Post Offices and Postmasters of Hampton, NH

(1805 to 2012)

Compiled by John M. Holman, Hampton History Volunteer

Lane Memorial Library, Hampton, N.H.

"The Old Postmaster"

"Mr. James Leavitt, Esq. was Hampton's first postmaster, the first appointed for Hampton by the United States Government about the year 1812. The Hampton post office was in the front hall or entry of the old General Moulton mansion . Previously to his appointment, Exeter and Portsmouth were Hampton's nearest post offices. After Mr. Leavitt's appointment, the mail stage-coaches passed through our town both ways, east and west, daily, within a few feet of the post office door. Mr. Leavitt died in the late thirties (1830's), having been Hampton's postmaster more than 25 years consecutively.

"Our next postmaster was Edmund Toppan, Esq. He retained the office quite a number of years in the dwelling house, then his home, now the home of his grandson, Mr. Christopher G. Toppan. The office proper was partitioned off in one corner of the large room in the Northwesterly corner of his dwelling house.

"During Mr. Toppan's administration as postmaster, the four hour stagecoach, as mail carrier for Hampton, was retired, being replaced by the steam cars. The mail bags previous to this change, much of the time were all but empty, and nothing for the postmaster to deliver. The bags arrived on time daily, were unlocked and shaken. If there was no mail to be delivered, the office door would be locked and the postmaster gone.

"The writing paper of early times was of very coarse quality and the goose quill was the only pen. With no postage stamps, and no prepared self-sealing envelopes, the letters and mail bundles were often found in shape and manner of being done up as diversified and unique as were Uncle Elisha's bundle of groceries. The price of postage was determined and placed on the letter by the postmaster as part of his service. In the old days, it took 3 days to send a letter to Boston, and get a return answer to New York nearly two weeks later. It cost 6 1/4 cents to New York and 25 cents to Washington. The letter was usually its own envelope and if the letter was on two separate pieces of paper, an extra charge was made."

The above was gleaned from a clipping in a scrap book kindly loaned by Mr. Frank Leavitt. It was printed in the Exeter News Letter of 1902, under a heading "Hampton Reminiscences" and signed E. (Enoch) P. Young.

No doubt the descendents of our early postmasters have some interesting "Reminiscences" to pass on too.

(The above reportage appeared in Vol. XVII, No. 9 on Thursday, February 26, 1925 in The Hamptons Union .)

Postmasters Since 1805 - 2012

Hampton Post Office

Rockingham County, New Hampshire

[The following list courtesy of
David C. Kenyon, Officer-In-Charge, Hampton Office]

James Leavitt Postmaster 11/27/1805
Justus Jones Postmaster 7/01/1820
Humphrey C. Cogswell Postmaster 3/31/1826
James Leavitt Postmaster 12/24/1828
George Gilman Postmaster 6/19/1834
Edmund Toppan Postmaster 3/31/1836
Edwin B. Lane Postmaster 8/08/1849
John A. Towle Postmaster 9/16/1853
Joseph W. Dow Postmaster 4/12/1861
Charles G. Marston Postmaster 6/06/1864
Jonathan T. Moulton Postmaster 12/11/1865
John C. Perkins Postmaster 8/25/1869
George T. Crane Postmaster 2/23/1875
John M. A(c)kerman Postmaster 2/23/1877
Robert F. Laird Postmaster 7/29/1885
Myron W. Cole Postmaster 5/28/1889
Charles M. Batchelder Postmaster 7/17/1893
Myron W. Cole Postmaster 8/21/1897
Carrie L. Cole Postmaster 5/11/1900
Ernest G. Cole Postmaster 11/14/1901
Fred E. Sanborn Postmaster 1/5/1916
Herbert Perkins Postmaster 1/18/1922
Edwin L. Batchelder Acting Postmaster 8/9/1934
Edwin L. Batchelder Postmaster 1/16/1935
Samuel A. Towle Acting Postmaster 10/31/1955
Samuel A. Towle Postmaster 6/20/1956
George S. Downer Acting Postmaster 11/30/1964
George S. Downer Postmaster 6/22/1966
James T. Cressey Officer-In-Charge 5/29/1981
John C. Burrington Postmaster 9/18/1981
Eleanor M. Collins Officer-In-Charge 3/31/1983
Gordon A. Hurley Postmaster 6/25/1983
Dennis G. Fernald Officer-In-Charge 1/20/1989
Paul G. Young Officer-In-Charge 4/7/1989
Dennis G. Fernald Postmaster 7/15/1989
Paul A. Sullivan Officer-In-Charge 12/20/1994
Patricia M. Hersey Postmaster 7/22/1995
William A. Vezina Officer-In-Charge 10/31/1995
John M. Hallinan Officer-In-Charge 3/7/1996
Willliam J. McQuade, Jr. Officer-In-Charge 6/13/1996
William L. Grady Postmaster 7/20/1996
John M. Hallinan Officer-In-Charge 4/11/2000
Kathryn M. Dircks Officer-In-Charge 10/19/2000
Ellen F. Baggett Officer-In-Charge 1/11/2001
Kathryn M. Dircks Postmaster 4/21/2001
David C. Kenyon Officer-In-Charge 6/8/2001
Kathryn M. Dircks Postmaster 11/2001
Kevin Fosman Postmaster 10/5/2012

