Meredith Timeline

1622:  First European colony is established in New Hampshire under John Mason.

1620s:  The King of England granted John Mason a swath of the colony from the Seacoast 60 miles inland. The grant encompassed the Lakes Region.

1680s – 1763:  Anglo-French conflicts in Europe spill into the North American colonies on five separate occasions. The French align with New Hampshire based Abenaki whose roots date back thousands of years. The warfare prevents any settlement in the Lakes Region.

1740:  The King’s council settles a border dispute between New Hampshire and Massachusetts establishing the southern New Hampshire border where it is today. Massachusetts had claimed all of the territory up to the Lakes Region until then. The settlement revalidated John Mason’s grant.

1744:  Mason’s grant is sold by his heir to 12 wealthy NH Seacoast men (who became known as the Masonian Proprietors), giving them ownership of a huge territory including the Lakes Region.

1748:  The Masonian Proprietors begin giving away ‘townships’ to groups of interested colonists. The groups become called ‘Township Proprietors’. Each group includes 60 to 80 men who become responsible for developing a township according to parameters laid out and monitored by the Masonian Proprietors.

December 1748:  An unnamed township (the future Meredith) is granted north of the Winnipesaukee and Pemigewassett Rivers to 60 Township Proprietors laargely drawn from Exeter and Stratham. The future town of Sanbornton was granted to a different group at the same time.

1750: The Township Proprietors name their new township ‘Salem’.

1750:  The southern portion of Salem is surveyed and delineated into 100 acre lots. The survey establishes a saw mill site at the southern most point, along the Winnipesaukee River (the present downtown Laconia).

1752:  The name of the township is changed to ‘New Salem’ after it was learned the border town of Salem had been incorporated in 1750.

1754:  Another survey is undertaken of the new township, and the surveyor convinces the Masonian Proprietors to increase the size of New Salem by 50%. The increase added Meredith Neck to the township.  The surveyor argued that the original area was severely limited by the number of lakes within its bounds.

1762:  The first settlement activity in the township began led by Ebenezer Smith. Smith was not an original Township Proprietor but bought his way into that role in 1759. He became the leader of the process and the undisputed ‘father’ of the town.

1764:  The first permanent settlers arrived in New Salem, following the finally peace treaty ending the war between the English and French. They all settle within the First Division that was originally surveyed in 1750. Most of them started farms along what became Parade Road (now Rte 106). By September 1766, there were a dozen farms in various stages of development.  The end of the war resulted in a huge expansion of the New Hampshire population that lasted for several decades.

1765:  Ebenezer Smith orchestrated the completion of the first bridge across the Winnipesaukee River and the saw mill located nearby. The location became known as Meredith Bridge (now downtown Laconia).

1768:  New Salem was officially incorporated as a ‘town’ by the state legislature. Its population was said to be 28. At the Provincial Governor’s whim, the name of the town is changed to Meredith to curry favor with an English benefactor.

1769:  A grist mill is built on the outlet of Wicwas Lake at what became Meredith Center.

1769:  The Province Road is built out through Meredith. The road was ordered built by the Provincial Governor to connect the Seacoast with the northern Connecticut River region. Each town was responsible for building its section. The road ran through Gilmanton, reaching Meredith at Meredith Bridge and exiting into New Hampton.

1769:  The first town meeting was convened at the house of Ebenezer Smith (just north of Lake Opechee) and moderated by William Mead. This and future meetings dealt with town-wide affairs such as roads, schooling, and religion. At the same time, Meredith’s Township Proprietors continued to hold their own regular meetings and continued to consult with the Masonian Proprietors about the disposition of land that still fell within their ownership. This included so-called ‘common lands’ sprinkled throughout the town and owned jointly by both groups of proprietors.

1770:  Ebenezer Smith and William Mead complete the first surveys of the Second and Third Divisions of Meredith.

1774:  The town built a road branching off the Province Road and running to the Moultonborough border (now the Village of Center Harbor). This road opened up the unsettled lands that comprise Meredith Village.

1775:  Chase Robinson settled on his lot in Division 1, Range 6, Lot 6 (near Winnisquam), becoming the only original Meredith Township Proprietor to actual move to town.

