Early towns were required to build and maintain a pound. Any person within the town could impound domestic animals (swine, cattle, horses, sheep…) which were creating damage or running loose on the roadway, the common, or was in violation of local laws. A pound keeper was chosen each year as one of the town officers. Owners of the impounded animals would claim them and pay for any damages, board, or fines.
Our early town records mention pounds as early as 1737 in Nottingham, Mass; then again in 1744 in the District of Nottingham, NH; in 1747 in Nottingham west. The earliest of these was likely built in that part of Nottingham which ended up in Pelham. The others were either not built or constructed of wood and did not last.
In 1759 the town of Nottingham West voted to have a pound built on common land near the house. This was likely on the common near the Blodgett Cemetery. Yes, there was a meeting house and town common in that area; it is now the location of Blodgett Cemetery and the intersection of Lowell and Pelham Roads, at Meineke Car Care.
The pound shown in this weeks photo was erected in 1772 after a vote at the annual town meeting. It was voted to erect a pound on high land between land owned by Nehemiah Hadley and Timothy Smith. Today this location is at the intersection of Pelham and Melendy Roads, on your left after the stop sign as you proceed down Pelham Road toward Bush Hill Road.
A committee of 3 was elected to build it with stone, 33 feet within the walls to a height of 6 feet plus one foot of wood. The pound was completed by September 1772, its date was carved on the gate post. At the next town meeting Timothy Smith was elected keeper of this new pound. This pound was continually used for over 100 years. In 1887, since the pound had not been used for some years the town considered selling it. At the town meeting this was rejected and the voters instead decided to keep it as one of our town’s ancient relics.
This pound stands today, a relic of early times; maintained by our faithful Highway Department. Photo from the Historical Society Collection.