, Derry, New Hampshire

September 26, 2013

Londonderry town pound makes '603 Reasons'

Town pounds make the list of '603 Reasons'

By Julie Huss

---- — LONDONDERRY — There are many stories set in stone around the Granite State.

In addition to rows of stone walls that once marked boundaries between properties, many communities still hold another stone structure near and dear to their hearts.

The Londonderry town pound made the list of “603 Reasons” why New Hampshire is special.

Town pounds still stand in many communities, reminders of times long gone when farmers and animal owners would often be summoned to a pound to claim a stray cow or pig.

Londonderry’s pound stands on busy Mammoth Road — a spot marked by a historical sign offering a glimpse into its history.

The stone corral is well maintained by the community, with the grass always trimmed around its base and within its walls.

A gate still leads into the pound.

In 1730, the town’s first pound was located in West Parish, an area now officially in Derry.

That early pound was held by David Dickey, overseeing the stray animals that ended up there.

Boundaries in Londonderry eventually changed and the current town lines were established.

The pound still standing became the structure of use once those new rules went into effect. For $30, David Gilcreast supplied both the land and materials to build the current structure. It was completed in 1831.

The animals were kept here by men called “pounders” or reeves, until they were ransomed by their owners.

Londonderry resident Kathy Wagner said the pound has always been an important structure in the life of Londonderry.

“Many, many years ago, the town paid to have an expert in stone wall construction come in and fix up the pound,” she said. “I think they also repaired the stone wall on the Common at the same time. The town pound is an extremely important part of the history of communities in New England.”

Wagner said currently no none is designated to care for the pound, but the town keeps an eye on it.

She said many times volunteers and town officials will step up to keep the area clean.

There have been times when potential rock thieves tried to get away with a few stones, Wagner said.

“The people of Londonderry are very protective of the pound,” she said. “I can’t remember the name of the couple that lives next door in the historic house, but at night they watch it and if they see anything unusual, they call the police.”

Other towns have their own pounds.

Derry has its remaining town pound on Hampstead Road in East Derry. Another pound once stood at the East Derry entrance to the Benjamin Chase Co. plant.

Chester’s pound still stands near a busy Route 121 heading toward Auburn. It was built in 1814 at a cost of $46.45. That town still traditionally names an honorary “pound keeper.”

Other communities, including Sandown, Windham, Salem, Danville and Atkinson, still have visible town pounds.

For Londonderry, the pound is very special, not only a historic structure, but a glimpse into the past.

“It is something you can touch and feel the history resonate out of each stone,” Wagner said. “It continues to give us a connection to our agrarian roots.”