Rodger M. Tolman

Newsletter
Chesham, Harrisville, Munsonville & Nelson, New Hampshire
April 1983

The author with a load of logs

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. When household industries were concentrated in factories remote from the home, then the farmer-manufacturer was forced out of business.

Attempts to revive manufacturing were made with the State Agricultural Fairs. There were always classes for the household manufacturer, and in most, the Nelson entries were awarded prizes. New Hampshire Senator Isaac Hill complained in 1832, that there was “no longer…that profitable and wholesome employment, which was so highly beneficial to the prosperity and to the morals of the whole community.”

In driving from Harrisville toward Tolman Pond, and taking the third road leading to our right towards Nubanusit, and continuing to the end of this road we have come to the site of the old Tolman mills. All that remains of these buildings and reminders of past activities are three neglected dams and several building foundations.

In walking beside these old landmarks or by the stream supplying power, we can envision a fairly good picture of these enterprises in years past. Originally this included the upper factory and the lower saw mill. The upper factory is shown on an 1850 map as follows: Sheldon and Tolman’s Clothes & Rolling Pin Factory.

The Tolman mentioned in this map was my grandfather, Eben C. Tolman, who lived from 1831 to 1903. This factory was destroyed by fire in 1874. Near this site can still be seen parts of the foundation stones of the boarding house where workers in the factory once lived.  Also up-stream there still remains the fieldstone portion of the factory dam, which probably supported a planked section with water gates controlling the flow of water. In the remaining stone section there still exists a perfect stone archway and, though it was built without cement, it has survived torrents of water passing through and the pounding of spring ice blocks for over one hundred years.

The lower saw mill was owned and operated by my grandfather and later by my father, Wilmer C. Tolman, who lived from 1870 to 1953. The Tolman sawmill was much like many others in adjoining towns, most of which had at least three or four water powered mills. The mill yard was filled with logs during the winter months and taken as needed to the so-called “ways”, which were huge timbers extending from well outside the mill to the carriage which fed logs through the big saw. Slabs and boards fell onto a bed of wooden rollers and were taken either to a cut-off saw or piled in front of a large planer (or surfacer). Also on this floor level was a shingle saw and a dado head machine for making matched or groove and tongued lumber and a variety of other shapes. Near the cut-off saw, just inside the mill, was a small car mounted on oak rails extending well out through the mill yard. When heavily loaded with lumber or slabs, it could easily be pushed outside by one man, where its load could be stacked or loaded on wagons for delivery.

A load of logs for the mill at Mosquitobush

On the floor beneath were a few items of equipment including a small planer for planning  short pieces of lumber such as clapboards and, for many years, cloth boards which were sold to the Cheshire Mills in Harrisville for winding bolts of cloth until a removable and reusable device replaced the use of cloth boards.

The mill pond dam included a wooden strainer, through which water flowed into a large flue under the mill. Sides of the flume were made of heavy wide planks, each plank being laid flat and spiked to the one beneath, and at the corners of the flume these planks were crossed alternately to provide added strength against water pressure.

At the lower end of the flume was a monstrous cast iron object, which resembled a large old fashioned heating furnace in size and shape. This was simply the casing in which the power unit functioned as was known as a Four Wheel Down Draft Water Turbine. I was told that this machine was built and installed by Mr. John Humphrey, who operated a foundry in Keene and was regarded as an expert in hydraulic engineering.

Above the casing of the power unit a shaft extended above the floor, near the big saw, and capped with a hand wheel used to start and stop all mill machines. A shaft of about three inches in diameter extended through the side of the flume to a huge pulley which in turn transferred power through line shafts, pulleys and belts to all the machines in the mill.

Incidentally, the main shaft supplying the power from the turbine through the side of the flume, required a bearing inside the flume. Obviously, any metal bearing constantly under water pressure could not be lubricated with any lubricant except water. So the bearing was made of an oriental wood, one of the hardest and toughest known woods, called lignam vitae, installed with its end grain in contact with the shaft. It was amazing to me that this device withstood friction from the shaft with no indication of wear over a period of a great many years.

The old Tolman mill was discontinued and dismantled at my father’s request in 1951 and 1952.

See also The Sawmills of Moquitobush, written by Bee Tolman in 2007.

