Heritage Commission event celebrates the origins of Holles

The Hollis Heritage Commission will sponsor a Hidden Treasures event from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at the Lawrence Barn, 28 Depot Road.

There will be displays, talks, horses and interactive activities centered on Hollis colonials, their march to Lexington and Concord, and their part in the battle of Bunker Hill and the Revolutionary War.

This family-friendly event is in collaboration with the Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area in partnership with the National Park Service.

In preparation for the celebration, the HHC will introduce a series of Hollis historical treasures that date to its early settlers and founding charter of 1746. Come visit the heritage celebration and see how many treasures you can identify – including this third in the series:

An early map charted in April 1746 shows Holles, Monson, Dunstable and Merrimack. Did someone misspell Hollis, or was it originally named Holles?

Samuel Worchester’s account of Hollis reports the original record of the town charter spelled the name as "Holles," and it remained so as late as 1815.

The origin of this spelling is attributed to Benning Wentworth, who was governor of the region at the time Hollis was chartered. He had a custom of naming towns in honor of his friends and patrons; one such patron was the Duke of Newcastle, Thomas Pelham Holles. Wentworth commemorated his friend and donor by assigning region names to Pelham and Holles.

The residents of Holles were familiar with the reputation of the Duke of Newcastle as a "knave and fool," and much preferred to be associated with a more noble London merchant and benefactor of Harvard College by the name of Thomas Hollis. Between 1775 and 1815, the town name shows both spellings in public documents. However, at some point the common use and will of the people put Holles and the memory of the Duke of Newcastle into oblivion.

Holles or Hollis, either one is much easier to spell than the Indian name for the town: "Nissitissit."

Information is from Samuel Worchester, "History of the Town of Hollis," 1870.