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Haying at Tolman Pond

Editors Note: Renn Tolman, son of Newton F. Tolman, grew up in Nelson, and passed away in Homer, Alaska on July 5, 2014  t the age of 80. Betsy Street recently found a few essays written by Renn when he was a student at UNH, in the late 1950s. This one is very slightly edited and transcribed by Karen Tolman.

Haying in Nelson

the old Model A Ford truck with Bobby Curtis and Foster Sisson “making the load” and Pop (Wayland Tolman) looking out the window. Pop was Renn and Barry’s grandfather.

When I was a boy, my grandfather kept three or four cows.  He had just enough hay fields to provide enough hay to last them through the winter, although if the hay crop were particularly poor, perhaps he might have to buy an extra ton or two to tide them through until the cows could be put out to pasture in the spring.

Exactly how many acres his fields totaled is uncertain because they were scattered, irregular fields of a New Hampshire hill farm, but ten was the number he would quote if anyone asked him. Of course this acreage was figured without taking into account the combined areas of the rocks that stuck up in the fields. It is a worn-out joke that New Hampshire fields grow rocks as well as hay.

The only field that you could mow with the assurance that the mowing machine wouldn’t tip over and that was relatively rock-free was the Intervale, a ten-acre field of which my grandfather owned half. The Intervale, however, presented a different problem. It was as flat as a pond and tended to degenerate into a swamp on a wet year. Continue Reading »

Library Book Sale

by on July 15, 2014 in Home Page, Library

 People may bring their gently used books to the Library for the Book sale that will be held at the Library Lower Level on Old Home Day (Saturday August 16) . The sorting crew will begin their work on Monday, July 14th. The Friends of the Library are excited that the new space is available for this important fundraising event that benefits the Library programming, computers, and many other aspects of  library work. No encyclopedias or textbooks, please.


Nelson Summer Forums 2014

by on June 19, 2014 in Home Page, Lecture Presentation, Library

The Olivia Rodham Memorial Library announces the 10th season of the Library summer forums,   Each Thursday night forum begins at 6:45 with entertainment by local musicians, followed at 7:00 by the main presentation. At 8:00 punch and cookies and conversation follow. The forums are free and open to the public. This year the Forums will take place in the Nelson Congregational Church (just across the road) due to the renovations at the Town Hall.

The opening forum on July 10 r is a talk by Ethan Tolman on July 10 highlighting a Nelson newsletter circulated during World War II. The newsletter, published by Ethan’s parents, served to inform service people of events in their hometowns of Nelson, Harrisville, and Dublin. Of special interest are excerpts of letters service people sent to the newsletter. Music by Max Nunnemaker and Gordon Peery will be appropriate to the WWII era.

The next forum, on July 17, takes us to Zimbabwe with Rhodesian native, (and now Harrisville General Store chef) Phil Gargan, as an avocation away from his executive job with the Tanganda Tea Company. Phil was a professional river guide on the Zambezi River for 17 years and brings us visuals and tales of a world most of us will never experience. Where else would you have access to 800 species of birds? Music with African roots by Paul Klemperer.

Karen Hersey, a Nelson native who spends more time in Abu Dhabi than here, will share with us on July 24 the where, what, who and why in her talk “Abu Dhabi Inside Out”. Learn what sheikdoms and the Arab Emirates have to do with each other, the growth in 40 years from desert to skyscrapers, and the void of culture created by such meteoric change. Karen is a bright observer and will add to our global k nowledge and awareness of Abu Dhabi’s role in the Middle East, and why it is important for us to understand.  Music from Apple Hill.

And on July 31, Allison and Hunt Smith will wrap up the forum presentations with their inimitable musical entertainment. Their love of music, of each other and of connecting with the audience shows through when they perform. One never knows exactly what instruments and songs to expect, but one can be sure to have a good old time! Musical introduction will be by Samuel, Sarah and Rachel Foucher of Harrisville, young musicians who play music with the Smiths.


Dancing Forever in the Nelson Town Hall

This article was published on 1990,  in Leisure Weekly, a Keene-based entertainment newspaper that has long since ceased publication. Many things have changed since then,  but some will remain the same, even with the new renovations  ~ Gordon Peery (author). 

Not too long ago a piano tuner submitted a bill for work done on the piano in the Nelson Town Hall. With his invoice he included the following comment:

“Because of the age of this piano and long abandoned construction practices, it is impossible to give this piano a highly accurate tuning. It has numerous false beats, inharmonicity, and heavy wear. Surprisingly, the overall tone is superior and the action is still fast and responsive. I suspect the piano is favored by those who play on it.”

