Historical Society Will Try to Restore Document
By Amy Kane
Hampton Union, Tuesday. Februaru 19, 2008
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
[Amy Kane photo]
NORTH HAMPTON -- An antique map of Hampton mistakenly donated to the wrong town and discovered in a corner of the North Hampton Public Library may prove to be a treasure map for Hampton historians.
The map portrays the town as it was in approximately 1830. The Hampton Historical Society has maps from 1806 and 1841. Susan Grant, North Hampton library co-director, signed a Deed of Gift Friday morning and transferred ownership of the one-of-a-kind map to the Hampton Historical Society.
The words "North Hampton" appear prominently at the top (or north) of the map, which is probably what led to the donation error, said Grant.
[Amy Kane photo]
Grant, who recently assumed co-director duties at the library, discovered the map rolled in a tube when she was cleaning her office in December. Ruth Perkins, wife of Judge John Perkins of Hampton, had donated the map in 1988, a month before the previous director began work, and it had never been catalogued.
After researching the map's origins and possible historic value, and with permission of the library trustees as well as North Hampton Historical Society, Grant donated the map to the Hampton Historical Society. Three members were on hand to accept the gift -- executive director Betty Moore and board members Douglas and Elizabeth Aykroyd.
"It's a very exciting find to have a unique map like this," said Elizabeth Aykroyd. "It helps fill in the picture."
The society intends to apply for a "Moose Plate" conservation grant through the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources to fund restoration of the linen-cloth-backed paper map, which is ragged at the edges, brittle, damaged by water stains, and has a hole in one portion.
"Even with that chunk out of it, there is so much we can glean," said Moore.
The map is not dated, but a Portsmouth conservator determined the paper to be from the 1820s. North Hampton archivist Peter Parker told Grant the writing style suggested the 1830s. The Nudd Salt Works is featured, so the map cannot be older than 1827, the year the salt works was constructed, said Aykroyd.
Moore said she thought the map might have been commissioned for the town's 1830 census. Each house that existed then is drawn on the map, oriented in its true direction, and labeled in small script with the owner's name. Hampton River and Marsh are marked in blue and pale green, and the beach is yellow.
Churches and public buildings are shown, as well as multiple brick-colored schoolhouses that would have been within walking distance of students in each part of town.
Several familiar features have different names on the map. What local historians know as the Grist Mill is labeled "Clapboard Mill." What is now Winnacunnet Road, and was known to have been called Beach Road, is labeled "Sandy Lane."
"This is like a slice of history nobody knew existed," said Moore.
If it can be successfully restored, the map will be displayed at Tuck Museum, in Hampton. Moore estimated the cost of restoration to be roughly $1,500. In the meantime, Moore said the historical society may ask Gerry Miller of AntiqueMapsNH.com to scan the map so copies would be available for the public to view.