BRIEF HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF EATON
Eaton was granted and incorporated November 7, 1766 by Benning Wentworth, Governor of the Province of New Hampshire under King George III. The Town’s 25,600 acres were divided equally between Clement March and 65 associates. According to the Charter, they were obliged to plant and cultivate 5 acres out of every 50 acres within 5 years and continue at that rate or lose their land to the Town to be re-granted.
Most of the grantees were absentee landholders and speculators. They had difficulty meeting the requirements. By 1790, 42 of them sold their land at a tax sale for one or two dollars per 100 acre lots.
Eaton was settled by pioneers. One of the first settlers and first to buy land in Eaton was William Robertson in 1784. Eaton’s written history begins with the first Town meeting held at Samuel Banfill’s house on July 1 of the same year. By 1790, there were 253 persons and 44 households in Eaton, which included the territory of Madison, but not many of these inhabitants lived within present day Eaton limits. There were very few settlers in today’s Eaton before 1812.
Eight Ranging Officers Grants of about 10,000 acres to the north and east were annexed in 1795. The Tamworth-Eaton boundary was set the next year and revised in 1808. By 1850, Eaton had its highest population of 1,743 and 2 years later, more than half was split off to Madison, leaving Eaton with about 16,890 acres in 1860 with a population of 780 residents.
For the next 100 years, the population was in general decline along with other rural New England towns. People were moving South and West with the opening of canals and railroads to richer farmland and developing Midwestern cities. After World War II, a trend away from city congestion, crime and pollution brought retired and second homeowners to Eaton and a slow but steady increase of young families with children.
— text excerpted from Eaton Town Master Plan, 1986