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A-2-11

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B-3-14

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Early Meetinghouses

D-3-16 Early Meetinghouses Towns granted by the Masonian Proprietors were required to build a meetinghouse for religious and public purposes. Therefore, called a “duty” meetinghouse, Monadnock #6 built a 25 x 30’ frame building that was 8 ½ feet high at the eaves. This was authorized at a proprietors meeting held at Breed Batchellor’s house in [...]

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Eleazur Hawthorn 

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Ezra Sheldon

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 ("Sally") Day of [...]

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. They were to [...]

Ezra Wilder

B-5-4 Ezra Wilder was born in Sullivan in 1813 bought land here from John Osgood and built the house. On 09 January 1845 he married Elizabeth Saville Hathorn of Henniker. The couple began to build a large family farm and would become the parents of eight or nine children. In 1888 he sold the homestead to his [...]

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.

By |October 30th, 2016|Categories: 1751 - 1800, 1801 - 1850, Rick Church, Roads and Trails|0 Comments

First Meetinghouse

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.

By |October 24th, 2018|Categories: 1751 - 1800, Churches, Government, Rick Church|0 Comments

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.

By |January 18th, 2017|Categories: 1901 - 1950, How People Lived, Meg Cline, Profiles|0 Comments

Foster’s Dismissal

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 721.  The census [...]

By |December 13th, 2020|Categories: 1751 - 1800, Churches, Rick Church|0 Comments

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 the first settled [...]

By |December 13th, 2020|Categories: 1751 - 1800, Churches, Rick Church|0 Comments

Frank’s Kitchen

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.

By |December 1st, 2016|Categories: 2000 - present, How People Lived, Karen Tolman, Profiles, Stories|0 Comments

Fulling Mill

D-4-13 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 brook in 1794 for about [...]

George Tolman

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. In 1815 he [...]

Goodenow’s Mill

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 saw pine and [...]

Greengate

E-4-17 formerly the Samuel Adams Farm Our earlier article about this property ended with the owners leaving the property and the town taking ownership sometime after 1814. The course of ownership is not known until 1904, when William S. Hall bought the old Samuel Adams Farm from Wilmer Tolman.  The old Adams home was certainly gone [...]

Harrington Brickyard and Tannery

C-4-15 Harrington Brickyard Stephen Harrington purchased part of the Burnap Farm from John Burnap in 1802. He clearly intended to develop business enterprises there as the purchase included lots that contain the foundation of the tannery (C-4-8), a shoe shop (C-4-6) and the site of a bark mill (C-4-9) in the southeast corner of Nelson Road [...]

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.

By |December 24th, 2016|Categories: 1901 - 1950, Farms and Forests, How People Lived, Renn Tolman, Stories|0 Comments

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.

By |December 14th, 2020|Categories: Life in Nelson, Rick Church, Schools|0 Comments

Henry Wheeler

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; his wife, Dorcas Beard, lived there after him until just before her death. Willard Jewett married his [...]

Holt Family

C-4-6 The Holt Family Joseph Stiles acquired the property from his father in late 1792. The record of the road layout that year indicates that the house had been built by Joseph, but before the actual purchase, probably 1791. Stiles sold it to Samuel Holt and it would continue in the Holt family until the early [...]

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.

By |January 7th, 2017|Categories: 1851 - 1900, 1901 - 1950, Bert Wingerson, Edwin Noah Hardy|0 Comments

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!

By |January 24th, 2017|Categories: 1851 - 1900, Bert Wingerson, Industry, Library|0 Comments

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.

By |January 7th, 2017|Categories: 1801 - 1850, 1851 - 1900, Floppy Tolman, Schools|0 Comments

Isaac Brown

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 one barley corn.”  [...]

Isaac Davis

A-2-5 Isaac Davis Isaac and Mary Davis, moved from Rutland, Massachusetts in 1782 after Isaac had served a number of enlistments in the Revolutionary War including the Battle of Bennington. They lived here until their deaths in 1836 (Isaac) and 1837 (Mary). They were followed by their son, Isaac, who lived there until his death in [...]

Isaac Jewett

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, and moved here, [...]

Ithamar Smith

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 the governor in [...]

Jacob Wheeler

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 family with his [...]

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 parents, David and [...]

James Bancroft

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 sold D-3-11 to [...]

James Blanchard

F-2-3 James Blanchard In the 1773 surveys, James Blanchard was recorded as having built a cabin and having cleared 8 acres. Blanchard came from a prominent Portsmouth family which at one time owned the entire southeast quarter of Packersfield. His father was one of Packersfield’s founding proprietors. This may be the site of that cabin. The [...]

