When Mount Tom was first settled in 1821, there were already settlers living and carrying out commerce on the stream in what is now called Smithfield.
Five men trekked up Mount Tom in 1821; William Hartford, Michael Groves, Aaron Bigelow, Nathanial Perkins, and Nathanial Grant. They eventually built homes and farms, each home hosting a cellar hole beneath the family lodging used to store perishable goods. Initially, most or all of these settlers did not live on Mount Tom year round, instead heading back home to their families during the harsh winter months.
Today we can only locate of four of the five cellar holes on Mount Tom belonging to these five pioneers; one has been removed.
Root cellars were constructed to keep food at low temperatures and for consistent humidity. Food stored in root cellars would have been protected from freezing in the frigid Maine winters and kept cool in the summer to prevent spoilage. Vegetables would have been stored in the cellars after the fall harvest.
For more information about Mount Tom and the beginnings of the town of Smithfield, we suggest that you read our book published in 2014: The Making of Smithfield.