General History of Alstead New Hampshire

ALSTEAD, with an area of 24,756 acres, lies in the extreme northern part of the county, in 43° 6′ of north latitude, and longitude 4° 48′ east from Washington,* bounded north by Sullivan county, east by Marlow, south by Gilsum and Surry, and west by Walpole and a part of Sullivan county. The territory now lying within its limits was originally granted by Gov. Benning Wentworth, probably in 1761. He at that time granted charters for seventy-eight townships, lying on both sides of the Connecticut, principally for the purpose of establishing a claim to the territory in the then unsettled certainty of the colony’s western boundary line, and among them was, undoubtedly, this township. The new town was given a name evolved from its own infantile state, namely, ” New Town.” These words, however, from first being wedded by a hyphen, in course of time, with clipped edges, coalesced into plain ” Newton.” But, neither as ” New Town,” ” New-town” or “Newton,” did, the infant exist long enough to awake to self-consciousness; for the proprietors failed to comply with the requirements of their charter deed, hence lost all title to the land-thus perished the infant.

On the 6th of August, 1763, Governor Wentworth issued a charter, granting the present Alstead to Samuel Chase and seventy associates, of which the following is a copy. We print this in full; but as all the Wentworth charters were made out after the same form, this will serve as a sample of the charter deeds of most of the towns of the county, and we shall omit them hereafter.

“GEORGE the Third

[L.S.] ” By the grace of God, of Gt. Britain, France and Ireland, KING, Defender of the Faith- &c.,

“To all persons to whom these presents shall come, Greeting: Know ye that we, of our special grace, certain knowledge, and meet motion for the due encouragement of settling a new Plantation within our said Province, by and with the advice of our trusty and well beloved BENNING WENTWORTH, ESQ., our Governor and Commander-in-chief of our said Province of New Hampshire, in New England, and of our Council of the said Province, Have,

*As the whole county is in north latitude, with longitude reckoned from Washington, the words north and east will hereafter be omitted upon the condition and regulations hereinafter made, Given and Granted, and these presents for Us, our Heirs and Successors, Do give and grant, in equal shares, unto our loving subjects, inhabitants of our said Province of New Hampshire, and to them and their heirs and assigns forever, whose names are entered on this grant, to be divided to and amongst them into seventy-six equal shares, all that tract or parcel of land situate, lying and being within our said Province of New Hampshire, Containing by a measurement 23,040 acres, which tract is to contain six miles square and no more, out of which an allowance is to be made for highways and unimprovable lands by rocks, ponds, mountains and rivers, 1,040 acres, according to a plan and survey thereof made by said Governor and returned into the Secretary’s office and hereunto annexed, Butted and Bounded as follows ; Beginning at the Northeast corner of Walpole, at a stake and stones standing in the Southerly sideline of Charlestown, from thence running South, by Walpole, to the Northwest corner of Gilsum, five miles and 256 rods, to a stake and stones in Southwestern corner of meadow; from thence North, by the needle, six miles and 292 rods, to the Northwestern corner of Marlow ; from thence West, by the needle, three miles and z88 rods, to a stake and stones in Charlestown side-line; thence South 16o rods to the southeastern comer of said Charlestown, thence Westerly, by said Charlestown, to the bounds began at. And the same be and hereby is incorporated into a township by the name of Alstead, and the Inhabitants that do, or shall hereafter, inhabit the said township are hereby. Declared to be enfranchised with and entitled to and every the privileges and immunities that other towns within our Province by law exercise and enjoy: and farther, that the said town, as soon as there shall be fifty families resident and settled thereon, shall have the liberty of holding two. fairs, one of which shall be on the -, and the other on the , annually, which fairs are not to continue longer than the respective –, following said –. And that as soon as the said town shall consist of fifty families a market may be and shall be kept one or more days in each week, as may be thought most advantageous to the inhabitants: also that the first meeting for the choice of town officers, agreeable to the laws of our said Province, shall be held on the last Tuesday in November next, which said meeting shall be notified by Samuel Chase, who is hereby appointed the moderator of said first meeting, which he is to notify and govern agreeable to the laws and customs of our said Province; and that the annual meeting for ever hereafter for the choice of such officers for the said town shall be or, the 2d Tuesday of March, annually: To have and to hold said Tract of land as above expressed, together with all the privileges and appurtenances to them and their respective Heirs and Assigns forever, upon the following conditions, viz

