John Carroll Moulton by Col. Thomas J. Whipple

The ancestors of Hon. John C. Moulton were among the fifty-six inhabitants from the county of Norfolk, England, who first settled in the town of Hampton, then Winnicumet, in the year 1638. The names of John Molton and Thomas Molton appear in a partial list of these original settlers, which may be found in "Belknap's History of New Hampshire." Vol. I. p. 37.

General Jonathan Moulton was a descendant of this family, and the great-grandfather of John C. Moulton. He was born in Hampton, N. H., June 30, 1726, and died at Hampton, in the year 1788, at the age of sixty-two. He was a large proprietor in lands, and several flourishing towns in the interior of this state owe their early settlement to his exertions and influence. This fact is mentioned in "Farmer & Moore's Gazetteer," published in 1823. When he was thirty-seven years old, the town of Moultonborough was granted to him and sixty-one others, by the Masonian proprietors, November 17, 1763. He was already noted for the distinguished service which he had rendered in the Indian wars, which ended with the Ossipee tribe, along the northerly borders of Moultonborough, in 1763. Many of his adventures during this bloody period have been preserved and transmitted to the present time; enough, indeed, to fill a large space in this brief sketch. It may be well to preserve one of these incidents in this record:—

An octogenarian in the vicinity of Moultonborough relates that, during the Indian wars, Colonel, afterward General, Jonathan Moulton went out with a scouting party from Dover. After numerous adventures, they met with and attacked a party of six Indians, near a place now known as Clark's Landing, on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee, all of whom fell in the skirmish which ensued, with one exception. The colonel had a large dog with him, which, after the affray was over, he placed upon the track of the escaped Indian. The dog ran on the shore a short distance, and then struck off on to the ice. The party followed, and as they approached the entrance of what is now Green bay they saw in the distance that the dog had the Indian down upon the ice; and when they got to the spot the Indian was dead,—killed by the dog.

The active services of the general in these border wars had made him, at an early age, well and favorably known to the leading men of that day. His numerous raids and scouts, in the region occupied by the Ossipee tribes, had made him well acquainted with the then wilderness, and with the adjacent country upon the western shores of the lake, and no doubt secured to him the land grant which he obtained, in common with many of his companions in arms. He was rightly placed at the head of the grantees, by the Masonian proprietors, and the town of Moultonborough, which was named after him, perpetuates the memory of his rugged virtues and of his enterprising character. His descendants have been inhabitants of Moultonborough and of Center Harbor to the present time. After obtaining this grant, the general devoted much of the remainder of his life in promoting the settlement and the development of this new territory. Among other things in this direction, he obtained from Gov. Wentworth the grant of land now known as the town of New Hampton, which was formerly a part of Moultonborough gore, and then called "Moultonborough Addition." The following amusing account of the way in which Gen. Moulton secured this last grant appears in "Fogg's Gazetteer," and is to be found in other histories of those early times:—

"In 1703, Gen. Jonathan Moulton, of Hampton, having an ox weighing one thousand four hundred pounds, fattened for the purpose, hoisted a flag upon his horns, and drove him to Portsmouth as a present to Gov. Wentworth. The general refused any compensation for the ox, but said he would like a charter of a small gore of land he had discovered adjoining the town of Moultonborough, of which he was one of the principal proprietors. The governor granted this simple request of General Moulton, and he called it New Hampton, in honor of his native town. This small gore of land contained nineteen thousand four hundred and twenty-two acres, a part of which now constitutes Center Harbor."

Thus it appears that General Moulton, by his energy and enterprise, largely contributed to the formation of three towns,—one named New Hampton, by him; another named Moultonborough, for him; and the third, Center Harbor, was carved from a part of his grant called "Moultonborough Addition."


The following is the genealogical order:—

1. Gen. Jonathan Moulton, born in Hampton, N. H., June 30, 1726. Jan. 7, 1749, he married Abigail Smith. He died in 1788.

