Changes in Family Living Through the Centuries

Official Souvenir Program Book

January 1 - December 31, 1988

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By Ruth G. Stimson

Would you have liked to live in Hampton in the 1600's, 1700's, or the 1800's? Some may say "yes"; and others, "no"; or "I don't know." Let's stop and think about family living conditions then. Hampton's charter was granted "to induce men to build houses on 60 lots." Rev Stephen Bachiler and his parishioners voted: "No person can come without our consent?" They came by shallop to Hampton with its tidal estuary, vast salt marshes, and large pines.

Now let's consider the living conditions in the 16OO's with:

Log cabin sketch

Need to build one's cabin with hand tools, saw logs in a pit, dig a well, cut fuel, hunt, fish , and clear land.

Need to raise food and find wild types, salt fish, and build stone walls.

Need to fence animals, swap labor when needed, to barter, raise sheep, spin yarn and weave fabrics for clothing and bedding, and make candles by dipping or in molds.

Need to cook over a fireplace, attend church, buy some furniture pieces and metalwares, and import some goods via mast ship from England.

Need of men to farm or have a trade or profession, serve on a jury, vote and pay taxes to support the town, the minister, and school teacher. John Legat was hired (1649) to teach "both males and females to read and write" He was paid quarterly in corn, cattle, and butter.

Use of ridicule and punishment in a pillory or stocks, by whipping or rock throwing for failure to attend church, for loafing, disorderly conduct and vagrancy.

Need to serve in the militia, to shoot wolves, to protect family members during the Indian Wars, and to avoid smallpox, a real health threat to all.

Need to conform to a religious creed voted by the town, as witchcraft was a crime as Goodwife Eunice Cole learned. She was imprisoned for many years. Quakers were whipped, and even exiled from Hampton.

Would you have liked to live in the 1600's? Would family living conditions in the 1700's have been any easier with:

Hope of earning a bounty for scalping a hostile Indian during a raid?

Hope for heat in the Meeting House after walking to church? Construction of larger 1 ½ story and Half Houses with fireplaces, crude laths, and wrought iron nails; building of some garrisons against raids, and use of high pulpits and hour glasses in some Meeting Houses.

Use of indentured apprentices to learn trades and to care for orphans and wards.

Concern over NH-Massachusetts boundary decision and election of town officials.

Women, servants, and slaves still could not vote at Town Meeting. Interest in stagecoach trips to Boston by 1761 with a $3.00 fare, a week's pay. Sunday travel was forbidden. Mail came weekly via stage and post rider.

Development of taverns with a bar, lodging, food, and week-old newspapers.

Annoyance and worry over the Stamp Act (1765) as every document, legal paper, diploma, license, and sheet of a newspaper was taxable.

Grave concern over a tax on tea and report England would not export gunpowder to the colonies.

Land grant to Jonathan Moulton by Governor Wentworth in return for the gift of a fat ox.

Patriot sketch

Training of males, 16 to 60, in a militia with a monthly drill and building of powder houses in some towns along New Hampshire's seacoast.

Proclamation of a general Thanksgiving on Nov. 6, 1770 by the Royal Governor. Use of recreation to relieve stress: turkey shoots, wrestling, hand ball, cards, cock fighting, and playing musical instruments.

Use of privateering at sea at risk of capture and hanging.

Participation as volunteer Minute Men and soldiers in the American Revolution during the war with England. Injuries and casualties resulted and some smallpox. Diphtheria claimed lives on the homefront also. All these situations affected Hampton people in the 1700's. Would you have liked to live in that century?
Now let's think about family living conditions in the 1800

Construction of 2 ½ story houses with panelled walls, stoves, flat irons, lamps, and later some hand painted murals, stencilling, or wall paper.

Production of most of a family's food and other needs from the land and through home industries: shoes, quilts, blankets, and reseating chairs.

Development of ox cart paths and turnpikes from Indian trails along rivers and use of horse stalls at some Meeting Houses and Town Halls.

Hampton Academy sketch

Use of up-and-down saw mills, fire marks on houses, fire brigades with buckets, and later hand pumpers and horse-drawn vehicles; tall clocks and church bells to tell time and to call people to fight fires.

Co-educational enrollment at Hampton Academy.

Concern over War of 1812 and visits of President James Monroe and Lafayette to the seacoast area later.

