She traveled, an angel of mercy, throughout northern New Hampshire, braving all kinds of dangers to relieve suffering…
and was welcomed everywhere as “Granny Stalbird.”
Deborah Vicker was born 21 May 1755 in New Hampshire, probably the daughter of John Vicker(y) of Somersworth, New Hampshire, in the vicinity of Portsmouth. It is known that she had a sister, Elizabeth Vickery who married Aaron Wentworth.
She was the second woman to settle in what is now Jefferson, Coos County, New Hampshire. She arrived to cook and keep house for Col. Joseph Whipple, who owned most of the township. Col. Whipple’s former housekeeper, Nancy, had frozen to death. Deborah brought with her the first Bible in town, for which she had paid ten weeks work. The Bible was printed in Oxford in 1769.
Reportedly she lived in Jefferson eighteen months before she saw another white woman. Described as a very plain woman, her “strong mind, energetic will, and remarkable physical endurance” gave her immense influence among the Native Americans and settlers of the territory. Tradition says she made the first maple sugar of the settlement.
Colonel Whipple reportedly paid her a year’s salary in depreciated Continental currency which he knew to be nearly valueless. She criticized him, in such a strong manner that he offered her any unsold fifty acres in the town, in addition to what she had been paid.” This must have occurred around or after 1777.
Deborah chose the lower half of lot No. 10, range 6. In the deed made by Col. Whipple, December 10, 1797, the consideration is given as “one dollar duly and truly in hand paid before the delivery hereof, and the love I bear to the said Deborah Vicker.”
Most of the stories state that she married Richard Stalbird after receiving the above mentioned land, however, two of their five children were born before 1797 (in 1782 and 1788), so her marriage to Richard Stalbird probably occurred before the land transaction. The tales say that Mr. Stalbird thought this land too rocky, and exchanged it with Col. Whipple for the upper half of the lot. Here Mr. and Mrs. Stalbird settled and made their life residence.
After settling down to married life, Deborah added to her natural skill in nursing a knowledge of local Native American remedies. She traveled by horseback, and on foot, on a regular circuit extending from the Connecticut River to Gilead. J.H. Spaulding in “Historic Relics of the White Mountains,” calls her a “noted doctress.” She had a sympathetic nature and a hand to help in time of need. She greatly endeared herself to all who required her aid.
A story is told about her traveling to Shelburne to visit someone ailing, when she was caught in a ferocious storm. She took shelter under a granite ledge near the road until the next day. That rock became a landmark, called “Granny Stalbird’s Rock.” In later years when the railroad was being built, most of this rock was broken up. A piece was saved and made into a bench, which was sitting behind the house in ‘White Mountain Stock Farm’ of Shelburne NH.
The Stalbird family lived at the property currently known as Applebrook Bed & Breakfast in Jefferson, New Hampshire, for at least 4 generations.
‘Granny Stalbird’ was an amazing lady. She deserves the title ‘Doctor’ as much as any of the physicians in colonial America. During this period of our history, most physicians did not attend school, and instead apprenticed with a working doctor. The use of bleeding was a common practice. Medical treatment of the time was barbaric by our current standards, and Deborah appears to have been very successful in healing the residents of New Hampshire’s north country with her remedies, whether conventional or not. Within the context and definition of the term then used, Deborah Stalbird may be considered New Hampshire first (widely known) woman doctor.
Addendum June 5, 2006–
Tom McCorkhill, the owner of Applebrook B&B contacted me by email, and states that Granny Stalbird’s bible can be found in the Jefferson Town Library.
He also says that there used to be a woman in town who knew much Granny lore and even did programs at the local schools in costume. One 4th of July she wore her costume and rode a white horse even. Unfortunately, now she is very old and in a nursing home.
Colonial Medicine Web sites for further reading:
References to the Stalbird Family in the History of Coos Co. New Hampshire.
SOME DESCENDANTS OF GRANNY STALBIRD [Deborah Vicker]
Richard Stalbird, son of Richard & Lorena W. (?) Stalbird, b. 8 Jan 1726/1727 in New Hampshire, d. abt 1810 in Jefferson, Coos Co NH; m. by 1782 to Deborah VICKERS. She b. 21 May 1755 in NH, d. 1845 Jefferson, Coos Co NH. In 1796 Richard Stalbird signed the original petition to incorporate the town of “Dartmouth” which was approved as the township of “Jefferson.”
Children of Richard & Deborah (Vickers) Stalbird:
1. +James J. Stalbird, b. 25 March 1782 in Jefferson Coos Co NH; m. Mary PERKINS.