1775-1782:  Led by Ebenezer Smith, Meredith men play an active role in the American Revolution. Ebenezer Smith was the town’s delegate to the convention held at Exeter in 1775.

1778:  Ebenezer Smith is chosen by the town to represent Meredith at a convention convened in Concord to establish a plan for governing the state of New Hampshire.

1778:  The town voted to have its name changed back to New Salem, but the request was rejected or simply tabled by the state legislature.

1778:  The town was divided into three school districts, one in each division of the town. The actual extent of schooling remained spotty at best.

1780:  The town’s population reached 809, up from 28 just 12 years before.

1781:  Abraham Folsom built the first dam at Lake Port and established a saw mill there.

1783:  The American Revolution ended. Some 74 men from Meredith fought in the war, according to Mary Neal Hanaford .

1787:  Ebenezer Smith and John Jenness build a saw mill in the Measley pond outlet stream, beginning the development of what became Meredith Village.

1789:  The Baptist Church becomes the first organized church to form in Meredith.

1790:  The town population had increased to 881.

1792:  The town voted to pay for a Congregational minister to establish the second church in the town. Rev. Simon Williams was recruited to town with an incentive package that included money, food, and at least two plots of land. Williams ultimately left town in disgrace in 1798 as a result of personal indiscretions.

1792:  The town built its first meetinghouse on Parade Rd., near the town pound.

1797:  Daniel Avery built a dam on the Winnipesaukee River just above Province Road Bridge, a key part of a process in which Meredith Bridge became a thriving industrial town surpassing all other locations in Meredith.

1800:  The population of Meredith had almost doubled since 1790, reaching 1609 people, spread widely throughout the three divisions of the town.

1801:  The Free Will Baptist church became the third organized church in town when it built the Oak Hill/Pottle Meetinghouse.

1802:  Robert Bryant, one of the first dozen settlers in New Salem, moved to Bear Island and established a year-round farm. He was followed by several friends, creating a thriving community on the island, the remains of which are still apparent.

1806:  Dudley Leavitt moved to Meredith, establishing a farm on Quarry Road where he developed a school and continued to publish his annual Farmers Almanac that he started in 1797.

1810:  The population of the town had increased to 1941 from 1609 in 1800.

1810:  A group of Meredith Center residents formed a new Free Will Baptist Church there after having been part of the Oak Hill church for many years.

1812:  The United States enters the War of 1812 with England. Perhaps a handful of Meredith men are involved, including Theophilus Dockham and John Bryant.

1812:  The War of 1812 and the U.S. embargo of imported wool sparked the so-called ‘sheep craze’ that brought the area its greatest prosperity for years to come. Protective tariffs extended the period into the 1840s. One result of the sheep craze was the building of the ubiquitous stone walls that are found throughout New Hampshire and the North East.

1812:  The building at 45 Main Street was first completed. Now the Meredith Historical Society, the location became a focal point of the town in the 1860s when both the Meredith Village Savings Bank and the Post Office maintained their offices there. The corner became known as Post Office Square and had a fountain in the middle of the street. The building was known as the Ladd Block after its owner, Seneca Ladd.

1815:  The New Hampshire militia was reorganized after the War of 1812. All able-bodied men between the ages of 15 and 45 were obligated to serve. Meredith joined with the towns of Center Harbor, New Hampton, and Sanborton to form the 29th Regiment, a complement of men approaching 500. Annual exercises were convened on the Parade grounds located on the Province Road. These events were held until about 1840, and they became famous throughout the state as throngs of soldiers and their families gathered for the drills and festivities. It was not coincidental that at least two taverns were situated within walking distance of the Parade grounds.

1815:  The second Congregational church in Meredith was organized and a meeting house was built in 1818 on the  road to Center Harbor near Keyser Road.

1816:  The year without a summer. Smoke and ash from the eruption of Mount Pinatumbo resulted in frosts every month of the year. Crop production was very poor and people had a very difficult time getting wheat.

1816:  John Bond Swasey purchased the Meredith Village mills from Daniel Avery in December, his first major step in the process that resulted in his new canal a few years later.

