Hampton Historians, Inc.

Chapter 23 -- Part 8

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Hampton Historians, Inc., the first town organization established for purely historical purposes, was formed in December 1974 to promote the historical heritage of the Town of Hampton through educational campaigns. The corporators accepted the following offices: Arthur J. Moody, moderator; Harold E. Fernald, Jr., assistant moderator; State Representative Ednapearl F. Parr, clerk; Selectman James F. Fallon, Jr., bursar; Mildred P. Wood, historian.

HHI has concentrated its efforts in the area of research and writing articles for the press, statewide newsletters, and town reports, as well as providing photos for the covers and interior sections of the annual town and Hampton School District reports. Many historical and genealogical inquiries received by the town office (and the Hampton Beach Area Chamber of Commerce) have been answered by HHI. It would seem that a great many United States citizens are descended from Hampton’s early settlers, especially Reverend Stephen Bachiler, a forefather of Presidents Nixon and Ford.

A number of historical items have been given to HHI, mostly in the pictorial and ephemeral realms. Hampton-related items have been given to the Tuck Museum and special purchases have been given to the town and the Lane Memorial Library -- including, to the latter, six microfilm spools containing the town clerk’s records from 1638 to about 1918, as photographed by the Mormon Church in 1950 and 1976.

HHI has assisted in projects of two state commissions on which Moderator Moody was a gubernatorially appointed member (bicentennials of both the American Revolution in the 1970s and the U.S. Constitution in the 1980s); the New Hampshire Old Graveyard Association’s cemetery inventory; the New Hampshire Federation of Women’s Clubs’ "Heritage Tour" itinerary; and brochure/directory photos and other input for local businesses.

HHI promoted the special Hampton postmark on the Sunday, March 12, 1978, birthday anniversary of Jane (Appleton) Pierce, the only First Lady of the United States born in New Hampshire.

HHI asked the town to return the "First Public School in N.H." (1649) roadside marker to the center of town from its storage place in the state highway sheds near Interstate 95. Also, at the request of HHI, the large 1841 street map was retrieved from the cellar of the town office building and placed on the wall of the selectmen’s meeting room.

Although HHI placed an article before the 1977 town meeting for the establishment of a town historical committee -- an official town body to carry out important, ongoing history-related functions that were not being done -- funding questions and other objections led to its defeat. However, part of such a commission’s functions were assumed by the Municipal Records Committee, which was established in early 1986 through the interest of Town Clerk Jane Kelley and the Board of Selectmen. Promoted as early as 1977 by HHI, Moderator Moody was the MRC chairman the first three years, with Harold Fernald also a member.

Town meeting in 1975 did agree with an HHI-sponsored article, instead of one proposed by the Winnacunnet Cooperative School District that would have abandoned a key section of Landing Road leading up to Meeting House Green. Although private citizens rose to the occasion to save the town’s first roadway, the incident pointed up the need for a permanent town body that would be "ever watchful."

HHI is an active member of the 145-member Association of Historical Societies of New Hampshire; Moderator Moody was president in 1979-80. There have been few October 14 Founder’s Day ceremonies in this half of the twentieth century, but HHI participated in the ones held in 1975 and 1978. Also, HHI placed a commemorative wreath at the First Settlers’ Monument on October 14, 1988, upon the 350th anniversary of the permanent settlement of Winnacunnet Plantation, which became the Town of Hampton the next year, 1639.

  -- Arthur J. Moody
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