Kirsten “Bee” Tolman
From Common Threads, the Newsletter of Harrisville, NH, August/September 2007
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.
There had been sawmills in Nelson since before the Revolutionary War. But it wasn’t until about 1840, at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, that woodworking became a viable business in New England. In Nelson, a chair factory in Munsonville became the town’s largest enterprise.
Soon after came a group of sawmills and shops in Mosquitobush, an area in the southeast corner of Nelson (now part of Harrisville). These mills met the needs of the woolen mills in the area, supplying fuel, lumber and later wood products for the factories and related buildings and settlements.
The first mill in Mosquitobush was probably the one built by Joel Bancroft around 1850. Also about that time, a Bancroft in-law named Parmenter built a grist and sawmill a few hundred feet downstream of the Bancroft mill.
Michael Hall, a professor of history at the University of Texas, wrote a thesis on early Nelson history, describes another mill – about 2 miles upstream from Mosuitobush, just below the Long Pond (Lake Nubanusit) dam, where the channel is narrow enough to create some velocity of water. This mill was owned by Plummer and Rugg and had a clothespin machine, a gauge-lathe, a fluting machine, and a roller for polishing. With these tools, the shop made washboards, clothespins, mop handles, shingles, and bobbins and battens for the wool factory, in addition to its usual production of lumber.
None of the mills lasted long under original management. The Plummer and Rugg mill is missing from maps made in 1858 and 1885. The Bancroft mill, consisting of a sawmill, clothespin shop and several houses, was sold in 1860 to Eben Cyrus Tolman and a Mr. Sheldon. The mill was fed by a channel dug 5 feet wide and 4 feet deep. The water was diverted at a 90-degree angle by a 10-foot stone-supported diversion bank and dam before it turned 90 degrees again to go through the mill itself.
In the summer of 1875, during a lunch break one day, a fire started in the shop and burned the mill to the ground. Eben Tolman was not out of business, however, because he had also bought the Parmenter mill. And it turned out to be an auspicious time. The advent of the steam engine in the textile industry, combined with the arrival of the railroad, which further encouraged manufacturing, provided much work for the sawmills.
Eben Tolman’s first and perhaps only large contract for large-scale lumbering was for John Colony of the Cheshire Mills in Harrisville. In the early 1860s, Colony wanted to raise the water level of Long Pond to further insure a steady supply of water for his growing woolen mills. He contracted Tolman to log the timber around the lake’s edge and to saw it to lumber for the mills, much of which was needed to build housing for French Canadian immigrant labor who had arrived to take the place of local men who had enlisted in the Union Army.
By 1870, Nelson (population 450) had two chair factories, a clothespin mill, a shingle mill and three sawmills. Harrisville had four woodenware shops and a chair factory, in addition to its textile mills.
Wilmer Cyrus Tolman, Eben’s son, worked in the Mosquitobush mill all his life and inherited and continued the mill after his father’s death. At the time, a man like Wilmer Tolman might log timber in the winter, make maple sugar in the early spring, plant in late spring, work as a carpenter during the summer, and harvest in the fall. Hardwoods were a cash crop, often sold as fuel, while softwoods were used for building.
See also The Tolman Mill, written by Rodger Tolman in 1983
Wilmer would buy or lease, for example, 20 acres of Lake Nubanusit shorefront, log it, then resell it to “summerfolk” who were just becoming prevalent. It was mainly spruce (for making shingles), white pine (for construction lumber and clotheboards, or battens, for the Harrisville mills) and hemlock (for house interiors). Logs were skidded on a sled drawn by oxen and horses over a trail that ran through the Great Meadows (aka The Interval) – the 2-mile stretch of marshland surrounding the stream that runs from Lake Nubanusit to Harrisville Pond, and is the center of Mosquitobush. Horses were also used to pull the watering sled at night, when more ice was needed on the skidding trail.
The main mill building straddled the stream and was about 40 feet by 20 feet – a typical small sawmill. It had one story, with saws and woodworking machinery at floor level and the turbine, shafts and belts beneath.
The mill pond was held by a plank dam on the east side of the mill and by a wooden spillway blocking the entrance to the turbine. The dam and the spillway were made of Wilmer’s low-grade lumber and had to be replaced every couple of years due to rotting. Flash boards were closed at the end of the day so the mill pond would fill up for the next day’s sawing.
A gatewheel upstairs was turned to open the flash boards and let the water in. Then, as reported by John Borden Armstrong in Factory Under the Elms, “you could feel the whole building move up and down … even the big supporting timbers would begin to shake” as the iron Humphrey turbine went into action, powering the whirling belts and two 5-foot-tall Atkins steel circular saws.
A skidway brought logs in from outside, where they had been stacked during the winter, and a carriage took the logs through the screaming saws, after which pieces went to other machines: a slab saw, a roller planer, a shingle saw and a “sticker.” A cart on a set of small rail tracks brought cut lumber from the south end of the mill to a drying shed about 100 feet away. The shed had slatted walls that let wind dry the green lumber.
Wilmer sold only the best wood and used the rest around the mill. With little sound wood in its structure, the building began to deteriorate in the 1930s. At the same time, business had fallen off, wages had risen above $2 per hour, Wilmer reached his 70s and was ready to retire, but the future of the business was uncertain. Then, in 1938, the hurricane that tore across New England damaged both the mill and the mill pond dam. In 1940, Wilmer sold the mill’s 15-inch timbers to Walter “Buzzer” Hall, Michael Hall’s father and a Princeton history professor, who built his home from them in New Jersey.
As the lumber industry consolidated and became more mechanized, the Nelson and Harrisville sawmills were unable to make the transition, and the era that had made Mosquitobush a center of activity came to an end. Still, today, much can be seen of the foundations of the mills amid the beauty of the forest and wetlands of Mosquitobush.
Bee Tolman’s description of the Mosquitobush sawmills is excerpted from a paper she wrote for a History of Landscape Architecture class at Williams College in 1978, on the rise and fall of the New England sawmill. Edited by David Lord for Common Threads.
“Come to Nelson’s Birthday Party” (Written 50 Years Ago!)
As we continue to celebrate Nelson's 250th anniversary, we thought it'd be fun to go back 50 years to get a glimpse of Nelson's 200th birthday party as written by Lael Wertenbaker. A "witty and interesting article," although probably not 100% factual! Thanks to WKNE for giving us permission to print this.
“My Defiance to these Traitors …”
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.
“My Defiance to these Traitors…..”
When Jack Sherrard wasn’t tending the animals in his rabbit factory (first located in the substratum of the old Munsonville brick mill) or working as a house painter, he dedicated himself to the art of hunting down miscreants.
“Snippets” from Don Bennett
HERE are some "snippets" that Don Bennett found in some of his stuff, although the attached photographs don't necessarily depict these dates:
01: Pennsylvania Settlement Intro
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 [...]
02: The Development of Art Colonies
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 [...]
03: About The Pennsylvania Settlement
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 [...]
04: Olivia Rodham
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 [...]
05: Dr. Thomas Montgomery Lightfoot
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 [...]
06: Henry Winchester Rolfe
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 [...]
07: Seneca Egbert
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 [...]
08: Charles Sumner Dolley and Elizabeth Gilman Dolley
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 [...]
09: Dr and Mrs John Duncan Ernst Spaeth
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 [...]
10: Marie Spaeth
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 [...]
11: John Duncan Spaeth
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 [...]
12: Janet Spaeth De Martelly
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 [...]
13: John DeMartelly
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 [...]
14: Margaret Redmond
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 [...]
A Bicentennial Profile of an Old Farmhouse
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.
A Look at Nelson’s Past
The first meeting of the Proprietors of a tract of land then called Monadnock No. 6, later named Nelson, was held in Portsmouth in December of 1751. An early sense of the necessary elements to establish a successful community was reflected in the stated intent of the meeting; settlement should be encouraged by offering land in a way thought to be “most convenient for making good settlements, for the public good.”
A Moderator’s Reflections
It is the second Tuesday of March 1946, and, just as in each of the years since, the Nelson Town Meeting will decide many of the directions the Town will take the following year: who will lead, how much must be raised in taxes, what will be done about the most pressing issues the Town faces.
A New Discovery
Our neighbor Bill Dunn was out exploring with his metal detector the other day. After exploring a cellar hole he was returning home, with the machine still turned on, he got a signal of something just northeast of his house. The site seems to be the outline of a rectangular building about 12 x [...]
A New Minister
Editors note: This is the third and final article in a series relating the founding of the first ministry in Packersfield. The first detailed the many efforts to acquire a minister for a small, remote community. Several ministers came for trial periods and several offers of employment were made before Jacob Foster accepted [...]
A Sense of Nelson/Munsonville with George Washington Holt
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.
A Visit to Merriconn
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-2-11 Unknown Image from LiDar There is a small foundation and associated paddocks at this location. An extensive and well cultivated collection of fields surround the home site and well-constructed road connects it to the main road. Samuel Wadsworth was told of this location, but never found it. He attributes it [...]
C-2-2 Aaron Beal Aaron Beal (also Beel) was an early settler and blacksmith by trade who purchased about 200 acres of land east of Pleasant Pond (now called Silver Lake) in 1769. By the time of the Settlement Survey in early 1774 he had 27 acres cleared, a log cabin and his family [...]
D-2-1 Aaron Beal’s Log Cabin: Aaron Beal (also Beel) was one of Monadnock #6’s earliest settlers. He bought 200 acres, part of the original right of Joseph Parke here from Moses Adams in late 1769. By the settlement survey of early 1773, he had a log cabin built and 27 acres cleared. By [...]
C-4-12 Only surface foundation walls remain at the site today. Three Gates brothers arrived in Packersfield from Bolton, Massachusetts in about 1790. Abiather bought land here and built a house in 1791. In 1793 he married Lois Holt ,the daughter of Daniel and Alice Holt. They had two children born here. He transferred [...]
D-5-4 The cellar hole here was filled in about 1995 when a new house was built on the site. Both Struthers and the 150th Anniversary Celebration (probably Struthers; source) state that Brown’s farm was located above the lead mine where John Breed later lived. Brown’s deeds and the official surveys make it clear [...]
E-3-1 Abraham was born in Sudbury, Massachusetts in 1749. In 1772 he married Lucy Perry. The couple had one child, Abraham JR, born in 1774. Abraham served two enlistments in the Revolutionary War serving in Rhode Island. Lucy died in 1777 and he married Silence Ingersol three years later. They had three more [...]
After the Summer Folks Go Away…..
Where I live, everything gets quiet on the day after Labor Day. Where there was splashing at the dock, the thunk of tennis balls, and echoes of cocktail parties rising off the glassy water of later afternoon, suddenly there is only silence and space.
Albert Duvall Quigley, a Biographical Essay
This biographical essay about Albert "Quig" Quigley was written by his son Barney. It reflects on his life as an artist and a musician - in both capacities he made significant contributions to Nelson' cultural legacy.
Albert Quigley’s Nelson: An Artist’s Vision
Albert Quigley's Nelson: An Artist's Vision was a PowerPoint presentation prepared and presented by Lance Tucker for the Nelson, NH Summer Library Forum Series on July 13, 2017. This youtube was made by merging the live recording from that presentation with accompanying photographs to help tell the story of the life and work of Albert Quigley.
C-3-1 Allen Breed Allen Breed, a carpenter by trade, came to Packersfield in 1781 and built the house here. He and his wife, Ruth, had four children born here. He sold to John Burnap (D-4-2) who added this to his holdings but did not live here. Burnap sold it in 1813 to Noah Robbins. [...]
Allen Ginsberg Meets The Perfect Master
Chris Salmon recalls his unlikely meeting with Allen Ginsberg, and introducing him to the Perfect Master. April, 2008 in the Nelson Town Hall.
C-3-15 Amos Child Amos Child was a signer of the Packersfield Association Test (1776), an oath of loyalty during the Revolutionary War. He was born in Waltham, Massachusetts in 1753. He built a house here in 1776. He and his wife, Sarah had five children. His wife died and he remarried Lois Skinner [...]