Development of NH mills to manufacture cloth, leather, and wood products with employment of men and women, and increase in dairying and processing of granite.

Start of Hampton's tourist business by Mr. and Mrs. Moses Leavitt at North Beach with catering to fishmongers and fishermen.

New developments in recreation: Rockingham County Agricultural Society, social libraries, dramatic clubs, educational lectures or Lyceums, almanacs, Godey's Ladies' Book, Chickering grand pianos, and high wheel bicycling.

Harvesting of ice and shipment by clipper ships and schooners on the high seas.

Beginning of the westward movement by New Englanders in covered wagons.

Introduction of 5 and l0¢ postage stamps, and start of education of NH blind and care of the mentally ill.

Adoption of NH's minimum wage and child labor laws.

Enlistment of 33,000 NH persons in the Civil War, and Memorial Day observance. Arrival of Jane Appleton Pierce, a Hampton woman, as First Lady in the White House with her husband, President Franklin Pierce.

Introduction of the telephone, telegraph, and barbed wire, plus the Atlantic Cable in Rye; beginning of a consumer economy versus producer.

Arrival of the railroad through Hampton, and the development of the Isles of Shoals as a tourist attraction off shore under the influence of Celia Thaxter and the idea of a competitive enterprise at Hampton Beach.

Introduction of the trolley in Hampton, bicycling, horse-drawn fire engines, wagons, and buggies; the Grange and Rural Free Delivery of mail, and Women's Clubs.

Development of Henry Ford's Quadricycle and the Stanley Steamer to get around faster than on foot, bicycle or horseback over dusty, unpaved roads.

Building of ornate Victorian houses, use of colored glass in homes and churches and addition of vestries to churches.

Development of electricity in homes, industry, and Exeter Street Railway, and women's use of Lydia Pinkham's vegetable compound.

Sale of the Hampton Union for 3¢ at news stands or $1 per year. Irene Burnham and Beatrice Oulton collated and hand folded the paper's ten pages at the turn of the century.

Such were family living conditions in the 1800's. Would you have liked them?
The 1900's saw faster and faster changes. Individuals had to continue their education daily to adjust to a changing environment in family living

Introduction of silent pictures at the Hampton Town Hall. Adeline Marston was the pianist. Later came talking pictures, home movies, television and transistor radios.

Introduction of Victrola phonographs, stereo players, cassettes, discs, and video photography plus colored photography, colored slides, and a deluge of mass media via newspapers, magazines, and the mail.

Introduction of self-starting cars and trucks. This invention emancipated women to work outside home, and rising standards of living encouraged the trend.

Introduction of diesel trains and propeller driven planes. Fannie Bierman of Hampton flew from York Beach to Rye Beach in 1929. Later came jet planes at Pease Air Force Base, space vehicles in the sky, and satellite dishes in some dooryards.

Dedication of a Marine Memorial to NH's war dead lost at sea with a quotation by John Gay.

Passage of NH and federal legislation affecting people, their homes, income, and property in many ways.

In war-time, rationing of food, tires, metals, and rubber goods along with bread enrichment, price controls, War Bond drives, blackout drills, Civil Defense regulations and conservation of home equipment.

Learning to do with less as a challenge to some families and an achievement for others after living through a depression earlier.

Introduction of home freezing of foods, supermarkets, zip codes, Civil Rights Act, and equal opportunity for all in employment.

Recognition of need to conserve NH's and USA's natural resources through Earth Days and emphasis on ecology. Conservation of acreages in Hampton's salt marshes versus real estate development in a flood plain zone.

Concern about wars in Korea and Vietnam with some missing in action; land, water, and air pollution by acid rain; rights of the unborn, pros and cons of nuclear power, inflation, mobile homes, condominiums, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome or AIDS.

Increase in crime, traffic, use of credit by individuals, businesses, and institutions including the federal government.

Need to evaluate goals and priorities in education under public funds and to simplify family living conditions to reduce stress in the late 1900's.

Computerization of business operations and use in the home. With information doubling every seven years the gap is wide between knowledge and application at present to meet people's needs for food, clothing, shelter and health.

Need of individuals with faith in democracy as a way of life and appreciation of freedom with responsibilities in the home, community, state, and nation.

Who knows what the next century will offer Hampton citizens?

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