So now we move back east to one of the original colonies, New Hampshire! The “Live Free or Die” state. But did you know that the State’s motto was not the whole story? The sentence, as originally delivered by General John Stark (no relation to the Starks of Winterfell, although I think “Winter is Coming” would work just as well for New Hampshire..), was actually “Live free, or die, Death is not the worst of evils.”
With the earliest European settlement in the area that became New Hampshire dating back to 1623 (Dover), the Granite State has had plenty of time to rack up some firsts. For starters, it was not always called New Hampshire. Originally the area was referred to as the North Virigina portion of Massachusetts! In 1741 the area gained its independence! Not from Great Britain mind you, just from Massachusetts. I am not quite sure how the name New Hampshire came about though, but no one really wanted another Virginia at that time.
New Hampshire claims to have the first public library as established in 1831 in Peterborough. The building is still in use today! I use the word “claims” here because I swear I have seen research for a bunch of other claims for the first library in the U.S. from a lot of other places. So let’s just say New Hampshire can claim the oldest public library in Peterborough and call it a day.
A more dubious distinction – New Hampshire was home to the first widely publicized alien abduction in the U.S. On September 19, 1961 Betty and Barney Hill claim to have been abducted by humanoid aliens while they (the Hills, not the aliens) were driving through a rural area south of Indian Head, New Hampshire. This was the first alien abduction to receive major public attention. Eventually there was a book about their experience and even a made for TV movie. If you want to make a pilgrimage, the exact spot of the alleged abduction is now marked with a state historical marker.
The first soldier killed in the Civil War was Luther Ladd from Alexandria, N.H. The 17-year-old was killed during a riot in Baltimore in 1861.
The holder of the distinction of having the farthest traveling golf drive of all time hailed from N.H. Before you go hitting the sport’s trivia books, the same man also had the distinction of being the first American to go into space. Yes, Alan B. Shephard (originally from Derry, NH), who was the first “free man” to go into space (but not actually into orbit), hit two drives that were estimated to travel at least 2.5 miles while trying to get out of a really big sand trap in the Fra Mauro Highlands on the surface of the moon in February 1971.
While we all think of Idaho when we think “potato”, but we really should be thinking of New Hampshire. The first spuds grown in the U.S. were planted in the Londonderry area in 1719!
While N.H. gets a lot of attention during Presidential elections as one of the first states to cast votes in a primary, only one President has even come from N.H. Franklin Pierce is not usually ranked terribly high up on lists of effective or consequential Presidents, but he is also not usually scraping the bottom of the barrel either. New Hampshire can take solace in President Pierce’s ranking as the 5th sexiest President by nerve.com.
Even without giving us more native N.H. Presidents, the State still routinely boasts some of the highest voter participation rates in the entire country. In 2012 N.H. had a 71% voter participation. What was the national level that year? 57.5%
In a more recent political oddity, in 2012, a man named Vermin Supreme was listed on New Hampshire’s Democratic Primary ballot for president. The heart of his platform was a promises of “free ponies” and the promise to implement a mandatory tooth brushing policy. I have nor been able to find out if Mr. Supreme was either a vet or a dentist. Supreme finished in sixth with 833 votes. He did not appear on the general election ballot.
The legislature has had a thorny issue to deal with that they have been punting since at least 2004. See, back when New Hampshire and the boundaries were established, Killington was included in New Hampshire. Somehow down the road, Killington wound up being a part of Vermont. They do not seem to be too happy about that either because in 2004 AND 2005, the citizens of Killington voted to secede from Vermont and rejoin New Hampshire. Personally, I suspect it may be due to New Hampshire’s incredibly low taxes on alcohol (read: none). I can attest from personal experience that not a single Lynn or MacNary family vacation trip between Long Island, New York and Wayne, Maine would pass without stopping at least in one direction in N.H. to load up on scotch.
By the way, according to the State government, the most dangerous animal in the State is (drumroll please) the dog! More injuries to humans are attributed to dogs every year that to any other animal. I have to assume they are not all one dog. If they were, that is one seriously bad dog.
The first strike by working women happened in New Hampshire! Women working at a small textile mill in New Hampshire struck to protest the pay and working conditions there in 1828! See, the mill changed ownership in 1828 and the new owners changed the hours required and lowered the pay – but only for the women working there. The men’s pay and conditions remained the same. I wish I could report it ended well with equality at justice for all. But the new owners placed an ad looking for replacement workers for all of the striking women, which resulted in the women abandoning the strike and returning to their jobs with the lower wages and longer hours.
