Planet Ipswich : A bridge between the Ipswiches of the world

New Ipswich, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, USA

New Ipswich is situated at 42° 44 53 N 71° 51 15 W in Hillsborough County in the south of the state of New Hampshire.

Population:- New Ipswich’s population, as at the 2010 census was 5,099.

How to get there:-

By road: From Manchester take State Highway 101 west, then State Highway 31 south to State Highway 123.

From Boston take US Highway 3 north to Nassau, then follow State Highway 101A west to the intersection with State Highway 101, before following directions from Manchester as above.

From the west take State Highway 101 east, then State Highway 123 on to State Highway 124.

There is no rail service to New Ipswich.

Nearest airport is Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, 35 miles from New Ipswich.

Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5 hrs).  Daylight saving time in summer + 1 hr.

 

Order of contents on this page: (Click on the links below)

History:

Pre-European Settlement

Early Settlement & Derivation of Name

Villages of New Ipswich 

New Ipswich Company in the Revolutionary War 

New Ipswich Center Village Historic District

Buildings:

Barrett House

Appleton Academy

People:

Samuel Appleton

Nathan Appleton

Benjamin Champney

Augustus Addison Gould

Geography:

New Ipswich Mountain

The Wapack Trail

Wapack Wilderness

Nussdorfer Nature Area

Windblown Cross Country Ski Area

Souhegan River

Hillsborough County                


Pre-European Settlement

As far so we know, no Native Americans ever made their homes in the New Ipswich area.  They only came here to hunt.  The tribe that probably came here most frequently would have been the Souhegan, one of the smaller tribes within the Pennacook Confederacy, which had its settlement at Amherst, 20 miles to the northeast of New Ipswich.  The Souhegan River is a tributary of the Merrimack River that begins in New Ipswich.  Nobody is sure what the name “Souhegan” actually means.  The word itself can mean “a waiting and watching place”, which could have been applied to the fish weirs set across rapids where they waited to catch the fish.  It could be a contraction of “souheganash”, meaning worn-out lands, referring to the more barren uplands around New Ipswich, or there is the word “souheganoe”, which means crooked, so the name Souhegan might mean “crooked river.”

Although they had remained neutral, the Pennacook people were attacked by British troops during King Philip’s War (1675-76), a general Indian uprising against the settlers, and the Pennacook had to abandon this area, and they took refuge in Quebec under French protection, where they became assimilated with other Abenaki exiles. (see also Ipswich, Massachusetts page for general information regarding pre-European New Hampshire & Massachusetts).

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Early Settlement & Derivation of Name

The land in the area that was to become New Ipswich was granted as a township six miles square by the General Court (Assembly) of Massachusetts on 15 January 1736 to a group of sixty people who lived in Ipswich, Massachusetts (approximately 50 miles away).  They became proprietors of the land and each grantee had to arrange for the clearance and settlement of his plot within five years.  In 1737 the first road through the area was constructed, which later became known as the ‘Old Country Road’.  The following year, the first permanent settlement was established by Abijah Foster and his family.  

Although the proprietors lived in Ipswich, Massachusetts, they did not necessarily need to settle the land themselves.  In fact, only two of the original settlers came from Ipswich: Abijah Foster (1708-1759) and Henry Pudney; three-quarters of the first occupants before 1750 came from Middlesex County, Massachusetts, mostly from Concord and Littleton.  

The township’s growth was limited in part by concern as to whether Massachusetts had claim to the land since this was disputed by the heirs of John Mason, the grantee of New Hampshire.  It was not until 1745 that the area of New Ipswich was finally ruled to be in New Hampshire.  The other factor against early settlement was the fear of Indian attacks.  In 1748 all the residents, but Captain Moses Tucker, abandoned their homes when such an attack occurred and the meeting house was burnt to the ground.   

