General Jonathan Moulton

Born: July 21, 1726 - Died: September 18, 1787

From a Paper by Sarah Hobbs Lane -- Ca. 1893

The ancestors of General Jonathan Moulton were among the traditional fifty-six inhabitants that came from Ormsby in the county of Norfolk, England, who first settled in Hampton, then called Winnacunnet in 1638.

The names of John Moulton and Thomas Moulton, sometimes spelled Multon, appear in a partial list of these original settlers which are found in Belknap's History of New Hampshire, Volume 1, page 37. Originally, John and Thomas had adjoining lots. Thomas sold out and moved to York, Maine. His portion of the property is now on the site where Walter Palmer now lives. John's share of the property was transmitted down to Daniel Moulton who owned the property now belonging to Mr. and Mrs. James Hutchings, who finally sold the greater part of it.

Jona. Moulton, the son of Jacob, was a descendant of the above John Moulton and was born in Hampton, July 21, 1726 and died in Hampton in 1787 at the age of 61 years. He was a large proprietor in lands and several flourishing towns in the the interior of this state which owe their early settlement to his exertions and influence. This fact is mentioned in "Farmer and Moore's Gazeteer" published in 1823.

When Jonathan Moulton was only 37 years of age, the town of Moultonboro was granted to him, and named for him by the Masonian proprietors on November 17, 1763. Colonel Moulton developed into a great character with unusual ability as the years went by and had a splendid military bearing. He was by this time already noted for his distinguished service which he had rendered in the French and Indian Wars and as early as 1745 had taken part in the siege of Louisburg, against the French, ending with the Ossipee tribe along the northernly borders of Moultonboro. All records of his military promotion cannot be found but we read that at Exeter on August 24, 1775, the Congress voted to make him Colonel of the third Regiment of the Militia in the Colony and went to help fight at the Battle of Saratoga, New York with 167 men from Hampton. The next year the Colonel was made a delegate to the New Hampshire Constitutional Convention.

The state of New Hampshire has erected a monument on the battlefield of Saratoga to the New Hampshire men who fought a decisive part in that famous military engagement as they went to the aid of General Gates. A six ton granite boulder was dedicated at the 150th anniversary of the battle. I want to speak in this connection with the battle of Saratoga of two flags.

The two oldest flags, known to have been carried by New Hampshire soldiers in the Revolutionary War, were discovered in England a few years ago. They were later bought and presented to the state by Mr. Edward Tuck. Both of these flags were made from silk and were about five feet square. One of them bears the motto, "The Glory, Not the Prey," and the other flag has "We Are One" embroidered on it. These New Hampshire banners were captured by General Burgoyne in the New York campaign. Later, they were recovered by Colonial troops at the Battle of Saratoga, called by many historians the turning point of the war. However, these two flags of the 2nd New Hampshire Regiment did not return to New Hampshire, but were taken to England.

In his unit there were many men from Hampton and surrounding towns who marched the entire distance from Hampton. They went by way of Worcester so that the march route was 300 miles in length.

Among the commissioned officers from Hampton in the Revolution appear the names of the following families that have been prominent in the history of the town: Bartlett, Brown, Drake, Dearborn, Elkins, Fogg, Garland, Godfrey, Hobbs, James, Lane, Leavitt, Marston, Moulton, Perkins, Philbrick, Sanborn, Taylor, Toppan, Weare and Wingate.

Many stories of the adventures of Colonel Moulton during these bloody periods have been preserved and transmitted to the present time enough to fill much space in this brief sketch.

