life in the Kearsarge area

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Archive for Grantham

Eastman Lake

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My parents moved to Grantham, N.H., in 1986, so, technically, I did, too. I left for college, then grad school, then came back to buy my own home in Grantham in 1997 (and later a different one in 2002). It’s a nice halfway point between the Upper Valley (Lebanon/Hanover) and Concord. There’s a lot to do – you can golf, cross country ski, hike, swim and rent paddle boats, canoes and these new big wheeled things. And when you leave the traffic and steaming asphalt of the larger towns to see the views of the rolling hills and lake, it feels like you’ve escaped, you’ve gone on vacation, but really you’ve just come home.

Grantham, then and now


Grantham, N.H., was originally incorporated in 1761. The charter was granted to a group of 68 proprietors, but when the requirements for settlement were not met, the charter was forfeited. The second charter was granted in 1767 to another set of 70 proprietors (including one woman) for a town called New Grantham.

The first settlers built homesteads in scattered areas on the west side of Grantham Mountain. Early settlements in Grantham included the Dunbar Hill area in the 1770s, the Leavitt Hill section around 1790-93 and Howe Hill around 1813. In 1790, the first year of the census, Grantham had 333 residents.

Established roadways in the early 1800s increased the town’s development, resulting in a church, store, cemetery, schoolhouse, two taverns and a blacksmith shop. This area, well established by 1818, functioned as the town center. Also in 1818, the name was legally changed back to Grantham.

Grantham has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Early businesses included Francis Howe’s cooper shop (and later his son James’s commercial printing press) on Route 114, a clothespin factory run by Samuel Currier and a cider mill owned by Howard Green. Stores in Grantham date to the early 1800s when Francis Howard ran one at the Dunbar Hill settlement.

The lumber business played an important part in the economics of Grantham; by 1872 the town had six mills and claimed to saw more lumber annually than any other town in the county. These mills employed 26 people, had an annual payroll of $6,000 and sawed timber valued at $26,000. The economy of Grantham changed in the 1920s when wood grew scarce and several mills relocated or closed their doors. Grantham’s population declined from 550 to 275, and remained in that range for several decades.

In the mid-1970s, the Upper Valley-Lake Sunapee Council projected a population of 500 for Grantham in the year 2000. But the interstate and the need for more housing in the Upper Valley resulted in several Grantham residential developments such as Eastman, Olde Farms and Gray Ledges, boosting Grantham’s population to 2,167 in 2000. The 2010 Census estimate for Grantham was 2,985 residents, a 38 percent increase from 2000. The town continues to thrive. This photo was taken in 2010.

Grantham downtown

See New Hampshire from skis

Cross country skiing is one of the benefits of living in the Granite State. If there’s not a groomed trail nearby, you can always take a few spins in a neighboring field. You can ski before work; sometimes you can even ski to work. According to Ski New Hampshire, 147,259 people visited a ski area to cross country ski in 2013-14, and many more skied in their yards, at local parks, and on rail trails. Here are a few places you can’t miss.

Eastman Cross Country sees up to 6,000 skier visits a season, depending on how much of the white stuff falls. There are some challenging trails, so the center offers private or group lessons on weekends, and weekly clinics for season pass holders. It also offers a restaurant, skating pond and sledding hill. “You can get whatever you are looking for,” says Leslie Moses, activities director. “You can stay close to the lodge with trails on the golf course, or ski further out for a feeling of being out in the woods. You can work out for 45 minutes, or pack a lunch and ski all day.”

The Fells is a popular site for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. “Cross country skiers who enjoy breaking their own trails through woodlands and meadows can ski at The Fells seven days a week from dawn to dusk,” says Darlene Marshall, The Fell’s education director. As part of the Fells’ Trail-Walk Series, a guided cross country skiing tour is held in February, participants ski around the main house, with a nice view of Mount Sunapee, then follow guides through the gardens and woodland trails. The trails are ungroomed, but there are existing tracks from people who have already skied on the grounds.

