Hampton's "Drake-side" District School

"Views and Reviews .... Of Old Rockingham"

By Rev. Roland D. Sawyer

"Hampton Union" -- May 9, 16, 23, 1957

The "Drake-Side" District School House as it looked in 1920, was situated at the junction of Drakeside Road and Towle Farm Road. The school house burned to the ground July 3, 1930 as a Fourth of July prank by unknown pranksters.


Dow's History (of Hampton), genealogical volume, gives seven pages to a list of the several generations that came from the loins of Robert Drake born in Devon, England 1580; was at Exeter in 1643 and earlier and was one of a group of Exeter people who came to Hampton in 1651.

That year he bought a house and land from Francis Peabody in Hampton center. His two sons were named Nathaniel and Abraham.

Nathaniel married a widow at Little Harbor and eventually settled in Portsmouth.

Abraham remained on his father's estate and was an active citizen and was Marshal of old Norfolk County 1661 to 1673.

His family was large and a grandson named also Abraham, born 1654, married Sarah, a daughter of Morris Hobbs, and the young couple settled in the section ever since called "Drake-Side".

Some of his children married and also located in their own comes in the same section. The section was sufficiently numerous that in the period from 1735 to 1790 when the town was each year voting money for schools outside the center it gave money to Drake-Side. Around 1750, schools were established at "Drake-Side" and "Bride Hill" for the children in each little locality.

Families boarded the teacher, paid expenses in part, and received aid from the annual town meetings.

Farmers from Hampton center and northerly sides had the town lay out and support a road thru Drakeside to the Marshes where each year they cut every spear of marsh grass for their oxen, cows and horses.

The town also built a bridge over its large brook, which had been dammed by the Drake family for their saw-mill.

The Drakes also had a small brick yard there.

Drake-Side was one of those little centers of life where a hard-working, brave, ingenious group of families made up a little democracy. Three of the Drakes served in the Indians wars and the Revolution.

School were first kept in a room of one of the homes and when the first little district school house was built, I have no record; nor do I know if the building above was the first or a second school house. It was built before 1838.

Beside the Drakes, there were families of Towle, James, Palmer, Lane, Coffin, Williams, Elkins, Shaw, Dearborn, Brown, all member of the District who sent their children there.

The legislature of 1885 voted to end the district schools and starting with 1886, each town has charge of the affairs of all its schools and started holding an annual school meeting. In March on the Saturday following the Town Meeting in 1885 the members of the district assembled ins the little building for the last time and raised their money to pay a teacher and set the number of weeks the school should keep.

After March 1886, the old-time prudential committee was a thing of the past and the annual report of teachers and affairs is found in the Town Report.

Drake Side lost in population, the old Drake Mills became the Coffin Mills, and some time before 1910, school suspended there, for in that year, it re-opened.

Mrs. Frank E. James and Samuel A. Towle, Jr. and his sister have given me some information which I will use next week.

(To be continued in Part 2) R.D.S.


Mrs. Abbie (Perkins) James has loaned me the record book of this school from March 1838 to March 1885, the latter date being the last year of school districts in the state, for the legislature of 1885 made the town one district to start January 1886.

Names of citizens which appear as active from 1838 to 1860 are as follows: Simon Towle, Ebenezer Lane, Samuel Bachelder, Capt. Edmund James, Daniel Towle, Edward Shaw, John James, George W. Drake, Samuel Drake, Aaron Coffin, Esq., Joseph Coffin, Ebenezer James, R. Freeman Williams, Edward Shaw, John P. Elkins, Morrill M. Coffin, Joshua James, A. D. Shaw.

In these years the offices held were varied among the above citizens.

School each year had a summer and a winter term. Female teachers taught in summer term from 3 to 4 months, salary $5.00 per week. Men taught a winter term of [?] to 10 weeks, four months starting in each November for $6.00 per week.

In 1852 Cyrus Brown of Kensington taught in winter, Miss Mary E. Tabor in summer.

In 1854 Winborn A. Shaw (later a minister) taught, he was also from Kensington.

Teacher's salary was about all expense in summer, but in winter fuel made the bill bigger. Supplying the wood was passed around but the price was always the same. $1.67 per cord for pine cleft; $2.17 for hemlock; $3.00 for oak and maple, always delivered.

