Orson Pratt and Lyman E. Johnson were the first Latter-day Saints to visit New Hampshire. They preached in Bath in the northwestern part of the state in the spring of 1832, baptizing 15 — among them future apostle Amasa M. Lyman — and organized New Hampshire’s first branch. Orson Hyde and Samuel H. Smith, who had also been called from Kirtland, Ohio, to missions in the eastern states, arrived in southern New Hampshire in September 1832 and preached in Dover and Portsmouth. Pratt and Johnson returned to New Hampshire on a second mission in March 1833 and appointed several local members to serve as missionaries.

During succeeding years, numerous missionaries worked in New Hampshire and other branches were organized, but from the beginning the state’s Latter-day Saints were encouraged to gather to Kirtland, Ohio, and later, to centers farther west. After 1850, few Church members remained in New Hampshire and there was only limited contact with the Church until the Eastern States Mission was re-opened in 1893.

In February 1909, the New Hampshire Conference was organized and 12 elders were assigned to the state. Before the year ended, they were working in Manchester, Nashua, and Laconia while some of them were traveling in other areas without purse or scrip. Some interest was shown, but in 1919, the missionary serving as president of the Maine Conference, which then included New Hampshire, wrote to the Improvement Era that the two states “in the past have been considered the most impregnable, when it comes to teaching the plan of life and salvation, of all the states in our country,” though he saw evidence that the situation was beginning to improve.

In January 1928, New Hampshire was transferred to the Canadian Mission and then in October 1937 became part of the newly established New England Mission. Three years later, the six elders and two sister missionaries assigned to New Hampshire were working in the state’s two largest cities, Manchester and Nashua, as well as the smaller town of Keene, and reported there were 43 members of the Church in the state.

The Church continued to grow slowly and members often had to travel long distances to attend meetings. In 1950, the lone branch in New Hampshire, located at Concord, the state capital, had only 24 members, but nearly four times as many Latter-day Saints lived elsewhere in the state and did not belong to organized branches. Church membership increased fourfold during the 1950s and nearly tripled during the 1960s. This was a period when the Latter-day Saints were engaged in accumulating building funds and meetinghouses were constructed in Concord, Portsmouth, Laconia and elsewhere. Membership doubled again during the 1970s. By 1980, the number of Church units in the state had increased to 13, each of them covering several towns.

In response to such growth, in March 1970 Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Quorum of the Twelve organized the Merrimack Stake. The new stake had 2,471 members in the Keene, Laconia, Manchester and Portsmouth wards and the Concord Branch in New Hampshire, as well as in three units in northern Massachusetts and the Sanford Branch in southern Maine. The stake’s headquarters were moved from Manchester to Nashua in 1980, and in September of the following year the stake had grown sufficiently that it was divided to create two new stakes at Concord and Portland, Maine.

In July 1987, the New Hampshire Manchester Mission was created, covering not only New Hampshire but also Vermont and Maine.

In November 1990, Richard N. Swett, a convert who was an active member of the Concord 2nd Ward, became the first Latter-day Saint to be elected to Congress from the northeastern part of the United States. He served two terms as a Democratic member of the House of Representatives, 1991-1995, and subsequently served as U. S. ambassador to Denmark, 1998-2001.

In 2004, the Nashua New Hampshire Stake included three units in northern Massachusetts, while the Exeter New Hampshire Stake (originally the Portland Maine Stake but realigned and renamed in 1990) included three units in northern Massachusetts and one in southern Maine. Most of New Hampshire belonged to the Concord New Hampshire Stake, except for small portions of the state that were part of the Montpelier Vermont and Springfield Massachusetts stakes. Because of its unusual geography, the stake at Exeter had the unique distinction of having a stake presidency whose members resided in three different states.

In 2002, membership reached 7,825. In 2005, membership reached 8,215.


Andrew Jenson, “New Hampshire Conference,” Encyclopedic History of the Church, 1941; New Hampshire District, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; Richard S. Williams, “The Missionary Movements of the LDS Church in New England, 1830-1850,” thesis, 1969; Richard O. Cowan, “Yankee Saints: The Church in New England During the Twentieth Century,” in Donald Q. Cannon, ed., Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: New England, 1988; Liahona: The Elders’ Journal, 6:979, 1122, 1264-65, and 7:341, 371; Improvement Era, March 1919, p. 454; “4 New Stakes Are Organized,” Church News, 4 April 1970; Sheridan R. Sheffield, “Congressman Looks to Values for Strength,” Church News, 2 February 1991; J Malan Heslop, “She Helped Nurture Fledgling Church during Life of Service,” Church News, 23 January 1993.

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