Town of Fremont New Hampshire
295 Main Street, Fremont, NH 03044
ph: 603-895-2226
History of Fremont - Olde Poplin
Fremont was originally part of the historic township of Exeter, NH from 1638 until 1742.  Exeter is one of the oldest towns in America and Fremont made up part of its western boundary until 1742.  Brentwood was separated from Exeter and incorporated as a town in 1742 taking the entire southwestern section of old Exeter that included what is now Fremont.  On June 22, 1764  the western half of Brentwood was separated and incorporated as the new Parish of POPLIN.- now Fremont.  The origin of the name Poplin is unknown - but it did NOT take its name from an old English mill town outside London called Poplar as erroneously reported in a New Hampshire history book. There was never a Poplin, England, Ireland, or Scotland. 
 
Because Poplin had failed to build a meeting house and settle a Congregationalist minister shortly after being incorporated in 1764, Daniel Brown and twenty-one families living in the southern part of Poplin petitioned to separate for religious purposes only to the neighboring town of Hawke - now Danville, N.H. This was approved by the NH legislature which allowed these families to pay ministerial taxes to Hawke, but still remain geographically a part of Poplin.  Because Hawke's minister died in 1782, and that town failed to settle another minister, nothing actually became of this new and unique religious arrangement between the two towns. Poplin was highly unusual in that it took 36 long years to finally build its first Meeting House in 1800, and was the only town in southeastern New Hampshire to never actually settle a minister of the "Standing Order" that being the Congregationalist denomination - at taxpayer expense before the Toleration Act was passed in 1819. The historic Fremont 1800 Twin-Porch Meeting House remains one of only two twin-porch meeting houses in the United States.  The other is in Rockingham, VT. 
 
The name of the town was changed on July 8, 1854 to FREMONT in honor of the famous American West Patrhfinder - John Charles Fremont (1813-1890).  In 1856 John C. Fremont would become the first Republican Presidential candidate of the newly founded Republican Party only to lose to Democratic candidate James Buchanan.  John C. Fremont was not a native, nor a resident of Fremont, N.H.    
The first settlers of old Poplin came during the 1720's and early 1730's.  Mills were built along the Exeter River and the new township gradually grew to over 550 residents by 1775.  In 1774 four barrels of captured gunpowder from Fort William & Mary in New Castle, NH were brought for safekeeping in Poplin and later supposedly used at the Battle of Bunker (Breed's) Hill on June 17, 1775.  During the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) Poplin furnished 109 soldiers in the War for American Independence with many participating in most of the major battles of the Revolution.
Mrs. Joseph Huntoon and son Amos, both of Poplin, had the distinction of bringing the first news of British General Lord Cornwallis' Surrender to General George Washington after the Battle of Yorktown, Virginia on October 19th, 1781.  While visiting Portsmouth, N.H. they heard this wonderful news and wishing to share the good news with their fellow Poplin residents, they rushed back to Poplin during the early morning hours of October 28, 1781 to bring this happy news.  Most likely there was a great bonfire and celebration on the streets of Poplin that morning.
 
In 1843 Poplin became the focus of considerable regional attention when "money diggers" came to town to find supposed buried treasure in the "great" Spruce Swamp.  Hundreds of people gathered in the swamp to watch a group of men dig holes in the frozen ground in hopes of finding treasure supposedly buried in the swamp by good Poplin boys who lost "all their Poplin virtues" by turning to piracy during the 1790's. An old woman was pawned to sleep and mesmerized in hopes of her pointing out the exact spot where the buried treasure lay.  Supposedly the buried loot was found by men with carpetbags and "knowing winks" and were seen leaving Poplin and heading up to Concord in Merrimack County, "where it seems all the gold in the state seems to end up."
 