Here’s a head scratcher for you. In 2014 the University of New Hampshire got a $500,000 grant to run football practices where the players would NOT wear their helmets! This was part of the NFL’s “Head Health Challenge” which was trying to prove that players would be less likely to initiate tackles head first, which lead to more head injuries. I haven’t found anything about how the study turned out, but I will note that football players still seem to be wearing helmets.
The highest wind speeds documented and confirmed by human eyes on the planet were recorded in 1934 in Mount Washington, N.H. The speed? 231 mph – that will definitely rearrange your average roof! There is still a weather and atmospheric observation station at the top of Mount Washington today. And while it can be a lonely posting, I am happy to report the station does have a resident cat. Presumably said cat is not allowed outside when the winds are over 175 mph.
New Hampshire is the only state that ever played host at the formal conclusion of a foreign war. In 1905, Portsmouth was the scene of the treaty ending the Russo-Japanese War.

A 222.5-pound meatball made by Matthew Mitnitsky of Nonni’s Italian Eatery in Concord holds the record for world’s largest meatball (it beat out Jimmy Kimmel’s previous record-holding behemoth by 23 pounds). In 2009, Gourmet Gift Baskets in Manchester, New Hampshire set the record for the world’s largest cupcake. The sweet treat was made with 800 eggs, took 12 hours to bake and weighed 1,223 pounds.
So, what else can we blame on New Hampshire, besides alien abductions and Franklin Pierce? How about teen-aged mutant ninja turtles? The comic was originally created on Union Street in Dover, N.H.
We can also thank N.H. for “Uncle Sam”. A gentleman by the name of Samuel was responsible for inspecting food that went to the army during the war of 1812. He would stamp the shipments he inspected by using the letters “U.S.” Sometimes he would visit troops when making deliveries and they started referring to him as “Uncle Sam” – so we can trace that icon all the way back to New Hampshire!
The longest wooden bridge in the world was built in 1900 over the Hampton River.
Tupperware was invented in New Hampshire, as were the first cooktop, fingernail decals, the first drip coffee pot and the first “soup kitchen” to feed the poor.
Paintballs were originally invented in the 1960s in New Hampshire to mark trees to be felled. These days they are more commonly used to mark opponents in mock battles. The first match was in 1981 and the “sport” came to greater prominence after Sports Illustrated did an article about it later that year.
The world’s largest arcade is called the “Funspot” in Laconia, N.H. and boasts over 6,000 arcade games. I shudder to think how loud it must be in there.
Besides Franklin Pierce, the two guys that started a hamburger stand in California that sort of caught on, came from New Hampshire. You may have eaten at one of the places that still bears their name, MacDonalds. Then there was this guy named Theodore Geisel. While attending Dartmouth he ran afoul of the rules about drinking on campus in 1925. He was punished by being banned from writing for the college humor magazine. So he adopted the name “Seuss” and kept publishing. He later added the “Dr.” to his pen name as his father had always wanted him to be a doctor.
Now, why did I start this with lying down on the job, you may ask. Well, New Hampshire is “the granite state” and was known for many years for the “old man in the mountain” or “old man of the mountain” granite rock formation. This was a formation that looked like a man’s profile from a distance and was a regular tourist destination. The formation was so linked to the State that it appears on their license plates! But all of that came to an end on May 2, 2003 when the face crumbled and fell off the mountain. For years the State had been trying to shore it up and stabilize it, but finally there was no amount of cosmetic work could stave off the inevitable forever. They don’t make industrial strength Oil of Olay for granite.
Finally, a few odd laws to close out:
New Hampshire law forbids you to tap your feet, nod your head, or in any way keep time to the music in a tavern, restaurant, or cafe.
New Hampshire is the only state where seatbelts are not required.
It is illegal to pick up seaweed off the beach.
No person, while hunting or obviously on his way to or from hunting may have a ferret in his possession, custody, or control.
Any cattle that cross state roads must be fitted with a device to gather its feces.
It is illegal to inhale the exhaust fumes from busses with the intention to getting high.
It is also illegal to relieve oneself while looking up.
In Claremont it is illegal to party, picnic, or get drunk in a cemetery unless you are over 10 years of age.
You really have to wonder sometimes what happened to get laws like these to be enacted.

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