Larger school boys sawed the wood with a buck saw. Their wage was 50 cents per cut. Part of the time they had a stove that took a two foot piece, later a stove that required the wood to be cut twice.

In 1861 (the Civil War was coming on), a new group of names appear, and the annual meeting of 1861 was called by the selectmen of Hampton, viz Jonathan M. Lamprey, Abraham Fogg and Joseph A. Dearborn.

The new names were Jacob T. Brown, Frank B. Brown, Samuel A. Towle, Thomas B. Shaw, Cyrus M. Drake, J. P. Hoyt, Aiken Coffin and John A. James.

Female teachers were Miss S. H. Towle, Martha M. Drake, Miss Johnson, Miss Green, Clara Philbrick and Alice Lamprey.

Male teachers were Elder D. W. C. Durgin, C. A. Bean and L. E. Marston.

In earlier years,s the cost of the school years was around $180. Later it reached $250 per year.

In 1875 the school house was enlarged, repaired, new land secured from R. F. Williams. For this, the town appropriated $500. the expense ran over to $508.52. The land was $15.

From then on, the town aided the district by a yearly amount of $167.00.

Thanks to the picture above, and the record book, we can get an accurate picture of Hampton School District No. 6, which was sits designation after 1875; and of the little independent movement before that date. Next week some further information.

(To be continued in Part 3) R.D.S.


Reaching out from Hampton Village the first direction was along the road to Salisbury, Newbury and Ipswich to Hampton Falls Hill. By 1654 several homes were built along that line beyond Taylor River.

The next reach was toward Portsmouth and Dover. 1703 Benjamin James was in his new home up the Drakeside Road which he had been building in 1702 after coming from Newbury and marrying Susanna Smith, a daughter of John Smith, Hampton's first tailor.

The last owner there was Joshua James, whose name appears as active in Drakeside school affairs, and whose heirs sold the place to Irving N. Campbell of Manchester in 1931.

Last Saturday Mr. and Mrs. Drysdale kindly took this writer around in their automobile to have marked out the homes of the several families who sent their children to Drakeside School from around 1750.

The first aid voted the district by the town was 1757, at which time school was probably kept in either or both of the two old houses, the James-Campbell house or the house now owned by Ida Williams.

Whether the little house that appears in our cut was the original school house, or a second one built, we have no evidence.

Mr. and Mrs. Drysdale first took me to the school-house site, the other side of the new toll-road from the Joshua James home.

Then we went down to the opening of Drakeside road, where the Drake families opened up road from the village by the Amos Towle house. Their land ran down to the Moulton and Towle land, how far up it ran and how far up their house stood we cannot say. The few early homes up at the school-house site evidently went there via the ancient Guinea Road, now called Towle [Farm] Road, which branched off the Exeter Road. Drake names that appear on school records begin with Samuel, then George W., then Cyrus M. and last Irving.

The original Towle house stood in the yard of the present splendid Drysdale estate, the new house having been built by Samuel A. Towle, Sr., seventy years ago or so. In the old house had lived Simon and his ancestors and also a Daniel. Then the present home of Mrs. Abbie Perkins James and her sons. From this house and the older Joshua James house, we find citizens of the family by names of Ebenezar, Edmund, John and John A.

Opposite was the home of Jacob Thayer Brown and his son Frank, whose activities run down well toward today. Frank bought the old Coffin Saw Mill and put in a circular saw.

Then up the older road by the homes of Samuel Bachelder and Mary to where stands the fine large house of Aiken Coffin, and just beyond which stood the old house of Aaron, and in one of the other lived Joseph and Morrill.

Then to the Coffin Mill, built on the large streak of the Taylor River that starts up in Kensington. What a bit of natural beauty we see here. Few spots like it anywhere to be found.

Ebenezar Lane lived farther up toward Bride Hill. J. P. Hoyt took part in affairs but had not children. The homes of the Shaw families, Edward, A.D., and Thomas are gone. So with John P. Elkins.

This leaves us only the Williams family. The new Williams home burned, but the old house, which is near to the Joshua James house in age, still stands. I hope some day to take a snap shot of it and gather up information from the aged Ida Williams who now lives in Hampton village.

It is an interesting house, built by a Coffin, going into the Tuxberry family by marriage, then into the Williams family by marriage, called "The Old Williams" house, it may go back beyond 1750.