Celebrating 250 years in 2017

~ A Sense of Place ~
Please join us for many events scheduled this year as we observe our historic anniversary (click on event title for details).
Or click here for PDF brochure of events.

Sestercentennial Begins!
Starting in May

May 9 – September 8: Albert D. Quigley Art Exhibit

This exhibit at the Historical Society of Cheshire
County honors one of Nelson’s great artists,
who was also an accomplished fiddler.

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.

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

July 6: Alan Rumrill – The History of Nelson

Our friend and neighbor Alan Rumrill,  executive director of the Historical Society of Cheshire County, shares his knowledge and insights on the history of our town.

July 8: Sestercentennial Day – Many Festivities

Official Sestercentennial Day!
Activities going on all day long.


Nelson Old Home Week

August 5: Nelson Folks Coffeehouse

Come listen to many of Nelson’s musicians
in the Town Hall.

August 8: Open House at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music

Visit Apple Hill and hear a fabulous concert!

August 10 – Colonial Ingenuity: Saving Seeds through the Ages

August 12: Nelson Old Home Day


                     The egg toss is always a smash hit.                         Activities going on all day long.

August 12: Old Home Day Contra Dance with Dudley Laufman

A Centuries Old Tradition!

What’s up with the medallions?
Click on it to find out!

The Celebration Continues
September ~ November

September 30: A 1941 style contra dance with Adam Boyce

What the Town Hall is famous for!

November 10: Folksinger Jeff Warner in Concert

New Hampshire’s Master Folksinger

Below are just a sampling of the articles that can be found on this website. Visit the Articles page for a full and growing index of interesting reading.


Our Write Wing: The Authors of Nelson, Part III

Princeton University over the years has been well represented in this area by summering scholars. Walter P. Hall, a history professor affectionately known to Princetonians as "Buzzer," was one of these. He often graced the podium on Nelson's Old Home Day. He has written several history books as well as numerous scholarly articles.


On May 4 during the school day, the students of the Nelson School will visit the Nelson Library and Town Hall. They will have a tour of the library which is located where Albert Quigley's house once stood. They will then proceed to the Town Hall to hear fiddle tunes that Quig was known to play, and will hear about his fiddle making, the dances at the Town Hall, and Quig’s life in music.


~ A Sense of Place ~

The town of Nelson, NH, population 749, according to the last census, will embark 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 ago 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.

Use this website to explore the events of this celebration, and 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.