The confirmation of the claim by the heirs of John Mason annulled the existing titles to the land so the proprietors had to procure another grant from the New Hampshire authorities.  The first charter, known as the Masonian Charter, was issued on 17th April 1750, and clearly refers to the township of New Ipswich.  The conditions of the new grant were very similar to the former grant, but now the proprietors had full title to the land.

The Masonian Charter established 30 new proprietors of whom only 13 resided in the township.  Of the 30 proprietors, six were from Ipswich, Massachusetts, (Thomas Adams, Isaac Appleton, Robert Choate, Thomas Dennis, Abijah Foster and Henry Pudney) and, of these, only two (previously mentioned) actually lived at New Ipswich.  There is no evidence that the others ever resided in the town, although the sons of Thomas Adams and Isaac Appleton did later come to live here.  

The first written reference to “New Ipswich” is in the journal of the surveyor, Richard Hazzen, in March 1741.  Although this name was in use from the 1740s, initially the town was incorporated as Ipswich on 9th September 1762.  A second act of incorporation on 6th March 1766, however, reverted to the name of New Ipswich.

Although incorporation made little real difference to the existing governance of New Ipswich, it now placed it on a proper legal footing with elected officials for a fixed term of office.  Hitherto, proprietors had met once a year and appointed officers to act for them “at their pleasure”.  These were invariably men selected by the residents who, in the absence of the proprietors, met in committee to ensure that the public duties, such as maintenance of the highways, were conducted properly.

In 1801 the first woollen mill in New Hampshire was founded in New Ipswich, powered by the waters of the Souhegan River.  Three years later the first cotton mill was established.

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Villages of New Ipswich

The 33.1 square miles of New Ipswich also include the six villages of Bank, Davis, Gibson Four Corners, Highbridge, Smithville and Wilder.  Early settlement of New Ipswich comprised scattered farmsteads three or four miles apart, but the nucleus of the community was always at the location that became Center Village (see New Ipswich Center Village Historic District, below).  The town was divided into districts for “schooling” purposes in 1770.  At first these were given geographic designations, such as “West”, “Northeast, “Middle”, “Southeast”, etc. The districts were frequently referred to after the owner of the most prominent house in the district, and later in the 19th century definitive names were given to these scattered communities.  The derivation of these names is as follows.         

Bank Village: This is just a mile east of Center Village on the west bank (hence its name) of the Souhegan River.  This was an early name given in the 1750s to the houses grouped around the first bridge crossing the river on the Old Country Road.  

Davis Village: This is half a mile northwest of Center Village, just south of the present Turnpike Road.  It was first known as “Bakehouse Village” from 1785 when Samuel Batchelder (1755-1814) arrived from Salem and converted his premises into a bakery and store.  His son, Samuel, continued the business until 1826.  He then moved to Lowell, Massachusetts, where he became a prominent businessman in the State.  After his departure, the name Davis Village was applied because Joseph Davis (1744-1838) used to hold weekly prayer meetings in his home, and also at the homes of other members of the Davis family; these meetings took place from 1810 to 1860.        

Gibson Four Corners: Situated two miles south of Center Village on the west bank of the South Branch Souhegan River.  Dr Stillman Gibson (1781-1838) moved from Ashby, Massachusetts to New Ipswich in 1812 and bought a farm in the present locality.  Such was his reputation for treating sick domestic animals, that signposts were put in place directing people to his farm, thus giving rise to the name of “Gibson’s Village”.  As this was near the crossroads junction of Ashby Road, running west to east, and River Road/Ashburnham Road, running north to south, the later designation of “Gibson Four Corners” came into use during the 20th century.    

Highbridge: This is the community east of the present river crossing along Turnpike Road.  It was first settled in 1750 by John Chandler, who entered a contract with the proprietors to build two mills there.  A second bridge was built in 1752 “near the mills” just north of the original crossing point.  It was constructed at a higher level to avoid the spring floods when the river was swollen from melting ice and snow.  Hence it became known as “High Bridge”, as did the community that developed near to it.  