2. +Nathaniel Stalbird, b. 19 Apr 1788 in Jefferson NH
3. Sarah Stalbird, b. 8 Feb 1803 in Jefferson NH; m. John Aldrich.
4. +John Stalbird, b. 2 June 1804 in Jefferson NH
5. Deborah “Salley” Stalbird, b. 22 June 1805 in Jefferson NH, died 11 May 1886 in Carroll NH; m. Thomas Applebee. They had 3 children, George (b 1841), Hiram (b. 21 May 1832 in Jefferson NH, d. 8 Feb 1897 in Jefferson NH buried Meadows) and Samuel.
James J. Stalbird, son of Richard & Deborah (Vickers) Stalbird, b. 25 March 1782 in Jefferson, Coos CO NH; died 1 Apr 1865 in Jefferson, Coos Co NH: married 31 March 1802 in Jefferson NH to Mary “Polly” Perkins. She b. 1784 in Coos or Grafton Co NH, and d. 1870 in Jefferson, Coos Co NH.
Children of James J. & Mary “Polly” (Perkins) Stalbird:
1. Frank Stalbird, b. 1803 in Jefferson, Coos Co NH
2. +James J. Stalbird, b. 1804 in Jefferson NH; m. 1828 in Jefferson NH to Mary –. She b. 1828 in Jefferson NH.
3. +Benjamin Stalbird, b. 1809 in Jefferson NH
4. Mary Stalbird, b. 1811 in Three Rivers, PQ, Canada; m. 15 July 1841 in Jefferson NH to Benjamin F. Howard. Had issue, Andrew and Emiline.
5. +James Perkins Stalbird, b. 27 Feb 1813 in Three Rivers, PQ, Canada
6. +Richard G. Stalbird, b. 1817 in Jefferson, Coos Co NH
7. Celinda P. Stalbird, b. 1823 in Jefferson, Coos Co NH; in 1850 single and living with parents in Jefferson NH
8. Nathaniel D. Stalbird, b. 1826 in Maine; m. 1824 in NH to Mary B. –. She b. 1824 in NH. Had a daughter, Julia A. Stalbird, b. 1850 in NH.
Nathaniel Starbird, son of Richard & Deborah (Vickers) Stalbird, b. 19 Apr 1788 in Jefferson NH, d. 25 Apr 1854 in Jefferson NH; married 28 Oct 1806 in Jefferson NH to Mary “Polly” Worcester. She b. 13 Feb 1786 in NH, and d. 13 Feb 1873 in Jefferson NH.
1850 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Coos > Jefferson
Nathan’l Stalbird 63 M Farmer b NH [b abt 1788 NH]
Mary Stalbird 65 F NH [b abt 1785]
Levi Stalbird 22 M Farmer 1200 NH [b abt 1828]
Children of Nathaniel & Mary (Worcester) Stalbird:
1. Son Stalbird, b. 1810 in Jefferson NH, d. 1830
2. Mary A. Stalbird, b. 1825 in Jefferson NH; m. 1843 in Jefferson NH to John KING. Had issue: James A., Asa J., Olive C. and Ida May.
3. +Levi Stalbird, b. 2 Jan 1828 in Jefferson Coos Co NH
John Stalbird, son of Richard & Deborah (Vickers) Stalbird, b. 2 June 1804 in Jefferson, Coos Co NH, and d. 15 July 1901 in Lancaster, Coos Co NH. He married 1st) 1834 in Coos Co NH to Sally BASTIN. She b. 10 March 1807 and d. 10 July 1838 in Lancaster, Coos Co NH. He married 2d) 7 March 1839 in Lancaster, Coos Co NH to Sarah Twombly. She b. 8 Apr 1808 in NH and d. 19 July 1880 in Lancaster NH. He was a farmer.
Children of John & Sally (Bastin) Stalbird:
1. Harriet Stalbird, b. 1835 Jefferson NH
2. +George H. Stalbird, b. 1837 in Lancaster NH
Children of John & Sarah (Twobly) Stalbird:
3. Leroy S. Stalbird, b. 17 Apr 1840 in Jefferson, Coos Co NH; d. 24 Apr 1907 in Lancaster NH unmarried.
4. Sylvester W. Stalbird, b. 1 Jan 1844 in Lancaster, Coos Co NH; d. 8 March 1906 in Lancaster, Coos Co NH; m. 1880 in Lancaster NH to Harriet E. Aldrich. She b. 4 Feb 1852 in NH and d. 26 Dec 1920 in Lancaster NH. He is shown as “Cyrus” in the 1850 US Census of Lancaster, living with his parents.In 1900 living in Lancaster NH with wife Harriet and father John who is widowed. The census shows Harriet had no children.
