Register your Dog

by on April 17, 2014 in Home Page, Town Clerk, Town Government

All Nelson dogs must be registered before April 30th. Please note that the town clerk’s office is opened on Tuesday, April 29, from 4 – 7.  Please contact the town clerk if you have any questions:  603-847-9043 . A fine is accessed for late registrations.

Thank You for your attention to this.



Roxbury is Born

[Editor’s note: this article follows another recently published article about how the town of Sullivan was created. For a complete list of Rick’s many articles on the history of Nelson, click here]

God's Barn Roxbury NH

The Roxbury Meetinghouse, known as “God’s Barn” , from this 1912 photo, replaced the original meeting house which was raised in 1804. That was used as a place of worship, and following the approval of incorporation in 1812 it was then used for official government business as well.

Roxbury was born in an Act of The New Hampshire General Court in 1812 and formed of pieces of Packersfield [now Nelson], Marlborough and Keene. The creation of Roxbury was a co-operative effort led from within Packersfield by respected citizens. It took years of negotiations led by a determined group of families who had settled in the town’s southwest quarter at about the time of the revolution. They were united by their near simultaneous settlement and by their origin. Most came from Rutland, Massachusetts. Town Records make it clear that the special needs of those living in the southwest corner of the town were recognized and accommodated. They had roads, a school, leadership roles in Packersfield government and there was concern for their spiritual lives. It was a far different process than the formation of Sullivan over the “remonstrance” of Packersfield. It also took twenty-five years.

The negotiation seems to have begun the year Sullivan was formed. The petition for a new town made the usual case of citizens being cut off from the center of the old town.  In fact Packersfield residents living in what would become Roxbury had to travel about four miles by road to the Packersfield meetinghouse. Still, southwestern Packersfield was connected by the town’s most important road – the one that connected it to Keene. Indeed there was a well-developed network of roads with road building as active there as in any part of the town. They had their own school house and most of the families mentioned in this article had sheds for their horses at the meetinghouse on the hill in Packersfield. The process was a negotiation not a seizure of land with Packersfield citizens presenting their case for a new town in Packersfield town meetings. Continue Reading »

Sullivan is Born: The “theft” of 3,200 acres

John Sullivan, President of New Hampshire

John Sullivan, President of New Hampshire

Imagine driving back to Nelson from Keene along Route 9 and coming to a store called the West Nelson Country Store.  Today that’s the Sullivan Country Store. But for two fraudulent signatures on a petition in 1786, East Sullivan might be in Nelson today.


Nelson, called Packersfield prior to1814, has lost three large chunks of itself to the formation of new towns since its incorporation in 1774. This is the story of the first of these: Sullivan. Towns in New Hampshire granted by the Masonian Proprietors consisted of lines drawn on maps in Portsmouth with little reference to the geography except for major rivers and the existence of previously granted places. History has proved these divisions unstable and many New Hampshire towns have been formed subsequently from pieces of older towns. In Cheshire County examples of such new towns are Troy, Sullivan, Roxbury and Harrisville. Three times between 1786 and 1870, the legislature determined that citizens would be best served by the creation of new towns formed from significant parts of Nelson and adjoining towns. Continue Reading »

Are You Game?

by on January 7, 2014 in Entertainment, Home Page, Library, Social Event

Game Night at the LibraryBack by popular demand, a social gathering to lubricate our passage through the dark winter months,


Thursday Evenings

January 9 and 23

February 6 and 20

March 6 and 20

Everyone welcome. Come and join your neighbors for cards, board games, scrabble, etc. Bring your favorite game if you like. We hope to see you there.

For more information call the library at 603-847-3214

Nelson History Day Dec 14

by on December 6, 2013 in History, Home Page

Nelson History Day Dec. 14, 2013, 11:00 AM Olivia Rodham Library

The Library is sponsoring a presentation of the new 2014 Nelson Calendar with historic photographs of Nelson’s past to excite an interest in the upcoming 250th anniversary of Nelson’s founding which will happen in 2017.

Calendar Collage

Adding to the history theme, new books about Nelson’s past by local authors Renn Tolman, Terri Upton, and Bruce White and copies of a CD of Tolman Pond life by Karen Tolman will be presented and available for sale.

And a special event will be the unveiling of the painting of Helen Towne by Marie Spaeth that was purchased by contributions from generous town residents.

Please join us for a fun morning with Christmas cookies and cider.


