Old Berwick’s story began over 4,000 years ago as home to Native American fishermen and hunters. For millennia, Indians migrated during the spring from the interior of southern Maine to the Salmon Falls River.
Here, they established encampments adjacent to the river and today’s South Berwick’s Counting House, Quamphegan Falls, Rollinsford, and the Great Falls in Somersworth harvesting the salmon, shad, alewives, and eels that made their annual migratory runs up Maine’s coastal rivers. By the time English explorers such as Martin Pring (1602) and John Smith (1614) sailed along the coast of southern Maine, the Indians of Newichawannock and Quamphegan had established planting grounds of corn and beans along the Salmon Falls River.
The appearance of these English explorers was the first sign of a changing world. By then, France and England were looking to New England as a rich source of land, fish, timber, and animal furs. In 1629, England’s Council of Plymouth issued a grant of land to the London-based Laconia Company that extended from western New York to the coast of Maine. The Company hoped to colonize northern New England by first establishing year round trading posts and fishing operations on the region’s rivers. Two years later, the Laconia Company established three posts in Rye, Portsmouth, and on the Salmon Falls River, just below its junction with the Great Work’s River in South Berwick or Rollinsford, New Hampshire. The Newichawannock trading house did a brisk trade with the Indians of the Piscataqua River region, exchanging items such as liquor, blankets, hatchets, kettles, coats, shirts, and shoes for beaver pelts and furs and moose, bear, and otter skins. In addition, the English newcomers employed one hundred or more Wabanaki Indians who planted corn and established a vegetable garden on the grounds of the post.
Vaughan Woods / Salmon Falls River
a) Site of Pipe Stave Landing
J. Hamilton house property/Salmon Falls River (pre-1652). Probable site of Pipe Stave Landing (1630s). On the property of the Jonathan Hamilton house, Salmon Falls River, South Berwick, looking south. Wooden timbers are part of the cribbed wharf built by David Moore or Jonathan Hamilton in the mid to late 18th century. (Photo: 2009)
b) Cow Cove - Site of earliest landings of first old Berwick settlers (1634)
Cow Cove, Vaughan Woods on the Salmon Falls River in South Berwick, looking northeast. Reputed site of the earliest landings of old Berwick’s first settlers in the early 1630s. (Photo: 2013)
c. James Warren Home and Burial Ground, Vaughan’s Woods (c. 1660)
Cellar hole of the dwelling of James Warren Sr. who lived here with his family from c. 1656-1702, Vaughan Woods, South Berwick. Looking northwest. Family cemetery is west and northwest of the cellar hole. (Photo: 2013)
Unmarked gravestones to the 17th and 18th century Warren family, Vaughan Woods, South Berwick. Looking northwest. Two standing stones are visible in the lower and upper center of photo, respectively. Seven more unmarked and standing grave stones are visible west and northwest of the cellar hole of the James Warren Sr. home. (Photo: 2013)
Site of Nathan Lord’s garrison, built c. 1676-78, Lord’s Lane, South Berwick.
Roughly 225 yards west of junction with Rt. 236, looking north.
Garrison stood until c. 1816. (Photo: 2013)
Vine St / Brattle St / Upper Old Fields Rd / Upper Old South Rd / South Berwick
a) Site of Captain John Hill Garrison (c. 1699)
Probable site of the c. 1699 garrison of John Hill, north side of Brattle Street, South Berwick. Looking northeast. (Photo: 2009)
b) Captain John Hill Homestead (c. 1700?)
South side Brattle Street, ½ mile from junction with Rt. 236, South Berwick.Captain John Hill homestead, c. 1699, looking southwest. Great Works River is situated behind the Hill dwelling. (Photo: 2013)
c) Great Works Saw & Grist Mill (1634)
Rocky Gorge, Great Works River, Brattle Street bridge, South Berwick. Looking northwest. Reputed site of the old Berwick’s first grist and saw mill established in 1634 and a more productive saw mill operating by the early 1650s. (Photo: 2013)
d) Site of First Berwick Meeting House (c.1660)
Old South Street, near junction with Brattle Street (Photo: 2013)
(Image: 1843 sketch of 1660 meeting house)
e) Site of the Reverends Jeremiah Wise and John Wade Home
East side upper Vine Street (c. 1702)
f) Site of Humphrey Spencer Home, Tavern and Garrison (c. 1696)
Site of home, tavern, and garrison of Humphrey and Mary Spencer, c. 1699-1727, junction of Brattle Street and Old Fields Road, South Berwick. (Photo: 2013)
g) Thomas & Patience Spencer Home, William Spencer Home & Garrison (c. 1638, c. 1690)
h) Old Fields Burying Ground
Old Fields Burying Ground, Vine Street, South Berwick, looking northeast. Originally the Spencer family used this lot as their family burial ground during the 17th and early 18th century. (Photo: 2013)
i) Vine Street Bridge
Junction with Great Works River (c. 16__)
Adjacent to north and south banks of the Great Works River near its junction with Salmon Falls River (pre-1634)
k) Site of Great Works, Chadbourne Sawmill (c. 1643)
l) Site of Humphrey Chadbourne Jr. & Sr. Homestead (Photo: 2013)