James Field

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 only record we [...]

James French

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 here from E-4-9. [...]

James Kimball

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.  James and Hannah [...]

James Phillips

A-2-16 James Phillips James Phillips Came from Rutland, Massachusetts and had cleared 7 acres of land and built a pole house by 1774. Built a frame house soon after and was succeeded by his brother, Gideon Phillips in 1792. In 1827 Gideon sold it to Gideon Newcombe and his widow sold it after Gideon’s death in [...]

Jason Harris

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 December 1812. The [...]

Jeremiah Barrett

D-1-1 Jeremiah Barrett This 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 thence [...]

Jesse Wright

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 were here 13 [...]

John Adams

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 road from the [...]

John Boynton

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 sold part of [...]

John Breed

D-4-6 Part of the original Nathaniel Breed farm. John Breed bought this from his brother, Nathaniel breed JR. in 1780 and built the house there.  He lived there until he sold it to John Osgood as part of that man’s consolidation of his holdings of Osgood Hill to pasture sheep. Sources say that Abijah Brown (John’s [...]

John Brown

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 may have built [...]

John Buxton Jr.

B-5-6 The history of this site is somewhat difficult to determine. It is identified in A History of the Town of Sullivan, New Hampshire as a “barn on the Buxton Farm.” The foundation is clearly that of a house with a well and a chimney base. There is a barn foundation about 200 feet to the [...]

John Farwell

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 call for volunteers [...]

John French

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 Ezra Sheldon who [...]

John Osgood

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 the “buildings thereon.” [...]

John Richardson

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 and is buried [...]

John Sprague

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. Their third son, [...]

John White

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 extensive account of [...]

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 soon after. He [...]

Jonathan Haild

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 bought the southern [...]

Jonathan Lovejoy

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 the village cemetery. [...]

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 occupied it until [...]

Jonathan Nichols

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 November of 1774 [...]

Joseph Briant

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 Oliver Wright, a [...]

Joseph Brown

B-2-3 Joseph Brown Thought by Wadsworth to be an outbuilding in the William Parker Farm, it was more likely the home of Joseph Brown who purchased several lots in this part of Packersfield in 1788. He sold part of the property to William Parker and the balance, in 1793, to two Boston Merchants, Wilson Pratt and [...]

Joseph Felt

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 shows that he [...]

Joseph Felt JR

B-4-5 Joseph Felt Jr. Joseph Felt Jr. was part of the numerous Felt family that moved to Packersfield after the Revolution. They came from Lynn, Massachusetts. Joseph bought the property at B-4-5 from Stephen Harrington in 1816, but didn’t petition for a road to connect him to the center of town until 1822 when a bridle path [...]

Joseph Stanhope

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 age. Together the [...]

Joshua Felt

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 the thigh at [...]

Joshua Kittredge

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 and then sold [...]

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 it to Alpheus [...]

Josiah Billings

A-2-1 Josiah Billings Nelson’s first resident. “Site of a small building said to have been erected by Josiah Billings before Breed Batchellor settled at K-4-7. [A-2-2] The occupant ran away leaving the house and contents which Mr. Batchellor occupied and appropriated.” Mr. Billings whereabouts were not entirely unknown at the time; deeds in the 1770’s to [...]

Josiah Flint

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 for 999 years [...]

Josiah Parker

C-4-19 This is the approximate location of the Josiah Parker homestead. The site is now 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 first child, [...]

Josiah Robbins

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, built a modest [...]

Josiah Robbins

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 1812 and moved [...]

Josiah Whitney

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 160-acre farm to [...]

Josiah Woodward

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 M. Woodward. Sally [...]

Kingsbury

A-2-13 The Kingsbury Place This is a grand cellar hole today with nicely cut granite in its walls. It sits on a hill overlooking and just south of Otter Brook. James Clark was likely the first to build on this site in 1787. The first settler was actually Henry Bemis who built a log cabin at [...]

Ladies Braid

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.

By |January 7th, 2017|Categories: 1951 - 2000, Cultural Organizations, Floppy Tolman, Stories|0 Comments

Lead Mine Farm

C-3-4 This beautiful example of an early Nelson home is probably best known for its service at 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 from Lynn Massachusetts, probably [...]

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 later. [...]

Levi Wilder

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 four children before [...]

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.