1818:  John Bond Swasey opened a canal between Measley Pond (Waukewan) and Winnipesaukee, providing substantially more water power to Meredith Village businesses and triggering a business expansion that led the Village to become one of the leading commercial centers in the Lakes Region.

1820:  The town’s population had grown to 2416 from 1941 ten years before.

1822:  Joseph Smith of Dover, NH, known as the great merchant of the lake, purchased land and built a store in the Village at what is now 7 Main St. He hired Joseph Ela to run it for him. Smith supplied his store via a gundalow, a barge-like boat that was paddled or used sails to make the trip three times a week from Alton Bay and Wolfeboro.

1828:  John Bond Swasey died of illness at age 46. His wife, Alice, took over the operation of the Mill Lot thereafter.

1830:  Alice Swasey sold the Mill Lot to Captain Daniel Smith of New Hampton.

1830:  The town population was now 2683, showing modest growth since 1820 when it was 2416.

1830:  The Free Will Baptist Church of Meredith Center built their own church in Meredith Center. It still stands today.

1830s:  Water Street and High Street are officially built to accommodate new residential building in the Village.

1833The first steamer on Winnipesaukee, the Belknap, was launched at Lake Village. For the next eight years is made regular visits to ports around the lake, including Meredith Village. It was primarily a commercial boat, although it carried some passengers as well.

1833:  The Congregational church was moved to the corner of what is now NH-25 and Pleasant St.

1834:  A new cotton mill built was built in the Mill Lot for the newly formed Meredith Cotton and Woolen Company.

1834:  The second Baptist church of Meredith was organized. It purchased land on Main Street from Alice Swasey, the widow of canal-builder, John Bond Swasey, and built the brick meetinghouse still active on the corner of Main and High Streets.

1838:  Seneca Ladd moved to Meredith, establishing a carriage manufacturing business on Plymouth Street where he and his partner, Sewall Smith, purchased the Hawkins mill on Hawkins brook (now the corner of Plymouth St. and Rte. 3).

1838:  A splinter group of Free Will Baptists established the third Free Will Baptist church in Meredith Village. Meetings were held in various places until 1858 when the original Meredith Town house built in 1796 on Parade Road was moved to Lang Street.

1839:  A splinter Free Will Baptist group built the still-standing meetinghouse on Meredith Neck. The group included Neck farmers and Bear Island farmers. Many of them are buried in the Meetinghouse cemetery next door.

1840:  Meredith became part of the new county of Belknap, established by New Hampshire out of Strafford county.

1840:  The town’s population was now 3344, up from 2683 in 1830.

1840:  The first fire engine company was established in Meredith Village.

1842:  The Congregational church was moved to Highland Street. A new minister, Rev. Giles Leach was hired and given residence in what is now the Meredith Historical Society building at 45 Main St.

1845:  The town of Meredith voted to invest $10,000 in the newly formed Boston, Concord & Montreal Railroad company. The investment guaranteed that tracks would be laid through Meredith.

1848:  The Boston, Concord & Montreal Railroad reaches Meredith Bridge (Laconia).

1849:  The Boston, Concord & Montreal Railroad reaches the Weirs and Meredith Village.

1849:  The passenger steamer, Lady of the Lake, was launched, ushering in the tourist era on Winnipesaukee. Its first pilot was Eleazer Bickford Jr., a Meredith boy who was born and raised on Bear Island. The Lady did not stop regularly at Meredith Village because the train ran through there. The Lady would make occasional cruises into the bay with some of its excursion parties.

1849:  Meredith Bridge was formally established as a precinct following a petition of Bridge residents to the town Selectmen.

1850:  The population was now 3521, up from 3344 ten years before.

1852:  The steamer, Dover, was launched at Alton Bay. Its regular route included Meredith Village and its prominence in the town led to its name being given to the connector-road that ran down from Main St. to the landing.

1855:  The town built a new Meetinghouse in Meredith Village, at the corner of Main and Lake Streets. At the first meeting that year, the floor collapsed in what was called ‘The Great Catastrophe”. Five men died and and more than 150 others were injured. The Town Hall was repaired and remained in use for another 21 years.

