The town of Litchfield, New Hampshire is located at the southern section of the state across the Merrimack River from the town that carries its name. Land which is now known as Litchfield, was once populated by the Abenaki people. The New Hampshire Archaeological Society has located over 30 Native American sites along the shore of the Merrimack River in Litchfield, with artifacts several thousands of years old being uncovered. European influences started in the 1650’s with early records showing that Litchfield was then a part of Dunstable, Massachusetts. Both sides of the Merrimack River were granted in 1656, to William Brenton, colonial governor of Rhode Island. The name was changed to “Brenton’s Farm” in 1729. Chief Passaconaway of the Penacook lived in a Litchfield settlement at least part of the year around this era. In 1728, sixteen proprietors divided up the Brenton Farm Land. In 1749, the land was granted to another group of settlers and named “Litchfield” after George Henry Lee, Earl of Lichfield. The town has historically been comprised of farmland without a true town common or center. A small enclave of buildings did center in town, where the town hall was built. This building, the Old Town Hall of Litchfield, was built in 1851 from parts of an older meetinghouse, which was built across the road from where the building now stands. A shift in the course of the Merrimack River during the early 1800s forced the dismantling of the original Meeting House and a new structure to be built. It is a modest Greek Revival structure with corner pilasters, entablature, and gable end facing the street which reads as a pediment. It is very well maintained to this day as the home to the Litchfield Historical Society.
Historic sites New Hampshire
Cragin-Frye-Savage Mill // 1858
There’s not much that is more picturesque and stereotypical New Hampshire than old, wooden mill buildings. When I was looking for a town to explore in NH, I got stuck on a photograph of the old Cragin-Frye Mill in Wilton, and off I went! Daniel Cragin (1836-1921) was born in Merrimack, NH of Scottish descent. In 1856, age 21, he rented a room in a woolen goods mill, and he built knife trays and wooden toys which he turned into a business. He started his business with ten dollars, and turned a profit from the beginning, so much so that by 1858, he accumulated enough money to purchase a nearby existing building for his own operation. The mill was water-powered and grew quickly. The Daniel Cragin Mill began production of sugar boxes and dry measure boxes. The mill closed briefly after Cragin retired in the early 20th century. In 1909, Whitney Morse Frye and his father, Dr. Edmund Bailey Frye, bought the mill from Cragin. Frye continued the Cragin line of wooden trays, boxes, and pails in addition to his normal processing of grains. Whitney Frye died in 1961, and his employee, Harland Savage Sr. purchased the old mill, continuing operations. After his retirement in 1981, his son Harley and his wife Pam Porter Savage took over operations and they have operated the mill to the present day as Frye’s Measure Mill. The mill is one of a few remaining operating water-powered measure mills in the United States!