On the trail of Goodwife Eunice Cole, photographer Jennifer Smith-Mayo of Northport, Maine recently paid a visit to the Tuck Museum to photograph the museum’s collection of Goody Cole memorabilia. The photos will appear in a chapter on Goody Cole in the upcoming book, “Myths and Mysteries of New Hampshire,” penned by her husband Matthew Mayo, to be published by Globe Pequot Press in 2014.
The transcription of the 1917 monograph by Victor C. Sanborn is now available as a Word document at this link: STEPHEN BACHILER AN UNFORGIVEN PURITAN
by Cheryl Lassiter
An event in the early life of Hampton
In the latter part of 1670 John Fuller rode up to check on his ‘plantation,’ only to discover that someone had pilfered “about twenty bushels” of his turnip crop. Fuller and his partner in the patch, John Hancock, were appalled. Hancock swore that if they could prove who did it, the “taker of them” would be prosecuted. From the local gossip Hancock had heard that Nathaniel Weare had owned up to taking away part of the turnips, “which if he could prove it he would prosecute the said Weare and make him pay well for them.”
According to the testimony of John and Martha Cass, now living on the farm they had purchased from Rev. John Wheelwright in 1664, Nathaniel Weare admitted that he had “accidentally” come across Fuller’s turnip patch, and “seeing turnips so late in the year he did take about a bushel and a half.” If the ground hadn’t been so hard, he said, he “might [have] took a few more.” When John asked Nathaniel if he had had permission to take the turnips, he replied “No,” but his “sister Cox told him that she did suppose he might have some.” And, he said, he had made it right by reimbursing the turnip patch proprietors with a slab of pork.
Given Weare’s prominence as a large landowner in Hampton, the turnip theft may never have seen the inside of a courtroom except for Edward Gove, himself a large landowner, who publicly accused Weare of being a thief. When Gove confronted him with the charge, Weare said, “You fool, you loggerheadedly, boby-headed ass, get you about your business.”
To which Gove replied, “How came I to be your tomfool loggerhead?”
Weare then did what any adult male Puritan in his position would do: he hit Gove with a stick. Apparently sorry for his violent outburst, in an act of contrition he fell upon his knees twice. Gove taunted him by saying, “Get up again like a lubber,” while helping Weare to his feet.
When Gove refused to retract his accusation of thievery, Weare accused him of “reproachful speeches and assaulting carriage.” Nathaniel Clark of Newbury and Henry Palmer met Gove at Henry Roby’s tavern in Hampton to persuade him to come to an out-of-court agreement with Weare. Both Clark and Palmer testified that Gove did not believe Weare had intended theft in the taking of the turnips. Yet Gove refused to drop the matter. Weare had broken the 8th commandment (thou shalt not steal), which was contrary to Law.
“It will be an encouragement to others to go on in such wicked courses, contrary to Christianity and civility,” Gove explained. “For it is easy making an excuse for the theft if after the thing be like to be proved against the person.” Translation: Weare only confessed because he had been caught.
Two plus years later, on October 8, 1672 and April 8, 1673, the courts at Hampton and Salisbury heard Weare’s case against Gove, including depositions and testimony of several witnesses: Nathaniel Boulter, John Huggins, Caleb Perkins, William Fuller, Sr., John Stevens, and Anthony Stanyan. Gove was also charged with having killed a hawk on the Lord’s day. The jury at Salisbury brought in a verdict of guilty on all counts.
Gove then made his appeal to the Court of Assistants in Boston, saying that ‘Your appellant apprehends himself much disadvantaged” because the jury foreman had remarked that if Gove came to trial he “would warrant I should suffer.” Gove also asserted that he had broken no law in calling Nathaniel Weare a thief…because it had been William Fuller who reported that Weare had taken the turnips from John Fuller’s field. Why then, was it Gove and not Fuller who was charged? In answering his own question he said,”Indeed [it was] better for Fuller to lose his turnips than for he that took them disorderly to lose his friend…as some have said.”
As these things often go with old court documents, the final resolution is unknown. Gove’s appeal did at least make it to the clerk of the Court of Assistants, since the extant case documents are filed with the Suffolk County (Mass) Court Files. Nathaniel Weare was never brought to court for stealing the turnips.
In 1684 Edward Gove was made famous by his attempt–while under the influence of “ardent spirits” and a lack of sleep–at rebellion against the government. Believing it was being run by those who kiss the Pope’s ring, he determined to overthrow the current regime. Riding from Hampton to Exeter with his son and a servant, Gove passed by the house of Nathaniel Weare, now a magistrate. Weare came out and tried to stop Gove from his mission, without success. Gove rode on, had his “rebellion” (mainly riding through the towns shouting like a maniac), and was summarily arrested in Hampton. He was put on trial and convicted of high treason, the punishment for which was “that he should be drawn to the place of execution, and there be hanged by the neck and cut down alive, and that his entrails be taken out and burnt before his face, and his head cut off, and his body divided into four quarters and his head and quarters disposed of at the king’s pleasure.” Lucky for him, he was sent instead to England to take residence in the Tower of London, and, after three years and some letters acknowledging his acts of stupidity, he was released and allowed to come home.
