This place, at the confluence of the mighty Merrimack and the meandering Nashua River, has been inhabited for some 8,000 to 10,000 years. The Pennacook people lived and died here for thousands of years before the first people of European descent settled this land. The name Nashua is Penacook for "between streams."
In 1659, a grant of land was made by the General Court of Massachusetts to John Whiting. The 400 acre grant is described as being "on the western side of the Merrimack River, beginning at the mouth of the Salmon Brook and so extending upwards on the same brook about one mile and a half, being butted and bounded by the upland side on the north of the same brook."
In 1673, the Township of Dunstable was chartered by the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Dunstable comprised some 200 square miles of land spanning the Souhegan River to the north in present day Merrimack, south to Tyngsborough, west to Hollis and east across the Merrimack River into Hudson and Litchfield. In 1684, Samuel Whiting, the great nephew of John Whiting, inherited the grant and built a house on the bank of an outlet of Salmon Brook, south of what is presently Robinson Road.
The SO years spanning 1675 through 1725 were years of open warfare in the Township of Dunstable. Terrible massacres and bloodshed occurred between the settlers and the native tribes of the region. This violent time in Dunstable’s young history is divided into four distinct periods: King Philips War (1675-1676), King William’s War 1689-1698), Queen Anne’s War (1703-1713), and renewed skirmishes from 1720 until Lovewell’s War (1724-1725).
The boundary line between New Hampshire and Massachusetts was established in 1741, splitting Dunstable in two. Therefore there came to be a Dunstable, Massachusetts south of the line, and Dunstable, New Hampshire north of the line. The new town center of Dunstable, New Hampshire was established at the location of today’s Rivier University. Today, a monument stands there to mark the location of the colonial town Meeting House. In 1746, Dunstable was first incorporated by the State of New Hampshire.
In 1748, Thomas Shepherd was engaged by the township to build the first bridge over the Nashua River for the main road north along the Meri mack River, which at that time was Alld’s Road (now Street). The bridge was built at the "ancient ford-way," which was located close to the confluence of the Nashua and Merrimack Rivers at the site of today’s iron railroad bridge and was a "tole-bridge."