality. Thirteen years passed. When colonists thought the episode forgotten, they struck. Fifty-two colonists, a quarter of the population, were either captured or slain.

Incursions against the frontier town would continue for the next half century. During Father Rale's War, in August and September 1723, there were Indian raids on Saco, Maine, and Dover, New Hampshire. The following year Dover was raided again and Elizabeth Hanson wrote her captivity narrative.

Mill era

Located at the head of navigation, Cochecho Falls brought the Industrial Revolution to 19th-century Dover in a big way. But cotton textile manufacturing actually began about two miles upstream with the Dover Cotton Factory, which was incorporated in 1812, its mill built in 1815. The business would move to Cochecho Falls when it acquired water privileges occupied since the 17th-century by sawmills and gristmills. In 1823 it was renamed the Dover Manufacturing Company, but was not successful. So in 1827 the Cocheco Manufacturing Company was founded (the misspelling a clerical error at incorporation). Expansive brick mills were constructed downtown, linked to receive cotton bales and ship finished cloth when the railroad arrived in 1842. Incorporated as a city in 1855, Dover for a time became a leading national producer of textiles, the mill complex dominating the riverfront and employing 2000 workers.

The mills were purchased in 1909 by the Pacific Mills of Lawrence, Massachusetts, which closed the printery in 1913 but continued spinning and weaving. The printery buildings were demolished in 1913, their site is now Henry Law Park. During the Great Depression, however, textile mills no longer dependent on New England water power began moving to southern states in search of cheaper operating conditions, or simply went out of business. Dover's millyard shut in 1937, then was bought at auction in 1941 by the city itself for $54,000. There were no other bids. Now called the Cocheco Falls Millworks, its tenants include technology and government services companies, plus a restaurant, brewery and bar.

Textile manufacturing in Dover wasn't limited to cotton. In 1824, Alfred I. Sawyer established the Sawyer Woolen Mills beside the Bellamy River. It would expand to include 15 major buildings over 8.5-acres, and by 1883 was the largest woolen manufacturer in the state.[2] In 1889 it was acquired by the American Woolen Company, but closed and was sold off in 1955. The buildings have been repurposed into housing.

Modern era

With the closing of the mills, the downtown area of Dover sat vacant and lifeless for a long time. With the turn of the century, the city government began to revitalize the area. The Children's Museum of New Hampshire was brought into a disused mill building with a lease of $1 a year. Henry Law Park, a grassy waterfront stretch of land, was given a brand new playground. Small businesses moved into the mills, such as restaurants, toy stores, real estate offices, and barber shops. Old buildings have been refurbished or outright rebuilt to provide new housing. An $87.5 million high school was built to handle the influx of new residents retreating from the high housing prices in Portsmouth. Recently, a plan to develop the waterfront on the other side of the river from the traditional downtown area was approved for $6 million. In early May 2021, waypoint signs were sporadically added to help drivers and walkers navigate Dover with the expansions that are underway.

Antique postcards

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