During the Civil War (1861-1865) Fremont sent 99 soldiers to fight to keep the Union together with 22 losing their lives in the "War Between The States."  Five Fremont soldiers alone died during the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia on December 13, 1862.  The Osgood Family of Fremont lost four sons in various battles during the Civil War.  John & Andrew Brown's Gunshop served as a Civil War Recruiting Office in 1861.  Samuel Willey, a Fremont soldier had the rare honor of being present when Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia on April 9, 1865 thus ending the Civil War.  Willey was also present when President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address dedicating the Gettysburg Cemetery on November 19, 1863.  In 2009 Fremont was voted by New Hampshire Magazine as one of two most patriotic towns in New Hampshire because of the outstanding Memorial Day Observance the town holds annually. 
 
The Worcester, Nashua & Rochester Railroad was built through Fremont in 1873 and opened in November 1874.  There was a wooden railroad covered bridge that spanned the Exeter River just south of the present-day Fremont Ballfields.  The railroad was closed from Fremont Depot south to Nashua in 1934 and the covered bridge dismantled that same year.  The railroad leading north from Fremont Depot to Epping remained opened until 1972 so Spaulding & Frost Cooperage could ship their wooden barrels to market via Epping. 
 
In 1874 Jonas Spaulding established Spaulding's Cooperage in Fremont Village.  This establishment produced millions of barrels, buckets, and firkins for 125 years.  In 1893 it became known as Spaulding & Frost Barrel Cooperage after Stephen Frost bought into the company and became it's general manager.  The world's largest barrels were made here in 1976 and again in 1998 measuring 15 and 17 feet high respectfully.
The cooperage closed in 1999 after struggling to survive major fires in 1921 and 1973.  Spaulding & Frost became the oldest operating white pine barrel cooperage in the United States.
 
In 1885 the largest brickyard in New Hampshire opened on Martin Road.  Russell Fellow's Brickyard produced 5,000,000 to 7,000,000 bricks annually by the 1890's and this enterprise consisted of a "town within a town."  The Brickyard village consisted of a Company Store, Barber Shop, Blacksmith Shop, Saloon, two boardinghouses, and several other nearby buildings.  It employed over 100 employees at its peak of operations in the early 1890's.  The entire brickyard went up in flames in the largest fire in Fremont history on April 21,1912 destroying 12 buildings. The fire started when sparks from a passing train caught the nearby fields on fire and spread to the brickyard buildings.        
 
On May 25, 1910 a large fire destroys three business buildings in Fremont Village.  The 1909 Town Bandstand had to be tipped over and rolled out of the way of the spreading fire. Because George Ball's Union Hall was destroyed, the town voted to build a new town hall in 1910. 
 
During World War I Fremont took first place in four out of five Liberty Bond Fundraising Drives out of 37 towns and cities in Rockingham County. It comes in second place in the fifth drive.  This is an astounding accomplishment for such a small town.  World War I ends November 18, 1918. 
 
Fremont dedicates its War Memorial on September 25, 1920 with hundreds in attendance. The monument is a gift to the town from Stephen & Katie Frost.
 
World War II causes 68 Fremonters to march off to war between 1941 and 1945.  Two die in the war. One Fremonter is present during the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Townspeople pull together to help support the war effort in a variety of ways.
 
Ellis School is dedicated on November 11, 1950 and is the first central elementary school in Fremont.
 
A severe tornado strikes northside Fremont on June 9, 1953 dropping numerous trees between Shirking Woods and Spruce Swamp, just missing a couple of houses.  This tornado was spawned from the great tornado that struck Worcester, MA killing 94 people earlier on the same day. No casualties in Fremont.  Twisters strike Fremont in 1929 and 1940 causing minimal damage to property.
 
August 10, 1959 a B-52 Stratofortress Plane explodes above Spruce Swamp and crashes into the swamp.  All nine crewmen onboard parachuted to safety just before the plane exploded.       
 
Fremont celebrates its 200th Anniversary as a town in 1964.  Hundreds attend the grand celebration.
 
