Monday, May 27, 2013

New Hampshire

Live free or die, huh?  Well, if it’s okay with you, how about if I just get house arrest?  Heck, I’d be fine with the pen – if it’s one of those fancy, Martha Stewart ones with the golf course and stuff.

10. Hillsborough Lower Village

Don’t adjectives typically go in front in English?  And isn’t “Village” a little redundant?  I mean, wouldn’t “Hillsborough” be enough?  Could we just call it “Lower Hillsborough”?

And, yes, there is a Hillsborough Upper Village, as well as a just plain Hillsborough and a Hillsboro too – all within a couple of miles of each other.  No chance for confusion there.

HLV itself looks like several dozen houses in the woods, right next to Franklin Pierce Lake.  It’s in the center of the state, just a little west of Concord. 

HLV does include a major tourist attraction, Franklin Pierce’s birthplace.  You know, the 14th president?  He was responsible for …  uh … er … I don’t know, something or other.

Right here, on this very spot!

9. Potter Place

Kind of like Peyton Place, but with dementors and death eaters.

Ohmigod!  You are not going to believe this.  Potter Place just so happens to be named after an honest-to-god “master of the Black Arts.”  Just check out the genuine historical marker below.

Potter Place is actually part of Andover, which is just north of HLV.  The railroad station there is on the National Register of Historic Places, which looks well worth a visit.  There is also a bartending school.  Oh, and a boarding school for young wizards.

8. Little Boars Head

As no town in New Hampshire seems to be able to exist on its own, it shouldn’t surprise you that Little Boar’s Head is actually part of North Hampton.

LBH is actually a rocky promontory on the Atlantic, which later gave its name to the town of summer “cottages” that was built around it in the late 19th Century.  Ogden Nash once lived here, as did the Studebaker family.

One of those little “cottages”
(Can you imagine the electric bill?)

7. Deerfield Parade

I-I-I love a parade / The tramping of feet / I love every beat / I just don’t associate them with town names / But, I-I-I love a parade

There is an explanation.  As it turns out, in old-timey times, villages often had a parade ground, where the local militia could gad about.  This was typically the town green, but Deerfield sounds like it had its own separate location.  Well, wouldn’t you know – this location then became a town in its own right.

Now, because there seems to be a general New England principle to allow each of its states only a couple of dozen names to choose from (see Maine), Deerfield Parade could not realistically hope for its own name, all by itself.  It had to take the parent town name, then saddle it with something like “center,” “south,” “junction,” “upper,” “mills,” whatever.  Now, “parade” is not normally one of these additions but, heck, that’s what got DP into this blog.

Deerfield Parade has one famous son, Benjamin “Beast” Butler, Civil War general, governor, and senator. 

An attractive fellow,
he also weighed about 300 lbs.

6. Christian Hollow

Muslims, keep out!  No Jews allowed!

Wow, there’s not even a lot of Christians in this place.  Subsequently, I could find next to nothing on it.  I did find that it’s officially part of Walpole, which is in the far southwest part of the state.  On the map, it just looks like a lonely crossroads, with the center of Walpole being a good four miles away. 

Through the magic of the Internet, though, I was able to find all sorts of helpful information about CH and its environs:

  • Nearest FedEx location (Walpole)
  • Nearest place to stay (Putney, 7 miles away)
  • Nearest lobster restaurant (Keene, 10 miles away)
  • Nearest local webcam (Brattleboro, VT, 15 miles away)
  • Nearest gluten-free food (Keene, again)

5. Lempster

Who or what is a lempster?  Is it a slimy, eel-like fish?  Someone from the land of Lemp?  Kind of crustacean?  Is it a person who’s involved in lemping?

Well, actually, it’s a mispronunciation.  The town was named after Leominster, England.  Now, said place is rather hard to pronounce as spelled (try it), so it usually gets reduced to “lemster.”  I’m not sure how the p got in there (going for most consonants in a row record?).

Hard to believe, but we’ve finally come across a town that is not a part of another town.  In fact, it’s even got its own satellite villages: East Lempster, Keyes Hollow, and Dodge Hollow. 

This metropolis of 1,154 people is on the western border of NH.  There’s a big wind farm on one of the mountains just outside town.

That there wind farm

4. Rindge

Disease of cattle?

Nah, just some guy who owned the original land.  The surname comes from an Old English word for a kind of cattle disease.  Sorry.  I honestly haven’t a clue where the name comes from.

This enormous conurbation of 5,400 people is in the southwest part of the state, again.  It’s on the wonderfully named Contoocook River, which provided power to early industry, including the following kinds of mills: grist, saw, shingle, stave, planing, and clapboard. 