I. That every grantee, his heirs or assigns, shall Plant and Cultivate five acres of land, within the term of five years, for every fifty acres contained in his or their shares or Proportion of land in said township, and continue to improve and settle the same by additional Cultivation, on Penalty of the forfeiture of his grant or share in the said township, and of its reverting to us, or Heirs and successors, to be by us or them Regranted to such of our subjects as shall effectually settle and cultivate the same:

II. That all white and other pine trees within the said township, fit for masting our Royal navy, be carefully preserved for that use and none to be cut or felled without our special license for so doing first had and obtained, upon the Penalty of the forfeiture of the right of such grantee, his Heirs and assigns, to us, our Heirs and successors, as well as being subject to the Penalty of any actor acts of Parliament that now are or hereafter shall be enacted:

III. That before any division of the land be made to and among the grantees, a tract of land as near the center of the said Township as the land will admit of shall be reserved and marked out for town lots, one of which shall be allotted to each grantee, of the contents of one acre:

IV. Yielding and paying therefor to us, our heirs and assessors, for the -space of ten years, to be completed from the date hereof, the rent of one ear of Indian corn only, on the 25th day of December, annually, if lawfully demanded, the first payment to be made on the 25th day of December, 1763:

V. Every proprietor, settler or inhabitant, shall yield and pay unto us, our heirs and successors, yearly and every year forever, from and after ye expiration of ten years from the above 25th day of December, which will be in -the year of our Lord 0775, one shilling proclamation money for every too acres he so owns, settles or possesses, in proportion for a greater or lesser tract of the said land, which money shall be paid by the respective Persons alone, their heirs or assigns, in our council chamber in Portsmouth, or to such officer or officers as shall be appointed to receive the same, and this to be in lieu of all other rents and services whatsoever:

” In testimony whereof we have caused the seal of our said Province to be hereunto affixed, witness, Benning Wentworth, Esq., governor and cornmander-in-chief of our said Province, the 6th day of August, in the year of our Lord Christ, 1763, and in the third year of our reign.

By His Excellency’s command, B WENTWORTH. with advice of council.

” Province of New Hampshire, August 16th, 1768, Recorded in the book of charters, No. 2, page 500 and Sot.

“A true copy, examined by Timothy Delano,

” Props. Clerk.”

The surface of the town is irregular and broken, though no mountains are found within the limits. Prentice hill, located near the center, is said to be the highest point. Warren brook and Cold river are the principal streams, though there are a number of minor importance, among them several branches of the Ashuelot, which have their sources here. There are also a number of natural ponds, Warren and Caldwell being the largest, the former lying in the eastern and the latter in the southern part. Warren pond, the largest in the town, is very irregular in outline, covering an area of about 500 acres. Iris well supplied with the common species of fish, is quite free from obstructions and affords fine boating facilities. It is well supplied with pleasure crafts, including a steam yacht. Warren brook, the outlet of the pond, flows a northwesterly course, through a deep and narrow valley, until it unites with Cold river, which flows a southwesterly course, through a similar valley, into Langdon. Among the small ponds in the southern part of the town, two are noted for the great quantities of white pond lilies they afford. The valuable mica mine of S. A. Mitchel, on road 47, was opened by Joseph Bowers, of Acworth, about 1834, and was afterward carried on by his son, Joseph S., until 1876, when Mr. Mitchel became a partner, and since 1879 has been sole owner. He employs five men. A valuable mica mine in the southeastern part of the town was opened in August, 1884, by James Davis. The mica in both mines is said to be of a superior quality. Four hands are engaged by Mr. Davis in mining the article.

In 1880 Alstead had a population of 1,037 souls, and in 1884 it had thirteen school districts and fourteen public schools, two of which were graded. There were 218 pupils attending public school, taught by two male and seventeen female teachers, the former receiving an average monthly salary of $31.00, and the latter $20.44. The fourteen school-houses, including furniture, etc. were valued at $5,000.00. The whole amount raised for school purposes during the year was $2,657.66, while the total amount expended was $2,387.50, with E. M. Smith superintendent.


Hurd, Duane Hamilton. History of Cheshire and Sullivan counties, New Hampshire. Philadelphia: J. W. Lewis. 1886.

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