Gilsum, New Hampshire

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Gilsum is a town in Cheshire County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 777 at the 2000 census. The 2009 population was estimated to be 813.[1] Home to the Bear's Den Natural Area, Gilsum includes Gilsum Lower Village.

Contents

History

The land was originally named Boyle after Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington, when the land was granted by the Masonian Proprietors in 1752, but ongoing hostilities during the French and Indian War prevented settlement. When the grant lapsed, the town was rechartered by Governor Benning Wentworth on July 13, 1763 as Gilsum, combining the surnames of two proprietors, Samuel Gilbert and his son-in-law, Thomas Sumner. It was first settled in 1764 by Josiah Kilburn from Hebron, Connecticut. [2]

The Ashuelot River provided water power for woolen mills. By 1859, when the population was 668, there was also a bobbin factory, a chair factory, and a tannery. Gilsum used to be a center for mining mica and feldspar. High-quality crystals, especially beryl, tourmaline, and quartz, can also be found. [3] Today, Gilsum is headquarters to the W.S. Badger Company, makers of "balms, potions and natural remedies."

The town contains the Stone Arch Bridge, completed in 1863 with the highest vault (36 feet, 6 inches) of any mortarless bridge in New Hampshire. In 1989, it was added to the National Register.

Main Street c. 1910

Woolen mill in 1911

Polley Bridge in 1907

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 16.7 square miles (43 km2), of which 16.7 sq mi (43 km2) is land and 0.04 sq mi (0.10 km2) is water, comprising 0.12% of the town. The highest point in Gilsum is an unnamed hill along the town's eastern boundary, where the elevation reaches 1,657 feet (505 m) above sea level. Gilsum is drained by the Ashuelot River and lies fully within the Connecticut River watershed.[4]

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