New Hampshire: The Memorial Arch of Tilton

memorial arch tilton nh watermark
THE  MEMORIAL ARCH OF TILTON actually is found across the Winnipesaukee River
in the town of Northfield, New Hampshire.  Sitting in what is now Tilton Arch Park,  it is named after the Tilton family, not the town, and it is considered a work of art.

Despite some documents to the contrary, the official description of this arch states: “An impression has gone abroad that the Arch of Tilton is a facsimile of that of [the arch of] Titus. Such is not the fact, except that the relative proportions are preserved.” [This note and the following description from the “History of Belknap County.”]

Its height is fifty-five feet and its width forty feet.  Eight hewn stones make the entire covering, weighing one hundred and thirty thousand pounds.  It is most thoroughly constructed, was two years in building, and completed without accident.  Its location is on a mound-shaped hill, one hundred and fifty feet above the river, which gently flows at its base.  Marl, hard-pan and rock make the elevation, and nothing but an earthquake can disturb the foundation. The view from the base of the arch is as if one stood in the center of a vast amphitheater adorned with every variety of landscape.  Within a boundary from Kearsage and Rugged Mountains in the east to the hills of Meredith in the north, circumscribed by the horizon that marks the highlands to Ossipee and Gilford Mountains in the east and south, the prospect is unobstructed.  A polished device in Scotch granite, on which a Nubian lion is reclining, the whole weighing fifty tons, rests between the two columns of the arch, bearing this inscription:–“Tilton, 1883.”  Each of the keystone, in raised letters, reads “Memorial Arch of Tilton, 1882.”  Ten or twelve acres of land are inclosed in the tract on which this memorial has been erected.  Four elegant cut-glass lamps, supplied with gas, are lighted each night, making the locality a land-mark for many surrounding miles.  A concrete walk and drive-way for carriages leads to the summit from two different directions.  Large numbers of visitors in good weather daily travel over them and avail themselves of the enchanting prospect and a nearer inspection of the arch. It counts one among the many attractions to our thrifty town contributed by Mr. Charles E. Tilton, of the fourth generation from Nathaniel Tilton, the original pioneer of the family, of about one hundred and fifteen years ago.

The TILTON arch is located on an “eminence” 150 feet above the river, commanding an extensive view. It is of hewn Concord granite. Between the columns of the arch is a device in Scotch granite. [see description below]. It was erected as a tribute to the memory of the Tilton family by their descendant, Hon. Charles Elliot Tilton.   The plan was made by Edward Dow of Concord, and Leonard Conant had charge of the construction, with Daniel Donovan of Concord as expert stone-worker.

The architect and engineer of the Tilton Arch, Edward Dow, later a partner in Dow & Randlett,  also built the Charlestown NH Town Hall, Culver Hall Chemistry Building at Dartmouth College, and much of New Hampshire College’s Durham campus. “Wikipedia” calls Edward Dow “New Hampshire’s most prominent architect after the Civil War.”

Mr. Charles E. Tilton was born in Tilton, New Hampshire, and became very wealthy, originally through banking, transportation, and real estate deals in the west.  He returned to Tilton, where he not only built a beautiful home and estate, but also made regular gifts to the town and local organizations. [see his biography later in this article].  It was due to his influence that the town of Tilton was thusly named in 1869 when it was incorporated, being set off from Sanbornton Bridge and Bridge Village. His former mansion houses the Lucian Hunt Library.  His carriage house became the Helene Grant Daly Art Center (after renovation in 1980).

The Memorial Arch of Tilton is on the National Register of Historic Places.


**Additional Reading**

-Take a Historic Walking Tour of Tilton and Northfield NH

Arch of Titus in Rome



William Tilton, of Lynn MA, died about 1653 or 1654. His wife Susanna, married 2nd, Roger Shaw.  Mr. Tilton left several children, two of whom, Samuel and Daniel, settled in Hampton, probably coming with their mother, on her second marriage.  Abraham Tilton, perhaps a son of William, may have settled elsewhere.
Children as far known.
1. +Abraham Tilton, b. 8 Aug 1639 in England; m. Mary, dau of John Cram; in Kittery ME 1669
2. Samuel Tilton, m. 17 Dec 1662 Hannah Moulton, poss dau of Thomas Moulton
3. Daniel Tilton, b abt 1648; m. 23 Dec 1669 to Mehetable Sanborn [or Weare]; d. 10 Feb 1715; learned the blacksmith’s trade.

