2 Liberty Way - Litchfield, NH 03052 - 603-424-4047       

Litchfield New Hampshire Police Department

 




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History of Litchfield, NH

The land which now compromises the town of Litchfield, NH originally belonged to the Naticook, one of the many Native American Tribes under the rule of the great Chief Passaconaway.  In 1656 King George granted the land to Billerica, MA.  The residents of Litchfield in 1657 sold the approximately 8,000 acres of land to William Breton, an explorer and fur trader, for the sum of 200 pounds.  The land was then called Breton's Farm. 

Massachusetts encouraged the settlement of the area in order to strengthen its hand in a boundary dispute with New Hampshire.  Townspeople successfully petitioned Massachusetts for a charter and the town was named Litchfield in honor of the Earl of Litchfield, a relative of Governor Wentworth.  A boundary dispute was settled in 1741, which marked Litchfield's incorporation into New Hampshire.  It was not until 1749, however, that the town received its charter and officially became part of New Hampshire.

Timber, brick making, and farming were the largest industries in Litchfield during the 1800's.  Many brooks in town were used for making bricks, the largest brickyard was located just off Pinecrest Road.  During colonial times Litchfield boasted two gristmills, a gun powder mill, a carding mill, and two sawmills as well as a tavern and several general merchandise stores. 

Most of Litchfield's trading centered around the Merrimack River.  Two major ferries operated on the river: Thornton's Ferry located at the town's center and Reid's Ferry located at the northern end of town.  Much to Litchfield's disadvantage, the Concord Railroad ran through Merrimack in 1842, which significantly reduced the development of Litchfield's commercial industries.

Charles Bancroft, one of Litchfield's most prominent civic patrons, was born in 1845 and lived until 1906.  Mr. Bancroft, in his last will and testament, bequeathed the town moneys to build the "Bancroft Free Bridge," which would have connected Litchfield with Merrimack.  The money which he left was not sufficient to cover the entire costs of the bridge's construction; the town then decided to petition the court to transfer the funds to a road paving project.  The funds were transferred to the road project and the Charles Bancroft Highway was born.  To this day stone tablets mark the name of Charles Bancroft at each end of the road.



 

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