One incident I have selected from many is thus related. An octogenarian in the vicinity of Moultonboro relates that during the Indian Wars, Colonel Moulton went out with a scouting party from Dover. After numerous adventures, they met and attacked a party of six Indians near a place now known as Clark's Landing on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee, all of whom fell in the skirmish which ensured, with one exception. The Colonel had a large dog, which after the fray was over, he put on the trail of the escaped Indian. The dog ran off on the ice, the party following. As they approached the entrance of what is now Green Bay, they saw in the distance the dog had the Indian down and when they arrived on the spot the Indian was dead. These active services in fighting the Indians in these border wars, made him while still a young man very well and favorably liked among the leading men of his day. He was rightly placed at the head of the grantees, perpetuating the memory of his rugged virtues and his enterprising character. His descendants have been inhabitants of Moultonboro and Centre Harbor to the present time.

After obtaining this grant, the Colonel still acquired more territory by using a little flattery in naming his son Benning for Governor Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire, also for presenting to the governor, his biggest ox which weighed 1400 pounds. Two slaves, Cato and Caesar, were bidden to hang a garland of flowers around the neck of the ox, put roses over his back and a flag on his horns and lead him to Portsmouth and present to his Excellency Governor Benning Wentworth with the compliments of Colonel Moulton. On receiving this gift the governor asked what the Colonel would like for compensation, but was told nothing unless the governor would be willing to give him "a gore of land" which contained 19,422 acres of land, a part of which constituted what is now New Hampton. Three town have now been acquired by the energy and enterprise of Colonel Jonathan Moulton, namely, Moultonboro, Centre Harbor and New Hampton, the latter in 1767. General Moulton sent Colonel Mason with thirteen families of Hampton to settle in Alton. This account appears in Fogg's Gazeteer.

Growing grievances against the British King were now increasing. A town meeting was called and General Moulton was made moderator. Soon after, Paul Revere rode into town, stopping to give information that the British King would no longer export arms to the colonists. The Hampton men listened with indignation and told Paul Revere that they would assist in the capture of military supplies at the Fort William and Mary, these supplies to be used at Bunker Hill. Plans were then made to assist at Bunker Hill led by General Moulton and Paul Revere carried the news to Portsmouth and back to General Washington at Cambridge. This was in 1774. General Moulton began at once to muster men to give their support and service in various ways by enlisting volunteers and training the militia for the duration of the Revolutionary War.

About this time, General Washington sent for General Moulton to meet him at Meshech Weare's for consultation. It was after this conference that test papers were given out asking all males to sign their willingness to support the cause of the colonists, for money and supplies for the Constitutional Army. Soon men and women came bearing pewter plates, lamps, candlesticks, clocks with lead pendulums, clothing and blankets to be taken by Washington's Army Guard to the Continental Army.

Meshech Weare said of General Moulton, "The state will not forget the great aid in the French and Indian Wars nor the part in turning the tide at the battle of Saratoga. Thou hast long been both a servant of the Province and the state of New Hampshire." At the end of the Revolution, General Washington presented General Moulton with a new Union flag which was flown from the flag poles at all houses of the patriots in Hampton." It shall replace the King's colors," said Washington. It contained thirteen red and white stripes, one for each of the colonies, with the English Union.

It was the new flag under which General Washington took command of the Colonial forces and replaced the King's colors at General Moulton's house. The report was soon sent to General Washington that the new Continental flag, flies in Hampton. This was the banner under which all patriots friendly to the American cause were to fight.

The general felt well pleased with the way he had been prospered and relates with gestures his personal victories over the Indians. He laughs and relates to his son Benning how his holdings in New Hampshire have made him the richest landowner in the Province. General Moulton was not only rich in land, but had accumulated wealth in other ways. Tradition has it that his great start in getting riches was made through the wreck of the "Mast Ship" that being the name of a British government vessel of 1000 tons burden that made trips from England to Boston for timber suitable for masts until she became unseaworthy. The ship was then sold to merchants, who sent her heavily loaded to Boston, heavily insured. The captain of the "Mast Ship" was given to understand that he would be paid a handsome sum if she never returned to England.

