We recently went out on a hike to explore an old NH community. As part of our homeschooling and lifestyle habits, we enjoy checking out old NH communities in the forests of this Live Free or Die State. Today I’m sharing some images of our latest family hiking adventure in the Hollis, NH area in a place that was once a thriving settlement … Monson Center.
Throughout the United States, we can find traces of our past. How our forefathers and their fathers before them made the country what it is today, is visible in the various monuments and historical sites scattered across the US. One such site is the Monson center in New Hampshire, US.
A Brief History of New Hampshire
New Hampshire was made a US state on the 21st of June 1788. As part of the original 13 colonies of the British Empire that revolted against the colonists and declared independence during the American Revolution.
Some of the earliest settlements are located throughout New Hampshire and traces of its colonial past can be found in its various towns and cities.
New Hampshire was originally intended to be made a fishing colony for the British Empire and thus buildings and lodges were erected by the numerous rivers of the state.
Categorized by some archeologists as one of the most significant historical sites in the US, the Monson, NH ghost town was historically a part of Massachusetts. In 1735, several settlers from surrounding states and Canada decided to purchase the land and settled with their families in the year 1737. This settlement later came to be known as the Monson Center.
After a period of four years, Monson Center was made part of the state of New Hampshire after the border adjustments in 1741.
The overall collective covered area of the town reached 17,000 acres and included homes, farmlands, townhouses, and various small shops and markets. A vast forest covered the land and included a large beaver pond that is still present to date.
Life seemed thriving in the new town of Monson, trade was good, farming was exceptional, and the overall township thrived under the leadership of great people such as Thomas Nevins, Joshua Bailey, and Dr. John Brown, all of whom were remarkable individuals.
Yet, despite the economic growth and stability, Monson Center was abandoned in the year 1770 and the town was absorbed into nearby areas.
Why Was it Abandoned?
Monson Center, once a flourishing town, suddenly faded in history just before the start of the American Revolution. The nearby towns of Milford and Hollis took over the land and split it between themselves and thus disbanding the major trade center permanently.
The farmers and tradesmen along with the residents decided to migrate to the adjacent towns and continue with their lives. But why was a town so contended decided to just fade in history?
- Was it the economic instability?
- Was it the political differences?
- Was there any discontent among the residents?
- Was it the changing environmental conditions?
To be honest, No one knows! It has been a matter of extensive debate on why Monson Center was abandoned when it was flourishing. Archeologists have been rubbing their heads solving the mystery surrounding the sudden and unlikely abandonment of Monson Center.
Some experts are of the opinion that there may have been possible tensions and hostility between the colonists and the Native Americans that caused the town to fade away.
Some experts believe that the living conditions may have become so harsh for the residents to continue with their lifestyle and hence they left Monson Center for a better environment. While others are of the opinion that there were political disruptions and instability that caused the town to disband.
Whatever might be the case, it is yet to be discovered why the residents abandon the town despite its supposed pertinence.
Acquisition of Monson Center
After the town was abandoned in 1770, it remained undisturbed and untouched for more than two centuries. However, in 1998, there was a case of a 28 – lot subdivision that would have decimated the historical site and sabotaged its natural beauty.
A private real estate developer set their eyes on the Monson Center and figured that the area can become a great site to build a luxury homes community that could potentially boost up the value of the land by colossal margins and earn them handsome revenue.
While the move was totally legal, it was not accepted positively by the general population. The local residents of New Hampshire came to the rescue of their beloved ghost town of Monson Center and with the help of the State Division of Historical Resources and the Society for Protection of New Hampshire, these locals were successful in raising their concerns, and in 1998, the town was acquired by the Forest Society.
Numerous “Friends of Monson” donated ample resources, capital, and land for the conservation of the historical site and in 2008, the town of Milford generously donated around 47 acres of land of the Monson Reservation.
Future of the Monson Center
Once a primary fishing colony, the Monson Center is still present with its scenic beauty and historical and cultural significance. Even though most of the historically important sites of the Monson Center are roped off and are a visitor no-go area, the area is open to the general public to see and recognize the struggles of the forefathers and learn more about the history of the great American nation.
The Center also hosts a variety of wildlife including the blue herons which is quite a common sight for the visitors. The caretaker of the area, Russ Dickerman, and his wife made efforts to restore a colonial house that now functions as a museum that is open to the general public when Russ is present.
As for the future of the Monson Center, it is safe to assume that the historical site is going to be preserved for a long time as a reminiscent of our history thanks to the tiring efforts of the local residents and societies for historic preservation.
As an American, visiting such historical and cultural sites is certainly an eye-opener and makes you wonder about the life and politics of the pre-Revolution era. Hence, we should pay a visit to this splendid American heritage site to enjoy the natural beauty of the place and to learn more about our history.
If you’re interested in hiking and exploring this area, please click here to visit the official Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests to get directions and important information about visiting this old settlement.