Dunbarton was first granted in 1735 as Gorham’s-town to soldiers returning from the Canada Expedition who had served under Captain John Gorham. It was regranted in 1748 as Starkstown to settlers led by Archibald Stark, whose son was General John Stark, patriot of Bunker Hill and the Battle of Bennington, and whose grandson Caleb was a famous industrialist who established textile mills in Manchester. In 1752, the Masonian Proprietors confirmed the grant under a new charter as Dunbarton, named for Dumbartonshire in Scotland, site of Dunbar Castle and native county of Archibald Stark. The town was incorporated in 1765.
Dunbarton, made up of 30.8 square miles of land area and .5 square miles of inland water area, is in Merrimack County. The year of the first census taken, 1790, showed a population of 917; the 2019 US Census Bureau reported a population of 2,879. Dunbarton operates under the Board of Selectmen/Open Town Meeting form of municipal government. This is the traditional, "pure democracy" form of town government, where the voters themselves, acting at town meeting, are the legislative body. Budgetary and other questions are put before the voters in the form of warrant articles, the merits of which are debated, and then voted on at the meeting. Dunbarton is represented by District 2 of the US Congress, District 5 of the Executive Council, District 16 of the State Senate, and Merrimack County District 23 of the State House of Representatives.
Lots of Heart but Only One Center
But where does the true center of New England lie? Surely in this age of MapQuest and Google Earth, someone could come up with an accurate and impartial answer. The Boston Globe reported on February 24, 2008, that Suchi Gopal, professor at Boston University Department of Geography and Environment and Center for Remote Sensing, used the center of gravity or "centroid" method of calculation to determine that the center of New England was in Dunbarton, NH. Her calculation took into account the irregular coastline of Maine and the islands off the coast of Massachusetts. And the answer? A place located at 43.117199 degrees latitude and -71.593498 degrees longitude, only a few miles from the intersection of Interstates 93 and 89: Dunbarton, N.H.