by Ken Raymond
Enoch Hale was born November 28, 1733 in Rowley MA the son of Moses and Elizabeth (Wheeler) Hale. The Hale family moved from Rowley to Hampstead, NH about 1740. Enoch served during the French and Indian War in the New Hampshire Provincial Regiment in 1755 and 1757-1758. Enoch came to Rindge, NH with his parents and siblings, Moses, Nathan, Elizabeth, Eunice and Lucy in 1760. He married in Rindge, December 22, 1763, Abigail Stanley, daughter of Jonathan and Abigail (Gould) Stanley. Enoch and Abigail resided in Rindge between the time of their marriage until 1784 except for the later part of 1768 and 1769 when they lived in Jaffrey, NH. Enoch and Abigail had eight children.
Enoch was much employed in town, military, provincial and state affairs. Enoch was the town’s first magistrate, selectman for 1772, 74, 75, 78 and 1783. He was town clerk for 1772, 73, 74, 75 and 1783. He was a delegate to the NH Provincial congress at Exeter. After the alarm at Concord and Lexington he was made Colonel of the 14th regiment of militia. Col. Hale performed the duties of this appointment during the Revolution which included the labor of paymaster and mustering officer for all the companies raised in the towns comprising the regiment. He was a signatory of the Association Test in Rindge in 1776. In 1778 Col. Hale commanded a regiment of the NH Militia that participated in the Rhode Island expedition.
In addition to his other duties Enoch served Cheshire County as High Sheriff. In this capacity he became a central character in the border dispute between NH and VT. Many towns in present day NH in the counties of Cheshire, Grafton and Sullivan along the CT River were contended to be in the authority of Vermont. This caused much excitement in these towns. When two citizens of Charlestown, NH were arrested in 1781 by VT authorities and imprisoned there Col. Hale was dispatched to release the prisoners and restore civil order. In the discharge of his duty he was himself arrested by the VT authorities and imprisoned in the jail over which he had the legal control.
This situation was at once resented by NH officials and Col. Benjamin Bellows of Walpole, NH and Col. Moses Nichols of Amherst, NH were ordered to call out the militia in their regiments to release the imprisoned sheriff. Alarmed by the measures taken by NH, representatives of VT were sent to Exeter, NH to agree on measures to prevent hostilities. Among the representatives was the sheriff who had imprisoned Col. Hale, he was at once arrested and jailed at Exeter, NH and held as hostage for the release of Col. Hale.
Many letters and dispatches regarding this situation have been preserved including personal letters between Governor Thomas Chittenden of Vermont and General George Washington. In the end hostilities were avoided and all prisoners were released unharmed. This internal conflict was deferred in the face of the common British enemy. The disputed borders of the future state of Vermont played out for some years to come and Vermont became the 14th state in 1791.
Col. Hale and family moved from Rindge to Walpole, NH in 1784. The first bridge across the CT River was built by Col. Hale there crossing from Walpole, NH to Bellows Falls, VT. This toll bridge, replaced in 1840, was recognized in the 18th century as one of America’s outstanding bridges because of its unique engineering style. Its replacement was made a free bridge in 1904. New Hampshire Historic Marker 61 in Walpole marks the spot of this 1st bridge just north of NH Rt. 123 on NH Rt. 12.
Col. Hale and his wife moved from Walpole to Grafton, VT where they resided for the rest of their lives. His wife Abigail died on December 20, 1810, aged 73 years. Col. Hale died on April 9, 1813, aged 79 years. Enoch and Abigail rest in peace at Burgess Cemetery in Grafton VT.