Dover Friends’ long reach is seen in the Meader family

After coming to New England and working as a farmhand at Oyster River, then part of Dover, John Meader (1625-1715) wed Abigail Tuttle of Ispwich, Massachusetts, in 1653. Granted 100 acres in 1656, he erected a garrison house by 1660.

He took the oath as constable of Dover, and on July 4, 1663 was ordered to tie Edward Wharton, “a vagabond Quaker” to “ye Carte tayle” and whip him out of town, administering not more than ten lashes. That didn’t stop two at least two of his sons from joining Friends.

In 1684, he was one of at least 34 landholders who refused to pay land rents to the Mason heirs and were disposed of their land titles. The next year, they petitioned King James II for relief from the arbitrary decisions of Governor Cranfield, and their representative, Nathaniel Weare, managed to get their lands and other rights restored.

In the 1694 Oyster River massacre, Meader’s garrison and the nearby house of his son, Joseph (1753-1820), were burned, but the family escaped.

Joseph Meader and his first wife, Abigail Field (1759-1784), had son Valentine Meader, born on August 6, 1777. He was a carpenter and a Quaker minister who traveled widely, dying of an illness during a religious visit in 1837.

Joseph later married Elizabeth Gould (1756-1814) and had son Joseph Meader on September 22, 1788. The son married Mehitable Varney in 1810 and was a farmer who became an acknowledged Quaker minister at Sandwich Meeting in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. In the Wilburite Separation, his family aligned with the conservative faction, in 1845. He died on January 28, 1864.

Quaker Meaders spread from Oyster River, or Durham, north into northwest Rochester, forming its Meaderboro village, and further north into Sandwich. Others were at Lee, with its Meeting.

The family burial ground in Meaderboro embodies Quaker humility. The fileldstones mark the plots but are either left plain or engraved with nothing more than initials and dates. Others went unmarked altogether.

Meaderboro descendant Elwyn M. Meader (1910- 1996) was a University of New Hampshire horticulture professor famed for plant varieties he created for northern climates. As the Fedco Seeds website noted, “If you’ve ever grown vegetables or raised fruit or flowers, Professor Elwyn M. Meader’s work has probably touched your life. … At least half his introductions came after he ‘retired’ from a distinguished 18-year career as plant breeder at the University of New Hampshire. He could have gotten rich from royalties on all his releases, but instead he gave them away ‘as payment for his space on the planet. … I was working for the taxpayers,’ he would say in his broad Yankee accent, ‘and the results of my work belonged to them.’

His accent, I will confirm, was classic New England. At least one linguist recorded it for posterity.

Fedco’s profile continues, “A deeply religious Quaker, Meader was always modest about his creations, but not shy about his opinions. He disdained plant patenting. ‘Plants shouldn’t be patented if there has been one dollar of federal or state money used to fund development.’ At one point in the 1950s he refused to serve on university committees (except one to abolish all committees) maintaining he had been hired to do breeding work only. He offered inspiring advice to the wave of homesteaders who arrived in the ‘60s, ‘Try all things. Hold on to that which is good,’ but added curtly, ‘If you can’t make it without bringing along your TV, you’d better forget the whole thing.’

Dover Friend Silas Weeks drew heavily on him in researching what would become the book New England Quaker Meetinghouses, Past and Present.

And after Elwin’s death, when he had declined a memorial service feeling unworthy of one, I clerked a Quarterly Meeting session that discerned otherwise. The ensuing service was a glorious – and memorable – occasion.

Meaderboro Friends Meeting disaffiliated from Quakers in 1963 and continues as a community church.


Check out my new book, Quaking Dover, available in a Nook edition at Barnes & Noble.

Welcome to Dover’s upcoming 400th anniversary.


The Cartlands were part of the Underground Railroad

Closely related to poet John Greenleaf Whittier was the Cartland family in Lee. In fact, Greenleaf was especially close to cousin Moses Cartland, though their expectation of dying as bachelors was ultimately crushed when Moses wed a much younger first cousin, contrary to Quaker discipline.

My trail starts with Joseph Cartland, born in Dover in 1721, who moved the family to Lee and established Walnut Grove farm, which would eventually encompass two thousand acres. With first wife Lydia Allen, who died in 1758, and second wife Anna Hanson, he had 11 children, most of them active Quakers.

The Cartland home in Lee is known as a stop on the Underground Railroad of escaping slaves.
The meetinghouse doubled as a Friends school.

Their spacious home became a stop on the Underground Railroad, and the Quaker meetinghouse, which doubled as a Friends school, stood across the road.

