New Hampshire Missing Places: Lost River Gorge Waterfall

The funny thing is that ‘Lost’ River Gorge Waterfall isn’t lost

it has simply been closed for twenty years.

On June 23, 2006, the Lost River Gorge Waterfall, called Proserpine Falls, New Hampshire’s only underground waterfall was reopened, after extensive restorations. It had been closed for twenty years.

According to the New Hampshire Division of Travel & Tourism this past September, “Volunteers will soon have the cave holding one of New Hampshire’s forgotten wonders, a 20-foot tall underground waterfall, re-opened to visitors. The cave and its “Judgement Hall of Pluto” was flooded with debris when Hurricane Gloria passed through two decades ago (in 1985). Soon the Hall and Proserpine Falls will again be accessible to visitors, with a new staircase (instead of the former ladders) and a boardwalk.”

Royal Charles Jackman (1828-1915) one of the "discoverers" of the Falls.

Royal Charles Jackman (1828-1915) one of the ‘discoverers’ of Lost River Gorge. Photograph from the private collection of a descendant; used here with their written permission.


What’s this–Paradise, Proserpine and Pluto?  It appears that the namers of these exotic locations (more than a century ago) were either readers of great literature (Paradise Lost), or were familiar with the ancient myths and legends. Lost River Gorge’s web site states that it was discovered in 1852 by a pair of brothers, Royal and Lyman Jackman, who accidentally stumbled into what has become known as Shadow Cave.

The Chronicles of the White Mountains, written in 1916 states the following:
“Much interest has been taken in late years in Lost River, a small stream in the Kinsman Notch. About seven miles west of North Woodstock, this mountain brook passes for a distance of about half a mile through a remarkable series of glacial caverns, which is the third great curiosity in the Franconia Mountain region, the Profile and the Flume being the other two.”

“In these dark and gloomy caves, which are from forty to seventy-five feet deep, the water of this mountain brook disappears form sight and at times from sound.  This unique natural wonder, which far surpasses the Flume in its surprises and its massive rock structure, was discovered about 1855 by R.C. Jackman, of North Woodstock.”

Photograph of Lyman Jackman in military uniform. From the personal collection of his family, via his great-grandson, Chris Wolf (son of Lyman’s grand-daughter, Catherine Ann (Jackman) Wolf. Used with permission.

“About 1875, when he returned to live in North Woodstock after an absence of some fifteen years, he cut a footpath to the caves, and for a number of years he acted as a guide to this and other scenic attractions of the region.”

“Fortunately, in 1912, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests acquired a forest reservation of one hundred and forty-eight acres surrounding and including the caves, the owners generously offering to give the land if the Society would buy the standing timber on the tract.  A legacy and gifts enabled the Society to accept the offer.  Further gifts have made it possible to provide bridges, ladders, and trails to render the caverns accessible, and to build a comfortable shelter for the use of visitors.”

Today, Lost River Gorge is still owned by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and is managed by White Mountains Attractions.

But who were Royal C. and Lyman Jackman, the discoverers?  Actually they were my third cousins, 5 times removed.  Not kissing cousins, I agree.  My many years of research into the New Hampshire branch of the Jackman family came in handy, since both the Woodstock and Canterbury New Hampshire town histories woefully neglected including this family when they were compiling their genealogies. I’ve included a family genealogy below.


*Further Reading*

Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves History


**PARTIAL Genealogy of the JACKMAN FAMILY**

James Jackman was born 30 Dec 1611 in Exeter, Devon, England, and died 30 Dec 1694 in Newbury MA.  He married about 1651 to Joanna/Jemima. They settled in Newbury, Massachusetts.
Children of James & Joanna/Jemina (–) Jackman:
1. +Richard Jackman, b. 15 Feb 1659
2. Mary Jackman
3. Sarah Jackman
4. Hester “Esther” Jackman
5. Capt. James Jackman
6. Johanna Jackman

Richard Jackman, son of James & Joanna/Jemima Jackman, b. 15 Feb 1659 in Newbury MA, d. 30 Dec 1713.  He married 26 June 1682 in Newbury MA to Elizabeth Plummer, dau of Samuel & Mary (Bitfield) Plummer. She was b. 19 Oct 1662. They resided in Newbury, MA.
Children of Richard & Elizabeth (Plummer) Jackman:
1. Joanna Jackman
2. James Jackman
3. +Richard Jackman, b. 17 Aug 1684
4. Elizabeth Jackman
5. James Jackman 2d
6. Joseph Jackman

