History of Pelham NH
Settled in 1722 and incorporated in 1746, Pelham was primarily a farming community until World War II. Named for British Prime Minister, Henry Pelham, the town still retains a quiet, rural character even in the midst of explosive growth in population and industry. Reminders of the town’s rich history can be found in Abbott Bridge, New Hampshire’s oldest, double-arched stone bridge; Butler Monument, honoring the town’s first settler, John Butler; and numerous homes and buildings of historic repute.
20th Century History
In 1946, the townspeople of Pelham elected to observe the bicentennial of the town in a celebration with the end of the second World War and Welcome Home to their returning soldiers. Festivities included sporting events, a parade, an anniversary ball and the planning of centennial trees that can still be appreciated in the town center.
In 1946, when the town celebrated its' bi-centennial, the population was less than 1,000 people and the main industry was agriculture. Less than 50 years later, Pelham boasted a population of more than 10,000 residents, with only a handful of those continuing to run working farms. The Pelham of the 21st century is one of highly educated business owners and executives, as well as workers in the service industries. While working to maintain the small town character that is so loved by its residents, modern Pelham is a burgeoning community that is growing and developing in leaps and bounds.
Some of Pelham’s notable residents include Josiah Butler (1779–1854), US. Congressman in the 15th, 16th and 17th congresses, Richard M. Linnehan, NASA astronaut, a 1975 graduate of Pelham High School, Daniel Gage (1828–1901), the "Ice King of Lowell", family for whom Gage Hill is named, Sean Caisse (1986-), stock car driver, and Ray Fox, NASCAR crew chief and owner.
Reverence for Our Past
The people of Pelham are proud of our history, and believe in respect for the knowledge we gain from our past. While today's town is comprised of business owners, executives and service industry workers, we remember well the farming, quarrying and forestry trades that built the foundation of our town. We are proud of our work in reusing and restoring our historical buildings, and our appreciation for that history continues in one of our town's oldest continuously run businesses, Harris' Pelham Inn.
Our Historical Society, located in the original Pelham Library, offers one of the most advanced online genealogy libraries available. In 1996, members of the Historical Society and town residents worked together to form the 250th Anniversary Committee, which celebrated the history of Pelham and produced a pictorial history of the town in the book "REFLECTIONS".