John D. Fogg: A Salt Marsh Farmer: Introduction

by Eric N. Small

'Recollections Of A Salt Marsh Farmer'

- 1983 -


John D. Fogg spent the last three winters of his life transcribing onto paper the experiences of his earlier life on the marshland in the towns of Hampton Falls and Seabrook, New Hampshire, in the kitchen of my grandmother's home on Rocks Road in Seabrook.

His inspiration for writing this book developed over a period of time. Mr. Fogg was interested in local history and was an active charter member of the Historical Society of Seabrook.

In the late 1960's the Public Service Company of New Hampshire began its purchase of upland in Seabrook and the adjoining marshland in that town and in Hampton Falls for the construction of a nuclear generating plant. John sold the Fogg marsh to this company in the early 1970's.

During this period the Historical Society of Seabrook sponsored a special program on salt haying in which Mr. Fogg lent for display many articles used in the harvesting process. In addition, Sheridan L. Dodge, a master's degree student at Boston University, spent some time taping John's thoughts about his past activities and knowledge about the marshland.

Several years later the John Deere Company produced a short movie about salt haying in which Mr. Fogg played a major role, relating the history of the harvesting process which had been passed on to him from his father and grandfather.

The most profound event that brought Mr. Fogg to write this history was the actual construction of the Seabrook Station at the end of the Rocks Road. With the clearing of the plant life and the excavating of the land there, he was struck by the reality that this area, of which he had such fond memories, was being destroyed before his eyes. He wanted to preserve for posterity the life he had known there as a farmer during his early years.

At the age of 87 he started writing this book. Once his garden was harvested and his house was closed up at Hampton Falls, he would begin the task of recording his recollections of the salt haying times. During these years he resided with my grandmother, Abbie A. Small, who assisted him daily with the spelling and minor editing of his manuscript. He was also helped by William Ackroyd of the New Hampshire Farm Museum, who supplied him with a typist and reviewed his writings periodically.

The book was completed and ready for the printer by mid summer in 1981. A price for the printing had been obtained and the text had been re-typed a final time. However, John died at the Exeter Hospital on August 18. Prior to his death he had asked me to follow through with its publication. I agreed.

Upon reviewing the manuscript I decided that several additions should be made to the book. I compiled a biography of Mr. Fogg and his family, along with a series of photographs. I also prepared a genealogical chart of all the people mentioned. In an age in which the public is obsessed with learning about its roots, I felt the book would be more meaningful by showing who exactly John was referring to, I therefore, have included a section which lists the individual's dates, parents dates, and residence at the time in which they are spoken of in the book.

I would like to thank the following people for their assistance with this effort: Martha R. Batchelder; Annie R. Beckman; F. Herman and Laura M. Beckman; Lucy C. Blodgett of the Kensington Library; Huldah Fogg; Seabrook Town Clerk Virginia L. Fowler; Hampton Falls Town Clerk Shirley Gustafson; D. Everett and Beatrice Palmer; Helen E. Skinner and Lydia M. Gould of the Brown Library. Seabrook; Donald N. Small for his extensive genealogical research of Seabrook families; and Roland N. Woodwell.

I would also like to thank those individuals who so kindly lent photographs for this publication: Martha R. Batchelder; F. Herman Beckman; Elizabeth H. Bragg; Hubert R. Brown; Leavitt W. Brown; Jere Chase; Jean M. Eaton; Mildred Evans; Grace, Harvey and Huldah Fogg; the late Martha Green: Stanley A. Hamel, Gertrude B. Humphrey; Dorothy L. Knowles; Natalie Pond, Doris Schermpf; Abbie A. Small; and Donald N. Small. Special thanks is extended to Peter E. Randall for taking and developing photographs of the documents appearing in the text, and to the town of Seabrook for loaning its town records.

The majority of the prints were taken by John's brother Frank B. Fogg, between 1900 and 1914. The negatives to these prints are in the possession of Stanley A. Hamel, who allowed us to use them. I was able to date many of Frank Fogg's prints from his diaries which were lent to me by Paula Fowler of Seabrook.

Recognition is also due to Evelyn Fowler and Stanley A. Hamel for their assistance in editing and proof-reading the manuscript and to Margaret Wetherington for typing several sections prior to its submission to the publisher.

This publication would not have been possible if it had not been for the generosity of Stanley A. Hamel. He was the executor of John D. Fogg's estate and donated his entire executor's fee for the cost of this publication. Credit should also be given to John E. Fogg who contributed the money his father had set aside for the book's printing.

The only changes made to the original text were the rearrangement of some passages and the reorganization of the book into sections. The narrative sections are presented entirely in the words of John D. Fogg.