Researching the History of Houses in Hampton, NH
If you are trying to research the history of a house in Hampton, NH, the Lane Memorial Library has some resources that can help you in your search. Beyond the library you will want to go to the Tuck Museum to see help they may be able to give you. In addition, a trip to the Rockingham County Complex in Brentwood to search through old deeds would be very helpful.
The key to researching old homes in the library is to use three 19-century maps produced in 1806, 1841 and 1898. All of these maps have been scanned and are available on our website, although some are hard to read on a computer screen. Hard copies of the 1806 map are reproduced in several printed versions of volume one of the History of Hampton by Joseph Dow. Two large copies of the 1841 map are hanging on the wall inside and outside of the library's New Hampshire Room. The 1898 map is contained is a book of such maps produced for the state of NH in that year, and copies of that are kept in the library's workroom. Ask at the desk for assistance.
Each of these three maps show all of the roads in town as well as all of the houses with the names of their owners included. Once you locate your house on the map (which isn't always very easy to do) you should go to volume two of Dow's History of Hampton -- the genealogical section -- and try to locate the individual named on the map. If you can do this, you can often glean much information on the history of the ownership of the house by following the family through the generations in Dow's book. Dow's book was published almost at the same time as the 1898 map, so almost everyone listed on that map is mentioned in the book as living at the spot shown on the map. It may state that the person "lives on the homestead", which means that you should look for that person's father's record for more information. Sometimes you will have to search back through several generations to find out when the family first moved to that house or location.
The library also owns a collection of town directories and phone books that can be very useful in tracing the ownership of your home in the 20th century.
Using these maps, directories and Dow's History of Hampton is not an exact science, and often can be confusing, but it can give some excellent information at times. The best way to research your house's history is through deeds (and sometimes probates and wills) at the county courthouse.
The library also makes available some web pages on some of the old houses around town. Also available on this page are some comprehensive historical studies done on many of the older houses around town.
Finally, the town maintains a database of information about all property in town, including valuations, sales histories, building descriptions with photos, as well as the date the buildings were built.