Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: CULTURE AND USE OF TOBACCO

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CULTURE AND USE OF TOBACCO

About this time occurs the first intimation on the records of the town, of the use of tobacco, in any of its forms. From a vote passed by the town, February 14, 1676, it is evident that it was then used here in smoking--to what extent, is uncertain. It is equally uncertain whether the use of it was confined to smoking. The vote is thus recorded: "To pr vent Danger by fire itt is ordered thatt if any prson shall take any tobaco, or Carrie any fire or make use of any fire in the new meeting house or the fortt yard they shall forfitt ten shillings for Every such offence the one Halfe to the Informer & the other Halfe to the Towne."

At the next term of the county court Hampton, beginning May 30, several persons were fined for taking tobacco near the Meeting house where the court was sitting. The record of the court is as follows: "Richard Scaman, Humphrey Wilson, Jno. Redman Jun., John Clark, John Hobbs, Philip Towle for taking tobacko neare ye meeting house in ye face of ye Court are find each of them ten shillings according to law."

At a somewhat early period--no record shows how early--the cultivation of the tobacco plant was commenced in this town, and for many years, probably during the whole of the eighteenth century, it was a common article of culture among the farmers, though none of them raised a large quantity. The process of sowing and transplanting, and of keeping the ground free from weeds, were nearly the same in the raising of tobacco, as in raising the cabbage. Before the first autumnal frosts, the tobacco plants were pulled and thrown together in heaps "to sweat." After sweating sufficiently, the plants--stalks and leaves together--were hung up in some open building to dry; or, sometimes, after the sweating, the leaves were picked off and then dried for use. In some cases, the leaves after becoming sufficiently dry, "spun," or worked up into "twists," and the twists wound into rolls, when the article was ready for sale, or for use.

This was the kind of tobacco used here till a somewhat recent date; and the use of it, for a long time, was almost wholly confined to elderly people, the place of using it being by their own firesides, or at the houses of their neighbors, when on social visits; and the manner of using it, by smoking the pipe. This custom was more common among women than among the men. But that tobacco was sometimes used in other places than the fireside, is evidently implied in the vote already stated.

At a town meeting the next summer, Abraham Perkins, Sen., Francis Page, Thomas Sleeper and Joseph Dow, were chosen to serve upon the Grand Jury, for the following year. This may at first view appear to be a large proportion of that body to be furnished by one town; but, in reality, it was not unduly large, as there were but six towns in the county of Norfolk, for which they were to act, and Hampton contained more than one-sixth part of the population.

At the same meeting, a police regulation was made, for the purpose of preventing damage by "violent and indiscreet riding in the town." It was ordered that if, after the publication of the regulation, any person should gallop through the town, or any street thereof, he should forfeit for every such offence, 2s. 6d., one-half to the town, and the other half to Anthony Taylor, who was appointed to carry the order into effect.

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