How Hampton Citizens Lived In Colonial Times -- Part 6
- 1776 -- 1976 -
How They Worked
Jobs Connected With The Sea
Many Hampton men held jobs connected with the sea. Some of them were ship builders, others were fishermen and several served on the crews of vessels which plied the waters between Hampton and other ports.
[Right: The tallest trees were marked to be saved for ship masts. In the days prior to the Revolutionary War, it was illegal to cut such a tree unless it was saved for the mast of a British Navy vessel. Such laws angered the colonists and were among the reasons why they rebelled against Great Britain.]
Nehemiah Heath was only one of several Hampton sea captains of long ago. Many men from this area, including mariner Jasper Blake, died at sea.
More than 300 years ago, Sargent's Island was assigned to fishermen. They built docks and sheds for curing fish. During the 1700's, Ebenezer Shaw and other fishermen lived on the island. Later, many whale boats set out from Hampton.
Hampton fishermen caught cod, hake, haddock, mackerel, eels and even halibut. Some of the cod they caught weighted about 60 pounds. Lobster was also plentiful in days gone by.
Several Hampton lads left home before their 15th birthday to serve as cabin boys on the Hampton-based schooners. It was a dangerous, adventuresome life.
Jacob Currier, baker
Benoni Fogg, weaver
Gershom Griffith, trader
Rev. Ebenezer Thayer, minister
Henry Moulton, potter
Edward Tuck, carpenter
Jonathan Moulton, mason
Ephraim Marston, brewer
William Moulton, cooper
Edward Moulton, joiner
Oliver Whipple, attorney
Ebenezer Sanborn, book-binder,
tanner and shoemaker
Samuel French, clothier
Anthony Emery, doctor
William Lane, tanner
Josiah Moulton, Justice of the Peace
& Inferior Court Judge
during the revolution.
Travel By Land
The first stagecoach passed through Hampton on Monday, April 20, 1761. It was on the way from Portsmouth to Boston and had room for three passengers. It departed Portsmouth on Monday and returned on Friday. The round trip cost six dollars. Those were the days when a 90-mile trip took 72 hours, a distance than can easily be driven by car in two hours today.
Stagecoach passengers and people traveling by horseback were put up overnight in taverns or inns. The weary traveler was given a hearty meal and comfortable bed; likewise, the horses were fed and bedded down for the night.
Lieutenant Jonathan Leavitt kept such a tavern in Hampton for many years, probably opening it shortly after his 1735 wedding with Mary Rand. Here, his 10 children were born. His son, Thomas Leavitt, operated the tavern until his death in the early 1790's. His wife then carried on the business until daughter Nancy and her husband, Josiah Dearborn, took it over. A newer building was erected in the 1800's and it eventually became the Hotel Whittier By then, many people were also coming on the railroad.
Travel By Water
In reaching out toward the rest of the world, Hampton looked seaward. Many Hampton residents of the 1770's owned small sailboats. Larger sailboats, called packets, made regular trips to Boston and New York, bringing back supplies to Hampton. Often, they carried as passengers Hampton residents who had business in the big cities or wished to visit friends and relatives in coastal cities along the Atlantic seaboard.
In those days, travel by water was slow and uncertain. It depended upon wind and weather. Storms, uncharted rocks and pirates sometimes made it dangerous.
Boston in less than a week.
Two hundred years ago a 16-ton sloop could make a round trip to Boston in less than a week.
Col. Christopher Toppan, who was born in 1735 and died in 1818, was a large Hampton ship owner. His fleet included fishing, as well as trading and passenger vessels.
The Johnson family of Hampton also included many seafaring men. James Johnson was on a fishing schooner which disappeared in 1768. Captain Ezra Johnson, master of his own vessel both during and after the Revolutionary War, was a noted mariner and an authority on the art of navigation.