Abraham Tilton, son of William & Susanna (Hayes) Tilton, b. 8 Aug 1639 in England; died 28 March 1727 in Ipswich MA; He married 1st) 25 Jan 1664/65 in Hampton NH to Mary Cram, dau of John & Ester (White) Cram.  She b. abt 1646 in Hampton NH. He married 2d) about 1676 to Deliverence Littlefield Shaw, dau of Roger & Susannah (Hayes) Shaw.  She b. 10 Nov 1656 and d. 2 July 1730.
Children of Abraham & Mary (Cram) Tilton:
1. Jacob Tilton
2. +Abraham Tilton, b abt 1666 in Hampton NH
3. Isaac Tilton, b. abt 1668, d. 28 March 1695 in Pemaquid, Maine
Children of Abraham & Deliverence L. (Shaw) Tilton:
4. Sarah Tilton, b. abt 1678; m. — Martin
5. Abigail Tilton, b 1 Apr 1679 in Ipswich MA; m1) John Philmore/Fillmore; m2) Robert Bell, had issue by both husbands. A descendant of 1st huband is President Millard Filmore.
6. Samuel Tilton; m. 7 May 1704 Sarah Batchelder; had issue
7. Ebenezer Tilton, died young
8. Mary Tilton; m. 1701 Tristram Brown, had issue
9. Joseph Tilton, died young
10. Benjamin Tilton, died young
11. Daniel Tilton, died young
12. Rebecca Tilton
13. Isaac Tilton; m1) Mary Appleton; m2) Elizabeth Goodhue Dodge; had issue by 1st wife

Abraham Tilton, son of Abraham & Mary (Cram) Tilton, was born abt 1666 in Hampton, NH, and died 7 Jan 1756 in Hampton NH. He married 11 Dec 1693 in Ipswich, Essex Co MA to Mary Jacobs, dau of Thomas & Sarah (Brown) Jacobs.  She b. 7 Nov 1672.  In 1710 he is shown as promising to finish the Ipswich MA meeting house.
Children of Abraham & Mary (Jacobs) Tilton:
1. +Jacob Tilton, b. 12 Aug 1694 in Ipswich MA
2. Jemima Tilton, b. 27 Nov 1699 in Ipswich MA; m1) William Cosgwell; m2) 3 Dec 1720 to Mark Haskell, had issue.
3. Abraham Tilton, b. 12 July 1702 in Ipswich MA, d. 25 Dec 1786 in York ME; m. 14 Aug 1728 in Ipswich MA to Susanna Harris; had issue; m2) Anna Raynes
4. Mary Tilton, b. 11 Jan 1704/05; m. 1728 to Jonathan Riggs
5. Daniel Tilton, b. 2 Apr 1708 in Ipswich MA, died in a shipwreck; m. 20 Nov 1725 to Sarah Dutch; had issue

Jacob Tilton, son of Abraham & Mary (Jacobs) Tilton was b. 12 Aug 1694 in Ipswich, Essex Co MA, and d. in South Newmarket, NH. He married 27 July 1723 to Mercy Emerson, dau of Nathaniel & Martha (Woodward) Emerson.  She b. 18 Dec 1697.
Children of Jacob & Mercy (Emerson) Tilton:
1. Jacob Tilton, baptized 20 Dec 1724
2. +Nathaniel Tilton, b. 11 Sep 1726 in Ipswich MA
3. Joseph Tilton, b. 25 May 1728
4. Mary Tilton, bapt. 11 Jan 1728/29
5. John Tilton, bapt. 17 Dec 1732
6. William Tilton, bapt. 29 Sep 1734
7. Samuel Tilton, bapt. 4 Apr 1736
8. Jacob Tilton, bapt 30 Oct 1737
9. Susanna Tilton, bapt. abt 1740

Deacon Nathaniel Tilton, son of Jacob & Mercy (Emerson) Tilton, was born 11 Sep 1726 in Ipswich MA; he removed to that part of Sanbornton, now Tilton between 1768 and 1771, settling on the farm later owned by Charles W. Colby, nearly a mile north of Tilton village. His name was very prominent in the early history of the first church, of which he was deacon for more than thirty-nine years. He died Feb 11, 1814. He married Abigail Gilman, a relative of the then-Governor Gilman.  She bore him seven children. [The history of Newburyport mentions a Nathaniel Tilton’s house, near that of Mark Fitz’s and Andrew Hill’s house]
Children of Deacon Nathaniel & Abigail (Gilman/Gilmore) Tilton:
1. Peter Gilman Tilton; m. 1 Nov 1792 Anna Allen
2. Abigail Tilton, b. 1745; m. — Perkins
3. Jacob Tilton, b. 1749-52 in Sanbornton NH; d 14 Dec 1822; m. Mary Hayes
4. Susannah Tilton, b. 1756; m1) Jeremiah Taylor; m2) Joshua Talford
5. Anna Tilton, b. 1758; m. — Garland
6. Sarah Tilton, b. 1760; m. — Morrill
7. +Jeremiah Tilton, b. 1762 in Stratham NH