Library Book Sale Corner

by on December 3, 2013 in Home Page, Library

booksaleThe Olivia Rodham Memorial Library is offering a Book Sale Corner.
Just by the door between the Library and the Town Hall connector you will find a small but select number of books for sale. Paperbacks  are on the rack to the right and hardcovers, videos, CDs, and special series on the shelves to the left.  For a modest $1/hardcover and $.50/paperback, you can take an item home forever and the Friends of
the Library earn funds to buy new books and support children’s programs.  Come on in and check out the selection!

The Nelson Music Collection

by on November 10, 2013 in Home Page, Music
Nelson Music Collection

Photo from the cover of the Nelson Music Collection

The Nelson Music Collection was first published in 1969, as a “Collection of Authentic Square Dance Melodies. Compiled by Newt Tolman, a flute player from Nelson, and his piano accompanist, Kay Gilbert from Peterborough, it contains 63 tunes that might be heard at one of the local square dances. It became an important resource over the next decade as the face of square dancing evolved (and became more commonly known as contra dancing), and as young musicians aspired to learn the tunes so that they could play for the dances. Eventually it took a back seat to newer collections which offered additional and newly popularized tunes, but serious scholars and musicians remained aware of its existence. Newt and Kay also issued an LP recording of the same name, which featured many of the tunes from the book. It was one of the first commercial recordings of this music. Continue Reading »

Two Weekends of Work and Fun

by on October 24, 2013 in Hikes and Nature, Home Page

Nelson TrailsThe Nelson Trails committee has been busy over  two recent weekends, building bridges and improving trails for your walking pleasure.   September 21 dawned cool and comfortable: a perfect day to put in a bridge over Bailey Brook in order to begin trail work on the new trail to Kulish Ledges.  Dave Birchenough had designed the bridge and pre-cut all the materials, and the crew of Dave Birchenough, Dave Patek, Tom Murray, Rick Church, Maury Collins, and Maury’s friend, Elk, were raring to go.  The hardest part of the project was getting the telephone pole stringers in place, but apparently, it went perfectly, with the stringers falling into place like legos.  By the time I arrived to do some trail clearing at 2 pm, the stringers were in place and almost completely bolted down.

An hour later, when I returned, the decking was down.  The crew was really moving along!  In addition to the bridge building team, Al Stoops, Anita and Harry Flanagan, and Linda Cates helped out with trail clearing above the beaver dam and pond.  A good day’s work.  Two days later, the bridge crew returned to install the railing and the steps.  The bridge is complete and offers a beautiful way to safely cross Bailey Brook.  Continue Reading »

One Selectmen’s Report: October 9, 2013

by on October 9, 2013 in Home Page, Projects, Selectmen

Underneath the Nelson Town HallHello everyone,


I have a couple of topics for my report today, Town Building Projects and Property Taxes


Our Town Buildings Committee and Grant Writers have been making good progress in developing designs for our Town Hall restoration work and in acquiring grants to help with its funding. As you may recall the Select Board was charged, by the 2013 Town Meeting, to hire an architect to develop construction drawings and specifications for Town Hall renovations and for the remodeling of the Library basement. These drawings and specifications are to be used to acquire bids for the completion of these two projects. Final designs and costs for completion of these projects will be brought to Town Meeting 2014 for the approval of the Town.


We have received a “Moose Plate Grant” in the amount of $10,000 to be used for the restoration of the windows in the Town Hall. This money must be spent before the end of 2014. However this work should be done only after all necessary jacking or squaring of the building has been completed. No matching funds are required for the use of this grant. In addition, we have applied once again for a New Hampshire LCHIP, (Land and Community Heritage Investment Program), grant for the renovations needed for the Town Hall. This year we have applied for $100,000 from LCHIP. The award of the LCHIP grant does require the local contribution of matching funds. Our thanks go to our Grant Writers, Susan Hansel, Lisa Sieverts, and Bert Wingerson for their great work. Continue Reading »

Nelson Cemetery Rules and Regulations

by on October 1, 2013 in Home Page, Town Government

Nelson Cemetery Rules and RegulationsA Message from the Nelson Town Cemetery Board

Dear Burial Lot Deedholders,

This letter is to remind you that our cemetery Rules and Regulations limit what may be placed on and planted at graves.These rules apply to both the Nelson and Munsonville cemeteries. All holders of cemetery deeds agree to these requirements when they acquire burial lots. These regulations are posted below, and also Nelson Cemetery Rules and Regulations.

Please note the “Monuments and Grave Markers” and “Plantings and Decorations” sections. Wooden, glass, concrete, metal, plaster of Paris and plastic articles, as well as glass containers and artificial flowers and plants, are not allowed on graves.  To simplify maintenance, there are also limitations on where shrubs, flowers, vases, urns and potted plants may be placed.

