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 location of the smithy is approximately that of the ruined gazebo there today. In the deeds of the time, it was described as containing “36 square rods of land, a blacksmith shop, coal house and shed.”
This blacksmith shop was built by Abijah Wilson and his son, Mainard. Abijah had operated the old shop built by John Boynton at C-3-6 since 1809. Mainard ran the smithy here until 1842 when he sold it to another Nelson smith, Jason Harris Jr. Like the Wilson smithing business, the Jason Harris’ operation was a family affair. Jason SR. had a blacksmith shop at B-3-7 which he started in 1813; his son followed him in the business. The younger Harris operated the smithy in the Village until 1865. He was sixty-eight years old and a widower for three years when he retired.
The business was purchased by Ellis Minot of Keene and operated until the mid- eighteen nineties.
The Village Blacksmith
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – 1807-1882
Under a spreading chestnut-tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands,
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.
His hair is crisp, and black, and long;
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate’er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.
Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.
And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing-floor.
He goes on Sunday to the church,
And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter’s voice
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice.
It sounds to him like her mother’s voice
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes.
Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night’s repose.
Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.