C-3-18 Amos and Sybil (Brown) Heald came to Packersfield from Temple in about 1789 and had built the house here by 1790. Amos was a housewright. Their first child (of eight), Oliver, was born here in October 1, 1790. The Healds seem to have moved to Dublin in 1828. Sybil died in 1837 [...]
D-3-7 Amos Skinner was an early settler coming in 1774 from Mansfield, Massachusetts with his wife, Elizabeth and two children. Their son, Zelotus was born here. Held numerous town offices during his brief stay including moderator and chairman of the Committee of Safety. He signed the Association Test in 1776 and was elected [...]
An Early Nelson School
Settlement in Nelson had increased remarkably in the years immediately after the revolution increasing from 186 in 1776 to 721 by the first national census in 1790. With that growth came things that made settlements, proper towns: things like schools. In an era when we worry about dwindling school enrollment in our town of seven hundred, it is ironic to think back to 1790 when Nelson (then Packersfeld) had seven hundred and twenty-one inhabitants and a surfeit of students.
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.
Apple Hill Music Camp
B-3-10 Apple Hill Music Camp: The cape that is the center of Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music campus was built by William and/or Oliver Wright in about 1790. (This is a different Wright family that the one that settled at F-3-4.) The property was owned by Jonas Minot of Concord, Massachusetts at [...]
E-4-13 Archaelous moved to Packersfield from Temple, New Hampshire during the Revolutionary War. Was an early town selectman and hired by the town as an assistant workman when the second meeting house was built. Bought the property from Joseph Stanhope and built a new house on this site – Stanhope’s home being a [...]
B-2-10 Asa Robbins: Asa Robbins seems to have moved here from C-1-1 in 1799. He did not own the property formally until he purchased 26 acres in the southwest corner of lot #3 range 8 in the southwest quarter from Bannister Maynard in 1807. He was certainly living here at his death in [...]
C-1-1 Asa Robbins bought the land here in 1793 and built the house still standing there. Asa was born in Westford, Massachusetts in 1769 and moved to Packersfield with his brothers, Noah and Josiah in about 1790. He married Hepzibah Adams, daughter of John and Mary Adams (C-2-3). They had two children here [...]
D-4-5 Asa Wilson: This is the traditional home of the miller who operated the grist mill at D-4-22. It sits a few feet north of the brook that empties White Pond and a few feet from the mill first built here by Henry Melville in 1796. The house was constructed by Melville to [...]
B-3-14 There have been two dwellings here. The current cabin was built around 1897 by Dr. Seneca Egbert, a resident of Franklin, Pennsylvania, who used the old farm as a summer place until his death in 1939. More recently it has been owned by Fred French. The Egbert cabin was built near the [...]
Bannister Maynard moved to Packersfield from Templeton, Massachusetts in 1785. He increased the size of his farm substantially before selling it to George Dodge in 1809
Batchellor Sawmill House
C-4-14 Batchellor Sawmill House Nothing remains of this home today. It was probably built originally as the house for the operator of the town’s first saw mill located at C-4-20. It was probably occupied by Joshua Kitteridge when he first purchased the mill. It was small and he, soon built another house across [...]
Batchellor’s Small Grist Mill
F-5-9 Batchellor’s Small Grist Mill This location near Bailey Brook has a small stone retaining wall that may be the foundation for the “small grist mill” that is shown in Breed Batchellor’s settlement survey prepared in 1773. It may also be the location of a cider mill operated by James Clark in the [...]
Ben Smith, an Interview
From Summer to Settler: This interview with Ben Smith is one of a series of interviews conducted by Tom Murray, his nephew. He is especially interested in talking with people who became “year-round people” after having spent time in Nelson as “summer people.”
Benjamin and Tabitha Sawyer
F-5-3 Benjamin and Tabitha Sawyer Benjamin Sawyer was born in Amherst, New Hampshire in 1758 to Josiah and Hannah Sawyer. He married Tabitha Kitteridge of Tewksbury, Massachusetts in 1778 when he was twenty and his wife a year younger. Their first child, Benjamin, was born in Amherst in 1779. That year they bought [...]
E-4-12 A small cellar hole and accompanying barn foundation just below the top of Hurd Hill was built by Beriah Wetmore in 1774. Wetmore his wife Abigail and their six children had built at E-3-4, sold that property back to Breed Batchellor and bought this less desirable property. Probably they had not been [...]
Beriah and Abigail Wetmore and their family arrived in 1771 building a pole house on a 104-acre piece of land here. In 1773 they had 18 acres cleared and had built a cabin. For some reason, probably poor financial circumstances, the family was “warned out of town.” This was a process towns used to force possible welfare cases to leave before they became a burden.
B-3-2 Billy Wright bought this 20-acre piece of Robert Sheldon’s sprawling farm in 1807 and built a house here. Wright added modestly to the size of his farm before moving to D-3-14. Alpheus Davis, brother of Isaac Davis (A-2-5), moved here in 1816 (from B-3-5) buying the somewhat larger farm from Samuel Griffin. [...]
Bonnie Allen Riley, an Interview
From Summer to Settler: This interview with Bonnie Riley 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.”
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 [...]
Breed Batchellor: Land Shark?
In 1751 the Masonian Proprietors granted forty square miles called Monadnock Number Six to another group of proprietors responsible for settlement. They were granted the entire town except for a large section referred to as the “land reserved for the Masonian Proprietors”, a 4,000-acre section of the Southwest Quarter of the town.
Breed Batchellor: The Enemy
Breed Batchellor, the man who had worked so hard to transform Monadnock Number Six into Packersfield, refused to sign the Association Test, an oath of loyalty to the new country. He became the enemy within. In a very short time the people who had ardently supported him in the struggle against James Blanchard in the incorporation fight turned against him as a traitor.
E-3-5 Nelson’s oldest and most productive brickyard. Started by Abiel Smith in about 1777, though bricks from chimneys in earlier Nelson structures suggest a brick source earlier, It was worked by him until acquired by Ebenezer Tolman in 1789. Tolman was a housewright by trade but soon operated a sawmill and this brickyard. [...]
Brother Against Brother
Reuben and Rebecca Phillips of Nelson were the parents of six sons born in that town. This is the sad story of the Phillips family. ~ by Alan Rumrill
The outline of stones on the surface of the ground approximately 15 x 24’ and the presence of a chimney base suggest this is the location of an early settlement era dwelling.
Established by Francis S. Bryant shortly after their father, Amos, bought the property from the widow of Stephen Beard in 1805. Little remains of the vats and other hallmarks of a tannery today.
Building a Town
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 settlement [...]
Building School #7
In the late nineteen-nineties it took the Nelson School District three years to design, achieve political support for and build an addition to the Munsonville School. In 1821 School District Number Seven faced similar issues and dealt with the inadequacies of the old wooden building in a matter of months.
Capt. Stephen Parker: A Nelson Patriot in the Revolutionary War
It was 100 years ago at the Nelson Picnic on August 12, 1896, that an account of the Revolutionary War experiences of Capt. Stephen Parker and his family was given by his grandson, Horatio G. Parker.
Center Pond House & Mill Development
Center Pond House & Mill Development Upper left: French Farm. To the right, Nelson Village. Breed Batchellor was Nelson’s first settler and its developer. In the early days, he owned thousands of acres in the town. He built a small sawmill and a house here [...]
A-2-12 The Newcomb Place: A well-developed site with a large barn foundation to the west. William Banks built the house here prior to 1791. When Charles Rice bought the place and moved here from D-4-1 in 1791, the deed included the following: “the same farm on which William Banks now lives together with [...]
Come Early Summer
We think that the northern part of heaven lies down a stretch of dirt road that leaves the paved Harrisville Road in southwestern New Hampshire. We get there, as we say, by going down the rabbit hole. That’s a bit of fantasy, I know. The “rabbit hole” is a 500-foot descent down a tree-covered road that opens onto a kind of Wonderland—Tolman Pond and vicinity.
E-4-8 Comfort Day Came from Mansfield, Massachusetts and may have moved with his father Benjamin and his brothers Noah and Peletiah. He bought 90 acres of land from Samuel and Daniel Skinner on the south side of Osgood Hill and built a small house there in 1782. He sold in 1791 and left [...]
Connected to the World by a Thin Wire
When the electricity goes, it takes the world with it. The incessant hum of incoming information from telephones, e-mail and CNN falls eerily silent, and we are cut off from events on other continents, in other towns, even down the road.
Contra Dance – Byron O’Brien
Listen carefully, these are the symptoms: increased heartbeat, memory loss, neuromuscular discoordination, heightened respiration, profuse sweating, confusion and fatigue. The above symptoms are exhibited by all greenhorns, newcomers and beginners at a Nelson Contra Dance. I speak from recent experience.
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.”
E-4-3 Part of the large Holt family from Andover, Massachusetts, Daniel bought this place in 1786 and moved here with his wife Alice. He was a cordwainer by trade. They moved to Packersfield with at least three of their children. They sold the northern half the lot to their oldest son, Thomas (E-5-6), [...]
B-3-12 Daniel Town Daniel Town bought the land here in 1790 and built a large house. It sits on a knoll and must have had beautiful views into Vermont to the west. He lived and farmed here until 1827 when James Phillips bought it. Phillips, an early settler of Packersfield (1773), moved here [...]
Daniel Wood’s Corn Mill
C-1-3: The outlet of Pleasant Pond (later Beed Pond and Silver Lake) was the site of three mills. The town’s first gristmill was established here in about 1771 by Daniel Wood of Upton, Massachusetts.
F-5-13 David Felt Aaron Felt of Temple, NH bought 100 acres in the northeast corner of Packersfield in 1782 from the confiscated estate of Breed Batchellor. Owing to an early dispute over the location of Packersfield’s eastern border, the lot was partly in Packersfield and partly in Antrim. Tax records show him as [...]
David Kimball 2
D-3-15 David Kimball sold his original house (C-3-16) and half of the farm to his brother, James, in 1799 when he built this house.* David and Lydia lived here until until their deaths (1842 and 1847). In 1817 their daughter, Mary, married Jared Pratt of Jaffrey. The young couple bought the house at [...]
David Marshall_Stephen Cobb
F-2-1 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.
Deacon Samuel Griffin
D-3-6 Deacon Samuel Griffin Samuel Griffin was one of the early settlers of Packersfield coming after military service around Boston including Bunker Hill. He bought land here in 1777 and is thought to have moved to Packersfield in 1779. He built a house here and married Sophia Foster, the daughter of the first [...]
Dick Upton Remembers Life in Nelson in the Early 1900s
In 1992, as Dick Upton was looking out the window at the leaves already turning, yellow, orange and red, he was wondering what the world will be like for his great grandchildren, and will they wonder what the world was like for him in the early 1900's. Thus, he wrote this story for the benefit of his grandchildren.
Dr. Nathaniel Breed
D-4-7 This modest cellar hole is the site of Nathaniel Breed’s “double pole” house built in 1768. He, likely, replaced it with a proper board house at D-4-8 in 1773. Nathaniel Breed was the second settler of Monadnock #6 and the first in what is Nelson today. Born in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1727, [...]
Early Burial Practices in Nelson
Serviceberry in bloom above Spoonwood Pond Amelanchier arborea better known as shadbush or serviceberry, is among the first trees to bloom in Nelson each spring. Tradition has it the name “serviceberry” comes from its association with burial practices in the early days. The blooming of serviceberry is supposed to mark the time [...]
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 that was 8 ½ feet high at the eaves. This was authorized at a proprietors meeting held at Breed [...]
Early Road Construction
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 [...]
B-5-5 Ebenezer Tarbox: This site was in the town of Stoddard until 1835 when the Tarbox Farm was annexed to Nelson at the request of the Tarbox family. Ebenezer Tarbox family settled in the southwest corner of Stoddard as early as 1800.Th original house on this site was bult by Jacob and Lucy Blodget [...]