His son Jonathan Cartland, married to Elizabeth Austin, and their children included the noted abolitionist and educator Moses A. Cartland, a confidant of second-cousin John Greenleaf Whittier, who was a frequent guest. Moses also served in New Hampshire’s House of Representatives and was a founder of the Republican Party. His brother Joseph Cartland, husband of Gertrude Whittier, headed Haverford College for four years before they became principals of the Friends School in Providence, Rhode Island. They retired to Newburyport, Massachusetts, which had a Meeting that was part of Hampton/Amesbury Monthly Meeting.

Cartland influence in Dover continued. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, William and Howard Cartland owned Cartland Grocery on Locust Street.

From there, my notes trail off.


Check out my new book, Quaking Dover, available in a Nook edition at Barnes & Noble.

Welcome to Dover’s upcoming 400th anniversary.


America’s largest cities in 1850

The development of the West – meaning out to the Mississippi River, mostly – propels changes in the balance of population by 1850.

  1. New York (515,547) is without question the largest metropolis, boosted in part by commerce via the Erie Canal, transporting goods to and from the Great Lakes and Midwest.
  2. Baltimore (169,054) has leapt to second-place. The growing Baltimore & Ohio Railroad is a factor. The city takes advantage of being the closest Eastern Seaboard port to the Ohio Valley and its agricultural abundance.
  3. Boston (136,881). The textiles mills of New England have to be a factor in the city’s prosperity and position.
  4. Philadelphia (121,376). Its clout would be enhanced if its three suburbs in the Top 20 are tallied in, pushing it to second place.
  5. New Orleans (116,375). The nation’s center of gravity has shifted. Nearly as large is
  6. Cincinnati (115,435). Migrants from urban Germany make a difference.
  7. Brooklyn (96,838) is a thriving independent city just across the waters from booming Manhattan.
  8. St. Louis (77,860). Not just the gateway to the Far West, it’s also a center of urban German migrants.
  9. Spring Garden district, Pennsylvania (58,894). Adjacent to Philadelphia.
  10. Albany, New York (50,763) is active on the Erie Canal.

The next ten are also illuminating: 11, Northern Liberties district, Pennsylvania (47,223); 12, Kensington district, Pennsylvania (46,774); 13, Pittsburgh (46,601); 14, Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky (43,194); 15, Charleston, South Carolina (42,985); 16, Buffalo (42,261); 17, Providence, Rhode Island (41,513); 18, Washington, District of Columbia (40,001); 19, Newark, New Jersey (38,894); and Southwark district, Pennsylvania (38,799).

Altogether, six of the 20 largest cities are west of the Appalachians. Three of those are on the Ohio River. And, in contrast, New England has just two.

Quoddy Village is almost an island of its own

Most of Eastport’s small population resides in a semicircle around the Breakwater downtown. Quoddy Village stands apart, separated by a narrow neck around Carrying Place Cove. It also fronts Half Moon Cove, with a dead-end road to the former toll-bridge to the mainland. The place feels like an island of its own and is easily overlooked when you drive into town. The highway skirts it, and what you see is mostly former industrial, rusty, and all that.

A former factory looking for new uses gives no clue to passers-by of the residential neighborhood behind it.
Chimneys are all that remain of the administrative headquarters and even a school that supported a federal project in the 1930s.

Until 1935, this was farmland, but then an ambitious but ecologically disastrous public works project took off, one to dam up most of Passamaquoddy and Cobscook bays to transform their vast tidal energy into electricity. A large but confusing working model of the engineering proposal can be viewed at the historical society’s gift shop in downtown Eastport. (The room-size three-dimensional map is water in and water out, mostly. If you don’t already know the area, it’s baffling – and the presentation is aimed at today’s tourists. I still think it would make for a really interesting model railroad layout.) The short-lived boondoggle’s most lasting contribution, apparently, was the causeway connecting Eastport to the mainland by filling in a former railroad line. No more toll bridge and longer loop. Oh, yes, and it also had a noticeable negative impact on the Old Sow, the world’s second-largest whirlpool, perhaps even pushing it more into Canada.

Significantly, the project needed housing for its estimated 5,000 workers, and that led to the construction of Quoddy Village.

Even though the plug was pulled a year later on what would have been the world’s largest tidal dam – it did require Canadian cooperation, among other things – 128 single-family, two-family, and four-family houses had been constructed, along with three large dormitories with dining rooms for single workers, plus a fire station, a hospital, a heating plant, a school, a large mess hall, and a large administration building that included a theatre, library, and sub post office. In other words, a small city unto itself. Even though the homes had been designed as temporary, many of them are still occupied today. Still, for a brief time, the village was home to a thousand people.

