Once a part of Gilmanton called Gunstock Parish, the town was named for a key battle at the end of the revolution, the Battle of Guilford Court House, North Carolina. Sargent Lemuel B. Mason, who had fought in that battle, had retired to Gunstock Parish. In 1812, he successfully proposed incorporation of a new town to be named Gilford. North Carolina's Guilford Court House has long since been renamed Martinsville. The original name is used by the Gunstock recreation area on Belknap Mountain.
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