15 Fascinating Facts About New Hampshire

Did you know that one of America's first recorded serial killers was born in New Hampshire?

    Most commonly nicknamed “The Granite State” or “The White Mountain State,” New Hampshire was the 9th state to join the United States of America on June 21, 1788.

    It has 1,359,711 people (as of 2019), making it the 41st most populous state. New Hampshire is bordered by the states of Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine.

    With 9,349 square miles (24,214 square kilometers) of land and water, it is the 7th smallest state.

    The capital of New Hampshire is Concord, which is situated to the southwest of the state.

    That’s enough fast facts about the Granite State for now, though. We’re here to learn some of the more interesting facts!

    New Hampshire has been populated for at least 11,000 years!

    Paleo-indians hunting an animal

    The first people who decided to make the region we call New Hampshire today were descended from the Paleo-Indians. 

    They were intrepid hunter-gatherers who populated the majority of the Americas between 13 to 10,000 BC.

    Before European colonization of North America began, there were many different tribes living in the region.

    Many were culturally similar and spoke different dialects of the same language, the Abenaki language.

    Some of these early tribes that predate European settlement included the Ossipee, Sokoki, Pigwacket, Winnipesaukee, Cowasuck, and Penacook, although they’re referred to more broadly today as the Abenaki People.

    Most of the Native Americans from New Hampshire now live in Canada.

    The border from New Hampshire into Canada

    When Europeans arrived in the 1600s, they unknowingly carried something that would damage the local Native Americans more than their guns ever did.

    That something was a disease, which mainly came in the forms of smallpox and influenza.

    It ravaged the local populations well before any conflicts started, affecting them more because they had no immunities to these new diseases.

    The few Abenaki that survived this early biological onslaught quickly realized that they must act fast to ensure their survival.

    Some assimilated into the invading European communities through marriage, while the majority fled to the north into Canada.

    These days, less than 1,000 Abenaki remain in New Hampshire, with just a handful of them speaking their native language.

    New Hampshire started as a fishing colony.

    New Hampshire as an old fishing colony

    England first learned of the region we now call New Hampshire in 1614 from Captain John Smith, who sailed along the New England coast and reported of its pristine beauty.

    After this, Captain John Mason gained a land grant to establish a fishing colony at the modern-day border between New Hampshire and Maine

    The first settlement in this new colony was founded in 1629 by a group led by the Scotsman David Thompson, where the town of Rye, originally Pannaway, now sits.

    A second settlement led by Edward and Thomas Hilton soon followed where the town of Dover now lies.

    New Hampshire was originally called North Virginia.

    Captain James Cook

    Captain John Smith was the founder of Virginia Colony, England’s first colony in North America.

    It was he who sailed north and first reported of New Hampshire’s shores. 

    He originally decided that the region should be named North Virginia, in connection to the Virginia Colony.

    King James changed the name to New England shortly.

    This name remained until John Mason founded the Province of New Hampshire in 1629.

    New Hampshire was governed by Massachusetts for many years.

    A map showing New Hampshire

    Between 1629 and 1641, the Province of New Hampshire was relatively ungoverned. It consisted mainly of a few fishing communities along the New Hampshire coastline.

    Due to a lack of any form of government, the residents of New Hampshire decided to come under the wing of the Massachusetts Colony in 1641.

    Massachusetts governed New Hampshire sporadically for the following 100 years, with New Hampshire occasionally being self-governed.

    In 1741, New Hampshire finally separated itself from Massachusetts permanently when Benning Wentworth was appointed as its new governor.

    Benning governed New Hampshire until he died in 1770.

    His nephew, John Wentworth, became the last of the colony’s governors. 

    New Hampshire was the first of the thirteen colonies to establish its constitution.

    New Hampshire's State House

    In the decades leading up to the American Revolution, the citizens of New Hampshire were growing increasingly unhappy with the way Britain was governing them from afar.

    New Hampshire had always had a higher level of independence than the other thirteen colonies.

    Because of that, they were some of the first to fight back against their colonial overlords.

    While Massachusetts instigated the first official acts of rebellion in 1775, the New Hampshirites were ready to answer their calls for aid.

    Even though they weren’t the first to rebel, they were the first of the thirteen colonies to set up their independent government based on their constitution in January 1776.

    In 1768, New Hampshire became the ninth U.S. state after they voted to ratify the newly drafted United States Constitution.

    32,486 New Hampshirites fought for the Union throughout the American Civil War.

    The American Civil War

    Just before the civil war broke out across the United States, New Hampshire had a population of 326,073.

    That’s more than 10% of the state’s population that fought for the Union.

    Throughout the war, New Hampshire provided eighteen infantry units, two units of artillery, three regiments of riflemen, and a cavalry battalion.

    One of New Hampshire’s infantry units, the 5th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry, became known as one of the Union’s best fighting units throughout the entire Civil War.

    Commanded by Colonel Edward Ephraim Cross, they were later known as the “Fighting Fifth.”

    The second-highest wind speed in the world was recorded in New Hampshire.

    The White Mountains of New Hampshire

    The White Mountains Range lies in the north of New Hampshire. The tallest of its peak is Mount Washington, which is also the tallest peak in the U.S. northeast.

    Unsurprisingly, the winds found at the top of Mount Washington travel at break-neck speeds.

    Every three days, this peak experiences speeds equal to that of a hurricane on average. 

    To give you an idea, a category 5 hurricane’s winds have to be at least 156 miles per hour (251 km/h).

    The highest wind speed ever recorded at Mount Washington measured at 231 miles per hour (371.7 km/h) in 1934.

    That is the second-highest wind speed ever recorded in the world.

    The inspiration behind America’s patriotic icon Uncle Sam lived in New Hampshire.