More evidence of abandoned projects, also seen from the state highway.

From 1938 to 1943 the National Youth Administration used Quoddy to train 800 city youth a year in vocational trades. It was also a Navy Sea Bee base named Camp Lee-Stephenson during World War II.

And then? It morphed into a residential neighborhood.

Its best-known attraction today is David Oja’s colorful and eccentric Bazaar, a gift shop that includes what’s arguably the best gourmet wine and cheese selection in Washington County. Think of it as a blast of Puerto Rico, Brooklyn, and Provincetown rolled into one. Who knows what the original function of the building was, we can be sure it was not nearly anything like this.

The one-of-a-kind Bazaar, seemingly out in the middle of nowhere.
Today it’s mostly residential. I think of it as a small suburb.
Anyone else see potential here?
Yes, there’s a mix of housing, some of it from the ’30s.
Much of it is also a working neighborhood. I’m all in favor of working from home, when you can.

Is this funky? Or what?

My new ebook goes live today

Yeah, yeah, yeah, everybody these days is touting a book. But my Quaking Dover really is different, starting with its contrarian take on New England history.

Let me proclaim: Quakers are NOT extinct!

Check it out at Smashwords and its associated digital ebook retailers.

Besides, there are good reasons they’re the oldest independent congregation in a future state that’s itself in a town that’s the seventh-oldest in America.

These things go WAY back but are still with us.

Look, I’ve spent two years researching, drafting, and revising this for publication.

If you’re tech-savvy, you’ll go for the ebook edition, which goes worldwide today.

Otherwise wait for a month, when the print version goes live.

Go for it! Pretty please?

Whittier in Dover didn’t reference the poet

Dover Friends have long been proud of their connection to the rock-star protest poet John Greenleaf Whittier of neighboring Amesbury Friends Meeting in Massachusetts.

His mother was from the Hussey family in today’s neighboring Rollinsford, New Hampshire, and she married in our meetinghouse.

Abigail Hussey, mother of poet John Greenleaf Whittier

Usually, we trace her ancestry through the Husseys of sprawling Hampton Monthly Meeting, which eventually settled down into Amesbury.

But Greenleaf’s uncle Obediah thickens the plot.

Quite simply, Dover’s Whittier Street and Whittier Falls in the Cochecho River are not named for the famed poet, but rather his uncle and cousin.

And the alternative Whitchers spelling and pronunciation is most tempting, though I won’t go there.

Whittier Falls in the Cochecho River.

Obediah Whittier (1758-1814) moved from Haverhill, Massachusetts, to Dover and married Sarah Austin of Rochester in 1786. He owned a fulling mill, gristmill, and building for dressing cloth on the eastern side of the upper falls of the Cochecho River that were destroyed in January 1817 by a fire that broke out in the carding mill. Son Moses Whittier (1789-1857), however, at once erected new machinery and resumed the carding, fulling, and clothing business the following month. The falls, now known as Whittier Falls, were also called Whitcher’s (a variant on Whittier), Tolend, or the Upper Falls, though there were more cascades upstream.

Obediah and Sarah’s daughter Anna wed Isaac Wendell of Dover in 1809. Daughter Sarah married George D. Varney of Somersworth in 1813. Daughter Mary wed Gideon C. Smith of Somersworth in 1827. (Isaac Wendell was a cofounder of the Dover Cotton Factory, which was the origin of the big mills downtown.)

Son Moses (1789-1857) married Sarah Hacker Jones (1793-1837) of Brunswick, Maine, in Durham, Maine, in 1821, probably at the Friends Meeting. The Jones cemetery in Brunswick has stones for several Dover surnames, including Cartlands, who were also related to the poet – and many of these use Quaker dating.

Dover’s Whittier family is buried in Pine Hill Cemetery abutting the meetinghouse.

It’s possible that Greenleaf’s father, John Whittier, met Abigail Hussey through visits to his brother in turn, or that Obediah, likewise, met his wife through other family visits. Opportunities either way would have strengthened any fascination and eventual courtship.

John Greenleaf Whittier’s brother, Matthew Franklin Whittier, even moved to Dover at one point but died in Boston.

You’d never guess any of this walking today’s Community Trail along the river.


Check out my new book, Quaking Dover, available in your choice of ebook platforms at

Welcome to Dover’s upcoming 400th anniversary.

The very important network of Friends

Early histories of Friends in New England generally overlook Dover, Hampton, and Salem, apart from fleeting references. The focus is instead on Rhode Island, Buzzard Bays, and Cape Cod, in part because of their relative wealth and influence and in part because of their cache of surviving records.

