Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: Hampton Causeway Turnpike Corporation / Proposed Road From North Hampton Line to Hampton Falls Line

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Hampton Causeway Turnpike Corporation

Not to notice the various minor acts of the town, we come now to make special mention of a highway, early known as the causeway, and afterward, the turnpike, -- by far, the most difficult and expensive to keep in repair of all the roads leading out of Hampton. The two parishes of Hampton and Hampton Falls, as we have seen, were separated by a long reach of salt marsh, through which flowed Taylor's river. No doubt, the two settlements were connected from the outset, by at least a cart path, with a rude bridge thrown over the river; for ion the early records, mention is often made of "the causey," and of votes for repairing road and bridge; but it was not till the early part of the present century, that any system of permanent improvement was adopted.

The matter was agitated at the annual town meeting in 1807, and a committee chosen to consider it. They applied to the Legislature for aid, and reported the next year, that "the Legislature passed an act, enabling the town to raise and turnpike said causeway and to take toll in the manner and under the restrictions in said act mentioned."

With this act the committee were dissatisfied, and they advised the town not to proceed under it, but to petition the next General Court for an amendment, dividing the causeway into shares, to be subscribed by individuals -- the inhabitants of Hampton having the first right of subscription -- the town of Hampton taking as many share as it might desire. This was done, and an act more satisfactory than the former one was passed, December 23, 1808. It was entitled: "An act to incorporate a company by the name of the Hampton Causeway Turnpike Corporation." The town voted to take ten shares, and chose Col. Benjamin Shaw its agent.

In 1810 the town chose a committee of five, to adjust matters with the Turnpike Corporation, relating to marsh and gravel taken in building the road. The joint committee of town and corporation made their report in December, which was accepted, and is, in substance, as follows:

That the town of Hampton shall relinquish to the Turnpike Corporation all and every demand now standing, and that said town shall gravel the turnpike from the northerly end to the middle bridge on the causeway over the sluiceway, annually, to the acceptance of the directors of said Turnpike Corporation; and that in consequence thereof all and every inhabitant of Hampton shall pass the turnpike at all times free from the payment of toll of any kind whatever. Signed, John Dearborn, Jonathan Marston, Abner Page, Jonathan Marston Jr., Joseph Towle Jr., committee of Hampton; and Samuel F. Leavitt, Nathaniel Drake, Theophilus Sanborn, Committee of T. Corporation.

The whole length of the turnpike was two and one-fourth miles, extending from the house of James Leavitt, Esq., in Hampton, then kept as a tavern, to that part of Hampton Falls usually called "the Hill" -- a considerable portion of it built on the old road-bed. A new road, a few rods in length, was built on the upland, near the tavern, to cut off a sharp corner; and a part of the road across the marsh, including the bridge over Taylor's river was located a little below the old road.

The turnpike, when completed, was a safe and easy road for travel, far superior to the old one, and would have been satisfactory to the public, if it had been a free road. There was, however, much dissatisfaction and complaint on the part of travellers and teamsters, since in using the turnpike, they were subjected to a toll; and various expedients were resorted to, in order to evade the payment. A slight bridge, call the shunpike, was thrown across the river, at a considerable distance about the turnpike, over which many people passed, preferring a circuitous route, which was free, to a nearer and better one, subject to a toll.

At the February term of the Superior Court, held in Portsmouth in 1817, the town was presented by the grand jury, for not keeping in good repair that portion of the turnpike within the limits of Hampton. The town chose David Towle and James Leavitt, Esq., as agents to defend the town against this indictment; and chose Richard Greenleaf, Tristram Shaw and Samuel Dow, a committee, to agree with the Turnpike Corporation respecting the expenses that might be incurred in consequence of the indictment.

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