The year 1878 is memorable, for the passage of General Marston's "tramp-law." For many years, our domain had been infested with hordes of vagabonds, strolling idly from town to town, begging or stealing their support, and often committing deeds of violence and lust. No picnic grove or berry pasture, no secluded road or lonely house was a safe resort for the unprotected. In Hampton, these vagrant tramps began to appear, about the year 1850. As transient paupers, they were provided by the selectmen, with food and lodging, and sent on their way. They were not numerous, however, the average annual cost to the town being but nine dollars and twenty-eight cents, for fourteen years. But, as in other countries, so here, war brought lawlessness and crime in its train. Tramps increased in numbers, banded together, instituted marks and signs, by which the whole fraternity might know at what houses to beg, where to plunder and what to avoid, had their regular "beats" and their fixed rendezvous, and were so well pleased with their fare in Hampton, that from 1864 to 1874, the average annual cost to the town was a hundred twenty-six dollars and thirty-one cents. Especially after the opening of what was facetiously called "the tramps' retreat," in 1870, where they were housed and fed so comfortably, that the fame thereof was signalled to remote points, the influx of tramps was so increased, that, in the one year, 1874, the town paid three hundred sixty-three dollars and seventy-five cents, for the entertainment of these guests. Then men rose up in their wrath, and said: it shall not be! The "retreat" was closed, and a tramp-house (somewhat better than a dog-kennel) substituted. This had a wonderful effect, and for the four years, to 1878, brought the average down to forty-four dollars and forty-four cents. Then, through the efforts of Gen. Gilman Marston, the well-known law which bears his name was passed, and our tramp house was sold for five dollars. The effect of the
law was immediately apparent throughout the state; but the pest is not wholly exterminated, even now; and vagrancy of this kind has cost our town ten dollars and seventy-eight cents per year, since 1878.
The Town Farm
A sister and brother, in the north part of the town, Betsey and Samuel Dearborn, sole survivors of the family of Levi Dearborn, having become incapable of providing for themselves, were taken under guardianship, and Hon. Uri Lamprey appointed the town's agent, to manage their farm and their support. After the removal of the unfortunate wards, the town took possession of the Dearborn farm, in 1868, and received the revenues from it; and thereafter, it was called the TOWN FARM. This was sold for thirteen hundred dollars, to Mrs. Mary E. Ames, in 1879. The same year the town bought of James Lane, for one hundred fifty dollars, one acre of land for gravel for highways.