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Life in our city existed on the shores of the
Nashua River eight to ten thousand years ago. Our
waterways were highways of scenic splendor. Our
lands, rich in wildlife and fertility.
Artifacts from the prehistoric periods were found
in a 1995 excavation at Mine Falls. A preservation
dig was executed by Gary Hume, NH State
Archeologist. Oriental Fishtail Point, made of raw
volcanic material from the Lakes Region; Stark
Point, made of Boston siltstone and used during
the Middle Archaic Period; and a three to four
thousand year old Susquehanna broad tip arrow were
all found during the preservation excavation. Mr.
Hume states, "It does indicate that people passed
through this area continuously."
The first area to become a permanent settlement
was located between the Merrimack River and Salmon
Brook, near Harbor Pond. The settlers referred
this area as 'the Harbor' and the area south of
the Harbor was coined "Salmon Brook neck". The
Pennacooks named the brook for the salmon fish
they found plentiful there.
See a map of Harbor Pond
These findings give us a picture of the land usage
from so long ago. Travelers made their way, by
river travel, and stopped in Nashua along the way.
However, Nashua was not the name of the land as it
is today. A much larger region which includes our
city, was called Wattananock (pronounced
Wattananock was the homeland of the Naticook tribe
of the Pennacook Confederacy. Later, they would
relocate to Pennacook (Concord, NH).
In 1652, the Massachusetts Bay Colony funded an
expedition of four men; Captain Edward Johnson, C.
Simon Willard, Johnathan Ince and John Sherman
were instructed to discover the source of the
Merrimack river and report any other useful
information. Findings included campsites located
along the banks of the Souhegan and Merrimack
Rivers along with about fifty families residing at
the confluence of the Nashua River and Salmon
Other "adventurers" and explorers camped through
the Wattananock land during the 1650's - 1660's;
Some, assembling trading posts to swap their
English goods for native captured animal furs. The
furs were a very popular import to England.
The Massachusetts Bay Colony issued many land
grants during this time as payment for services
they received. During the mid 1660's the families
of these grant holders began migrating north to
the Wattananock area. Some families on record are
Blanchard, Acres, Cummings, French, Hassell, Lund,
Sollendine, Weld and Whiting.
About 1666, a very important settler to arrive is
Judge Edward Tyng. Tyng purchased land in what
would become the neighboring town of Tyngsboro,
Massachusetts and saw the area as a future
economic stronghold. He, along with his sons and
other investors strongly contributed to its
The Pennacook people were as friendly as they
could be to their new English neighbors. Great
sachem Passaconaway was a heroic warrior and
keeper of the peace. He gave a very important
speech in 1660 explaining the necessity of
becoming allies with the English. "Peace, Peace,
with the white men - is the command of the Great
Spirit - and is the wish - the last wish - of
Passaconaway." The Pennacook people understood
their leader and remained obedient to peaceful
relations. Passaconaway died in 1670, at the
outstanding age of one hundred and twenty. His
speech did not persuade the other tribes to peace.
The history of the frontiers until the 1726 treaty
of Casco Bay is a sequence of attacks, arson,
captivity and massacre.
On October 26, 1673, a 200 square mile rectangle
called 'Dunstable Massachusetts Bay Colony' was
chartered into a Massachusetts bay colony
township. The name Dunstable derived from a town
in England where both Tyng and his wife were born.
You may also see the rectangle of land referenced
as 'The Ancient Town of Dunstable'.
See the map of Old Dunstable
Continue to nH 1675 - 1700