2. Benning Moulton, son of Jonathan Moulton and Abigail (Smith) Moulton, born May 21, 1761. He married Sally Lovett, Nov. 7, 1782. He settled in Center Harbor in 1783, and there died Dec. 23, 1834.

3. Jonathan Smith Moulton, son of Benning Moulton and Sally (Lovett) Moulton, born at Center Harbor, Dec. 14, 1785. He married Deborah Neal. He died Nov. 15, 1855.

4. John Carroll Moulton, son of Jonathan Smith Moulton and Deborah (Neal) Moulton, born in Center Harbor, Dec. 24, 1810. In addition to the ordinary opportunities of the district school, in his native town, he attended Holmes Academy at Plymouth, N. H., where for several terms he pursued his studies under the instruction of the late Samuel Burns, who ranked among the foremost teachers of his time. To perfect himself in mathematical studies, for which he showed an early and natural aptitude, he placed himself under the tuition of Master Dudley Leavitt, the noted "almanac-maker," who, for many years, opened an annual term of high school in Meredith, where he taught all the advanced branches of mathematics to pupils, who in that day flocked from every part of the country to place themselves at the feet of this great mathematical Gamaliel. These studies he ardently pursued far beyond the limits of the ordinary academical course, and they seem to have impressed upon him a permanent proficiency often called for and manifested in the various large business transactions with which he has been connected for so many years. During the intervals of schools he assisted his father—who was in trade and a large farmer—as clerk and general assistant in his extensive business. In 1831, at about the age twenty, he opened a store and commenced trade at Sandwich. N. H., where he remained about a year, when he returned, and resumed the same business at Center Harbor.

July 15, 1833, he married Nellie B. Senter. He then opened a hotel in what has since grown to be one of the famous boarding-houses at Center Harbor, and, with the aid of his brilliant and accomplished wife, united the duties of landlord and merchant, which employments he continued there for several years. In 1836, Lake Village, N. H., began to attract attention as a place of large prospective business, and Mr. Moulton left Center Harbor, and opened a store at that place. He also engaged in manufacturing, and continued in these employments for several years.

In 1841 he removed to Laconia, then known the world over as Meredith Bridge, and took charge of the Belknap Hotel. This being the only stage house of that lively place, it was usually inundated with the stream of public travel peculiar to those times. He continued this business about two years, when he opened a bookstore and an apothecary-shop in a building which stood on the site now occupied by the post-office and the national bank. He was soon after appointed postmaster,—in the latter part of Tyler's administration; was re-appointed by President Polk, through whose term he held the office, which he continued to do a short time during the term of President Taylor, when, being a life-long Democrat, he was removed. He was re-appointed by President Pierce, and also by President Buchanan, during whose terms he held the office, which he continued to do a short time under President Lincoln, when he was superseded by the appointment of a Republican. Thus he held the office of postmaster during part of the terms of three Republican, and the full terms of three Democratic administrations, making his term of office about sixteen years in all. The duties of his long term of service were performed in a manner universally acceptable and satisfactory to the public.

In 1848 the Boston, Concord, & Montreal Railroad was built and completed from Concord to Plymouth. In anticipation of this event the firm of Charles Ranlet & Co. built large and extensive car-works at Laconia, which they designed particularly for the construction of freight-cars. The firm commenced and carried on the business until the decease of the senior partner, in 1860, when the works were suspended. In 1861, Mr. Moulton became a partner, and by his great energy and business capacity has developed a large business, which employs some two hundred men, most of whom are skilled workmen. The monthly pay-roll is about eight thousand dollars. The works have been repeatedly enlarged, and several extensive buildings erected, to accommodate the increase of business. For several years, passenger-cars of the finest style and finish, as well as freight-cars, have been built at their works, and their annual gross earnings are to be reckoned at several hundred thousand dollars. In February, 1881, these car-shops, with most of their machinery and contents, were burned to the ground, only some of the out-buildings being saved. Before the ruins were done smoking, lumber began to be hauled upon the ground, and in thirty days from the fire cars were being built in new shops which had been erected on the old foundations. Mr. Moulton was then over seventy years of age, and was well able to retire from business, with an ample competence, to the quiet repose which most men desire as the closing blessing of an active and arduous life.

