In a previous article I told a story about the discovery of an unknown colonial homesite on our property and the 1770s relics I found with my metal detectors. Research revealed a gentleman named Ithamar Smith and possibly two other men living here from 1772-1773. It is speculated that Ithamar possibly moved to Worcester, Massachusetts, after departing Nelson in 1773. Three years after my first article and many, many hours detecting this site, I thought I had found every relic. I went out with my detector this past summer, returning to the cabin site, assuming I would be finding 18 th century handmade nails. After ten nails, I found a pewter button – the signal had been blocked by the nails. After cleaning the button, I noticed a number 23 on the front. Guessing a numbered button is usually military, I was super excited!
The Nelson Music Collection was first published in 1969, as a “Collection of Authentic Square Dance Melodies. Compiled by Newt Tolman, a flute player from Nelson, and his piano accompanist, Kay Gilbert from Peterborough, it contains 64 tunes that might be heard at one of the local square dances. I
The Old Schoolhouse, when it was functioning in that capacity, did not have running water. How did students quench their thirst for water as well as knowledge?
C-5-4 Joel and Charlotte Holt were one of the many families to settle in Packersfield after the Revolution. Born in Andover, Massachusetts in 1764.
In 1864, Jonathan Whittier moved with his family into a 60-year-old farmhouse in the southwest corner of Stoddard. In late December of 1876 the family was running low on supplies. A storm was threatening, but Whittier felt that he could walk to the Munsonville store and post office, some 3 miles distant, to get supplies and the family’s mail before the storm arrived.
C-3-5 This modest cellar hole is difficult to find being more that 100 yards west of an old road abandoned in 1828. Born in Templeton, Massachusetts in 1771, he moved to Packersfield in 1796 and married Lydia Felt that year. The couple probably lived with her parents, Jonathan and Martha Felt, at D-5-6. They [...]
Nelson’s earliest roads were made and maintained by hand, using men and teams of oxen — the same methods that cleared farms. Road layouts reflected that labor intensity. They tended to be built straight up and down hills rather than be bench cut, and they were likely to follow property lines and avoid using already [...]
Nelson's population in the Census of 1790 was 721. The most recent (2020) Census shows a population of 734 - a whopping increase of 13 people over a 230 year period. Of course there are some twists and turns in the story, and we've added some graphics to spice up the tale.
As early as 20,000 years ago, small groups of hunter-gatherers began to enter the pristine environment of this continent.They followed the wild game on which they depended across the ancient exposed bridge of land into the new world. They eventually expanded from the Arctic to the very tip of South America and moved eastward toward the shores of the Atlantic. Over the last hundred years, archaeological excavations have revealed some of their wandering, their hunting sites, their more extended camp sites and later their villages. All of this growth and social development occurred before the arrival of another group of people on the opposite shore that followed their need to find new territory to increase their food supply.
In the early development of manufacturing, areas that afforded the potential for water power were prime locations for community growth. In 1814, the Cotton Factory was built in a remote section of Nelson to take advantage of the water power from the outflow of the dammed Factory Lake, now known as Granite Lake. A [...]
See the complete book, The Pennsylvania Settlement. from which this is one chapter. Margaret Redmond. Photo property of the Nelson Archives Miss Margaret Redmond (1866-1948) Miss Redmond was a painter and stained glass artist; she moved to Nelson in 1904. Her former home is located off Blueberry Lane, north of Dr. [...]
See the Master Page for The Pennsylvania Settlement. from which this is one chapter. Or you can just read this page. John Stockton De Martelly (1903-1979) John S. de Martelly. Photo courtesy of Michael de Martelly "The wise and powerful wizard" was the caption written in crayon beneath the official name [...]
See the Master Page for The Pennsylvania Settlement. from which this is one chapter. Janet Spaeth De Martelly (1909-1966) White Birch (1923). Janet Spaeth de Martelly, by Marie Spaeth It is J.D. and Marie's Spaeth's daughter Janet who married John Stockton de Martelly and lived much of each year in Nelson. [...]
See the Master Page for The Pennsylvania Settlement. from which this is one chapter. John Duncan Spaeth (1865-1957) Coach Spaeth on Lake Carnegie ca. 930. Photo courtesy of the de Martelly family. At Princeton University, Dr. Spaeth was preceptor (teacher/ instructor) 1905-1911, and Professor of English 1911- 1935. He was President of [...]
This is a video presentation about Merriconn, a legendary piece of land and buildings that is now gone. It is told by Lindy Black, whose father, Parke Struthers, created it.
A gallery of the paintings of Marie Spaeth, from Teri Upton's "The Pennsylvania Settlement
See the Master Page for The Pennsylvania Settlement. from which this is one chapter. Marie Haughton Spaeth (1870-1937) Marie Haughton Spaeth. Photo courtesy of the de Martelly Family Landscape and portrait painter in the impressionist style and wife of John Duncan Spaeth, Marie Spaeth was born in Hanover, NH. In 1889 she [...]
See the Master Page for The Pennsylvania Settlement. from which this is one chapter. Dr. and Mrs. John Duncan Ernst Spaeth He was a leading authority on Old English literature and poetry and on Shakespeare, and she was a painter. Located on a knoll at the end of Spaeth Road, their home here was [...]
See the Master Page for The Pennsylvania Settlement. from which this is one chapter. Dr. Charles Sumner Dolley and Elizabeth Gilman Dolley Dr. Dolley was a marine biologist. He and his wife, Elizabeth Gilman Dolley, came to Nelson in 1899. The land and residence the Dolleys purchased was located south of Lead Mine Road [...]