Ebenezer Tolman, a housewright by trade, moved to Packersfield from Fitzwilliam in 1790 with his wife, Mary (Clark) and 4 children. Tolman served in the Revolutionary War and kept a diary detailing his experiences as part of Arnold’s expedition against Quebec in late 1775. He is the founder of the Tolman family in Nelson.
E-3-15 This is the approximate site of the first house on this farm. Built by Ebenezer Tolman and his third house on Packersfield, the house was soon replaced by a newer house at E-3-16. See that description for more detail.
B-4-2 The remnants of this modest home are difficult to find today. The old road that connects it to the original road to Sullivan is used as a wood road today and that traffic has compromised the foundation of the building. Hawthorn’s initial farm was 40 acres in size and purchased in 1798. [...]
C-4-17. Eli and Thankful Burnap came to Packersfield from Reading, Massachusetts in 1795 at the age of twenty-three. Eli’s parents, John and Mary Burnap followed them to Packersfield
A-2-17 Eli Clark Samuel Wadsworth states that the records of occupancy here are unclear. Eli Clark bought land here in early 1808. He died in 1850 and was succeeded by his son, Eli Clark JR. He was here until 1861. The brick cottage was burned in 1892.
Elliot J. Davis
B-5-8: Represented by a small foundation today, this house was built by Elliot J. Davis in the summer of 1858. It is likely that Davis was associated in some way with the steam sawmill at B-5-7. Born in Gilsum, Davis moved here from Vermont with his wife, Roxanna E. Brown, and two children. He became the owner of the whole site when the mill ceased operations in 1860.
Eulogies for Francis W. P. Tolman and Albert D. Quigley by May Sarton
Eulogies for Francis W. P. Tolman (1902-1969) and Albert D. Quigley (1891-1961)
Excerpts from “Family Notes by Beth Barrell”
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:
E-3-2 Upon this site stood a well preserved late 18th century house built by Ezra Sheldon in 1791. Ezra had been born in Reading, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, on 11 Jan 1763 to Abraham Sheldon and Sarah Hayward and came to New Hampshire with his parents. They made their home in Temple.Ezra Sheldon married Sarah [...]
Ezra Sheldon’s New House
E-3-3 Ezra Sheldon bought the 250-acre Goodenow Farm in 1807 after Abraham Goodenow died. The purchase did not include the sawmill at E-3-8. This was Ezra’s “new house.” His original house was at E-3-2. By 1807 Ezra and Sarah (Day) Sheldon needed a larger house; the couple had nine children ages two to twenty. [...]
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 in 1824.
Fight Over Incorporation
At the proprietor’s meeting in March 1773 the town voted to petition the royal governor for incorporation as a town. Breed Batchellor was appointed agent to present the petition on behalf of the Monadnock Number Six proprietors. Almost immediately Batchellor heard rumors that the Blanchard family would fight him.
Finding the Benjamin Sawyer Cellar Hole
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.
The charter granting Monadnock Number Six to its proprietors required that a central place be set off and reserved for public purposes and that a meetinghouse be built. Batchellor laid out ten acres of common land in the center of the town at the location of the village cemetery today.
Fishing on Tolman Pond
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.
Flying Loon Farm, 1934-45, Part 2
Here are a few more letters written to Meg Cline by Frances Upton from the Upton’s Flying Loon Farm at Lake Nubanusit in the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire. See Flying Loon Farm, 1934-45, Part 1, for more about Meg’s life on the Upton farm.
Flying Loon Farm, 1935-45, Part 1
When I was fifteen I went to live with a farm family at the Nelson end of Lake Nubanusit in the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire. This became a second home to me all through my adolescence. I was a high school drop-out, intrigued with country living and eager to learn how to split wood, harvest ice as well as vegetables, milk cows and braid rugs.
The Reverend Jacob Foster served the town of Packersfield for ten years from 1781 to 1791. During that time twenty-seven families joined the church. We do not have census data that exactly match the years Foster served, but the population of Packersfield in 1783 was recorded as 511 and in 1790 as [...]
Founding the Church
The original charter of Monadnock Number Six stipulated founding a successful town in accordance with the king’s requirements. The charter contained requirements to establish and support of religion and education. Three of the grantors’ shares in the town, a total of six one hundred acre lots, were reserved “free from charge, one for [...]
Frank Upton was the consummate Nelson story teller. Perhaps it was yesterday’s social media, but news got passed along around Frank’s table – the good with the bad. Stories that now make up a large part of our local lore were told. This was a true gathering of community vitality where things were shared and ideas were born. Frank’s kitchen was a “happening” place, where a kind of grassroots democracy thrived.
B-4-11 Frederick was the son of Danforth Taylor who moved to B-4-1 from Stoddard and occupied the farm of Robert Sheldon. Sons, Frederick and Henry Danforth came with him. Frederick Taylor bought the sawmill (B-4-7) from Abel Kitteridge in 1841. Since the creation of the mill in 1798, the mill owner had lived [...]
D-4-13 Fulling Mill: Little remains at this site today but as flattened area north of the brook. Here in 1794, Thomas K. Breed built a fulling mill* with a shear. Fulling mils were used to treat woolen cloth woven on home looms to finish it. He bought land on either side of the [...]
General Samuel Griffin Place
B-3-9 Samuel Griffin built the house circa 1805. Griffin was a Major General in the NH state militia.
F-3-1 The second son of Ebenezer and Mary Tolman, George came to Packersfield at age four. He bought the land at this lovcation in partnership with Thomas Reed. He built a small house here in 1810 on the 66 acres north of the road deeding the balance south of the road to Reed. [...]
E-3-8 Goodenow’s Mill Abraham Goodenow was born in Sudbury, Massachusetts in 1749 and moved to Packersfield in 1783. He came with his second wife, Silence, their three children and his oldest, Abraham Jr. They had six more children here. He established a sawmill at the outlet of Long Pond, now called Nubanusit, to [...]
Harrington Brickyard and Tannery
C-4-15. 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, a shoe shop, and the site of a bark mill in the southeast corner of Nelson Road and Henderson Road today.
Harrington’s Bark Mill
C-4-9 Stephen Harrington established his tannery in about 1803. He probably built this water powered bark mill at about the same time. The bark mill consisted of a dam and a mill where oak and hemlock bark were ground to produce tannin rich “powder” for use in the tanning process.
C-4-8 - Stephen Harrington established his tannery in about 1803. The tannery is located just east of Henderson Road on a small brook that served as both its water supply and its waste removal system. Water from the brook was collected above the road and carried by aqueduct across the road to the tannery below.
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.
He Perished of Cold by the Wayside
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.
Heating a One Room Schoolhouse
The subject of heating the building consumed approximately one third of the written record of early school district meetings. In 1820 men bid to keep the fire at the school at $1.00 per week. Five different men supplied both wood and fire lighting for that 8-week winter school session. It is quite a modern idea: subcontract a whole function. In this case heat.
A-2-14 Henry Bemis Henry was born in Weston, MA on January 28 of 1750 0r 1751. He moved to Monadnock Number 6 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. (There is [...]
B-4-6 Betsy and Henry Wheeler came to Packersfield from Concord, Massachusetts in 1796 and built a home here. They farmed the place until 1801 when they moved to B-3-11. Andrew Stiles followed and lived there until his death in 1828
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 [...]
Home Life in Nelson: Social Gatherings
Dried apples were staple articles of food. Families were large and pie was a necessity—apple pie set the standard. In the fall an apple-bee was a social event.
Home Life in Nelson: The Heating of the House
The leaves have fallen, the days are getting shorter, and the smell of wood smoke brings nostalgic thoughts of the past; but most of us just turn on the furnace when days really get cold. What was it like before this convenient way of heating?
Home Life in Nelson: The Old Kitchen
The old kitchen was the best loved and most used of all the rooms of the house. It served not only as kitchen, but as dining room, sitting room, parlor, and general living room for the whole household.
Home Life in Nelson: The Old Village on the Hill
Two manuscripts of historical interest came to light during the closet-cleaning needed to ready the contents of the Hardy homestead for the auction held last July. One details a lifestyle in our town that has long since vanished. The second manuscript is concerned with the physical setting of the old town center.
Home Life in Nelson: The Table
The wooden table was long, narrow, and roughly-made often supported by saw-horses in the early days. The tablecloth, then known as the board-cloth was made of the most durable hand-woven linen. Napkins were not used until later.
Home Life in Nelson: The Table
The wooden table was long, narrow, and roughly-made often supported by saw-horses in the early days. The tablecloth, then known as the board-cloth was made of the most durable hand-woven linen. Napkins were not used until later.
Horace Yardley bought land here from Abiel Wright and built a house in 1856. Born in Dublin to William and Sarah Yardley in 1804, he married Sarah Taylor in 1841. The couple had five children before moving to Nelson in 1856.
Hotel Nelson Burns!
A glow in the darkened sky alarmed Wayland Tolman and his father, Orson, as they turned towards home after a long winter’s day of logging near Long Pond (Nubanusit). The date was February 6, 1894. They raced ahead and as they rounded the road to the village their worst fears were realized. Fire!
How Not to Run an Inn
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.
Ichabod Crane, Who Built Your Schoolhouse
When I took over as Treasurer of the Nelson School years and years and years ago, I also took over a large beat-up carton of old school papers – receipts, vouchers, etc. – which had been tossed higgledy-piggledy into the carton. Eventually I bundled all these together and tossed them higgledy-piggledy into a new carton and left them for the next treasurer to cope with.
Insanity Above Spoonwood Pond
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?
B-5-1 Isaac Brown This is a small cellar hole just west of Route 9. Parke Struthers has Isaac Brown here succeeded by John Breed JR. It was built by Isaac Brown sometime between 1790 and 1800 when he sold it to John Osgood and Henry Wheeler for $70 and “a yearly rent of [...]
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 [...]
C-4-5 Isaac Jewett Deeds and road descriptions make clear that this was the homestead of Isaac Jewett, the founder of that family in Nelson. Parke Struthers has him at B-4-6, but the first Jewett there was Isaac’s son Willard. Isaac was born in Hollis, New Hampshire, bought the land from his father, Nathaniel, [...]
E-4-16 A recently discovered rectangular depression here may be the site of the cabin of Ithamar Smith. Coins, musket balls and a pewter spoon are evidence that this was a home site. Smith appears in the list of settlers submitted by Breed Batchellor in support of the petition the Monadnock #6 proprietors to [...]
Jabez (also James) Grover: The site is marked by a small cellar hole next to the current home of Stacia Tolman. Grover began to clear land at the north end of Tolman Pond in 1774 and seems to have built a house at this location in about 1777.
E-4-7 Born in Acton, Massachusetts, Jacob Wheeler moved to E-4-7 in 1777. Jacob and his wife, Mary, had numerous children. One of those, Jacob JR, was born on the place in 1782. Mary died in 1808; her husband in 1841 at age 92. Jacob Jr. stayed on the place and started his own [...]
James and David Beard
D-3-3 This cellar hole on the west edge of the Village Cemetery was part of the cluster of buildings that formed the original center of the town surrounding the meetinghouse. It was built and first occupied by a succession of Beard family brothers. James and David Beard JR, came to Packersfield with their [...]
D-2-6 This was James Bancroft’s second house. Timothy Bancroft of Barnstable, Massachusetts bought the Right of Benjamin French (400 acres) in the southeast quarter of Monadnock #6 early. His son, James, acquired this part of the French Right after his father’s death in 1780. In approximately 1786 he built the house here and [...]
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 [...]
E-4-11 Little is known about this place or Field himself. He may have come from Mansfield, Massachusetts. It was apparently settled after the departure of John Stroud (about 1777) and occupied until shortly after the death of James Field in about 1789. His widow, Mary, appears in the 1790 census of Packersfield. The [...]
C-4-4 James French James French, a cordwainer from New Ipswich, bought 100 acres of land here in 1791 and is undoubtedly the builder of the old part of the home on the site today. Little is known of him. In 1794 he sold the house and five acres to Dr. Samuel Skinner who moved [...]
