Swanzey Town

Cheshire County, New Hampshire

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Swanzey Town Hall is located at 620 Old Homestead Highway, Swanzey, NH 03446.

Carleton Bridge, Swanzey, NH

Photo: Carleton Bridge, circa 1869, located on Carleton Road, spanning the South Branch Ashuelot River, Swanzey; listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Photo by wikipedia username:John Phelan, 2011, creative commons, [cc 3.0], accessed October, 2022.

Swanzey's historical development represents common trends in the history of the state. The town of Lower Ashuelot, as it was called, was settled in the 1730s at the same time as Upper Ashuelot/Keene. The town center was sited in the river valley where the best farmland was located. The broad plain of flat land was an ancient lakebed. A division of 63 house lots was laid out on a 1‑1/2 mile long main street parallel to the South Branch Ashuelot River. The regular spacing of the homesteads is still evident in the village streetscape on Sawyers Crossing Road and Old Homestead Highway. In addition to these home lots in the center, each farm had a separate parcel of meadow and upland elsewhere. Like all towns on the southern edge of the state, Lower Ashuelot was part of Massachusetts until 1740 and its first families moved up from there. In 1747, due to ongoing conflicts with the French and Indians, they fled south again and did not return for several years. In 1753, New Hampshire issued a new charter creating the Town of Swanzey. The Town hired a minister, began construction of a meeting house, and established a burying ground. The tall white pine trees that covered the plains provided valuable timber as the land was cleared for farming. The light dry soil was suited to crops of grains like corn, oats, rye, and buckwheat. The population grew rapidly from over 300 people in the 1760s, to reach 1,200 by the end of the century.

Swanzey Center Booklet, 2021, www.nh.gov, accessed October, 2022.

Nearby Towns: Keene City • Marlborough Town • Troy Town •

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