Hampton's Streets Lined With History

Hampton 350

1638 -- 1988

Rockingham County Newspaper -- July 8, 1988

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[The following articles are courtesy of
Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Taking A Tour Through Hampton's Past

By Kathy Bailey

Contributing Writer
Hampton's pioneer settlers, led by the Rev. Stephen Bachiler in 1638, first saw the area by boat as they sailed up Hampton River from Newburyport. Settling-in included planting gardens, building houses and a church, and the felling of the giant pines which covered the area. They had little time for leisure, and none for sightseeing.

The modern tourist or local history enthusiast can visit Hampton with much greater ease. His only requirements are a pair of good walking shoes and a reliable car. And, perhaps, Roland Paige.

Paige, 77, is an expert on Hampton history. A native of Newburyport, he moved to Hampton at a young age. He remembers the town as far back as the trolley era, and as acting curator of the Tuck Memorial Museum, he's studied the rest.

He has given up driving, but is willing to ride along with others as he points out Hampton historical sites. History is real to Paige, and he speaks of Stephen Bachiler and Goody Cole as though he's just had tea with them. He is equally at home in modern Hampton, as a shade tree planter, cemetery trustee and Boy Scout volunteer.

'First High Ground'

Winnacunnet Road, Lafayette Road and Park Avenue are the original three roads of the settlement, Paige says. "This was the first high ground they came to," he notes of the original settlers in 1638. The Town Common now Founders' Park, was established here. The area is rich in history, including the Jackson-Emery House (1731), 47 Park Ave., and the Toppan-Towle House (circa 1733), 234 Lafayette Road.

Haunted House

The General Jonathan Moulton House, Lafayette Road, is a large yellow house with two chimneys. If apocryphal stories are to be believed, it has as colorful a history as any house in Hampton. The house, dating from the Revolutionary Period, is called the "Haunted House" because after Moulton's death, subsequent owners claim to have heard the thump of his cane and rustle of his wife's silk dress.

There's also a legend that Moulton sold his soul to the devil for a boot full of gold. He allegedly cheated the devil by cutting off the sole of the boot, so it was never full. Paige believes Hamptonians created the second legend out of spite, because they were jealous of the prosperous Moulton. He was probably the wealthiest Hampton man of his time, with a store, a real estate operation and several slaves.

Tuck Memorial Museum

This area also contains the Tuck Memorial Museum and Meeting House Green at 40 Park Ave. On its grounds, one may visit an 1843 schoolhouse in the process of being restored. Paige carefully unlocks the small, white building. The school contains several antique desks, including a weathered bench from around 1750. Old books have been shelved to make the school as authentic as possible. Paige reads the title of one helpful volume, Frank Thoughtless and His Brother Ned. Coat pegs, candle sconces and a tin dipper add to the authenticity. A dunce stool stands in the corner.

Eunice 'Goody' Cole

Meeting House Green is an attraction in itself with flowering shrubs, old millstones, and a monument to Eunice "Goody" Cole, the alleged Hampton witch.

Founders' Park, across the street, is an attractive common with. stones representing Kingston, Hampton Falls, Rye, Seabrook and North Hampton, all part of the original settlement. Smaller stones represent early families of the town. Paige notes that his family has a stone, marked "Page."

"(The family) added the 'i' later," he says.

Early School

Paige's memory doesn't go back to the adding of the "i," but he does remember an earlier Hampton. He used to ride the electric car, or trolley, out to Hampton Beach. It stopped near his house, but he used to walk to the next stop and save a nickel. "That way I could buy an extra root beer," he recalls. The school Paige attended is gone, but others have been recycled. The Hampton District Court, on Winnacunnet Road, is housed in a restored 1888 schoolhouse. Paige bemoans the fact that other schools, such as the original Hampton Academy, have been torn down. "We should save the old schools, and use them as community centers," he says.

The Congregational Church, also on Winnacunnet Road, dates, as an organized body of believers, back to 1638. The present building is its sixth, built in 1843. The church, with a weathervane on its spire, is still used for services. A bell from the fifth Congregational Meeting House (1797-1844) may be seen on the lawn.

Pine Grove Cemetery

Pine Grove Cemetery
Pine Grove Cemetery on Winnacunnet Road is a must for the history
buffs. [Staff photo Bill Murphy]
The Pine Grove Cemetery, dating from 1654, is a "must" for history- lovers, according to Paige. It is located on Winnacunnet Road, on the right going toward the beach, and is a treasury of quaint old stones and genealogical information. Paige says he's seen people from the West and Midwest stop at Pine Grove to trace their ancestors.

It is also the final resting place of Edward Gove, who rebelled against the Colonial governor and cooled his heels in the Tower of London. "His friends got him off," Paige notes, "but he arrived back in the Colonies penniless." For some reason, both Hampton and Seabrook claim Gove as a favorite son, but Hampton has his stone.

The Moulton Homestead, circa 1813, 222 Winnacunnet Road, looks peaceful on a summer day, with its fresh white paint, smooth lawn and clipped hedges. It is presently owned by the McDermott family.

The Godfrey Dearborn House (1648), a short drive along the Exeter Road, is considered the oldest frame house in New Hampshire, and is presently owned by the Alie family.

Boundary Markers

Those willing to take another short drive shouldn't miss the Bound Rock, dating from 1657, a former boundary between Massachusetts and New Hampshire, now marking the boundary between Seabrook and Hampton. It is located on Seabrook Beach.

Norsemen's Rock, at Surfside Park, [it presently is located on Meeting House Green at 40 Park Avenue] Winnacunnet Road, is another interesting rock allegedly dating from 1000 A.D., when Norsemen explored North America.

Old Grist Mill

The Old Grist Mill
The Old Grist Mill, at the lower end of
High Street, near North Beach, dates
from 1688, but was remodeled in 1815.
[Staff photo Bill Murphy]
The Old Grist Mill, at the lower end of High Street, near North Beach dates from 1688, but was remodeled in 1815, Paige says. The building has its original timber, and some of the original millstones may be seen on the Tuck Museum grounds. Two quarts of meal paid for the grinding of one bushel of corn, Paige says. Because of vandalism, the building is kept empty and locked, but the town appropriate money each year to keep up the outside.

Hampton's famous salt marshes were an attraction for the early settlers, Paige notes. The salt marsh hay was harvested and used to feed animals. There are still "plenty" of salt marshes, Paige says. They can be seen behind most Hampton Beach hotels, and Lafayette Road is dotted with them. A Salt Marsh Conservation Park is located between Tide Mill Creek, Hampton River, and the Boston & Maine road right-of-way. It was established during the town's 325th anniversary celebration, with gifts of salt marsh land from local families.

Paige is also on the Shade Tree Commission for Hampton. He recalls a "grand old elm" from his childhood, so big its branches met those of another elm in the road. "Kids liked to lie under it," Paige remembers.

Passing through a business block, he notes that "this whole area used to be lined with trees." A summer shower peppers the car windows as Paige grows thoughtful, remembering other summers and another Hampton.

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