D-3-14 David Kimball Probably built by James Kimball in 1787 when is family and that of his brother, David, grew too large to live in David’s house at C-3-16 and James built a cabin here. In 1799 they bought half of David Kimball’s 100-acre lot with the original house (C-3-16) and this place. [...]
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 [...]
B-3-7 Jason Harris Both Samuel Wadsworth and the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary book ascribe the founding of this place to Benjamin Rice in 1813. The deeds for this part of Nelson record that Jason Harris bought this piece of land from the estate of John Penhollow, one of the original proprietors in [...]
D-1-1 The existence of this cellar hole was only discovered because the town laid out a road to his house in 1780. The record reads as follows: The bounds of a road leading from the corner of the road near Captain Twitchell’s unto Dublin line. Beginning at a stake and heap of stones [...]
E-2-2 This location is difficult to find. All that remains is a rectangle of stonework where the cellar ole of the house used to be. There has been extensive logging in the area and structure has been largely destroyed. Jesse and Lydia (Parker) Wright moved to Packersfield from Woburn, Massachusetts in 1780. There [...]
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.
C-2-3 John Adams was born in Sherborn, Massachusetts in 1750 and was one of Packersfield’s earliest settlers. He bought 300 acres from his father, Captain Moses Adams, an early investor in land in the town. His name appears in the record of the first recorded road laid out in the town – the [...]
C-3-6 John Boynton came to Packersfield in 1781 after service at Saratoga in the Revolutionary War. He bought 100 acres here and probably built the house soon after. John is said to have been a blacksmith. John and Sarah Boynton welcomed their first child here in 1785; The couple had four more. They [...]
D-4-6 John Breed's cellar hole An interesting old foundation and difficult to find, it is located off Old Stoddard Rd and above the Osgood Mine. It was part of the original Nathaniel Breed farm. John Breed bought the land from his brother, Nathaniel breed JR., in 1780 and built the house [...]
B-2-2 John Brown There is no extant record of John Brown’s ownership here, but Wadsworth supports the idea that he did. John Brown had a mill at the outlet of Woodward Pond (B-2-1) prior to 1788 when a road description mentions his mill. Brown may have lived at the mill itself or he [...]
B-5-11: John Buxton, his wife, Elizabeth Burnap, and their children Eunice and Timothy Russell Buxton came to Packersfield from Wilton, NH in 1791 and built the house here.
D-5-3 John Chamberlin: This is a small, well preserved cellar hole on Abijah Brown’s original farm. In 1800 John Chamberlin of Weston, Vermont married Abigail Brown. Abijah sold the half of his farm north and west of Old Stoddard Road to his son-in-law in 1801 and John built the house here. The price [...]
D-2-5 John Farwell John came from Marblehead, Massachusetts in 1772 at age 33. By the year 1774 he had 9 acres cleared and a frame house built with his family in residence. He probably responded to the Lexington alarm and marched from Packersfield in April of 1775. Later, in 1777, he responded to a [...]
F-5-14 John French John French bought several lots of land in the Northeast Quarter from Breed Batchellor in 1774 and built a two-room log cabin (One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the First Settlement of Nelson New Hampshire 1767-1917) near here in 1775. He moved to Dublin in 1784 selling the farm to [...]
B-5-10: John French III. seems to have built the house here in about 1808 and stayed until 1816. Whitcomb French owned it for two years before selling it to Reuben Tarbox
Little is known about this early settler. There at least two people named John Morse in the records of early Packersfield. The one who built the house here one is the signer of the Association Test in 1776 and the one cited the record of a road that same year.
D-4-8 Nathaniel Breed moved to Packersfield in 1767 and built a “double pole house” at D-4-7 as there was no sawmill in town at that time. He probably built a proper board house on this site in 1774. In 1782 he sold the place to Samuel Cummings -- a 240 acre farm with [...]
D-3-13 There have been three houses on this place. Thomas Richardson came to Packersfield from Attleboro, Massachusetts after the Revolutionary War, bought 200 acres on land in this area in 1784. In 1794 he sold 90 acres to his son, John, who built the first house here in 1795. John died in 1814 [...]
John Scarlett Newhall
D-2-4 Born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, John Scarlett Newhall and his wife, Elizabeth Foster, came to Monadnock Number Six in about 1770.
John Scarlett Newhall 2
D-2-3 This was the Newhall’s second house on their farm. Built in about 1774, it was approximately 30’ x 30’ -- a proper frame house with a chimney to replace the log cabin.
John Spinney was an early settler with a board house and two acres cleared by 1773. He was a Packersfield selectman in 1775 and 1776 and signed the association test in that year.
E-5-5 John Sprague bought 140 acres here from Uriah wheeler in 1784. He was a blacksmith by trade and came to Packersfield after service in the Revolutionary War. Born in Attleborough, Massachusetts, he arrived in Packersfield with his wife, Betsey. They had six children. They lived on the place until late in life. [...]
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.
E-5-4 The house currently at this location is a modern one built on the cellar hole of an older house built by John White in 1781. The original house burned the night of October 1, 1966. John White was a minuteman from Mansfield, Massachusetts who came to Packersfield in 1781. There is an [...]
F-2-4 Jonas Brigham probably built here in 1789. He and his family, from Sudbury, Massachusetts, are listed in the Packersfield national census of 1790. He 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 moved [...]
Jonas Davis Farm 2
D-4-26 Approximate location of the second home of Jonas Davis. Remnants obscured when the current hose was built in1882. Jonas Davis was one of three brothers to come to Packersfield from Rutland, Massachusetts after the Revolution. He purchased 100 acres of land from his father, John Davis, in 1779 and added another 50 [...]
B-2-7 Jonathan Haild Jonathan Haild (also Hale and Heald) moved here from Templeton, Massachusetts. He was born in Acton, Massachusetts in 1740. The Acton connection is undoubtedly how he met William Barker (C-4-1) and his family marrying that man’s oldest daughter, Rhoda. He served in the Braddock Campaign with his father-in-law. The Hailds [...]
D-2-10 Jonathan Lovejoy was born in Hollis in 1754, enlisted from there and settled here in 1791 after service in the Revolutionary War. He and his wife, Rebecca, had three children. Their youngest daughter, also Rebecca, married Absolom Farwell and lived with Jonathan until he died in 1825. The Lovejoys are burried in [...]
Jonathan Lovejoy Place
B-3-6 The Jonathan Lovejoy Place There are two small cellar holes here. John Wright was here as early as 1800. His name appears in the record of the road laid out early that year. He was here until 1804 when Ephraim Adams acquired the property. He sold in 1806 to Abraham Stiles who [...]
F-5-5 Jonathan Nichols This is a very small, primitive cellar hole approximately 18 x 20’. Nichols came about 1772 from Princeton, Massachusetts. By the end of 1773 he had built a log cabin, cleared seven acres and moved his family here. He was gone by the time Solomon Ingalls bought the lot in [...]
B-5-4: Joseph came to Packersfield with his parents about 1790. He followed his father at B-5-12 before buying lot four, range four of the northwest quarter in 1816 and building the house here. He left for Weld, Maine in about 1820 and Asa Stone (who may have held a mortgage) was awarded title by a court after Baker’s departure. Sometime between 1816 and 1827 a second dwelling was added. The property was acquired by Joseph Osgood in 1827.
B-3-13 Joseph Briant The origins of this house are somewhat mysterious. The property seems to have fallen into tax arrears and was purchased by Jonas Minot, a Concord, Massachusetts investor in land in Packersfield and the father-in-law of Josiah Melvin, founder of the Melville family in Nelson. His partner in this investment was [...]
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, [...]
C-5-7 Joseph Felt The place was originally cleared by William Priest starting in 1779. The sold the place to Joseph Felt in 1781 and bought Felt’s land further north at C-5-6. Joseph Felt came from New Ipswich, New Hampshire built a large house here following his service in the Revolutionary War. His record [...]
Joseph Felt JR
Joseph Felt JR. was part of the numerous Felt family that moved to Packersfield after the Revolution.
Joseph Stanford was one of Monadnock #6’s earliest settlers buying 100 acres from Jonathan Blanchard in 1769 for forty schillings. By 1773 he had a log cabin built near here and seven acres of land cleared. He answered the alarm at Concord on April 20, 1775 and served outside of Boston until November of that year.
D-4-12 Joseph Stanhope Joseph was born on 16 November 1715 in Sudbury, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, the son of Jonathan Stanhope and Abigail (Howe) Stanhope. At the age of 40, he married Sarah Howe on the 31st of January in 1755 at a ceremony performed in Sudbury, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. She was 33 years of [...]
D-5-5 The exact location io this house is uncertain. It seems to have been several hundred feet north of today’s Old Stoddard Road though the location can’t be identified. Joshua Felt came to Packersfield by 1778 from Lynn, Massachusetts. He marched from Lynn to the Lexington alarm in 1775. He was wounded in [...]
C-4-1 The settlement survey in 1774 lists a sawmill and house here that had been built by Breed Batchellor as early as 1772. This was part of Batchellor’s estate that had been confiscated by the State of New Hampshire when he joined the British Army. It was bought first by Elisha Wheeler in 1781 [...]
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.
Josiah and Sophia Parker
B-3-5 There is a nice cellar hole and barn foundations here about 1500’ along an old town road that runs north from Apple Hill Road. This property was purchased in 1803 by Nathaniel Breed III, grandson and namesake of one of Nelson’s founders, who built the house here. The following year he sold [...]
C-4-20 ~ John Atwood was born in Medford, Massachusetts in 1729 and married Eunice Lawrence in 1751. They moved to Templeton where the couple had ten children including two sons who moved to Packersfield. One, Philip, preceded him to town, arriving in 1778 (B-3-8.) In 1789 the other, Josiah, bought 50 acres of land south of the junction of land south of the junction of Blueberry Lane and Center Pond Roads today and built a small house.
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 [...]
B-2-8 Josiah Flint This lot was one of the Proprietor’s Lots in Monadnock #6, land reserved for the original proprietors with three lots reserved for the support of town functions: support of the gospel (2) and support of schools (1). The Town leased lot number one in the eighth range to Josiah Flint [...]
C-4-19 Josiah Parker: The approximate location of the Josiah Parker homestead. The site is occupied by a much more modern building. Stone enclosures and potential barn foundations suggest it as the site for Parker’s house. Josiah Parker came to Packersfield from Wilton, New Hampshire in about 1789 with his wife Eunice (Pierce). Their [...]
B-3-4 Josiah Robbins Josiah Robbins, the first of his family to settle in Packersfield, acquired this place on a 999-year lease from the Town. This lot was one of the lots reserved in the original grant of Monadnock #6 for the support of religion in the town. Josiah acquired the property in 1802, [...]
B-4-3 Josiah Robbins One of the founders of the Robbins family in Nelson, Josiah was born in Townsend, Massachusetts and came to Packersfield after his Revolutionary War service. He bought the property, partly in Sullivan and partly in Packersfield in 1807, built the home here and moved from B-3-4. He sold it in [...]
D-5-2 Josiah Whitney bought lot #2 in range 10 in Packersfield’s northeast quarter in 1779. Clearing had been done there earlier by Elihu Higbe. He built first at D-5-7 and afterwards here. Nancy and Josiah Whitney came to Packersfield with their first two children; they added seven more. In 1822 Josiah sold his [...]
D-5-7 There is a small cellar hole at this site. Elihu Higbe cleared 12 acres of land here in 1773, but did not settle. Josiah Whitney bought the property in 1779 and built a modest house. There is a story that this house burned and he built a new one at E-5-2 in [...]
B-2-5 Josiah Woodward Josiah Woodward bought land and water rights here in 1804 and moved here from Marlborough with his wife, Keziah, building a large two-story frame house. His wife died in 1810 and he remarried Sally Wakefield of Dublin. Josiah deeded half the home, mill and 110 acres to his son, Josiah [...]
