Cellar Holes

Cellar Hole Survey Project5NEbarncorner

In 2006 the Lyme Historians formed a committee to develop a program that document Lyme cellar holes and discovering the stories of the families who lived there. The Cellar Hole Survey Project was born, first inspired by Steve Alden, gaining momentum with the help of Adair Mulligan, Alfred Balch, Steve Dayno, Bill Murphy, Doug Wise and Don Cooke.  The committee invited the townspeople to learn about Lyme’s vast cellar hole inventory and invited the attendees to participate in the Project.  (The Lyme Historian, Fall 2006 pg. 3)  Guidance was also provided by the good staff of the NH Division of Historical Resources regarding best practices in documentation and preservation.

With landowner permission, several expeditions have occurred each year since then to document Lyme’s cellar holes and other abandoned stone structures as completely as possible in order to enrich our own understanding of Lyme as well as to enlighten future
generations.  Suppose you were tracking down family history and one of your ancestors once owned a home in Lyme.  What would you want to know about it?  That’s the kind of documentation we hope to gather now, before it’s lost or buried.

We’ve used the 1927 Dartmouth professor James Goldthwait’s report,” The Town That Has Gone Down Hill” (available for purchase), as one source, but bigger credit also goes to several lifelong residents, including Alfred Balch, Brian Rich, Don Metz, Ben Kilham, Roy Day, Wayne Pike, and others who have shared their knowledge and guided us on our way.  If you have a cellar hole on your land, or if you just think you do, contact us and we’ll add it to our list.

Coming expeditions –

Saturday April 2nd 2016  Our yearly “family friendly” expedition will explore The Abandoned Farmstead of Zachariah Rood.  It’s been all cleaned up and it’s the first expedition that doesn’t require a hike to get to.  Meet at 1 pm in the park-and-ride lot next to Stella’s.  (No pets.)  Rain date: Sunday April 3rd.

Prior expeditions:

April 2014  Our yearly “family friendly” expedition explored 3 cellar holes near the Skiway (Grafton Turnpike) by following a 75-year-old “treasure map”.  What fun!

November 2013  Two expeditions were made up the old Ranger Trail towards Smarts Mountain.  Here’s a slideshow of some of the fun:

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 April 2013  A family friendly cellar hole expedition led by Lyme Historians Steve Alden and Elizabeth Kilmarx took place in on a beautiful day in April 2013.  Grandparents, parents and children hiked to the site  on the Appalachian Trail to examine, measure, and wonder about an old Lyme cellar hole.   We asked many question including –  Who lived there? Was it a farm? Which way did it face? When was it abandoned? Why?  Find site observations made by Steve Alden in the summer 2013 issue of The Lyme Historian newsletter, page 6 or here.  Here’s a slideshow:

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Want to join us or volunteer in any way?
We need plenty of help as we record these old homesteads, and not just by going out in the field.  We’re looking for researchers who can trace property ownership, gather landowner permission, contact relatives, research photos, and so on.  Contact us if you want to get involved – at any level.

Some useful forms to download or print:
Landowner Permission Letter
Historic Background Documentation
Field Recording Form
Field Recording Instructions

Landowner  preservation information
The spring 2008 publication of the The Lyme Historian newsletter included an article discussing how to preserve historic sites.  The Historian’s cellar hole committee developed preservation guidance which are available below in pdf form.
Guidance for Landowners
Guidance for Loggers