Over the past decade I have come to know that piano well, playing for contradances that occur regularly in the Nelson Town Hall. I have always enjoyed playing it, though from its condition it seemed like I shouldn’t.

The remarks of the piano tuner helped me to understand why I enjoyed playing it. Then it occurred to me that what was said about the piano was also a perfect description of the hall itself.

The old timber frame building doesn’t pretend to be anything fancy. The light fixtures, the windows, the architectural lines, all clearly address function over aesthetics. But the building, in its simplicity, harbors an elegance, or perhaps rather, a neutrality that facilitates the elegance of song and dance within.

Go to the Nelson Town Hall on any Monday night of the year and you’ll find anywhere from a handful to several dozen dancers moving forward and back, up and down, intertwining, moving through the graceful figures of a contradance. Though the Monday night dance is just about 10 years old, the contradance tradition in Nelson goes back long enough so that no one really knows when it began. Continue Reading »

Olivia Rodham Library Announces Summer Reading Program

by on May 26, 2014 in For Kids, Home Page, Library

Fizz, Boom , READ!

All programs are on Wednesdays at 4pm, except Mad Science will be Wednesday August 13th at 6:30pm.

July 9th Sara Cornog and the Fizzy Rocket

rocketThe Fizzy Rocket will use a 35mm film canister for a body, an antacid tablet for fizz and different liquid fuels to see which work best. (water, vinegar, lime juice or lemon juice.) Build your rocket and then Fly Your Fizzy Rocket !





July 16th with Val Van Meier, How to Make a Mini Flyable Hot Air Balloon with Candles

balloonHave you ever wanted to make your own hot air balloon and watch it gracefully float away into the night sky? It’s easier than you might think!

July 23rd , Puppeteer Gary Robinson

Meet Gary’s puppet friends and join in the fun. You will be part of the experience of creating a puppet extravaganza, with great fizzes and booms.

July 30th– A Bubbly Bot Bash! with Jacqueline Roland

robotsThis week we’ll be turning the library into our very own bubble lab!  Join us as we blow huge table bubbles and experiment to see which solution makes the biggest bubbles. In addition to all the bubble-blowing fun, we’ll be reading an exciting science story and creating juice box robots!

August 6th with Nature Man, Al Stoops

This year Al is returning with clues to an exciting treasure hunt. Come discover what you can find in the nooks and crannies of Nelson.

scienceAugust 13th, the BIG SHOW, Mad Science at 6:30 pm

The land of Fire and Ice is filled with dazzling demonstrations using fire,

bubbling potions, and carbon dioxide gas frozen to 109°F below zero.

This science show will stimulate a child’s mind and spark their imaginations as they

experience exciting, educational, high-energy science magic! Come and see just how HOT & COOL.


Funding for the Kids, Books, and the Arts event is provided by the Jack and Dorothy Bryne Foundation, CHILIS, Cogswell Benevolent Trust, and is supported in part by a grant from the NH State Council on The Arts as well as funds administered by the NH State Library and provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. 

Please contact the library in advance for the need for a sign language interpreter.


The library will have prizes for Summer Readers. Come get books from your library!


Party Time

by on May 13, 2014 in Home Page, Voting

The Supervisors of the Checklist would like to remind everyone that the deadline for

changing your party affiliation for the September Primary is June 3. You can change

your party affiliation either with the Town Clerk during her regular hours or with

the Supervisors of the Checklist during one of our meetings. We will be meeting on

June 3 at 7:00 PM.


If you are registered as “undeclared” you may take either a Republican or a

Democratic ballot on Primary Day and directly after you have voted, you may

come see the Supervisors to change back to undeclared. If you don’t see us, you

will be registered in the party that you chose for your ballot. If you are registered

for a particular party before primary day you may only take that party’s ballot on

Primary Day.


If you have forgotten what party you are registered with there is an up-to-date voter

checklist in the bookcase in the Nelson Town Offices.

If you have any other questions about this, call Betsey Church, Carol Newcombe, or

Hope Lothrop.