James J. Stalbird, son of James J. & Mary (Perkins) Stalbird, b. 1803-4 in Jefferson NH; m. 1828 in Jefferson NH to Mary –. She b. 1828 in Jefferson NH.
Child of James J. & Mary (?) Stalbird:
1. +James Stalbird, b. 1838 in Jefferson Coos Co NH; m. Eliza P. Cutting
Benjamin Stalbird, son of James J. and Mary (Perkins) Stalbird, b. 1809 in Jefferson, Coos Co NH and d. 1880 in Whitefield, Coos Co NH. He married 1837 in NH to Climene –. She b. 1807 in Canada.
Children of Benjamin & CLimene (?) Starbird:
1. Cynthia A. Stalbird, b. 1838 in New Brunswick Co, Canada; m. 1863 in VT to Edwin R. Jones. Had issue
2. Frank Stalbird, b. 1839 in Lancaster, Coos Co NH; d. 15 Aug 1859 in Lancaster NH
3. William Harrison Stalbird, b. 1843 in Littleton Coos Co NH; m. 1864 in NH to Agnes –. She b. 1844 in VT. Had child, Eva Stalbird, b. 1866 in Whitefield, Coos Co NH.
4. Loren “Louis” E. Stalbird, b. 1845 in VT, d. 20 Feb 1864; Civil War service, Co. H. 9th NH Infantry, private.
5. Aaron H. Stalbird, b. 1847 in NH, d. 6 Nov 1885; m. 1877 in Lancaster NH to Julia –. She b. 1858 in NH. Children: Climena b 1878 and Donseta b. 1879 both in Lancaster NH. He was employed at Mead, Mason & Co.
James Perkins Stalbird, son of James J. and Mary (Perkins) Stalbird, b. 27 Feb 1813 in Three Rivers, PQ, Canada, and d. 16 Nov 1900 in Moosic, Lackawanna PA; he m. July 1840 in Luzerne PA to Jane Janetta Depew. She b. 8 June 1823 in PA and d. Jan 1892 in Freytown PA.
Children of James P. & Jane J. (Depew) Stalbird:
1. +Merritt Depew Stalbird, b. 9 Sep 1841 in Bear Creek, Luzerne Co PA. d/ 9 Dec 1026 in Moosic PA; m. 5 June 1867 in Stroudsburg PA to Eliza Ann Miller.
2. John M. Stalbird, b. 1843 Luzerne Co PA; m. Irene Tarpening. Had a son, Melville, b. 1878 in OH
3. George D. Stalbird, b 1844 in PA; m. Clarinda Brown
4. Cealer Stalbird, b. 1845 in PA; d. 1900
5. Howell Gale Stalbird, b. 26 Aug 1847 PA; m. 20 Aug 1870 to Margaret SAYER. Had issue: Byron O., Josephine E., Grace M. Louella L. Frank, James P., and Elmer
6. Lucinda Stalbird, b. 10 March 1850; m. Lucian H. Goodenough; had issue.
7. Selah Stalbird, b. 1853 in Sullivan NY, d. 1900
8. Arvilla Stalbird, b. 1854 in Sullivan NY, d. 1900; m. 1870 in PA to J.E. WILBUR. He. b 1845 in PA.
9. James Nelson Stalbird, b. 4 June 1856 Sullivan NY; m. Annice C. Waller; had issue
10. Mary Stalbird, b. 1858 Sullivan NY; m. John Fred Holler
11. Martha J. Stalbird, b. 1860 Sullivan NY; m. Edward Tinsley; had issue
12. John Newton Stalbird, b. 14 June 1863 Sullivan NY, m. 1900 to Hattie Miller. Had issue.
Richard G. Stalbird, son of James J. and Mary (Perkins) Stalbird, b. 1817 Jefferson Coos Co NH; d. 10 September 1888 in South Hadley MA; he m. 1839 in NH to Sarah REED. She b. 1746 in NH, dau of Benjamin & Sarah Reed. He removed to Granby CT, and later to Springfield, Hamden Co MA (by 1860).
