Hampton Beach and Vicinity--Ownership and Uses
The first dwelling house at the sea-side, in Hampton was at the North Beach, built on a knoll called Nut Island; and covered part of the ground on which stands the Leavitt boarding-house. It was a one-story house, built about the year 1800, by John Elkins, a native of the town, born at Bride Hill, in 1777. He married Molly Brown, and lived a year or two in his house at the beach, but in 1802 he sold the premises to Moses Leavitt, a tailor, who had been living in the central part of the town, working at his trade. Mr. Leavitt was then about twenty-eight years old. He had married, several years before, Sarah, daughter of Amos Towle. Their fifth child was born soon after their removal to the beach. Mr. Leavitt and his wife being industrious, prudent and thrifty, he was enabled to buy real estate with their earnings, as he had opportunity. Among other purchases, he bought the old Tuck mill, with all its privileges and appurtenances and in place of it, in 1815 he built a grist-mill, with modern improvements, which has only lately fallen into disuse.
Mr. and Mrs. Leavitt kept a house of entertainment, intended chiefly for the accommodation of fishermen and of fishmongers, who, in the winter season, were accustomed to come down from their homes in Vermont, with large and powerful horse-teams, to be loaded with fish, which they took back in a frozen state, and sold principally in the Canada markets. Out of this beginning, as the tide of the summer travel set towards Hampton, grew the famous boarding-house of Amos T. Leavitt, son of the former owner, and later, of his sons, Jacob B. and Moses, the former of whom is the present landlord.
A little farther removed from the ocean, the boarding-house of Josiah C. Palmer has long been a popular resort; while, on the upper road is that of Joseph J. Mace, of later date.
The road from the causeway to Great Boar's Head had been used for a long series of years, and had occasionally received some repairs; but no well-constructed road-bed appears to have been made before 1821,or the following year. People on foot or on horseback, and ox teams (unless heavily loaded), might pass over the road with out much difficulty. There were, indeed, ruts; but beach sand and the muck or loam from the salt marsh adjoining, mixed together by the action of the tide, spread over the surface a covering very serviceable in preserving the road. It was, however, not in good condition for carriages, such as were beginning to be driven over it, and in one of the above-mentioned years, the town put the road in a more creditable condition.
The first house on that part of the beach lying southerly of the causeway, was built about the year 1806, by Daniel Lamprey, at that time more than sixty years old. The place of his birth, and his residence hitherto, was more than two miles up town from the location of his house at the beach. He was a large landholder, having good farming land on his homestead and in the other parts of the town, besides his tracts near the beach. Few farmers in the town had greater facilities for living comfortably on their farms and every year adding to the value of their estates. Mr. Lamprey had been married about thirty-five years; and his family then consisted of himself and wife and his two sons, with their wives. His house at the beach was located on nearly the site of the Eagle House, now owned and occupied by Lewis P. Nudd. The structure was a one-story building, about thirty-six by twenty-eight feet on the ground. Mr. Lamprey was often the only occupant, his wife being with him occasionally, but generally at the up-town residence, with her sons. About 1808 Thomas Elkins and wife, born in Hampton and lately married, became Mr. Lamprey's tenants, but removed from the town a year or two later, when his son, Jeremiah, with his family, took their place, remaining with him till his death, May 10, 1812, and keeping a public house in a small way, for years afterwards.