History of Charlestown, N. H.
No. 4, which eventually became Charlestown, was originally
chartered by Massachusetts in 1735. No. 4 was the farthest
north, and the most exposed, in a chain of four settlements
which were created primarily to protect the western
Massachusetts towns that were often the target of Indian
attacks. When the French and Indian Wars took place, the
settlers in this vulnerable outpost pulled several houses
together, built a palisade to protect them, and created the Fort
at No. 4--a fortified village, not a military fort. Life at the
fort was dangerous and hard until King Philip’s War finally
Since the area settled was actually in New Hampshire, the town
was chartered by New Hampshire in 1753, and named Charlestown.
At one time, so many noted lawyers and judges resided in the
town that it was known as the most important law center north of
Boston. The rude frontier outpost became a cultured village of
gracious homes. During the 1800s, the town was a destination
for summer visitors who stayed in the many large hotels.
Charlestown is located in what is called the “Quiet Corner” of
New Hampshire, surrounded by hills, beside the Connecticut
River. It is still a small town with about 5,000 people. It is a
fine place to live or visit, and the town has preserved many of its wonderful historic features. Proud of its
history, the town has retained many records of its earlier days,
and has many resources for those seeking information about their
histories have been written about the town. Anyone with ties to
Charlestown should have all three volumes of its history. A real feel for
the past and the times the early settlers lived in, as they built the
town and the country, are recorded, as well as many personal
sidelights about various people in the village. It is
See the "To order Charlestown Histories Section."
Mary Cushing home - The Judge's Daughter
Charlestown National Register District of Historic Places -- Main
Charlestown’s Main Street is the longest National Register
District in New Hampshire. Wonderful old homes and
buildings, dating to the 1700s and early 1800s line the street.
More detail about these houses will be found in The Second
History of Charlestown.
The district was placed on the register in 1987
The National Register
of Historic Places and
Connecticut River Joint Commissions
Two “Walkabout” booklets are available to anyone wanting a guide
to the Main Street houses. Both the original “Walkabout”
booklet (primarily concerned with buildings’ exteriors), and the
“Walkabout--Second Time Around” (primarily concerned with
buildings’ interiors) are available from the Charlestown
Historical Society. Refer to the historical society's
section on this web page.
Charlestown National Register District of Historic Places --
there is a North
Charlestown National Register District of Historic Places.
North Charlestown Village on River Road (Route 12-A) in North
Charlestown was placed on the National Register in 2005. This
small farming village is notable for its early buildings (late
1700s, early 1800s), and for surviving the centuries with very
little change. Further information is available
Information can also be obtained at the Town Offices, Silsby Free Public
Library, and the Charlestown Historical Society. Frizzell’s Second History
Charlestown and Higgins' Third History of Charlestown also have information about this area.
More information available
History of Charlestown
H. Saunderson wrote and published this history of early
Charlestown in 1876. This volume is an invaluable resource,
beginning in the days of the first settlers, and the French and
Indian Wars, and continuing through the 1800s. It has a
well-researched genealogical section. The history has been
reprinted in hard cover, and is available from the town.
Second History of Charlestown
Frizzell, and others, wrote and published this second history in
1955. This book briefly covers the early period detailed by Saunderson, then continues on from 1876 to 1955. It covers the
growth of the town, property ownership from early days,
organizations, businesses, and has a genealogical section that
emphasizes the inhabitants during the 1876-1955 time period.
This history has been reprinted in hard cover, and is available
from the town.
to Frizzell's Second History of Charlestown
A complete Index to
individuals' names was compiled by Robin Van Mechelen in 2006,
and opens the door to the rich source of genealogical
information in the Second History. Each mention of a proper name
and the corresponding page number is listed. The index is
available from the Charlestown Historical Society for $25.00
which includes shipping and handling. Checks should be made
payable to the Charlestown Historical Society and mailed to:
P. O. Box 159
Charlestown, NH 03603
Higgins' Third History of
the most recent town history, published in 2013. It was written
by Joyce Higgins and others who were knowledgeable on topics
covered in the book. The hardcover book updates the Second
History, beginning in 1955 and continuing through 2013, while containing new
material on the early days in Charlestown. Resources for
researching local people, places, and history, as well as
genealogies are included, together with photos and humorous
anecdotes. Signed copies are available.