Smithville: This community lies two miles southwest of Center Village.  It was originally known as “Mill Village” after the mills built there in 1754 by Zachariah Adams.  Jeremiah Smith (1797-1872), whose grandfather came to New Ipswich from Leominster, Massachusetts, in c.1764, bought the house of Ebenezer Fletcher, the largest in the locality, and made part of it a country store which became a postal drop.  Hence, from about 1850 the community became known as “Smith Village”, and when a post office was opened there in 1892 it was officially renamed “Smithville”.    

Wilder Village: This community is on Turnpike Road (Route 124) four and a half miles northwest of New Ipswich near the boundary with the town of Sharon.  It takes its name from Peter Wilder whose family lived at Keene, New Hampshire.  He was a chairmaker who moved here in 1810.  He and his son-in-law, Abijah Wetherbee, established the Wilder Chair Factory at the junction of the Turnpike Road with Old Nashua Road.  “Wilder Chairs” are now much sought after by furniture collectors.  A small settlement grew up around the factory.  The factory closed down in 1869 following a disastrous spring flood, but the settlement of Wilder Village survives today. 

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New Ipswich Company in the Revolutionary War

New Ipswich did not raise a town militia, as did most other towns in New England.  Native Americans had never inhabited the area, so there was no deemed threat to warrant the formal establishment of a town militia.  The settlers made very few preparations to meet an attack, and no public structure was ever built as a place of safety in such an eventuality.  However, the New Hampshire Militia was first organised in March 1680, and after New Ipswich had been settled in 1735, men from the town are known to have served in that militia.

When news of the Battle of Lexington and Concord (19th April 1775) that started the Revolutionary War for independence reached New Hampshire,  men from New Ipswich set out on 20th April along with other men from New Hampshire under Thomas Heald from New Ipswich as Captain.  As volunteers, some men only signed up for a specific assignment and returned after two weeks service, whilst others enlisted for eight months.  Capt. Ezra Towne of New Ipswich was given the task of forming a Company on 23rd April 1775.  There were 35 men enrolled from New Ipswich and 30 others from the surrounding towns and villages; all of the officers were of the town, and it was called the “New Ipswich Company”.  This New Ipswich contingent formed the 4th Company in Col. James Reed’s 3rd New Hampshire Regiment, and took part in the Battle of Bunker Hill (17th June 1775).  Most men served until the departure of the British from Boston on 17th March 1776 (see Suffolk County Militia on Suffolk County, Mass. page of www.planetsuffolk.com).

Lieut.-Col. Thomas Heald and Capt. Ezra Towne also led men who were called up for service in campaigns along the Canadian border in February 1776, and there were further call-outs in February, May and July 1777.  The general purpose of the local militia was to assist the Northern Continental Army in its defence against incursions from Canada, particularly from Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain.  By 1778 the urgency of the situation had eased, and there were fewer calls on the men.  No battles were fought on New Hampshire soil.  In all, out of a population of 1,033, New Ipswich sent about 275 men to serve, of whom one was killed in action, 8 or 10 were severely wounded, and another 20 died from sickness (mainly smallpox) while in the army.

Following the American Revolution, State law required that the town Company parade and drill annually every May on Muster Day.  However, after years of successful application, Muster Day became more a day of celebration, and the old militia law was not followed with any vigour.  Finally, in 1855 the need for a militia organisation was abolished and the muster was no longer required.

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New Ipswich Center Village Historic District

Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 due to its architectural significance, the New Ipswich Center Village Historic District is situated around the original settlement area in New Ipswich. With examples of Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, French Second Empire & Shingle styles of architecture, the Historic District chronicles the periods of historical development of the town from 1735 to 1930. Although the area is mainly residential, the development of the commercial, industrial, professional, religious & educational life of the town is also represented. The district consists of around 150 properties, most of which date from before 1850, although some buildings are of more recent vintage.

