Governor Benning Wentworth granted a charter in 1763 under the name of Concord, opening the township which became Lisbon. No settlement was made under that charter, and in 1768 another was made under the name of Gunthwaite. At town meeting in 1824 is was voted to name the town Lisbon after Lisbon, Portugal.
Samuel Martin was the first white man known to travel through the unbroken wilderness which became Lisbon. The year was 1749. He came with his young son on a hunting trip and remembered the area. When settlement was made in Gunthwaite in 1768, Martin came with his family and built a log cabin near Henry Pond, one-half mile from the present village center. Samuel Young came in 1775 from Massachusetts and built a log cabin near the same area. There was still one wigwam along the river, and earlier settlers told of seeing more than half a dozen wigwams. Soon the settlers built a fort with a blockhouse inside. Seven Gunthwaite men were enlisted in Timothy Bedell’s 1st Company of Rangers and five of them were Youngs. Major Benjamin Whitcomb, the famous, dreaded scout of the French and Indian and Revolutionary War settled in Lisbon as did many others who fought for independence. After the Revolutionary War the fort was taken down, and Samuel Young lived in the blockhouse and used it as a hotel. Later, a tavern was built around the blockhouse and over the years it was enlarged and still stands on the outskirts of the village. The first town meetings were held at the tavern. Musters were held on the cleared meadows here where there was a gunhouse and granary. Within a few years, a church and school were built near Henry Pond.
A settlement was well established at this site when Samuel’s brother, Jesse, utilized the waterpower of the Ammonoosuc River’s narrow and steep waterfall one mile downstream. He built a sawmill, gristmill and shingle mill and soon gave free waterpower to the Clothing Works which carded wool into rolls for home spinning. Soon mechanics and tradesmen established businesses, and this became the bustling center of Lisbon. In less than 50 years there were numerous shops, mills, factories and stately homes. Three of the five peg mills in the United States were located in Lisbon. Parker Young Company was at one time the largest manufacturer of piano sounding boards in the world. There were two railroad stations, a library, a gold rush, a small airport and the first rope ski tow in New Hampshire.
Lisbon suffered from devastating fires, floods, the Hurricane of 1938 and fluctuating economies but rallied and boasts a magnificent town hall, library, brick blocks and other historically significant structures as well as the gift of a naturally beautiful setting nestled in the valley along the Ammonoosuc River. Descendants of some of the first settlers in the 1700’s still live in Lisbon and share its proud heritage with newcomers, and all seem to work together to preserve the rich history and utilize its natural resources.
LISBON HISTORICAL SOCIETY INFORMATION
Lisbon Area Historical Society meets the third Wednesday of the month at the Lisbon Area Historical Society Museum in the Parker Block at 6 South Main Street. The purpose of the society is to collect and preserve articles of local historic interest. The Pickwick-Clough room houses a collection of artifacts, correspondence, photographs and genealogy from the early settlers to present day.
The public is welcome to attend meetings and visit the museum which is open May through October on Fridays, 1 – 3pm. Appointments can be made to visit the museum and/or donations of artifacts can be made by contacting us. Go to our website www.lisbonareahistory.org or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 603-838-6146.