A-2-16 James Phillips James Phillips Came from Rutland, Massachusetts and had cleared 7 acres of land and built a pole house by 1774. Built a frame house soon after and was succeeded by his brother, Gideon Phillips in 1792. In 1827 Gideon sold it to Gideon Newcombe and his widow sold it after Gideon’s death [...]
A-2-15 Joshua Lawrence Joshua Lawrence was a cordwainer by trade and originally moved to Keene. In 1782 he bought this land and built a house here. It was subsequently occupied by Asa Lawrence, Eli Clark and Joshua Lawrence JR.
A-3-1 William S. Buckminster William “Stoddard” Buckminster bought land here from his father Solomon and built a frame house here about 1810. The brick house that stands there today was an addition likely added in the 1820’s. Born in Rutland, Massachusetts in 1778, he married Hannah, daughter of Bartholomew Grimes in 1806. They had two [...]
A-2-12 Samuel Wadsworth states that Charles Rice was the first settler here. It may have been William Banks. Charles Rice came to Packersfield after service in the Revolution, building a house at D-4-1. He sold that place to William Barker in 1786 and bought this property in 1791. The deed specifies: “the same farm on [...]
A-2-5 Isaac Davis Isaac and Mary Davis, moved from Rutland, Massachusetts in 1782 after Isaac had served a number of enlistments in the Revolutionary War including the Battle of Bennington. They lived here until their deaths in 1836 (Isaac) and 1837 (Mary). They were followed by their son, Isaac, who lived there until his death [...]
A-2-3 Roxbury Meeting House A large number of Packersfield’s early settlers came from Rutland, Massachusetts in the mid to late 1700s and settled in the southwest part of Packersfield near the Batchellor farm, Ruth Batchellor herself had been a native of Rutland. As such the settlers formed a natural community within that corner of Packersfield. [...]
A-2-2 Breed Batchellor He was the first official settler of Monadnock #6 coming here in 1766. He moved here from Keene with his wife, Ruth. By the time of the 1773 survey, he had 100 acres cleared, a frame house, and a barn. Breed was the Clerk of the Monadnock #6 proprietors and the first [...]
A-2-1 Josiah Billings Nelson’s first resident. “Site of a small building said to have been erected by Josiah Billings before Breed Batchellor settled at K-4-7. [A-2-2] The occupant ran away leaving the house and contents which Mr. Batchellor occupied and appropriated.” Mr. Billings whereabouts were not entirely unknown at the time; deeds in the 1770’s [...]
E-5-7 The Peletiah Day Place This is the oldest standing house in Nelson. The original settler on this place was John Proute who is listed in Breed Batchellor’s list of settlers in 1773. He arrived in 1770 with his family of four and had cleared 16 acres by 1773. He probably originally built a log [...]
E-4-10 John Stroud An early settler arriving in 1771. Had a pole house built and 8 acres cleared in 1773. Marched from Packersfield in response to the Lexington alarm under Lt. Abijah Brown in 1775. Served at the battle of Bennington (1777). Left Packersfield in 1777 for Peterborough.
C-4-6 The Holt Family Joseph Stiles acquired the property from his father in late 1792. The record of the road layout that year indicates that the house had been built by Joseph, but before the actual purchase, probably 1791. Stiles sold it to Samuel Holt and it would continue in the Holt family until the [...]
B-2-4 William Parker Came to Packersfield in 1789 with his wife, Mary, at age 24 after service in the Revolution. Died on the place in 1842 and was succeeded by his son, William, JR. He sold it to Reuben Phillips (B-3-7) in 1847 who sold it to his son, Joseph, the following year. It was [...]
B-4-5 Joseph Felt Jr. Joseph Felt Jr. was part of the numerous Felt family that moved to Packersfield after the Revolution. They came from Lynn, Massachusetts. Joseph bought the property at B-4-5 from Stephen Harrington in 1816, but didn’t petition for a road to connect him to the center of town until 1822 when a [...]
B-2-3 Joseph Brown Thought by Wadsworth to be an outbuilding in the William Parker Farm, it was more likely the home of Joseph Brown who purchased several lots in this part of Packersfield in 1788. He sold part of the property to William Parker and the balance, in 1793, to two Boston Merchants, Wilson Pratt [...]