Nathaniel Weare, whose reputation as a turnip patch plunderer hadn’t impeded his rise to the top of provincial politics, also made a trip to England in 1684. He had been entrusted to carry the petition from the New Hampshire men to the King, asking for relief from Cranfield’s money-grubbing schemes. While he was at it, he purloined the Hampton town records, taking them to Boston to keep them out of the hands of Cranfield.
by Cheryl Lassiter
It’s said that Hampton is one of the few towns in New Hampshire that continues the tradition of a Christmas Parade. But Christmas was not celebrated in the early days, and this fact gives us an opportunity to think about how the great wheel of history turns slowly ’round our town.
Because they were Puritans, celebrating Christmas was illegal in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, of which, until 1680, Hampton was a part. Later, as more Christmas-friendly denominations came to be established in New England, observance of the holiday became more common. Christmas was made a national holiday in 1870, a mere 142 years ago.
I wondered if documentary evidence existed that could tell us something about when Hampton began celebrating the holiday. While this research is still preliminary, an early reference to Christmas comes from the archives of the Hampton Historical Society: an 18th-century Lane family journal with a list of prognostications for those born on Christmas day!
Another comes from an advertisement in an 1829 issue of the Newburyport Herald (which was read in Hampton). “Presents for Christmas and New Year,” it read, all for sale at the State Street bookstore of Charles Whipple.
From the Rockingham County Registry of Deeds comes another bit of evidence, this time showing that Christmas was a “business as usual” day, at least for some. On December 25, 1843, a public auction was held in Hampton to dispose of the estate of Simon F. Towle, which included the house we now know as the General Moulton Mansion. Simon inherited the house from his grandfather James Leavitt, who died in 1839. Unfortunately, Simon didn’t live long enough to enjoy his inheritance.
On Christmas Day in 1839 the Town of Hampton celebrated its 200th anniversary.
Lack of evidence can tell as much about a subject as the evidence itself. In the archives of the New Hampshire Historical Society we find the journal of Charles M. Perkins, a young Hampton man who had sought his fortune in the gold fields of California. He started his journey from Hampton on November 10, 1849, sailing two days later from Newburyport in the barque Domingo. In his journal, he made note that the 15th was “Thanksgiving Day in N.H.,” but on Christmas Day he only recorded the ship’s position – 26′ 29″ latitude and 43′ 32″ longitude. The ship arrived in San Francisco Bay on April 6, 1850.
December 25, 1850 found Charles prospecting at “Chilly Flat,” earning $13.65 in gold that day. Further entries show the same pattern of work on Christmas day: December 25, 1857, Blue Gulch, California. That day it froze for the 10th time that winter; December 25, 1860, at Flintville with the Merced Falls Mining Company, “prospecting rock”; December 25, 1861, at Rum Hollow “looking out for the mill.” It was pretty clear that Charles, when he was away from home at least, did not celebrate Christmas.
Flash forward some 25 years, to the letters of Anna May Cole to her brother Ernest, part of the Page-Cole Family Papers in the Hampton Historical Society Archives. Although the Coles were Congregationalists (descendants of Puritans), celebrating Christmas was fully part of their church and family tradition.
December 7, 1885. “What are the Christmas plans?,” Anna May, writing from Mt. Holyoke Seminary, asked her brother. “I must send a note about Xmas to Hattie in this letter” (Hattie was Anna May’s younger sister).
December 19, 1886. “Brother mine,” Anna began her letter, again from college, “I wish I could talk to you…instead of writing. Just think it is almost Xmas time and I’m not coming home! I’m almost homesick when I think of it. I wish you were not so far away.”
December 21, 1888. Anna May is now at home in Hampton and Ernest is teaching school in South Reading, Vermont. “My big brother; Merry Xmas, and a week from now, Happy New Year!” Anna May wrote in her ebullient and chatty style. She had sent along a box of gifts from the family, which included some wrought-over candy that she had made. As she explained, “Candy making is good fun but when you get a lot of candy nicely cooked and set aside to cool, then forget it till it is stone cold and can no more be pulled than ice, consequently, you have to put it on the stove, put some water to it, melt it down, then cook it over and watch its cooling process more carefully next time…”
That’s it for now. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Cheryl Lassiter © 2012
Yesterday (September 15) we were getting ready for our last walking tour of the season when a couple of women stopped us and asked
where 40 Park Avenue was. This is the place we told them. On further questioning one of the women opened a piece of paper and showed us an address, a name, a time and a date.
