250 Years In The Making: Stories From 13 New Hampshire Towns

In 2013, 13 New Hampshire towns celebrated their 250th anniversaries.  As part of this series, NHPR’s Keith Shields traveled to each of these places, learned more about their founding and found the unique stories buried within their borders.

  The city of Concord is getting ready to celebrate its 250th birthday.

On Friday, Sen. Kelly Ayotte is presenting a Congressional Record statement in honor of the event to Mayor Jim Bouley and City Councilor Brent Todd.

The city is holding events next week in honor of its 250th, including tours and gatherings at the Concord Monitor, local orchards and the Audubon Society; a premiere of the "2015 Concord" documentary; and a parade.

Woodstock: 250 Years In The Making

Dec 27, 2013

“This is my great grandfather, my great grandmother, my grandfather and his sister Edna and they are in this surrey and they’re going for a ride around the mountains… this is 1908, wow!”

Visit Jim Fadden’s house and you’ll find a treasure trove of Woodstock history.  There are old signs plastered along the walls, turn of the century programs and town records on top of desks and stuffed inside of drawers are tons of old photographs showing the famous and sometimes forgotten places and people that made this town what it is today.

Candia: 250 Years In The Making

Dec 23, 2013

“Citizens of Candia, we are gathered here today to celebrate the incorporating of our Parish and to begin the process of creating a government that will ensure its success forever…”

That’s Candia resident Bob Claver who was playing the role of Samuel Emerson, who conducted the first official town meeting that Candia had shortly after becoming a town in December of 1763. It was part of a play that ran just last week that capped off a yearlong sestercenntial celebration, for the town.  

Sara Plourde / NHPR

In a year-long series called “250 Years In The Making: Stories From 13 New Hampshire Towns," NHPR’s Keith Shields has traveled all across the Granite State, learning the unique stories of these towns and how their tales also reflect the broader narrative of new Hampshire history.


Thornton: 250 Years In The Making

Dec 16, 2013
Keith Shields, NHPR

Many iconic New Hampshire towns will have a quaint town center, a small general store or café and maybe a couple of businesses clustered together; but not Thornton.

Even locals like Sandy McIntosh who’s lived in the town more than forty years say it’s sort of an in-between kind of place. 

“It’s slowly growing more residential than business. There isn’t a lot of land available for developing and there’s not a lot of people to support an industry. Thornton was more of a pass through town to get to somewhere else and still is.”

Sandwich: 250 Years In The Making

Nov 26, 2013
Keith Shields, NHPR

Benning Wentworth was not only the longest serving Provincial Governor of New Hampshire but of any colony in British North America and that’s because he knew how to make people happy.  

And one way he did that, was by naming many of the towns he granted around the time of 1763 in honor of influential men back in Britain.

Lisbon: 250 Years In The Making

Nov 8, 2013
Keith Shields, NHPR

The story of how Lisbon, New Hampshire got its name is really the story of the New Hampshire economy in the first half of the 19th century.  And it’s all thanks to this animal.


But that’s jumping ahead.

The town was originally granted on August 6th 1763, and named ‘Concord’. Five years later, it was re-named to Gunthwaite. But that created a lot of confusion and so by the 1820’s the town realized it needed a new name.

Haverhill: 250 Years In The Making

Oct 25, 2013
Keith Shields, NHPR, Sara Plourde, NHPR

If you ask people from Haverhill where they’re from, you may not get the simple answer you’d expect to get.

“If somebody said where you from, they’ll say, I’m from Woodsville, long before they’ll say I’m from Haverhill. I grew up in Haverhill corner. It’s not just in Haverhill; I grew up in Haverhill corner. I have to be specific about that and people from this area understand that.”

Warren: 250 Years in the Making

Oct 11, 2013
Keith Shields, NHPR

On paper, Warren may seem like your everyday Northern New England town.  The name is even commonplace… as there is a town called Warren in every New England state and its traditional square shape resembles many others in New Hampshire.

But you just need to drive to the town center to notice that this Warren stands out. Like this guy noticed, who stopped by and posted a video on YouTube

“I stopped in the town of Warren, New Hampshire and there’s big @#$ rocket on the town green… that thing is huge”

Alstead: 250 Years In The Making

Sep 27, 2013
Keith Shields, NHPR

Most of the towns granted in 1763 by New Hampshire Colonial Governor Benning Wentworth, were named after those Wentworth wanted to impress like personal friends or influential politicians… but according to New Hampshire history professor, Stuart Wallace, the town of Alstead, was a little different.

Gilsum: 250 Years In The Making

Sep 6, 2013

As Loudon is to racecars and Hanover to Ivy League students and Canterbury to its Shakers, then Gilsum… is to rocks, and proudly so; just ask one artist who lives in town.

“I mean every place we ever vacationed had rocks and now I’m in the freakin’ rock capital of the United States.”

Plymouth: 250 Years In The Making

Jun 10, 2013

The writer Susan Cheever once said that Plymouth, “is a nice enough town but… it’s a town in the middle of nowhere, a town for people on their way to somewhere else”

But many locals in the Grafton County town would disagree. After all, Plymouth has been voted one of the best small towns in America. And nowhere is this town pride more conspicuous than in “Marking the Moment”; a two and a half hour musical written to kick off the town’s 250th anniversary.

New Boston: 250 Years in the Making

Apr 12, 2013
Archive photo

New Boston is a town that sounds like it could or should be in Massachusetts, and at one time, it actually was. In the 1730s Boston proprietors were granted a charter to the town, but never did much with it, mostly because of the presence of Native Americans in the area. By 1741, when new borders were drawn up New Boston became part of New Hampshire, with a brand new set of residents says historian Stu Wallace:

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Over the next year, producer Keith Shields will be visiting thirteen New Hampshire towns that are either turning or celebrating 250 years, looking to dig up the interesting, near-forgotten, and quirky stories that make each town unique. The series will kick off later this week with New Boston, with Plymouth coming up next month. Our map will let you know where else Keith will be going!

(Note: Numbers in legend do not indicate the order they will come up in the series.)

1763: A Landmark Year In New Hampshire History

Mar 11, 2013

This year, 13 New Hampshire towns are celebrating their 250th anniversaries.  As part of a new series called “250 Years In The Making: Stories From 13 New Hampshire Towns," NHPR’s Keith Shields will travel to each of these places, learn more about their founding and find the unique stories buried within their borders. But before we do, we begin with a look back two and a half centuries to the year 1763.