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Welch Island history

This 210 acre island was first noted as lot No. 3 in early maps. It has also been referred to as Moulton’s Island, Fisher’s Island and Thompson’s Great Island although since the Civil war it has been referred to as Welch.

The first written deed for the island was in 1801 when Abraham Welch sold half to Clement March for the sum of $160. In 1808 Welch then sold part to Jacob Welch for $700. In the early 1800’s it passed hand to hand many times, mostly to lumber speculators.

In 1823 John Pickering Smith purchased the island and removed some of the lumber. He then sold half the island to George Washington Leavitt. Leavitt built some farm buildings, which were the first referenced buildings on any Gilford island. Leavitt kept sheep on the island during the summer months.

Between 1859 and 1875 Winnipesaukee Lake Cotton and Wool Manufacturing purchased the island except for Leavitt’s portion. Leavitt’s part was sold to Joseph Varney Wolfe in 1900 for the sum of $800. Wolfe had purchased Leavitt’s part in 1899 for $3760. Again the island passed through several speculators hands until 1906 when James French owned it. French sold a portion to JH Bissell and the same parcel to William Davis. The situation was resolved when Davis selected another piece of land and in 1906 both Davis and Bissell started building camps on the island. By 1919 there were 6 additional camps built, but over the next 30 years only 3 more were added.

One of the 6 additional camps was built by Richard and Lucy Luce, who by 1918 had acquired 30 acres which they named “North Ledge”. They built a main house, tennis courts, ice house, power plant, boat house and a building by the boat house for dynamite. In the early 1900’s dynamite was used freely to blast for camps. Certainly not something DES would allow now!

Sadly in the 1930’s the Luce’s chauffeur was driving the boat while under the influence, got distracted by some kids in the back of his boat, he turned to look at them, and at this point he hit a rowboat which was carrying a man and a child in it. The child died and the Luce’s had to liquidate their assets to pay the subsequent lawsuit. In the 1940’s the property was acquired by the current owners grandparents at auction and they have restored and loved the property ever since.

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