A-2-4 Solomon Buckminster Place The house was probably built in 1783 by Benjamin Nurs JR. He sold it to Samuel Frink who owned it less than a year before selling it to Solomon Buckminster with “the dwelling house theron standing”. He was instrumental in the formation of the town of Roxbury and was chairman of [...]
A-2-13 The Kingsbury Place This is a grand cellar hole today with nicely cut granite in its walls. It sits on a hill overlooking and just south of Otter Brook. James Clark was likely the first to build on this site in 1787. The first settler was actually Henry Bemis who built a log cabin [...]
A-2-14 Henry Bemis Came prior to 1773 bought 85 acres of land from Breed Batchellor, cleared 3 acres of land and built a pole house by the time of the 1773 settlement surveys. He was elected a town officer at the first meeting held in Packersfield March 15, 1773.He served in the Revolutionary War and [...]
F-2-4 Jonas Brigham Jonas Brigham bought 100 acres here in 1796 and built a comfortable home with a well-developed set of barns and outbuildings a few hundred feet to the south. He lived and farmed there for thirty-three years before selling it to his son, Ruel.
F-2-3 James Blanchard In the 1773 surveys, James Blanchard was recorded as having built a cabin and having cleared 8 acres. Blanchard came from a prominent Portsmouth family which at one time owned the entire southeast quarter of Packersfield. His father was one of Packersfield’s founding proprietors. This may be the site of that cabin. [...]
F-2-1 David Marshall/Stephen Cobb David Marshall is recorded as living near here on the 1773 settlement survey. He had built a pole house, cleared 8 acres and moved his family on the place. He was there as late as mid-1776 as his name occurs in the record of the road there. He may have built [...]
F-2-5 Samuel Felt Samuel came to Packersfield in 1777, and built the house at this location. In his later years he must have gotten into some financial difficulties as the place “all of said Felt’s home farm” and some property Felt owned in Keene was foreclosed on in 1821 by Bethuel Harris. Felt seems to [...]
C-4-10 Harrington Brickyard Stephen Harrington purchased part of the Burnap Farm from John Burnap in 1802. He clearly intended to develop business enterprises there as the purchase included lots that contain the foundation of the tannery (C-4-8), a shoe shop (C-4-6) and the site of a bark mill (C-4-9) in the southeast corner of Nelson [...]
Ezra Smith House D-3-1 Ezra Smith was born in Sudbury, MA in 1755. It is not known exactly when he came to Nelson. He built this house in 1781. He was a farmer (as was most everyone) and he became the pound keeper in Nelson from 1786 until his departure for New York [...]
This article by Newt Tolman, with illustrations by Mark Kelley, appeared in Yankee Magazine in August 1973. It is posted here with Yankee’s approval. Family photographs have been added by Karen Tolman.
While driving around town looking at old barns, and imagining those long lost to decay, we wonder the plight of our old New Hampshire barns. Here's the scoop on our own barn!
Nelson’s population had peaked by the time Nehemiah Flint bought his farm in 1827. The sheep craze had resulted in 85 -90% of the land being cleared. It was the height of the family farm producing surpluses sold into other states. But farmers were beginning to move west for more fertile, stone-free soils.
Rick Church Settlement in Monadnock Number Six came quickly once it got started. A list of settlers in the Masonian Papers in 1770 showed 5 settlers. In the three reports on settlement produced in 1773 and 1774 there were fifty-four different family names identified as moving into Monadnock Number Six. The final pre-incorporation survey of [...]
It is difficult not to view life in Nelson in the mid-nineteenth century as a stereotype -- a bucolic farming community relatively untouched by the national issues like industrialization and immigration. Indeed Nelson was a bit on the sidelines.
This was in the mid-sixties. It was a rather warmish, foggy night in January. I had come back to New Hampshire to go to the contra dance - in Dublin, as it happened. I ran into Barry (Tolman)..........
The history of the small village of Munsonville is a familiar New Hampshire story as it has all the elements of the history of similar villages throughout southwestern NH during the 100 years from the 1850s to the 1950s.
This biographical essay about Albert "Quig" Quigley was written by his son Barney and published in the 2017 full-color comprehensive catalogue celebrating the life and work of this Nelson artist. The catalogue "Albert Duvall Quigley (1891-1961), Artist, Musician, Framemaker" was compiled by the Albert D. Quigley Exhibit Committee and is available at the Historical Society of Cheshire County in Keene or from local bookstores.
