Kingston was the fifth town to be established in New Hampshire. Originally, it was a part of Hampton, New Hampshire. After the King's War, the establishment of new settlements was made possible by peace treaties with the local Indian tribes and, in 1692, by geographical and jurisdictional agreements between the provinces of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Consequently, certain residents of Hampton, New Hampshire petitioned for a grant of a separate township to be created from the western part of Hampton. And so, in 1694, King William of England granted a royal charter establishing the town of "Kingstown", so named in honor of the King. Use of the title rather than the King's name was common at the time. The original charter still exists to this day.
The Kingston historic district encompasses the town center of Kingston. Historic buildings and sites within the district include the Kingston town hall; the Josiah Bartlett House, home of a signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence; the First Universalist Church; the Sanborn Seminary; The 1686 House restaurant; the Masonic building; the Cemetery at the Plains (where Josiah Bartlett is buried); and the Church on the Plains.
West Kingston is located along the road to Danville, in the western section of town, southwest of Great Pond. Evidence of the early inhabitants was manifested by the construction of a log garrison house on the present Great Pond Road, directly north of the residence of Leslie Cummings. This well-built house consisted of two large rooms downstairs and a huge open chamber on the second floor. In later years a small ell was attached to the north side. The historic house was demolished at the beginning of the 20th century. The stone step at the main entrance and what must have been the "cellar hole" of this dwelling are still visible.
In the midst of an agrarian society, the charcoal manufacturing industry took root and became a major business in West Kingston. Charcoal was carried by horse-drawn wagons to the Massachusetts cities of Haverhill, Lawrence, North Andover, Newburyport, Lowell, and Amesbury, as well as to Exeter, New Hampshire. Some was sold by street peddlers to be used in homes for the purpose of kindling fires. A great deal was also used by the large machine shops and by the silversmiths.
Many individuals manufactured shoes in their small, one-room shoe shops. Such a shop stood until recently near the Thomas Page residence. Some people sewed shoes in their own homes. Unlike the large-scale factories of today, concerned with mass production, these enterprises constructed the whole shoe, hand-sewing it with an artisan's touch.
A cooper shop on the Wadleigh Farm produced barrels made entirely of wood: the staves were made of pine and hardwoods, and were bound with hoops of birch. Skilled workers made hooks to hold hoops together. When a sufficient number of barrels was collected, the men hauled them to Newburyport to be sold - probably to be used by fishermen in packing fish.