William Cheney, merchant/industrialist

Born in Alstead (NH) in 1776, William Cheney moved to Newport in 1807. His first store was located in the Enoch Noyes house, west of the Sugar River. He built the Richards Block east of the river in 1810 and relocated his business. He then built Nettleton's Hotel and the Tontine, a huge, wooden building with stores and mechanic's shops. During 1815, he constructed dams and several mills. Four years later he purchased the water rights at the Sunapee Harbor outlet and built saw-, grist-, and carding-mills there. 

A deacon, he provided the land for a new Baptist church, built in 1821. Working with James Breck, he established Newport as the seat of the newly-formed Sullivan County, ensuring a steady business for the town's hospitality industry as people traveled to Newport to conduct their legal affairs. 

William Cheney died of consumption in 1830. His business interests were assumed by his sons, most of whom left Newport within a few years of his death. Cheney's youngest son, James Edwin Cheney, then in his early twenties, started a mercantile in Rochester (NY) where James Breck had also resettled in 1842. A coincidence?

© New Hampshire Steeples, 2012