Order Charlestown Town Histories
check or money order, made payable to the Town of Charlestown to
P. O. Box 385
Charlestown, NH 03603
cost of the book plus a $5.00 shipping fee per book
Saunderson's History of Charlestown - 1876 $30.00
Frizzell's Second History of Charlestown - 1955 $25.00
Higgins' Third History of Charlestown - 2013 $40.00
special price of $60.00 is offered to those buying both a Second
History and a Third History at the same time; a savings of $5.00
Shipping is $5.00 per volume, but can be combined for a lower
cost if more than one history is ordered.
Charlestown Selectboard Offices (Town Offices)
P.O. Box 385
216 Main Street
Charlestown, NH 03603
P. O. Box 385
26 Railroad St.
The Town Clerk has the
vital records and town reports from the 1700s to current.
Early records are SOMEWHAT fragmentary.
The Charlestown town website
Free Public Library
226 Main St.
P. O. Box 385
Heritage and Historic District Commission
P.O. Box 385
members of this town commission are appointed by the Selectboard.
In 2014, the town voted that the Heritage Commission should take
over the duties of a Historic District Commission. To its
previous duties of promoting the preservation of the historic
buildings and objects in the town, especially the two National
Register Districts, educating townspeople on the importance of
preservation, and promoting pride in historic houses, has been
added the responsibility of creating and regulating a
state-designated town historic district.
commission is currently working on updating our National
Register District buildings' descriptions and working with the
Planning Board to develop a historic district ordinance. Other
projects have included an annual essay contest for middle-schoolers,
benches, National Register plaques, and working with a Boy Scout
to earn his Eagle badge by recording the names and burial
locations in the oldest section of Forest Hill Cemetery.
All meetings are open to the public. For a brochure,
contact the Heritage Commission.
P. O. Box 159
Charlestown, NH 03603
Marge Reed, Archivist
The Charlestown Historical Society maintains an Archives Room
and museum on Main Street. All the town cemetery records are
available and the archives are sorted into many categories, with
much other unclassified material available for research. It is a
treasure trove of historic photos, old newspapers, etc.
Researchers are welcome every Monday and Friday morning from 9
Please call Marge Reed, 603-826-4478, to verify open hours or
make an appointment outside scheduled open hours.
Written or phoned inquires to the society will be researched
through the sorted materials and the town histories, as time
permits, for a small donation.
The Society does not have a web site.
annually, are $5.00 per individual or $12.00 per family. Other
membership categories are: $25 Contributing Member, $100
Sustaining Member, and $300 Lifetime Member.
Books and Other Items
Available from C.H.S.
Daughter $20.00 $4.00 shipping
softbound, 314-page book contains the transcription of the diary
Mary Cushing of Charlestown began in 1861, when she was nine
years old, and kept until 1866. This remarkable diary details a
New England childhood and the home front during the Civil War.
It also contains genealogical information about Mary's family
and all of the people in her diary.
Fully annotated and
footnoted, the book follows Mary's life and her family until
Signed copies are available.
Index to the Second History of Charlestown $25.00 (includes
Walkabout Booklets $2.50 each; Houses on Main Street;
Original (house exteriors) or Second Time Around (house
Old Town Reports, specify year $2.00 each These contain
births, marriages, and deaths for the year.
Postcards, either District No. 8 District School, or
Scenes of Charlestown $1.00 each
2015 Historic Charlestown Scenes Calendar $10.00
Schoolhouse, District No. 8
Listed on the New Hampshire Register of Historic Places, this
1774 one room schoolhouse on Acworth Road is maintained by the
Charlestown Historical Society. The school is available free to
school groups who wish to spend a day studying as their
grandparents did. Docents tell children about schooldays
Open houses at the schoolhouse are scheduled for
May and October of each year. The society is also
always glad to open the school for tours by groups or
individuals. Contact the society for information.
Charlestown Vital Records (births, marriages, deaths)
from the 1700s to present, are located in the Town Clerk’s
office. Records are incomplete due to several factors,
including a fire. Town Reports usually contain vital records
for each year, and Saunderson’s
History lists early marriages and Publishments (engagements). The
genealogy sections of all town histories contain much
information. The Charlestown Historical Society maintains files
of local newspaper clippings of births, marriages, obituaries,
and miscellaneous information clipped from local sources.
