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Ossipee Town

Ossipee Town Hall is located at 55 Main Street, Center Ossipee, NH 03814; phone: 603-539-2008.

Ossipee was incorporated in 1784.

Beginnings [1]

Ossipee is located in the central section of New Hampshire, bordering the State of Maine. Extending sixty miles north and west from the seacoast, Ossipee was granted by the English authorities to John Mason in 1622. This grant conflicted with others obtained by the actual settlers. So Mason's Patent had a stormy history during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, until it was bought by a syndicate of Portsmouth merchants and government officials in 1746.

The Masonian Proprietors, as this group was called, promptly relinquished any claim to the settled part of the colony, and began granting and selling townships in the unsettled, inland portions of their territory. Their usual procedure was to grant a township to a group of men who promised to sell it promptly, while reserving a number of parcels within the township for themselves, in hopes that the lots they kept would appreciate in value and become saleable at a later time. Among the towns granted on this basis were Wakefield (1749), Effingham (1749) and Wolfeborough (1759). Tuftonborough was given outright to a member of the Mason family, who later turned it over to several prominent Portsmouth men for development. This series of grants left an unsettled gore of land between the new townships, which avoided boundary disputes in view of the imprecise knowledge the Proprietors had of the exact locations of their grants.

In settling the Township of Ossipee, the Proprietors departed from their earlier practice of entrusting settlement to an outside group. Instead they appointed a committee of their own number to manage the township, and supplied it with scattered lots for free distribution. Most of the land was divided among the individual Proprietors for eventual sale.

The surveying of lots proceeded in three stages. First, the proprietors hired a surveyor named Ebenezer Thompson in 1772 to lay out one hundred acre lots on either side of the Conway Road. Thompson surveyed thirty lots between North Wolfeborough and the Effingham line, and another series between Effingham and Conway. All of these lots were turned over to the committee for distribution to settlers who would contract to clear the land, build a house sixteen feet square, and live there for seven years; settlers who fulfilled the contract received the land by deed. Between 1773 and 1780 at least a dozen of the lots from Wolfeborough to Duncan Lake attracted settlers, and by the latter year an incipient village center had appeared around Josiah Poland's mill and Jacob Brown's tavern at Ossipee Village.

  1. Ossipee Master Plan, Chapter 7, Historic Resources, 1983, www.ossipee.org, accessed January, 2011.
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