On August 4, 1961 Olivia Nourse (age 22) married John Paul Millet (age 26), they had decided to elope so they drove to New Hampshire from Massachusetts and were looking for a Justice of the Peace. They were given this address, showed up and were married by Helen Hayden, Justice of the Peace, (and town clerk) who lived at what was then was Tuck House – the front part of our building. Helen and her husband were caretakers of the property. Helen’s husband, Jack, stood as their witness in the parlor of the house as the ceremony took place.
So Olivia was back 51 years later with her granddaughter Sierra Millet, to see if she could find the place on the piece of paper she had saved all these years. We brought them into the parlor, now the exhibition room of Charles Henry Turner paintings. They were thrilled to find the building and we were thrilled to be part of their wonderful story.
It runs full circle. Many early marriages performed in Hampton were civil ceremonies and took place on the grounds of what is now the Tuck Museum in the early meetinghouse(s).
Enjoy the latest HISTORY HAPPENS article, this one about Jonathan Leavitt’s tavern in Old Hampton. Jonathan was born into a family of shoemakers in 1712. His grandmother, Martha Taylor Leavitt, ran a still. Nine years before he was born, his uncle, Moses Leavitt, also a shoemaker, was accused of running an illegal tavern in the north division of Hampton (later, North Hampton) by his own cousin, Joshua Wingate, who went so far as to prosecute Moses in court. That put an end to Moses’s tavernkeeping for a few years, but by 1706 he was back in business, this time legally. Jonathan may have apprenticed in Moses’s tavern for a few years before deciding to open his own in his house located at the northeast corner of present day Lafayette Road and Winnacunnet Road (or, in Jonathan’s parlance, the country road and the sea road). READ MORE…
“From Imprudent to Incorrigible,” a short story about “Old Pru” Marston, who stole her husbands’ belongings to finance her profligate lifestyle. The short is the latest excerpt from the book A Meet and Suitable Person: Tavernkeeping in Old Hampton, New Hampshire, 1638-1783 by Cheryl Lassiter.
A local documentary premiered by Joshua Silveria, who by day is a social studies teacher at Timberlane High School. Last summer Joshua came into the museum looking for information on clamming. The volunteers on duty told him about a seacoast industry long gone by – salt marsh farming. Intrigued (or feeling out-numbered) he decided to research it further.
We helped him search for local photographs and recommended folks that might know about haying and local ecology. After interviewing Ellen Goethel, a marine biologist; Harold Fernald a local historian; Eric Small from the Seabrook Historical Society and Alex Herlihey from the Rye Historical Society he went to work writing the script. Our own members Chet Riley and Ben Moore provided some of the narration.
The video was shown to a packed house. Beautiful photography, great editing, music and sound effects made time fly by, and the audience’s enthusiastic response proved that all his hard work was worth it. Now we have a wonderful piece to let all ages know about this by-gone practice.
Visitation at the museum drops down in the winter but our parking lot is always full. Instead of showing guests around, our volunteers spend this time working their various pet projects. We have one person that is gathering all kinds of information from personal property books tracing ownership of the many hotels and business (and getting juicy tidbits of historical happenings); another is researching the Civil War soldiers in Hampton in preparation for our 375th celebration in 2013; while another is going through old records and bill heads from the Lane Store in Hampton Center. All this is happening while we “regulars” work on the cataloging of the collection and the day-to-day operation. With email and cell phones we don’t even let our vacationing volunteers off the hook. There is just nowhere to hide anymore.
We are wrapping up a project for the 401 Tavern on Lafayette Road- when finished almost 100 photos from the late 1800s – early 1900s will be on permanent display. Covering both town and beach activities; they are of the people, places and things that make Hampton so unique. They show vacationers enjoying the beach, the trolley that took these thousands of sightseers there, and images that capture life in a small town village. Most of these photos have not been seen by the general public. A number of us worked on this project and we all had our favorites. It is well worth a visit to the 401 to see these unique photos (and have a great meal at the same time).
Last summer, Joshua Silveria, a high school history teacher, stopped into the museum. As a hobby he makes documentaries (award-winning ones I might add). Joshua became interested in the salt marshes that dominate our NH coastal area and decided to make that the focus his next project. We have enjoyed working with him throughout the process, finding old photos, interviewees and historical resources. We will be hosting a “premier” showing of his work for the public on Wednesday, March 21 at 6:30 PM at the Lane Library. I have had a sneak peek and it is very impressive.
Wait until you see what the spring brings….