One night off the coast of Hampton, a gale arose and although it was a moonlight night the ship ran upon the rocks in front of the fish houses, North Beach. The cargo was made up of broadcloth, dress goods, beautiful silks, china, cutlery, copper utensils, buttons and other articles in great variety and quantify. After due process of law, the cargo was sold at auction and General Moulton and Colonel Toppan were the heaviest buyers at their own prices. Mrs. Toppan says there are still in her attic, bags of buttons that never have been opened. At the resales of the above mentioned articles, these two men, General Moulton and Colonel Christopher Toppan, made huge sums. The General afterward lived in great elegance and was known about the country side as being extremely hospitable.

My father used to tell me of the fate of this sea captain of the "Mast Ship" that after twenty years he took the risk of returning to England thinking he would not be recognized but sad to relate he was recognized and drawn & quartered.

General Moulton was twice married, the first to to Abigail Smith in 1749 and the second time to Sarah Emery, daughter of Dr. Anthony Emery in 1776. He had eleven children by his first wife and four by the second wife, four dying very young belonging to the first wife.

The General built a fine and pretentious mansion for his home which was beautifully furnished, It was the grand, gay house in town where the General and wife entertained lavishly. There was one daughter, Nancy, upon whom every luxury was lavished. The General's wife dressed in heavy silks and had abundance of jewelry.

It is said the family had many slave servants, the General having a personal one that followed him everywhere he went, named Johnny Square-toes. There is hanging on the wall of the Moulton house, now owned and occupied by Harlan Little and his two sisters, an advertisement for a run-away slave. Perhaps some of you have seen and read it .....

Fifteen Dollars' Reward

RUNAWAY from Colonel Jonathan Moulton of Hampton, in the colony of New Hampshire, in October last, a negro boy named Cato about 18 years old, and about 5 feet and a half high or something more, a more likely strait-limb, well-built and active a boy is seldom to be seen, and plays well on a fife; he is very apt to scowl, or knit his brows, and has had the small-pox by inoculation, which he shows but little in his face, but the place on his arm where he was inoculated is plain to be discovered. Since he ran away he was taken up at Durham, and in conveying him to his master he made his escape; since that, he was at headquarters, and offered to enlist, but no meeting with success, he went from thence to Lexington, where he offered his service to Mr. John Buckman, inn-holer in that town, and called himself Elijah Bartlett and said that he was free-born; Mr. Buckman suspecting him to be a runaway, which the boy perceiving, he stopped but a few days and went off privately, which was sometime in November last, and his master has had no intelligence of him since. He had on when he went away, a blue duffel round jacket, with cuffs, and without lining, a blue serge jacket, both almost new, and a pair of leather breeches, and carried with him 3 check shirts, 2 or which were cotton and woolen, and the other linen with large checks, etc., but it appears he has exchanged some of his outside clothes for other of another colour. Whoever will take him said runaway and convey him to his master or secure him in any of the colony goals, so that his master can have him again, shall have fifteen dollars, and all accessary charges paid by

Jona. Moulton

Hampton, January 1, 1776.

N.B. As the boy was born at New York, and from some other reasons, it's likely he is thence making his way; but it's more likely he will offer himself to work by the month or year, in some part of the colony of Massachusetts Bay or Connecticut, and, whoever may have the opportunity of taking up said runaway is cautioned to take particular care lest he make his escape again, as he is so artful and cunning a boy.

After some years the General's wife died of small-pox and against the wishes of his children he married his wife's companion, Sarah Emery, and gave her his first wife's jewelry. Superstitious legendry still persisted and it has come down through the years that on their wedding night, while her lord was sleeping soundly, the wife heard the gentle and well-known rustle of the first wife's silken attire as she ascended the broad stair-way and entered her room. Approaching the bedside, she removed rings from the second wife's fingers and departed with them. Ever since then the house has been known as the "haunted" house. The story is finely told in Whittier's poem, "The Old Wife and the New."

