..How “The Rock” was named..
Lets go back in time about 165 years. It is obvious from the existence of the following two items, that at least as early as 1847 the great stone ledge of West Manchester was called Rock Raymond. In 1847 a lithograph, “View of Manchester NH from Rock Raymond,” was created and colored by an artist named Uriah Smith, and published by Sharp, Peirce & Co. of Boston.
A few years later in 1851, at the centennial celebration of Manchester, NH, William Stark [son of Frederick G. & Nancy (Gillis) Stark, and great-grandson of Maj. General John Stark] wrote a poem that included the lines:
“To see Rock Raymond lift his hoary head,
With verdure clinging to his rough foundations,
Like some proud tombstone of the mighty dead,
Which has outlived a thousand generations,
And stood alone, the monarch of the plain,
Where cities fell and forests rose again.”
Both of these references demonstrate that “Rock Raymond” was an early name for the same Manchester, New Hampshire landmark, that we now call Rock Rimmon, located in the Rimmon Heights neighborhood, at the intersection of Boutwell and Mason Streets. By 1857 it was more commonly called ‘Rock Rimmon” and has continued to be to this day.
How the name came about is impossible to know at the present time. There is an old “Indian tale” that is probably fictitious about Rock Raymond, that “an Indian maiden named Raymond, disappointed in a love affair with an Indian brave, threw herself from the top of this rock, and perished.” I can find no primary evidence or ancient texts that corroborate that story. Please note that he letters F, R, Q, V, X, or Y are not even used in the Abenaki language, and so that portion of the story is undoubtedly false. We do not know what the Abenaki aborigines called that hill before Europeans arrived.
There were early settlers of New Hampshire by the name of Raymond (but none prominent in this specific location). It is always possible that an early adventurer gave the spot his name. However, taking into consideration our local New Hampshire accent that existed even back then, and the closeness of the sound of ‘Raymond’ to ‘Rimmon,’ I believe that the current name of Rimmon was given to that prominence by early arriving white settlers, with the intent of it being biblical in nature.
By 1856 Chandler E. Potter the author of The History of Manchester, Formerly Derryfield, in New Hampshire, came to the same conclusion. On Page 670 he writes: “Rock Rimmon–The is a noted ledge of rock just west of Amoskeag Village, and some 200 rods from the Merrimack. It is known far and wide as “Rock Raymond,” a corruption of a well-known Scripture name. It is in itself a great curiosity. It is an outcropping of gneiss from the midst of a sandy plain, being an immense mass of that stone some three hundred feet in length, one hundred and fifty in width and some seventy or eighty feet in height….This rock is seen at a considerable distance up and down the valley of the Merrimack, and from its top is a splendid view of the city of Manchester and its neighborhood. It is a place of great resort in the summer, and the paths to it are kept well beaten, making it a pleasant jaunt on foot or in a carriage.”
..Real Stories Connected With Rock Rimmon..
Even discounting the legends, the location had some interesting stories connected with it. For example, the New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette in Concord NH republished a story on 12 August 1857, originally from the Manchester American newspaper, as follows: “A LITTLE DOG SAVING A BOY’S LIFE.–Geo. F. Berry, a boy thirteen years old, living in Kidder’s block, went out Monday morning to pick blueberries, beyond Rock Rimmon.–He had been out but a short time, when a six foot snake, of a dark hue and a red stripe around his neck, jumped at him from a bush, and wound twice around his body, fastening both his arms in his coils, being squeezed hard enough to prevent scream or move. The dog, seeing his master’s life in danger, rushed to his aid, biting and tearing a strip off the snake’s back. The boy got relieved from the deadly grasp and took to his heels; but the snake coiled around the dog, and would have crushed him if he had not fought like a tiger. Both found home safe again. The boy complained not of hurt, but fright.”
This was an inspirational story, but upon further research I discovered that there was a sad ending. The young boy in the story, George Franklin Berry, died ten days later of seemingly unrelated causes. A death record can be found in the archives, showing that George Franklin Berry, son of Joseph Berry, died in Manchester NH on 22 August 1857, age 13 yrs 7 months of dysentery.
Almost two decades later, there was another incident that occurred in the vicinity of Rock Rimmon. The Portsmouth Journal of Literature and Politics newspaper (Portsmouth NH) reported on 14 October 1876 the following story: “George Morgan of Manchester died on Wednesday, of lock-jaw, resulting from a frightful wound he received from the accidental discharge of a shot-gun he was carrying while out near Rock Rimmon, on Saturday, September 23.” And indeed the records show the record of the death of George Warren Morgan, b 26 January 1859, died 4 Oct 1876 in Manchester NH, age 17, son of George & Cordelia “Delia” N. (Clark) Morgan, of an accidental gunshot wound. He, along with other members of his family are buried in Valley Cemetery.
..Rock Rimmon Becomes a Park..
