John D. Fogg: A Salt Marsh Farmer

A Biography By Eric N. Small

'Recollections Of A Salt Marsh Farmer'

By John D. Fogg - 1983

A Biography of John D. Fogg

John David Fogg was born on August 9, 1891, in a country farmhouse on Fogg's Corner in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire. He was the fifth child of George A. Fogg and Sarah G. Batchelder, descendants of the first settlers of the town of Hampton, New Hampshire. John's mother was the ninth generation of Stephen Bachiler (156I1660), the principal founder of the settlement of Winnacunnet (now Hampton) in 1638, and his father was the seventh generation of Samuel Fogg (about 1628-1672), who moved to that town in the early 1640s.

John was raised in a typical 19th century rural New England home. His parents had grown up on a farm,their families being devout Protestants and placing much emphasis on hard work and education. His family was the epitome of the traditional New England family. They were all close to one another. Their activities involved everyone from grandparents and grandchildren to aunts, uncles and cousins.

The Fogg family had lived for generations in the neighboring town of Seabrook, New Hampshire, and they were Baptists. John's grandparents, David and Jane M. Fogg, joined the Baptist Church of Hampton Falls and Seabrook around 1840. When the Seabrook members formed the First Baptist Church of Seabrook in 1859, they removed their membership to the Seabrook church, where they worshipped at the Old South Meeting House.

The Batchelders, on the other hand, had lived for generations in Hampton Falls. They were staunch Congregationalists. John's great-grandparents, Reuben and Betsy Batchelder and Stephen and Dolly Green, were among the founders of the Evangelical Congregational Church of Seabrook and Hampton Falls, called the Line Church, in 1835. Reuben was a deacon for twenty-three years and Stephen was a deacon for fifteen years. John's grandparents, John and Mary I. (Green) Batchelder, joined this church about 1840. Mr. Batchelder was a moderator, clerk, treasurer, warden, auditor and deacon.

John's parents, likewise, followed the religious dedication of their ancestors. George was treasurer of the society of the Line Church for forty-one years and Sarah, who joined the church in 1873, served as treasurer of the society after her husband's death, and as clerk of the church and secretary-treasurer of the sunday school.

John was the youngest in his immediate family. He had two brothers, Frank Batchelder and Chester Newell. and two sisters, Mabel Webster and Marion Izette. Frank was a photographer and machinist, pattern-maker. He never married. Chester was a jeweler, who married Viola L. True in 1914. They had two children. Mabel married Howard T. Moulton in 1911. He was a poultry farmer and they had one child Marion married Charles B. Edgerly in 1918. She died six days after their marriage.

John was the most prolific of the five children. He married Mary 0. Evans of Kensington on June 24, 1914. They had four children: George Austin, 1921; Austin Chase, 1922; Jane Isabel, 1924; and John Edward, 1928. His wife died at the age of fitt) in 1941.

The values which John grew to accept mirrored those of his ancestors. He accepted many of the civic and religious responsibilities of his parents, particularly through his involvement with the Line Church and Dearborn Academy.

In 1905, he became a member of the Young People's Christian Endeavor, and in 1910, he served as secretary-treasurer of the church school. It was not until 1924 that he became a member of the Line Church, where he was a warden for nine years and a trustee for thirty-five years.

In 1952, the Line Church joined with the Seabrook Baptist Church and Smithtown Methodist Church to form the Seabrook Federated Church. During this time John was a trustee and moderator. When the Federated Church became the Trinity United Church in 1968, he was given the distinction of being named an honorary deacon and moderator.

The area of Seabrook known as Seabrook Village was located a short distance from the Fogg home. In 1853, the Dearborn Academy was built there from the proceeds of the estate of the late Dr. Edward Dearborn, a physician in that town from 1800 to 1851, and a founder of the Line Church. The academy was established for area youth, giving preference to those whose parents were connected with the Line Church. As a result of their membership in the church, John's family became active in the affairs of the academy.

In 1868, John's grandfather, John Batchelder, became a trustee and several years later his mother, Sarah, worked as an assistant to the teacher. His father, George, also became a trustee in 1883. Upon the death of his father in 1918, John was named to replace him on the board.

Sometime around the turn of the century, the academy was no longer able to maintain a school on its own. Thereafter, it was occasionally used as a schoolhouse by the school districts in Hampton Falls and Seabrook. It also served as the parish hall for the Line Church and as a community center for the residents of Seabrook.

When the academy building was sold in 1960, a scholarship was established from the proceeds. John continued as a trustee of the new scholarship foundation and in his later years was president until his death.

During his youth he learned the ways of farming from his father and brother Chester. Beginning in 1897, he went annually with his family and others to the Hampton Falls and Seabrook marshes in mid-August to harvest the salt hay crop.

To supplement his living as a farmer, John's father worked as a shoemaker and painting contractor. John learned the trade of painting and became a well-known and reputable house painter among the area towns. During his later years he was subject to the crippling effects of arthritis, but he continued to paint well into the 1960s.

In addition to his religious and educational duties, he was elected to the Hampton Falls Board of Selectmen from 1926 to 1939, serving in an office which his grandfather and great-grandfather had held in the previous century.

In 1964, he became a charter member of the Historical Society of Seabrook. He contributed his talents as a painter by restoring the floor and painting the exterior of the old Boyd School in that town. He donated many family items to the Seabrook museum. Among the many gifts were equipment used by his folks on the marshland several sets of bog shoes, a whiffle tree, a salt hay drag and a ditching knife. In addition, he gave his father's cobbler's bench, his grandmother's sampler of 1833, his great-grandfather's blacksmith account book, a corn planter and sheller, a quilt rack, cow bell, oil lamp and many other household items.

At about the same time John cleared a wooded area next to a hay field that he owned in Hampton Falls. This land became a picnic and recreation site, used by the Trinity United Church and by various organizations in Hampton Falls and Seabrook. He designed and built a swing type slide for the youngsters that traveled several hundred feet from a platform at the top of the field to the picnic area near the brook. In 1974, he presented a deed of this land to the Hampton Falls Volunteer Fire Department, who in turn named it the John D. Fogg Park. He designated this park for the residents of the two towns.

The Trinity United Church honored him with a party on his 90th birthday after the church service on August 9, 1981. He had the distinction of being the oldest member of the church and the only member whose ancestors had formed two of the churches now comprising the present one - the First Baptist Church of Seabrook and the Line Congregational Church. He was given a gold watch which was to be passed on to the oldest male church member. He died nine days later on August 18 of an unexpected illness.