Situated south of Turnpike Road, the New Ipswich Center Village Historic District is located in the general vicinity of Main Street, Porter Hill Road, Manley Road, King Road & Old Country Road. Included within the area are six schools or former schools, two churches, two former post offices, town hall, a nineteenth century meeting hall, & several former hotels, taverns & shops.

Two of the earliest buildings still standing date from the 1760s: Reverend Stephen Farrar House on Turnpike Road, which was built around 1762, & Preston-King House on King Road, built in 1763-64.

The first New Ipswich Academy building, which was built in 1789, stands close to the original Meetinghouse on what was then known as Meetinghouse Hill (modern day Porter Hill Road). It was converted to a private residence in the nineteenth century. (See Appleton Academy section, below).

With the construction of the Third New Hampshire Turnpike in 1800, a number of other Federal style houses sprang up along Main Street. As well as the Barrett House (see section below) these included the Locke-Quimby House, the Matthias Wilson House, the Farwell-Fox House, the Abel Shattuck House, and the Farwell-Spaulding House, Each of these is a five-bay, two-and-a-half storey house. Others were built in the Greek Revival style, such as the Tolman-Sanderson House, the Jefts-Taylor House, the Dolly Everett House & the Shedd-Preston House (Friendship Manor).

Two school buildings also date from the first half of the nineteenth century. One, the Old Number 1 School House, was built in 1829 & now serves as the New Ipswich Historical Society’s premises. The other, a Greek Revival style building, was completed in 1842.

Another structure in the Greek Revival style is the Baptist Church at the junction of Old Country Road & Main Street, which dates from 1850. It was later bought by the Apostolic Lutheran Church, which was established in the town in 1905; a result of the influx of people of Finnish descent during the early twentieth century.

The Homestead Inn, established around 1895, on the corner of Old Country Road and Main Street, was once a charitable institution established by the Church of the Good Shepherd, Boston. It operated as such until 1915. Thereafter it was purchased by James C. Barr, who ran it as an hotel until 1929, when it burnt down. Barr & his extended family also accumulated the majority of the land along the east side of Main Street, between Old Country Road & the Turnpike. Previous generations of the Barr family had also had a substantial influence on New Ipswich since the arrival of James Barr in 1775 (great grandfather of the above).

From the late nineteenth century until around 1930, New Ipswich became a popular resort with summer visitors, & two hotels - the Appleton Arms (later known as Appleton Inn or Manor) & Clark's Hotel (later known as the 1808 House) - plus a number of boarding houses, sprang up in the district. Many houses in what would become the Historic District were, during this period, used as summer only dwellings. Most were already existing buildings converted for purpose, but a few new houses were also erected. One such that was built at this time was an elegant Colonial Revival style summer house; built for Samuel Tarbell Ames & family, & situated close to the Appleton Academy.

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Barrett House

Situated on Main Street & also known as Forest Hall, Barrett House is a Federal style American mansion,  built for Charles Barrett Jr. by his father as a wedding present around the year 1800. 

Charles Barrett Sr. had arrived in New Ipswich around the year 1764 from Boston. He later invested in the first cotton mill in New Hampshire, at Bank Village, New Ipswich. Charles Jr. was also involved in the cotton manufacturing industry.

The house remained in the Barrett family until 1948, although after 1887 the house was used as a summer residence only. From 1916 onwards it remained unoccupied & boarded up, until in 1948 the house was donated to Historic New England, who undertook extensive restoration work before opening it as a museum in 1950. 

Within the 75 acres of grounds, consisting mainly of woodland & meadow, can be found an 1840s gothic revival summerhouse. The grounds are also open to museum visitors.

The house was used as a location in the 1979 film ‘The Europeans’, based on the novel by Henry James & starring Lee Remick.

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Appleton Academy

Chartered in 1789, New Ipswich Academy was the second oldest academy in New Hampshire.

The first New Ipswich Academy building was built that same year, & was in use until 1853, when the school relocated from Meetinghouse Hill to a new building constructed in the late-Federal style, further along Main Street. This building burnt down in 1941, but was rebuilt on the same site. 

