Welcome to NHStateParks.com

 

NHStateParks.com

Other NH Sites


Daniel Webster Birthplace
Phone: 603-934-5057 or 603-485-2034

Location: Off Route 127, Franklin

Activities: Historical interpretation, picnicing

Amenities: Living history, guided tours

Fee: All New Hampshire residents are admited free of charge. Others must pay $7 for adults; $3 for children ages 6-11; children ages 5 and under are free.

Operation Schedule: Open 9:00am - 5:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays from June 21 through September 1, 2008. The Sawyer house is closed to the public.

Acreage: 147 acres

Pets: Pets are not permitted at state historic sites.


More Information
The Daniel Webster Birthplace State Historic Site is associated with the birth and early childhood years of Daniel Webster, one of our country's most respected orators and statesmen. While the site affords a view of the early years of Daniel Webster, it also provides a glimpse of 1700s farm life in the infant years of the United States.

The Site
When the Revolutionary War broke out in 1775, Ebenezer Webster was operating a mill and farming a stony tract of land in Salisbury, New Hampshire. He shared a log cabin with his four children and second wife, Abigail Eastman Webster. Ebenezer was a patriotic man who had served with "Roger's Rangers" in the French and Indian Wars. He was active in Salisbury town affairs, and when the call came for soldiers to fight the British, he organized and captained a company of local volunteers.

Captain Webster came home each winter during the war, but he depaRouted again when the fighting resumed again in the spring. His family was growing. Abigail gave birth to a daughter in 1779 and a son in 1780. During this period Ebenezer built a two-room frame house to replace the crowded log cabin.

It was in this new home that Abigail's fourth child, Daniel, was born on January 18, 1782. Thick snow probably blanketed the little house on that winter day adding to the farm's isolation. Ebenezer was still away, serving his final days in General Washington's army. Abigail must have been glad to have her older children around her to help with the birth, fetching buckets of water from the well and keeping a good fire going in the large fireplace.

Around 1785 Ebenezer sold his farm and mill and moved the family to more fertile land near the Merrimack River. The farm's new owner, Captain Stephen Sawyer, built a large square farmhouse on the site. He also moved the Webster's small house across the road and attached it to his new home to form a shed, or ell.

The property passed through the hands of several owners until Judge George Nesmith gave it to Daniel Webster in 1851. After his death it was sold again, and finally in 1910 it was acquired by the Webster Birthplace Association. The original cellar hole was located and cleared, and the frame house moved back to its original foundation. In 1917 the restored house and 155 of the farm's original acres were deeded to the State of New Hampshire.

The Birthplace
The house, associated with Daniel Webster's childhood, provides an intimate snapshot of frontier life during the country's earliest years.

The hearth was obviously the center of the home, with the smell of freshly baked bread drifting from the oven while a stew bubbled in an iron pot or a haunch of venison roasted slowly on a spit. It is here where the family would have gathered to talk, work and eat. By the flickering light of hand-dipped candles they would also have read from the family Bible, which was kept in the cupboard above the mantle.

The stairs in the corner of the main room lead to a loft, where the many Webster children slept on cornhusk mattresses. Abigail and Ebenezer slept in the house's second room, with baby Daniel in a wooden cradle similar to the one now on display.

Much of the house is believed to be original despite its several moves. The fireplace was rebuilt using the original handmade bricks and hearthstone. The attached woodshed and well surround are reconstruction's. Furnishings such as the flax spinning wheel and kitchen utensils are typical of a rustic farm of the period. Other items on display belonged to Daniel Webster later in his life.

The foundations of Ebenezer Webster's mill can be found among the trees behind the house near Punch Brook. The original mill was for sawing wood, but Ebenezer also added a grist and cider mill. There are still some apple trees near the house.

The Area
When the Webster family left their small home they moved to Elms Farm, where Ebenezer ran a mill and also built and operated a tavern. They later sold this property to finance Daniel and his brother at Dartmouth. The family moved to a smaller house nearby. This new home eventually passed to Daniel, who owned it until his death. It is now owned by the Sisters of the Holy Cross and can be viewed from the outside.

The old Salisbury cemetery is on the same road as the Webster house. Ebenezer and Abigail are buried there along with many other Websters. Daniel is buried in Marshfield, Massachusetts. The Webster Birthplace and Elms Farm were in the town of Salisbury, which was incorporated as a part of Franklin in 1828.

The Man
Daniel Webster (1782-1852) was a frail and sickly child. He was given only light chores to do and spent much of his time playing, fishing and roaming the countryside, often in the company of his older brother, Ezekiel. During this period, while he was building his physical strength, he also developed a deep love of literature from reading the family Bible and books borrowed from neighbors.

Daniel graduated from Dartmouth College in 1801 and became a lawyer and renowned orator. He served as U.S. congressman from New Hampshire and Massachusetts; and secretary of state under presidents Harrison, Tyler and Fillmore. In all, he spent forty years in public service, helping to mold the loose collection of states into a single unified nation. One theme in particular stands out from his many impassioned speeches: "The Union, one and inseparable, now and forever."

Although his later life was centered around Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., Daniel Webster never forgot his New Hampshire roots. He often returned to visit old friends, fish in Punch Brook, and enjoy the robust social life of the local taverns.

Visiting the Birthplace
The Daniel Webster Birthplace is a state historic site managed by the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation, Department of Resources and Economic Development. The birthplace staff can be reached on weekends during the summer at 603/ 934-5057. The Franklin Historical Society provides living history interpretation at the site on the weekends it is open. It also offers a participatory living history program for school groups midweek during May and June, on a reservation only basis. For information about the school program or to make a reservation for a class visit call 603/736-8938.

Directions
From Tilton, exit 20 of Interstate 93, follow Route 3 south (west) through Franklin to Route 127. Take 127 south and follow the signs to the Daniel Webster Birthplace

Important: This information was posted on June 4, 2008 and all information, services and fees are subject to change. For current information you may wish to call 603-271-3556 or contact the park directly.

Top