New Boston, New Hampshire
About New Boston
On January 14, 1736, “a township in the unappropriated lands of the province, of the contents of six miles square, with one thousand acres added for ponds” and two rods in each hundred “for unevenness of surface and swag of chain,” and further designated as “lying on the south and middle branches of the Piscataquog river,” was granted by the “Great and General Court or Assembly, for his Majesty’s province of Massachusetts Bay, to John Simpson and fifty-two others, inhabitants of Boston.” The name of New Boston, which was suggested from the residence of the grantees, was first applied to the township by the proprietors on the 16th of April 1751. In December following, an additional grant of six square miles was made, which was designated as the New Boston addition, but it was afterward merged to the town of Francestown in 1772, and New Boston was reduced to its original boundaries.
As early as 1740, on what was called Pine Plain, in the northeast part of the town, there had been erected sixty dwelling houses, a sawmill, and a meeting-house of 45 X 35 feet, but it would appear that the interior was never finished, and it is evident that soon after it was destroyed by fire. There is a tradition that the fire was set by Indians, but it is reasonable to conclude that it was accidental. However, its history is involved in a mystery, and a like mystery shrouds the fate of the village of sixty houses.
The first census, date of September 25, 1756, reports 59 persons within the limits of the township, 215 acres cleared land, 32 houses completed, 6 frames not enclosed, 2 camp houses, 1 barn, 1 sawmill, and 1 grain mill and dam complete.
In 1756 the matter of preaching and a Meetinghouse was under earnest discussion and on September 28, 1763, the townspeople decided to build a meetinghouse on lot 79, "near the center of said lot, south of a red oak tree marked with the letter C, near the grave of a child buried there". The first Community Church and Meetinghouse was completed in 1767, situated on the site of the present day New Boston Cemetery. There is a marker in the cemetery at the exact location of the first building.
Let us now pass over the intervening years and pause to note the conditions of affairs in 1820, which was the date of the largest census ever taken, being 1,686. In brief, at that time there were within the town limits 16 school districts, 14 schoolhouses, 1 tavern, 3 stores, 25 sawmills, 6 grain mills, 2 clothing mills, 2 carding mills, 1 bark mill, and 2 tanneries. The village was on the hill, there being but three buildings in the valley. The main road was not built at that time.
“The Great Village Fire” of May 11,1887 started at 12:00 noon when a spark from the Abram Wason’s cooper shop set the Atwood barn on fire; nearly 40 buildings in the "lower village" were destroyed. “The fire was so hot that is burnt holes in the leading hose so that it was impossible to throw water with any force. There being a strong northwest wind, the fire spread rapidly, leaping from one building to another, and in an hour and a half the following buildings has fallen in…” Nearly 40 buildings were destroyed, as well as some of the permanent records for the Town. Many of the gaps in New Boston’s history are because of the documents that were lost in that one day.
The church also burned to the ground in the fire. It was soon replaced, and the furnishings from the old meetinghouse on the hill were moved down to the new building, including the bell that had been cast by Paul Revere. It was reported in a newspaper article from the State Planning & Development Commission, that the bell was purchased in 1826, and is the heaviest (1,415lbs) of 16 known Revere Bells located in New Hampshire. The old building on the hill was sold to Miss Lydia Atwood for $650. It was quite the tourist attraction until it burned. The Manchester Union newspaper of November 10, 1900 gives the account that the church steeple was struck by lightning during a thunderstorm. Originally, the fire was contained in the steeple, but later it spread, and the fire was seen as far away as Manchester.
1893 was the year that the railroad came to New Boston. The Boston and Maine Railroad came from Parker’s Station into the Depot in New Boston with a stop at Gregg’s Mill.
J. Reed Whipple was responsible for bringing the railroad in to town so that he could supply his 3 hotels in Boston with fresh farm products. This also provided the local farmers a cash market for their farm products. Passenger service ended in 1931 and the railroad was abandoned in the mid 1970’s. Today the Railroad Trail is a wonderful walking path for the residents of New Boston.
Libraries and Historical Societies
Whipple Free Library http://whipplefreelibrary.org/
New Boston Historical Society http://www.newbostonhistoricalsociety.com/