Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: The Public Roads / The Ring / Drake Side Road / Winnicut Road

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The Ring

In the early records of the town, we find but little in regard to roads, except the one from the town across the salt marsh to the Falls side, whence there appears to have been at an early day a continuous road to Salisbury. No doubt there were roads near which families dwelt, especially around the Meeting-house Green, where were laid out many of the house-lots of the early settlers, on which they built their houses and had their homes. Gradually, settlements were extended to a greater distance from this center; and their extension may have been so gradual, that for a considerable time, individuals kept the roads between their several homes in a passable condition without applying to the town for aid, so that no record was made of the work done. On the 9th of June, 1697, at the request of several of the inhabitants, the selectmen ordered that a highway ten rods wide should be laid out round the Ring, for town and country. The road, built of the width here ordered, remained a ten-rod road almost ninety years; but on April 11, 1786, the town voted to reduce the road on the north side of Ring-Swamp, to five rods in width. June 11, 1750, a committee, consisting of Mr. Philip Towle, Ens. Jonathan Leavitt and John Nay, was chosen to prosecute any person that should fence in any portion of the ten rod road around the "Ring," or any other way in the town. March 19, 1765, Voted, "That the selectmen shall have liberty to take in some part of the common or road into the Burying yard, if they shall think proper."

It would be interesting to trace the gradual spreading out of new farms in all directions, and the laying out of new roads as necessity required. Of many of these roads, however, there is no record; and of others, a mere mention in these pages is deemed sufficient.

The same vote which ordered the narrowing of the road on the north side of the Ring, included also the narrowing to five rods in width, of the continuation of this road towards the beach, "from Joseph Johnson's (Young's Corner) to Ezra Johnson's" (Leavitt's corner).

Drake Side Road

Long before this, in 1652, the town laid out "a way from mill brook to Goodman Page's upland," so as to be most convenient "for the coming into all theyre meadows." This was through that part of the town now known as "Drake Side," from Drake's bridge, as the road now runs, to Robert F. Williams', and so down the lane in front of his house to the meadows.

Winnicut Road

We read the brief records of doings in early times, and pass them by, with scarcely a thought of the arduous toil involved. Here, for instance, November 30, 1657, "It is ordered that the surveyors of the highways shall take as many men with them as they shall think meet, to cut a convenient way for sleds to pass from the North hill bridge to Winnicut River." What days of labor! what diligence with axe and pick and spade! tall trees and tangled undergrowth must be cleared away; rocks must be removed and ground levelled, before even "a convenient way for sleds" can have been cut.
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