Behind the name: Georges Mills

Welcome to Georges Mills. Photo by Charlotte Carlson, Sunapee.

Welcome to Georges Mills. Photo by Charlotte Carlson, Sunapee.

Sunapee, N.H. – Georges Mills, Muzzey Hill, Cooper Street, Russell Place, all tell interesting stories. However, sometimes the stories behind village names are not readily apparent.

Along busy Route 11, the Newport Road, between exits 12 and 12A off Interstate-89, a sign welcomes you to Georges Mills in the Lake Sunapee area. Georges Mills is an unincorporated village of Sunapee. Daniel George was one of the town’s early settlers and a mill owner.

Sunapee is another New England town shaped by forces of nature and man. Thriving mills once dotted the region’s rivers and streams.

The road skirts the southern shore of Otter Pond and then passes Georges Mills Harbor, at the northern tip of Lake Sunapee, and passes over streams that feed the lake.

In the early 1800s, George built and operated mills along these streams. He operated a grist mill, the first mill in the village, built by Archibald Hersey in 1798. Back then families grew their grains for milling… into flour, cornmeal, buckwheat, and barley.

George was industrious and later built a new grist mill and a saw mill. He also built his home in the village, on the corner of the Springfield and Newport roads. It is nestled next to the present day Georges Mills General Store, which has its own story to tell: It once housed horses and carriages used by “Uncle Charles Russell,” who transported mail from Georges Mills to Sunapee.

Cooper, Muzzey and Russell

Although long gone, another mill built in the village operated under different owners from the 1820s to 1920s. The mill started by carding and dressing wool. Later it turned into a shingling, planing and board sawing mill.

Across the stream from the shingle mill was a cooper shop (1820 – 1825), which bustled with activity manufacturing a variety of wooden measures, barrels, scoops and containers.

These businesses were by the dam on Cooper Street, which loops down to Georges Mills Harbor.

On the hill heading toward Sunapee, in 1818, Moses Muzzey built the first blacksmith shop in Georges Mills. Muzzey Hill remains a common reference point.

Russell Place, now the home of condominiums at the bottom of Prospect Hill Road, also has a story. The building once served as the village post office and store under several owners including the Russell family.

GeorgesMillsPO

Old Georges Mills, N.H. photo shows T. O. Russell Meats and Groceries (1936-1948) on Prospect HilL Road. Tony Russell owned the store at the time. It also housed village the post office.

In 1898, Charles Russell installed the first telephone company in Georges Mills; it connected the store with Newport. Until 1906 and again from 1936 to 1948, the Russells operated the store, thought to be the oldest in the village and built about 1835 by Burpee & Colcord.

You can find pictures and stories about the enterprising people who settled the area in the “Sunapee Bicentennial 1768-1968,” a booklet reproduced for the Sunapee Historical Society. It’s available for sale ($10) at the Sunapee Historical Society and SooNipi Publishing Company.

Have a local story to share? Contact SunapeeNews.com.

2 Responses

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this interesting, local info. Its fun to know where these names originated from and why.

  2. Thanks for this Georges Mills story. My grandparents, the Towsley’s, operated the Grocery store along with a gift shop and ice cream parlor in the 1950s and I spent many fond days there “helping out” or “helping myself to ice cream.” The postmistress was also our choir director at church. My mom was a waitress at Russell’s Inn before it burned. What great times those were.
    Bev Morse Isman

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