    Uncle Sam

    The idea of Uncle Sam, according to local legends, was inspired by the life of one Samuel Wilson.

    Samuel was born in Arlington, Massachusetts, but spent most of his younger years in Mason, New Hampshire.

    But it wasn’t until he moved to New York state that he went on to inspire the U.S.’ greatest patriotic icon.

    As the story goes, Samuel was responsible for inspecting the meat packages in food rations for the U.S. Army during the war of 1812.

    The packages he delivered to the troops were stamped “U.S.”

    When he did his rounds, he became familiar with some of the soldiers he met.

    They started to joke that the “U.S.” on the packages actually stood for “Uncle Sam,” a name they began to call him.

    One of New Hampshire’s most iconic landmarks disappeared in 2003.

    The Old Man of the Mountain - a face-shaped rock formation

    If you’ve ever lived anywhere near New Hampshire, you’ll know exactly what I’m referring to. It was, of course, the Old Man of the Mountain.

    Until 2003, visitors to Cannon Mountain in the White Mountain Ranges could gaze in awe at one of nature’s wonders.

    When viewed from the right angle, the granite cliff clearly and distinctly came together into the form of a man’s face. 

    This incredible natural formation has been an icon of New Hampshire since its discovery in 1805.

    It has been featured on the state’s license plates, quarters, and every single possible type of memorabilia.

    On May 2, 2003, the Old Man of the Mountain was no more. The cliffs that formed the Old Man’s face crumbled and fell off the mountain.

    One of America’s first recorded serial killers was born in New Hampshire.

    A black and white photo of Herman Mudgett

    Herman Mudgett was born on May 16, 1861, in the sleepy town of Gilmanton, New Hampshire.

    Although he was said to be an intelligent child, he also had a dark streak. He was known to have tortured animals, and possibly even murdered a classmate of his.

    He studied medicine at the University of Michigan, paying the fees from insurance scams.

    He moved to Chicago at the age of 25. After that, he took the moniker H. H. Holmes when he started working as a pharmacist.

    Afterward, he built his house, which became known as “Murder Castle,” in which he built elaborate traps and gas chambers.

    Over the next seven years, he regularly murdered people, primarily women, to steal their property and savings.

    He sold many skeletons to nearby medical schools, which didn’t even question where they came from.

    He was eventually caught in Boston, Massachusetts, and was tried for the death of one of his co-workers. During the trial, he confessed to killing 27 people, a number he later revised to 130.

    The first crop of potatoes in North America was grown in New Hampshire.

    Rows of potato crops

    When Reverend James MacGregor sailed to New Hampshire in 1718, it’s unlikely he was aware he was about to make history.

    Among the various things he brought along with him was a sack of seed potatoes, a type of potato specifically for planting, not eating.

    In 1719, he planted these potatoes in a field outside the township of Nutfield (now Derry).

    A booming potato industry sprouted and spread across all of North America from these humble origins.

    While other states may try and claim that they were growing potatoes earlier, New Hampshire wins by a technicality.

    Their potatoes were grown from seeds, not the ones you would find in the supermarket.

    New Hampshire celebrates its Scottish heritage with the New Hampshire Highland Games annually.

    People playing at the annual Highland Games

    New Hampshire’s Scottish traditions go all the way back to the founding of its first European settlement by the Scotsman David Thompson in 1629.

    Many Scots moved to set up a new life in North America during the state’s colonial days.

    Many of their descendants keep this tradition to this day.

    In 1976, the local Scots communities decided to host the first New Hampshire Highland Games.

    The event celebrates all things Scottish through a series of games and activities.

    The first women’s strike in the history of the United States took place in New Hampshire.

    Mill workers from the small city of Dover, New Hampshire, made history in 1828 when they went on strike to protest against unfair wages and unbearable conditions.

    The women worked at a textile mill in Dover, and while conditions and wages weren’t favorable, the management was relatively fair and good to them for the time.

    In 1828, the mill changed hands, with the new owners reducing the women’s wages and leaving male wages unchanged.

    The women decided they’d had enough and went on strike for fairer wages and better working conditions. Unfortunately, the strike was short-lived.

    The mill owner immediately placed an advertisement in the local newspaper searching for their replacements.

    Fearing the loss of their jobs, the Dover mill girls returned to their roles at the newly-reduced wages.

    The first American to travel to space was from New Hampshire.

    Alan Shepard

    In 1957, the USSR launched the first artificial satellite in history, the Sputnik 1. This event was directly responsible for the beginning of the Space Race, a competition between the U.S. and the USSR.

    The U.S. was left feeling rather incompetent compared to their Cold War rival.

    They immediately put plans into action to send an American into space before anyone else. 

    In just three years, the U.S. formed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

    They developed a spacecraft and hand-picked and trained a group of seven Air Force pilots to become astronauts.

    The astronaut picked for NASA’s inaugural launch was Alan Shepherd, born in the small town of Derry, New Hampshire.

    Shepherd’s launch was initially set for April 26, 1960, and if this launch had gone ahead, he would have been the first man in space.

    Unfortunately for the U.S., they were faced with several setbacks. The Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin ended up being the first man in space instead.

    Shepherd did reach space on May 5, 1961, and although he wasn’t the first man in space, he was the first American.

     

    As one of the New England states, New Hampshire has more than its fair share of fascinating history.

    Despite the state’s small size, its residents are continuously making history, as was the case with the Dover mill girls, Alan Shepherd, and many more.

    That being said, New Hampshire is more than just its history – it’s also an incredibly beautiful state!

    No matter what you’re into, you’re sure to find something fascinating if you head on up north to New Hampshire.

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About The Author

Shash Wighton
Shash Wighton

Shash is an avid traveler and enjoyer of all good things life can throw his way. These days you'll find him teaching English and writing, while running his own campervan business.

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