On March 15, 1769, town meeting day, occurred the most destructive fire which the town had ever been visited. The following account is taken from the Boston Chronicle of March 20, 1769, it appeared as a communication from Portsmouth, under date of March 17:

"Last Wednesday morning, about 4 o'clock, the large mansion of Colonel Jonathan Moulton of Hampton, together with two stores contiguous, were wholly consumed by fire. This melancholy incident, it is supposed, was occasioned by a beam taking fire under the hearth in his parlor. The flames had got to so great a height before the discovery, that it was with great difficulty the family escaped with their lives. Colonel Moulton saved no other clothing than a cloak, and a gentleman who happened occasionally to lodge at the Colonel's was obliged to jump out of a chamber window; when he was first called, he did not know the occasion, and had put on most of his clothes before the smoke apprised him of his danger. There were between fifteen and twenty souls in his house, who through the good providence of God, were all saved, unhurt. All the furniture, which was very good and valuable, was wholly consumed, but the shop-goods, books, bonds, notes and other papers, which were in the stores, were happily saved. The loss is estimated at three thousand pounds sterling."

Colonel Moulton subsequently built the large mansion house now owned by Harlan Little, locating it about forty rods farther south than the one destroyed. The old road leading to "Drake Side", left the "main county road" near the former house. After the erection of the new house, Colonel Moulton opened from it a new road through this own land to meet the Drake Side Road -- probably a little beyond where the Eastern Railroad now (1893) crosses the highway. Some of the inhabitants, wishing to have this new way made a public road, caused an article to be put into the warrant for a town meeting, April 8, 1771, to see whether the town would exchange with the Colonel the old road for the new. At that meeting, the selectmen were authorized to "lay out said new road," and to "shut up and give to said Moulton the old road in lieu of the new one -- in case said Moulton shall give his obligations always to give free liberty for the inhabitants of said town to pass with their cattle and sleds through said Moulton's land.

A great wedding was given to Nancy on her marriage to John Marston. There were many distinguished and famous guests from other parts of the state present. In the garden was the scene of a farewell ball. That evening after the guests departed, the General was found dead, and his restless spirit looking for his lost gold is said to have haunted the house ever since. The legend has it that the general had promised to deliver his soul to the devil if he would fill his boots with gold every month. Not being satisfied with that bargain, the General sought to gain more wealth by trickery. After securing the largest pair of boots he could find for the monthly gift of gold coins, the General hit upon the scheme of cutting off the toes of the boots so that the room was half full before the devil discovered the trick. In great wrath he is said to have caused the fire which destroyed the mansion in 1762 as well as the gold which the General had hidden in the wainscoting and walls. It is this gold which his restless spirit returns to seek.

Tradition has it that at the time of the General's burial, one of the more intrepid pallbearers lifted the lid of the coffin and found inside a box of gold coins stamped with the devil's imprint instead of the body. Although newspapers carried a story in the early 1900's that the family living in the haunted house moved out because bad luck dogged them all the time they lived there, the present owner, Harlan G. Little of Salem, Mass., who lives there with [his sister] Miss Little in the summer, reports that his life in the famous mansion is undisturbed.

After the General's death, strangers bought the place. People of wealth and position owned and occupied the home. Oliver Whipple, attorney, whose wife was a Gardiner of Boston. He took an active part in the affairs of the town and remained here for 12 years, when in 1803 he went to Washington, D. C., probably to fill an official position. He is said to have lived in grand style, with a retinue of colored servants. Neither the fact that he was a stranger nor the social life which he led kept the ghost away, and he was obliged to send to Portsmouth, where he had lived, for a clergy-man to exorcise the uneasy spirit, which by prayer and pious readings was driven into the cellar and made fast in a niche behind heavy planks.