The Town Hall Gets Off the Ground

by on May 1, 2014 in Home Page, Life in Nelson

New Deputy Town Clerk

by on March 5, 2014 in Town Government

I’d like to announce that with the Select Board’s approval, I have hired Karen Castelli as my new Deputy Clerk.  Karen comes to this position with an excellent job history and references.   She has a pleasant outgoing personality and a positive attitude that will fit in nicely with this office.  I am looking forward to working with her.   We are also very fortunate to have Teri Upton, the current Deputy, staying on until Karen has fully completed her training with the state.  Please extend a hearty welcome to Karen the next time you are in the Town Office.

Julia Lennon
Town Clerk/Tax Collector

Take a Hike

by on February 22, 2014 in Hikes and Nature, Life in Nelson, Recreation

Join members of the Nelson Trail Group on three hikes exploring some of the beauty of our town.

trails committee workdays 023

Members of the Nelson Trails Committee pose on a newly constructed bridge in this photo from last summer.

Saturday, March 1, 9:00 AM – Kulish Ledge Inaugural Hike – Harris Center hike led by Al Stoops. Meet at Bailey Brook trailhead near #611 Old Stoddard Road. Hike ends by 2 PM. This is the first organized hike on the trail built last year by the Nelson Trail Group. Hikers will enjoy the beautiful views from the ledges on the north side of Osgood Hill. There should be plenty of winter tracks to interpret. Bring snowshoes and a lunch

Saturday, March 8, 10 AM – Tolman Pond Hike – Exploratory hike led by Dave Patek and Tom Murray. Meet at Dave Patek’s high field on Cabot Road just uphill from the junction with Merriconn Road. (not the field on the corner of Tolman Pond Road.) Join the Nelson Trail Group as we explore possible routes for a new trail around Tolman Pond. The brook draining the pond falls through a rocky gorge that should feature beautiful ice formations this season. This hike will be about two hours. Bring snow shoes.

Sunday, April 13, 1:00 PM – Cellar Holes of Nelson – Another hike sponsored by The Harris Center hike led by Rick Church. Explore six cellar holes on the abandoned portion of Log Cabin Road. Most date to 1780. Meet in the Village. Back by 4 PM.

People interested in joining the Nelson Trail group should contact Rick Church at

603- 847-3206

A Knock on Your Door

by on January 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

A Knock on Your Door

buttress_sThe Friends of Nelson Town Buildings was formed by a group of Nelson residents to support  the proposed the Town Hall renovation and completion of the lower level of the Library that will be voted on at Town Meeting in March. This weekend we will be going door-to-door in Nelson to let everyone know about these building projects and to encourage them to attend an upcoming walk-through tour of the projects. So when you hear a knock on your door this weekend, please welcome your neighbors who are volunteering their time to help save our historic Town Hall and create space for the Town Archives and a Meeting Room in the lower level of the Library.

Hiking Across the Watershed

by on January 26, 2014 in Hikes and Nature

Trail-Committee-Jan-18,-201 Trail-Committee-Hike-Jan.-1It was a snowy morning, but 14 hardy Nelsonites turned out Saturday, January 18, to follow Dave Patek on a Nelson Trail Committee hike on the highlands above Tolman Pond.  We hiked through fields across the watershed between the Connecticut and Merrimack Rivers. The views were snowed out, but spirits were high and a good time was had by all.

(from Linda Cates)

2013 Winter Holiday Hours

by on December 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

 Public Notice

Christmas Week

At the Nelson Town Office


Monday December 23, 2013

Town Clerk/Tax Collector  – 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

Administrative Office – 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM


December 24, 2013 thru December 29, 2013

No Selectmen’s Meeting on Christmas Day

No Selectmen’s Meeting on New Year’s Day


December 31, 2013

Town Clerk/Tax Collector – 9:00 AM to 12:00 Noon only

Next Selectmen’s Meeting January 8, 2014 6:00 PM

Nelson History Day Dec 14

by on December 6, 2013 in History, Home Page

Nelson History Day Dec. 14, 2013, 11:00 AM Olivia Rodham Library

The Library is sponsoring a presentation of the new 2014 Nelson Calendar with historic photographs of Nelson’s past to excite an interest in the upcoming 250th anniversary of Nelson’s founding which will happen in 2017.

Calendar Collage

Adding to the history theme, new books about Nelson’s past by local authors Renn Tolman, Terri Upton, and Bruce White and copies of a CD of Tolman Pond life by Karen Tolman will be presented and available for sale.

And a special event will be the unveiling of the painting of Helen Towne by Marie Spaeth that was purchased by contributions from generous town residents.

Please join us for a fun morning with Christmas cookies and cider.


