We may be small, but our intrigue and history are mighty! The Granite State is full of a delightful variety of factoids and historical occurrences sure to fascinate New Hampshirites and visitors alike. Learn more about New Hampshire’s quirky past and offbeat present with these 15 fun facts!
America’s first serial killer, HH Holmes, was born Herman Webster Mudgett in the small town of Gilmonton. Though he would eventually commit most of an unknown number of brutal murders in the city of Chicago, Holmes was raised in New Hampshire. In the late 19th century, Holmes relocated to Chicago where he opened a “hotel,” used as a lure for guests and employees whom he would eventually kill. After several years of unrestrained terror, Holmes was eventually apprehended, tried, and executed.
The first white potato ever grown in North America was planted in Londonderry’s own Common Field. What has become a daily staple in the diet of many Americans and New Hampshirites alike, was originally introduced in 1719 by Scotch-Irish immigrants who had brought the vegetable with them across the Atlantic. The modern diet of Americans would likely look very different had these settlers taken a different agricultural path, as the average citizen of the United States consumes approximately 110 pounds of spuds each year!
While it was the result of an initial failure, the first public library of the United States opened in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in 1833. This time saw great evolution and progress because the initial survival related concerns encountered by colonists had mostly been conquered, and societal focus began to shift towards more refined pursuits. Tax money had been collected in an attempt to launch a state university system, but proved insufficient for such an undertaking. Instead, the Reverend Abbiel Abbot suggested a different type of public education in the form of a library, free for all the townspeople. The state university would eventually be built roughly 30 years later, and today America boasts about 17,000 public libraries, continuing the Peterborough tradition some 180 years down the road.
The iconic 1995 film starring the late Robin Williams was filmed in our very own Keene, New Hampshire, and super fans can still snag a film experience if they make their pilgrimage. The story of a board game brought to life in perilous fashion, “Jumanji” contrasted the tranquil streets of Keene with a threatening jungle packed with predators. In addition to seeing the background shots of a good portion of the film, a visit to Keene for a “Jumanji” lover isn’t complete without a look at/selfie with the “Parish Shoe Factory” sign painted on the side of a downtown building.
Six months prior to the document itself being drafted, New Hampshire became the first of the original colonies to tell mother England to take a hike. “As New Hampshire goes, so goes the nation” has become a prominent idea about our great state, and it has its roots in our country’s original push towards freedom.
Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, is widely considered to be the first summer resort in the United States. Since 1767, notable individuals have enjoyed a break from the trials of quotidian life in the bucolic town of Wolfeboro on Lake Winnipesaukee. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney spends his summers there, and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited in 2007. Other famous people who have spent time in Wolfeboro include Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, Drew Barrymore, and Jimmy Fallon.
While the modern impact of the snowmobile on New Hampshire can be seen on a regular basis, what many don’t know is that the first snowmobile ever sprung from the creative mind of a New Hampshirite. Originally a conversion kit for Model T’s as a means of combating snowy conditions, this activity was initially a way of maintaining normal life even through long stretches of snowy winter days. The kit, sold exclusively through Ford, consisted of two metal and wooden skis to replace the front tires, and tracks to be added to the rear wheels for traction. “The Model T Ford Snowmobile Club” works to maintain the history and significance of the early iteration, and display mobiles can be seen across New Hampshire.
Believe it or not, most state’s claim an official state insect, with New Hampshire’s fortuitous choice being the ladybug. Apart from bringing luck, these little critters lend a major helping hand to farmer’s nationwide by eating other insects who harm crops. New Hampshire’s favorite bug was designated in 1977 following a promotional campaign by students at Concord’s Broken Ground Grammar School. About 450 species of ladybugs can be found within the United States, with close to 5,000 worldwide.
In 1937, the town of Hill Village, New Hampshire, was to become a flood control reservoir for the Franklin Falls dam. Rather than scatter and become absorbed by other municipalities, the residents of Hill Village decided to stick together- literally. A massive effort was undertaken to raise funds, design, and build a new place of their own, including a local school and town hall. The “new” Hill Village continues to thrive with strong community connections, while the ruins of the previous town are rumored to be haunted.
In a shockingly contentious battle over ownership, Newport, New Hampshire, claims to be the location where the infamous nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb” was written. The poem’s author, Sarah Josepha Hale, was from Newport and is one of two people credited with the original writing of the piece in an ongoing struggle for bragging rights with Sterling, Massachusetts.
The nation’s 14th president, Franklin Pierce, was born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire. Piece was known as the “Young Hickory of the Granite Hills.” You can visit his childhood home, the Pierce Homestead, which is run by the state and has been designated both a National Historical Landmark and a State Park.
In 1936, wind speeds of 231 miles per hour were recorded by the staff at the Mount Washington Observatory. Although the record was broken in 1996 by winds in Barrow Island, Australia, the original record is still a favorite of many weather enthusiasts as it was recorded by staff at the observatory, rather than by an unmanned meteorological instrument. You can visit the observatory and see where the original recording was taken, and experience some of the most brutal conditions on the planet.
While New Hampshire is certainly not the nation’s smallest state, it does claim the shortest coastline of any state located on the ocean. A disputed figure that generally falls between eight and 18 miles, the rocky coast of New Hampshire is as beautiful and proud as any other. Plan an easily taken day trip to tour the various beaches and towns which occupy this coveted coastline.
Despite its geographical separation from the original and its Western counterpart, New Hampshire was in fact originally called North Virginia. The naming had to do with a similarity between the landscape of the states, and by all accounts original residents liked the name. It was eventually renamed to pay tribute to England’s Hampshire County.
Despite achieving infamy by riding across Massachusetts, Paul Revere’s original ride took place in New Hampshire. Months before his 1775 ride to warn Massachusetts’ residence of impending British invasion, Revere traveled over 50 miles from Boston to Portsmouth to raise an alarm of enemy arrival. A group of 400 New Hampshirites were able to defend the fort and keep it from falling into British hands.