Swanzey, New Hampshire

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Swanzey is a town in Cheshire County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 6,800 at the 2000 census. The 2009 population was estimated to be 7,191.[1] In addition to the town center, Swanzey includes the villages of East Swanzey, West Swanzey, North Swanzey, and Westport.



First granted in 1733 as Lower Ashuelot, Swanzey was one of the fort towns established by Governor Jonathan Belcher of Massachusetts, which then held authority over the province of New Hampshire. The town was the site of many battles during King George's War, and in 1747 was abandoned for three years. It was regranted to 62 proprietors on July 2, 1753 by Governor Benning Wentworth as Swanzey, most probably because some early settlers had a connection to Swansea in Wales.[2] Situated on the Ashuelot River and connected by the Ashuelot Railroad, West Swanzey developed as a textile mill town, and East Swanzey produced wooden buckets for generations. By 1859, the population was 2,106.[3]

The town features four covered bridges, and was the home of theatrical trouper Denman Thompson, who gained a national reputation by his portrayal of the Yankee farmer, "Joshua Whitcomb", star of his stage play The Old Homestead. Residents restage Thompson's melodrama every summer at a natural outdoor amphitheater called the Potash Bowl.[4]

Post Office c. 1915

Denman Thompson's residence in 1907

Ashuelot River c. 1915


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 45.3 square miles (117 km2), of which 45.0 sq mi (117 km2) is land and 0.4 sq mi (1.0 km2) is water, comprising 0.79% of the town. Swanzey is drained by the Ashuelot River. The town's highest point is the summit of Franklin Mountain at 1,423 feet (434 m) above sea level, on the border with Winchester.

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