How Hampton Citizens Lived In Colonial Times -- Part 3

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- 1776 -- 1976 -

Hampton In The Revolution

In Colonial Times

The spirit of liberty exhibited itself early in Hampton. At meetings early in 1774, they discussed claims England asserted over their rights and property, noted submission might reduce Americans to a state of slavery and revolved it was unlawful for Great Britain to tax them without their consent. Deciding to oppose the taxes, they were willing to risk their lives in support of their cause. They formed a Committee of Correspondence, participated in a state convention, and Hampton chipped in 3 pounds, 13 shillings to help send two New Hampshire delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

At the outbreak of war their chief concern was their exposed coastal location. Men quarded the beach by night and patrolled the coast in whale boats by day. Late in 1775, Hampton sent men to reinforce the Continental Army at Cambridge, Mass. Meanwhile, local militiamen were recruited to defend nearby Portsmouth against possible attack. In 1776, 174 Hampton men signed an oath to defend this land against the British. Only two persons refused to sign.

There were no big battles at Hampton, but men from here served in some of the most famous encounters of the war. Hampton soldiers fought at Peekskill, Ticonderoga and Saratoga in New York and aided in defending Rhode Island.

Religious Life In Colonial Times

Freedom to worship as they pleased is what drew the original settlers to Hampton. Led by the Rev. Stephen Bachiler, an outspoken old minister who had fought for his religious beliefs first in England, then in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, these people founded Hampton so they could worship as they wished.

In the 1700's, the church was still a very important part of the lives of Hampton residents and numerous descendants of Rev. Bachiler continued to serve here and in neighboring communities as deacons and ministers.

The Sabbath was more strictly observed in New England than anywhere else. It began on Saturday evening and lasted until the sunset on Sunday. During this period, no games or pleasures of any sort were allowed. You could not even carry a package or do any work, except that which was absolutely necessary, such as putting wood on the fire to keep it from going out, or milking the cows at the regular milking time.

Every colonist was obliged to attend Sunday service. The church was usually a large wooden building with rows of straight, uncomfortable, uncushioned benches. The people had to sit perfectly still and listen to the sermon. Many of the ministers had an hour glass in the pulpit. It took an hour for the sand to flow from the upper chamber to the lower. Often the hour glass was turned over several times as the minister talked on, cautioning the people to lead good lives and describing the rewards and punishments which awaited people after death. Yet, most people enjoyed church and wouldn't stay away even if they could.

[In early colonial times, a drummer beckoned the citizens to worship. Later, churches had bells. The worshippers at their village churches (or meeting houses) of the early 1700's, always kept their weapons close at hand in case Indians should attack during the Sunday morning services. Church was an important part of the lives of these people.]

Homes Of Early Hampton Residents

The first settlers of Hampton probably dwelt in hastily-constructed one-room wooden shelters that would protect them from the cold winter. At one end was a fireplace. As soon as time, weather and finances permitted, a man would then add on another room on the other side of the fireplace. Eventually, the attic, reached by a ladder, was expanded to a second floor and a narrow, winding staircase installed. Inside, the huge wooden beams were often left exposed and the walls were of plain plaster. Small windows and low ceilings prevented loss of heat during the cold winters.

In the 1700's, Hampton streets were lined with frame houses, some of them quite substantial in size. Many, such as the Godfrey Dearborn home, had been added to and enlarged, both on the ground level and by adding a full second story. However, the many farm homes dotting the countryside on the outskirts of the village remained quite plain. Even families with several children often lived in a home which contained two or three rooms on the main floor and two sleeping compartments in a low-ceilinged upstairs loft.

The Dearborn House
The Godfrey Dearborn House
[The Godfrey Dearborn house at 73 Exeter Road. Parts of it were built soon after
the founding of Hampton. One of the oldest wood frame buildings in Rockingham
County, it is now (1975) the home of Dr. and Mrs. Raymond E. Alie.]

Many of the homes still standing in old New England towns date from the 1700's when sea captains, shipbuilders and merchants built large homes in imitation of styles then popular in England. Many of them were brick structures covered with neatly sawed clapboards to keep out the cold. These homes are distinguished for their beauty, simplicity and good taste. The General Jonathan Moulton home in Hampton is typical of this type of house.

The General Moulton House
The General Jonathan Moulton House
[General Jonathan Moulton's Hampton home was built before the
Revolution and is now (1975) owned by Bates College of Lewiston, Maine.]
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