Richard Jackman, son of Richard & Elizabeth (Plummer) Jackman, b. 17 Aug 1684 in Newbury MA. His marriage intentions were published 6 Apr 1703 in Newbury MA to Elizabeth Major, dau of George & Susanna (Pray) Mager. She was b. 3 June 1682 in Newbury MA, and d. 7 Aug 1739.
Children of Richard & Elizabeth (Major) Jackman:
1. Deacon George Jackman, b. 18 Sep 1707 in Newbury MA [I descend from this line]
2. +Richard Jackman, b. 17 Oct 1709 in Newbury MA
3. Mehitable Jackman

Richard Jackman, son of Richard & Elizabeth (Major) Jackman, b. 17 Oct 1709 in Newbury MA; married Martha Call, dau of Philip Call. Her mother had been killed by Indians. He and his brother George were two of thirty-three settlers who moved to Contoocook in 1734 to begin a settlement.
Children of Richard & Martha (Call) Jackman:
1. Richard Jackman
2. John Jackman
3. Moses Jackman
4. +Samuel Jackman, b. 17 March 1749 in Boscawen NH
5. Sarah Jackman
6. Sarah Jackman 2nd

Samuel Jackman, son of Richard & Martha (Call) Jackman, was born 17 March 1749 in Boscawen NH, and died 20 Aug 1845 in Webster, NH.  He married in 1773 in Boscawen NH to Submit Brown. She was b. 30 Apr 1751 in Boscawen NH and d. 3 Apr 1815. He was a joiner by trade, erected the frame of the town-house in Webster NH.  He first moved to Vermont, and then to Concord/Webster New Hampshire where he died.  The Boscawen NH town history calls him “a man of marked ability and sterling integrity.”  He had great strength and could “climb trees feet foremost.”  In the History of Merrimack and Belknap Counties NH, page 174 it is indicated that in the spring of 1776, Samuel Jackman signed the association test.
1. Rhoda Jackman, b. 22 May 1774; m. Jonathan Corser
2. Samuel Jackman, b. 26 Apr 1776, died young
3. Martha Jackman, b. 3 Jan 1778
4. Samuel Jackman, b. 15 Feb 1780; m. Lydia Shattuck
5. +Royal Jackman, b. 18 May 1791
6. Jesse Jackman, b 10 May 1793

Major Royal Jackman (1791-1872); from the personal collection of a descendant, used with permission.

Major Royal Jackman (1791-1872); from the personal collection of a descendant, used with written permission.

Royal Jackman, son of Samuel & Submit (Brown) Jackman, was born 18 May 1791 in Boscawen NH. He married 4 May 1817 to Lucretia Ladd, daughter of Thaddeus & Hannah (Dow) Ladd.  She was b. 12 May 1795 in Hopkinton NH. He removed for a time to Canterbury New Hampshire. The History of the town of Canterbury, New Hampshire, 1727-1912, page 210-211 states: “The first reference to the records of the War of 1812 was at a special town meeting held July 28 that year.   Lieut. Col. Moody Bedel had orders to raise seven companies for the regular army, establishing a recruiting station at Concord NH. Between May 8 and Sept 16, 1812 he had enlisted 397 men, for the Eleventh United States Infantry, of which Colonel Bedel was an officer.  On the roll of field and staff officers of this regiment of United States Infantry is the name of Royal Jackman as chief musician. He was a well known resident of Canterbury.  Mr. Chandler E. Potter says of him, “His skill with the drum and astonishing dexterity with the sticks, keeping one in the air while its fellow was continuing its duty in producing correct and excellent music, must be recollected by many men within the limits of the 11th and 38th Regiments.”  They were living in Woodstock New Hampshire during the censuses of 1850 and 1860.  His son Lyman’s death certificate states that his father Royal, was a farmer and carpenter.
Children of Royal & Lucretia (Ladd) Jackman:
1. Lucretia Caroline Jackman, b. 7 Feb 1818 Canterbury NH; m. Luther Taylor
2. Sophronia Jackman, b. 23 Oct 1819 Canterbury NH; m. Arthur L. Hunt
3. Martha Jackman, b. 18 Apr 1822 Canterbury NH; m. 1 May 1860 in Woodstock NH to Jeremiah D. Tilton, as his 2nd wife
4. Mary Jackman, b. 19 Feb 1824 Canterbury NH, d. 1841
5. Louisa Jackman, b. 20 Aug 1826 Canterbury NH; m. Isaac McCausland, had ch
6. +**Royal Charles Jackman, b. 27 July 1828 Canterbury NH
7. Jesse Jackman, b. 8 Dec 1830 Canterbury NH; m. Julia Deaborn, had ch
8. Lewis Jackman, b.8 May 1833 Canterbury NH
9. Ellen Maria Jackman, b. 2 June 1835 in Peeling NH [called Woodstock in 1830], , teacher.  She died 11 January 1862 in Woodstock NH, age 20 of diphtheria.
10. +**Lyman Jackman, b. 15 Aug 1837 in Peeling [Woodstock] NH; m. Sarah True Tilton, had two sons, Charles Lyman (Aug 1871) and Freeman Tilton (2 May 1879)
11. Joseph L. Jackman, b. abt 1838 NH.
12. Sophia Jackman, b. 17 May 1841 in Canterbury NH; m. 9 Nov 1870 in NH to George E. Clemons, son of Samuel S. & Louisa B. Clemons. He was b. abt 1841 in Hiram Maine.

