Rollinsford, New Hampshire

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Rollinsford is a town in Strafford County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 2,648 at the 2000 census. The 2009 population was estimated to be 2,634.[2] Rollinsford includes Salmon Falls Village.



The area was once within the domain of the Newichawannock Indians, an Abenaki sub-tribe which took its name from the Newichawannock River, meaning "river with many falls," now the Salmon Falls River. Their village was located at what is today Salmon Falls Village. They fished at the falls, stretching nets across the river to catch migrating salmon and other species swimming upriver to spawn. But war and disease, probably smallpox brought from abroad, decimated the native population.[3]

Subsequently settled by about 1630, the land was part of Dover, one of the original townships of New Hampshire. The area was first called Sligo, likely after the county Sligo in Ireland[4], and the name survives on a town road. It would be established in 1729 as a parish called Summersworth, meaning summer town, because the ministers preached here during the summer. In 1754, it would be set off and incorporated as a town by Colonial Governor Benning Wentworth, although thereafter spelled Somersworth due to a clerical error. Since the pioneers' arrival, small communities had developed near various sawmills and gristmills along the Salmon Falls River, but the center of "Summersworth" was located at Rollinsford Junction.

Beginning in the early 1820s, water powered textile mills were established at the larger falls, and the town would divide between them—Great Falls became Somersworth, and Salmon Falls became Rollinsford, incorporated in 1849. It was named in honor of the Rollins family, whose ancestor Judge Ichabod Rollins had settled there many generations before and had become the first probate judge for the state.[5]

Salmon Falls Village

The village of Salmon Falls was founded in 1823 by a group of local investors led by James Rundlet of Portsmouth, who on June 17, 1822 incorporated the Salmon Falls Manufacturing Company to manufacture woolen cloth using the power of the Salmon Falls River, a Piscataqua River tributary.[6] After an 1834 fire destroyed the first factory built there, Boston manufacturers Mason and Lawrence took possession in the 1840s. As part of their expansion, the town was laid out in an easy-to-navigate grid plan, with the three-story boarding houses and two adjoining mill buildings made of brick to withstand fires. Two-story brick double houses were also built to accommodate the families of the overseers.[6] The town thrived into the first decades of the 20th century and eventually became home to many immigrant families whose forebears came to work in the mills. Ironically, though the town planners originally forbade the mill workers to drink alcohol and required that they attend church on Sunday, during prohibition, its proximity to temperate Maine and the Boston railroad line led to the establishment of numerous bars and a relatively short-lived but racy reputation for free-flowing liquor.

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