By |January 4th, 2017|Categories: How People Lived, Karen Tolman, Nelson Town Hall Programs, Photos, Stories, Video|0 Comments

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.

By |October 25th, 2018|Categories: 1751 - 1800, 1801 - 1850, Biographies, Government, How People Lived, Rick Church|0 Comments

Luther Heaton

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 moved into a [...]

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 Luther and Joanna [...]

Lyman Stone

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. That home was [...]

Martin Lawrence

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 and turned his [...]

Melville Farm

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 Sudbury, Massachusetts [...]

Melville Store

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 1787 to 1792 [...]

Munsonville School

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 three additions over [...]

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 to the right [...]

By |December 22nd, 2020|Categories: All, Contra Dancing, Music, Musicians, Nelson Town Hall, Video|0 Comments

Nathan Wesson

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 1782 and left [...]

Nathaniel Barrett

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 who built [...]

Nathaniel Woods

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 turn. In 1839, [...]

Nehemiah Rand: 

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 the common. For [...]

Nehemiah Wright

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 Cook Lot) from [...]

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 purchased by the [...]

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.

By |January 18th, 2017|Categories: Farms and Forests, Pre 1750, Rick Church, The Land and Its Settlement|0 Comments

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 still in Covid [...]

By |December 6th, 2020|Categories: Video|0 Comments

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.

By |January 15th, 2017|Categories: 1851 - 1900, How People Lived, Military, Parke Struthers, Profiles|0 Comments

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.

By |January 28th, 2017|Categories: 1901 - 1950, Ralph Page, Stories|0 Comments

Nurse Place

B-2-9 Nurse Place 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 and [...]

Oliver Whitney

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, [...]

Oliver Wright

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 the twentieth century. [...]

Orrel P. Atwood

B-4-9 Orrel P. Atwood bought 12 acres here in 1853 from Nathan Taft JR. He was the 4th child of Phillip and Eunice Farwell Atwood, born in 1822. Orrel married Sarah Weston in 1848. Between 1851 and her death in 1856 the couple had for children and bult the house here. After her death Orrell married  Elvira [...]

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.

By |January 6th, 2017|Categories: Henry Putzel, Writers|0 Comments

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.

By |January 6th, 2017|Categories: Henry Putzel, Writers|0 Comments

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.

By |January 6th, 2017|Categories: Henry Putzel, Writers|0 Comments

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 at D-4-12. He [...]

Party Lines

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!

By |November 30th, 2016|Categories: 1951 - 2000, How People Lived, Karen Tolman, Stories|0 Comments

Peletiah Day

E-5-7 The Peletiah Day Place This is the oldest standing house in Nelson. The original settler on this place was John Proute who is listed in Breed Batchellor’s list of settlers in 1773. He arrived in 1770 with his family of four and had cleared 16 acres by 1773. He probably originally built a log cabin. [...]

Pests

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.

By |January 7th, 2017|Categories: Floppy Tolman, Government, Stories|0 Comments

Philip Atwood

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 all of the [...]

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.

By |November 27th, 2020|Categories: 1901 - 1950, 1951 - 2000, Contra Dancing, Cultural, Dance, Gordon Peery|0 Comments

Reuben Wellman

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 wife, Mary Grovier, [...]

Richard Farwell

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 in early 1774. [...]

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.

By |January 26th, 2017|Categories: Rick Church|0 Comments

Robert Sheldon

B-4-1 Robert Sheldon Robert Sheldon settled here and built a large house and barns in 1795. Starting with 100 acres, he built a farm of several hundred acres. He and his wife, Polly Spoffird, raised eight children. He sold the farm in 1843 to Danforth Taylor JR. Danforth and Martha raised at least five children there. [...]

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 of Packersfield. In [...]

Sally Baker

C-4-14 Sally Baker Nothing remains of this home The 1858 county map shows a home here occupied by S. Baker. Sally Baker’s husband, Zolvy, died on October 17th 1834 at the age of 37. Zolvy married Sally (Holmes) in 1828 and died a few years later leaving her with 2 infant children, Sally, born about 1829, [...]

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.

By |January 27th, 2017|Categories: 1751 - 1800, 1801 - 1850, Bert Wingerson, How People Lived, Profiles|0 Comments

Samuel Adams

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 began his final [...]