See the Master Page for The Pennsylvania Settlement. from which this is one chapter. Dr. Seneca Egbert (1863-1939) and Nancy Egbert Dr. Egbert was a physician. He graduated from Princeton University in 1884 and received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1888. Before graduating, Dr. Egbert had been a demonstrator of [...]
See the Master Page for The Pennsylvania Settlement. from which this is one chapter. Professor Henry Winchester Rolfe (1858 - 1945) and Mrs. Rolfe Professor Rolfe was an English instructor at Cornell University (1883-1885), Professor of Latin at Swarthmore College (1885-1890), lecturer in Latin literature at the University of Pennsylvania (1891-1892), and Associate Professor [...]
See the Master Page for The Pennsylvania Settlement. from which this is one chapter. Dr.Thomas Montgomery Lightfoot (1865 - 1959 and Mrs. Lightfoot Dr. Lightfoot was a teacher and naturalist who was said to hold doctorates in six fields of the natural sciences. He completed both his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees [...]
See the Master Page for The Pennsylvania Settlement. from which this is one chapter. Olivia Rodham by Margaret Redmond. Oil on Canvas. Photo courtesy of Roberta Wingerson Miss Olivia Rodham (1845 0 1920) Botanist, lexiconographer, scholar. At Swarthmore College she served as Assistant Librarian and Instructor of Botany (1881- 1886), and Acting [...]
See the Master Page for The Pennsylvania Settlement. from which this is one chapter. The Pennsylvania Settlement Nelson's art colony, the Pennsylvania Settlement, was the third type of colony, one where artists and scholars came and purchased property, either living in Nelson for several months a year or becoming permanent residents. The settlement was [...]
See the Master Page for The Pennsylvania Settlement. from which this is one chapter. The Development of Art Colonies In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, art colonies developed in parts of Europe (France, the Netherlands and central Germany), as well as in Australia and America. It is estimated that between 1830 and 1914 [...]
See the Master Page for The Pennsylvania Settlement. from which this is one chapter. The Pennsylvania Settlement and its colonists have remained an obscure part of Nelson’s history. What follows is a beginning, an opening to that time in Nelson’s history where we can get to know the special community of scholars and [...]
What's behind the legendary status of the Nelson Town Hall? This video is from a Zoom presentation made for the Olivia Rodham Memorial Library, on December 19, 2020. Lisa Sieverts (dance caller) and Gordon Peery (piano player), both long-time participants in Nelson contra dances, have unearthed some charming nuggets of local history. Look to [...]
Featuring David Kaynor, fiddle , Randy Miller, fiddle; Tom Hodgson, guitar; Hilliare Wilder, accordion; Will Miller, bohdran; Gordon Peery, piano; Jeff Petrovitch, caller
Chris Salmon recalls his unlikely meeting with Allen Ginsberg, and introducing him to the Perfect Master. April, 2008 in the Nelson Town Hall.
The stage of the Nelson Town Hall has seen many prominent musicians over the years. March 24, 2019 brought the band High Drive, featuring Bonnie Bewick and Larry Wolfe, both members of the Boston Symphony, joined by our own Gordon Peery for a concert of (mostly) fiddle tunes. Bonnie and Larry and, three nights before, played at Carnegie Hall, but they found the energy and intimacy of the Nelson audience to be more satisfying.
Apple Hill began as the brainchild of Gene Rosov, a young cellist and Harvard undergrad who taught cello at the All-Newton Music School in a suburb of Boston. Inspired by his experience as a teenager at Greenwood Music Camp in Cummington, Massachusetts, Gene’s dream was to start a chamber music camp for his own students and their friends and siblings.
In October, 2004, Lisa Sieverts sat down with old-timers Frank Upton, Renn Tolman, Barney Quigley, and Dudley Laufman, to collect some stories about contra (square) dancing and Nelson. These short videos were edited from the 90 minute interview.
This video is an edit of a Zoom presentation sponsored by the Olivia Rodham Memorial Library. Regular users of the library will know that there are frequently programs late Saturday mornings featuring speakers on a variety of topics. This (and other) Zoom programs provide a way to continue these programs while we are still [...]
In this New Hampshire Crossroads Program from 1983, Gordon Peery innocently perpetuates the myth that there had been dancing going on in the Nelson Town Hall for 200 years.
From 1949 to 1984, Ralph single-handedly published 165 mimeographed issues of his Northern Junket magazine, which contained editorials, recipes, stories, dance notes, and sheet music for squares, contras, and international folk dances, and sheet music for many folk songs. Though he lived in Nelson, his popularity had him traveling all around the country and beyond.
The amazing story about how their experience in the Nelson Town Hall inspired this legendary band from Ireland to bring the Nelson Village Dancers to dance on stage with them for four performances, including Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.
by Alan Rumrill, reprinted with permission, from a recent Newsletter from the Historical Society of Cheshire County A load of chairs from the Colony Chair factory in Munsonville. The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in substantial numbers of people working from home as a way to accomplish social distancing. This process has the potential [...]
The misconduct of public officials is hot stuff these days. In the past, there were newsmen who searched out and wrote up scandals. They were “muckrakers.” And right here in Nelson, back in the thirties and forties, we had our very own muckraker––“Jack” ––William J. Sherrard.
Chris Salmon of Old Hancock Glassworks produced these medallions for the town's sestercentennial in 2017
Not too long ago a piano tuner submitted a bill for work done on the piano in the Nelson Town Hall. With his invoice he included the following comment: “Because of the age of this piano and long abandoned construction practices, it is impossible to give this piano a highly accurate tuning. It has numerous false beats, inharmonicity, and heavy wear. Surprisingly, the overall tone is superior and the action is still fast and responsive. I suspect the piano is favored by those who play on it.”