A History: The Red Tower and Hamilton Smith II

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1600s
Quaker Joseph Smith establishes a farm along the Oyster River at the site of the current Wagon Hill Farm.Joseph Smith

1775
Joseph’s great-great-great grandson Valentine Smith is born.

1804
Hamilton Smith is born to Valentine Smith’s first wife, Mary Joy.

1829
Hamilton Smith marries Martha Hall in Kentucky and invests in the Cannelton Coal Mine Company.

1840
Hamilton Smith II born on July 5 in Kentucky.

1845
Martha Hall Smith dies in Kentucky. Hamilton Smith II sent to live with grandfather Valentine in Durham.

1854
Hamilton Smith II graduates from Durham Academy and moves to Kentucky to work for his father’s company, the Cannelton Coal Mine Co.

1870
HS II moves to southern California to manage the Triumfo mines. He becomes a leading authority on hydraulic mining. He writes a book on hydraulics.

1878
HS II founds the Vulcan Powder Works, a firm specializing in the use of high explosives in mining.

1881venezuelan mining
HS II  becomes a consultant to the Rothschild family’s Venezuelan mining operation.

1886
HS II founds the Exploration Company, Ltd. of London.

1886
HS II marries widow Alice Congreve.

1886
Hamilton and Alice move to New York with Alice’s daughter Edith Angela Congreve.

Ben Thompson1890
Ben Thompson, a Durham resident and farmer, donates land to the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts.

1893
Thompson Hall is completed and the College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts moves from Hanover to Durham.

1895
Hamilton and Alice purchase the Red Tower in Durham.

1897
HS II establishes the Valentine Smith scholarship, the first scholarship available to non-resident students at the college.

1900
HS II suffers a heart attack while boating on Little Bay.

1900
Hamilton Smith II’s will leaves $10,000 to help build a library at the college.

1901
Edith Congreve marries Shirley Onderdonk, an assistant of HS II.

1907
Hamilton Smith Library dedicated.

1908
Smith Hall is built with $16,000 from Alice Congreve Smith.Smith Hall

1913
Edith Onderdonk funds a modern dam on the Oyster River. This replaces a series of wooden dams that first created the Mill Pond in the 1700s. More information.

1920
Congreve Hall is built using funds from the Smith Estate.

1923
The college, by state legislative decree, changes its name to the University of New Hampshire.

Early 1940s
The Red Tower is leased, painted yellow, and turned into a men’s rooming house called the Tower Tavern.

1944  
The Red Tower is sold by Mrs. Alice Onderdonk Quinby, a descendent of HS.

1965
A swan takes residence in the Mill Pond. The swan is named “Onderdonk” in honor of Edith Onderdonk who paid for the dam.