I was interested in writing about the history of Henniker but didn’t know where this research would take me, primarily because I don’t know much about Henniker to start with. What I found was nothing astonishing, nothing too bombastic. Henniker proved to be just another quaint, beautiful town that helps make New Hampshire, in my opinion, one of the most scenic places in the country.
For anyone who lives in Henniker and is curious what the largest businesses are, the Economic Labor Market Information Bureau lists Pats Peak, the Henniker School district, and New England College as the town’s largest businesses. Skiing and education seem to be at the forefront of the town’s touristic appeal and profitability.
I have never had the pleasure of visiting Pats Peak, nor have I ever been engrossed in the teachings of the Henniker Elementary School, however, I have been to the town’s third largest business, and it’s here that I write about what I have come to see as a great college.
From personal experience, I know that New England College is just about as quaint as the town itself. The reach of it’s buildings extends past Simon Center and into the towns suburbs. There rests a wonderful quad surrounded by various dormitories. What I find most interesting about this quad is the platform that rests in the back which is for, I hear, plays, skits, and other theatrical presentations.
As depressing as COVID can be, the school implements regular COVID-19 precautions such as regular testing, mandatory face masks during indoor proceedings and updated doors where a device is attached to what used to be the “handle” for a student to put their forearm into. The idea being that the hand harbors too much bacteria and using the forearm can circumvent any unwanted germs contracted by the next student.
What’s more, the town proudly owns the title of being “the only Henniker on planet earth.” I found this to be perhaps the town’s creme de la crop when it comes to the “history” of Henniker. This factoid is proudly displayed atop both the towns website and later in the paragraphs on the Economic Market Information Bureau.
Henniker is not a town with bustling traffic, long commutes, or a shabby community. Home to a population of 5,018 in 2019, the town has seen a steady increase in its community over the decades, with a population of just 2,348 in 1970.
The iconic “Contoocook River” enters the town at its south-western side, passing easterly through its centre and leaving the town upon its eastern side.” This river is merely a stepping stone for the other ponds and bodies of water that are home to the town’s fish and enjoyed by fishers. Marine life such as “pick- erel, the perch, the chub, the catfish or horned-pout, and the common eel” (Cogswell) are indicative of a simplistic fishing industry that at least one resident can find divine solace in.
Henniker was incorporated back in the year 1768, when Governor John Wentworth named the town after a fishing merchant by the name of Sir John Henniker. Did Mr. Wentworth know he was awarding such a special title to this town in the form of remembrance to his friend? Assuredly not.
There is much history to be learned about Henniker. If there were more hours in the day, perhaps the beautiful secrets of this town, that only the locals claim to know, might be revealed. Still, Henniker has undoubtedly proved itself as one of New Hampshire’s quaint and community based towns.