Royal Charles Jackman, son of Royal & Lucretia (Ladd) Jackman, was born 27 June 1828/29 in Canterbury NH, and died 30 December 1915 in Laconia NH. He married Eliza/Elisa Gray. She was born March 1832 in Canterbury NH. Royal lived in Woodstock New Hampshire and was a carpenter, carriage maker and repairer, and general blacksmith.  In 1880 he was living in Whitefield, Coos Co NH, but by 1900 he and his wife had moved back to Woodstock.
Children of Royal C. & Elisa/Eliza (Gray) Jackman:
1. Edgar M. Jackman, b. abt 1857 in NH, probably died young
2. Mary A. Jackman, b. 19 Aug 1858 in Woodstock, NH;
3. Lewis Jackman, b. 2 October 1860, died 12 January 1863 NH
4. Charles “Charlie” Jackman, b. abt 1863 in NH
5. Clara Jackman, b. abt 1865 in NH; m. 14 Feb 1894 in North Woodstock NH to Noah William Gross, son of William & Marretta (Abbott) Gross, and had sons, Charles J. and Lyman Edgar Gross.
6. Annette Jackman, b. abt 1868 in NH; married 8 May 1895 in Woodstock NH to Frank D. Morey, son of Hiram D. & Mary W. (Dana) Morey.

Photograph of Lyman Jackman in uniform. Courtesy of Chris Wolf, great-grandson of Lyman Jackman. Used with permission.

Lyman Jackman, son of Royal & Lucretia (Ladd) Jackman, was b. 15 Aug 1837 in Peeling (Woodstock) NH; m. Sarah True Tilton, daughter of Jeremiah D. & Abigail S. (Freese) Tilton. She was born in 10 February 1844 in Deerfield NH, and died 8 August 1903 in Concord, NH, at 33 Merrimack Street. He served in the union army during the Civil War. The 1890 enumeration of NH veterans shows Lyman Jackman, 77 Centre Street, Concord NH, with details: Private, Co. B, 6th NH Infantry, enlisted Sept 16, 1861, mustered out 17 July 1865 (3 years 10 months 1 day). Additional notes state: wounded severely, taken prisoners, confined in Libby, Salisbury, Danville, lost left eye while in prison. Lyman Jackman was an insurance agent in Concord NH by 1879, living on Centre Street, Ward 5.  He died 23 June 1913 in Concord NH, his death record stating he previously lived in Lowell MA.  They are both buried at Blossom Hill Cemetery, Concord NH.
Children of Lyman & Sarah True (Tilton) Jackman:
1. Charles Lyman Jackman, b. Aug 1871; he married 1st) —;  He married 2nd) 17 May 1900 in Concord NH to Mary E. Rolfe, daughter of Hiram & Georgiana (Coombs) Rolfe.
2. Freeman Tilton Jackman, b. 2 May 1879 in Concord NH; he married 4 Jan 1905 in Concord NH to Beulah Blanche Goodale, daughter of Charles Harry & Arebella Kilburn  (Batchelor) Goodale. She was b Oct. 5, 1882 in Franklin NH. At the time of his marriage, he was an insurance agent, and she was a teacher.

Editor’s Note: a 2nd Lyman Jackman, only a few years in age different, and a different person, served Company B, 1st NH Volunteers, Artillery. April 12, 1887 he applied for a pension, being an invalid. He died June 27, 1917 at Chelsea MA (per his pension papers).

