New Hampshire State History

New Hampshire is one of the smallest states in the USA. It is also one of the states in New England, in the northeast part of the country. Quebec, a Canadian province, borders New Hampshire to its north. The state of Maine is to its east, along with the Atlantic Ocean. Vermont share’s its western border, while Massachusetts borders it to the south. Although Manchester is the biggest city in New Hampshire, its capital city is Concord.

New Hampshire was part of the original 13 US colonies. Three years after the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts, the first European settlers took up residence in New Hampshire. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire ratified the United States Constitution, making it the ninth state to do so.

The tallest mountain peaks in new England are located in new Hampshire, along with hundreds of brooks, lakes, and streams. It is also full of woodland areas, which have been attracting tourists since the late 19th century. Although it has many rural areas, New Hampshire is known as an industrial state. It is especially well-known for manufacturing textiles and shoes. Both of those industries can trace their roots back to the earliest settlers to live in the state.

The nickname of New Hampshire is the “Granite State.” That is because there are many granite deposits and formations of granite rocks across the state. In the early 1600s, Captain John Mason gave New Hampshire its name. He was one of the first settlers to receive a New Hampshire land grant. He spent his childhood in Hampshire, a county in England, which is where the name originated.

Settlers first established permanent settlements in what is present-day New Hampshire in 1623. They were two family groups and they settled at what is now Portsmouth, along Little Harbor and Dover Neck. They had an association with the Fishmonger’s Company of London. However, it’s likely that the Isles of Shoals and other areas in the region were visited by fishermen from Europe long before that time. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until after those two settlements were created in 1623 that settlement of the state started to grow, beginning with Exeter in 1637 and then Hampton in 1638.

Those four communities were the only four in the state for a number of years. However, they began to grow and expand, which required that they be subdivided into other communities, eventually leading to towns and cities in New Hampshire today all being founded. Areas that were not used for towns were used by English entrepreneurs under various patents and grants. It took decades to settle the title disputes over some of those land claims.

Up until 1771, New Hampshire was considered to be a royal province, with two exceptions. Those exceptions occurred from 1642 to 1679 and from 1690 to 1692. Massachusetts controlled New Hampshire during both of those time periods. Since New Hampshire was a royal colony, it was in an odd position at points, since it geographically split Massachusetts Bay Colony (what are now the states of Maine and Massachusetts).

From early on settlers in Essex and Middlesex counties in Massachusetts started to migrate into the Merrimack River Valley region of New Hampshire. Several other settlers from western and central Massachusetts also moved up into the areas now known as Grafton County and Cheshire County in New Hampshire.

In 1718, several Ulster Scots settled in New Hampshire’s south central region. More also settled in the region in 1723. Many of their family members formed settlements southwest of Albany, New York and in sections of Cherry Valley and New England. They originally settled in Londonderry, New Hampshire, but soon expanded to other New Hampshire towns.

Two major migration waves created most of the settlements in the interior part of the state. Settlements along the Maine border, in the Lakes Region, and in the Upper Merrimack Valley were largely created by people who originated on the seacoast. However, settlements in the southwestern and western part of the state were established by migratory settlers from southern New England. The northern part of the state consisted of people from both of those groups. Many of the settlers from the seacoast also continued to expand to the west, outside the state.

The middle of the 1800s saw a migration of French-Canadians from Canada down to New Hampshire. Many of them went to work in the lumber industry and in mills. From 1880 to 1920, there were large numbers of migratory settlers who came from the Maritime Provinces and from Quebec. That is why more than a third of New Hampshire’s current population can trace its roots to Canada.

After the potato famine, several Irish settlers came to New Hampshire, mainly settling in its large cities and towns. New Hampshire’s population has also been influenced by several other ethnic groups throughout the years. Many of them specialized in certain industries. Some of those groups included: Franklin Poles, Manchester Greeks, Laconia Greeks.

The Italians also came to the area to work on roads and as masons, eventually settling in several New Hampshire towns.

There were multiple conflicts between Native Americans and European settlers throughout the state’s history. There are not many provincial records about native inhabitants and family information relating to those conflicts that still remain in existence today. Those conflicts began in 1675 with King Philip’s War. Vermont has some resources on those natives, who were eventually forced into Canada and out to the west.

New Hampshire Ethnic Group Research

The state of New Hampshire’s early days were filled with Native American conflicts with white settlers. Most of the records from provincial times that related to Native Americans from that time who participated in King Philip’s War of 1675 and other conflicts are no longer extant today.

Surviving Native Americans were forced to move into Canada or further into the western part of the United States.g Poles, Greeks, Russians, Italians, Spanish, and Irish, were employed in the iron industry, quarries, or various types of manufacturing. They have been migrating to the area from the 1800s until the present day.

New Hampshire History Databases and other Helpful Links

The websites below will provide state-specific details to those in search of information for New Hampshire genealogy work.

State Genealogy Guides

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