Prominent among the historic homesteads of Belknap County is the Cogswell place in Gilmanton, owned and occupied by the gallant and genial Col. Thomas Cogswell, who was born and reared and ever had his home upon it. This farm, as now constituted, consists of 517 acres of land as determined by actual survey, and includes the original adjacent Badger and Cogswell homesteads, upon the former of which Gen. Joseph Badger of Haverhill, Mass., settled in 1763. General Badger who was born in 1722 was a member of the provincial congress and of the first New Hampshire constitutional convention. He was a man of strong character and high standing and influence in the community and was for many years judge of probate for the old county of Strafford. He died April 4, 1803.
Col. Thomas Cogswell, also of Haverhill, Mass., married Ruth, a daughter of General Badger. He was one of eight brothers, all of whom were soldiers in the Revolutionary army and did gallant service in the war for American independence. At the close of the war he removed to Gilmanton and located adjacent to his father-in-law, General Badger. He also became a leading citizen and was prominent in public affairs, serving as chief justice of the court of common pleas from 1784 until his death in 1810. Colonel Cogswell and General Badger were actively instrumental in the establishment of that notable institution of learning ---- Gilmanton Academy.
Hon. Thomas Cogswell, a son of Gen. William and Judith (Badger) Cogswell, (his father being a brother of Col. Thomas Cogswell before mentioned) a native of the town of Atkinson, born December 7, 1798, married Mary Noyes, in 1820, soon after attaining his majority and established his home in Gilmanton where he united in his possession the farms of his grandfather and uncle, since known as the Cogswell homestead. This Thomas Cogswell also became a leader among his townsmen, and was for years the most prominent figure in local political life, serving repeatedly as moderator, selectman, and representative in the legislature, as deputy sheriff, as an associate judge of the court of common pleas from 1841 till 1855, and as a member of the executive council in 1856. He was a successful and thorough-going farmer ---- one of the best in the state ---- and increased his possessions until he held about a thousand acres altogether; that portion outside the homestead, about equal in extent, ultimately going into the hands of his elder son, the late James W. Cogswell, under whose management it was long known as one of the best farms in the country.
Judge Cogswell died August 8, 1868, when the homestead passed into the hands of his younger son, Col. Thomas Cogswell Jr., the present incumbent, under whose personal management it has since continued. With the details of Colonel Cogswell's career, military and political, the public is already familiar. Suffice it to say he was born February 8, 1841, fitted for college at Gilmanton academy, graduated from Dartmouth with the class of 1863; was first lieutenant and captain of Company A, Fifteenth regiment, New Hampshire volunteers, serving at the siege and surrender of Port Hudson; studied law with Stevens & Vaughan at Laconia, and at the Harvard Law School, and was admitted to the bar, in September, 1866; and commenced practice at Gilmanton Iron Works, but on his father's death, two years later, assumed charge of the farm, which he has since continued, though devoting some attention to legal practice. He was chosen superintending school committee in 1868; representative in legislature in 1871 and 1872; selectman for three years from 1880, being two years chairman of the board; was a member of Governor Weston's staff in 1871; state senator for his district in 1878; was appointed a member of the state board of railroad commissioners in April 1893, and became United States pension agent, for the district of New Hampshire and Vermont, July 1, 1894, which position he still holds. He is also and has been for several years president and treasurer of the board of trustees of Gilmanton academy. Politically Colonel Cogswell is and always has been a Democrat. He is a member of Winnipesaukee lodge, F. and A. M., of Post 37, G.A.R., and of Crystal Lake Grange, of Gilmanton Iron Works, and has been lecturer in the latter organization. He married, October 8, 1873, Florence, daughter of R.D. Moores of Manchester, who died February 14, 1892, leaving a daughter and two sons. The daughter, Anna M., is the wife of Walter J. Edgerly of Gilmanton. The elder son, Clarence Noyes, is engaged in wholesale boot and shoe establishment of Parker, Holmes & Co., Boston.
Since taking charge of the farm Colonel Cogswell has made numerous and extensive improvements, especially with reference to the increase of the hay crop, which amounts to from eight to one hundred tons per annum. He is a believer in ensilage, and has put in a new silo of one hundred tons capacity the present year. The soil is well adapted to wheat and corn, as well as grass, and wheat was raised successfully for sixty-four years in succession, the first premium for the product having once been awarded for its exhibit at the state fair. Corn to the amount of eight hundred bushels per annum has been raised in the past, but less attention is now devoted to this crop. Formerly from twelve to fifteen horses were kept, but the number is now largely reduced, milk production being the object now aimed at, a creamery having recently been established at the Academy village with a skimming station at the Iron Works, by the Gilmanton Creamery company in which Colonel Cogswell is a moving spirit. He has now fifteen cows, which number will soon be increased to twenty-five. His pasturage is very extensive, furnishing summer forage for from fifty to seventy-five head of cattle for outside parties. For farm work, in addition to his horses, he has two fine yokes of oxen. The barn is a spacious, well-appointed structure one hundred and twenty feet in length. There is also a fine stable for horses, and these as well as the house ---- a spacious old family mansion ---- have an unfailing supply of pure water, the power furnishing the same being from a wind mill which Colonel Cogswell has put in for the purpose. While emphatically a man of affairs, interested in law, in politics, and in all matters of public import, and attending faithfully to his important official duties. Colonel Cogswell is properly regarded as a representative New Hampshire Farmer. His sympathies and interest are with the agricultural toilers, and they find in him an outspoken champion of the rights on all proper occasions.