Monadnock Moments No. 7: Gilsum: The Town with an Unusal Name
Most of the towns in Cheshire County take their names from prominent individuals, such as Colonel Ebenezer Hinsdale, Sir Benjamin Keene, and the Duke of Richmond. The town of Gilsum, however, was named in a manner quite unlike any other town in the area.
Gilsum was originally named Boyle, after Richard Boyle, one of England’s most distinguished architects of the 18th century. The town was first granted to Joseph Osgood and several dozen other Massachusetts residents in December of 1752. It was not settled at that time, however, due to concerns of Indian attacks.
Nine years later, with their concerns of Indian attacks subsided, Samuel Gilbert, Thomas Sumner and several other Connecticut residents purchased 59 shares of land in Boyle, with the intention of going there to settle and make new homes for themselves. A new town charter was needed, however, because the original landowners had not settled the town within the time specified by the previous grant. Consequently, the new Connecticut investors went about petitioning the governor of New Hampshire for a new charter. There was a problem, however, what to call the town under the new agreement. Apparently the name Boyle was not acceptable to the new settlers. Tradition says that there was a dispute over whether to name the town Gilbert or Sumner, two of the principal Connecticut investors in the township. The settlers finally arrived at a compromise. Taking the first syllable of Gilbert and Sumner’s name, the settlers created Gil-Sum, or the unique name of Gilsum, New Hampshire.