History of Punkintown
In the 1770’s, a Major Charles Frost set up a grist mill which was operated by water power in the York Pond area. There was also a granite quarry operation there. These functions attracted families to settle in that area. This settlement was in the early part of the 1800’s. At this time, there were seven or eight families that built homes in this area.
The Plaisted garrison house was the largest in this group. The others were small in size. Today we see the old foundations that indicate the results of the big fire that took place in the year 1916, and the collapse of the other homes. Throughout the years, these homes fell down due to lack of repairs and rot in and on the ground. It has been reported that the forest fire of 1916 destroyed much of the tree population in that area. A large number of people contracted tuberculosis and died in the year 1922, and the last dwelling on the property burned down.
In the beginning, the wood from the north portion was removed for cutting, while the people lived on the south side of the pond. The people there had a short cut from Brixham Road through “Punkintown” which led to Dover, New Hampshire. When the sawmill and the grist mill closed down in the early 1900’s, the people migrated out of “Punkintown”, although a few families did remain. The Plaisted and Emery graveyards indicate some of the families that were buried there. Examples of families marrying included, Emma Payne married to an Emery and Nancy Emery married to a Charles DeCoff.
The main families of “Punkintown” were the Emerys, Simpsons, Paynes, Plaisteds, Wilsons and Lords.
One of the persons who can recall memories of “Punkintown” was Frank Parsons. He told these stories in 1987 when he was 87.
One of the stories is about the Payne sisters, Mary and Almira, the last two residents of “Punkintown”. Mary, who never married but had five children, died in 1927 and Almira passed on in 1936. The two are buried in the woods near the spot that was once their home. Mary had no legs below the knees.
Another member of the Payne clan, Emma Payne, was “cross-eyed” and a homely woman and somewhat of a kleptomaniac. When she was not stealing, she was causing some other kind of havoc.
The Plaisted cemetery is on the left side of the road on the way to the property from Brixham Road. The Emery cemetery is a little further beyond and about 200 feet to the left next to the stone wall and swamp. Enoch Emery was removed from this cemetery and placed in the Mt. Pleasant cemetery some years ago. He was a Civil War Veteran.
There is no firm information as to how the area got the name “Punkintown”. Some people did say they raised lots of pumpkins there and fed them to the pigs as the main food as well as eating them themselves.