Earthquake in New England

from "Little Stories of Old New England"
By William D. Cram

Hampton Union & Rockingham County Gazette, November 4, 1937

October 29 and 30 were two memorable days throughout New England, 210 years ago. At Hampton on Sunday, October 29, 1727 Reverend Nathaniel Gookin, then serving as pastor for some reason unaccountable to him felt strongly some impending danger that he preached from the topic "The day of trouble is near." Saying in an introduction "I do not pretend to a gift in foretelling future things, but the impression that these words have made upon my mind in the week past has been such that I could bend my thoughts to prepare a discourse on any other subject. It may be a particular warning designed by God of some day of trouble is near, perhaps to me, perhaps to all of us." In a few hours, New England's most terrible earthquake followed showing that his fears had been founded.

Quoting from his account of the happening "The Earthquake" which was felt throughout the country took place in the night between the 29th and 30th of October, 1727, and was attended with a terrible noise, something like thunder. The houses trembled as if they were falling; divers chimneys were cracked and some had their tops broken off. It was especially so in the South Parish, where the hardest quake seemed to be on the hill, where the house of God stands. Three houses on that hill had their chimneys broken, one of which was the house of the Rev. Mr. Whipple. When the shake was beginning, some persons observed a flash of light at their windows, and one or two saw streams of light running on the earth; the flame seemed to them to be a bluish color. The sea was observed to roar in an unusual manner. The earth broke open, near the south bounds of the town and cast up a very fine bluish sand. At the places of the eruption there now continually issues out considerable quantities of water; and for about a rod about it, the ground is so soft that a man can't tread upon it without throwing brush or something to bear him up. It is indeed in meadow ground, but before the earthquake it was not so soft but that men might freely walk upon it. A spring of water, which had run freely for four-score years, and was never known to freeze, was much sunk by the earthquake and frozen afterwards like any standing water."

Stephen Jaqques, of Newbury, wrote," On the 29th day of October between ten and eleven it being the Sabbath day night there was a terabel [sic] earthquake. The like was never known in this land. It came with a dreadful roreing [sic], as if it was thunder, and then a pounce like grate guns two or three times close one after another. It lasted about two minutes, it shook down bricks from ye tops of abundance of chimnies [sic], some almost all the heads. All that was about ye houses trembled, beds shook, some cellar walls fell partly down. Stone walls fell in a hundred places.

In Haverhill the force of the earthquake shook the buildings and did minor damage. In all places the shocks continued during the second day.