Thornton Gore Hill Farming Settlement – Many consider Thornton Gore or the "Gore” to be the northern section of Thornton New Hampshire in the area of where Talford and Eastman Brook meet. However, I am currently reading Family Farm by Dick Bradley. And he refers to farms that were located just north of Johnson Brook as being part of the Gore. That area seems to be a little further south of the area today’s historians consider to be the Gore. But because Bradley lived in the Gore, I would have to say his information is accurate.
My work is based on an 1860 map of Thornton by H.F. Walling, a couple of historic resources, and days of field research. And I have focused mainly on the area surrounding Talford and Eastman Brook. This section of Thornton Gore had a bunch of farms, a few mills, a school, two cemeteries, and a church. The 1860 map I am using shows at least twenty-two dwellings in this area.
Incorporated in 1781, the town of Thornton was named for Matthew Thornton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. And the first settlers of Thornton Gore arrived in the early 1800s. When 1900 rolled around, George James and his New Hampshire Land Company (a timber company) had bought up most of the land in Thornton Gore. And logging took over the area, and this hill farming settlement was gone.
When photographing these abandoned settlements, I always wonder what the farmers would say if they could see their farmsteads today. They put in so much back breaking work to create a life for their families just to let their farmsteads rot away in the forest.
Names such as Barnard, Grant, Hart (above), Knowles, Merrill, Pettengill, and Sargent are on the headstones in a small cemetery along the old Gore Road. All put to rest in the 1800s.
The above brick is part of a small brick pile at what I believe was the site of the Free Will Baptist Church that was along the Gore Road. It looks like the church had an above ground foundation. And the brick pile can help determine where the chimney was in the church. Not much remains at the church site today.
Near the Free Will Baptist Church a road, north of Hix Mountain and south of Eastman Brook, traveled east. The cellar holes on this road appear to have been built better than the rest of them in the area. And I wonder if this indicates a different class of farmer lived along this road. The Wyatt dwelling cellar hole (above) is impressive looking.
In less than 100 years, this hill farming settlement was abandoned and left to rot in the forest. And to walk the old roads, and see the abandoned stone walls, cellar holes, and farming equipment reminds me that the White Mountains were not always paved roads and luxury hotels.
Of all the historical sites I have documented, the Thornton Gore farming settlement is an impressive piece of White Mountains history. To license any of the above images for usage in publications, click on the image. And you can view more scenes of Thornton Gore here.
Happy image making..