General Jonathan Moulton
- September 18
) was to play an important role in the early history of New Hampshire
and many tales of his adventures would become the stuff of legend.
Early life and King George's War
Jonathan Moulton was born in the town of Hampton, New Hampshire
. He spent much of his childhood as an apprentice to a cabinetmaker. In 1745, he left the cabinetmaker trade and was appointed as a captain of a ranger company in the New Hampshire Militia
. In the same year, he was with the New England
army under the command of William Pepperrell
that took Fortress Louisbourg
from the French
. For the rest of King George's War
, Moulton fought against the Ossipee Indians that were allied to the French around Lake Winnipesaukee
until they were killed or driven to Canada
. During one winter scout from Dover, New Hampshire
, Capt. Moulton and his men ambushed six Ossipee warriors on the ice of Lake Winnipesaukee. Five of the warriors were killed in the first volley and the sixth ran away, followed closely by Moulton's massive black dog that attacked and killed the fleeing warrior. The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle
ended the war in 1748. It would be only six years until the next war between England
After the end of the war in 1749, Jonathan married Abigail Smith. Together they would have eleven children. Also during this time, Moulton opened a store in Hampton and started importing goods from Europe and the West Indies to sell.
French and Indian War until the American Revolution
With the resumption of the colonial struggle in 1754, with the French and Indian War
, Moulton once again served as a captain in the New Hampshire Militia
and was elected to the New Hampshire General Court
After the end of the French and Indian War, Moulton was granted large tracts of land on the north side of Lake Winnipsaukee in the towns of Moultonborough (named after himself), New Hampton, Tamworth, Center Harbor and Sandwich, by the governors Benning Wentworth and John Wentworth.
In 1764, with the wreck of the mast-ship St. George off the coast of Hampton, Moulton and many of the other town residents salvaged many of the goods aboard her for their own profit.
In the early morning hours of March 15, 1769, Moulton's mansion burnt to the ground. This fire helped to start one of the most interesting legends about him as the "Yankee Faust".
The American Revolution
During the events that led up to the American Revolution
, Jonathan Moulton was elected as moderator of the Hampton town meetings, chosen as a member of the Committee of Safety
, appointed as a delegate to the patriot assembly at Exeter, New Hampshire
and commissioned as the Colonel
of the 3rd New Hampshire Regiment of Militia
On September 21, 1775, his wife Abigail died of smallpox. A year later, he would marry Sarah Emery and would father four more children.
For the first two years of the American Revolutionary War, Col. Moulton's regiment guarded the 18-mile seacoast of New Hampshire against British invasion. But in the fall of 1777, he marched with his men to the Battle of Saratoga in New York and the defeat of Lt. General John Burgoyne's British army invading from Canada. Col. Moulton and the 3rd New Hampshire Militia served in Gen. John Stark's brigade during the battle.
After the end of the American Revolution, Moulton continued his role in the New Hampshire militia. On March 25
, he was created Brigadier General
of the 1st Brigade
of the New Hampshire Militia.
Jonathan Moulton would die at the age of 71 on September 18, 1787. Two years later, in 1789, General George Washington stopped and paid his respects to General Moulton's widow Sarah on his tour of the new United States of America.
During his life Jonathan Moulton was a controversial figure in the Province of New Hampshire
and later the state.
The Yankee Faust
In the first legend, in which Jonathan's house burns down, it was said that he had made a Faustian deal with the devil
and had outsmarted him by saying that he would sell his soul to the devil if the devil would fill his boots up with gold coins
on the first of every month. Jonathan found the largest set of boots in all of the Province of New Hampshire
. The next month the devil returned to fill up the boots with gold
, but no matter how many gold coins he poured in the boots they would not fill. Jonathan had cut off the soles of the boots and put the boots over a hole in the floor, and all the gold coins fell into the basement of the house. The devil, after being outsmarted by Jonathan, burnt down his house in revenge. The gold coins disappeared.
New Wife and the Old
In the second tale, the ghost
of Moulton's first wife Abigail appears on his wedding night and takes the ring off the finger of his new wife Sarah as the two are in bed together.
In a final legendary story, a pallbearer at Moulton's funeral opened his coffin to find it empty, replaced by a box of gold coins with the devil stamped on them. Jonathan Moulton was in fact buried without a tombstone, and the site of his grave is now unknown.