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Brewster recalls the March family farm
and more in Greenland & Stratham

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By Charles W. Brewster

Editors Note: C.W. Brewster was a Portsmouth columnist in the mid-1800's. This article includes his opinions and may not reflect current research or current values.
JDR

RAMBLE CXIX.

Old Land Proprietors -- The March Farm -- The Family.

THE possessions of ancestors seem to be made more sacred by the length of time they have been held in a family. The path which a parentage of three or four generations has passed over, becomes endeared by the associations which are spread along it. This feeling has kept no small amount of landed estate around Portsmouth in the same families which took the original grants at the first settlement, more than two centuries ago, or soon after purchased the land. Among those families which have kept their first localities, are the Odiorne, Pickering, Seavey, March, Peirce, Moses, Whidden, Langdon, Dennett, Jackson, Drake, Johnson, Berry, Weeks, Haines, Packer, Brackett, Rand, and other families which do not occur to us now, whose ancestors of the same name, where there has been a line of male descendants, located themselves two centuries ago on the spot, or in the immediate vicinity of where their descendants now reside. Some who had located in Portsmouth then, by a change of town lines have had their farms transferred to the neighboring towns.

If it is pleasant to those who thus show their veneration for their ancestors, it is scarcely less so to those who in passing along can point to the localities where the labors of five or six successive generations have been turning the wild forest into a fertile garden, and the original log cabin into a palace. There are various localities to which this remark might apply, but we shall in this Ramble speak more particularly of one, which is prominent in the eye of every traveller who passes beyond the western bounds of Portsmouth.

The farm now owned by I. Bartlett Wiggin, Esq., on the Winicott road in Stratham has never been out of his own direct family since it was first granted by the crown. No deed has ever been made or given of said farm, but it has descended from father to son, by will, to its present owner, and he will pass it down, for he has sons; and "that farm is not for sale," if for no other reason, because the owner does not wish, nor has he a heart or occasion, to dispose of it out of the family.

On the south side of the road in Greenland, near the Portsmouth line, begins the farm of the March family, of two hundred seventy-five acres, now owned by the Hon. Clement March, which has been in the family seven generations. Its extent on the road is readily defined by the handsomest stone wall to be found in New Hampshire. It is built of clouded granite, from a quarry in Raymond belonging to Mr. March, the foundation sunk eighteen inches below the surface. In front of the house for several hundred feet, the wall is made of dimension stone, every block beaded. On this wall, and even with the ground in front of the house, is an open iron fence. The house of Dr. Clement March was burnt on this spot in 1812. Its place was soon supplied by a large house of three stories, which was consumed by fire in 1826. The present house was soon after erected on the spot. Large additions have been made the present season, under the direction of a distinguished Newburyport architect, rendering the mansion, in the extent of its accommodations, its spaciousness, its elegant furnishing, its rich ornaments, a residence of which any baron might be proud. The improvements, however, do not here terminate. In the several fires, the large old barn on the east of the house escaped conflagration.

It was built full a century ago, as its oak posts testify. Its place has recently been supplied by another of far greater extent, and finished in the best style. It is several rods south of the mansion. Another group of buildings is also rising up several rods west of the barn -- in one, stalls with iron hay racks for a dozen horses may be seen -- another is the carriage house -- and the third, resembling the first story of an octagon pagoda, is a well ventilated corn house. The air circulates through a half inch opening under every clapboard, which is not apparent without examination. The grapery is near the house. For the use of the mansion and the out buildings, water is being brought from a pond nearly half a mile distant, and, by the aid of hydraulic rams raised to the upper story of the buildings. It is a matter of doubt whether the beauty of the scenery from the house, or the richness of the treat to those who travel by, is most gratifying.

Passing through the curved avenue from the door to the iron gate on the west, and crossing the road, we come to another iron gate which opens to a wide tesselated path, made of the largest sea beach stones, of variegated colors, making a good mosaic. The path winds up a slight eminence, where on the declivity beyond is the family tomb, "Erected by Clement March in 1759, and repaired by Charles and Clement March in 1859." In it rest the remains of the family for a century. The care which is taken of these homes of the departed is another link in the chain which holds the affection to the names of our ancestors. And here we will take occasion to trace the family so long located on this farm.

This farm was first owned and occupied by John Hall. The date of his grant we cannot find, but as the road through Great Swamp was opened in 1663, it is probable he occupied it about that time. By his will, dated in 1677, in the reign of his "most excellent Majesty Charles of that name the Second, by the Grace of God, of France, Great Britain and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, &c." we learn that Greenland was regarded as a "Township of Dover."

His son Joseph Hall, succeeded him as proprietor. He had three daughters. One of them became the wife of Dr. Clement Jackson, and the mother of the celebrated Dr. Hall Jackson; another married Joshua Peirce, and was the grandmother of the late distinguished John Peirce of Portsmouth; and another was married to Israel March, who came from Massachusetts somewhere between 1690 and 1700, and by the will of his father-in-law he came into possession of the farm, which for 160 years has now been in the same family name.

Clement, the son of Israel March, born in 1707, added largely to his patrimonial estate, and by purchase from one of the original assignees of Mason's Patent became one of the largest landed proprietors in the county or State. He commanded the Horse Guards under Gov. Benning Wentworth; by whom he was appointed Aid, and also Judge of the Court. He possessed great influence in his vicinity, and represented the town of Greenland in our General Court for twenty years or more. We recollect of hearing the late Capt. McClintock speak of being present when Col. March, in brief and emphatic phrase, laid down his functions as Representative: "Fellow citizens," said he, "I have served you to the best of my ability for many years; I purpose to do so no longer; you will now bring in your votes for my son-in-law, the Major." The Major was accordingly elected.

His son Clement succeeded to the estate in Greenland. He graduated at Harvard University, and studied medicine with Dr. A. R. Cutter, of Portsmouth. He married Miss Lucy Dudley Wainwright, a ward of the Hon. George Jaffrey, and niece of his wife--by whom he had six sons:

Thomas, who died in Brooklyn in 1850, aged 71. Charles, who died in New York in 1855, aged 74. Clement, who died in St. Louis in 1830, aged 47. Joseph Wainwright, who died in Greenland in 1843, aged 58. Francis, who died in New York in 1858, aged 71. John Howard, who died in Paris in 1863, aged 72.

Dr. March gave his children a good education. All the above brothers were merchants. Joseph W. (the father of the present owner) although doing business for some years in Portsmouth, remained as the occupant of the homestead, while his brothers went abroad in the world, acquired a high standing as merchants, and accumulated much wealth. The youngest, John Howard, was for over forty years the American Consul at Maderia. He was the last deposited in the family tomb.

The extensive, and highly cultivated farm of Col. Joshua W. Peirce, adjoining the March farm and extending to Great Bay, is made up in part of the paternal property descended from his ancestor Hall. The original Hall house was on the premises of Col. Peirce, near the spot where the sharp roofed cottage now stands.


Text scanned courtesy of The Brewster Family Network
Copy of Rambles courtesy Peter E. Randall
History Hypertext project by SeacoastNH.com
Design 2003 SeacoastNH.com

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