After forty years of use, I’ve finally had to discard a braided rug Ma Tolman made at the Ladies Aid. Her workmanship, with its great careless leaping stitches, wasn’t up to the standard of, say, Mrs. Cora Tolman. Besides, Ma had a tendency to use what-came-to-hand, and the section which came from an old pair of Pop’s brown serge trousers was a mistake.
Lead Mine Farm
C-3-4 This beautiful example of an early Nelson home is probably best known for its service as Nelson’s Town Poor Farm from 1851 to 1858. It takes its name from a quarry on the property where graphite was mined in the 1850’s and 1860’s. Lead Mine Farm Joseph Beal, a blacksmith [...]
Leavit Phillips Place
A-2-19 Leavit Phillips Place This homesite was built on an unfavorable north slope and was abandoned early in the migration of Packersfield farmers west for better land. Leavit Phillips had built it around 1808 and sold to Joshua Lawrence Jr. in 1819. Moses Clark bought it in 1824 and abandoned it a little [...]
B-2-6 Levi Wilder Levi and Sarah (Moody) Wilder and their infant daughter, Clarissa, settled here in 1786 moving from Templeton, Massachusetts after his service in the Revolution. According to his pension records, his house burned in August of that year while he and his family were are church. They rebuilt and welcomed another [...]
Listening to NH Spring’s Short Song
I heard the ice go out on Tolman Pond one year. My garden is next to the pond, and as I was breaking through the tough, heavy sod, I heard a soft music like silvery bells. Looking around me I realized that it was a warm breeze blowing the ice out of the pond. In a minute, it was over.
Live from the Tolman Pond Archives
Live from the Tolman Pond Archives is an iMovie, turned youtube. Karen Tolman merged the audio from her 2013 Library Forum presentation with photographs to help tell the story of an unlikely resort at Tolman Pond, a small neighborhood, in the small town of Nelson, in the small state of New Hampshire.
Lucy Nichols Barrett
This is the story of Lucy Nichols Barrett, a women deserted by her husband at age 32 with her six children and thrown on the mercy of the town and her neighbors. The scanty records that exist document the desertion and the support of her husband’s family and their neighbors. It also illustrates the town’s treatment of its poor. The story may even have had a happy ending.
Bricks from the house that Samuel Wadsworth built. A-2-8 Luther Heaton Luther and Joanna Eaton were the original settlers of the Wadsworth Place (A-2-7) but sold that to Samuel Wadsworth in 1807 and reserved ten acres here where they built themselves a small house and barn. In their later years they [...]
Luther Heaton Homestead
A-2-6 Luther Heaton Homestead Luther Heaton’s original house stood here on land he purchased from his father in 1784. Luther and his wife were childless and adopted his nephew, Samuel Wadsworth, as toddler. Samuel’s father had died before his on was born and his mother, Luther Heaton’s sister, gave her son to the [...]
B-5-3 Barker place in the late 1800s Lyman Stone This home is associated with two of Nelson’s founding families. John Breed JR was the grandson of one of Nelson’s founders, Dr. Nathaniel Beed. He was born to Nathaniel Breed’s second son, John, and his wife, Sarah Felt at D-4-9 in 1785. [...]
Ma Tolman’s Diaries
In the 50 years since her death, my great-grandmother’s diaries have resided under a built-in bench in a sunny spot on the south side of the farmhouse that looks out on Tolman Pond, in Nelson.
Maintenance Contracts: A Reflection of Farm life in Early Nelson
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.”
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.
D-5-1 Martin Lawrence Martin Lawrence, a cordwainer by trade, and his wife Sally moved to Packersfield in 1794, buying 35 acres of land and a modest house from Timothy Pierce at C-5-2. Two years later he bought 100 acres to the south and across the road. He constructed a much more substantial home [...]
D-4-19 The Melville Farm The house rebuilt after a 1925 fire. Uriah Wheeler was an early, large landowner in Packersfield owning some 400 acres that included the current village. The land had been owned by Breed Batchellor and was confiscated and sold when Batchellor joined the British Army. He was born in [...]
D-4-16 Melville Store Uriah Wheeler built a house and tavern here as early as 1781. The establishment must have been quite commodious as town meeting were often adjourned to his house. The Wheelers sold the place to Jonas Minot of Concord, Massachusetts and Thaddeus Barker seems to have kept the tavern here from [...]
Memories of Old Home Day
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.
D-3-18: Its most well-known owner was Parke Hardy Struthers who purchased the farm in 1932 and named it Merriconn because the property is situated on the watershed divide between the Merrimac and Connecticut Rivers. It was a brick house of a grand size for Nelson and situated on an imposing location. Perhaps the height of its prominence was as the home of Louis C. Cabot of Boston who made it into his summer estate.
Mill Boarding House
Asa Beard was a founder of the Nelson Cotton and Woolen Company in about 1815. While living at D-3-3, he built this house as his new residence and began building a factory at the outlet of Fish Pond (Granite Lake).
B-5-6 Mill Headquarters: This structure was built in 1855 likely as the mill office and crew quarters for the steam powered sawmill 100 yards to its east at B-5-7.
B-5-13 In 1889 the town voted 33 to 32 to raise $1200 to build a new school here to replace the schools at C-5-9 and B-4-8. It took two years to agree in the site and build the school. Bricks from the two earlier schools were used in its construction. It has had [...]
Music and Dance in the Nelson Town Hall: The Myth, the Magic the Truth
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 [...]
E-2-4 Nathan Wesson (also Weston) bought 105 acres of land here from James Bancroft in 1782. He came here from Hollis after two enlistments in the army serving in the Ticonderoga campaign and elsewhere. His introduction to Packersfield probably came from serving with Allen Breed and Joseph Felt. He built a house here in [...]
F-5-6 Nathaniel Barrett Nathaniel and Mercy Barrett bought land here in 1778 from John French. His record of enlistment in the Revolutionary War (he enlisted from Mason, NH) suggests that he built here after the war – perhaps in 1783. The had six children including John who married Lucy Nichols (F-5-14) and Nathaniel JR [...]
Nathaniel Barrett Jr
F-5-1 Nathaniel Barrett Jr. This place is in Stoddard. Nathaniel was the second son of Nathaniel Barrett (F-5-6) built the house here around 1800. He died in 1847 and his widow, Relief, continued here until her death in 1866.
The site of a house built in about 1817 by Nathaniel Parker. The current house on the site is a renovation of a barn on the original place. The old home stood between the current house and the well. The original home burned sometime in the early 1950’s.
Nathaniel W. and Mary S. Fay
C-5-3 Nathaniel W. and Mary S. Fay This couple bought 110 acres on land on the Stoddard line east of Granite lake. The came from Lowell, Massachusetts. They built a small house here in 1851 and sold it in 1865. Nathaniel died in 1888 at age of 70 and Mary in 1891 aged [...]
E-3-6 Nathaniel Woods built this house on part of his farm after he sold the place to his son, Samuel, with the right to live there until he died. Perhaps the house was built to facilitate management of the brickyard across the road. The Woods and Felt families all operated the yard in [...]
Nature Gave Us an Early House Cleaning
The first snow is like a distant relative you thought wasn’t going to come for her annual visit for a while yet and so you had time to clean the house. Suddenly, in mid-November, there is the guest, waist-deep in your clutter.
D-4-28 One of the first settlers of Nelson Village, Rand bought a 3-acre lot from the estate of Henry Melville in 1839. Dr. Rand bought Dr. Calvin Hubbard’s practice in Nelson and moved here from Hancock. Dr Rand practiced medicine in Nelson and was a partner with Ruel Nims in the store on [...]
F-3-2 Brothers, Nehemiah and Oliver Wright grew up in Dunstable. In those days Dunstable straddled the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border where Dunstable, Massachusetts is today. Dr. Ebenezer Starr also lived there; he was the owner of some 700 acres in the southeast quarter of Packersfield. The Wrights bought 100 acres (known as the David [...]
Nelson Congregational Church
The construction of the Nelson Congregational Church began in 1841.
Nelson Contra Dance November 10, 2007
Featuring David Kaynor, fiddle , Randy Miller, fiddle; Tom Hodgson, guitar; Hilliare Wilder, accordion; Will Miller, bohdran; Gordon Peery, piano; Jeff Petrovitch, caller
Nelson Contra Dance on NH Crossroads
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.
Nelson Cotton and Woolen Company
C-5-10 The mill site is the lowest of three on the stream that empties Granite Lake. The broken grindstone near the mill’s tailrace is evidence of its early use for grinding grain into flour. Joseph Baker likely built the mill in the 1790’s as a saw and gristmill. By 1816 it had been [...]
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.
Nelson History: In the Beginning
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.
Nelson Population Trends
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.
Nelson Roads and Cellar Holes Interactive Map Demo
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 [...]
Nelson’s Civil War Hero
Simon Griffin was born in Nelson on August 9, 1824, the son of Nathan and Sally Wright Griffin. The Nathan Griffin family lived on Center Pond Road about a mile from the village. Simon Griffin's grandfather, Samuel, had fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill before coming to Nelson in about 1779 and settling at the top of Dixon Hill.
Nelson’s First Fire Truck
These photos show Nelson’s first fire “truck”, a 1931 Chevrolet Coupe donated by Catherine Robinson about 1939 or 1940. The Nelson Volunteer Fire Department mounted a siren on the hood, and cut out the rumble seat to make a pick-up bed for carrying hose and a portable pump.
Nelson’s One Room Schools
Settlement began in Nelson, then called Packersfield, in 1767. The first town meeting was held in 1772 but it was not until 1785 that the town voted to raise thirty pounds to support a “reading and writing school."
New Hampshire’s ‘Mongrel Season’
Everyone in New Hampshire knows that there are far more than four seasons. There are sub-seasons, mini-seasons, seasons that hide in the woods, and seasons that last for just a day. There are seasons that happen in the hills but not in the valleys, and vice-versa.
Night of Horror – the Hurricane of 1938
A tropical hurricane is impossible in New England? It might have been so once, but no longer. Mark Twain once said “If you don’t like New England weather, wait a few hours.” That may not be what he actually said, but it undoubtedly is exactly what he meant. It has rained more or less steadily since last Wednesday night, seven days and nights of almost uninterrupted rainfall.
Nineteenth Century Capitalism, Nelson Style
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.
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. [...]
B-2-9 This is one of the older sites in Packersfield. Note there are two cellar holes at this location about two hundred feet apart. One is small and, clearly abandoned many years ago. Built originally by Benjamin Nourse (also Nurs or Nurse) who came in 1772, they may have been inhabited by father [...]
Old Friends (and Others) Live on in a Quilted Flower Garden
In the old days, if you made a braided rug, you could look into it and see the discarded blankets and outgrown coats of your family’s history. I had a pair of blue jeans like that once.
D-3-10 Oliver Whitney was born in Needham, Massachusetts in 1744. He responded to the Lexington alarm from Natick on April 19, 1775 and served a short enlistment afterwards. He married Hanna Chase and moved to Swansea. The couple moved to Packersfield with two young children in time to have Betsey who was born here March 2, 1783. The
F-3-4 There is no trace of this house today. From road and property records we know its approximate location on the old road to Hancock a few hundred feet east of Nehemiah Wright’s cellar hole. The foundation was, likely destroyed when the house now occupied by Mary and Dennis Dellagreca was built in [...]
Olivia Rodham Library
In 1891 Olivia Rodham bought the Collins place on Lead Mine Road in Nelson, New Hampshire. Her barn there, itself, stood as mute witness to Miss Rodham's influence. She cleaned it, shored it up, shingled it, converted it to bedrooms above the original stalls and tucked her library in one end.
On the Ski Hill at Tolman Pond
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.
One of Nelson’s Old Mills: the Stephen Osborn Place
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.
Otter Brook Steam Mill
B-5-7. Three foundations in the far northwestern corner of Nelson are the remains of a steam powered sawmill that operated between 1855 and 1860. The complex is composed of the mill site itself and two supporting buildings that have in-ground foundations.
