Whitefield's first settlers came in the early 1800's and the town was officially incorporated in 1804. As our nation began its growth so did the tiny village of Whitefields (the "s" was later dropped). There will be much to view in the heritage section of this website and we urge you to return often as it will feature new material frequently.
Trains, Planes & Automobiles
The first visitors to "Whitefields" came, of course, on foot and then by horse, wagon or other means but the town has a deep-rooted history with railroading. So much of the town was influenced by the railroad traffic and Whitefield became known as a hub for such many generations ago. Here are some photos and postcards from the past- many of which were shared with us by Joe Elgosin and the 470 Club. Enjoy!
The famous ball signal in downtown Whitefield was the last in operation in the United States back around the 1960's. It is still standing today and looks pretty much the same.
Below are some views of the two railroad stations in town.
Surprised? The American Legion building was once a railroad station and was moved to its present location many years ago. You might be interested to know that the current Dunkin' Donuts/Laundamat building is the other railroad station.
The pictures that follow will help you to understand just how important the railroads were. There were many junctions and sidetracks and the railroads employed many locals. Next, here's a picture of Coos Junction in the 1800's and a 1942 photo of "The Mountaineer" climbing up through Crawford Notch enroute to Whitefield from Boston loaded with tourists.
The pictures below are taken at or near the Waumbek Junction during the period from 1920 to summer of 1977.
1920- Modified Motorcycle at Waumbek Jct. In-town train - February 1957
Passing through town 1948. At the Switch
Quebec Junction- 1895 (left) and 1950 (right).
On the Ball April 26, 1958
Past Events, Celebrations
Whitefield has a rich past and while recently honored with the presence of the World Famous Budweiser Clydesdales, I got to thinking about past celebrity visits and such.
I had the good fortune not long ago to spend some time with Mary Jane Chase who shared some incredible photos with me. Some of you have seen some of these already but they bear another look. I'm referring to photos of P. T. Barnum's Circus which visited our town in 1889, having set up on the Chase Farm out on Parker Road (Chase Farm Road then). Have a look at these photos from the family album....
Unbelievable, aren't they? Did you notice the clear-cut from Kimball Hill? What a sight! Thank you Mary Jane.
More School Days Images....
There was a bit of serendipity in the air as Roy Birard handed me an old photo. "Thought you might be interested in this," he said. I was thrilled to have available a very old photo of the East Whitefield School. After a bit of rummaging I came across some other photos and "thought you might be interested..." too!
I also rushed out the next morning and snapped a photo of the way the school looks today. Stone walls are still there, incidentally.
Also, check out the polaroid that the late Sumner Peck had donated to the historical society a few years ago. The image is not entirely clear but handwriting with the picture says "Gould School" and "1825." Maybe you can shed some light as to what that would mean.
Lots of you will recognize these hallowed halls.....
"School Days, School Days..."
"Good old Golden Rule Days..." as the lyrics to this old song declare. Just how good were those days is a topic sure to evoke much discussion and certain differences of opinion. Nevertheless, they were the foundation of learning for many who went forward and ultimately built a town, a state and a country. The impact of education upon our society cannot be denied-- and to think of how humble its origins may seem to the youth of today.
--Post Card Courtesy of Bill Jones
School is, of course, a definitive term describing a process but most people think of the building where schooling took place. Ironically, the earliest schooling occurred within the walls of the home (whether a cave, log cabin or thatched hut) next advancing into a more formal environment as seen in the accompanying photos and now-- today, home-schooling is very popular once again.
The Whitefield Common
Is there anyone who doesn't associate the image of the bandstand on the Common as the "official" icon of Whitefield, New Hampshire? I think not. Recently, we came across a terrific article on the subject of the Common and its history and feel compelled to share it here. Author Eileen Alexander has granted us permission to use it. The article originally appeared in the Coos County Democrat, February 23, 1999.
Photo: Ron Littlefield
According to accounts in various town histories, the village area was first settled by Asa King in 1815 when he purchased what was known as the "mill lot," which included the present-day Common, as well as a saw mill and grist mill on either side of the John's River. Asa's son Nathaniel went on to build a house on the Common.
In 1832, Asa sold the mill lot property which included the Common to Nathaniel and his (Asa's) son-in-law Joseph Colby for $1,800. The following year, the men deeded the common area to the town as a "playing ground for the boys." The house was removed and materials from it were used to build the "old mill house" to the west of the grist mill. This house, in 1869, came to be known as the Pinkham House after the Rev. George H. Pinkham who made his home there.
The "Pinkham House" today. Photo: Ron Littlefield
The bandstand was erected in 1875 and it was dedicated, according to town records, "with an appropriate amount of ceremony." An unattributed newspaper writeup in the possession of the Whitefield Historical Society offers some interesting information about the bandstand. "Whitefield Amateur Band," said the account, "offered lively entertainment. In dapper hats, the band offered promenade concerts and an occasional 'strabbery supper', fining members 25 cents for any 'disturbances.' A later band was formed in 1907 with 15 members offering summer concerts on the common every Saturday night."
Eileen Alexander, Coos County Democrat, February 23, 1999
Post Card & Photo: Courtesy of Alan Astle
Whitefield history has been recorded by many through the years and one of the most comprehensive books on the subject is available for reading at the library or for purchase at the Town Hall, Historical Society, library or Mountain View Grand ($10.00). I'm referring to A History of WHITEFIELD, NEW HAMPSHIRE 1774-1974. This book was written by Kim R. Nilsen and published by The Town of Whitefield in conjunction with the 1974 celebration of the bicentennial of the land grant (by Governor John Wentworth) of the tract now known as Whitefield.
According to the book, the parcel of land was "left over" after boundaries had been established for neighboring towns and was later referred to as "the land that no one wanted." Aah.... if they could see it now!
Some of the historical detail that will accompany photos and old postcards on this site will be gleaned from this source but we are researching other resources and believe we'll be able to add many interesting facts and stories as we progress.
We also urge you to visit the Historical Society Museum on King's Square to learn more about Whitefield's past. There is a wealth of information there along with thousands of photos and documents and other artifacts. The museum is open May through September every Thursday afternoon from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. If you require more info, you may call 837-2466. Be sure to ask about membership in the Whitefield Historical Society -- your efforts can help preserve the heritage for future generations and it's a bargain! Membership dues for an individual is a mere $5.00 per year and only $10.00 for a family membership and $25.00 or more for a Supporter.
Do you or someone you know have old photos, post cards or documents you'd be willing to share for the website? Click this link for a printable reminder of what we're seeking. WB-Photos Needed for Website List.pdf
Do you have knowledge of historical interest (pretty much anything over 10 years old) that you'll share? What stories might you give us to share on the site?
We're looking for family history-- has your family lived in Whitefield for several generations?
What's the oldest structure in the town of Whitefield? Tell us what you know! Also, click this link for a printable photo/questionnaire of 20 structures we're seeking more information about. Help! What do you know about these structures?
Don't be shy-- please come forward and contact us at [email protected] today! Thanks!
MORE TO COME!
Check Back Soon!
Everything on this website is copyrighted. You are strictly forbidden to copy, transfer or export photos, images or other documents without our expressed, written permission. Violators will face legal action.