Hampton Reminiscences -- Part I

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By Enoch P. Young

(July 3, 1824 - January 11, 1910)

The Exeter News-Letter

August 28, 1903 -- Vol. LXXIII - No. 35

- Part I -

EDITOR, Exeter News-Letter. -- Having passed my eightieth birthday, recollections, such as but few that enter life's pathway are privileged to enjoy, pass in review. Of the 29 that started life with me in Hampton, in the year 1824, but five of us now remain, Samuel Cutts, David Locke, Jeremiah Locke, Enoch P. Young, and Hannah J. (Garland) Lamprey. All others have passed on to their rest, some in early childhood, others scattered all along the pathway. Our school days, then soon to men and women grown, till as heads of families, we were busy with life's activities. Old age has now caught just a few of us, waiting and watching for the chariot that takes us to our rest. Having filled the places designed, I trust, for us in this life, we then enter the "to-us-now-unknown-mysteries-of-God, trials and disappointments of life all ended.

What changes have taken place in the material world in my day! Probably no 80 years in the world's history can equal it. Eighty years ago, there were neither rail cars nor ocean boats propelled by steam. Electricity was not so much as thought of for a propelling force, now so tamed that it can be harnessed at man's dictation, an almost unlimited force, in power and speed, leaving steam hardly so much as secondary in power and [unreadable] in speed. Telegraph messages sent around the world, and answers received in an hour's time. Telephone talking with friends hundreds of miles away as easily as though present with you in the same room, the voice recognizable. Now the wireless telegraphing across three thousand miles of ocean, with no fixtures, apparently, to guide its destination is received accurately and promptly.

Seventy-five years ago, the utilities of coal were as an unknown problem. The first vessel load of coal from Philadelphia, delivered in Boston, was said to be by a Hampton man, Capt. John Johnson, then running a coasting packet. Let Dow's History of Hampton tell the rest, page 512:

"Schooner, William Tell, built at Hampton Falls, for the coasting trade, took from Philadelphia the first cargo of coal ever brought into the Boston market. On her first trip, lightning struck both masts, which had to be replaced; but notwithstanding the bad omen, she had a prosperous career. She made fifty-two trips one year from Hampton to Boston and return, one each week. But she went down at last, and her "bones" lie to-day on the bottom of Hampton river."

She's now to be seen at low tide, a short distance above the electric railroad bridge. When I was a young man in middle life, she lay on the clam flats against the river's bank on the Hampton side of the river, then a high abrupt thatch bed or bank. Boys could easily jump from a boat's deck on to the river bank. Now that river bank and remains of the William Tell (which I believe has never moved from where it first grounded) is a wide river, with deep and swift running waters, where then was the most productive, as well as extensive part of Hampton clam flats.

A sample of this first load of coal, in size, as I remember, about half so large as the ordinary water bucket, was for years on exhibition at Captain Johnson's brother Elisha's grocery store (now at 258 Winncunnet Road, Hampton).

With the many seeming impossibilities happening the past 80 years, may we well ask: What next? Wonders as great, I believe, are in the near future. Another Moses, it may be, shall stretch forth his hand (not parting the waters) but by methods, liberal and economical, show the way that the gases of which water is composed can be separated, and used for fuel. Properly handled such gases are capable of intense heat.

Then let man's inventive genius construct for family and other uses implements whereby to take water from our wells, and brooks, or even the ocean, separate its gases and burn such as fuel. Water is given the world in such liberal supply that then no Rockefeller now combination of coal barons will be able to hold successfully a field monopoly.

We know not why, but ever since man had a history, comparatively few of the human race exist in excessive ease and luxury, while the teeming millions exist always in excessive want of common comforts and necessities. God, who is father and maker of us all, has decreed that by the sweat of our brow shall we eat our bread. We all come into this world bringing nothing with us, by the same open door, king, nabob and peasant alike. God's plan still holds good. Patience for any other plan has made no application. If the going, in some instances, seems to have been the matter of choice, in the coming, we had no choice. Black in central Africa or white in the emperor's palace in Russia, was God's plan, not man's. Made in His own image and likeness, He has provided us all, without partiality, the air we breathe. His sun shines, furnishing light and warmth alike for us all. Water is among His free gifts, found in all zones. If it can be an easy and economical transformation, chemical or otherwise, be used for fuel, myriads of the human race will bless the discoverer. Another added mystery, perhaps, of the approaching millennium.


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