New Castle, New Hampshire, a mile square island with half of it underwater at high tide. It is situated in the middle of Portsmouth Harbor.
At the northeastern corner is a well known New Hampshire State Historic Site, Fort William and Mary. It was from here that the patriots, in 1774, removed the power and the skirmish is noted as the first overt action of the Revolutionary War.
At the southeastern corner is New Hampshire State Historic Site, Fort Stark, named for the Revolutionary War General, Gen. John Stark, originator of the state motto, “Live Free or Die.”
When the peninsula of land called Ordiornes Point was settled in 1623, the land just to the north, Jerry’s Point, became a small settlement in itself. From the high promontory point of land, there is a view of the entrance of what is now named Portsmouth Harbor. Behind it, with more level ground in nature, the land was most likely used for agricultural purposes and the placement of wooden racks used for the drying of fish. As there are many shoals and ledges present in the surrounding shoreline, the majority of the early settlement occurred from Fort William and Mary at the north end of the island, westerly, along the shoreline of the Piscataqua River.
Because of its proximity, Jerry’s Point became a fortification picking up the name, Fort Stark. For over three hundred and fifty years there has been a cycle of activity caused from numerous warlike activities, then decay as it no longer serves a purpose. In the late 1800’s it became a life saving station one of many along the New England coast, ready to serve in dealing with shipwrecks.
In 2007, after decades of neglect and overgrowth, the peninsula containing Fort Stark has been brought back to life. Through the physical efforts of the local citizenry, with the appropriate name, The Fort Stark Brigade, overgrown brush has been removed, beautiful scenes restored, and it is now an area made available for family recreational use.
One remaining building is now a Visitor Center. Here, artifacts’ mainly from the era of World War II, are housed, and postings of charts, stories, and descriptions of history hang from the walls. Recently opened is a display of historical notes relating to shipwrecks on the island of New Castle.