Children of Richard G. & Sarah (Reed) Stalbird:
1. Lorna Stalbird, b. 1840 in Granby CT
2. George Stalbird, b. 1842 Granby CT
3. Frances Stalbird, b. 1844 Granby CT
4. Richard Stalbird, b. 1846 Granby CT; prob married
5. Mary Alice Stalbird, b. 11 Apr 1854 in E. Granby CT; married 18 Jan 1872 in Granville, Hampden Co., MA to George A. Quance, son of Samuel & Lydia Quance. They resided in Westfield MA.
6. James B. Stalbird, b. abt 1859 in MA
Levi Stalbird, son of Nathaniel & Mary (Worcester) Stalbird, b. 2 Jan 1828 in Jefferson Coos Co NH and d. 25 June 1909 in Jefferson Coos Co NH; he married Aug 1856 in Jefferson NH to Mary Stanley. She b. 18 Sep 1832 in NH and d. 29 June 1898 in Jefferson, Coos Co NH. He was a farmer, town treasurer and deacon. Owner of hotel called Stalbird House.
Children of Levi & Mary (Stanley) Stalbird:
1. Nellie Stalbird, b. 1857 in Jefferson NH; m. 1877 in Jefferson NH to Charles H. COOK. He b. 1853 in Jefferson NH and d. 12 Apr 1899 in Jefferson NH.
2. Ella M. Stalbird, b. 2 June 1860 in Jefferson NH, d. 25 Apr 1927 in Jefferson NH; m. 11 July 1880 in Jefferson NH to George A. TUTTLE, son of Benjamin & Betsy C. (Lovejoy) Tuttle. He b. 4 Jan 1858 in Jefferson NH and d. 24 Apr 1927 in Jefferson NH.
George H. Stalbird, son of John & Sally (Bastin) Stalbird, b. May 1839 in Lancaster, Coos Co NH; m. 1864 in Lancaster NH to Elizabeth “Lizzie” –. She b. 1841 in Canada.
Children of George H. & Elizabeth (?) Stalbird:
1. Sarah E. Stalbird, b. 1865 in Coos Co NH
2. John Stalbird, b. Jan 1868 in Coos Co NH; in 1880 living Lancaster, Coos Co NH with parents; reportedly m. Flora B. –. She b. May 1873 in VT. In 1900 living in Lancaster NH with wife, father George and uncle Leroy S. Flora is shown as having no children in that census. By 1930 they still have no children. Possibly she is the Flora B. Starbird who m. 30 June 1831 in Newbury VT to Harold B. Marble.
3. Cathi Stalbird, b. 1869 in Coos Co NH
4. Harriet E. Stalbird, b. Nov 1869 in Lancaster Coos Co NH; married Archie C. Barnett, son of William & Maria Barnett. They had 2 children, Esther B. and Chester Archie (b 1899 d 1986). Their dau Esther Barnett m1) 12 Feb 1917 to George H. McIntire, and m2) 8 March 1930 Sydney G. Straw.
5. Cora Stalbird, b. 1875 in Lancaster Coos Co NH
James Stalbird, son of James J. & Mary (?) Stalbird, b. 1838 in Jefferson, Coos Co NH; m. 10 March 1859 in Jefferson NH to Eliza P. Cutting, dau of Lathrop Cutting. She b. 1841 in Piermont, Grafton Co NH.
Children of James & Eliza P. (Cutting) Stalbird:
1. Frank Stalbird, b. 29 Nov 1862 in Bradford, Orange Co VT
2. Josie Stalbird, b. 5 Sep 1869 in Bethel, Windsor Co VT
Merritt Depew Stalbird, son of James P. & Jane J. (Depew) Stalbird, b. 9 Sep 1841 in Bear Creek, Luzerne Co PA. d/ 9 Dec 1026 in Moosic PA; m. 5 June 1867 in Stroudsburg PA to Eliza Ann Miller.
Children of Merritt D. & Eliza A. (Miller) Stalbird
1. Milton Larry Stalbird, b. 2 Aug 1868 in Moosic PA, d. 7 June 1949; m. 20 Dec 1888 in Moosic PA to Ida V. Keller. Had issue: Clarence D., Adrian L.
2. Malvern Charles Stalbird, b. 28 Apr 1870 in Carbondale PA; m. 1890 to Mary J. Getts
3. Myrtle May Stalbird, b. 19 March 1874 in PA; m. 1890 to Ernest Kriedler. Had issue.
4. Evi Ellis Stalbird, b. 18 Nov 1878 in Philadelphia PA; m. Hanna Elizabeth Letterman, had issue.
5. Raymond Warren Stalbird, b. 16 Feb 1883 in Freytown PA; m. 1916 to Mildred Caroline McDowell; had issue.