Samuel Felt

F-2-5 Samuel Felt Samuel came to Packersfield in 1777, and built the house at this location.  In his later years he must have gotten into some financial difficulties as the place “all of said Felt’s home farm” and some property Felt owned in Keene was foreclosed on in 1821 by Bethuel Harris. Felt seems to have continued [...]

By |June 18th, 2020|Categories: 1751 - 1800, 1801 - 1850, Building Sites, Maps, NA, Rick Church|0 Comments

Samuel Foster

F-2-2 Samuel Foster 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 [...]

Samuel Heaton

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. Lott kept a [...]

Samuel Parker

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 the place from [...]

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 born after the [...]

Samuel Warren

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 as early as [...]

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.

By |December 26th, 2020|Categories: F2, Farms and Forests, How People Lived, Jodi Farwell, NA, The Land and Its Settlement|0 Comments

School #4

C-5-8 Asa Stone sold 6 square rods to School District #4 in 1830.   “To be held by the school as long as it is maintained as a school.” A Brick school was built here and served the mill village of Munsonville until the Munsonville School as built in 1891. In 1878 the school district, now called [...]

School #5

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 February 1898.  It [...]

School #7

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 ranging from age [...]

Scripture Place

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 acres cleared by [...]

Second Meetinghouse

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 feet and twenty-eight [...]

By |December 12th, 2020|Categories: 1751 - 1800, 1801 - 1850, Churches, Rick Church|0 Comments

Shadrach Hill

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 sold this place [...]

Simon Goodell

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 the house “finishing [...]

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 1810. This interpretation [...]

Solomon Buckminster

A-2-4 Solomon Buckminster Place The house was probably built in 1783 by Benjamin Nurs JR. He sold it to Samuel Frink who owned it less than a year before selling it to Solomon Buckminster with “the dwelling house theron standing”. He was instrumental in the formation of the town of Roxbury and was chairman of its [...]

Solomon Ingalls

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 York. They brought [...]

Solomon Kitteridge

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 in 1777. In [...]

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. sampler 2 [...]

By |December 16th, 2020|Categories: Artists, Rick Church|0 Comments

Stephen Osborn

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 Packersfield becoming members [...]

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 those for scythes, [...]

Stephen Parker

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 years after his [...]

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.”

By |February 18th, 2017|Categories: 1901 - 1950, 1951 - 2000, 2000 - present, Profiles, Summer Folks, Tom Murray|0 Comments

Taylor Mill

B-4-7 Taylor Mill Taylor Mill 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 (1773) on small but reliable brooks to furnish early settlers with the means of [...]

The Abenaki

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.

By |April 29th, 2021|Categories: 1: Featured Article, Bert Wingerson, NA|0 Comments

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. He was followed [...]

The Bancroft Mill

E-2-5 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 Clothes and Rolling Pin Factory. The proprietors were Eben C. [...]

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 there. Iron water [...]

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 Keene. Lott kept [...]

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 house here. The [...]

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. Breed where that [...]

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 1946. 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 ball in the [...]

The Chapel-by-the-Lake

In the early development of manufacturing, areas that afforded the potential for water power were prime locations for community growth. In 1814, the Cotton Factory was built in a remote section of Nelson to take advantage of the water power from the outflow of the dammed Factory Lake, now known as Granite Lake.  A community began [...]

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.

By |January 14th, 2017|Categories: 1801 - 1850, 1851 - 1900, 1901 - 1950, Bert Wingerson, Mills and Mining|Comments Off on The Cotton Factory in Munsonville

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.

By |January 14th, 2017|Categories: Bert Wingerson, How People Lived|0 Comments

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 Sudbury, Massachusetts who [...]

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.

By |December 17th, 2020|Categories: Cultural, Music, Musicians, NA, Nelson Town Hall Programs, Video|0 Comments

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 to A-2-12.  In [...]

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 child, Sally, was [...]

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 on to serve [...]

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. He continued to [...]

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 simultaneously and made [...]

By |December 11th, 2020|Categories: Government, Rick Church, Schools|0 Comments

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.”

By |January 21st, 2017|Categories: Bert Wingerson, Churches|0 Comments

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.

By |December 7th, 2016|Categories: 2000 - present, Karen Tolman, Nelson Town Hall, Photos|0 Comments

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 two-story hip-roofed house [...]

The Osgood Mine

D-4-9 The Osgood graphite veins were discovered in 1848 and property owner Horatio Osgood leased them to Moses Carelton of Lancaster, Massachusetts. Two years later, Calelton sublet them to J. and J. Seabury, a New York mining company; Jacob Seabury also bought the Town Farm Mine in 1858. The Osgood, or J. Seabury Lead Mine, operated [...]