Our Write Wing: The Authors of Nelson, Part I
"There's gold in them thar hills," the ever hopeful western prospector used to say. But the only ore in the hills hereabouts was "lead" (which was really graphite), and the two so-called lead mines in Nelson have long since ceased operating. In our hills, however, there runs another kind of rich vein, and that is the writings of various Nelson authors.
Our Write Wing: The Authors of Nelson, Part II
The subject of writing families - that is families that have produced several authors -would be an engrossing topic all by itself. In England we have the Bronte sisters, the Sitwells, Nicolsons, Woolfs, Powyses, among others. In this country there are far fewer writing families. But don't underestimate Nelson - for here we have the Tolman family of authors.
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.
Packersfield Becomes Nelson
Thomas Packer, for whom the town had been named, had died in 1771, but after the Revolution his son, Thomas, began to sell the family holdings which included the land from the French’s Farm and the Warners all the way north and west to the Stoddard and Sullivan town lines including all we know today as Munsonville.
Packersfield’s First Minister: Jacob Foster
D-4-15 Packersfield’s First Minister: Jacob Foster Nothing remains of this home today. The cellar hole was probably filled in when the village cemetery was extended to the north in the 1970’s. In 1781 Packersfield settled its first minister, Jacob Foster. He bought 100 acres of land near here from Uriah Wheeler his neighbor [...]
Partridge Resigns in Nelson, March 1982
One of the chief items on tonight’s agenda at the Nelson town meeting will be to mourn the passing of Sidney Partridge as the town’s tax collector.
When Barry and I first moved into the Farmhouse at Tolman Pond in 1969, our only available telephone service was a six-party line. Of course we knew all the neighbors who shared the line, and after conquering the established art of discreet eavesdropping, we also knew most of their business. As they surely knew most of ours!
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 small problem can itch and harass as much as a black fly bite and can be as hard to get rid of. For instance, 59¢ showed up on a town bank statement one year when I was treasurer. It didn’t belong to the town’s account. I had receipts for every cent I’d deposited - receipts for dog licenses, taxes, car fees - everything.
B-3-8 Circa 1890 James Banks bought land here in late 1778 and is credited by Struthers with building the house. Perhaps he built a small part of the substantial house that strands there today though he did not own the property long. It is likely that Philip Atwood build most or [...]
Philip Atwood II
C-4-21: Philip Atwood II, son of Josiah Atwood, bought two acres here in 1804 and built a modest house across the road from his father. The approximate location of a house obscured today by modern activities. Philip Atwood II, son of Josiah Atwood, bought two acres here in 1804 and built a
D-2-8 (alt Bailhash, Bilash) This modest cellar hole on the east side of the Nelson Road near Child’s Bog in Harrisville is one of Nelson’s oldest. Philip Billhash came as early as 1772 and had a pole house and fifteen acres cleared by 1774. That year the town laid out and built a road [...]
Pompey Russell – a Free Black Man in Early Munsonville
Munsonville's first settlers may have been a free black family.
Postcards from Munsonville: Camps Oahe, Winnenomack and others
Postcards from Munsonville: Camps Oahe, Winnenomack and others
Postcards from Munsonville: Granite Lake Island
Postcards from Munsonville: Granite Lake Island
Postcards from Munsonville: Miscellaneous Buildings
Postcards from Munsonville: Miscellaneous Buildings
Postcards from Munsonville: Munsonville Village
Postcards from Munsonville: Munsonville Village
Postcards from Munsonville: Twin Hills
Postcards from Munsonville: Twin Hills
Postcards from Munsonville: Water Views
Postcards from Munsonville: Water Views
Postcards from Nelson: Nelson Village
Postcards from Nelson: Nelson Village
Postcards from Tolman Pond
Postcards from Tolman Pond
Ralph Page’s Northern Junket
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.
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. "
E-4-6 In 1774 Reuben Wellman built a home on 3 acres of land in the town's northeast quarter that had been previously been cleared by Michael Woodcock. Mr. Woodcock had arrived from Stoughtonham, Massachusetts in about 1772 and then removed to Chesterfield two years later. It was not long before Reuben and his [...]
D-4-34 Born in Keene in 1807, Reuel moved to Nelson in about 1830 and seems to have worked for Henry Melville in his store. At the time of Henry’s death in 1838 the men had a partnership called Melville & Nims. Following his partner’s death, Nims formed a partnership with Henry’s son, Jonas, and purchased this lot and the land that is now occupied by the Nelson Common and the church. The new partnership built the three-story brick store in about 1840. Jonas lived in Jaffrey; Reuel was the active partner.
C-2-1 Brothers Richard, Absalom and John Farwell arrived in Packersfield from Marblehead, Massachusetts early. All were signers of the Association Test in April 1776. Richard saw service early in the Revolutionary War serving with his brother, Absalom at Bennington and Saratoga. Richard, the youngest of the three, bought 120 acres of land here [...]
Rick Church’s Tidbits
Rick Church has been plowing through old town records accessioned into our Town Archives and property records registered at the Cheshire County Registry of Deeds for many years now. Please see the posted articles that he has contributed to this town history website.
B-4-1. This is a beautifully preserved large cellar hole with extensive barns and paddock walls. Robert Sheldon, from Temple, New Hampshire settled here in 1795. Starting with 100 acres, and at age twenty-one, he built a farm of several hundred acres.
Roxbury is Born
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.
Roxbury Meeting House
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 [...]
Sally Minot Melville: A Woman of High Respect
“Sometime prior to 1792, Josiah Melville, the first of the family in Cheshire county, came to Packersfield with his wife, Sarah (Minot) to whom he was married January 28, 1790.” This entry in the Struther’s History of Nelson is all we would have known of Sarah (called Sally) Melville if not for the survival of two insightful reflections written after her death in 1811.
E-4-1 Samuel Adams built the first house here, moving here with his wife, Sarah Felt, and their oldest child, Sarah. As so many early settlers did, he came from Massachusetts after extensive service in the war. From his pension application we know he was” 5’ 5” tall and 28 years old” when he [...]
B-2-11 Samuel and Hannah (Minot) Derby moved to Derby Hill from Littleton, Massachusetts and brought most of their fifteen children with them. The Minot family were early investors in land in Monadnock Number Six. Hannah’s grandfather had purchased land in the town in 1759.
Samuel came to Packersfield in 1777 and built the house here. He married Susannah (Kidder) in 1781. The couple had two children before Susannah died in 1789.
F-2-2. Born in Boxborough, Massachusetts in 1765; he married Phoebe Teachout in early 1790. The couple moved to Packersfield from Williamstown, Massachusetts in the summer of 1790. Samuel grew his family (five children born in Packersfield) and his farm (almost 300 acres in the southeastern corner of the town by 1799. He sold in 1806 and moved briefly to Canada before settling in Chazy, New York where he died in 1831.
A-2-18 Samuel Heaton There are two cellar holes here. The one near the road is small (20x25’) and 150’ up the hill is a much grander one (36x45’.) This was first settled by Samuel Heaton prior to 1794 for in that year he sold it to Dr. Cooke Lott and moved to Keene. [...]
C-4-7 There is no trace of this cellar hole today, It was graded over when the current home was built on the property in the 1990’s. Samuel Hartshorn bought land here from Josiah Parker in 1819 and built a house. He sold the place back to Parker in 1822. Josiah’s son, Samuel, bought [...]
E-4-9 Samuel was one of the early physicians. He came to Packersfield in 1778 at the age of thirty-six bringing his wife and as many as seven of their children. He bought land and built a modest house on the south side of Osgood Hill. In 1791 he bought and moved to the [...]
Samuel Wadsworth Place
A-2-7 Samuel Wadsworth Place The land here was originally settled by Luther Heaton who bought it from his father in 1784. He built a house near here (A-2-6) where he lived with his wife, Joanna, until they sold the farm to his nephew, Samuel Wadsworth, and his wife Hulda (Heaton) Wadsworth. Samuel was [...]
D-2-11 Timothy Bancroft of Barnstable, Massachusetts bought the Right of Benjamin French (400 acres) in the southeast quarter of Monadnock #6 early. He sold 100 acres here in 1770 to his son, James. James acquired the balance of the French Right after his father’s death in 1780. James bult a board house here [...]
Saying Goodbye to a House
In October of 2020, the house most recently known as the Seaver house was torn down. In the year 2000 my husband and I were young, and we looked at that house that was old and alone and thought we would go pretty well together. I’m going to do my best to tell you a story of that house, but you’re going to have to hear it in the style of Paul, the last man to own it. Per his tradition, you won’t get any answer here about why the house had to come down, or what will happen next. Answers have to be earned by understanding how a thing matters in the grander scheme.
Brick school was built here and served the mill village of Munsonville until the Munsonville School as built in 1891.
B-3-15Packersfield established nine school districts in 1791 and raised 270 pounds with which to build them. The early schoolhouses were frame buildings completed sometime around 1795. They were replaced with brick ones in about 1820. This is the only original brick schoolhouse that still from that period. It was sold by the town in [...]
D-2-12 School #7 This was one of nine schools built by Nelson in 1789-1790. It served the families in the southeast quarter of the town and was located “on the road between Captain James Bancroft’s house and Dublin”. This one-room schoolhouse, originally built from wood, had perhaps as many as 40 students [...]
D-2-13 Eleazur Twitchell was one of the earliest settlers on Monadnock #6. He bought his first land here in 1769 and built the home here in 1772.The family was originally from Sherborn, Massachusetts. Though he built a log house here early, owned hundreds of acres (Including all of Harrisville Pond) and had 25 [...]
A possible resemblance to a service in the Nelson Meetinghouse. The Second Meetinghouse was built in 1786 when the town, then called Packersfield, replaced its original Meetinghouse with a magnificent one modeled on one in Wilton. The town of Hancock, in turn, modeled their new meetinghouse on Packersfield’s. It was forty-five by sixty [...]
Chris Salmon of Old Hancock Glassworks produced these medallions for the town's sestercentennial in 2017
D-3-9 Born in Southborough, Massachusetts in 1744, Shadrach Hill settled in Packersfield in 1776 buying 200 acres of land from John Estabrook. He moved from Framingham, Massachusetts where he served in the army fighting at Bunker Hill. He built the house here and moved his wife Ruth (Graves) and three young children. They [...]
C-4-10 The site of a shoe shop built as part of Stephen Harrington’s tannery works. Established prior to 1822 and continued as late as 1857.
C-3-7 Born in Westminster, Vermont, in 1785, Simon Goodell attended two courses of lectures in medicine at the Dartmouth College. In 1812 he was recruited to practice in Packersfield by some influential members of the community. One of those members, Josiah Melville, sold Dr. Goodell the property here in 1815 and he built [...]
Sledding on Tolman Hill
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)..........
Small Foundation Found at A-2-11
A-2-11 Unknown There is a small foundation with associated paddocks at this location. An extensive and well cultivated collection of fields surround the home site and a well-constructed road connects it to the main road. Samuel Wadsworth was told of this location, but never found it. He attributes it to Joshua Lawrence in about [...]
Social Contracts of the Early Settlers
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-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 [...]
F-5-2 Deacon Ingalls A short biography of Solomon can be found on page 93 of the pamphlet "Celebration by the town of Nelson" written and published for the town's 150th anniversary. Solomon and Mercy (Mary) Ingalls moved here from Andover, Massachusetts in 1783. Solomon had served several years with George Washington around New [...]
F-5-4 Solomon Kitteridge Solomon Kitteridge moved to Packersfield from Amherst, New Hampshire after service in the Revolutionary War. According to his pension records he served at Bunker Hill in 1775 and at “The Cedars” southwest of Montreal where he has taken prisoner. He was exchanged and reenlisted, fighting at the Battle of Bennington [...]
Some Songs from The Hotel Nelson
In 1997 and again in 2010, The Hotel Nelson, a musical theatre, was created by, for, and about the Town of Nelson. The original was researched, written, composed, acted and produced, under the direction and guidance of Larry Siegel. The later was revisited from that earlier performance with some new material.
