Monday, October 20, 2014


Last year for Halloween I blogged about various New England legends and
folkore, some of which posts I may repost this year. But tonight I was looking
for a new spooky legend and found a poem about a distant cousin written by
another equally distant cousin.

I am a descendant of 10x great grandfather John Moulton and his wife Anne.
One of their other descendants  is my second cousin 9x removed Jonathan
Moulton.  William Richard Cutter says this about him:

(IV) General Jonathan Moulton, son of Jacob Moulton, was born in Hampton, New
Hampshire, June 30, 1726, and died there in 1788, aged sixty-two years. He owned
a large amount of land and was a wealthy man. It was largely through his efforts
that two or three towns in the state were settled, as is told in the "Farmer and
Moore's Gazetteer" of 1823. On November 17, 1763, Moulton borough was granted
to him and sixty-one others by the Masonian proprietors. He had a distinguished
reputation for service in the Indian wars along the northern borders of the new town
before it was settled, in 1763. and many stories are told of his adventures at that time. Doubtless his service against the Ossipee Indians was the principal reason of placing
him at the head of the grantees. Through his efforts the grant for New Hampton was
obtained from Governor Went worth. It is said he obtained it by presenting the governor with an ox weighing one thousand four hundred pounds, which he drove to Portsmouth and for which he refused money, saying he preferred the charter to the 

land which he named New Hampton. The town of Centre Harbor was formed from a part of his grant called Moultonborough Addition. He was known as a fearless commander, and although his reticence and dignified bearing aroused the displeasure of some, he must have been thoroughly trustworthy and competent to be intrusted 
with such important commissions as were placed in his hands. He served many 
years in the legislature. He was a shrewd business man, ahead of his time in many ways. The poet Whittier has made him the hero of his poem, "The New Wife and 
the Old." S. A. Drake, in his "New England Legends and Folk Lore," has written an amusing story founded on the legend of Jonathan Moulton and the Devil...

New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of Commonwealths and the Founding of a Nation, Volume 4 (Google eBook) Lewis historical publishing Company, 1915

Cutter then includes Drake's story about the Devil which is long so I won't include
it here, but there is this added by Drake at the end of it:

Another legend runs to the effect that upon the death of his wife—as evil report would have it— under very suspicious circumstances, the General paid court to a young woman who had been companion of his deceased spouse. They were married. In the middle of the night the young bride awoke with a start. She felt an invisible hand trying to take off from her finger the wedding-ring that had once belonged to the dead and buried Mrs. Moulton. Shrieking with fright, she jumped out of bed, thus awakening her husband, who tried in vain to calm her fears. Candles were lighted and search was made for the ring: but as it could never be found again, the ghostly visitor was supposed to have carried it away with her. This story is the same that is told by Whittier in the New Wife and the Old.- p2305

So of course when I read that John Greenleaf Whittier has written a poem about the
story of the two wives, I had to look for a copy of it. I found one, and I'll share it
with you in the next blogpost.

1 comment:

Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

A very cool story! I didn't know this one was a Moulton, but I know the poem. I'm related to Jonathan Moulton through his mother, Sarah Smith. She's my first cousin 10 generations removed.