Sandwich Notch Hill Farming Community

The Andrew Munsey Place home site cellar hole along Sandwich Notch Road in New Hampshire.
Andrew Munsey Home Site – The Notch Community, New Hampshire

Sandwich Notch Hill Farming Community – Here is blog article number 2 of a two-part series that focuses on Sandwich Notch in New Hampshire. In part 1, I introduced you to the historic Sandwich Notch Road. And today I will be taking you on a visual journey of the abandoned nineteenth century hill farming community that once was in Sandwich Notch (The Notch).

It is hard to imagine that during the early nineteenth century, thirty to forty families lived in Sandwich Notch. A few Notch farms did strive, but the rocky terrain of the Notch was poor for farming, and it is no surprise that by 1860 only eight families lived in the Notch. Many families in the area left their farms and headed West to where farming was said to be better. By the turn of the twentieth century only one person, Moses Hall, lived in the Notch year around. Now a private residence the Hall Place (below) is the only house left on the Notch Road.

The Hall Place on Sandwich Notch Road in Sandwich, New Hampshire.
Moses Hall Site – Sandwich Notch Road, New Hampshire

The Sandwich historical society and others have done a lot of research on the Notch Community. And they have been able to attach names to many of the cellar holes along the Notch Road. If interested, you can purchase copies of the 1935 and 1988 excursion bulletins from the Sandwich Historical Society. Both excursions have a wealth of information about the Notch community.

The John Hart Place home site cellar hole along Sandwich Notch Road in Sandwich, New Hampshire.
John Hart Site – Sandwich Notch Road, New Hampshire

The 1988 excursion bulletin of the Sandwich Historical Society lists fifty-one interesting features along the Notch Road. And about forty of these features are abandoned homestead sites. Some of the homesteads, such as the John Hart Place (above), still have visible cellar holes while others can no longer be found.

Possibly the location of the Hines Place along Sandwich Notch Road in New Hampshire.
Hines Home Site – Sandwich Notch Road, New Hampshire

Most of the Notch Community homesteads were on or near the Notch Road, but the Hines Place was a good distance off the Notch Road. Its location is thought to have been possibly in the wetlands area in the above image, but I have yet to find any evidence of the dwelling site. More than likely the wetlands have swallowed up any proof of the homestead, and the Hines Place only exists on paper now.

Gilman-Hall Cemetery along Sandwich Notch Road in Sandwich, New Hampshire.
Gilman-Hall Cemetery – Sandwich Notch Road, New Hampshire

Like most nineteenth century hill farming communities in New England, the Notch Community has a handful of graveyards. Along the Notch Road, on Mt Delight, is the Gilman-Hall Cemetery (above). It was also common during this era for families to have small family plots on their homestead.

Dug well at the Samuel Wallace Farm home site along the abandoned North Road in the Sandwich Range Wilderness of New Hampshire.
Samuel Wallace Farm Site – Sandwich Wilderness, New Hampshire

The most interesting site in the Notch Community is the Sam Wallace Farmstead along the old North Road, on Wallace Hill, in the now Sandwich Wilderness. The cellar hole is unimpressive, but a beautiful dug well (above) covered in green moss still exists. History states that Samual Wallace’s daughter Elizabeth, who died at age 11 of scarlet fever, is buried somewhere on the 400 acre farm.

The Meader Farm home site cellar hole along Sandwich Notch Road in New Hampshire.
Joseph Meader Farm Site – Sandwich Notch Road, New Hampshire

Some who visit the Notch Road are interested in seeing Pulpit Rock. A Quaker minister, Joseph Meader, would preach to the Notch residents every Sunday from the top of this rock. His abandoned homestead is located directly behind Pulpit Rock high up on the hill. And the cellar hole (above) is still identifiable.

The Seldon Avery Place home site cellar hole along Sandwich Notch Road in New Hampshire.
Seldon Avery Home Site – Sandwich Notch Road, New Hampshire

The Notch community consisted of thirty to forty families, two schools, at least two sawmills, a tavern and a still. It lasted for about sixty years and was almost completely abandoned by 1860. Today, cellar holes and stone walls are the only signs that man once occupied and farmed Sandwich Notch. What an awesome piece of history!

If you plan to explore the Notch Road, keep in mind only high clearance vehicles should attempt to drive this road. You can license any of the above images for publications by clicking on the image. And you can view more images of the Sandwich Notch farming community here.

Happy image making..


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Sandwich Historical Society. Sixteenth Annual Excursion of the Sandwich Historical Society. Sandwich, NH: Sandwich Historical Society, 1935.

Sandwich Historical Society. Sixty-Ninth Annual Excursion of the Sandwich Historical Society. Sandwich, NH: Sandwich Historical Society, 1988.

Yates, Elizabeth. The Road Through Sandwich Notch. Brattleboro, VT: Stephen Greene Press, 1973.

14 Responses to “Sandwich Notch Hill Farming Community”

  1. Polly Brown

    Thanks so much for this! I happened to find a copy of Elizabeth Yates's book in my mother's collection, and enjoyed reading it. Your photos are the perfect supplement, full of both detail and spirit. Reading and looking, I kept thinking about the years when my husband and I lived in upstate New York, near Ithaca, and spent a lot of time wandering in the woods, finding old cellar holes and lilac bushes, evidence of another time. I'm hoping to get to Sandwich Notch in person some time soon.


    • Erin Paul Donovan

      Hi Polly,

      I am glad you enjoy my work.

      Sandwich Notch is an incredible place! Considering how rough the terrain is in that area, its amazing that a settlement was once there. Elizabeth Yates’s book is one of my favorites, and I always recommend it.

