History of Gilmanton
Written by: Daniel Lancaster
Published in 1845
In June, 1765, Nicholas Gilman arrived with his family from Brentwood, and settled on lot No. 1, third range of lower 100 acres. Samuel Morrison and Joseph Philbrook from Exeter, came this year, and Ephraim Morrill from Salisbury, came in 1766. Mr. Morrison settled on No. 3, of the first gore. There is an interesting incident related of Mr. Morrison, which serves to illustrate the character of the primitive settlers of the town. Being much engaged in clearing up his land, he lost his reckoning, and mistaking the Sabbath for Saturday, continued his work through the day. When Monday morning came, he put on his Sabbath suit, which, at that time, was not very much superior to his everyday one, and being prepared for meeting, made his way by spotted trees to the house of his nearest neighbor, Joseph Philbrook, who lived on his route to the place of worship. To his surprise, he found him at work in his blacksmith shop, and immediately reproved him for breaking the Sabbath. Mr. Philbrook assured him it was not Sabbath day, but Monday. Mr. Morrison repeated the certainty of its being the Sabbath day, and re-asserted his sin of Sabbath breaking; and it was not until Mr. Philbrook assured him that he attended meeting on the preceding day, and informed him who preached, that his mind became convinced of his error. He immediately return home, called his family together, and told them the mistake; and "now," said he, " let us strictly keep this day to the Lord in return for the Sabbath which we have profaned by our labor." The day was accordingly devoted to acts of worship in the family, and Mr. Morrison was never known again to fall into a similar error while he resided in town. Mr. Philbrook, who was the first blacksmith in town, settled on No. 13, first range of 40 acres. Not long after their arrival, there occurred a circumstance worthy of record, in reference to Mr. Philbrook's wife. Having heard one afternoon, that Mrs. Morrison, the wife of their nearest neighbor, was ill, she concluded, after supper, to call and see her. She went out, leaving her husband, who was fatigued with labor, at home. It began to be dark as she left her own door, and she had no path to follow but one indicated by spotted trees. She hurried along, however, hoping to keep the direction, and reach the house at which she was aiming. But in this she was disappointed. When she supposed she had gone far enough, she began to halloo, with the hope of being heard, and relived from her embarrassing situation. But this hope was not realized. She then attempted to retrace her steps; but here her perplexity was as great as before. Having become bewildered, she was doubtful what course she had come. To go back in the dark was utterly impossible, and to remain in the woods, through the night, would be perilous. She therefore continued to call for help until she could call no longer; and to wander on, feeling her way in the dark, until exhausted with fatigue. She now made up her mind that she must here pass the night, notwithstanding her dread of wild beasts, which she heard prowling at no great distance around her. She dared not to sit down, or think of taking repose, lest she should become their prey. Having therefore found a short space, where she could walk back and forth, she determined to keep all harm at a distance by vocal prayer, and singing psalms and hymns, with which she had stored in her mind. Thus early was this wilderness, in the midnight hour, made to resound with the praises of God, and thus was her should sustained in the perils of darkness, while prayer and praise were made her defense!
Her husband, supposing that she had found the woman more ill than she had anticipated, and had concluded to pass the night, retired quietly to rest. But as she did not return in the morning, he early repaired to his neighbor's house, and learning that she had not been there, he immediately conjectured her situation, and started forth to rescue his lost wife. By the sound of his horn, she was enabled to ascertain the direction of her home; and turning her steps thitherward, she arrived in season to eat a joyful breakfast with her husband, for which she had now a sharpened appetite.
This circumstance she related but a short time before her death, in her 94th year, with a minuteness and interest which showed that it made, as well it might, a very deep impression upon her mind. This family lived near the late residence of Mr. Joseph Lougee; the house, to which she was going, stood on the lot afterwards occupied by Mr. John Gilman, the father of Dea. Theophilus Gilman; and the spot to which she wandered, and where she passed the night, was in the valley near Mill Brook, North Eastward from the present residence of Capt. Nicholas Gilman.