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" Bringing the Presence of the Past into the Present "

Life in the “Western Territory” of Ohio in 1816 - a Native Son’s Perspective
Ebenezer and Lydia Sanborn were prominent New Hampton figures in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Ebenezer served as both a captain in the militia and a town selectman. The Sanborns had ten children: Josiah, Nancy, Abigail, Caleb, Lydia, Joseph, Thomas, Hannah, Lavinia and John. Today’s History Corner features an 1816 letter from eldest son, Josiah, to his parents, about life in the western territory – of Ohio! An 1817 letter from mom and dad to eldest son follows. New Hamptonites spread their wings and head west (and return home as well).

Josiah to his parents – 1816 

Ebenezer & Lydia to their son – 1817

1816 letter from Josiah Sanborn in Tallmadge County, Ohio to his parents, Ebenezer and Lydia Sanborn, in New Hampton. While Josiah struck out for “the west” in his twenties, he died back in New Hampton in 1865.

New Lisbon August 4 [1816]
Honored Parents

     I think it a great pleasure that we can communicate our thoughts to each other when at a distance. I take this opportunity to inform you that I am well and hope these lines will find you enjoying the same blessing. I received your letter dated 28th January about 20th March with great joy and satisfaction. I also received another about a week ago dated April 11th.
     You wished me to write about the soil and produce, likewise the manners and customs of the people in this county. As to the soil, it is in general of an excellent quality and produces corn, wheat, rye, oats, buckwheat, flax, peas, beans, potatoes and all other vegetables the same as the New England states. The climate is more temperate than that of New England, the winters are not as cold nor as long. It don’t require near as much feed for cattle here as there.
     As to the manners and customs of the people, they do not differ materially from those of the New Englanders. The people in the east part of the state are mostly emigrants from Pennsylvania, but some from Virginia. I am now a going to the westward about 50 miles to what is called the Western Reserve or Connecticut Reserve. The people there are mostly from Connecticut but some from Vermont. I have been out there at work a while. I like the country very well and think it likely I may settle there. I shall not be home this fall but I will write again after a little and will give you a further account of my business. Write as soon as is convenient and direct your letter to Talmage Portage County, Ohio.No more at present but remain yours etc. Josiah Sanborn

1817 letter from Ebenezer and Lydia Sanborn to their son, Josiah Sanborn in Ohio. “Brother Caleb,” referred to in both letters, was the fourth of the Sanborn children. Ebenezer refers to Josiah in the 3rd person (“Caleb went… to find his brother Josiah.”) and Lydia refers to Josiah’s father as “your sir.”
New Hampton January 11th 1817
     I take this opportunity to write to you to inform you that we are all well at present, hoping these lines Will find you enjoying the same blessing. I would inform that Caleb went from home 24 November with the intention to go to the state of Ohio in order to find his brother Josiah. Caleb went in 14 days to Onondaga in the state of New York. There he hired out for this winter expecting to go on to see you in the spring. I wrote to you 27 October and expected to have had a letter from you before now but have had none. I wish you to write soon and as often as you can and write more particulars about your affairs.
[written in his mother’s hand] I hope you will take an opportunity and come home to see your parents once more. Your sir and I went down to Marblehead to see you. Your sir has since been to Plattsburgh to see you but was disappointed. Now you are gone so far we can’t go to see you. We have great reason to be thankful that you have been kept and preserved through so many dangers since you left home your brother Caleb is gone and left as many are our afflictions but the love will deliver us out of them all if we put our trust in him.
     So no more at present – this from your parents – Ebenezer Sanborn      Lydia Sanborn

For more information on the history of the town, please visit the New Hampton Historical Society website at
Kent Bicknell
Historian, NHHS
September 13, 2019


Other Connections to our Town's Rich History....

New Hampton's First Library Was Not Named Gordon-Nash!!!
NHS Students Petition for Music in the School Program...195 Years Ago!
The Village Fountain - Thanks to the W.T.C.U. and New Hampton Garden Club
Celebrating Sarah Dow MacGregor: A Most Generous Friend of New Hampton
New Hampton Had a Train Wreck?

Main Street - U.S. Cavalry enroute from Fort Ethan Allen VT to Portland ME
1798 Receipt for a Town House pew
New Hampton Town House
86 Town House Road

New Hampton Town House
Also known as the Center Meeting House, Old Meeting House
New Hampton, NH was incorporated on November 27, 1777.  By 1797-1798 the townspeople were already considering the construction of a meeting house.   At the annual town meeting in March of 1798, the voters of New Hampton decided to erect a meeting house.  Two more town meetings in April and September were required to settle all of the details of the building project.  But, the building was ready for use by the next annual town meeting in March of 1799.  It is believed that the architect/builder was Samuel Kelley, one of the town’s first settlers.  The New Hampton Town House began as the meeting house for the Town of New Hampton, serving both for religious services and town meetings.   The Town House stands on the town common on a 5.5 acre town owned lot at the northeast corner of Town House Road and Dana Hill Road, considered to be the “Center”.   This location was referred to as the “Town Common”, the “Center” and is now known as the “Old Institution”.

Click here for more on its history.
Click here for some interior and exterior photos.

Stage Curtain Restoration, 2014
A hundred years ago, grand drapes and painted backdrops were the primary artistic feature of the cultural life of almost every village and town in Northern New England and were found in town and grange halls, theaters and opera houses.

Click here for further information including photos of the curtains and biographies of the artists who painted them.

Click here for the Survey & Treatment Proposal for the Ives curtain - the Grand Drape Advertising Curtain depicting the covered bridge that once spanned the Pemigewasset River in the vicinity of the present Route 104 bridge.

Click here for the Survey & Treatment Proposal for the Thompson curtain - New Hampton Town House.
Supported in part by a grant from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts
and the National Endowment for the Arts.