Today, it’s home to Franklin Pierce University.  Don’t tell the folks in Hillsborough Lower Village though, okay?

As every little crossroads in New Hamster seems to have some famous son, don’t be too surprised to find out that Rindge’s is Nathan Hale. 

Rindge’s classic New England meeting house

3. Squantum

Native American word for a disease of cattle?

Not buyin’ it?  Well, would you believe it’s a Native American word for a clambake?  Yup.  In fact, the word has worked its way in as a regionalism.  “See yuh at the squantum this evening, Mabel?”  There is also a town called Squantum in Massachusetts.

Our Squantum is officially part of Jaffrey, but actually closer to old favorite, Rindge.  Looks like it’s a crossroads with some houses and a few stores.

2. Happy Corner

There are a lot of corners in New England.  I think it’s just Yankee-speak for “crossroads.”  I believe it’s safe to say, though, that there’s only one of these places that is truly happy.

And what makes it so happy exactly?  Well, how about a Victrola?  Turns out the family who lived at the ford there owned one of these early record players.  And, way back then, that’s all it really took to guarantee a good time.

HC is in the far north part of the state.  It’s officially a part of the town of Pittsburg (see below).  A “bustling neighborhood in the late 1800s,” it now has some cabins, a café, and a supermarket, all owned by the same family.  The economy revolves around logging, tourists, moose- and leaf-peepers, fishermen, hunters, and snowmobilers.  It’s known for its covered bridge.

The Bridges of Happy Corner

1. Center Sandwich

Formerly know as Smoked Turkey Breast … 

Okay, I’ve probably mentioned before that New Englanders love to take a basic name for a town and then surround it with all sorts of versions of it.  In our case, we have a Sandwich, but also a North Sandwich and a Center Sandwich. 

Center Sandwich is definitely where all the action is though.  It’s got a library, some fairgrounds, the town clerk’s office, a car dealership, the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, and the wonderfully evocative Sandwich Police ("Put down that reuben! Now!") and Sandwich Historical Society.

They like their garlic in Center Sandwich, NH
(Booty Family Farm, LLC)

Honorable Mention:

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – State Line, Meadows, Hill
  • Short & sweet – Lee, Pike, Rye
  • Just a little out of place – New Boston, Amherst, Woodstock, Rochester, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Greenland, New London, Scotland, Lisbon, Waterloo, Berlin, Milan, Troy, Alexandria, Bethlehem, Gaza
  • Numerically oriented – Twin Mountain
  • Orthographically challenged – Dummer
  • Native American mouthfuls – West Ossipee, Wonalancet (said of boils?)
  • More mouthfuls – Fitzwilliam Depot, Gilmanton Iron Works, Candia Four Corners
  • Atypical adjectives – Orange, Stark
  • Abnormal nouns – Freedom, Guild, Woodman, Bath
  • Fun to say – Laconia, Effingham
  • Alliterative apotheosis – West Wilton, Northwood Narrows, Milton Mills
  • Just plain weird – Snowville, Suncook, Horse Corner, Canaan Street, Cornish Flat, Madbury, Water Village, Wentworth Location, Pinkham Notch*, Powwow River, Whiteface, Noone (all depends on how it’s pronounced, I guess), Breakfast Hill, Hell Hollow
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Randolph, Nelson, Errol, Percy, Melvin Village
  • Too many Glens – Glen*, The Glen, Glendale, Glen Gould, Glen Campbell (okay, those last two are made up)
  • What’s with all the houses? – Crawford House, Willey House*, Fabyn House

* - author has visited


  1. This is Great! Couple of things that may interest you:
    -Milan is pronounced "My-Lun" unlike the Italian city
    -Success is an interesting township name you didn't list
    -Noone is pronounced like the time "noon"
    -Notch is a common name additive in New Hampshire (perhaps you didn't find this that interesting, but localities exist at Kelsey Notch, Bear Notch, and, most notably, Dixville Notch ;) (including many others)
    -Another cool township is named "Second College Grant" and is bordered by "Atkinson & Gilmanton Academy Grant" (if not interesting at least a mouthful) and between them they share the village of: Hell Gate. (yep, that's pretty cool)
    -Finally you asked about places named "house." These were actually originally the locations of early mountain settlers homes, including the famous Crawford and Willey Families, who provided food and lodging for travelers, and eventually became stops on the railroad lines.

  2. Thanks for your great comments. You must be a true Granite Stater.

    The town names you cite are great. My guess is they probably weren't big enough to meet my original criteria - big enough to make it into a Rand-McNally atlas.

    Thanks anyway!

  3. There is a small town called Weare pronounced "where". It's pretty funny telling someone you're from Weare and then they say, "yeah, where?"