Sophia Griffin’s Sampler
The cross-stitched sampler that Sophia Griffin created as an eleven-year-old girl in Packersfield in 1801 has come home to Nelson. This is a story of an old Nelson family; interest in family heritage and local history, the marvel of communication that the Internet can be and the generosity of Nancy and Ray Foster. [...]
Spring Cleaning (or An Empty Barn Full)
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!
Stephen Beard Jr.
B-4-12 The oldest son of Stephen and Sally Beard, Stephen was born in Packersfield in 1797 at E-3-9. His father died from the bite of a rabid dog when Stephen was just five. He acquired 3 ½ acres here on the road to Sullivan in 1829 from his cousin Dorcas (Beard) Stiles who lived nearby
F-5-10 Stephen Osborn There are foundations for two houses on this site within a few hundred feet of each other. They are what remains of homes built by Stephen Osborn beginning in 1799. Stephen Osborn was born in 1771 and married Rachael Baker of Marlborough in 1792. In approximately 1799 they moved to [...]
Stephen Osborn’s Sawmill
F-5-12 Stephen Osborn’s Sawmill Signage Along the Trail - credit: Kathy Stickley Mullen - 2020 Probably constructed in 1815, the mill sits beside a 25’ water fall in Bailey Brook. Charles Bemis’ unpublished notes on the history of Nelson “manufactures” written in 1913 states that the mill produced tool handles including [...]
E-4-15 Stephen and Mary Parker moved to Packersfield from New Ipswich, New Hampshire in 1778 when Stephen was forty. At one time owned extensive property on Osgood Hill. Stephen saw substantial service in the Revolutionary War. He seems to have had some financial difficulties, selling his land back to the mortgage holders eight [...]
Stories from the Old-Timers
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.
Sullivan is Born: The “Theft” of 3,200 Acres
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.
Suzanne (Vincent) Murray, an Interview
From Summer to Settler: This interview with Suzanne Murray, as enhanced by Tom Murray, is one of a series of interviews conducted by Tom Murray, her son. He is especially interested in talking with people who became “year-round people” after having spent time in Nelson as “summer people.”
B-4-7: This site is popularly called “Taylor Mill” because Frederick Taylor was its last operator from 1841 until well past the Civil War. When Monadnock #6 was settled, there were a number of small mills built on small but reliable brooks to furnish early settlers with the means of grinding their grain into flour and sawing lumber into boards to build the early homes. More specialized mills followed. Taylor mill was one of the later ones, built by Thaddeus Barker, the youngest child of William Barker, in 1799.
B-4-4 The cabinet maker’s home: Thaddeus Barker built the house here when he established the mill at B-4-7 in 1798. This house was the mill owner’s home until 1845.
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.
The Bailey Place
E-3-7 The Bailey Place This small house was built in 1933 on the foundation of Ebenezer Tolman’s second house in Packersfield. Ebenezer was a housewright and built three houses in the area between Tolman Pond and Nubanusit Pond when he first arrived. He built here in 1800 and lived here for five years. [...]
The Bancroft Mill
E-2-5 The Bancroft Mill site today As early as 1830 Joel Bancroft built a sawmill at the outlet of the Great Meadow. The elaborate foundation including a dry-stone arch and mill raceways can still be seen today. In the late 1850’s the mill had been sold to the Sheldon and Tolman [...]
The Banks Place
A-2-20 The Banks Place Rutland, Massachusetts provided many of the early settlers of this part of Packersfield. James Banks of Rutland built the place with its neighboring barn in about 1780. His son, William, succeeded in 1807. Deacon Reuben Phillips and his wife Rebecca bought the place in 1836. They raised 14 children [...]
The Bassett Place
A-2-9 The Bassett Place There are two cellar holes here. The one near the road is small (20x25’) and 150’ up the hill is a much grander one (36x45’.) This was first settled by Samuel Heaton prior to 1794 for in that year he sold it to Dr. Cooke Lott and moved to [...]
The Blood Farm
E-2-1 Jesse and Lydia (Parker) Wright moved to Packersfield from Woburn, Massachusetts in 1780. Their initial lot was 104 acres, the common size for an uncleared lot. That year they built a house at E-2-1. There were here 13 years before they acquired additional property to the south and built a much larger [...]
The Burnap Farm
D-4-2 Noah Hardy built the cape cod style house on 100 acres of land here in 1785. He came from Hollis, New Hampshire. His last enlistment (1780) was from Packersfield. It is not clear where he might have resided prior to 1785. He sold a small piece on the brook to Thomas K. [...]
The Center School (reflections from this student)
There were as many as seven one-room schoolhouses, of which the current Nelson town office (known as the Brick Schoolhouse) served as one, in Nelson from 1838 through the spring of 1945. Ethan Tolman submitted this article in January, 2019, shortly before he died on February 20 of that year. At the end of the very cold day, the other children left to walk home. Miss Stewart and I waited, and waited, as she got more nervous. "Well, Ethan," she said, "let's call your house." So, we walked next door to the Quigley's (where the library is now) and found Mrs. Quigley on the phone to Gordon, who had called. Fortunately, the Quigleys had recently got a phone – I think by only a few months. (None were installed during the war, of course.) His information was that the car would not start, and he had been unable to contact anyone who was both home and whose car would start. So, Miss Stewart and I set out for home. By the time we got to Tolman Pond we were both cold, and Miss Stewart suggested we go in and get warm. So, we went in, Sadie (Barry Tolman’s grandmother) gave us a hot drink and a fresh off-the-stove doughnut, and we soon were ready to head home, where my mother did much the same. Finally, someone thought to look at the temperature: minus 36 degrees F. That's the coldest I have seen in Nelson.
The Chandler Place
E-4-2 The Chandler Place Peter Chandler was born in Andover, Massachusetts in 1755 and moved to Packersfield with his wife, May, from Wilton after service in the Revolution. His pension application states that he enlisted in 1775 and served until May of 1780. He “received a wound through the body by a musket [...]
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. [...]
The Chieftains and the Nelson Village Dancers
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.
The Confabulous Floppy Tolman and Her Confabulations
Did you know Floppy Tolman? If you don’t you might like to. Maybe you have heard of her “confabulations,” the whimsical creations made of such practical discards as watch parts and buildings scraps. Or maybe you knew Floppy. If you do you knew someone special.
The Cotton Factory in Munsonville
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.
The Dogs of Nelson
Among the many interesting items I discovered while organizing the Nelson town archives was a slim volume entitled “Registry of Dogs.” My original intent was to compare dog’s names of 100 years ago with contemporary ones. So, I kept a mental note of it, deciding then to take a closer look later when time afforded it.
The Eames Place
A-2-10 The Eames Place John Estabrook of Rutland, Massachusetts bought the land here from Breed Batchellor in late 1774. He probably built the house the following year. He signed the Association Test in 1776. He sold the place to Daniel Estabrook, probably a son, in 1784. He sold it to Robert Eames from [...]
The Grapevine: An Attempt in Nelson to Keep the Citizens Informed
If an informed citizenry is the best basis for democracy, Nelson has certainly become one of the most democratic places in the world.
The Graphite Mines 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...
The High Drive Concert
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.
The Hunting Farm
D-4-1 The Hunting Farm Charles Rice came to Packersfield from Sudbury, Massachusetts after service in the Revolutionary War and built a house on the 38-acre property. He sold the property in 1786 to his neighbor to the west, William Barker (C-4-1) and, likely, continued to live there until 1791. That year he moved [...]
The Jonas Davis Farm
D-4-4 Jonas Davis: Jonas Davis bought 100 acres of land here in 1778. He served in the Revolution from Rutland, Massachusetts responding to the Lexington Alarm and serving several enlistments as late as the end of 1777. In 1783 bought an additional 50 acres, married Hannah Woods and built this house. Their first [...]
The Kimball Place
C-3-16 David Kimball came from Boxford, Massachusetts. He bought 100 acres in the original right of Alexander Parke JR. in 1784. The property was 100 acres and would eventually hold three houses. David Kimball saw much service in the Revolutionary first answering the call at Lexington in 1775, then only fifteen. He went [...]
The Kittredge Farm
C-4-3 Joshua Kittredge (also Kitteridge) married Solomon and Tabitha Kittredge's daughter Lydia on November 29, 1787 in Amherst, New Hampshire. They had three daughters, then she died. He remarried Beulah Baker on June 10, 1796. The following year he built a much larger house here using lumber he milled himself. [...]
The Management of Early Schools
While school districts were largely self-governing, they were subject to town oversight and a growing body of state regulation on the qualifications of teachers. There were two bodies established during this period to oversee the operation of Nelson’s schools: The Prudential Committee and the Superintending Committee. These committees seem not to have existed [...]
The Nelson Congregational Church
At the first town meeting held in 1772, it was voted to build a meetinghouse on a lot designated for that purpose in the center of the town. It was a simple log building, twenty-five by thirty feet, described by Rev. Edwin N. Hardy as “roughly constructed, unpainted, unheated and unadorned.”
The Nelson Cotton and Woolen Company
C-5-18 - The Nelson Cotton & Woolen Company was formed by Asa Beard, Amos Heald, Pious Burnap and Andrew Harris in 1814.
The Nelson Town Hall Front Door
In 2013, the Town of Nelson received a grant from the State of New Hampshire’s Division of Historical Resources Moose Plate Program “to repair the historic windows and front door of the Nelson Town Hall.” The door was taken apart and each piece was studied, dissected, stripped, repaired, primed and painted. Here are excerpts from an example of the scrutiny that each piece received.
The Nelson Town Hall Over the Years
D-4-18: Reuel Nims gave land here to the Town of Nelson if it would, at its own expense, erect a 34×48’ meeting house, Nims to get full use of the basement as a store house. The Congregational Church had given up its use of the Second Meeting House on the hill above the village and built its own church at D-4-11. The old second meeting house, 45 x 60’ and built in the period 1786- 1790 was disassembled and parts of it used to construct our current Town Hall. Sometime after fire destroyed Nims’ store, the tall basement Nims had used for storage was lowered to create the building we have today.
The Newell Mine
In 1851 brothers Silas, Edward, and Payson French leased mining rights on the Newell property from Oliver and Gad Newell. But the veins were narrow and short, and the deposit was probably worked out by 1855.
The Old Water Cooler
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?
The Osgood Farm
B-5-2 The Osgood Farm Levi Warren purchased 100 acres here from Thomas Packer (III) in 1790 and probably built a house. Struthers writes that Warren lived here; he is listed in the 1790 census as a Packersfield resident. The Rev. Seward, in his Sullivan History, credits the house to Nathaniel Osgood. The current [...]
The Osgood Mine
D-4-9 The Osgood graphite veins were discovered in 1848 and property owner Horatio Osgood leased them to Moses Carleton of Lancaster, Massachusetts. Two years later, Carlleton sublet them to J. and J. Seabury, a New York mining company; Jacob Seabury also bought the Town Farm Mine in 1858.
The Osgood Place
C-4-13 This two-story brick house was built by Abel Richardson about 1815. We know little about this energetic early citizen. He operated the mill at D-4-7 then lived and may have operated a tavern at D-3-11 before building this brick home on a hill in 1815. He seems not to be related to [...]
The Parmenter Mill
E-2-6 In 1856 Joel Bancroft sold 85 acres here to Appleton Parmenter. The site included a good mill site just downstream from the Bancroft sawmill. Parmenter built a saw and grist mill here. In 1864 he sold the mill to his brother, Isaac, from Brooklyn, New York. Sometime later the mill was sold [...]
The Pennsylvania Settlement Gallery
A gallery of the paintings of Marie Spaeth, from Teri Upton's "The Pennsylvania Settlement
The Poland Place
D-3-8 Known today as the Poland Place it was originally part of David Beard’s farm and, for a time owned by his son, Asa. The modest house here was probably built by Asa around 1815. He soon got involved building the mill at the outlet of Granite Lake and building a larger house [...]