In 1897, the booklet, “Contributions to the History of Derryfield, New Hampshire, Topography and Landscape,” lists Rock Rimmon with this description: “Directly west of Amoskeag falls, upon a level plateau extending from the ancient river terrace, Rock Rimmon lifts it solid shoulder of gneiss above the plain. This rock is an object of great interest, attracts many visitors, and offers a most superb view of the Piscataquog and Merrimack valleys. The easterly escarpment is a sheer and inaccessible precipice of one hundred and seventeen feet, the crest reaching an altitude of more than three hundred feet above the bed of the river. The summit is easily reached from the western and northern slopes.” [The exact figures, taken from the field-notes of the City Engineer, are as follows: Top of the rock above city elevation, 296.35 feet; base above the same level, 179.83 feet, and about 95 feet above low-water mark at Amoskeag eddy. Extreme height of rock, 116.53 feet.]
Although the vicinity of Rock Rimmon and the prominence itself had been used for recreation and gardening prior to the 1900’s, the land itself had at an early date been purchased by the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company. Late in 1911 the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company gifted the land around Rock Rimmon to the City of Manchester as a public park. The Manchester Board of Mayor and Alderman voted, on 6 February 1912, to accept the deed for a parcel of land of 42.88 acres which contained Rock Rimmon, for one dollar.
The land near this new park, that had not been sold to the city, was sold off by Amoskeag Mfg. Co. in parcels to workers of the company’s various industries. Although not listed as an official park in Manchester’s 1914 Annual Report, it was mentioned by 1923 as Rock Rimmon Park.
..Rock Rimmon Pool renamed Dupont Pool..
A Manchester Department of Planning and Community Development report on Rimmon Heights indicates that “the recreation building at the pool bordering Rock Rimmon Park which is a WPA building dating from 1939,” although I believe it was probably built a few years earlier. It was probably built in 1935 when the Rimmon Rimmon Park and Pool is shown to exist in Manchester’s official annual report. For many years this municipal swimming pool was the site of state and regional swimming and diving competitions.
The 1964 Manchester City Directory reports: “The big rock [i.e. Rock Rimmon] is now utilized for one of the City’s toboggan slides. Sometime after 1965 and by 1968 the Rock Rimmon Pool was renamed Dupont Pool [noted as Dupont Pool in 1968 Manchester City Annual Report], in honor of Germain P. Dupont (see later). The 1979 Mayor & Board of Alderman minutes makes note of: an “insurance settlement in the amount of $9,539.20 as a result of a fire at Dupont Pool having been received of which $7,103.80 was expended by the Parks and Recreation to complete the necessary Repairs.” In 1990-1992 additional repairs and upgrades were made to the pool.
In 1993 it was reported: “Someone with an apparent lack of city pride stole the dedication plaque from the Rock Rimmon Pool last week, city employee Lance Tsantoulis, 22, told police. The plaque, valued at $750, has the name Seymour [sic] Dupont inscribed on it.”
And who was Germain P. Dupont, for whom the pool was named, but so few current residents seem to be aware of? Germaine Phillippe Dupont was the son of Adelard & Emma (Caron) Dupont, born 18 December 1914 Manchester NH, and died 21 December 1963 in Manchester, NH. He lived with his parents and thirteen [his daughter Denise says it was 19] siblings at 666 Rimmon Street, growing up not far from the location where the Dupont Pool is now located. He attended the city schools, and served in the U.S. Army during World War 2. He belong to many veterans groups including the Catholic War Veterans, the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and Foresters. He worked for many years at J.F. McElwain Shoe company, and was secretary-treasurer of the New Hampshire Shoe Worker’s Union. A Democrat in politics, he was Hillsborough County Commissioner from 1959-1963, and he was a candidate for mayor of Manchester in 1963 (losing to Roland S. Vallee). Mr. Dupont died at the age of 48 years, suddenly from a heart attack. He married Laurette E. Prince (who died Apr. 16, 2006) and had five children. Germain and his family lived across the street from where the pool is now located, and even sold cold snacks from their home. Mr. & Mrs. Dupont are buried at Mt. Calvary Cemetery.
..Rock Rimmon Park Today..
Rock Rimmon Park
currently, up until 2016, consisted of DuPont Pool, playground, tennis courts, and basketball court. In 2016 the Dupont Pool was demolished and filled in, replaced with a “Splash Pad,” for young children (to open August 2016 or later).
According to a Union Leader story, “the $425,000 splash pad is the first in the city. Splash pads feature nozzles, showers and other means for non-swimmers to get wet and cool down. They also don’t need to be supervised by a lifeguard.” In addition, Portland Oregon muralist, Chris Pothier, is working with the New Hampshire Institute of Art to create a mural at this location.
And of course you can take a hike or climb to the top of Rock Rimmon, weather permitting. Its south facing cliff is promoted among rock climbers as a popular, climbable spot.
Directions: Following Interstate 193 to Exit 6, a short distance to Montgomery Street. Turn left (head south) on Montgomery to Mason Street. Turn right (west) and drive past Northwest Elementary School. Rock Rimmon Park and the cliff can be seen immediately on your right.