1855:  Daniel Smith sold the Meredith Village Mill Lot to his son, James P.F. Smith for $6000.

1855:  The land comprising the town of Laconia was separated from Meredith by the state legislature. Laconia citizens had sought their own town for many years, and the Great Catastrophe gave the process of separation the final push.

1855:  As a result of the separation of Laconia, Meredith’s remaining population was estimated to be about 2000, down from the census level of 3521 in 1850.

1855:  Meredith luminary Samuel W. Rollins moved to Meredith where he served as a highly respected judge and attorney for decades. He resided for many years in a house on the lot now occupied by the Town Hall.

1858:  John A. Lang founded a company in the Village that made piano fortes, bridges, doors, windows and related goods. He acquired the piano business from Seneca Ladd.

1859:  The precinct of Meredith Village was laid out.

1859:  The Meredith Mechanic Association purchased the Mill Lot from James P.F. Smith, the son of Captain Daniel Smith, for $15,000.. A public corporation, the MMA began investing in and expanding the capabilities of the water power derived from John Bond Swasey’s canal. This ultimately led to Meredith’s greatest era of commercial success after the Civil War. Seneca Ladd, Joseph W. Lang, Ebenezer Stevens, George G. Hoyt, and Joseph Ela were the leaders of this initiative.

1860:  The population of Meredith was  , with an estimated 600 living in Meredith Village and another200 in Meredith Center. The remainder were scattered on farms throughout the three divisions of the town.

1862:  A year after the opening of the Civil War, the 12th NH Volunteer Infantry regiment was organized by Joseph Lang in Meredith. It was largely comprised of men from the Village. The regiment was involved in many of the key battles of the war, including Fredricksburg (1862), Chancellorsville (1863), Gettysburg (1863), and the final campaign around Richmond (1864-65). Numerous Meredith men were either killed or wounded at Chancellorsville.

1865:  The town of Meredith found itself deeply in debt as a result of its outlays predominantly used either to recruit soldiers or support soldiers’ families during the Civil War. It was estimated that perhaps 45% of the town’s male voting population (227 men) served in the Union Army.

1866:  The Elm Hotel was built on Main Street, opposite the intersection with High Street.

1866:  George H. Clark and his brother established their lumber company in the Mill Lot at the foot of Dover Street.

1866:  Nathan B. Wadleigh moved his Meredith Shook and Lumber company from the canal-powered Mill Lot to Church Point (then called Swasey Point after its earlier owner, John Bond Swasey) where he employed steam power. The company was an active and dominant part of the waterfront for more than four decades.

1866:  The steamer Chocorua (fka the Dover) sank at the Meredith steamboat wharf at the end of Dover St. after a valve was left open by the crew.

c. 1866-1872: A dry dock was built on Swasey Point and was used periodically for repairs for the Chocorua and the Lady of the Lake.

1867: The town constructed a new wharf at the end of Lake St. as a result of all of the sawdust dumped into the lake by the Clark brothers’ mill.

1869:  The Meredith Village Savings Bank was founded by Seneca Ladd, Joseph W. Lang, and others. It was housed at 45 Main Street with Ladd as its Treasurer and chief operating officer.

1871:  Town officials finally acknowledged the desperate state of financial affairs in Meredith, establishing a special three man committee to resolve a debt crisis and the poor record keeping that underlay it.

1871:  A new school was built on Main St., somewhat south of the Baptist church.

1872:  The Mount Washington was launched in Alton by the Boston & Maine Railroad. Replacing the Dover, it made Meredith a regular stop. On its first visit, it was said to be piloted by Eleazer Bickford Jr., a Meredith man who was born on Bear Island in 1822. Bickford later moved to Lang St. in the Village where he ran a grocery store and also served as a Selectman.

1872:  The famous Meredith Mystery Stone was discovered by workmen digging near the mouth of Corliss Brook. The egg-shaped and engraved stone was given to Seneca Ladd for preservation. His daughter years later gave it to the New Hampshire Historical Society where it is still on display. Its origins have never been determined.

1874:  A portion of eastern Meredith running from the Moultonborough boundary line west along Winnipesaukee was annexed to Center Harbor by the state legislature.