Colonel Jeremiah Tilton,  son of Deacon Nathaniel & Abigail (Gilmore) Tilton, was born probably at Hampton or Kensington NH in 1762; he came into the town of Tilton at the age of 6 or 8 with his father. He built the original hotel on the site of the Dexter House, engaged in blacksmithing, and occupied the same. He conducted the Tilton & Smith trip-hammer, scythe-shop and grist mill, which was erected as early as 1788. He served in the Revolutionary War six months (as a teamster), and was a colonel in the State militia, a justice of the peace, and, in all respects, may be regarded as among the prime founders of this thriving village. He died April 10, 1822, aged sixty years. He suffered much during the later years of his life from rheumatism. On Feb 21, 1786 he married Mehitable Hayes. She was b. abt 1767 in Epping, Rockingham Co NH. He was the father of eleven children, six daughters and five sons.
Children of Jeremiah & Mehitable (Hayes) Tilton:
1. John Tilton, b. 16 July 1787, d. 29 Aug 1863 m. Eunice Jacques.
2. +Samuel Tilton, b. 20 Aug 1789, d. 12 Nov 1861; m1) 31 Jan 1815 Myra Ames; m2) 6 March 1858 Mrs. Elizabeth Haven.
3. Sally Tilton, b. 1791, d. 31 Jan 1818, unmarried.
4. Jeremiah Tilton Jr., b. 10 Sep 1793, d. 23 Jan 1863; m. 9 Dec 1816 Nancy Carter
5. James P. Tilton, b. Nov 1796, d. 1 Apr 1872; m. 16 July 1820 Mary G. Cross. He was a soldier in the War of 1812
6. Abigail Tilton, b. 1798, d. 29 Oct 1819; unmarried
7. Mahala Tilton, b. Aug 1800, d. 12 June 1820; m. 12 Oct 1818 to Hon. D.C. Atkinson, as his first wife.
8. Mary P. Tilton, b. 13 Dec 1802, d. 5 Oct 1875; m. 31 Jan 1832 Parson Whidden
9. Alexander Hamilton Tilton, b. 25 Dec 1804; inventor of “Tilton Tweeds.” He built a fine house overlooking his mills. He died 16 Aug 1878. Me married 27 July 1837 to Abigail B. Baker, eldest dau of Mark & Abigail (Ambrose) Baker. He had 3 children: (1) Albert Baker Tilton, b. 9 June 1845, d. 25 Aug 1870 m. 15 Aug 1866 to Abbie Gardner Day; She m2d, William J. Durgin (2) Alfred Edwin Tilton, b. 17 Oct 1846, d. 2 Nov 1846; (3) A. Evelyn Tilton, b. 2 March 1854, d. 20 July 1876.
10. Mehitable Tilton, b. 26 Aug 1807, d. 12 Nov 1844; m. 3 Sep 1828 to Hon. D.C. Atkinson, as his second wife.
11. Sophronia Tilton, b. 1810, d. 12 March 1845, unmarried.

Samuel Tilton, the second child and son of Jeremiah & Mehitable (Hayes) Tilton,  was born August 20, 1789 in Tilton NH; commenced his business career at his father’s trip-hammer shop, then occupied the hotel, adding another story to the original building. He was a man of great energy and sagacity, and lived at the Bridge village. He was elected representative five times (1826-29, and 1835), was sheriff, justice of the peace and United States marshal under President Pierce; state elector for President of the United States in 1848, and delegate to the Baltimore Convention in 1852.  He died November 12, 1861.  He married Myra, daughter of Samuel Ames, of Canterbury,  31 Jan 1815, a lady of unusual excellence.  He married 2nd, 6 March 1858 to Mrs. Elizabeth (Cushman) Haven.
Children of Samuel & Myra (Ames) Tilton:
1. Alfred Edwin Tilton, b. 11 Nov 1815
2. Sarah Tilton, b. 30 Oct 1819
3. De Witt Clinton Tilton, b. 20 Feb 1823
4. Caroline Augusta Tilton, b. 2 Oct 1825
5. +Charles Elliott Tilton, b. 14 Sep 1827 in Tilton NH