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 family that [...]

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 to Sheldon and [...]

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 at C-5-11. In [...]

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.

By |May 31st, 2017|Categories: 1851 - 1900, 1901 - 1950, Alan Rumrill, Farms and Forests, Geography, How People Lived, Industry, Lakes and Streams, Mills and Mining, Recreation, Summer Folks|Comments Off on The Power of Water: Munsonville, New Hampshire, from 1850 to 1950

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 D-1-1 in 1778. [...]

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 this house. The [...]

By |January 2nd, 2021|Categories: Building Sites, Life in Nelson, Maps, NA, Rick Church, The Land and Its Settlement|0 Comments

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.

By |December 16th, 2020|Categories: 1751 - 1800, 1801 - 1850, How People Lived, Life in Nelson, Rick Church|0 Comments

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 prominently in early [...]

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 by 1774. He [...]

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 The Taft House today Nathan Taft was born in Westminster, Massachusetts in 1771. He married Betsy Bolton of Gardner. He bought the land here in 1799 from Thomas Packer III and built the cape that exists today. They had six children including their oldest, Nathan Taft JR (born Nelson 1805). Nathan JR married [...]

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 “some of their [...]

The Wilson Mill:

D-4-22 Situated at the outlet of White Pond today is a very large stone dam, a ruined concrete gate and spillway and numerous sone piers that held the structures of the milks here from 1796 to the end of the 19th century. It is referred to as the Wilson Mill after Asa Wilson its longest tenured [...]

Third Meeting House

D-4-18 Reuel Nims gave land here to the Town of Nelson if it would, at its own expense, erect a 34x48’ meeting house, Nims to get full use of the basement as a store house. The Congregational Church had given up its use of the Second Meeting House on the hill above the village and built [...]

Thomas Butterfield

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 of Samuel Wadsworth [...]

Thomas Holt

E-5-6 A tanner by trade and part of the Holt family from Andover, Massachusetts, Thomas Holt bought the southern half of his father, Daniel’s, lot in 1788 and built a house with his wife, Polly. They sold the place to Nathan Town of Andover in 1804 and moved to New York State. The home was probably [...]

Thomas Knowles Breed

D-3-11 A well marks the site of this home, store and tavern today. 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 [...]

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 mill at D-4-13: [...]

Thomas Russell

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 farm to its [...]

Thomas Upham

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. He sold the [...]

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 rescue Griffin’s two [...]

Timothy Bancroft

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 the mid-19th century. [...]

Timothy Pierce

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 when he acquired [...]

Town Pound

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 feet high with [...]

Town Pound

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 on the northerly [...]

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.

By |January 2nd, 2021|Categories: 1751 - 1800, 1801 - 1850, 1851 - 1900, Life in Nelson, NA, Rick Church|0 Comments

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 the Town Hall [...]

By |March 24th, 2019|Categories: Life in Nelson|0 Comments

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 succeeded Reuben Wellman [...]

William Barker 2

C-4-11 William Barker moved to Nelson in 1779 and, probably first built and occupied C-4-2. 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 he built the place and lived [...]

William Beal

B-3-11 William Beal William Beal seems to have come to Packersfield before 1772. He took over the operations at the grist mill located at the outlet of Pleasant Pond (now Silver Lake, C-1-3) succeeding Daniel Wood. In 1785 he left the mill business behind and moved to this location (B-3-11) to begin his life as a farmer. [...]

William Dewey

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 to Ashby. He [...]

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. Moved in in 1882. He was married to Sarah Yardley. He was a wheelwright and Nelson Road Agent; Sarah seems to have been a mill worker. Their children included Horace and Frank Upton.  They lived [...]

William Parker

B-2-4 William Parker Came to Packersfield in 1789 with his wife, Mary, at age 24 after service in the Revolution. Died on the place in 1842 and was succeeded by his son, William, JR. He sold it to Reuben Phillips (B-3-7) in 1847 who sold it to his son, Joseph, the following year. It was purchased [...]

William Priest

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. He first cleared [...]

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 had two sons, [...]

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 south side of [...]

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 potential to remain [...]

By |June 27th, 2020|Categories: 1851 - 1900, Alan Rumrill, Celebrations, How People Lived|0 Comments
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