Lee Historical Society

Customs and Celebrations

Celebrating Halloween

 In the mid-1970s, some Lee residents decided it would be funny if they “borrowed” some local outhouses and placed them at the Lee Traffic Circle. They would be placed there secretly on Halloween and then someone would have to return them to their owners afterward.  This tradition occurred for about 10 ten years. We have learned that residents from Nottingham would come to the Circle and place toilet paper all over the outhouse.

We have tried to find some photos of this event but so far none have been found. This is a reenacted photo of what the Lee Traffic Circle might have looked like with an outhouse on it. Contributed by Scott Bugbee.

Celebrating Christmas

Around Christmas time each year the people of Lee would erect a crèche at the Town Triangle with wooden cutouts of Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus along with real animals – goats, sheep, and even a cute donkey. The Town’s children would put on a play at the crèche and different children would play all the parts. Whoever had a baby young enough to be the Christ child would be chosen.

This activity occurred at the Town Triangle and then moved to the town field until it was moved to the area in front of the Parish House and now in front of the Lee Church Congregational.

The photos on the left show the crèche when it was located that the Town Triangle. In the darker of the two photos on the right you can clearly see the cute donkey on the right hand side of the photo. Submitted by Scott Bugbee.

The Bloody Rock

The story of Bloody Rock is interesting in that part of the story is legend and part is actually historical fact... Click to see more


On the evening of May 24, 1724 George Chesley was accompanying his fiancée, Elizabeth Burnham, home from a worship service at the meeting house, when they were attacked by American Indians. George was immediately killed, but Elizabeth was able to retrace her route toward the meeting house at least part of the way before collapsing over a large rock, where she bled considerably. Someone found her and attended to her, however she died four days later of her wounds. Thereafter, residents of the area noticed that her bloodstains kept returning to the rock on which she had lain, despite the ravages of storms and many seasons. It is said that she was the first person to be buried in the new cemetery; unfortunately her burial site was not marked. Eventually, the locally prominent Thompson Family, whose family plot was directly adjacent to the Meeting House, honored her memory by bringing the “bloody rock” into their plot, and erecting a fitting memorial for her there. Both the memorial stone and the “bloody rock” can be seen by climbing the stairs off Route 155A.

George Chesley was killed by Indians on May 24, 1724, as he was returning from public worship with Elizabeth Burnham, who was mortally wounded at the same time. A romantic tradition declares them engaged to be married, and a poem is still extant bewailing the fate of the youthful lovers. It is a pity to spoil so touching a romance, but the stern necessity of adhering to the truth compels the writer to say that if this was the George Chesley who built the garrison, he must have been at that time forty-five years of age, at least. This may not lessen our pity for the victims, but it certainly dispels the romance.
Elizabeth Burnham lived for four days after she was wounded. The Reverend Hugh Adams baptized her May 27th, the evening before her death, “at her penitent request.” That the reader may not be entirely cheated out of his romance, it should be added that the above account has become entangled with a more authentic story of a young Chesley of last century, who was engaged to a Miss Randall, of Lee. They were returning from meeting together, when they were slain by the Indians on the Mast Road. The rock on which the maiden fell is said to be stained with her blood to this day, but unfortunately it has been removed from its original position. This legendary rock is referred to in a ballad, published in the N.H. Republican of December 30, 1823:

“Twice fifty summers’ storm have beat
Relentless on that sacred place;
As many summers’ ardent heat;
But could not that red stream efface.”

Many of the details of this tale will be found in the book, “Landmarks in Ancient Dover, New Hampshire” by Mary P. Thompson. We acknowledge the work as the source of the quotes in this article.

In the close-up photo below a faint red stripe can be seen running through the rock about 7 o’clock to 2 o’clock. This is the blood stain mentioned in the article. Submitted by Scott Bugbee.

Old Home Week – 1907

Lee used to have an event called Old Home Week. They had lots of activities including a bonfire, fireworks, sports, and a dinner. The Old Home Week committee published a booklet about Lee and Scott Bugbee was able to scan a copy provided by Laura Gund. The short booklet shows some of the buildings and locations around town in the early 1900’s.

The Keeping Room

The Keeping Room

This photo is of a room that was originally in South Lee but moved to England in the 1960s. A 1740’s keeping room from the Thompson-Thurston House is now displayed in the American Museum in England at Claverton Manor, in Bath. Here is a link to the history of Claverton Manor:  The Claverton Manor saw the room as a excellent example of colonial living and has preserved that room for future generations to appreciate.

A “keeping room” is actually a very basic concept. It is basically a secondary living room that connects to the kitchen area. It was a popular space in colonial times due to the fact that the heat from the kitchen kept the keeping room warm, making it one of the few heated areas in the house. Contributed by Scott Bugbee