1875:  A new school was built on Main Street near the Baptist church on land donated by Ebenezer Smith and his wife, Cassandra, who was the daughter of John Bond Swasey and lived just south of the school.

1875:  The Winnipesaukee Grange was founded in March.

1876: The town voted to have a new Town House built on the corner of Main and High Streets. The building was completed within the year, and town affairs were conducted on the second floor for decades thereafter.

1876:  Seneca Ladd recruited Sam Hodgson’s hosiery business to Meredith where it became the largest employer in town history, ushering in a 13 year period of prosperity for the Village.

1880:  The first Meredith newspaper, the Meredith Weekly News, was established by George F. Sanborn.

1880:  The George S. Cram Post, No. 54, of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was established by Civil War veterans who met annually at the Weirs with other New Hampshire contingents of veterans. Nearly all members had served in the 12th Regiment of the NH Volunteers. George Cram was a volunteer who was killed during the battle of Chancellorsville in 1763.

1881:  Meredith Bay filled with piles of sawdust with some approaching 10 feet deep all around its shores. The sawdust was a by –product of two lake front mills, the Meredith Shook and Lumber Mill on Church point and the George H. Clark mill located at the end of Dover St. Both mills routinely dumped by-products into the bay. At the base of the bay, there were “several acres of sour, slimy sawdust” in the rear of Hodgson’s hosiery mill, an area that is now Hesky Park.

1882:  The first town library was opened by George F. Sanborn , housed on Water Street.

1886:  Solomon Lovejoy converted the old Waldo Meloon farm into a hotel on Bear Island.

Mid-1880s:  Out-of-state summer vacationers first began buying lots and building cottages on the Meredith islands and the shore front on Meredith Neck.

1889:  Sam Hodgson’s mill burned to the ground, wiping out the town’s largest employer.

1890:  The town’s population was 1642.

1890:  The Mill Lot was acquired by the Meredith Water Power Company from the Meredith Mechanic Association for $12,500. Several of the new owners were also owners of the latter.

1892:  The first electric lights were installed in Meredith, and a Grand Electric Ball was held to celebrate the event.

1895:  The Mill Lot was sold by the Meredith Water Power Company to John Q.A. Whittemore for $25,000.

1898:  Dr. Frederick Hawkins built the home at 2 Waukewan St., on the corner of Main Street.

1900:  Ground was broken for the construction of the new Smith library. The building was completed the following year.

1900:  Hattie Moses established Camp Winnipesauke for boys on tiny Horse Island off the end of Meredith Neck. A large house was constructed there.

1907:  Both Railroad Avenue and Red Gate Lane were built.

1907:  Pitchwood Island was annexed to Meredith.

1907:  Frank R. Prescott built his new wheelbarrow and lumber works on Railroad Avenue.

1907:  The Atlas Linen Company closed down.

1908:  The Meredith Casket Company was organized.

1910:  The town’s population amounted to 1638, four fewer than in 1890.

1912:  Camp Passaconway for boys was established on Bear Island. The location is now owned by the Lawrence YMCA and houses Camp Nokomis for girls.

1914:  The Winnipesaukee Grange, No. 55, Patrons of Husbandry built a new hall at 104 Main St. with its second floor to serve as the meeting place for the Masons.

1914:  The Main Street school was replaced by a new brick high school named in honor of a prominent teacher, John Humiston.

1914:  Reflecting the advent of the automobile era, Meredith Village had two well-equipped garages under the ownership of G.W. Vinall and Leander G. Pynn. Pynn’s garage offices were in what is now the Frog Rock Cafe at 67 Main St. and the shop was next door in the parking lot behind what is now Archie’s Park.

1917:  John Q.A. Whittemore sold the Mill Lot to the Meredith Linen Mills for $25,000.

1919:  Meredith’s American Legion Post 33, named after World War I casualty, Roy H. Griggs,  held its first meeting on September 11, 1919.  The Post acquired its current location at 6 Plymouth St. in 1950.

1922:  The Lawrence (MA) YMCA established a boys’ camp on Bear Island that is still prospering.