To me it is nothing short of a miracle that this second house built by General Moulton 168 years ago, has not gone up in flames long before this date. Whether because tradition has it, it was haunted and people were afraid to live there, but for years in my memory it was an abandoned place but when rented, it was to irresponsible inmates who always left it in a dilapidated condition until it was no longer a fit place in which respectable people could live. When the house was purchased by the Salem man, it was restored to its original beauty under the well-known architect, Ralph Cram. Rare documents pertaining to the activities of General Moulton have been located by Mr. Little, who is an active member of the New England Society for the Preservation of Antiquities, and brought back to Hampton. At the time that the Lafayette highway was rebuilt, the house was moved across the road to is present location at the so-called "Haunted House" curve.

Whatever of truth there may be in the great many stories bout General Moulton, he had a fine record as a soldier in the American Revolution and honestly earned his title. After his death, it is said when General Washington passed through Hampton in 1789, he graciously saluted the Moulton house in honor of his dead comrade. No mention has been made of the General's Christianity but in his letters to people recorded in this book, he lays great emphasis on the importance of practising Christian virtues. I have selected one to read to you. It was written by General Moulton to his father-in-law concerning the property that the General presented to his wife and her father got possession. I think the letter is self-explanatory.

(A letter from General Jonathan Moulton written March 1st, 1777, to his father-in-law, Dr. Anthony Emery)

Honored Sir:

You are certainly Sensible that where any injury happens there is cause of complaint and more especially when that is the case between such as are we Professors of Religion and under the Solemn Ties of Church Government Relations, it requires a more particular examination and regard.

Such is the unhappy case between us and Notwithstanding the Endeavors I have made for an amicable Settlement, still it appears, there is wanting in you a just compliance to accomplish it. You must be sensible, Sir, that we are not particularly connected by the most Religious and Social Ties in life & that the Happiness and Comfort of Ourselves and families depends much on our living in Peace, good harmony and friendship. I really desire, according to the Rules of our Sacred Relations, to take every likely way and method that may tend to a Reconciliation between us without carrying it into a more Public examination which is the cause of my writing you at this time and should be glad after you have perused this and duly considered it you would make a reply.

You must remember Sir, that very soon after my first intimating to your daughter my inclination of making her so near a companion I have complimented you and Mrs. Emery on the occasion and received yours and her approbation with cheerfulness. With gratitude I have already returned you my thanks and still retain a due remembrance of the kind treatment I received at your house and after-which haply continued 'till making a division of the goods and Money and which was in partnership with your daughter. Then came meanness, as well as your disposal of some parts of the goods before a division was made of which no particular of fair amount was ever rendered. A greater difficulty afterward arose on account of the outstanding debts -- some considerable part of which you collected and never paid me but a small part, and it appeared to me you endeavored in a great measure to conceal from me what you did collect, which from many circumstances, which I think you not Sensible I am knowing of, I believe I can prove how great soever it may be to your surprise.

I scorn and shall despise any thought that you may entertain that I mean by this way to endeavor to enforce you to the fulfilment of any promises you have at anytime made concerning your daughter before marriage or that I desire any satisfaction by money in any way or manner whatsoever; all that I desire is a proper reconciliation and that by your fully weighing and considering the matter you may be sensible that you have injured by your words and by inconsiderate, insinuating and mistaken advice and counsel to my wife and others and had with them Scheemed to defraud me by deed. If I myself am in an error according to our scripture rule, examine, judge and advise us and if mistaken should be glad to be made sensible of it and make amends without carrying it into a public examination. An amicable and friendly settlement you must be sensible Sir, will naturally tend to the great happiness and comfort of us, our family and respective friends and connections. I heartily wish and desire it may be brought to pass, in order to which, dear Sir, join with me and in your answer make some proposal that may accomplish it and afterwards I shall ask no more from you in the future than such a decent and affectionate conduct and carriage toward us, as is consistent with the duty of Christian parents toward their children. May the God of Love and Peace encourage the same within our respective families dwell with us, is the prayer of your dutiful son,

Jonathan Moulton

It isn't known where the remains of General Moulton were laid to rest but probably on his estate near the railroad.

Sarah Hobbs Lane
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