      Enjoy your visit to Sandwich Notch.

  2. Will

    Just stumbled across this, and I kinda love it. My family has owned a camp in the area for several generations now, with my siblings and myself being the current owners of the land. To me, sandwich notch is the last bastion of wildness in the wmnf. At my camp we’ve got a couple ancient iron tractor wheels, and bits of old braided steel cables and various pieces of old pot belly stoves. We’ve also got several absolutely gargantuan white and red pine trees that i’m truely amazed never got logged, the consensus about them is that they date to the civil war era.

    • Erin Paul Donovan

      Hi Will,

      Thank you for sharing your family history. “The Road Through Sandwich Notch” by Elizabeth Yates is one of my favorite books.

      Never sell your camp! Sandwich Notch is a true gem, and I love exploring and photographing the area.

  3. Beckie (Beckie and Prema on the trail reports)

    We were just in that cemetery yesteday.  We did a loop of Mt. Israel. Much to Prema's chagrin, I left the car at Mead Base and insisted on a road walk due to the reputation the road has (especially with smaller cars).  But she ended up enjoying the road walk; small cascades, lots of great boulders for climbing, and when we were almost to the Guinea Pond Trailhead, she noticed a clearing with a path through the tall vegetation. She called me to see what she had discovered – the Flanders tombstone. We looked at all the others as well (Hall and Gilman families).  What a great area!  Can't wait to go back!

    • Erin Paul Donovan

      The Gilman-Hall Cemetery is a great! Only because there is so much to see, I prefer walking or mountain biking the Sandwich Notch Road. It is one of my favorite places in the White Mountains.

  4. Ward Hamilton

    This is great!  I stumbled across this when searching "wallace hill sandwich NH."  Doing some Wallace family genealogy research and was curious to know where the hill and Samuel Wallace's farm were.  If you have any other images or a map that show the location I'd love to see it.  Also, just out of curiousity, have you ever looked around the old Shawrtown settlement in Freedom, NH?  We camped there as a kid (1980s) and a bunch of us became into researching it (courtesy of Facebook reconnects ca. 2009).  The historical society produced a pretty interesting DVD on the history some time ago.  Anyway, love to see your great work.  I appreciate it.  /ward

    • Erin Paul Donovan

      Hi Ward,

      I am glad you enjoy my work. The Sandwich Notch area (Wallace farm area) is amazing. And it’s hard to imagine that the area was once farmed. I will send you a personal email with some more about the Wallace farm. I don’t have much information on the farm, but it might help you.

      I have never heard of the old Shawrtown settlement in Freedom, NH but will look into when I have a chance.

  5. Gregg LaVasseur

    Hey there, awesome history. Can you elaborate a little? I grew up in the 90's camping alongside the road and having a great time in the notch. (In fact, for my first car my only requirements were that it be able to traverse the notch!). Anyway, back then, it wasn't part of the White Mountain National Forest, so camping was wherever you wanted (a travesty that it is no longer that easy to camp, if you ask me) and camp we did! There was a lot of homemade fencing at the entrance to the notch  on the Sandwich side and in between there was a driveway to a homestead occupied by a man we would nickname the 'notchman'. He was creepy to say the least and could be seen walking all over Sandwich often. One time we even ventured deep down his old-car-strewn path towards his house in need of a come-along to free a stuck Jeep. His warning signs culminating in the last one stating that 'This area is guarded by shotgun 3 days a week. Care to guess which ones?' ultimately kept us away! Any chance you have any info on him and what became of him or his property? The fence is now well worn and in shambles, so I suspect he has long since disappeared.

    Thanks a lot for giving it a chance, and keep up the great work

    • Erin Paul Donovan

      Hi Gregg,

      Glad you enjoyed this article. I know where you are talking about (the fencing), and remember that man from many years ago. The property has been cleaned up, but I am not really sure what is going on with it.

      I love all the stories of people exploring the Notch when growing up. And I hear you on the camping, but look on the positive side, the Sandwich Notch area is protected now from development. 🙂


  6. James Crowley


    Great images!

    Thought I would let you know that my Dad told me about your web site. Great to see the information available to others. I have explored a lot of the notch road over the years. It has a brief but rich history of lives lived there.  I grew up in the Hall Homestead. It was quite a place to live. Between mud season and the winter conditions (skiing or snow showing in and out when the snow machine was not available) I have many fond memories of doing my high school homework by kerosene lantern and keeping the stove stoked. Lots of adventures. I hope that your work inspires others to check out the area, have an adventure of their own and keep some of the history alive .

    James Crowley  


    • Erin Paul Donovan

      Hi James,

      Thank you for sharing with me your time in Sandwich Notch. Growing up in the Notch must have been an endless adventure. It is a wonderful area! The scenery along the Notch Road is breathtaking. And I love the serenity of Hall and Kiah Ponds.

  7. Ronald L. Reed

    Hi, a distant cousin put me on to your Sandwich Notch Community photos and article. Thank you for such good work. The Atwoods, who lived in Notch, are my grandmother's family who moved from there to Illinois and on to northeast Kansas about 1890. After removing from Brown Co., they moved to Pratt, Kansas around 1905.  .My Grandfather Don Reed from Greensburg, where a tornado a few years ago leveled the town, met and married Eunice Atwood about 1909. Glad to get further knowledge of the father history.  Ron Reed

    • Erin Paul Donovan

      Hi Ronald,

      Thank you for sharing your family history with me. The Notch is an incredible area and is rich with history. The number of abandoned cellar holes in the Notch is amazing.

      Based on old maps and information, I believe this is the Atwood homestead (In case you didn’t see this image) take a look here.


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