Ledger from one of Meredith’s settlers donated to Historical Society

LACONIA — A ledger whose first entry was made in 1793 by Judge Ebenezer Smith, one of the first settlers in Meredith, has been donated to the Meredith Historical Society by Elaine Townsley, who said that the ledger came into the posession of her family when her parents bought the Lombardy Farm on Parade Road in the 1940s.
Townsely, former owner of the Rails and Crafts hobby store on Laconia's Main Street, said that she wanted the historical society to be able to share the historic ledger with the public and donated it along with a smaller ledger and some family scrapbooks showing scenes of Lombardy Farm in the 1940s and 1950s.
''It's a piece of history which should be preserved,'' said Townsley.
The very first page of the ledger notes that it is ''the second ledger of Col. Ebenzer Smith'' and the first entry on April 16, 1793 states ''this day we compared, settled and balanced all former book accounting between and within our hand'' and was signed by Jacob Eaton and Ebenezer Smith.
The entry was made only a month after Smith had been elected to the state legislature by a vote of 84-1 at town meeting.
Smith played an important role in the 18th century settlement of both the section of Meredith, then known as New Salem, which would later become a part of Laconia, and of Gilford, which was then a part of Gilmanton.
He was a prominent judge, legislator and landowner and during his life served as a town proprietor of Gilmanton, and Representative and Senator in the state legislature from Meredith, where he was a selectman for 36 years. He was also president of the Senate for two years, Judge of the County Court from 1784-1787, and Judge of the County Probate Court from 1797-1805. He was also a trustee of Gilmanton Academy and served as its treasurer for six years.
He and David Lawrence signed a petition in 1768 which led to the charter for the town of Meredith being granted by Governor John Wentworth.
He served as a colonel in the militia and was First Major on Col. Welch's Regiment of Volunteers who marched to join the Continental Army at Saratoga in September of 1777.
Adair Mulligan's ''The Gunstock Parish: A History of Gilford, New Hampshire'', says that Smith, who first came to the area as a surveyor in 1761, targeted the Gilford Intervale land for early acquisition and purchased large amounts of property in both Gilford and Meredith, as well as personally financing land purchases for other people.
At one point he held fourteen 100 acre lots as well as nine smaller tracts of land and was known as ''the father of the poor man'' for his willingness to allow settlers to move in and build their own farms and not seek payment until they were able to make a living off the land.
''We're so pleased to have this ledger and they will be put on display at our museum,'' said Nancy Jewell, who along with fellow historical society member Dawn Dever, visited Townsley at her St. Francis Nursing Home apartment to pick up the gifts.
Jewell marveled at the excellent condition of the pages of the ledger and said that it shows the superior quality of the paper of that era.
Townsely said that Lombardy Farm, which was located on the west side of Parade Road just below Lane Road, was where the Belknap County 4-H was started in 1943 by her mother, Lillian Walker, who had organized it as a fitting and showmanship event. It moved to Opechee Park the next year.
She said that the ledger, whose last entries are around 1840, must have been left at the farm by one of Ebenezer Smith's descendants and remained with the property until it was sold to John McIntyre in the 1960s. Townsley said the farmhouse, which still had Indian shutters, was dismantled sometime in the 1970s and taken to Connecticut,.
''That was after a fire which had been set by someone destroyed the barn,'' said Townsley.
She said that many of the nearby Parade Road properties were owned by members of Ebenezer Smith's family and that Smith, who died in 1807, and his wife, Sarah, who died that same year, are buried in the Washington Smith cemetery, which is on the east side of Parade Road just across from where the farm was located.
The cemetery is named for Ebenezer's Smith youngest son, Washington, who was born in 1784 and was one of four people who died as a result of injuries suffered in the collapse of the yet unfinished town hall in Meredith village on March 18, 1855.
Some 600 to 800 people were present at that meeting in which the hotly contested issue of whether the town would be divided and a new town of Laconia formed was to be voted on. That change did take place in June of that year.
A pamphlet printed by the Meredith Historical Society has a drawing of the site of the Ebenezer Smith House which shows its location just above a field off from North Main Street in Laconia with a view of Lake Opechee which places it near the former Laconia State School property.
For many years the home served as the site of town meetings but was torn down for some unknown reason between 1860 and 1875. It was described as a two story Colonial house with a long ell which connected to a large barn. The home was wallpapered, which was unusual for that time.
Smith had extensive land holdings in Gilford as well and those were passed along to his sons, John and Ebenezer. Smith Cove was named named for the Smith family, which at one time owned four of the six large farms on the Intervale and whose lands included the peninsula now known as Varney Point and which was until 1915 known as Smith Point.
At one point in 1801 the Smith family holdings of John Smith alone were some 350 acres and included not only Smith Point but extended to the edge of Sanders Bay, including the shorefront which would later become Gilford Beach, as well as one-third of the land now occupied by Laconia Airport. What became the Smith-Sanders Farm in the 19th century also held title to several islands in Lake Winnipesaukee, including Pig, Round, Mink, Timber and Mark.
Fay's Boat Yard, located in Smith Cove, is owned by Merrill Fay, a descendant of Ebenezer Smith.


Dawn Dever, left, and Nancy Jewell, right, of the Meredith Historical Society, accept the gift of a ledger with entries dating back to 1793 from Elaine Townsley. The ledger contains entries made by Ebenezer Smith, who was one of the first settlers in Meredith and served 36 years as a selectman and was also a judge. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun