Though some evidence of the Abenaki or other Native Americans has been found within Candia’s borders, the first settlers came from Old Chester. William Turner and David McClure ventured into the wilderness to build cabins in the early 1740’s. Within a year or two, half a dozen brave souls followed Turner and McClure. The first road was built through Candia in 1749.
Called the “Chestnut Country”, Old Chester was a very large town in colonial New Hampshire, which included the current towns of Auburn, Raymond, Hooksett, part of east Manchester and Candia. Candia was the “North Parish” of Chester or was commonly called “Charmingfare”. As historian Francis B. Eaton tells the tale, there was a large party of weary hunters that shot a fine deer. Later, the hunters enjoyed a feast of venison, which was pronounced to be charming fare. From thence on, this settlement became known as Charmingfare and was later incorporated under the name of Candia by Royal Govenor Benning Wentworth in 1763. The name of the town is thought to originate from the Governor who had been a prisoner in Candia, (now a part of Herakleion) on the island of Crete.
In April 1775 the community joined in the struggle to form a new nation. Many residents fought in the battles of the American Revolution, and similarly supported the Civil War nearly a century later. In the early 1800’s, Candia grew and prospered. Stores, taverns, and post offices thrived in various areas of town. Land was cleared, sheep grazed and the rocky soil was farmed. Small mills on local streams provided flour and lumber. Braiding palm leaf hats became a popular home industry. Coopering thrived and shoe factories employed many residents. In the mid 1800’s, the coming of the railroad was a monumental change for Candia. Travel to out of town businesses became commonplace and coming in were new ideas in art, music and philosophy. The Candia Lyceum and the Smyth Public Library were formed. Several religious societies emerged, and the 14 neighborhood schoolhouses saw taxes voted for their support. Candia, however, did not escape the trends of the time. People moved south and west with more favorable soil, climate and opportunity. The residential population had dwindled by the start of the new century.
Candia’s sons and daughters fared well in the world beyond the town’s borders. To name just a few:
- Rev. James Hill Fitts – noted genealogist and historian
- Sarah Bagley – fought for the Lowell “mill girls” rights in the 1840’s
- Thomas Benton Turner – influential senator from Missouri
- Philip Butler – well known and successful artist/photographer in Boston
- Benaiah Fitts – engineer and inventor
- Frederick Smyth – Governor of NH, hosted Abraham Lincoln’s visit in 1860
- Hannah Fitts – taught freed slaves after the Civil War Albert Palmer – Mayor of Boston
- Henry Eaton Moore – noted musician and composer
- Ephraim Eaton – noted musician and composer
- Sam Walter Foss –world-renowned poet