Pine Hill Ski Club, established in 2005, maintains 13 miles of cross country trails in New London, Wilmot and North Sutton. There’s parking, a porta-potty, a first aid/information shelter, and Robb’s Hut open on Saturdays, but “it’s not a full blown resort,” says member John Schlosser. “We are giving people groomed and skiable trails. Because skiers have used these trails since 1976, you don’t need much snow to get going early in the ski season.”

Dexter’s Inn in Sunapee offers 20 kilometers of groomed trails for cross country skiing and 10 additional kilometers of ungroomed backcountry trails for back country skiing and snowshoeing. Owner John Augustine describes it as “classic old fashioned skiing. You can meander through woods and fields. The trails are not on a golf course or lake, so there are no super highways to ski. Some are flat, some are hilly.” Although you feel like you’re out in the wild, don’t be fooled. Norsk pays quite a bit of attention to the Dexter’s Inn Trails; they are groomed daily to provide a variety of terrain for novices, intermediates and advanced skiers.

The Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway Coalition knows that hiking trails also make good cross country trails. “SKRG has 75 miles of trails,” says Andy Hager, a New London resident. “Not all of it is suitable for cross country skiing in the winter, but there are no restrictions and it’s free.”

From NH to KS: Abolitionists Charles and Julia Lovejoy

Sometimes I have time to write for fun. I found an article about the Lovejoys in the Croydon (N.H.) church history files, so did a little Googling to learn more.

From NH to KS: Abolitionists Charles and Julia Lovejoy

In 1854, New Hampshire residents Reverend Charles Hazeltine Lovejoy (1811-1904) and his wife, Julia Louisa Lovejoy (1812-1882), packed their belongings, their three children and headed to Kansas to fight slavery.

Charles was a Methodist minister with only six months of formal schooling. He prepared himself to preach by reading while working on his grandfather’s farm in Maine. Charles’ first circuit as a preacher was 600 miles in circumference: New Hampshire to Vermont to Canada.

After the death of his first wife, he met Julia Louise Hardy of Lebanon and married her. They lived in the Grantham/Croydon area of New Hampshire. L.D. Dunbar’s The History of Grantham, NH 1761-1885 lists the names of the preachers and the dates of their pastorate with the Methodist Episcopal Church of Grantham. Rev. C.H. Lovejoy wad the pastor from June 1852 to June 1853.

There is only one year (1853) of tax records for the Lovejoys with the town of Croydon. Charles preached in town, perhaps overlapping with his time in Grantham. It is documented by Edward Wheeler, author of the History of Cheshire & Sullivan County 1886, that Charles helped form a church in Croydon. Wheeler writes in the History of Croydon NH 1766-1885 section: “Preachers of the Methodist order had often visited the town and organized classes, but it was not until 1853 that a church was formed. At that time society comprising some 36 members, was organized. In 1854 they erected a meeting house in East Village, in which their services have since been held. The Rev. C.H. Lovejoy was their first pastor.” croydon 2

Go West
In a letter to his friend in January 1855, Charles Lovejoy wrote, “I have been makeing my plans for a few months to go west in the spring…I am a member of the New Hampshire Conference — have travalilled in the regular work 21 years — have been an opposer of Slavery from my earliest recollections — have acted with the Abolitionists from the first — am possesed of good health — have a wife & three children — one, a boy 17 years, a girl 15 and another girl 6 in the spring — All in good health, & spirits.”

