Biography of Jonathan Moulton, from the Moulton Annals - 1906


Henry W. Moulton


Claribel Moulton

[From the Moulton Annals]


Edward A. Claypool - 1906

The ancestors of General Jonathan Moulton were among the traditional fifty-six inhabitants from the County of Norfolk, England, who first settled in the town of Hampton--then Winnicumet--in the year 1638.

The names of John Multon (sometimes "Moulton") and Thomas Moulton appear in a partial list of these original settlers, which may be found in Belknap's History of New Hampshire, Vol. I, page 37.

General Jonathan Moulton was a descendent of John above named: he was born in Hampton, New Hampshire, June 30th, 1726, and died at Hampton in the year 1788, at the age of 62. He was a large proprietor in lands, and several flourishing towns in the interior of this State owe their early settlement to his exertions and influence. This fact is mentioned in "Farmer and Moore's Gazetteer," published in 1823. When he was thirty-seven years old, the town of Moultonborough was granted to him and sixty-one others, by the Masonian proprietors, November 17, 1763. He was already noted for the distinguished service which he had rendered in the Indian wars, which ended with the Ossipee tribe, along the northerly borders of Moultonborough, in 1763. Many of his adventures during this bloody period have been preserved and transmitted to the present time; enough indeed, to fill a large space in this brief sketch.

It may be well to preserve one of these incidents in this record:

An octogenarian in the vicinity of Moultonborough relates that, during the Indian wars, Colonel, afterwards General Jonathan Moulton went out with a scouting party from Dover. After numerous adventures, they met with and attacked a party of six Indians, near a place now known as Clark's Landing, on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee, all of whom fell in the skirmish which ensued, with one exception. The Colonel had a large dog with him, which, after the affray was over, he placed upon the track of the escaped Indian. The dog ran off on to the ice. The party followed, and as they approached the entrance, of what is now Green Bay they saw in the distance that the dog had the Indian down upon the ice; and when they reached the spot the Indian was dead, -- killed by the dog.

The active services of the General in these border wars had made him, at an early age, well and favorably known to the leading men of that day. His numerous raids and scouts, in the region occupied by the Ossipee tribes, had made him well acquainted with the wilderness, and with the adjacent country upon the western shores of the lake, and no doubt secured to him the land grant which he obtained, in common with many of his companions in arms. He was rightly placed at the head of the grantees, by the Masonian proprietors, and the town of Moultonborough, which was named after him, perpetuates the memory of his rugged virtues and of his enterprising character. His descendants have been inhabitants of Moultonborough and of Centre Harbor to the present time.

After obtaining the grant, the General devoted much of the remainder of his life to this territory, he obtained from Governor Wentworth the grant of land now known as the town of New Hampton, which was formerly a part of Moultonborough gore, then called "Moultonborough Addition." The following amusing account of the way in which General Moulton secured this last grant appears in Fogg's Gazeteer, and is to be found in other histories of those early times:

"In 1763, General Jonathan Moulton, of Hampton, having an ox weighing one thousand four hundred pounds, fattened for the purpose, hoisted a flag upon his horns, and drove him to Portsmouth as a present to Governor Wentworth.

The General refused any compensation for the ox, but said he would like a charter of a small gore of land he had discovered adjoining the town of Moultonborough, of which he was one of the principal proprietors. The Governor granted this simple request of General Moulton, and he called it New Hampton, in honor of his native town.

This small gore of land contained nineteen thousand four hundred and twenty-two acres, a part of which now constitutes Centre Harbor."

Thus it appears that General Moulton, by his energy and enterprise largely contributed to the formation of three towns -- named New Hampton, by him; another named Moultonborough for him; and the third, Centre Harbor, was carved from a part of his grant called "Moultonborough Addition."

Many curious traditions are still extant with regard to General Moulton. He is said to have traded his soul to Satan for a boot full of gold and then to have cheated the Devil by removing the bottom of the boot so it could not be filled. After his death the ghosts of himself and his wife were thought to revisit the old mansion by night, he, thumping with his heavy gold headed cane, and his wife moving along in her rustling silk gown. The ghosts were "laid" with formal exercises and afterwards walked no more.

General Moulton is the hero of Whittier's poem, "The New Wife and the Old."

From Dow's History of Hampton we take the following:

We have met General Moulton often in these pages; but here let us pause and take our leave of him, for we shall meet him no more. We have seen him honoured year after year to represent his townsmen in the Legislature. We have seen him the intrepid commander, in responsible positions, amid the perils of war. We have never seen him false to his trust or incompetent in its execution. A certain reticence and lofty bearing in the mastship affair once aroused the displeasure of his fellow citizens; and perhaps the same qualities, with his general characteristics as a man in advance of his age, and shrewd in his business may have held the envy and dislike of many through life.

And yet one cannot believe he would have been so honored and trusted through a most critical period of our history, had he been unworthy.

General Jonathan was a descendant of John, of the fourth generation. (Jacob', John', John'.)

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