The Weare Historical Society

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The Weare Historical Society
P.O. Box 33
Weare NH 03281

About Weare

At fifty-seven square miles, Weare is the largest town in area in Hillsborough County. Located in south central New Hampshire, it has four mountains, fifteen hills, lakes, ponds and brooks, and more than fifteen miles of river length, mainly along the Piscataquog, an Indian word for "a place for many deer." From Dustin Meadow in South Weare to the distant view of Kearsage upon entering Weare Center, to the sloping fields as one leaves town toward Dunbarton, nature's bounty is evident. Hundreds of acres of town land have been set aside for conservation and recreation.

Weare has both an industrial and agrarian past. The first settler built a cabin in 1750, and during the 18th and 19th centuries the town grew up around five major villages—Weare Center; North Weare; South Weare; East Weare; and Oil Mill (Riverdale). The General John Stark Scenic Byway passes through several of these quintessential New England villages, which are dotted with old houses and barns, and maples whose spring green and autumn hues catch the eye.

As one enters South Weare on Route 77, the first village encountered is a hamlet called Tavern Village. In the late 1700s William Dustin ran an inn here during the heyday of the farmers' trips to market in Salem, Massachusetts. Sometime during the first half of the 19th century a tavern replaced it, but it remains a reminder of men from Weare who, like William Dustin, fought with John Stark.

Weare men fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill, served under Stark at Bennington, Vermont; and again in New York. Although the byway will pass slightly west of the site of Quimby's Inn where it occurred, the Pine Tree Riot of 1772 that preceded the Boston Tea Party and precipitated events leading to the Revolutionary War is Weare's most indelible mark on history. This is where the men from Weare protested a fine for cutting the King's tall pines, required by law to be saved for ships' masts.

Besides the Pine Tree Riot, Weare is also known as the site of the first Quaker Seminary in New Hampshire; as part of the Underground Railroad, which provided safe passage for slaves passing through to Canada; and for many well-known visitors, including John Stark, John Greenleaf Whittier, Frederick Douglass, Henry Ford, and Richard Nixon. It is also known as the home of Supreme Court Justice David Souter, a lifelong resident.

The village of Weare Center is not only the seat of town government but also boasts many historically worthy buildings. The Town Hall, on the National Register of Historic Places, is the site of well over a century of vigorous town meeting debates. Simons Store and the Stone Memorial Building are on the State Register of Historic Places. The Stone Memorial Building contains a museum maintained by Weare Historical Society, along with a memorial to all those who served in wars, from the Revolution to Vietnam; their names are inscribed in gold leaf in the rotunda.

Weare Center is also significant for yearly celebrations: a July event celebrating independence from Great Britain, at which time the museum is open and Weare's history is on display; and, in August, Old Home Day, a tradition that began in Weare in 1900 when a seven-car train brought people home from Manchester. A Civil War reenactment group, Berdan's Sharpshooters, has set up camp on the green and marched to a nearby cemetery where members of Weare's original sharpshooters are buried. Traditional crafts are demonstrated, and students of the original Weare High School come from near and far to participate in a reunion. The Farmers' Market, along with the recent establishment of an agricultural committee, reawakens the legacy of Weare as a farming community.

In North Weare, the route passes the only surviving mill building on the Piscataquog, the Amos Chase Mill Building, which is on the National Register, and the state historical marker indicating the 22 viable mills that once stood along the river. Along Route 77 East, a state sign honors the historic village of East Weare, which was lost to a federal flood control project in 1960. Maps, guides, and pictorial histories of the flood and the village are available through Weare Historical Society.

Since 1971, Weare Historical Society has been active in saving and sharing Weare's history. In recent years, historic districts have been designated by the town and the Weare Heritage Commission established.