My investigation, prompted by the 400th anniversary of the British settling of Dover, has convinced me that the three northernmost Quaker Meetings of the late 17th and early 18th centuries were equally as important, and their stories need to be told.

One thing I’ve found is that these Friends were not ignored by traveling Quaker ministers. Some of them, especially from England, essentially “set up camp” on the Piscataqua, and their journals offer candid insights into the community and its struggles.

Friends were also connected through New England Yearly Meeting and, closer to home, through Salem Quarterly Meeting, before the creation of Dover Quarterly Meeting in 1815.

We see that in the assistance industrial pioneer Moses Brown of Providence, Rhode Island, provided Dover Friends in the manumission of their slaves in the years leading up to the American Revolution.

Today the Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island, is a highly respected prep academy. Dover Friends who could afford to sent their children there.

The Friends Boarding School in Providence, later renamed in his honor, became another way for Quakers to become integrated into the wider Society of Friends – especially when it led to marriages with other Quakers. Much later came the prestigious Quaker colleges at Haverford, Swarthmore, Guilford, Earlham, and more.

Facilitated by the traveling ministers, who likely also conveyed business information and perhaps even money, along with the counsel of financially savvy elders, some Friends prospered in the industrial revolution. Some Dover Friends did find success in Philadelphia or Massachusetts, and others spread up the Cochecho River and across Maine.

Today, we also connect through alliances like the American Friends Service Committee, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, Friends General Conference, Friends United Meeting, the Friends Historical Association, the Quaker Theological Group, and much more.

Well, as Jesus said, wherever two or three more are gathered …

But it’s also how we stay recharged and focused in the work we’re called to do. Heaven knows, we can’t do it alone.


Check out my new book, Quaking Dover, available in your choice of ebook platforms at

Welcome to Dover’s upcoming 400th anniversary.


On occasion, a few critical details do change the course of history

As I detail in Quaking Dover, my history of New England’s third-oldest permanent settlement, the odds against success for early European settlers were nearly overwhelming.

It wasn’t just the English, either.

The French made their first attempt just up the coast from Eastport, where Samuel de Champlain selected an island in what’s now called the St. Croix River at the western edge of the Bay of Fundy or, more specifically, its smaller Passamaquoddy Bay.

St. Croix Island, site of the ill-fated settlement, sits in the river separating the U.S. and Canada today.

The famed explorer was working for Pierre Dugua de Mons, a noble and Protestant merchant who had been given a fur trading monopoly in New France by the king.

Pierre Duguay had some big dreams.

In 1604 the expedition set about establishing a fortified trading post on the security of St. Croix Island and its tidal currents.

Here’s how the settlement on the island was designed. I’d say it was quite ambitious, especially compared to the small settlement that resulted in Dover, New Hampshire.
The enterprise required many skills.
Many of the workers were mere boys.

And then they settled in for the winter, ill prepared for harsh conditions that buried their compound under three feet of snow and iced in the river, cutting them off from fresh water and game.

The lack of fresh water, especially, was a fatal flaw in their plan.

By the time spring arrived, 35 of the French expedition’s 79 men and boys had died, many from scurvy. The remainder survived largely because the thawing river allowed Native Passamaquoddy to arrive and trade nutritious food in exchange for any remaining bread and other goods.

After the colonists’ health improved and ships brought new supplies and more men from France, they abandoned the island and relocated to what would become Port-Royal, Nova Scotia, soon the center of L’Acadie, or Acadia, a large and contested province of New France.

In 1607 the English then made two attempts of their own in the New World. Their Popham colony at the mouth of the Kennebec River in Maine fared no better, while the Jamestown settlement in Virginia managed to hang on.

In 1608, Samuel de Champlain successfully founded Quebec City along the St. Lawrence River. What we know of the St. Croix Island experience comes largely through his journaling.

Quite simply, we could have been speaking French here, had someone thought about drinking water earlier in the game. Or perhaps simply been listened to and respected.


Sculptures at the St. Croix Island International Historic Site, Red Beach in Calais, Maine, are by Ivan Schwartz, Studio EIS.

Dover’s Quaker families quickly became closely intertwined

Through much of its history, the Society of Friends was rooted in families, in contrast to today’s more individualistic lacework.

I use the earlier term, Society of Friends, rather than the more modern version, Religious Society of Friends, because Quaker practice emphasized all facets of one’s life, not just a spiritual component. We can argue about whether Friends worship is mystical or meditative as well as about our understandings of the nature of the Divine, but the faith has led us over our history to closely examine our political, business, educational, community, and family interactions. Often, as we’ve seen, from an intensely practical point of view.

