History of Enfield, NH
The town was incorporated in 1761 by Colonial Governor Benning Wentworth. First named Enfield by settlers from Enfield, Connecticut, the town was renamed Relhan in 1766 to honor Dr. Anthony Relhan (ca. 1715-1776). The doctor was a promoter of sea-bathing as a curative, making Brighton, England, a fashionable resort. Following the American Revolution, the New Hampshire town was renamed Enfield in 1784. 
The first European settlers in town were Jonathan Paddleford and family who arrived, after the successful conclusion of the French and Indian War, between 1765 and 1772.
On the southwest shore of Mascoma Lake is Enfield Shaker Village, once a utopian religious community of Shakers, renowned for simple and functional architecture and furniture. Established in 1793 and called Chosen Vale, the village was subdivided into several "Families", with men and women leading pious, celibate and industrious lives. Although the genders shared dormitories, like Enfield's Great Stone Dwelling built between 1837-1841, the sexes used separate doors and stairways. They practiced ecstatic singing and dancing, an expression of their worship, which earned them the appellation: Shaking Quakers, or Shakers.
Several trades operated at the village, from agriculture and packaging of seeds, to manufacture of brooms, brushes, spinning-wheels, and furniture. To speed delivery of products to the railroad across Mascoma Lake, in 1849 the community erected Shaker Bridge.
The Shaker movement crested in the 1840s, with 19 "societies" scattered from Maine to Kentucky and west to Indiana. But growing employment opportunities created by the Industrial Revolution, as near as the mill town of Lebanon, enticed away potential and practicing church members. Others grew disaffected with celibacy, self-abnegation, and communal ownership of property. Indeed, Mary Marshall Dyer, once a member of the Enfield church, became an outspoken Anti-Shaker. Eventually the village would close and, in 1927, be sold to the La Salette Brotherhood of Montreal, a Catholic order noted for its Christmas display. In 1986, Enfield Shaker Village was established as a museum.
Thursday, May 05, 2011
Enfield, New Hampshire