An early map of Marlborough, N.H.

Courtesy of the Historical

Society of Cheshire County

An early map of Marlborough.

Daniel Emerson, born in Plaistow in 1747, was one of the early settlers of Marlborough, having arrived in that town by 1771. He was quite eccentric and well known for his practical jokes.

Emerson’s courtship with Lucy Collins, his future wife, was short and peculiar. Emerson barely knew Lucy, but without consulting her or her parents, he went to the proper authorities and requested that their engagement be announced at church on the following Sunday. On his way home he met Lucy, stopped his horse and told her what he had done. “You may forbid it or not, just as you please. If you don’t want me, you must forbid it,” he said. Lucy, although quite surprised, decided that she did not wish to forbid the announcement, and the couple was married in January 1775.

Despite his peculiar nature, Emerson was a town leader with many friends. He signed the Association Test in support of the Revolutionary War and introduced Methodism into the area because he did not care for the views of the Congregational and Baptist denominations.

Perhaps Emerson is best remembered today for his connection with the old cemetery in the north part of Marlborough. He gave the town a half-acre of land in 1793 to be used as the cemetery for that section of town. Emerson passed away in 1829 and was buried in the cemetery. To perpetuate the memory of his gift of land, he had the following epitaph inscribed upon his stone:

“This land I cleared is now my grave,

Think well my friends how you behave.”

It is reported that Emerson asked to be buried with his head sticking out of the ground so he could keep a watchful eye on his neighbors. His request was not granted, however.

Alan F. Rumrill is executive director of the Historical Society of Cheshire County, which has been collecting, preserving and sharing the history of the region since 1927. It’s on Main Street. To learn more about its public programs and collections, visit hsccnh.org.