Library Book Sale Corner

by on December 3, 2013 in Home Page, Library

booksaleThe Olivia Rodham Memorial Library is offering a Book Sale Corner.
Just by the door between the Library and the Town Hall connector you will find a small but select number of books for sale. Paperbacks  are on the rack to the right and hardcovers, videos, CDs, and special series on the shelves to the left.  For a modest $1/hardcover and $.50/paperback, you can take an item home forever and the Friends of
the Library earn funds to buy new books and support children’s programs.  Come on in and check out the selection!

The Nelson Music Collection

by on November 10, 2013 in Home Page, Music
Nelson Music Collection

Photo from the cover of the Nelson Music Collection

The Nelson Music Collection was first published in 1969, as a “Collection of Authentic Square Dance Melodies. Compiled by Newt Tolman, a flute player from Nelson, and his piano accompanist, Kay Gilbert from Peterborough, it contains 63 tunes that might be heard at one of the local square dances. It became an important resource over the next decade as the face of square dancing evolved (and became more commonly known as contra dancing), and as young musicians aspired to learn the tunes so that they could play for the dances. Eventually it took a back seat to newer collections which offered additional and newly popularized tunes, but serious scholars and musicians remained aware of its existence. Newt and Kay also issued an LP recording of the same name, which featured many of the tunes from the book. It was one of the first commercial recordings of this music. Continue Reading »

Nelson Cemetery Rules and Regulations

by on October 1, 2013 in Home Page, Town Government

Nelson Cemetery Rules and RegulationsA Message from the Nelson Town Cemetery Board

Dear Burial Lot Deedholders,

This letter is to remind you that our cemetery Rules and Regulations limit what may be placed on and planted at graves.These rules apply to both the Nelson and Munsonville cemeteries. All holders of cemetery deeds agree to these requirements when they acquire burial lots. These regulations are posted below, and also Nelson Cemetery Rules and Regulations.

Please note the “Monuments and Grave Markers” and “Plantings and Decorations” sections. Wooden, glass, concrete, metal, plaster of Paris and plastic articles, as well as glass containers and artificial flowers and plants, are not allowed on graves.  To simplify maintenance, there are also limitations on where shrubs, flowers, vases, urns and potted plants may be placed.

The Cemetery Board “may remove anything placed on any lot in violation of these rules and regulations.”  Also, “any object . . . which the Cemetery Board considers offensive, improper or detrimental to the general appearance of the cemetery shall be removed after notification to the lot owner or the heirs.” Continue Reading »

Library Book Sale

by on August 26, 2013 in Home Page, Library

Library booksale in the Town HallThe 2013 Book Sale, on Old Home Day,  was one of the most successful ever. The Friends of the Olivia Rodham Memorial Library earned $1383.25 in book sales, collected $756.00 in dues, received $63.00 in donations from local authors whose books they sold, and sold $24.00 worth of book bags. That comes to a grand total of $2226.25 to be given to the library for books, CDs, DVDs, programming and other incidentals such as additional shelving and book racks. The Friends also fund Library World, the automated system that is used for the circulation of library materials. Thank you to everyone who participated as donors, helpers, and buyers. [read more details]

Scan your historic photos of Nelson

by on August 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

If you have old photos of life in Nelson (perhaps from that cleaning of the attic you finally did this summer?), you’re invited to bring them to the library, where we will scan these photos for the Nelson Town Archive, and eventual inclusion on the history section of town web site (where appropriate).

We will be scanning photos on three different days at the Library:
Monday the 12th from 10 to 1
Wednesday the 14th from 4 to 6
Thursday the 15th from 6-7:30
History Group members will be there to assist.

Old Home Week

by on August 3, 2013 in Home Page

It’s hard to believe it’s that time again. Starting next weekend we begin a week of festivities – a celebration of our town past and present, the town filled with returning “kids’ and others who have long had ties to this community.

Download the Nelson Old Home Week Schedule (printable pdf)

Download the Old Home DAY Schedule (printable pdf)

Read the Old Home Week Issue of the Grapevine

Tree Trimming

by on August 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

Tree trimming and removal of dead trees on our scenic roads(Leadmine Rd, Apple Hill Rd and Tolman Pond Rd)


If any residents on a scenic road would like to request a “walk through” prior to the cutting with the tree service foreman; please contact imeediately either David Crane of PSNH at 1-800-562-3190 x 3867 OR Vincent Rando of Lucas Tree Service at 603-231-0602.