Charlestown Town Reports
and School Reports are available at the Town Clerk’s Office,
Silsby Free Public Library, and the Charlestown Historical
Society. Reports from 1852 to 2017 are available (a few years
are missing), and the historical society will do lookups. Many
of the reports contain vital records (births, marriages, deaths)
for the previous year. The earliest printed reports do not list
vital records. Town reports prior to 1852 are in hand-written
volumes in the Town Clerk’s office. Old Town Reports may be
purchased from the Charlestown Historical Society--see the C. H.
See information under the Charlestown Historical Society
Public Library also has historical resources and photos of the town. Historic
photos and other archival material are in the process of being stored
electronically and will be available to the public via an online index at some
time in the future.
Call 603-826-7793 for library hours and services available.
The Elms Hotel circa 1868
Prior to the mid 1820s, Charlestown was in
Cheshire County. Those deeds are located at the Registry of Deeds, 33 West
St., Keene, NH. Deeds date back to the 1700s. The
deeds are not currently online, but may be examined in person at the registry.
now located in
Sullivan County. Deeds from the mid-1820s are located in the Registry of Deeds,
County Court House, 14 Main Street, Newport, NH 03773. They are also available
Charlestown Military Information
A Roll of Honor has been compiled
by the Charlestown Historical Society, which includes all veterans, town
militia, members of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons of the
American Revolution, Grand Army of the Republic, Veterans of Foreign Wars,
American Legion, their auxiliaries, and other individuals who have served in
patriotic roles. As far as is available, information includes the branch of
service, dates served, place of burial, and where the information was found.
Contact the historical society to search for individual listings among the over
2, 000 names. The society archives also contain newspaper clippings and photos
of some military personnel.
Charlestown Cemetery Records
Records of the
town’s five cemeteries (including St. Catherine’s Catholic Cemetery) are available at Silsby Free
Public Library, the Town Offices, and at the Charlestown Historical Society, as
well as the Cemetery Department. The historical society will do lookups.
Photos of headstones will be taken for
a small donation to the society.
The photo shows "Voices From the Past", a cemetery walk event the Charlestown
Historical Society held to bring former Charlestown residents to life. The
characters told of their lives in the past in Charlestown. Over 100 visitors
came to meet their former "neighbors."
Churches of Charlestown
P.O. Box 1498
603-826-3335 or 603-826-5126
South Parish Unitarian Church
242 Main Street
P.O. Box 886
St. Catherine of Siena Catholic
291 Main Street
P.O. Box 332
St. Luke's Episcopal Church
176 Main Street
P.O. Box 326
North Charlestown Methodist Church
471 River Road
P.O. Box 735
Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd
20 Summer Street
P.O. Box 418
Charlestown Bible Church
37 Hammond Road
P.O. Box 461
Life Fellowship Foursquare Church
65 Wheeler-Rand Road
Victory in Jesus Family Church
319 Claremont Road
Yellow Meeting House
(used by many denominations)
Demolished in the mid-1800s,
no known records exist)
Charlestown Methodist Church
(Millerism), Est. 1836, defunct
No known records exist
Other Charlestown Historical
“All Roads Led
to Charlestown” and “Fish and the Fisherman,” an article about early fish
culturist Livingston Stone. were written in conjunction with the History Harvest
and Flow of History programs at the Bellows Falls, Vt., Waypoint Center.
Contact the Conservation Commission,
Town of Charlestown, same town contact information as previous
Map is available.
Charlestown's Fort at No. 4
P.O. Box 336
4 Springfield Road
Charlestown, NH 03743 603-826-5700
Fort No. 4
- click for online details
history museum is open during the summer season. It recreates life as it
the days of the French and Indian Wars with costumed enactors and special
events. School groups are welcomed. Admission is charged. See the fort’s web site for more
The Fort at No. 4
Springfield Road, P.O. Box 336 Charlestown, NH 03603 603-826-5700
Charlestown Main Street
Historic District - (photos of old houses)
Charlestown Railroad Station
Claremont Chamber of Commerce
Railroad Stations in New Hampshire
- (by county) & old time post cards
If you know a Charlestown link that would be appropriate to add
to this page, please
mail to: webmaster