Hampton Post Offices

1889 to 1932The Merrill Block, High Street
1932 to 196220 Depot Square
1962 to 1985369 Lafayette Road
1985 to present48 Stickney Terrace

The U.S. Post Office in the Merrill Block, High Street

When William Merrill built his commercial block on High Street in 1889, one of the first tenants was the post office, as pictured above. Wesley Cole is standing in the doorway of the post office. Next door was the Batchelder Meat Market, then E. G. Cole's groceries.

The Post Office in the Merrill Block after 1900

Ground Broken For New Post Office On Depot Square

From the "Washington Letter"

By F. J. Young, Washington Correspondent

The Hampton Union & Rockingham County Gazette

Thursday, September 3, 1931

Ground will be broken for the new Post Office at Hampton, N. H. this week (September 3, 1931) according to word received in Washington today. The new office, of brick and concrete, located at [20] Depot Square will be ready for the Government to take over on a ten year lease sometime in October. Thomas Cogger is building this office and it will be one of the most modern second class offices in the State. Mr. Cogger will also have charge of carrying the mail to and from the Boston and Maine station to the Post Office.

New Post Office At Hampton Opens For Business To-day

The Hampton Union & Rockingham County Gazette

Thursday, January 21, 1932

After many weeks of delay owing to slow delivery of the large safe, the post office today opened for the delivery of mail. Much time is being taken to acquaint box holders with the new combination dial system.

New Post office At Hampton Modern In Every Respect

The Hampton Union & Rockingham County Gazette

Thursday, January 28, 1932

Hampton's new post office situated in the Depot Square is in full operation. The building owned by Thomas Cogger was built by Harold E. Noyes of Hampton, contractor. It is of brick, 48 ft. long and 28 ft. wide, one story with trussed roof, finished in oak, with all new furniture which is of oak, maple and white wood. The new safe weighing 2400 pounds, has special compartments for the counter money drawer, the latest type counter scales for weighing parcel post packages, also the combination dial lock boxes are some of the up to date features in the new office. Irving Brown of North Hampton did the masonry, Arthur Brown of Hampton installed the Weil-McLane vacuum steam boiler and plumbing, A. J. Morse did the electric wiring and John H. Davis of North Hampton did the painting.

