Celebrating 250 years in 2017

~ A Sense of Place ~

Please join us for  many events scheduled for this year as we observe this historic anniversary (click on event title for details).

The Sestercentenial Begins!

Starting in May

May 5 – September 8: Albert Quigley Painting Exhibit

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

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.

June 17: Nelson Gardens Tour

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

Visit Apple Hill and hear a fabulous concert!

August 12: Nelson Old Home Day

The egg toss is always a smash hit.

Activities all day long.

August 12: Old Home Dance Contra Dance with Dudley Laufman

A Centuries Old Tradition!

The Celebration Continues

September ~ October

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 index of interesting reading.

Third Meeting House

D-4-18 Reuel Nims gave land here to the Town of Nelson if it would, at its own expense, erect a 34x48’ meeting house, Nims to get full use of the basement as a store house. [...]

Early Meetinghouses

D-3-16 Early Meetinghouses Towns granted by the Masonian Proprietors were required to build a meetinghouse for religious and public purposes. Therefore, called a “duty” meetinghouse, Monadnock #6 built a 25 x 30’ frame building [...]

Packersfield’s First Minister: Jacob Foster

D-4-15 Packersfield’s First Minister: Jacob Foster Nothing remains of this home today. It was probably filled in when the village cemetery was extended to the north in the 1970’s. It was in 1781 that [...]


~ 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 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 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 in to a decline which began a very slow reversal in the 1920′s. 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.

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