The Jonathan Moulton House
Privately owned since the turn of the 20th century, this 1770s house was among the most grand in Revolutionary Era Hampton, NH. Self-made, a wealthy merchant, mill owner and land speculator, Moulton was granted rights to over 80,000 acres in the NH Lakes Region that was then frontier. The town of Moultonborough bears his name today. Despite his success as a businessman, soldier and father of 15 children, Moulton is best known for the legends and ghost stories that surround his name. This and the two following pictures were taken in the 1930s as part of a brochure promoting tourism in Seacoast, New Hampshire.
According to legend, Gen. Moulton sold his soul to the devil who, in return, filled his boots with gold each month as they hung in the fireplace. When Moulton tricked the devil by cutting out the soles of his boots to receive more gold, Satan burned his mansion to the ground in 1769. This is the second Moulton mansion built nearby, but owners claim at least portions of the original fireplace survived and were used to rebuild this house the following year. The legend seems to express discontent among some locals who apparently resented his extreme wealth in the old puritan town of Hampton. Moulton was descended from the original 1638-era settlers.
Another Moulton legend claims a ghost in this bedroom. After his first wife Abigail died, the General married a youngish family friend and presented her with his first wife's jewelry. In the poem "New Wife and the Old" by Whittier, the ghost of the first wife appears and reclaims her jewelry on the couple's wedding night here.
Before it was restored around 1900, Hampton, NH residents knew the Moulton home as "The Haunted House." After Moulton's death in 1787, slaves in the house reported seeing ghosts. The Whipple family, then owners, actually performed an exorcism that was a popular local event. Before its renovation the house was at one time occupied by up to 40 Italian railroad workers. Legend says the railroad tracks that passed the house cover the unmarked graves of Jonathan Moulton and his first wife Abigail, although the graves have never been found.
Abolitionist poet John Greenleaf Whittier focused many of his poems on the spooky legends of the Hampton area. He visited often from his house in nearby Amesbury, MA. This engraving shows Whittier in his study before his death in 1892. Whittier was 59 when he gained superstardom as a Victorian poet and was a close friend and mentor of Celia Thaxter whom he visited on the Isles of Shoals -- just 6 miles out to sea from Rye Harbor nearby.
CREDITS: Moulton home photos were published in the 1930s (no copyright date) by the New Hampshire Seacoast Regional Development Association, an early regional tourist group.
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