Brief Epsom History


Brief Early Historical Look at Epsom, NH

Epsom was granted to the taxpayers of Rye, New Castle and Greenland in 1727. It wasn't until the land was surveyed that the first 20 men drew the first 20 fifty acre lots. Some of the last names of these proprietors may sound familiar - Seavey, Goss, Berry, Locke, Dowst, Berry, Wallace, Chapman, Foss, Weeks and Marden, to name a few. These were referred to as the "home-lots." On the 9th of November, the town which had been divided into 4 equal ranges of a mile each in length, and after making a list of the proprietors of the 3 towns (totaling 143) met to draw their several lots. More familiar names: Haines, Tarleton, Rand, Philbrook, Perkins, Dowst, Parker, Cate, Sherburne, Hill, Brackett, Morrill Amazeen, Clark...etc. Money for hiring a minister began in 1742, but the first minister, Rev. John Tuck, did not arrive until August 1761. In April 1764, a vote was taken to build a meetinghouse. By 1766 it was in use, but Rev. Tuck's stay was to be rather short-lived. A dispute developed between he and some of the towns folk and he was dismissed and the meetinghouse shut up in 1774. Rev. Benjamin Thurston was in Epsom, 1779, but it was not until 1784 when a full time clergyman returned - Rev. Ebenezer Haseltine. As much as he was beloved during his tenure, which ended 1813 with his death, his congregation never exceeded the number that Rev. Tuck had. Also of note is the fact that much of the church records of Rev. Tuck have made their way to the NH Archives. None of Rev. Hazeltines records have survived or been found to this day. This leaves a very large amount of vital statistics for the town of Epsom missing.Rev. Jonathan Curtis succeeded the Congregational cause in 1814. By this time the town began to faction into other religious societies, fighting over the use of the meetinghouse, and this of course did nothing to help the record keeping of the times. Rev. Curtis remained until 1825, but by then there were the Free-Will Baptists, and not long after the Christian Society. In 1845 the Congregationalists had a new building, and in 1861, the Baptists had their second church. The keeping of records, here, as in other towns, were kept rather haphazardly by the town, no longer being a church function. The town no longer supported any particular church.There undoubtedly were settlers here before the drawing of the lots, Charles McCoy being the most well known, and he and his family are a story all to themselves. The town did not get off to a fast start due to the Indian Wars, in fact, by the French War of 1745-49, there may have been as few as five families still remaining. In 1761, there were still less than 50 families, but they went about and constructed their meeting house, hired a minister. In 1783, permission was given to the town to sell at auction "common land" in the southwestern part of the town, these lots were still 100 acres but were half as long. More familiar names arrive - McClary, Sanborn, Bickford, McGaffey, to name a few.By 1800 the town became one of the most important in the Suncook Valley, being in a significant location between the coast and the capital in Concord. The first toll road was established in the State toll road appeared in Epsom, and there were several well known taverns to accommodate the many people traveling through town, including one run by one of the earliest families, the McClary's. Lumber and grist mills could be found on the Suncook and Little Suncook Rivers, and small factories and general stores appeared, several lasting into the middle of this century.A difficulty in tracing information, besides the lack of church and town records, is that from its beginnings until 1824, Epsom was part of Rockingham County, then switching to the new Merrimack County. Town records were not very well kept until mandated by the State around 1887, when vital statistics began to appear in annual town reports. Just before 1800, several families removed to start new homes in Stanstead, Canada, and a small exodus to the larger mill towns of Lowell and Lynn, Massachusetts occurred around 1820.Epsom's population peaked after the Civil War, and was not to have a significant growth in population again until the 1950's.


 Above Photo - Silver and Hall General Store circa 1890. The G.A.R. Hall (second story) was originally the Epsom Baptist Church.