Strafford County Profile
County seat: Dover
Strafford County, named in honor of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, was organized in 1773 as one of the five original counties. The county was originally called Hilton's Point, Cocheco, Dover Point and Dover Neck (depending on the locality). Strafford's river and ocean access made it an ideal location for sawmills and shipbuilding, two of the strong industries in the 1600s.
The Gonic Woolen Mill was formed in 1811 in Rochester and, in 1827, the Cocheco Manufacturing Company helped establish Dover as a leading producer of cotton goods. Brickmaking and shoemaking were also prominent industries in the latter 1800s. Rochester's combination opera house and city hall was built in 1908, one of only four such structures built in New England (another was in Dover). Only the Rochester building is still standing. The floor of the building can be raised in the back for viewing the stage or lowered flat for dances or other events.
Strafford is the smallest county in New Hampshire with a total land area of 370 square miles. It is bordered by Maine to the east, separated by the Salmon Falls and the Piscataqua Rivers. Strafford County's two largest cities are Rochester, pop. 29,768, and Dover, pop. 30,004. The county's total population is 112,233. Prominent employment sectors are construction, printing and publishing, communication, retail trade, life insurance, computer networking and services.
Strafford County is comprised of three cities - Dover, Rochester and Somersworth; and 10 towns - Barrington, Durham, Farmington, Lee, Madbury, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Rollinsford, and Strafford.
The University to New Hampshire is located in Durham. Also found in Strafford County is the Granite State College in Rochester. The New Hampshire Farm Museum in Milton offers a glimpse at this important aspect of the state's history and economy. On Route 4 in Durham, another one of the country's oldest family farms, the Emery Farm was established in 1655.