LaFayette Hall   —  The richest man in town              

From Great Wealth to Greater Despair

LaFayette Hall Nut and Bolt Factory

On June 17, 1861  Lafayette Hall purchased land from the Newmarket Manufacturing Company at the first falls of Piscassic River,  and by May 1862 he was fully operational in his newly created machine-shop —  The Lafayette Hall Nut and Bolt Factory.  It was located  nearly a mile out of Lamprey Village on Packer’s Falls Road, at today’s [2018] site of the Newmarket Pumping Station. 

(photo: since the 1660’s, settlers established saw and grist mills along the first falls of the Piscassic) 

The water of the Piscassic River furnished the power for the machinery in this shop.  When water levels dropped, he used his forge and channelled river to create steam to supply the needed power for his mill.  This steam shop was the beginnings for the steam-powered electric power plant which appeared in the 1920s not far from this site.

He expanded his company on the foundations of the old Spool, Bobbin and Spindle Factory which appeared in 1830 to supply the new cotton mills downstream.  After the Spool Factory burned down, he restructured the burned shell into a forge to manufacture nuts and bolts.  In 1876  his factory was destroyed by fire.  He immediately rebuilt, but it once again burned to the ground in 1877.   With characteristic energy, Mr. Hall again rebuilt and continued doing a lucrative business until Sept. 19, 1885, when fire destroyed it for the third time — he never rebuilt.

At this site he manufactured from 600 to 800 tons of iron in a year into bolts, nuts, washers, screws, linked chain, railroad furnishings, etc. for the railroad and hardware supply trade.  He employed on an average about 15 men, and paid out for help some $5,000 annually.  Lafayette Hall owned several buildings in the immediate vicinity of  his Nut and Bolt factory, so much so that the area became known as Hallsville.  LaFayette Street off Packers Falls Road is named after him today.  

(photo: Hall’s Nut and Bolt Factory before the 1885  fire)

Immediately after the recession and  ”Panic of 1873” ,  LaFayette purchased a great deal of property — much of  it had been mortaged to the Portsmouth Trust Bank.   He bought hundreds more acres adjacent to his factory to include the once active Halls racing park [now Marston Drive / Trotter’s Park].  He also purchased a great deal of land at the Durhamside part of town [Simons Lane].

Quite a little village of homes and additional shops sprang up in Hallsville, including The Joseph D. Stott Soap Manufacturing Company located on the riverbank.  They made hard, soft, fancy soaps and foot oils, candles & tallow.  [Currently, in 2013, the house is occupied by the Mitchell family at the southeast side of the bridge.)

His capital in 1872 had already amounted to about $80,000 and his amount of business totaled about $150,000, a considerable sum for the time.  By 1874, he owned the most property, paid the most taxes, and was considered the wealthiest and most respected man in Newmarket.


Early Life —

He was born in 1824 to Andrew [b.1786 –d.1860) and Dolly (Corson) Hall [b.1789 –d.1845] in Brighton, Maine.  In 1849 Lafayette Hall was 25 years old, living in Lowell, Mass and working as a machinist when he met Mary Parker.  She was born 1817 in Methuen, Mass. to parents Winthrop and Lydia Parker of Lowell, Mass. She died in Newmarket between 1880 and 1895.

The bans were announced in Andover, MA on 2 Nov 1849, and they were married in Lowell on 23 Nov 1849.  This was his first marriage, and her second.  She was 32, seven years older than LaFayette at the time of the wedding.  She was a widow with two children, Riley H. Parker (age 8) and Julia F. Parker (age 3) from her first marriage 18 Sep 1836 to Nathan Parker of Methuen. Mass. who died in 1848.  Both children had been born in Andover, Mass.

By June of 1850 the new Hall family moved to Brighton, Maine, as the census lists him working as a farmer, his wife Mary as a housekeeper, and they had two dependents. 

(photo: steam to electricity power station based on Hall’s site)

 By the 1860 census the family moved to Durham, and the children’s last names (Riley, age 18) and (Julia, age 13) are mistakenly listed as Hall.  The children were never adopted and retained the Parker surname.  Lafayette listed his occupation as a machinist, manufacturer, and a Justice of the Peace (hence his title as  Honorable Lafayette Hall). Also living with the family was a boarder, age 32, by the name of William Wiggin.

Political Legacy

Politically active, Lafayette was elected to serve as Durham’s Representative to the New Hampshire Legislature for the 1867-1868 terms.  The 1870 census has him residing in Durham, age 45 and working as a bolt manufacturer.  Mary is wife (age 52) and a Charles Wiggin (age 11) an adopted son.

