Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Abandoned Town of Monson, New Hampshire

In this area lay
the center of
the old town of
1746 - 1770

I've previously written about ghost towns or abandoned towns like Dogtown near Gloucester, Massachusetts, or Zealand, New Hampshire, or even Chinese Camp in California.  I was surprised to learn that there was an abandoned town just minutes away from me.  Monson was settled in 1737 and abandoned in the 1770s.  It straddles the borders of Hollis and Milford, New Hampshire.

It is like stepping back in time to enter Monson.  You can find it off Silver Lake Road in Hollis, down Federal Hill (a dirt road) and Adams Road (no cars allowed).  You must park about a half mile from the marker pictured above showing the center of Monson.  There are no paved roads, some open fields and cellar holes.  The trail map, available at the Gould homestead, shows a town pound and family names for the cellar holes. It is an easy walk, and very interesting.

Monson, New Hampshire

You can read about Monson in Chapter six, pages 85-94 of the History of Hollis, New Hampshire by S. T. Worcester.  In 1770 the settlers of Monson appealed to New Hampshire's General Court to repeal their charter.  This unusual request came with this explanation: "That the Land in and about the Center of Monson is so very poor, Broken, Baron and uneven, as cannot admit of many settlers, so that those Families that are in Town, are almost all planted in the Extreme parts of it. We have no prospect of ever Building a Meeting-House in the Center or elsewhere, any ways to accomodate us, by which Difficulties we think the Gospel will not be settled among us while in the present situation.  We therefore pray, &tc."

Doc Brown's cellar hole, flashback of the
movie "Back to the Future"! 

This is interesting to me because in 1743 in Hollis, New Hampshire Daniel Emerson, brother of my 6 x great grandfather Brown Emerson, was ordained to be the minister of the newly settled West Parish of Dunstable, Massachusetts.  Shortly afterwards this became incorporated as the town of Hollis, New Hampshire, which absorbed part of the settlement of Monson, and the neighboring town of Milford absorbed the rest.  At about this time, Monson disappeared from the map.

The cornerstone on this stone wall reads "1834"

In 1988 the area faced development into luxury homes, and several neighbors took action to preserve the history of Monson.  Russ and Geri Dickerman headed up an effort to protect Monson, by purchasing the entire tract for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. The Dickermans restored the Gould house, the only building still standing in Monson.  There are now trail maps, markers for cellar holes and plaques giving the history of the landscape.  Some of the family names on the cellar holes are HUBBARD, BROWN, BAYLEY, GOULD, WALLINGFORD and NEVINS.

Society for the Protection of Forests website

A PDF trail map with information

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

1 comment:

  1. I received this email from Dave Allen with links to useful maps:

    be sure to use my old maps in your research Heather..Nice story on Monson