1924:  Indian Island at the base of Meredith Bay was given to the town of Meredith.

1925:  The Lang Street elementary school was opened.

1925: The town began an extensive effort to beautify the shore line at the end of Meredith Bay. E.H. Clough also began to build the iconic stone wall at the base of the bay.

1926:  Heavy weight boxer Jack Delaney trained during the summer on Meredith Neck, at the summer community at the end of what is now Powers Road.

1927:  E.C. Mansfield’s observation tower on Bear Island was converted into a summer chapel by the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. It first service was held at the end of July. It is now a non-denominational chapel and remains the only such structure on any of the islands. Services continue to be held every Sunday during the season.

1927:  The old Corporation Building located at the bottom of Main St. (now Mill Falls parking area) was torn down.

1927:  The Latchkey to the White Mountains signs were set up on two roadways leading into Meredith Village.

1927:  Ed Clough was named Chairman of the Meredith Village Cemetery Association. He began the initiative to beautify it. Mary Neal Hanaford made a donation to pay all of the costs to install new gates at the upper end of the Meredith Village Cemetery.

1927:  A number of stones gathered over the decades by Seneca Ladd and housed at the MVSB at 45 Main Street were donated to Edward Clough by Ladd’s daughter, Fannie, to be placed in the wall along the base of Meredith Bay.

1929:  Shorefront businessmen made plans to rehabilitate the string of old boat houses that lined the shore between the Shook Mill to Clarks’ mill.

1929:  Behind the leadership of E. J. Clough and George F. Sanborn, in August the Mount Washington steamer visited Meredith Bay for the first time in 50 years. It had made regular visits during the early 1870s, but these were discontinued due to the poor economics of the visits and the railroad rivalry.

1929:  John F. Clough, the last surviving member of the 12th Volunteer Infantry from the Civil War, died December 19th. Clough served with two of his brothers in the 12th. He was shot through the leg during the battle of Chancellorsville.

1938:  The new Post Office building on Main Street was completed on the site of the old Elm Hotel.

1946:  St. Charles Catholic Church acquired Swasey Point and erected a church there.

1947:  US Route 3 (Daniel Webster Highway) was rerouted along the waterfront in Meredith Bay from its historic route along Main Street through the heart of the Village.

1949:  Brian Hedblom donated the only wharf on the waterfront to the town.

1950:  The Meredith Linen Mill and the historic mill lot were purchased by Keasby & Mattison Company of Ambier, PA in the expansion of the company’s Asbestos Textiles Branch.

1957:  The new Inter-Lakes High School was built on NH-25 on the hill that historically was known variously as Center Harbor Hill, Neal Hill, and even Towle Hill.

1958:  The Town purchased the MVSB’s former headquarters building located at 41 Main St (the corner of Highland St.). The Town Hall was moved there from its previous location at 73 Main St. where it had utilized the second floor since 1877.

1959:  The town built two new public docks on the waterfront to go with the existing dock.

1961:  St. Charles Church on Swasey Point was enlarged.

1970: The original Meredith town house (built in 1792 on the Parade Rd. and moved to Lang St. in the latter 1850s) was finally removed.

1984:  The Mill Falls Market Place was opened by Rusty McLear and associates in a dramatic repurposing of the old mill building and surrounding grounds. This and other steps transformed Meredith Village into first tier tourist and vacation place, indeed the gem of the entire Lakes Region.

1984:  The Meredith Rotary Club revamped the picnic spot at Hesky Park, further beautifying the water front.

1985:  A major expansion of the Smith library was undertaken.

2003:  Rusty McLear and company acquired the St. Charles church property on Swasey Point and converted the structure into the Church Landing resort hotel.

2004:  The board walk extending north from the town docks was constructed through Hesky Park.

2018:  Meredith celebrated its 250th anniversary.

2019:  A statue of Archie, the comic book character made famous by Meredith’s Bob Montana, was dedicated in the town park on Main Street in the Village.

2020:  The Laverack Nature Trail at Hawkins Pond was completed in Meredith Village.

2020:  The Coronavirus brought with it a ‘Year of Uncertainty’.

 

 

 

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