Orford was one town that put together a lucrative offer of 2,100 acres, labor, and money, but it wasn’t as lucrative as Haverhill’s offer which included 5,000 acres in Haverhill, Newbury, and Bath as well as pledging local money. Hanover offered 3,000 contiguous acres. Complicating the issue, the unsettled and forfeited township of Landaff chartered in 1764 by King George III was regranted to Dartmouth College on January, 19, 1770. Governor Wentworth was in favor of Dartmouth College being built in Landaff, because it was unsettled and could be governed by the College, and Wentworth wanted to push the school north to increase development. In the end the Dartmouth College was built in Hanover, but the closest it came to settling anywhere else in the Upper Valley was in Landaff, where the college spent $7,000 to $10,000 on land improvements, building of roads, mills, and construction of a grammar school in 1780 which it operated for over two years.
Wheelock wanted the college to be in Hanover for a number of reasons. Hanover made its proposal in March of 1770, the strongest offer at that time. The town was on the Connecticut River, which was crucial, and it was at the head of the falls, the place where all supplies would be portaged regardless of where they were going. Hanover would be the closest. There was also a narrow place in the river for a future bridge, now the site of Ledyard Bridge. Wheelock was more comfortable with the settlers in Lower Coos since they were from his home state of Connecticut, and settlers in Haverhill and farther north were predominately from Massachusetts.
Haverhill prepared deeds which included the offer of a farm of about 600 acres within the two Oxbows of the Connecticut River, with a barn, corn barn, grist mill, sawmill, and house thereon. North Haverhill could have been the home to Dartmouth College, but Wheelock saw enough suitable crop land in Hanover and wasn’t as interested in Haverhill’s lush Oxbows.
Wentworth and Wheelock were both diplomats. Wentworth wanted the college to be built in Landaff, but Wheelock told him he really wanted it in Hanover. All the towns were disappointed when they learned that on July 5, 1770 Wheelock announced, from the steps of Gov. John Wentworth’s mansion, that he would choose Hanover as the home of his new college. “It was almost like two different value systems. It had to have played on Wheelock’s mind that he was familiar with the settlers in Hanover. He knew them. He went with what he identified with and needed,” says Barrett.
The site of Dartmouth College was fixed in Hanover, and the first buildings were erected in August of 1770. Wheelock laid out the village of Hanover based on the goods and services needed for the college. Land was cleared, mills built, and farms, taverns and other establishments were settled.
While the college was growing in Hanover, it continued to make improvements in Landaff. The improvements proved enticing to the grantees who had forfeited the 1764 Landaff charter. Until 1791 the college continued to have a presence in Landaff expending more money on improvements as well as fighting tenacious claims on the first grant. Materials in the Rauner Special Collections Library at Dartmouth College Library reveal many interesting details about the College’s presence in Landaff. One accounting for the period from June 1773 to January 1775 lists provisions sent to Landaff from Dartmouth College such as beef, pork, sugar, chocolate, molasses, clover seed, and payment for labor in building a saw mill. In a letter dated January 1774, Wentworth wrote to Wheelock “conveying this certain intelligence” that the regranting of Landaff was done in a lawful manner, and prior grantees could not prove that their title was still good. “Landaff may thence be safely improved by you for the college without any further consideration. Of this I have been long certain.” The letter is signed “Your affectionate friend, Wentworth.”
By 1774, twenty families had settled in Landaff, and a huge parcel had been laid off in one body on the Ammonoosuc River at the northwest corner of the town for the College farm. A saw mill was built in 1774, and a grist mill was built in 1775 on the north side of Mill Brook about one-half mile from Lisbon. A 1785 manuscript map shows the mill site near the present intersection of Route 10 and Mill Brook Road in Landaff.