Keeping Forests as Forests in Gilmanton
In 1801, Dr. Benjamin Kelley purchased a 1.25 acre lot at the intersection of Province Road (now Route 107) and the road to Loudon (now Route 129). As the first trained medical practitioner to settle in Gilmanton, he made medical house calls by horseback. On the lot, he built a homestead and operated it as an inn and stage stop.
Dr. Kelley and his son Charles expanded the family’s landholdings to 400 acres of farm and forestland by 1850, raising and breeding both cattle and later racehorses. By the turn of the century, the junction of Rte 107 and 129 became known as Kelley Corners, and Kelley kids made up a large percentage of students in the one-room schoolhouse still located near this crossroads today.
Four generations later, siblings George and Harriet Kelley donated the lands handed down to each of them to the Forest Society, together creating the 152-acre Charles G. Kelley Memorial Forest that includes the hayfield across from the original homestead, seen from Route 107. They named the forest for their great-grandfather.
Now, the Forest Society has the opportunity to conserve land that passed down to another Kelley descendant by acquiring 30 acres located between the two properties that George and Harriet donated. Purchasing these 30 acres, which had been listed for sale, will protect a contiguous forest that also links with Gilmanton’s Pine Hill Town Forest.
Protecting contiguous forestland is one of the Forest Society’s land conservation objectives, thus ensuring the integrity of wildlife habitat, water resources, and consistent forest management practices. This 30-acre project will create a 310-acre block of forest and fields, keeping Kelley Corners as scenic as it was when Benjamin Kelley first arrived in 1801. To support the purchase price, costs and a stewardship endowment, the Forest Society seeks to raise $80,000 by April 30, 2022. Please help us expand the Charles G. Kelley Memorial Forest with a donation to the project today — and plan a scenic drive through Gilmanton in the spring — it is beautiful!