Home 2017-11-14T16:29:36+00:00

~ A Sense of Place ~
Celebrating 250 years!
1767-2017

Nelson’s Colonial Era Inspired Garden

To celebrate Nelson’s 250th anniversary we have designed and planted a typical New England colonial door-yard garden around the library. Of course you can visit this garden at anytime – enjoy revisiting it throughout the changing seasons.

Click on the Nasturtium to download a 4-page pdf brochure about the garden.

Our History

Nelson’s rich and colorful history has been recorded by many writers.

Below you’ll find a few titles, randomly selected. If you refresh your page, you will see a new selection. You may also use the site’s search function (upper right) or Visit the Articles page for a full and growing index of interesting reading.

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Nelson History: Early Settlement

The task of settling Monadnock Number Six, a town eight by five miles in the middle of the wilderness, must have been daunting. It would take a strong will to make it happen. The 25,000 acres had been granted to a set of proprietors with the requirement that there be 50 families settled in houses with 12 acres cleared and fenced within six years of the grant.

Recollections from Henry and Judith Putzel

From Summer to Settler: This interview with Henry and Judith Putzel is one of a series of interviews conducted by Tom Murray. He is especially interested in talking with people who became “year-round people” after having spent time in Nelson as “summer people. "

Haying at Tolman Pond

When I was a boy, my grandfather kept three or four cows. He had just enough hay fields to provide enough hay to last them through the winter, although if the hay crop were particularly poor, perhaps he might have to buy an extra ton or two to tide them through until the cows could be put out to pasture in the spring.

Celebration Medallions

What’s up with the medallions?

The medallions come in four colors: blue, green, amber and amethyst, and they are made from recycled glass using centuries old techniques – giving each piece an odd character not found in machine work. They are made by Chris Salmon of Old Hancock Glassworks. Chris uses an old technique of carving a graphite die for pressing a relief image into molten glass at his workshop in Antrim. He learned the technique while blowing glass for a factory in Germany in 1973. Over the years, he has adapted new machinery to help him render the relief carving with more detail. Chris’ experience in the now rare art of working in relief helped to bring Karen Tolman’s two-dimensional Nelson drawing into three-dimensional glass.

If you are interested in purchasing one, or many (they make great gifts), of these medallions, they are available from Susan Hansel (susanhansel@nullgmail.com) or from Edie Drinkwater at the Town Offices (execadmin@nullnelsonnh.us).

250-logo1– A Sense of Place –

In 2017, the town of Nelson, NH, population 749, according to the last census, embarked on a yearlong observation of the settling of this rural community. Nelson has long been a haven for artists, writers, musicians and anyone seeking peace and beauty in a pristine environment, surrounded by mountains and encompassing several crystal clear lakes. A committee was formed a few years prior to 2017 to plan activities for the community that would celebrate the talents and achievements of those who lived in the past, and those who are still among us who keep those values alive. There were those who settled here with skills of carpentry, brick making and laying stone, and those who could sing and dance and write poetry. There were men who went to war, and some never came back. There were those who raised sheep, and those who made mills and ran them, and those who taught school, and some of the men served in the State Legislature. Everyone farmed, at least for a while. And lots of people told stories and some of them wrote them down, and some of them are true.

The committee agreed on the theme “A Sense of Place” and the logo is of the Old Brick Schoolhouse built in 1838 and still standing on the Town Common. It is one of ten original schoolhouses built in Nelson so that every child was within walking distance of a school.

While the initial focus of this website was to explore the many events of the town’s 250th anniversary celebration in 2017, the site will continue to be an ongoing and ever-improving resource for local history. Please browse through the many articles and pictures that convey why Nelson is such a unique  place.

Nelson’s History (The Short Version)

The settlement of what would become Nelson was established by a grant of land from King James I, who awarded John Mason a charter of land which included all the land between the Naumkeag (today called the Merrimack) and Pascataqua Rivers extending 60 miles inland. The place was to be called New Hampshire and Mason’s charge was to settle the area. Mason died in 1635 leaving only minor heirs. The title to the lands fell into dispute – a dispute resolved by a court case in 1746, which awarded the right to most of the original grant to John Tufton Mason who in turn sold his rights to a group of men who came to be styled the Masonian Proprietors. On December 6, 1751 the Masonian Proprietors granted “Monadnock Number Six” (as the area of Nelson was then identified) to another group of proprietors who would have the direct responsibility of settling the town. One of them was Thomas Packer, who never in fact lived here, but for whom the town was briefly named. The first settlers were Breed Batchellor and Dr. Nathaniel Breed, who arrived in 1767, and it is this year that has been chosen as the birth-date of the town, which was officially incorporated in 1773. The town changed its name to Nelson in 1814.

Like many small New England towns, Nelson had a steady growth in population through the first few decades of the 19th century. Population figures are somewhat misleading, as the town in those days also included what is now the northern part of Harrisville. However, with the opening of the west, a decline in sheep farming, and the Civil War (to which Nelson contributed significantly), the population fell into a decline which began a very slow reversal in the 1920s. A chair industry once flourished in Munsonville (a “suburb” of Nelson on the north side), and small mills dotted the landscape. But the town never had railroad service, and it’s hilly rocky terrain was a deterrent to aggressive settlement. Today there are no stores, and mostly just cottage industry. Nevertheless, the town has a rich cultural heritage of writers, artists, musicians and craftsmen, and a very vibrant community spirit.