U.S. Post Office and
Boston & Maine Railroad Station
in background at Depot Square,
Hampton, N.H. in 1938.
[Photo by Barbara Colt - "A Colt Photo"]

Depot Square in winter
Depot Square in winter.
U.S. Post Office in center background in 1938.
[Photo by Barbara Colt - "A Colt Photo"]

[Footnote: The name of the newspaper was The Hamptons Union until January 9, 1930, when Edward S. Seavey Sr. purchased the newspaper from the founder, Charles Francis Adams and the "S" was dropped from the name. Coming to Hampton in 1899, Mr. Adams founded The Hamptons Union which was "published in the interests of Hampton, North Hampton, Hampton Falls, Rye and Seabrook". The first edition hit the news stands on June 14, 1899 with Volume 1, Number 1 issue. An original first edition of The Hamptons Union is on display at the Tuck Memorial Museum at 40 Park Avenue, Hampton.]
Hampton Post Office in 1970
1962 to 1985 -- 369 Lafayette Road

1985 to present -- 48 Stickney Terrace

"Hampton: A Century of Town and Beach, 1888-1988"

By Peter E. Randall

Chapter 15 -- Part 14

[An Excerpt]

Post Office

In 1885, pharmacist Frank Laird was named postmaster , changing around his shop on Exeter Road to accommodate the postal business. When William Merrill built his commercial block on High Street in 1889, one of the first tenants was the post office. In 1889, Myron Cole, a clerk in the Lane store, was appointed postmaster (replacing Laird, who had moved out of town), moving into the Merrill Block and selling newspapers and confectionery items along with his postal work. Cole lost the position in August of 1893 to Selectman Charles M. Batchelder, who was appointed when Democrats came into power. The latter left his clerk's position with the Lane store and purchased the goods that Cole had been selling in the post office. With a change in politics in 1899, Cole was back as postmaster, but he died the following year, at age 42, and was replaced by his wife, Carrie, who received a permanent appointment in 1900.

In the September 16, 1899, edition of the Hampton Unions , Police Chief Clinton J. Eaton commented that he thought "Uncle Sam's mail service" set a record when he sent a letter to Georgetown, Massachusetts, on the 11 A.M. train and got a reply back on the 5 P.M. train.

A major change in postal operations occurred in July 1905, when the rural free delivery (RFD) carrier service began, with George E. Garland and Clinton H. Durant as carriers. Delivery service had been tried on an experimental basis before this time. The Grange was largely credited with promoting the RFD system, which provided delivery service to rural locations, not to the Village area. (Household and business mail delivery in the Village did not begin until 1946.) A 1905 Union editorial boasted, "With a good steam and electric [railroad] service, rural free delivery, grocery teams which call at the house two or three times each week, to say nothing of the butcher and the baker, the resident of Hampton has the advantages and none of the disadvantages of the dweller in the city. Hampton needs only to be advertised to draw many here for residence."

The Beach had morning and afternoon mail delivery, and those who wanted to post a letter between times could hand it to a grocery-store delivery man, who mailed it for them at the post office. The uptown delivery was once a day, but one could go to the post office and pick up mail at any time, many times per day, as people often did.

Following Carrie Cole, who died in 1901, was Ernest G. Cole, half brother of Myron. Despite his many business responsibilities, Cole remained postmaster until 1912, a period when the Beach rapidly expanded and the amount of mail increased accordingly. As an example of post office growth, total receipts for 1902 were $1,836; by 1911, receipts increased to $5,000. August 1911 was a record-breaking month at the post office, with 72,700 one-cent stamps sold. These stamps were used for postcards, and it was not unusual for Mr. Garland to bring in more than 2,000 cards gathered at his store at one collection. A tremendous number and variety of postcards was issued at the Beach, as any of Hampton's current postcard collectors will agree, but the post office often had to remind card buyers that stamps were required. Many unstamped cards were found in the mail collections. The growth of the Beach also had an effect on the postal receipts. August 1907 receipts were $1,001; August 1911 totaled $1,284; December 1907 receipts were $219, and December 1911 income totaled $305.

In 1912, the Hampton post office handled 25 mails per day, including mail leaving by trolley at 7:10 A.M. and others coming and going by trolley and train until 5:40 P.M. Beach patrons received two deliveries per day for four months, a service offered to only three other areas in the country. The post office also had a savings department, the first depositor being Charles M. Batchelder, member of the Board of Education and the former postmaster.

