On January 15, 1736, the Province of Massachusetts granted the first charter to the land that now includes Washington, as "Monadnock Number 8," in a line of towns as a defense against the Indians. This line ran from the Merrimack to the Connecticut Rivers and included Hopkinton Number 5, Henniker Number 6, and Hillsborough Number 7.
In 1746, this land became the property of the the Masonian Proprietors who, on December 6, 1751 granted a charter to Capt. Peter Prescott of Concord, Massachusetts, who called it New Concord. The survey in 1753 by Stephen Hosmer showed it was six and a half miles wide by eight miles long, and contained 33,280 acres.
In 1768, it was re-granted to Colonel Reuben Kidder, Esq. of New Ipswitch, who called it Camden, after Governor John Wentworth's friend, the Earl of Camden, Chief Justice of England. The first settlers arrived in May, 1768 and camped at the outlet of Millen's Pond. Each was granted 100 acres of land with the privilege of choosing land from any part of the township.
In 1771, a census showed there were 14 log houses, 7 framed houses, 6 barns, 44 "cattel," 12 sheep, and 263 acres of cleared land among 28 families. In 1776, the inhabitants petitioned the New Hampshire General Assembly to be incorporated under the name of George Washington, first President of the United States (then the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army). On December 9, 1776 the town was incorporated as Washington and was included in Cheshire County until July 5, 1827, when it became part of the newly incorporated Sullivan County. In 1830 the town population reached a peak of 1,135.
Many mills were built along the streams and soon Washington was manufacturing lumber, barrel staves, shingles, chair parts, bobbins, whip sockets, hosiery, bricks and washboards. They grew crops and grist mills ground flour. Fifty three tons of maple sugar was being produced in 1886. Wool and mutton were important to the economy of the town.
During the railroad era Washington became known for it's mountain air, healthy water and it's many hotels and tourist homes.
Today, Washington's still clear lakes and ponds, clear mountain air and beautiful scenery has enabled it to remain a tourist area and New Hampshire's best kept secret.
The first organizational meeting for the Washington, New Hampshire Historical Society was held in October of 1982. On December 13th, of 1982, 55 people headed by Phil Barker signed the charter, which was registered by the State on January 7th, 1983.
See the articles in the Winter 2002 and Spring 2007 newsletters on the founding of the Society.
The WHS Owns and Maintains a History museum on Halfmoon Pond Road in Washington Center, and the District No. 5 School, an 1849 one room schoolhouse in East Washington. The society recently acquired a barn next to the museum on Halfmoon Pond Road.
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