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22 Responses to New Hampshire Missing Places: Lost River Gorge Waterfall

  1. Ralph Bennoch says:

    interesting, Lyman was my gr. gr. grandfather-Freeman-Beulah-Charlotte. had heard story as a kid.

  2. Chris Wolf says:

    Lyman was also my great-great-grandfather and I came across this blog while casually researching the Jackmans. (Ralph, the previous commenter, is, I believe, my cousin whom I have not seen since I was a child.)

    Lyman wrote a book, published in 1891 entitled “History of the Sixth New Hampshire Regiment in the War for the Union”. I have an original copy of this book. It includes a photograph of him and several pages about him with some interesting facts. For example, he says there were twelve children in his family, not eleven as mentioned above. He says that his father Royal enlisted from Thetford, VT, became a Major, and led the charge on the enemy’s batteries at Plattsburg, where he was wounded. Lyman includes some slightly different or additional details about his own life, such as “partially lost the sight of the left eye” and that after the military he “was employed for a year in the machine shop” at Lowell, MA.

    I can also add that Beulah Blanche Goodale was born Oct. 5, 1882 and her parents’ full names were Charles Harry Goodale and Arabella Kilburne Batchelder.

  3. Chris Wolf says:

    Yes, I could scan a couple of photos, but I don’t see any way to upload them here. Did you want them sent by email? And are you related to the Jackman family?

    • Janice Brown says:

      Yes, please Chris if you would like to share. My email is on my contact page, but I can repeat it here. Just let me know how to credit you. And yes, I am a Jackman descendant.

    • Corey Marie Chavez Spaulding says:

      Chris – are you related to Cathy Wolf? I believe she was Charlotte’s sister (along with Ellen, Louisa and Charlotte, Sarah) Charlotte Jackman was my maternal grandmother – lived in Concord, NH – sons were Walter, Steve and Pete (Walter was called Buddy)

      • Chris Wolf says:

        Yes, Catherine Jackman Wolf was my mother, and your mother Sallee was my cousin. I didn’t know that her name came from her aunt Sarah’s nickname. Freeman and Beulah had not five but six daughters—the last one born (in 1919) was Dorothy Elizabeth Jackman, known as Dotty. Her two daughters are living in the Louisville, Kentucky area, and I last visited them in 2013. I was in touch with Steve Sorrow in 2016 when he was researching my parents’ military service.

        • Sara Jackman Carroll Kelly says:

          Ah, cousin Catherine! My grandmother was Margaret Sarah Jackman, daughter of Charles Jackman. My grandmother spoke of Catherine. Was she the one who saw spirits?

          • Chris Wolf says:

            So my mother Catherine and your grandmother Margaret were first cousins. I don’t remember meeting or even really hearing about anyone from the other “branches”, but that was probably partly because we never lived in New Hampshire. I never heard about any spirits either.

      • Ellen Ruggles says:

        I have a wonderful photo of Lyman and his granddaughter Charlotte as a baby. Did you know Charlotte’s sister Sara and her grandmother Beaulah were each killed in separate auto accidents? Sarah died in 1928 and her grandmother died in 1959. I also have photos of Lyman’s parents and would love to share them.

  4. Trista says:

    This is so cool! I am a “Charron” of Attleboro, Mass and Royal and Lyman are my paternal grandmother’s ancestors. I grew up off a “Brown” street in Attleboro and I was informed that an ancestor and farmer lived and owned land there-he hanged himself there because of debts owed. I wonder if he was part of the Brown family?

  5. Ellen Ruggles says:

    Fascinating. Another interesting family story is that Freeman Jackman (Lyman’s son) had a daughter Sara who died in an auto accident in 1929. In 1959, her mother also died in an auto accident. I don’t know details yet on either accident. In an antique store in Manchester, I found a photo of “Grandpa Jackman and Charlotte.” Charlotte was a baby in the photo, daughter of Freedom.

  6. Corey Spaulding says:

    Yes – My mother’s name was Sallee lou Sorrow – her mother was Charlotte Jackman Sorrow. Sallee lou was the nickname of Sara (I thought with an “h”). I was named Sallee lou as well but changed my name to Corey. My daughter is named Sarah and my Aunts: Ellen, Cathy and Louisa (Sarah and Charlotte’s sisters) told me that my daughter is the 7th generation to be named “Sarah” -my email is My mother had a picture of Lyman Jackman – funny story: I have 8 siblings but am the only person in my family with a very unique nose. One time visiting my mom, she showed me a picture of Lyman and said “you have his nose!” She was delighted.

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