The Cemetery Board “may remove anything placed on any lot in violation of these rules and regulations.”  Also, “any object . . . which the Cemetery Board considers offensive, improper or detrimental to the general appearance of the cemetery shall be removed after notification to the lot owner or the heirs.” Continue Reading »

Origami Anyone?

by on September 30, 2013 in Art, Home Page, Library

origamiThis origami wreath was created by Linda Singer from envelopes. These envelopes were recycled from the town the town archives circular file. The postmark dates are from 1900 and the late 1800′s. All letters were mailed to Nelson. If you are interested in origami classes at the library please email or call 603-847-3214-with a time during library hours that would work for you.

Library Book Sale

by on August 26, 2013 in Home Page, Library

Library booksale in the Town HallThe 2013 Book Sale, on Old Home Day,  was one of the most successful ever. The Friends of the Olivia Rodham Memorial Library earned $1383.25 in book sales, collected $756.00 in dues, received $63.00 in donations from local authors whose books they sold, and sold $24.00 worth of book bags. That comes to a grand total of $2226.25 to be given to the library for books, CDs, DVDs, programming and other incidentals such as additional shelving and book racks. The Friends also fund Library World, the automated system that is used for the circulation of library materials. Thank you to everyone who participated as donors, helpers, and buyers. [read more details]

The Nelson Town Hall Over the Years

town hall with stepsKaren Tolman was going through some old pictures of Nelson this spring and came across this picture of the center of Nelson taken sometime in the late nineteenth century. One notices immediately how densely settled our town center was then. Karen’s eagle eye noticed that our town hall had front steps in those days and that the building looks taller than today. Karen, Bert Wingerson and I have solved some of this puzzle using old photographs, original town records, a very interesting deed and a history of town buildings written by the Reverend Millard Hardy (1850-1939.)


The history of the Nelson Town Hall that stands on Nelson Common today is one of periodic change and renewal.  It was built in originally1846 using pieces of the Second Meetinghouse and new material. Once the Congregational Church was finished and ready for use, the Second Meetinghouse on the old common was disassembled. The porches were removed as intact units and moved to their current location on Old Stoddard Road and reassembled as the home of George Whitney. Jack Bradshaw owns “The Porches” today.  The forty-five by sixty foot frame was disassembled and substantially reworked to become the present Town Hall. This Town Hall was taller than it is today and had front steps. It has been changed a number of times to accommodate the needs of the Town. Continue Reading »

Old Home Week

by on August 3, 2013 in Home Page

It’s hard to believe it’s that time again. Starting next weekend we begin a week of festivities – a celebration of our town past and present, the town filled with returning “kids’ and others who have long had ties to this community.

Download the Nelson Old Home Week Schedule (printable pdf)

Download the Old Home DAY Schedule (printable pdf)

Read the Old Home Week Issue of the Grapevine

Maintenance Contracts: A Reflection of Farm life in Early Nelson


Howard House

The foundation of the home of Augustus and Josephine Howard on Old Stoddard Road. The home in which Jacob and Abigail Wheeler enjoyed the use of the two north rooms.

The Sawyer Family’s contract (see the prior article) transferring the family place from father to son in return for lifetime of support was a common arrangement many families found useful. Historians call these “maintenance agreements.” In the Sawyer case it provided a working farm for a son looking to establish his own farm and provided his parents with an assurance that they could live comfortably when they were no longer able to work the farm.  The author has read and recorded ten contracts between generations in Packersfield and Nelson covering nine families. These are in the form of deeds recorded at the Cheshire County Registry of Deeds. Undoubtedly many more families made similar but less formal, arrangements. The ten formal contracts we do have, document the change in the daily life of early Nelson as farm families changed from a virtually cashless and self-sufficient lifestyle to one more integrated with others and, indeed, the whole world.  World events beyond the world of New England hill farms determined the changes these agreements reflect.

All of the agreements required the provision of housing and a means to stay warm. The Sawyers got their own house; others were provided “comfortable house room” – their own space in the common house. Jacob and Abigail Wheeler, for example, got “the east front room in the house now standing on the farm in which they now live with the privilege of the kitchen, oven and sellar [sic] and chamber [upstairs room] as may suit them.” When Augustus sold that hillside farm and moved to Avery Sprague’s 140 acre farm on the Old Stoddard Road, the Wheelers moved with him. Their new living arrangement gave them the right to the “two north rooms….with the privilege of using the chamber, oven and cellar as may suit them…”

The day-to-day requirements of life reflected in these agreements changed as life on Nelson’s farms changed. Continue Reading »

Wanted: Old Photos of Nelson and Munsonville

by on July 20, 2013 in History, Home Page

We will be scanning photos on three different days at the Library:
Monday the 12th from 10 to 1
Wednesday the 14th from 4 to 6
Thursday the 15th from 6-7:30
History Group members will be there to assist.