Cole was followed as postmaster by Fred Sanborn (1912-22), Herbert Perkins (1922-32), and Edwin L. Batchelder (1932-55). Batchelder was followed by Samuel A. Towle, the first local postmaster for whom postal work was a profession. Before Towle, postmasters were businessmen who often were helped to their position through political connections. Towle, a descendant of an early Hampton settler, spent his working years with the post office, first as a railway clerk sorting mail on the train, then in Boston, and, beginning in 1924, in the Hampton post office. He became assistant postmaster in 1942, was appointed postmaster by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1955, and served until his retirement in 1964, a year when the Democrats were controlling the national political scene. During the next 18 years, he donated more than 2,500 hours of service to Exeter Hospital. An active member of the Meeting House Green Memorial and Historical Association and a member of the Planning Board, Towle died in December 1988.

Towle was replaced by businessman and Democrat George Downer, who was postmaster from 1964 until he retired in 1981. Downer was the last local postmaster to receive an appointment through congressional action. He was replaced by John C. Burrington, a career postal employee who had worked his way up from positions in Maine, Vermont, New York, and Massachusetts. Current postmaster Gordon Hurley replaced Burrington in 1983.

A new brick post office building was opened in the square adjacent to the depot in 1932 * . That year, receipts were $12,275. When that building became overcrowded, the search began for a new location, and Hampton plunged into one of its many minor controversies. New construction was delayed for a time as local residents tried to decide on a proper site. After a proposal for a Winnacunnet Road site was rejected, a compromise location at 363 Lafayette Road was selected, and the new building opened in 1962. Receipts at that time had risen to $84,000. In 1963, the price of a first-class stamp was increased from 4 to 5 cents, and the ZIP Code program began. Continual growth necessitated another new post office, which opened in 1985 on Stickney Terrace. A first-class stamp cost 25 cents in 1989.

New Zip Should Make Sorting A Snap

By Dick Winn

Atlantic News , Tuesday, May 3, 1994

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News ]

DELIVERING THE GOOD NEWS -- Al Colombo, a Hampton Mailman, delivers the mail along his route on Saturday, April 30, 1994.
[ Atlantic News Photo by Heather Gibbons]

HAMPTON -- In an effort to better serve the customers in the Hampton area, the Postal Service will be issuing a new Zip Code for its post office boxes. Effective May 1, 03843 will go into effect and will be the new Zip Code for any postal customer who has a Post Office Box in Hampton.

When interviewed on Friday, Hampton Postmaster Dennis Fernald said enthusiastically, "We are pleased that we will be able to make this change. It will go a long way in improving how we hand our customers' box mail. This change allows us to take advantage of the latest technology available to us. Presently, post office box mail is sorted in Portsmouth to each particular section (encompassing 100 or more boxes.) the new zip code will allow us to put letters into sequence in the box section (1, 2, 3, etc.) using our new, automated, sorting equipment. The sorting of mail will be far more efficient. We understand the difficulty involved with this change," Fernald added. 'To keep costs down, many customers have stationary and labels preprinted in volume iwth the present zip code. We want to work with them so that they have the time to exhaust their supplies, but we ask that they include the new Zip Code plus the additional for digits (their box number), when they reorder."

For assistance with mail, Fernald advises Hampton customers to call the Hampton Post Office at 926-3350. He offers the same advice should they be concerned about adequate time to exhaust present supplies.

"History of the Town of Hampton"

(From Its First Settlement in 1638, To the Autumn of 1892)

By Joseph Dow

Chapter 32 -- Part 3

[An Excerpt]

Post Office Store -- Stationery, Confectionery and Tobacco

A small store of this nature has for many years been kept by the existing postmaster, ever since the incumbencies of Edwin B. Lane and John A. Towle, merchants. Postmasters Dow, Marston, Moulton, Perkins, Crane and Akerman kept the office and store successively in Lane's building, opposite Capt. David A. Philbrick's house; Robert F. Laird following, in the John P. Towle building. Myron W. Cole, the present postmaster, removed the office to Merrill's block in July, 1889, and continues the usual "post office store," in connection with it.