Barnstead is a town in Belknap County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 4,593 at the 2010 census. Home to the Suncook Lakes, Barnstead includes the villages of Center Barnstead, Barnstead Parade (identified as “Barnstead” on topographic maps) and South Barnstead. The town was granted by Governor William Dummer on 20 May 1727 to the Reverend Joseph Adams and others. Settlement commenced in 1765, and two years later Barnstead was incorporated as a town by Governor John Wentworth. Many of the settlers came from Barnstable, Massachusetts, and Hempstead, New York – the name is taken from these two.
Although not mountainous, the terrain forms large swells, good for grazing. By 1830, when the population was 2,047, the town contained about 2,500 sheep. Farmers found the soil easy to cultivate and productive. The Suncook River and its tributaries provided water power for mills. By 1859, industries included a woolen cloth factory, seven sawmills, four shingle mills, four clapboard mills, one grooving machine, one turning machine, and two tanneries. Barnstead manufactured large amounts of lumber, which it supplied to neighboring towns.Barnstead was served in 1874 by the Concord and Rochester Railroad, and an extension of the Suncook Valley Railroad was being planned.
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