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Plymouth Town

Plymouth Town Hall is located at 6 Post Office Square, Plymouth, NH 03264; phone: 603-536-1731.

Beginnings [1]

White hunters and trappers traveled up the Connecticut River in the late 1600s but it was not until the 18th century that exploratory expeditions occurred in the Plymouth area. During conflicts with Native Americans, colonial forces led by Lieutenant Thomas Baker in 1712 and later Colonel John Lovewell in 1753, used ancient trails and passed east along the route from Haverhill, NH on the Connecticut River to the Pemigewasset River via the Baker River to what is now Plymouth. In his 1712 expedition, Lt. Baker attacked a group of Abenaki camped at the junction of the Baker and Pemigewasset Rivers, killing eight. For his exploits, he was promoted to captain and the river was named after him.

The rich intervale lands attracted an exploratory party from Hollis, NH in 1762. A charter was procured in July 15, 1763 and white settlement of Plymouth began the same year. Most of the original settlers were from Hollis, with several from Dunstable, Massachusetts, Chester and neighboring towns. The Congregational Church was organized before the settlers had left Hollis and the first minister, Nathan Ward, chosen. The first town meeting was held in July 1766.

District schoolhouses and cemeteries, many of which remain today marked areas of concentrated development. The rich intervale soils along the Baker and Pemigewasset Rivers led to the growth of large river valley farms. Hill farms on immediately adjacent land also grew in number.

By 1773, there were 345 people in town.

The power of the numerous rivers and streams in Plymouth was harnessed early to supply lumber and flour to the many outlying hill farms.

The first settlers in town constructed log cabins while they built their more proper home according to prevailing architectural tradition. Vernacular dwellings of this period were constructed in the 1-1/2 story Cape Cod form with central chimneys, some with applied Georgian/Federal elements, usually in the entrance. The more prosperous residents built 2-1/2 story homes, both in town and in outlying areas. Farming was still the prevalent occupation.

As waterpower was harnessed for industrial development, Plymouth quickly became a major trade center for the area. Subsistence farming was increased in scale to take advantage of the proximate markets. Throughout this period, sawmills and gristmills increased in numbers until nearly every brook was providing power for some type of small industry.

Several hamlets grew around these mills; the most notable aside from Plymouth Village was Glove Hollow in the southeastern part of town where a sawmill, tannery and glove factories were located. Another industry that grew in Plymouth during this period was the pottery business where a characteristic "brown ware" was produced. The potteries and brickyards were located west of the town near the Baker River, a major source of clay.

During the last half of the 19th century, commerce and industry began to outstrip agriculture in importance in the local economy. Glove manufacturing continued to grow in Plymouth, with four operating factories at one time. The profitable operations of the glove industries attracted other businesses and the Plymouth downtown began to reach its present density, with new streets, new business blocks and housing.

The construction of railroads opened Plymouth to outside markets through freight and passenger rail service. The rail service also accelerated the specialization within and commercialization of local agricultural enterprises. The scale of farming enterprises in Plymouth increased during this period, although the number of farms decreased. Farms began to change in appearance as specialized barns were erected, and older barns were renovated according to function.

  1. Town of Plymouth, New Hampshire, Plymouth Master Plan, Volume 2, A Sense of Place, Historic Resources, 2006
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