According to the Academy’s Act of Incorporation, the school was to provide education in the English, Latin and Greek languages, in Writing, Arithmetic, Music and the Art of Speaking, practical Geometry, Logic, Geography, and such other of the liberal arts and sciences or languages, as opportunity may hereafter permit.

It was later renamed Appleton Academy after its benefactor Samuel Appleton (see below), who, amongst other things, donated a library. Other members of the Appleton family also made contributions to the school.

Appleton Academy closed in 1968.

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Samuel Appleton

Born in New Ipswich in 1766, merchant & philanthropist Samuel Appleton was descended from the family that left Suffolk, England in the seventeenth century & settled at Ipswich, Massachusetts (see Appleton Farms on the Ipswich, Massachusetts page).  With his brother Nathan, he established S & N Appleton in 1794; an importing company based in Boston. He later opened cotton mills in Massachusetts.  After visiting Europe in 1799, he spent much of the following twenty years in Britain. In 1823 he retired from business & devoted much of his wealth to charities, including the Appleton Cabinet at Amherst College, the Appleton Chapel at Harvard University & the Appleton Academy in New Ipswich (see above). He died in 1853, leaving large sums of money for ‘scientific, literary, religious & charitable purposes’.

The city of Appleton in Wisconsin is named after him, as was the 808 ton ship the Samuel Appleton built in Medford, Massachusetts in 1846.

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Nathan Appleton

Brother of Samuel, Nathan Appleton was born in New Ipswich in 1779. After going into business with his brother, he was instrumental in introducing the manufacture of cotton on a large scale into the United States; a factory that he helped establish at Waltham, Massachusetts in 1814 being the first to use a power loom. He was one of the founders of the city of Lowell, which grew around the mills he helped establish at Pawtucket Falls, Massachusetts.

Nathan Appleton was also a politician; being a member of the general court of Massachusetts on several occasions from 1816 onwards. He was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1831 & again in 1842. He died in Boston in 1861.

One of Nathan Appleton’s daughters, Frances (1817-1861) known as “Fanny”, married the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), famous for  “The Song of Hiawatha”  & “Paul Revere’s Ride”.

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Benjamin Champney

Landscape artist Benjamin Champney was born in New Ipswich in November 1817.   He is widely considered to be the founder of the White Mountain school of painters; a group centred around the North Conway area of New Hampshire, approximately 100 miles northeast of New Ipswich, during the second half of the nineteenth century.

After training as a lithographer in Boston, Champney went to study in Europe in 1841. He returned to America in 1848 & two years later set up a studio in the White Mountains that was to attract artists from all over the country.

Champney was a founder of the Boston Art Club in 1855; becoming its president the following year. His autobiography “Sixty Years’ Memories of Art & Artists” was published in 1900. He died in Woburn, Massachusetts in December 1907.

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Augustus Addison Gould

Born in New Ipswich in 1805, Augustus Addison Gould, graduated from Harvard in 1825 & obtained his degree as a doctor of medicine in 1830. He became president of the Massachusetts Medical Society in 1864; a position he was top hold until his death in 1866.

He is more famous, however, as a naturalist; specialising in the fields of Malacology (the study of molluscs) & Conchology (the study of mollusc shells).  As well as writing prolifically for various scientific publications & journals, such as those of the Boston Society of Natural History, his most important published works are Mollusca and Shells vol. xii, 1852 of the United States Exploring Expedition (an exploring and surveying expedition of the Pacific Ocean undertaken from 1838–1842 by the US Navy) & his Report on the Invertebrata published in 1841.

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New Ipswich Mountain

Within the 33.1 square miles that make up the town of New Ipswich stands the 1881 ft peak known as New Ipswich Mountain, part of the Wapack Range (also known as the Pack Monadneck Range). To the north lies Barrett Mountain & to the south Stony Top, which is part of Pratt mountain. The Wapack Trail traverses the area (see below). This is a 21 mile long hiking trail which spans the border between Massachusetts & New Hampshire.

