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Map of Derryfield.
Editorial Notes and Insertions:
THE FOUNDING OF A TOWN.
The civil and political history of Manchester, though the town had not been yet dignified with that time honored name, begins on the 23d of September, 1751, when at the call of John MacMurphy the “proprietors, freeholders and inhabitants” of Derryfield assembled at the inn of John Hall for the purpose of laying the foundation of self government. This was twenty days after the granting of the town charter, as given in the Records.
This charter had for its prime object the incorporation under suitable control of what had long been debatable ground— a tract of land three miles in width, lying along the east bank of the Merrimack river from the southern line of Suncook or Lovewell’s town, now Pembroke, to the northern boundary of Litchfield, anciently known as Harrytown, but more recently (1735) included in the Massachusetts grant to Major Ephraim Hildreth and others under the name of Tyng township, so called in honor of the memory of Captain William Tyng, the leader of the “snow shoe expedition” to Lake Winnepesaukee, made in the winter of 1703-04. As this territory was not deemed of sufficient size to make a “respectable township,” enough was taken from the adjoining towns to make up the desired area with the same unconcern that the claims of the sister province of Massachusetts had been ignored a few years before. Those were the days and this the scene of grants and counter-grants, of claims and contrary claims.
Thus the Derryfield charter covered about thirty-five square miles of country from the following sources: eight square miles of Tyng township, nine square miles of the northwestern portion of Londonderry, formerly Nutfield, and seventeen and three-fourths square miles of Chester, erstwhile called “the chestnut country.” The name of Derryfield is claimed to have originated from the practice of stock owners of Londonderry in allowing their herds to graze on the clearings within its limits, and arising from the term “Derry's field.” The first town meeting was held in a house builded by John Hall, on what was the land of the late Isaac Huse, and with repairs and alterations from time to time stood until destroyed by fire in 1852. There is no record of the number of votes cast at this meeting, though there were probably between fifty and sixty polls at the time. The development of the town made the laying out of new highways and the improvement of those already built the foremost duty of the selectmen. The officers of the new town had barely entered upon their work before the people in all parts of the province were thrown into consternation over renewed depredations of the Indians, who had been giving the colonists a temporary rest in their long continued series of warfare. A hard fought struggle with the red men followed. If Derryfield escaped being the battleground, her inhabitants met with their proportion of perils and hardships on the war trail, until through the breaking of the French power in Canada a season of peace again settled upon the valley of the Merrimack. The tenor of politics and something of the qualification necessary to gain the right of franchise is illustrated in the warning for the annual meeting March 5, 1753. In 1756 is found the first vote on record taken relative to the matter of education, when it was voted not to raise any money for school. It was not until Dec. 25, 1781, that it was voted “to hire a schoolmaster 9 months this year comeing.” An era of prosperity had dawned upon the province, but unfortunately for the harmony and welfare of the new town two combative elements of human life made up the minds and sinews of the men of Derryfield. Its inhabitants consisted