In 1978 a large Oil Refinery is planned to be built on property located in Fremont, Raymond and Chester.  This causes quite an uproar in all three towns and after several public hearings, because of the determination of many opposing local residents, the Refinery proposal is withdrawn.
 
The Fremont Snowmobile Grass Drags are held for the first time in 1982, and then re-started again in 1985 attracting thousands of fans from all across the nation and Canada.  Held annually since 1985 on Peterson's Brookvale Farm on Martin Road, this is now the largest event of its type in the world drawing over 50,000 people in 2011. 
 
The "Fremont Zoo" consisting of a lion, elephant, camels and other circus animals that were stolen from Massachusetts and hidden in the woods of Fremont off Martin Road are discovered in 1986.  They are returned to Massachusetts where they came from.
 
Fremont dedicates its first Safety Complex in March 1998.  It replaces a small four-bay fire station built in 1936 with an addition built in 1959. The Fremont Fire, Police and Resque Squad occupy the new complex.  It costs $984,287.00.
 
Fremonters are saddened by the Attack On America which takes place on September 11, 2001 killing over 3,000 people. On September 15th over 500 Fremonters attend a large patriotic tribute ceremony featuring the NH National Guard Band at the Fremont Safety Complex. 
 
The new Fremont Public Library is dedicated on September 15, 2002 at a cost of $1,022,000.00.  The new facility has a community room, rest rooms, and ample space for offices and bookshelves - something it did not have in a small, former one-room schoolhouse built in 1895 and used as the town library from 1965 to 2002. 
 
Fremont Population 1767 - 521, 1773 - 563 & 1 slave, 1775 - 552 & 2 slaves, 1790 - 492 & 1 slave, 1800 - 408, 1810 - 462, 1820 - 453, 1830 - 429, 1840 - 428, - 1850 - 509, 1860 - 579, 1870 - 527 - 1880 - 624, 1890 - 726, 1900 - 749, 1910 - 622, 1920 - 519, 1930 - 571, 1940 - 634, 1950 - 698, 1960 - 783, 1970 - 993, 1980 - 1333, 1990 - 2576, 2000 - 3,510, 2010 - 4,283.
 
Fremont is a community that has exhibited great pride in its heritage.  It has been a town that has had people over the centuries that have been good citizens and neighbors who have tried to put the best interests of the town, state and nation first usually in as sensible and cost-effective a manner as is humanly possible.   Fremonters have proudly served their nation at Bunker Hill, Saratoga, Bennington, Yorktown, Antietam, Gettysburg, Pearl Harbor, Normandy, Okinawa, Hamburger Hill, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  Our townspeople banded together build a new town hall after the Great Fremont Village Fire of 1910; to buy stocks so Spaulding & Frost Cooperage could rebuild after the devastating pre-Christmas Fire of 1973 that left 100 people unemployed; townspeople pulled together to place sandbags at Cavil Mill Pond and elsewhere during the Floods of 1936, 1996, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 to minimize or prevent flooding, to clean up hurricane debris in 1938 and 1954; to help refurbish tanker trucks for the Fire Department; to install phones in town in 1890, electrical power in 1902, to build the People's Methodist Church in 1925 after the 1865 Union Church burned down in 1921; to build the towns first fire station in 1936, to build Ellis Central School in 1950, to establish a Fremont First Aid Station in 1950; to establish the Fremont Rescue Squad in 1984, to rebuild the Black Rocks Dam in 1947; and so many other outstanding examples of true community spirit.  Yes, Fremonters have every reason to be very proud of their town as it has been a town that has put community first.  Fremont is in good hands and will continue to have a very promising future if its present residents exhibit the same qualities that earlier Fremonters have so generously shared in the past...all of which will continue to serve our town admirably in the years ahead.  
 
Fremont, NH - Olde Poplin - An Independent New England Republic 1764-2004, by Matthew E. Thomas can be purchased at the Fremont Town Hall or Public Library for just $35.00.  The book consists of 23 chapters, has over 600 photos and 1,111 pages.