Mostly wooded, New Ipswich Mountain has rocky outcrops near the summit & offers spectacular views of the surrounding area.
         

                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                     View from New Ipswich Mountain

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The Wapack Trail

The Wapack Trail stretches from south to north, starting at Ashburnham, Massachusetts & ending at Greenfield, New Hampshire; a distance of 21 miles.  From Ashburton, it passes through Ashby, then crosses the state border into New Hampshire & passes through the towns of New Ipswich, Temple, Sharon & Peterborough, before reaching its conclusion in Greenfield.  It also passes through the Wapack National Wildlife Refuge & Miller State Park. The southern part of the trail overlaps with the Midstate Trail.

The seeds of the Wapack Trail were sown in Jaffrey, New Hampshire in 1922, when Allen Chamberlain & Albert Annett had the idea of creating a trail beginning at Mount Watatic & following the ridge of what were at the time known as the Boundary Mountains, along Pratt, New Ipswich, Barrett & Temple Mountains to North Pack Monadnock.

That summer, Annett, together with Frank Robbins & Marion Buck (Davis) began cutting the trail, which opened the following year.  The name Wapack was taken from the ‘wa’ at the beginning of Watatic, & ‘pack’ from North Pack Monadnock; signifying the start & finish of the trail. Since that time, the mountain range itself has become known as the Wapack Range. The trail is now maintained & overseen by the ‘Friends of the Wapack’; a non profit organisation formed in 1980.

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Wapack Wilderness

Straddling the border between the towns of New Ipswich & Rindge, the Wapack Wilderness is a 1,400 acre site featuring old-growth forest, rocky ridges & wetlands. The area is home to a wide variety of wildlife species including moose, bobcat, beaver, otter, white-tailed deer, coyote, & red fox. The land is owned by Hampshire Country School, formerly known as Cheshire Place; a private school just over the border in Rindge.

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Nussdorfer Nature Area

With more than 60 acres of woodland, marshland & hiking trails, the Nussdorfer Nature Reserve is situated on Route 124, one mile from the junction with Route 123. The reserve includes Hoar Pond, which has a picnic site & can be used for canoeing & fishing.

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Windblown Cross Country Ski Area

This area, within New Ipswich, was opened in 1972 & is the brainchild of Al Jenks. Centred around Barrett Mountain, the Windblown Cross Country Ski Area is traversed by the Wapack Trail & includes 25 miles of trails for cross country skiing,  graded from easiest to most difficult.  Some of the trails are also suitable for snowshoeing.  During the off-season the trails can also be used by hikers. The landscape includes woods, fields, valleys & ponds, with scenic views to be had of Mount Monadnock.     

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Souhegan River

Formed where the West Branch Souhegan & the South Branch Souhegan meet in New Ipswich, the Souhegan River flows 31 miles through the towns of Greenville, Wilton, Milford, Amherst & Merrimack, where it joins the Merrimack River.  The river is popular with anglers; with native species such as brook trout, smallmouth bass, yellow perch & dace being supplemented with stocks of rainbow trout, brown trout & Atlantic salmon introduced by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. The lower reaches of the river, especially in the Greenville & Wilton areas, east of New Ipswich, are also renowned for white water rafting & kayaking. The Souhegan is also an important water supply for the region & a generator of hydro electric power.

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Hillsborough County

New Ipswich is situated in the south west corner of Hillsborough County, which is the most populous & densely populated county of New Hampshire. Bordering Cheshire County in the west, Sullivan to the northwest, Merrimack to the north & Rockingham in the east, the southern border is with Middlesex & Worcester Counties, over the state boundary in Massachusetts.

Hillsborough was one of the five original counties of New Hampshire in 1769 & was named after Wills Hill, Viscount Hillsborough, who was British Secretary of State for the Colonies at that time. The twin county seats are Manchester & Nassau, both to the east of New Ipswich.

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