By 1872, the family moved to a house along the southwest Piscassic riverbank near the Nut and Bolt Factory in Newmarket [the 2013 address is 59 Packer’s Falls Rd].  In 1872 his wife Mary was President of the Newmarket Ladies Social Union.  The 1880 census lists them living in the Hallsville section of Newmarket (age 54), Mary (age 61), no occupation given for either; and their adopted son Charles Wiggin (age 21) was employed as a bookkeeper.

Fayette Hall continued to be politically influential in the area.  In 1881 he was elected from Newmarket to serve in the New Hampshire Senate.  He was also elected as Newmarket’s Town Moderator 1881, 1882, and 1883; he was also very actively involved in the Newmarket schools — he presented many a diploma at town graduation services.

 (photo: Newmarket Pumping Station 1981, taken by Donald Baillargeon)

From great wealth to great despair

Lafayette Hall’s departure from Newmarket on August 12, 1895 left his fellow townsmen with an odd feeling of dread.  The 70 year old man made a surprise announcement and bade farewell to all his friends stating that he was going on a long journey never return to Newmarket — that he would never see his friends again.  At this time his wife had died, his business had closed down in 1885 after the third of three devastating fires, and all his adopted and step-children were also married and gone.

According the Newmarket Advertiser published September 7th, many folks in town thought he was insane and “considerable comment was made on the subject” but after several letters dated mid-August had been received by him, that idea had almost vanished.  However, in the last week of August 1895 a body was discovered in a canal in the manufacturing center of Lawrence, Mass with a description which matched Lafayette.  A police investigation soon determined that the body was indeed that of Lafayette Hall.

At night, when the water level in the canal was high, Mr. Hall wrapped an iron-linked chain around his neck and threw himself into the canal.  Attached at the end of the chain was a grappling hook which kept the body submerged.  Later that afternoon, after factories had siphoned off the water in the canal, the level lowered and exposed the body anchored to the bottom of the canal.  He was spotted by a couple factory girls pick-nicking on the banks of the canal.  He was buried in Belleview Cemetery in Lawrence, Mass.

Adopted and Step-children

Riley H. Parker — LaFayette saw that his step-son, Riley H. Parker, was trained as a machinist.  Although Riley enlisted June 1862 from Newmarket during the Civil War, he was a resident of Durham and credited to that town for his service.  The 20 year-old Private joined Company A, Ninth Infantry.  Before his medical disability discharge in 1863, his Company saw service at Antietam, and Fredericksburg – two of the bloodiest battles of the war. After his discharge from the military he returned home, and on February 1, 1866 he married 20 year-old Newmarket resident Julia Yeaton (whose parents were Edward and Harriette Yeaton).  They moved to Rochester where he was employed as a machinist; Riley also worked in Keene and in Virginia.

In October 1904, he was admitted to the Elizabeth City, Virginia Soldiers’ Home.  He had been in and out of military soldiers’ homes for almost 20 years due to his heart coniditon.  He died February 6, 1923 in Togus, Maine Soldiers’ Home and is buried there.  While ill, his wife Julia retained her trade as a dressmaker and lived with their son Edward Parker of Somerville, Mass.  Edward was also a successful machinist, and like his grandfather Lafayette he too was a respected tool and die manufacturer.

Julia F (Fanny) Parker –married at age 20 in Durham on May 1, 1868 an Arthur W. Chase, age 25, a shoemaker of Haverill, Mass.   The couple moved to Bradford where Arthur died in 1880 of delirium tremors leaving Julia with a 5 month old baby girl named Nellie and a 3 year old boy F. Arthur Chase who was living with Lafayette and Mary Hall in Newmarket when the 1880 census was taken.  Fanny remarried in Newmarket on May 6, 1882 to a Sylvester C. Jacques.

Charles Horace Wiggin – adopted son, booker keeper, and trained mechanic born 1859 in Durham to Horace and Mary Wiggin (who marrried 1855 in Newmarket).  Charles married in Newmarket on Nov 24, 1886 a Jennie Knowlton daughter of Oliver and Ellen Knowlton of Newmarket.  They moved to Concord where he worked as a master mechanic, and later by 1910 to Malden, Mass where he was Superintendent of Roads.  He died at age 81 in Malden on November 25, 1940.

F. Arthur Chase, grandson, briefly resided with LaFayette and Mary after his father died, by 1930 was a widower working in the shoe industry in Haverhill, Mass..


The Old Bobbin and Spool Factory —

Since the 1660’s there had always been a mill – either grist or sawmill at the first falls of the Piscassic River.  The bobbin factory had been first established and operated by Mr. John Marshall who sold it in 1855 to Daniel Jewett.  Daniel sold his share of the business to his brother Elvin Jewell who partnered with Jewett Tasker and continued supplying the cotton mills of the Newmarket Manufacturing Company until 1861 when the bobbin factory burned to the ground.  The Newmarket Manufacturing Company held deed to the property in 1861 when LaFayette Hall purchased it.

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