New Hampshire Missing Places: Indian Stream Republic (1829-1836)

In 1832 a group of hardy settlers created an independent nation called the Indian Stream Republic, named after the river flowing through this area.

It was located in a territory near the headwaters of the Connecticut river in northern New Hampshire, and involved 200,000 acres on the Canadian/New Hampshire border.  Both governments demanded taxes from the settlers, and the British government tried to press some of the residents into military service, and tax them for importing goods.

Earlier History: In 1812 this territory was the paradise of smugglers.  In 1819 the British (Canada was at that time a British province) and American commissioners attempted to jointly establish the boundary line between Canada and the United States and could not agree.  In 1824 this area, known as Indian Stream Territory, was inhabited by about 58 adult male settlers, who, with their families, made a population of 285 people. These settlers claimed the right to settle from an Indian deed of Philip, the old chief of the St. Francis tribe, dated 1796. In 1830 the settlement numbered ninety voters.

Most web sites state that “On July 9, 1832” after 60 years of being caught in a boundary dispute between the nations of Canada and the United States, the residents declared themselves to be a sovereign nation–the “United Inhabitants of Indian Stream Territory”, sometimes called the Indian Stream Republic.  They created a constitution, instituted their own legislature and court system, issued their own stamps, and established their own 41-man militia.

However, the “History of Coos County New Hampshire; by Georgia Drew Merrill, printed in 1888, page 708 states the following: “Accordingly, on the 6th day of April 1829, a public meeting of the citizens was held at the Center school-house, the “Independence Hall” of Pittsburg, at which they asserted their independence of both governments of Great Britain and the United States; drew up a preamble and bill of rights, and adopted a constitution and form of government, very democratic in its provisions.  It consisted of three distinct departments–representative, executive, and judicial.  The representative branch was decidedly primitive in its organization, being composed of the entire voting population of the territory, each directly representing his own interests.  The executive department consisted of five persons chosen annually, officially known as the “Supreme Council,” and forming a semi-judicial tribunal or court of appeal from the lower courts.  The judicial branch of the government was vested in justice of the peace elected by the people in their municipal capacity, and had provisions for trials by a jury of six people, whenever demanded, with right of appeal to the Supreme Council.
At the meeting for the organization of the government a committee of three persons was chosen, consisting of Nathaniel Perkins, John Haines, and David Mitchell, to draft a code of laws for the government of the territory to be submitted to the people, when assembled in their legislative capacity, for approval.  This “legislature” met in June following, and the code reported by the committee was  substantially adopted.  All the offices under this rather novel form of government were elective.  A common school system was established. A military organization formed for protection against foreign invasion or domestic violence, consisting of one company of forty men, of which Hermon Batchelder was chosen captain.  Taxes were levied for municipal purposes, the boundaries of school and highway districts defined, and schools established, to be supported by taxation.  The collection of debts for the first time during the existence of the colony was enforced by legal process, and all the varied municipal functions of the government were soon placed in working order.  Reuben Sawyer was elected sheriff; Nathaniel Perkins, John Haines, David Mitchell, Jeremiah Tabor, and Phineas Willard, councillors; John A. Mitchell, clerk and register of deeds; Richard I. Blanchard, Clark J. Haines and Burleigh Blood, justices of the peace.”

In 1835 “war broke out” when a leader of the Republic was arrested in Canada, then a pro-Canadian resident was arrested in New Hampshire, some say in retaliation. These events escalated into several more incidents, until the New Hampshire governor ordered the state militia to occupy the Indian Stream Republic.

Finally in January 1836 the British gave up their claim. The following May, the local citizens accepted New Hampshire’s authority.  Many of the Canadian residents emigrated to Canada.

In the 1840 U.S. Census (taken June 1, 1840) it is called Indian Stream. It was incorporated as town township of Pittsburg by the New Hampshire legislature in the November 1840 session.  At that time it contained about sixty ratable polls, fifty-four voters, and a total valuation of about $50,000, exclusive of the state lands.

Indian Stream Republic is now part of the township of Pittsburg, Coos County, New Hampshire.  The boundary line was recognized in 1842 with the signing of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty.

New Hampshire Historic Marker #1, is for that of the Republic of Indian Stream. It is located on Route 3 in Pittsburg, New Hampshire.

Pittsburg New Hampshire is distinguished by having the largest amount of land area of any township. Covering the entire top of the state, the area includes Lake Francis, the three Connecticut Lakes, and the international boundary post erected on the 45th Parallel, halfway between the North Pole and the Equator.

Janice

FURTHER READING

The Indian Stream Republic and Luther Parker by Grant Showerman, Grant, pt. 1. The Indian Stream republic and Luther Parker. — pt. 2. Ellen Parker’s journal [1852-1857] — pt. 3. The report of the Indian Stream Commissioners, 1836; NH Historical Society, Concord NH; 1915

Report of the Commissioners to Indian Stream – New Hampshire. Commissioners on Indian Stream territory; 1936

La Republique d’Indian Stream/par M.F.-J. Audet, by Joseph Audet François; Book digitized by Google from the library of Harvard University and uploaded to the Internet Archive; 1906 (written in French)

Official Town of Pittsburg NH web site

-Town Seal: Indian Stream Republic/Town of Pittsburg NH

[article updated February 15, 2013]

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4 Responses to New Hampshire Missing Places: Indian Stream Republic (1829-1836)

  1. Sheldon Walton says:

    ” In 1824 this area, known as Indian Stream Territory, was inhabited by about 58 adult male settlers, who, with their families, made a population of 285 people.”- Who were these people? I understand there was a “Toll House” next to a stream on the boarder with Canada.

    Sarah Hill’s parents ran the Toll House. She was in love with Henri LaPlante. Her folks hate the French, his folks hated the English. In order for the marriage to occur, Henri had to change his name and, “no French was allowed to be spoke in Her mother’s home.” So… “Henri LaPlante” became “Joseph Plant”.

    In, 1833, Sarah gave birth to Joseph Plant, in Barnstable Que.

    Is there any information concerning any Toll House between the two countries? Is the list available, of who the “58 adult males” are?

  2. Pingback: The Baldwin Family of Pittsburg, Coos County, New Hampshire | Cow Hampshire

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