The Power of Water: Munsonville, New Hampshire, from 1850 to 1950
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.
The Priest Farm
E-4-5 This cellar hole, the remains of a house built by Jeremiah Barrett in about 1775 is on the side of Green Gate Road, a private road today. Jeremiah Barrett, from Ashburnham, Massachusetts, bought the land here late in 1774 and probably built the house in 1775. He was here before moving to [...]
The Razey House
D-2-7 The Razey House: This is a small cellar hole just a few hundred feet from Childs Bog. It is identified as the “Razey House” on the 1858 County Map, but not in the 1877 map.
The Reverend Gad Newell
D-3-4 Born on Southington, Connecticut in 1763, Gad Newell was the second minister called by Packersfield and the longest serving, He trained for the ministry at Yale and was serving a congregation in Berwick, Maine when he got the call to Packersfield in 1794. Upon arrival he lived at D-3-11 while he built [...]
The Sawmills of Mosquitobush, 1850-1940
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.
The Sawyer Family Provides for Old Age and Succession
Families moving to a frontier town like Packersfield employed a number of strategies to sustain themselves. They often came with others they knew from their hometowns and settled near one another in their new home. Often those clusters of new arrivals were related. In the second generation they often took steps to keep the farm in the family and provide for their old age. The Sawyer Family who settled in the northeast corner of Packersfield did all of these things.
The Seaver Place
C-1-4 Nathaniel Breed JR. Acquired the property and its grist mill (C-1-3) in 1782. He was the oldest child of Nathaniel and Anne Knowles Breed and came to Monadnock #6 with his parents in 1767 at the age of fourteen. The Breeds lived at D-4-7 until 1782 when Daniel SR moved to New [...]
The Stoddard Farm
C-3-2 The place was first settled in about 1774 by Thomas Upham, an earlier settler of Packersfield who had pioneered at D-5-6. He probably built the house before moving to Wilton in 1777. The Stoddard Family in the form of Richard and Rachael from Templeton, Massachusetts bought it from him. . Richard features [...]
The Story Farm
E-4-4 The place known today as the Story Farm is a substantial cellar hole on the north side of Greengate Road and a barn foundation across the road. The place was settled prior to 1774 by Abraham Griffith who bought 100 acres here and had cleared 12 acres and built a log cabin [...]
The Story of Nehemiah Flint
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.
The Taft Place
C-4-18 Nathan JR married Sarah Barstow in 1825 with whom he had three children. Sarah died in 1828 and Nathan remarried Achsah Hardy with whom he had three more children including Edward who served in the Civil War and was killed at the Battle of Williamsburg in 1862.
The Tolman Farmhouse
The original settler of the land on the north end of Tolman Pond [then Little Pond, later, Byrant Pond] was Jabez Grover who built the house at E-3-13 just up the hill. We lack deeds to definitively determine who built this house and when it was built, but a brick in the central chimney has “1791” inscribed into it and there’s no reason to doubt that date.
The Tolman Mill
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 Town Farm Mine
C-3-17 This graphite deposit was discovered in 1853 on what was then the 156-acre Nelson Town Farm, and the selectmen were quickly authorized to sell the mining rights. The S. C. Griffin Company had a lease on the graphite veins as early as 1855; Parke Struthers (1968) reported that the Griffin company showed [...]
The Village Blacksmith
D-4-17 Part of the new village of Nelson Center laid out in 1839 was a blacksmith shop at the junction of the road to Harrisville and the road to Hancock. With its coal fired hearth, it was probably located at the edge of the village on purpose.
The Wilson Mill:
D-4-22 The Wilson Mill: Situated at the outlet of White Pond today is a very large stone dam, a ruined concrete gate and spillway and numerous stone piers that held the structures of the mills here from 1796 to the end of the 19th century.
One of the oldest standing houses in Nelson, this small cape has been repaired numerous times, but the frame and many of the sawn boards from the c. 1775 home of John Morse still survive.
E-1-1 Thomas Butterfield A modest cellar hole today, this place was the early home of Thomas Butterfield. We know little about his origins. He came prior to 1780 as that year, and for several thereafter, he held Packersfield town offices including selectman in 1780. In 1787 he married Hulda (Heaton) Wadsworth, the widow [...]
E-5-6 Thomas Holt was the oldest son of Daniel Holt and married Polly Bevens in early 1785. They moved to his father’s house in Packersfield (E-4-3) in 1785 and welcomed their first child the same year. A tanner by trade and part of the Holt family from Andover, Massachusetts, Thomas Holt bought the [...]
Thomas Knowles Breed
D-3-11: Thomas was the 3rd son of Nathaniel and Ann Breed born in Sudbury, Massachusetts in 1761. He came to Monadnock #6 with his parents in 1768. He was an entrepreneur. He bought Nelson’ s first meeting house in 1788 and moved it to this location.Today, a well marks the site of what was once a home, store and tavern.
Thomas Knowles Breed, Fuller:
D-4-3: Thomas was the 3rd son of Nathaniel and Ann Breed born in Sudbury, Massachusetts in 1761. He came to Monadnock #6 with his parents in 1768. After leaving home, he established himself at D-3-11 where he may have operated a small tavern and inn. He lived here while he operated the fulling [...]
Thomas Reed came to Packersfield, Massachusetts with his wife, Phoebe (Wright) Reed in about 1796 when he bought 100 acres from Timothy Fox.
D-3-12: It seems clear from the early deeds that Thomas Richardson lived in this approximate location though nothing physical remains to suggest it. He first moved to Packersfield in 1784 buying almost 200 acres from Shadrack Hill.
C-5-1 Thomas Russell Thomas and Daniel Russell bought 40 acres here on Felt Hill in 1798 and built a small house. Russell sold the place in 1809 to Dr. Francis Appleton of Dublin. It is not certain that Appleton lived in the house. In 1831 the place was annexed to the Jerry Felt [...]
D-5-6 Little remains of this home site. It was graded in when a large field was cleared recently. Thomas Upham was one of the earliest settlers on Monadnock Number Six arriving in 1769. By the settlement survey of 1773, he had 18 acres cleared, a pole hose built and his family living there. [...]
Thomas Wood Gurler
C-1-2 Thomas Wood Gurler Thomas was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts in 1775 and came to Packersfield with his parents, Nicholas and Betsy (Scripture) Gurler immediately after the Revolutionary War. Nicholas, Thomas' father, died in Packersfield in 1785 and the young Thomas went to live with Samuel Griffin’s family at (D-3-6) where he later would [...]
Tilly Moors Davis
B-3-1 Tilly Moors Davis Purchased three acres of land here from his father, Alpheus Davis (B-3-2) in 1819. He was a fiddler who played for dances. Tragedy struck when his son, Jarvis, drowned in Woodward Pond in 1826. He moved to Langdon. The house was abandoned by 1835.
E-2-3 By Magicpiano - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, on Wikipedia This house is in what is now Harrisville, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Timothy Bancroft is believed to have built the ell of this house in about 1785; the larger main block was probably added in [...]
C-5-2 Timothy Pierce Timothy Pierce: He came from Wilton, New Hampshire and bought 35 acres here in 1788. Built a modest house on the west side of the road to Stoddard just south of the Stoddard line. Sold the place to his neighbor, Martin Lawrence in 1794. Martin probably lived here until i797 [...]
Timothy Russell Buxton
Owned today by the Guida family, this is an old Nelson house that has been more or less constantly inhabited since 1800. Many repairs have never-the-less left some of the original structure in place.
This block print of Fran’s – as a work of “art” – is both typical, and terrible. Look at all those legs, table and human. Which is which? Are there enough to go around? I haven’t counted yet.
D-4-20 Town Pound There have been two town pounds on this location. Nelson’s first pound was built at the same time as the meetinghouse (1773) and almost directly across the road from it. This suggests they were of similar importance in the early function of the community. It was a twenty-foot-square stonewall six [...]
D-3-2 Town Pound The third pound established in Nelson. It was a replacement for the earlier one at D-4-20 built by vote of the town in 1795: “build a pound of stone 35’ square the committee to recommend the height of the walls. Voted to set the pound in Capt. Ezra Smith’s pasture [...]
Town Pounds Overview
New England’s ancient Town Pounds are seen near the center of most towns even today. Substantial, square and made of large stones, town pounds are New England’s most enduring and emblematic features of our agrarian past. Most towns have one that survives; Nelson has two! They were built to hold the largest and most agile of domestic animals in temporary custody, protecting crops and precious cows, pigs, horses, sheep, oxen, etc until their owners could recover them.
Traditions on Ice
This year, the pond in my front yard froze over on November 15, a full three weeks before the deeper, clearer, windier lakes in the area. Our pond is a small, shallow puddle ringed by a protective army of white pines.
What’s Up with these Old Photographs?
Postcards of these photos are available at the Harrisville General Store (Harrisville, NH) and at various town events. A load of basket-seat porch rockers, the L.J. Colony Chair Factory in Munsonville (NH), c. 1880. Early view of Nelson (NH) village including school (center), an elevated Town Hall and church. Look at [...]
Whitcomb’s Blacksmith shop
D-4-10 Whitcomb’s Blacksmith Shop Levi Whitcomb bought the land just up the brook from the road in 1786 from Jonas Davis (D-4-4). He moved to Nelson following his marriage in Templeton, Massachusetts on the 4th of December 1786 to Hannah Baker and opened a smithy on the land. Parke Struthers writes that Whitcomb [...]
B-4-9 Willard Jewett bought the old Henry Wheeler farm (B-4-6) in 1836. In 1844 he sold two acres at the junction of the new road from Nelson to Sullivan and the Keene to Concord Road to Alanson and Olive (Beverstock) Bingham of Alstead. They built the house here and moved in with their [...]
C-4-16 This small cellar hole was, likely, a cabin built by Richard Newton in 1770. Newton appears in Breed Batchellor’s report of settlers who has left Monadnock Number Six by 1773. Newton was one of many early settlers who cleared land and built cabins with no clear title to the property. He had [...]
William Barker 2
C-4-11 William Barker moved to Nelson in 1779 and, occupied the farm first cleared by Richard Newton (C-4-16). There is no deed evidence of his purchase of lot #3, range 12 in the Northeast Quarter, but road records and a subsequent transfer of a half interest to his son, Leonard, are proof that [...]
B-3-11 William Beal William Beal seems to have come to Packersfield before 1772. He succeeded as miller at the grist mill (at the outlet of Pleasant Pond (now Silver Lake, C-1-3)) succeeding Daniel Wood as operator. In 1785 he left the mill and moved to this location to begin his life as a [...]
C-5-9 William Dewey The area just east of Granite Lake had a number of small farms established around 1800. William Dewey bought this land in 1805 and built a house. He wasn’t here long selling the place to Jesse Bennett of Ashby, Massachusetts in 1810. He was there two years before moving back [...]
William Orville Upton
D-4-27 Upton bought the former Jonas Davis farm and replaced the original Davis farmhouse which was slightly further up the hill.
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. [...]
C-5-6 There is a modest cellar hole and barn foundations at his site. Joseph Felt bought this lot in 1779 and probably built the house. William Priest came to Packersfield the same year after service in the Revolutionary War. He enlisted from Temple, New Hampshire, but appears to have come originally from Walpole. [...]
William S. Buckminster
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 [...]
E-4-14 A barn on the Archaelous Wilson farm.
B-4-10: Winslow was the third son of Philip Atwood II and his wife Eunice. Philip and Eunice seem to have left their old house at C-4-19 sometime prior to 1858 and built here. They died in 1867 (Philip) and 1871 (Eunice) and are buried in the Village Cemetery. Their son Winslow may have built the house here around 1858.
Woodward Pond Mill
B-2-1 Woodward Pond Mill We know of the existence of a mill here prior to 1788 because of a road laid out by the Town of Packersfield in November of that year as follows: “Voted to accept of a road laid out December 3, 1788 beginning at a hemlock stump marked on the [...]
Working from Home
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 [...]