That spring, the Lovejoy family crossed the Missouri River into the newly created Kansas Territory. It was a difficult move, as Julia writes in her diary. “Kansas City, Mo. March, 18th 1855. We left Lebanon, N.H. the old paternal home the 6th of March, 1855. O the tears, and heart-agony, as we tore ourselves away from those aged parents, who gave us birth, and those brothers and sisters, so dear to our hearts — we wept until we reached “White River Junction,” at Hartford, Vt. where bro. Daniel, who accompanied, us there, left us, and we took the cars. Had a pleasant journey from there to Alton Ill. In the cars, and thence up the Mo. River, by steam-boat. The “Kate Sweeney,” Capt. Choteau, the owner, and Capt. of the boat treated his passengers in princely style, and permitted us to have Divine worship, on board. Every thing seems new and strange to us, from dear old N. E. the farther we journey, toward the sunny South. We landed here at K. City Sunday Morning. What a desolate place!”


It was the Lovejoy’s chance to stake claims in what had recently been Indian lands, and become farmers plowing soil with less rocks than New England’s fields. And it was their chance to help stop slavery. “A great work is to be done, and Kansas is the great battlefield where a mighty conflict is to be waged with the monster slavery, and he will be routed and slain. Amen and Amen,” wrote Julia Louisa Lovejoy to the Independent Democrat of Concord, N.H., on Aug. 1, 1855.

They settled in the anti-slavery stronghold of Lawrence, Kansas, in the fall of 1855. Charles was a traveling Methodist preacher, sometimes giving sermons in tents. Julia served as a news correspondent to four newspapers back East. She was outspoken in her views, writing that “it is well-known that we are from Yankee land and hate slavery to the death, with all its kindred evils.”

It was a violent time in “Bleeding Kansas.” The federal government was letting new states, like Kansas and Missouri, vote on whether they wanted to become free or slave states. Both sides sent settlers and weapons, and Julia’s letters documented the struggle: “The greatest trouble in this part of the Territory now is about our Missourian neighbors, whose hearts are set on mischief. We are apprehending trouble if not ‘hard fighting’ in our quiet community.”

The Lovejoys fled their home in 1856 when a pro-slavery mob stormed the town. She writes on Aug. 25, 1856: “We are in the midst of war — war of the most bloody kind — a war of extermination. Freedom and slavery are interlocked in deadly embrace, and death is certain for one or the other party…A crisis is just before us…and only God knoweth where it will end.”

lovejoy_julia    In 1863 Confederates burned Lawrence to the ground. Julia wrote to the newspapers: “I rushed out and saw the smoke of the burning city, and met the preacher who has spent the night with us, and had started for Lawrence, panting for breath, and urging on his horses to hide them in our woods; having left his wagon by the wayside, he cried out, ‘Sister Lovejoy, Quantrell has burnt Lawrence, and is within two miles of us with 3,000 men’ — some have since thought not so many — and I could see every house this side of Lawrence, with a volume of dense smoke arising from them as they advanced, firing every house in the march of their death.”

Always Teaching
After the fire, Julia joined Charles, who served as a chaplain at an army hospital in Corinth, Miss. She taught white children by day, black children by night. She describes their life in a letter to Zion’s Herald in Boston, Mass.: “Chaplain Lovejoy, in addition to his duties at this post, is teaching a colored school, with some eighty names enrolled of all grades, men, women, and children, and also an evening school composed of men who labor during the day and can find no other time to learn to read. Our own peculiar work is teaching the whites in a day school and a separate school of colored in the evening, and we have never found in New England or elsewhere children with such ambition to excel, nor those who make such rapid proficiency in so short a time. The most who commenced with the alphabet now read in ‘easy lessons’, and I have one old Aunt Sally now learning her A, B, C’s, who must have been a slave, judging from her physical contour, at least 60 years, and how her eyes danced with joy when she could spell A, X, ax. They are deplorably ignorant of everything but hard fare, hard labor, and the overseer’s lash; and on the back and shoulders of our washwoman, I could lay my finger into the scars of the deep-cut gashes of the slave-driver’s whip, for failing to make up her quota of cotton picking. Slavery, accursed of God and humanity, how art thou fallen from thy lofty estate!”

After the war they returned to Baldwin, Kansas, and lived out the rest of their days on their farm. A PBS series, “The West,” featured the Lovejoys in 2003.