When I was a kid back in the 1930s, Old Home Day was held in Melville’s Grove – a stand of hardwood trees along Center Pond Road a few hundred yards from the center of Nelson.
Among the distinctions that grace Nelson and its environs is the presence of three historic graphite mines. The mines – small “open pits” – are inconspicuous to the casual visitor...
Especially in Nelson, because of the available lumber and water supply, the early farmer found that he could keep up with rising living costs by supplementing his income through a small mill or shop and by manufacturing within the home.
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.
King James I awarded John Mason a charter of new land in the New Hampshire/ northern Massachusetts in 1623. The grant 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.
George Washington Holt wrote a journal which provides detailed, but brief, accounts of his daily activities. His life probably typified the lives of many who grew most of their own food raised in small gardens, kept a few animals, bartered time for time or for goods and worked for several individuals or one of several manufacturing operations of the time for wages.
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.”
The solid stone walls of the foundation of the large mill built in Munsonville are all that remain of this early industrial site at the outlet of Granite Lake. In 1814, Asa Beard built the Cotton Factory and a boardinghouse for mill workers in what was then a remote section of Nelson to take advantage of the waterpower provided by the dammed up Factory Lake.
Postcards from Tolman Pond
Postcards from Munsonville: Munsonville Village
Postcards from Munsonville: Twin Hills
Postcards from Munsonville: Water Views
Postcards from Munsonville: Granite Lake Island
Postcards from Munsonville: Camps Oahe, Winnenomack and others
When I was a boy I lived in a house on the edge of Tolman Pond where in the morning I could look out from my bedroom window and see the sun rise behind the black spruces of Thumb Mountain that turned the lake into a sparkling causeway of little suns dividing two blue fields of water.
I had a great uncle named Bill French, a tall, raw-boned old Yankee, who worked around my grandfather’s farm. Generosity was his virtue and his pleasure, and nothing so delighted him as going to country auctions from which he would return with a truck load of booty to bestow upon his friends or to donate to the farm.
The period from 1790 to 1830 has been called the Age of Self-Sufficiency in northern New England. Nearly everything needed for daily living was made on the homestead. For exceptional needs, there were local shops, the most prevalent of which were grist mills and sawmills.
Beth, Newt Tolman's first wife, helped with the family business at Tolman Pond: running the boarding house, the summer camps and entertaining the many guests. The following, excerpted from her family notes, gives a delightful accounting of what life was like at Tolman Pond during the 1930s:
I’ve just lugged a couple of green plastic chairs up to the top of the Jack Rabbit, a hill overlooking Tolman Pond and the 1790's vintage Farmhouse, which was cleared for skiing in the 1920’s - we're told one of the first such hills in New England.
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.
Of the several houses in these parts as old or older than the Tolman Pond farmhouse, it’s the only one that looks its age - grey, wrinkled, gnarled like bark that woodpeckers have worked over. Then at the turn of the century, it was jerked to its feet and during the next hundred years given a series of transplants and internal transfusions that wrought wonders.
Roxbury was born in an Act of The New Hampshire General Court in 1812 and was formed from pieces of Packersfield [now Nelson], Marlborough and Keene. The creation of Roxbury was a co-operative effort led from within Packersfield by respected citizens.
Imagine driving back to Nelson from Keene along Route 9 and coming to a store called the West Nelson Country Store. Today that’s the Sullivan Country Store. But for two fraudulent signatures on a petition in 1786, East Sullivan might be in Nelson today.
The Sawyer Family’s contract transferring the family place from father to son in return for lifetime of support was a common arrangement many families found useful. Historians call these “maintenance agreements.”
The issue of social security is prevalent in our lives today. But this has always been a concern. In exploring our town’s archives, Rich Church has come across information about how people met the needs of being cared for in their later years.
A snowy morning in February found Dave Birchenough and me crammed into the cab of a grapple skidder rumbling through the woods of the northeast corner of Nelson. There was a logging job underway on the old Sawyer Farm. We were able to drive my ageing truck up the old town road (abandoned since 1860) to the landing near the farm.
In the woods off Old Stoddard Road lies the site of the home farm of Stephen Osborn. All that remains today is an extensive array of building foundations that once housed Osborn and his extended family.
High above Spoonwood Pond sits a special place called Greengate. Today the scene is one of a beautiful house sited to take full advantage of majestic views and surrounded by nicely kept landscaping. What was it like in 1904 when William S. Hall bought the property from Wilmer Tolman?