Efforts Being Made to Preserve Historic ‘Indian Rock’

March 25, 2016

 

Courtesy Photo  Former selectman Al Letizio, Jr. (right) and local historian Derek Saffie visit the site of Windham’s historic “Indian Rock” in anticipation of launching preservation efforts.

Courtesy Photo Former selectman Al Letizio, Jr. (right) and local historian Derek Saffie visit the site of Windham’s historic “Indian Rock” in anticipation of launching preservation efforts.

by Barbara O’Brien

Centuries before the Town of Windham, New Hampshire, was settled by Scottish and Irish immigrants in 1719, Native Americans hunted, fished and spent their lives along the banks of Cobbett’s Pond.  However, the only remaining historical artifact from the days when the Penacook Indians and Chief Passaconaway roamed these woods; before they migrated north to Canada, has been largely ignored and has deteriorated with time and weather.  That is about to change, however, thanks to the efforts of a few residents interested in preserving the significance of “Indian Rock.”

“Indian Rock” is located a short distance from the Route 111 and Route 93 (Exit 3) road construction; a project still taking place in Windham.  The granite boulder stands about five feet high and is nearly 10 feet wide.  In 1933, a now oxidized bronze plaque was mounted on the rock, offering a brief description of the Native Americans who once inhabited the region.  There are several apparently manmade indentations on the top of the rock that were likely used for grinding corn into meal, using a simple pestle, while other crevices are believed to have been used for sharpening knives, arrows and other tools used hundreds of years ago.

According to Derek Saffie, Windham’s own resident historian, it is likely that the rock dates as far back as 1,000 B.C.  It is believed to be Windham’s oldest historical artifact.  The first time written reference was made of “Indian Rock,” however, wasn’t until 1883.  “Indian Rock” also appears on the official Windham Town Seal, which was first depicted on the annual town report in 1956.

This past fall, Saffie and former selectman Al Letizio, Jr. made the short hike off Enterprise Drive; a road formerly known as Indian Rock Road, until it was changed last year due to the Route 111 construction, to check out this piece of history in person.  “All in all, it’s very special,” Letizio said, noting that it likely served as a gathering place for Native Americans long before the idea of Windham was ever conceived.

Letizio also brought up the subject of “Indian Rock” during his final selectmen’s meeting on March 7, explaining to his fellow board members that there is a group of Windham residents interested in helping to preserve this historic location.  According to Letizio, Eagle Scout candidate Christopher Redard, age 14, is looking into a community service project intended to call attention to and preserving “Indian Rock”, including the clearing of brush, the posting of signs and the placement of a granite bench for hikers to rest.  Letizio said, if approved, the project would take Christopher about four to 12 months to complete.  A request has also been made at the State level to subdivide the location of “Indian Rock” from the rest of the adjacent land.  Selectman Joel Desilets, who earned his Eagle Scout status as a teenager, has also expressed interest in working on the preservation project.

For more information on “Indian Rock” check out the video “Rediscovering Indian Rock” on Facebook under former selectman Al Letizio’s page.  Additional information can also be found on Derek Saffie’s website windhamnhhistory.com.