New Hampshire’s 250 Year Old Towns

Benning Wentworth

Likeness of Benning Wentworth from “History of New Hampshire,” by Everett S. Stackpole, Volume II, The American Historical Society, New York; 1916, page 46a

Happy Sestercentennial, Semiquincentennial, or Quarter-millennial to you!  In 1763 thirteen towns in New Hampshire were considered official by proclamation of then Provincial Governor Benning Wentworth.  In that year New Hampshire was a rough and dangerous place to live. Within a decade it was about to become more so,  as the American Revolution would break out.  In 1763 charters for these towns were granted: New Boston, Haverhill, Croydon, Cornish, Thornton, Warren, Plymouth, Lancaster, Alstead, Peeling [now Woodstock], Sandwich, Candia, and Gilsum.

Lets examine these towns more closely.  Many have been holding celebratory events beginning in January, but  still have some wonderful upcoming events, and the public is invited.

Alstead, Cheshire County, New Hampshire (Monadnock Region)
History: This town was first granted as ‘Newton’ on December 28, 1752 to John Towle and 63 others. Regranted on the 6th of August 1763, by Governor Wentworth, when he issued a charter for the present Alstead to Samuel Chase and seventy associates. Alstead became a part of Vermont in April 1781, but returned to NH authority the next year.
Celebration: Many activities are planned.  August 11, 2013 at 10:30 AM Ecumenical Worship Service.  Keep your eye on the Keene Sentinel and the Alstead Historical Society (on Facebook) for more 250th announcements.
For more historical information: see Gazetteer of Cheshire County, N.H. 1736-1885; Hamilton Child, 1885, Syracuse NY

Candia, Rockingham County, New Hampshire (Merrimack Valley Region)
History: In 1763, thirty-eight of the citizens in the town signed a petition to Benning Wentworth, the Provincial Governor, and his countil, praying that they might be incorporated. The petition was read in the House of Representatives on June 2, 1763.  On December 3, 1763 it was voted that their request be granted.
Celebration: Petition Day was held on March 22, 2013.  For more information about Candia’s 250th see their web site and Facebook pages.
For more historical information: see History of the town of Candia, Rockingham County, N.H. : from its first settlement to the present time; 1893; G.W. Browne; Manchester NH

Cornish, Sullivan County, New Hampshire (Darthmouth-Lake Sunapee Region)
History: The charter for Cornish was granted June 21, 1763 to Rev. Samuel McClintock of Greenland NH and sixty-nine others.  The charter was renewed on December 21, 1768.  A copy of the charter of the township is found here.
Celebration: 64th Annual Cornish Fair, August 16, 17, 18, 2013 (A Family Friendly Agricultural Fair)
For more historical information: see History of the town of Cornish, New Hampshire, with genealogical record, by William H. Child.
and History of Cheshire and Sullivan Counties, New Hampshire.

Croydon, Sullivan County, New Hampshire (Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region)
History: The charter of Croydon, signed by Benning Wentworth, and countersigned by Thomas Atkinson is dated May 31, 1763.  The list of the original proprietors is here.
Celebration: The Croydon Centennial Celebration was held June 13, 1866.  I could not find any recent publicity about any events for this year.
Additional History: History of Cheshire and Sullivan Counties NH

Gilsum, Cheshire County, New Hampshire
History: It was originally granted, under the name of Boyle, to Joseph Osgood and his associated December 30, 1752, but no settlements were made with this grant. Thomas Sumner and others petitioned Gov. Benning Wentworth for a new charter of the township January 24, 1763.  The petition was received and a new charter was granted 13 July 1763, with the name of Gilsum.  A list of the grantees is here.
Celebration: August 11 through August 17th, 2013 are the official Celebration dates.
Where to Learn More about the Town: History of the town of Gilsum, New Hampshire 1752 to 1879; by Silvanus Hayward, 1881; J.B. Clarke, Manchester NH

Haverhill, Grafton County, New Hampshire (White Mountains Region)
Brief History: The charter of the Township of Haverhill NH bears date the 18th of May 1763, and was granted to seventy-five persons. The names of the grantees are listed here.
Celebration: Haverhill NH and Newbury VT are celebrating together with ongoing events. July 5, 2013 is Rotary Railroad Day.  July 6th has a day-full of celebration.
Where to Learn more: History of Haverhill NH, by J. Bittinger, 1888

Lancaster, Coos County, New Hampshire (Great North Woods Region)
History:  The charter for Lancaster was granted July 5, 1763. [Here is the list of grantees].
The town web site states “The year 2014 marks our town’s 250th birthday.”
Celebration: “Birthday” Celebration information can be found both on Facebook and their official web site.
Additional History: The History of Lancaster, NH by Amos Newton Somers, 1899

Lisbon, Grafton County, New Hampshire (White Mountains Region)
History: The town was granted August 6 1763 to Joseph Burt and others, by the name of Concord. Very nearly the same territory was again granted, January 31, 1764 to John Fansher and others and named Chiswick.  On October 20, 1768 the grantees, failing to fulfill the conditions of the settlement, it was re-granted to Leonard Whiting and others, in ninety-four equal shares and named Gunthwaite.  At an 1824 town meeting the voters approved of the name ‘Lisbon’ that had been selected by then Governor Levi Woodbury.
Celebration: The main community celebration will be held on Saturday, August 10, 2013
Additional History: Gazeteer of Grafton Co NH, by Hamilton Child, 1886

New Boston, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire (Merrimack Valley Region)
History:   New Boston was incorporated by the government of New Hampshire, February 18, 1763.
Celebration: July 4th, July 7th, July 11th, 2013
Additional History: History of Hillsborough Co. NH, by Hamilton Hurd; 1885; Philadelphia; J.W. Lewis

Plymouth, Grafton County, New Hampshire (Lakes Region)
History: It was originally granted July 15, 1763 [see list of grantees]
Celebration: July 17 through July 21, 2013
For more information: History of Plymouth NH; and Gazeteer of Grafton Co NH

Thornton, Grafton County, New Hampshire (White Mountains)
History: It was granted to Matthew Thornton and others in seventy-three shares, July 6, 1763.
Celebration: ?unknown
For more information: Gazeteer of Grafton Co NH

Sandwich, Carroll County, New Hampshire
History: The original grant, in the usual formula of the charters of Benning Wentworth, ceded 23,040 acres (6 miles square), and bears the date October 25, 1763.
Celebration: The 250th celebration becomes even more high-powered with a series of activities on Saturday, July 6, 2013.
Where to Learn More about the Town, and see the list of original grantees: History of Carroll Co. NH by Georgia Drew Merrill

Warren, Grafton County, New Hampshire (White Mountains Region)
History: Joseph Patch and John Page established the town on July 14, 1763 when Governor Wentworth signed the petition. The charter of Warren was not recorded until January 28, 1764 and forwarded to John Page, Esq.  The name of grantees is here.  Congressional Record Announcing the Anniversary.
Celebration:  July 12-14, 2013, parade, barbeque and fireworks; Quilt as part of celebration.
Additional History: History of Warren NH; 1870, William Little, Manchester NH

Woodstock, Grafton County, New Hampshire (White Mountains Region)
History: It was granted to Eli Demeritt and others, September 23, 1763 under the name of Peeling.  The name was subsequently changed to Fairfild, than back to Peeling, and finally in 1840 was given the name of Woodstock.
Celebration:  Celebrate the 250th anniversary of the town from July 12-14, 2013.
Additional information; Gazeteer of Grafton Co. NH


NHPR is running a series on the 250th Anniversaries, called “250 Years in the Making: Stories From 13 New Hampshire Towns.”

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