Plaistow Place Names
Below is a map showing three Plaistow places and the origins of their names.
1) Mankill Brook
The name of this little stream that runs between Harriman and Pollard Roads
hearkens back to Plaistow's early history when the threat of Indian raids was a
very real part of everyday life. Not far from the brook lived a man named
Harriman, who was killed by Indians who had concealed themselves on the stream
bank among the alders. That night, Mrs. Harriman anxiously looked upon her
husband's corpse; the fear of remaining Indians stayed her footsteps. Mrs.
Harriman continued to look out in horror until the morning's light showed her
that the raiding party had withdrawn.
2) Sweet Hill Road
One of Plaistow's oldest roads was sometimes called the "County Road" in deeds
of the 18th and 19th centuries. More often it was called the "road from Ezekiel
Gile's to Swetts Ferry" since Gile lived in the area of Sweet Hill Road that
has been referred to for the last 125 years as Dow's corner. Swett's Ferry was
on the shore of the Merrimack River at Rocks Village in Haverhill, MA. There was
seldom need to travel any further north than Ezekiel Gile's and settlement was
sparse up there too.
The road we refer to is still one of Plaistow's major roads. It is known today
and has been so known for about 175 years as Sweet Hill Road. This is how it got
"Lord" Timothy Dexter was one of this region's most colorful eccentrics. He was
born in Malden, Mass. and moved to Newburyport after the Revolution. There he
made a fortune by accepting devalued Continental currency, which bills were
redeemed at face value after everyone else had given up on them. After finding
himself suddenly among the wealthiest men in Newburyport, Dexter's serendipity
persisted. In those days, the Clipper City was overrun with cats. Dexter put a
bounty on cats and loaded them onto one of his ships. No one knew his motives
until the ship returned empty from a rodent-infested island in the Caribbean
Another venture that Dexter sank capital into was trucking molasses overland
from Newburyport to Concord (NH). While passing through Plaistow, one of the barrels
of molasses began to leak, leaving a sugary trail over what has hitherto been
known as Sweet Hill. A variant of this story holds that one or more barrels
became unfastened and broke upon hitting the ground, leaving a big sticky mess.
3) Brandy Brow
At an elevation of 286 ft., the towns of Plaistow, Newton, Haverhill, and
Merrimac meet at the summit of Brandy Brow Hill. According to legend, many
generations ago a lone Indian had swallowed down a bottle of brandy on a cold
winter night and sought the shelter of a hollow tree trunk. He was found later,
frozen to death in that hollow, where he still clutched his empty bottle. There
are of course, few, if any, reliable sources to substantiate this legend. Two
local historians have posited other possible sources for the name. George S.
Chase believed that the brow took its name after someone accidentally broke a
bottle of brandy up there; another Haverhill historian, Benjamin Mirick, said
that the hill was probably named for the reddish, brandy-colored stones of the
Some excerpts from Plaistow 250th Anniversary Commemorative Book, pub. 1999