New Hampshire’s Cranberry Bogs and Meadows

cranberryWhen I hear the word cranberry, I most often things of masses of bobbing, minute fruit in Massachusetts or New Jersey bogs, although I know it grows in other states too. It was not until recently that I discovered that New Hampshire too has produced cranberries, though not on the large commercial scale that other states have and do.

The cranberry, (in addition to the blueberry and the Concord grape) is one of North America’s three native fruits that are commercially grown. Before the Europeans arrived, cranberries were used by Native Americans, who discovered the wild berry’s usefulness as food, a fabric dye and for healing. The cranberry was called sassamenesh (by the Algonquin) and ibimi (by the Wampanoag and Lenni-Lenape) This translates literally as “bitter” or “sour berries.” The Native Americans pounded the cranberries into a mixture of equal parts ground dried deer meat and fat tallow, storing the resulting mixture in animal-skin pouches. The resulting ‘pemmican‘ would last for months and could be eaten as sustenance on long journeys and during the winter months. Some claim that this was America’s first ‘fast food.’

 Picking Cranberries on the Old Colony Co.'s Cranberry Bog at South Yarmouth Mass, from "The Cranberry," published by Bradley Fertilizer Co., Boston, 1892

Picking Cranberries on the
Old Colony Co.’s Cranberry Bog
at South Yarmouth Mass, from “The Cranberry,”
published by Bradley Fertilizer Co.,
Boston, 1892

The early Europeans in New England called it ‘craneberry‘ because the spring blossoms resembled the head and bill of a crane. They soon learned its value. American whaling ships carried cranberries because eating them helped prevent scurvy. Captain Henry Hall of Dennis MA became the first to successfully cultivate cranberries in 1816.

Now on to Cranberries in New Hampshire. . . information is scarce but I was able to discover at least a few places where cranberries were and still may be grown–at least in small quantities for local use.

From New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette (Concord NH), Thursday October 1, 1885; page 5 —
“The cranberry crop in Auburn meadows along the shores of Lake Massabesic, [in Auburn and Manchester NH] is said to be large. it is now being gathered by the residents in that vicinity who are paid $2.20 per barrel, by the owners of the swamps.”

The History of Coos County, New Hampshire by George Drew Merrill, in the section about the town of Berlin NH states: “In 1874 Mr. Green commenced the cultivation of cranberries, and at great cost developed a splendid cranberry meadow of sixty acres which experienced raisers of the fruit valued at $100,000 but owing to the change in the seasons it has lately become almost valueless, as the fruit has not matured early enough to escape frost.” Two years later Mr. Green invested in an orange grove of 4,000 trees in Florida.

There is also  Cranberry Meadow Pond in Peterborough NH [Editor’s note: This is a great hike this time of year]; Ponemah Bog in Amherst, NH; Mud Pond Bog in Fox State Forest near Hillsborough NHCranberry Bog Pond in Madison, NH; Quincy Bog in Rumney, NH; Cranberry Bog Pond in Columbia NH; and Philbrick-Cricenti Bog in New London NH.

Photograph of 1924 workers at the cranberry farm of W.L. Urann. Photograph property of Janice Brown.

Photograph of 1924 workers at the cranberry
farm of W.L. Urann. Photograph property of
Janice Brown.

My 5th cousin 3x removed, Marcus Libby Urann, made the first canned cranberry sauce, and founded a company that eventually became the famed Ocean Spray.

[His Urann ancestry is Marcus Libby-8 Urann, Marcus-7, John-4,-5 -6, James-3, John-2, William-1 Vrin.]





Bogged Down in Cranberries: How to find a cranberry bog

RECIPE: Wild Cranberry Relish

National Geographic: The U.S. Cranberry Harvest Explained in Four Charts

Rubies in the Sand: Cranberry Epic (August 12, 2012)

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5 Responses to New Hampshire’s Cranberry Bogs and Meadows

  1. QBNA/PBLT says:

    Enjoy the trail around the bog but Quincy Bog is a natural area – leave the berries for the birds please.

  2. Pingback: Add Cranberries to Your Curriculum | NH School & Youth Gardens

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  4. Holly Childs says:

    My daughter-in-law’s 5G grandmother Sally (Chase) Walton lived in Seabrook, New Hampshire, 1819-1920. She wrote this verse, I presume about 1890:

    I am an old woman of seventy one.
    I picked cranberries before cranberry laws begun.
    They’ll make laws but I don’t mind ’em.
    For I’ll pick cranberries wherever I find ’em.

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