It has been said that there are no Quakers apart from a Meeting, meaning that we need each other to hold ourselves to the path and practice. Families, too, need other families who share a similar vision.

When Friends had large nuclear families, three households could easily fill a small meetinghouse, especially when grandparents and unmarried siblings were included. As Quaker families intermarried over the generations, it became common for children to address everyone in Meeting, except their own parents, grandparents, or siblings, as aunt, uncle, or cousin. We can see how that would easily apply in Dover.

What I hadn’t expected when I began examining the genealogies of Dover’s early Friends was to discover just how intermarried their families had already become in the four decades between the arrival of the Quaker missionaries and the beginning of the Meeting’s surviving minutes. Some families were close even before that, suggesting religious conversions, “convincements,” often came within extended relations or among neighbors more than one by one, individually.

In other cases, some lines of a Dover family were Quaker while others hewed to the Congregational church. Even after a surname line left the Society of Friends, some individuals might later rejoin, and sometimes it is hard to determine precisely when or how. In addition, children of households listed in Dover Friends records might seem to disappear from further consideration when, in reality, their location was one finally set off within a newly recognized Monthly Meeting. In effect, their Meeting moved while they stayed put on the same land. A diligent researcher will need to go to those minutes to continue, if possible.

Compounding this, in terms of this particular history, is the fact that for some of Dover’s Meeting’s families, few or maybe none of the households lived within the current city limits. The Eliot, Maine, role – still officially in the town of Kittery – stands out, as do the Berwicks, in Maine, and Oyster River, now Durham, New Hampshire.

As long as a family was Quaker, we can make some general assumptions about its values and lifestyle.

Through much of the history, neither the Congregational nor Quaker meetinghouses had heat in the winter. Instead, members heated soapstone cut like these and carried it in containers from home. I have no idea why they were given to the Meeting, other than a reminder of how tough those characters were.

In some ways, they were like Amish today, with distinctive dress and turns of speech, though choosing to “live behind a protective hedge” rather than separate more totally from the wider world. We’ve seen that Dover Friends were not afraid of speaking out in public and pressing for political redress, unlike the Amish.

Among the values were simplicity, plainness, integrity (honesty, no oathtaking), pacifism and nonviolence, equality of sexes and races. In addition to an avoidance of oathtaking, gambling and gaming, military service, Friends eschewed vain entertainments, including fiction, theater, dance, music, visual art. Science, mathematics, and poetry, however, were valued. There were no headstones until the 1850s. Nor did Friends take other Friends to court – differences were to be settled within Monthly or Quarterly Meeting. Quaker inheritance guidelines sought equal distribution for all the children rather than the bulk of an estate going to the eldest son – over time, raising the overall wealth of a family.

Anger, which commonly leads to violence, was curbed or suppressed – at a hidden price of burying all of one’s emotions.

Yes, the restrictions could be severe, but they also led to some remarkable accomplishments.

As I’ve reviewed Dover Quaker surnames, I find some moved out of the immediate area altogether. Others stayed, but moved completely out of the Society of Friends – still, their accomplishments were part of the larger society.

Even in a small community like Dover Friends Meeting, trying to keep the 41 or so surnames straight over several generations becomes difficult, but is a tight-knitted fabric of individuals and kinships. Sometimes, when I’m sitting in the silence of the meetinghouse, I feel that they’re also sitting with me. It’s a comforting, even strengthening, experience.


Check out my new book, Quaking Dover, available in an iBook edition at the Apple Store.

Welcome to Dover’s upcoming 400th anniversary.


Up to mustard

While most of Eastport’s sardines were packed in cottonseed oil, some brands boasted of mustard, too, or of even smoking them first.

Even those that weren’t still might be smothered in a mustard sauce.

In 1900, J. Wesley Raye, the 20-year-old son of an Eastport sea captain, founded his mustard business in the family smokehouse in 1900 and moved it to its current site in 1903 to meet demand from the canneries.

Not just Eastport’s, either. Much of the family’s mustard, as the Raye’s website touts, was shipped by both rail and steamship, two means of transport long gone from the city. But, as they boast, their mill remains the last one in America to make mustard the old way. Theirs is made in small batches from mustard seed they’ve ground slowly on millstones made in France.

One of its many styles today.

If you don’t recognize the name, you might know the taste. It’s rebranded by some high-end labels.

The old mill is still in operation. Note the railroad boxcar at left.
Yes, there’s more.
Their downtown retail store is a bright spot on Water Street, selling much more than mustard alone.