Charles Elliott Tilton, son of Samuel & Myra (Ames) Tilton was born in Tilton NH in September 14, 1827. He received a common school education, then was placed as a student under Professor Dyer H. Sanborn, and later attended a military school at Norwich VT for 3 years.  His father intervened, not allowing him to accept a captain’s commission during the Mexican war. Instead, he left for New York, and was employed by his brother Alfred Tilton.  He adventured, visiting the West India islands, the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers, proceeding to Caracas and La Guayra, Maracaybo, St. Matha, Carthagena, Chagres and Panama. While there he acted as an interpreter (since he now spoke Spanish). He managed to book a passage to San Francisco, where the new of gold had caused a rush there. He made friends with another penniless adventured named Newhall.  Starting off with odd jobs, Charles invested in various businesses, and by 1860 he was one of the organizers of the first banking-house in the Oregon region, Ladd & Tilton. He retired from that but was also involved in similar ventures, The banking houses of Ladd & Bush (Salem, OR), First National Bank of Portland, and the First National Bank of Walla-Walla Washington Territory.  Charles became involved in transportation businesses and real estate. In 1881 he began to spend more time in Tilton. There he constructed an artificial island, and on it built an elegant summer-house surrounded with statuary marble and bronze, and a solid bridge of granite and iron over which to access it.  The landscaping included fountains.  For the town he built a hall of brick and granite. He made large donations for cemetery improvements, and church needs. On 11 Jan 1856 in Sanbornton NH he married Louisa Peabody Tilton, dau of Jeremiah & Nancy (Carter) Tilton.  She b. 30 Apr 1827 and d. 15 Aug 1877.  He married 2nd) 29 Dec 1881 in Northfield NH (reported in Tilton NH) to Elma Genevieve Eastman, daughter of J. Frank & Lima H. (Tuttle) Eastman.  She was b. 4 January 1859 in Littleton NH, and died 6 December 1925 in Palm Beach FL.  She is buried in Tilton NH.
Children of Charles E. & Louisa P. (Tilton) Tilton:
1. Myra Ames Tilton, b. 15 Feb 1858; 1876 graduated from Northfield Academy;  In 1880 single living with parents in Tilton NH; married 20 December 1881 in Tilton, NH to William A. Frost, son of C.H. & Mary E. (Boynton) Frost.  He was b. in Boston MA abt 1858.
2. Alfred Edwin Tilton, b. 15 June 1861 in Tilton NH; m. 25 June 1890 to Ella Augusta Freese. She b. abt Aug 1859; In 1880 single living with parents in Tilton NH; in 1900 living in Tilton NH with wife, no children. In 1920 and 1930 also had no children. 1937 Dir of Tilton/Northfield shows Ella F. Tilton, WIDOW of Alfred E., house 45 School Street
3. William Ladd Tilton, b. 9 Jan 1865, d. 2 July 1865
Children of Charles E. & Genevieve (Eastman) Tilton:
4. Charles Elliott Tilton II, b. 4 May 1887; In 1930 census living in Tilton NH with wife Glenna Webb (b abt 1888), children Charles E. (age 17, b 20 May 1912 Tilton NH, prob d. 17 July 1991 in Tumacacori, Santa Cruz, AZ; in Tucson AZ, buried Tilton NH, m. 20 Nov 1934 in Endicott City, Howard Maryland to Virginia Catherine Goodman, dau of Horace L. & Mae (Jones) Goodman.); Samuel W. (age 14, b 6 Sep 1915, d. June 1986) ; Glenna (b July 12, 1921), plus a servant and housekeeper. In 1937 Northfield/Tilton Directory, vice President of Iona Savings Bank and 1st VP/trustee/board Tilton School; 1947 Directory of Tilton NH shows “Tilton, Glenna, wid Charles E., h. The Terraces School. Immigration > New York Passenger Lists > 1938 > September > New York >>Tilton, Glenna, age 17 b Tilton NH July 12, 1921, on ship from Hamburg Germany to New York City NY

1) History of Merrimack & Belknap Counties, New Hampshire; Philadelphia, J.W. Lewis  Co., 1885, page 877-878.
2) History of Northfield, New Hampshire, 1780-1905 : in two parts : with many biographical sketches and portraits : also, pictures of public buildings and private residences; by Lucy R. H. Cross; Concord, N.H.: Rumford Print. Co., 1905, page 198
3) Various records from FamilySearch.

[Editor’s note: story updated 7/15/2014]

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3 Responses to New Hampshire: The Memorial Arch of Tilton

  1. Pingback: Podcast: Tilton Mystery Tunnel; Webster Place - Hollow Hill

  2. Deborah Tilton Dario says:

    Sadly, my Aunt Glenna Tilton Felson, daughter of Charles Elliott Tilton II passed away on May 24, 2013 in Greenwich, CT.

  3. Pingback: Ghosts of Tilton's Mystery Tunnels and Webster Place (NH) - Hollow Hill

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