Cedar Swamp Run

Return to Table of Contents

From the book "More New Hampshire Folk Tales"
Collected by Mrs. Moody P. Gore & Mrs. Guy E. Speare
Compiled and published by Mrs. Guy E. Speare
Plymouth, New Hampshire - 1936

The boundary line between Rye and Hampton was not finally settled until 1730; in the autumn of that year seven families were, with their estates, severed from Hampton and annexed to Rye. "About eighteen hundred acres of land were thus severed from Hampton -- the tract embracing all the land now included in Rye lying southerly of Lock's Neck and a considerable quantity on the north side of it."

Winding through the center of this tract is a little stream known in early days as "Cedar Swamp run." The run is a brook rising in the lowlands at west Rye and emptying into the sea.

When in 1674 Francis Jenness settled "above ye long stony beach towards Piscataqua" he built his home upon a knoll, that slopes gently down to the brook, not far from the sea. It is said that Francis Jenness cleared a piece of ground by cutting and burning it over, then sowed wheat, built a grist mill on the brook, to grind the grain, and a bake house, where he made bread and sea biscuit, shipping them to Boston and all along the coast as far east as Saco and selling them there. In 1695 Francis Jenness with three others, engaged John Babson of New Castle to build for them a dam and saw mill, "to go with one saw" on Cedar Swamp run, near the home of Francis Jenness. This was the first saw mill in town and for many years there was a saw mill at this place, owned wholly or in part by the Jenness family. The brook now flows through the broken dam, beside the road and into the sea.

Francis Jenness' children for six generations have claimed the land granted to him. They were among the first in the business that has made Rye one of the most noted and exclusive summer resorts in New England.

Like many others, Mr. Jenness and his sons were involved in the boundary disputes of the early days. It is related that one day he discovered a score or more of men "throwing down fences and laying his pastures open." Being the only man at home, Mr. Jenness, then seventy-three years old, accompanied by three women went to the men "and demanded of them whether they had any justice with them" and told them that unless they had, "They were an unlawful assembly, and what they acted was a riot." John Redman himself went on to demolish a fence, and ordered his men to assist him, and Jenness says they did so in a "riotous manner." The fence, thus pulled down, had enclosed a tract of land claimed by Jenness, and had, as he states, at first been built by three of his neighbors, "For preservation of the Garrison and keeping of the cattle belonging thereto, in case they should be drove in by the enemy."

This is from a complaint of Francis Jenness.

Return to Table of Contents