Old CarDo you have old photos of Nelson and Munsonville – people, scenes, events – that you are willing to share? A group of local residents has been meeting informally to start putting together a digital archive of historic photographs of our town. Nelson’s 250th anniversary in 2017 is not far off, and we hope to be able to publish as many photographs as possible online (on the History section of this web site) or (if we stumble upon a pot of gold) in print.

We are asking people to bring their treasured old photographs to the library during Old Home Week, August 10-17, where we will be set up to scan them, write down caption information, and return the originals. We do not want to keep any original photographs. We would be happy to email you a digital file of your photographs. Watch for notices in the Old Home Day issue of the Grapevine II, the Moving in Step calendar, and posters around town for specific times for scanning.

The Nelson History Group usually meets on the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the library. The group is informal and voluntary, and anyone interested in local history is welcome to take part. For more information, call Karen Tolman (827-3226), Don or Barbara Bennett (847-3347), Bert Wingerson (847-9945), or Susan Hansel (847-9918).


Social Contracts of the Early Settlers

[Editors Note: The issue of social security is prevalent in our lives today. But this has always been a concern. In exploring our town's archives, Rich Church has come across information about how people met the needs of being cared for in their later years. In this article (and another to be published in the near future) Rick shows us what solutions were put in place.]

Waterfall on the road to Benjamin Sawyer’s farm house

Waterfall on the road to Benjamin Sawyer’s farm house

Families moving to a frontier town like Packersfield employed a number of strategies to sustain themselves. They often came with others they knew from their hometowns and settled near one another in their new home. Often those clusters of new arrivals were related. In the second generation they often took steps to keep the farm in the family and provide for their old age. The Sawyer Family who settled in the northeast corner of Packersfield did all of these things. Continue Reading »

One Selectmen’s Report 6-16-13

by on June 17, 2013 in Home Page, Town Government
from Selectman David Upton
Hello everyone,
Wow, it’s hard to believe that almost two months have passed since my last report to you. I’m writing today to report the progress that we’ve made toward filling the vacancies that exist in the leadership positions for our Fire Department and toward contracting architectural services for our Town Hall and Library Basement construction projects.

As I reported on 4/20, your Select Board has been working with Rick Lothrop to develop job descriptions for three leadership positions for our Fire Department; Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief for Operations and Deputy Fire Chief for Administration. During this process we have also consulted with Chief Dennis Rosolen of the NH Bureau of Firefighter Training and Certification and Mr. Ron O’Keefe our Safety Advisor for our liability insurance carrier at the Local Government Center and former Fire Chief for the Town of Durham, NH. All three of these gentlemen concur with the duties and required qualifications described in these job descriptions [download]. The Select Board approved these job descriptions on June 5th and has reopened the application period for these positions for those members of the Nelson Fire Department who wish to apply. The application period will remain open until the positions are filled, or until the Select Board becomes convinced that all members of the Nelson Fire Department who wish to apply have done so. Continue Reading »

Farm Table

by on June 12, 2013 in Agriculture, Food, Home Page, Promote

Farm Table The Nelson Congregational Church and the Nelson Agricultural Commission are proud to announce the return of the Sunday Farm Table on the church lawn starting on Sunday June 16 continuing on Sundays through the local growing season to September 15  from 9am-3:30pm.  Available local produce, foods, even flowers will be at table on the grass strip to the right side of the church. The commission and local farmers and anyone with produce to give are encouraged to share their abundance. The Farm Table project was envisioned as farmers had an abundance of produce and our communities have many mouths to feed.

The church and commission will rotate shared responsibility for setup and cleanup.  Anyone wishing to help is welcome to sign up.  Call David Voymas  (Ag .Com. chair for more information, ideas and questions ) at 847-3137.

The Farm Table will be set and a donation box on the table will be available.  All are welcome at the Farm Table.   Proceeds will help fund local missions and needs.

What’s Up With the Town Hall?

by on June 7, 2013 in History, Home Page, Promote

Nelson Town HallThis photograph was recently discovered. It shows our Town Hall, but close scrutiny reveals that it is up a half-story from its present height (see the stairs leading to the door). Stay tuned for more information about this: when was the photo taken, when did the hall get “lowered” , etc. Click on the image for an enlarged view.