The History of Gould Hill Farm
Gould Hill Farm is located on Gould Hill Road, between the villages of Contoocook and Hopkinton, in the Town of Hopkinton, Merrimack County, NH. The property contains approximately 60 acres of orchards, farmland and forest on the east side of Gould Hill Road, and include the farmhouse, 1810 main barn(now the store), pole barn, and apple storage buildings. From the mid 1700s to the present, this property has been farmed continuously.
Joseph Gould, a town incorporator, was the first of the Gould family to come to Hopkinton in 1735 to stake a claim during the first land division. His family came to this country from England in 1650. In the late 1750’s Joseph’s three sons – Moses, Christopher, and Gideon – made the move from Amesbury, Massachusetts to Hopkinton. Gideon settled on the next hill over to the east of Gould Hill. Both Christopher and Moses settled on Gould Hill. Christopher built the original Gould Hill Homestead in c. 1760 and his brother, Moses settled down the hill to the north. In 1775 the brothers swapped homes. Around 1899 the original farmhouse directly across the street from the barn was taken down and Robert T. Gould, great great grandson of Moses Gould, built the existing farmhouse. Over the centuries Gould Hill Farm has changed deeded ownership 7 times, but only changed family stewardship twice, in 1939 and 2010.
It was Robert Truman Gould that turned the farm at Gould Hill into a prosperous agricultural business. Robert T. Gould’s prosperity came from fruit (apples and peaches) and dairying. He phased himself out of the dairy end of his business and concentrated on fruit – primarily apples. By 1926 his bountiful crop was sold mostly through Boston markets. By 1929, he had doubled his land and increased his income tenfold. Now his apples were being shipped worldwide.
Robert Gould had one daughter, Jessamine, but no son to pass the farm on to. In 1938 he sold 82 acres of land and the farmhouse to a business partnership formed by Edward Chandlee Leadbeater and Charles B. Nichols (Edward’s brother-in-law and textile manufacturer). “The privilege of living in God’s country atop Gould Hill here in the midst of bearing apple trees with a sweeping 85 mile view of lofty mountains” brought Edward Leadbeater back to the area where he summered as a child. During the 1950’s the prosperity of Gould Hill allowed many improvements. Fresh Sweet Cider production was added and a retail sale area was opened in the carriage shed section. By 1961 the Orchard produced 30,000 bushels of fruit. Leadbeater by this time was wholesaling his fruit through a broker in Ayer, Massachusetts, J.P.Sullivan & Co. By 1962 Gould hill was growing over 20 varieties of apples. One variety was a chance seedling named “Kearsage” after the Kearsarge Mountain in Warner that predominates the view to the northwest.
In 1971, Edward’s son and oldest child, returned to run the farm. But with an ever changing market the orchard went the way of many in New England with many orchards being abandoned or sold off for development in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.
In the Spring of 2009, Amy and Tim Bassett took over operation of the farm and in 2010, purchased the last 58 acres of the original farm remaining. Since then, there has been a large undertaking to try and rejuvenate the buildings, equipment as well as the orchards and farmland. There have been many changes including the addition of the bakery, expanded store and seating areas for guests, maple production on site and Hard Cider production and sales on site with the addition of the Contoocook Cider Company. There will be more changes in the coming years in order to keep up with the changing demands of customers, weather and markets that make New Hampshire agriculture a true way of life.