In 1871 and 1872 he was chosen senator from district number six, and performed his official duties with his accustomed promptness and fidelity, and to the satisfaction of his constituents. He was also elected councilor for district number two in 1874. In 1876 he was one of the delegates to the Democratic national convention held at St. Louis, which nominated Samuel J. Tilden for the presidency, and in the ensuing presidential campaign was one of the candidates on the Democratic ticket for elector.

In 1865, rapid growth of the manufacturing, commercial, and other business interests at Laconia and Lake Village suggested to him the great need of added financial facilities. To meet these demands, it was necessary to procure a charter from the government to establish a national bank at Laconia. Almost insurmountable obstacles to success in this enterprise were encountered, and finally overcome. The charter was procured, and the bank established, largely by the active and persistent labor of the subject of this sketch. Upon the organization of the Laconia National Bank, he was chosen its first president, and has continuously and acceptably held the position to the present time. It may well be said, that the impartiality with which the accommodations of this bank have been extended to promote all hopeful enterprises has done much to advance the growth and prosperity of the place.

For several years, Mr. Moulton was a stockholder in the Gilford Hosiery Corporation at Laconia. In 1868 he became sole owner of the entire stock and property. He has steadily continued its successful operation, with an annual product of one hundred and twenty thousand dollars, until now. The factory employs about one hundred and fifty hands, mostly females, at the mill, and gives employment to many households in the surrounding country. Mr. Moulton and Benjamin K. Thurston are joint owners of the extensive flouring and grain mill of Laconia. He is also a large owner of the stock in the Laconia Gas-light Company, and has done much to place this important pioneer enterprise upon the solid basis it now holds among the public improvements of this growing town.

Mr. Moulton is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He is one of the charter members of Winnipisseogee Lodge No. 7, which was established at Laconia in 1842, and is now one of the Uniformed Patriarchs of the order.

His domestic and family relations are as follows:—

July 15, 1833, he married Nellie B. Senter, of Center Harbor, who was the daughter of Samuel M. Senter. Her ancestor, Col. Joseph Senter, and Ebenezer Chamberlain were the first settlers in that town in 1765 and 1767. She died Nov. 18, 1860, at Laconia. Five children were born to them, of whom three survive.

Edwin Carroll Moulton was born May 25, 1834, and died Nov. 13, 1867. He married Augusta Ranlet, of Laconia, daughter of Charles Ranlet; and their only child, Nelly Augusta Moulton, still survives. He was an active business man, full of promise, and many friends still cherish his memory.

Samuel Moore Senter Moulton was born Aug. 1, 1837, and resides at Laconia. May 2, 1861, he enlisted, and served in the New Hampshire volunteers. July 26, 1861, he enlisted in the regular army of the United States, and served three years during the rebellion, with the mounted troops. Since the war he is employed as book-keeper, clerk, and paymaster in the car factories above referred to. He was one of the selectmen of Laconia for the years 1868 and 1869; and was representative of the town to the legislature for the years 1876 and 1877. He married Martha B. Thurston, daughter of Benjamin E. Thurston, who is well known. He served as representative to the legislature from the town of Moultonborough in Carroll county, for the years 1867 and 1868, after which he removed to, and now resides in, Laconia, which town he represented in the legislature in 1881. He was also high sheriff of Belknap county in the years 1874 and 1875.

William Hale Moulton was born July 20, 1844, died March 10, 1849.

Horatio Francis Moulton was born Jan. 24, 1848. During the war he was three years in the United States navy. He was one of the naval cadets, and intended to pass his life in the United States service, but was prevented by pulmonary disease. He married Ella S. Melcher, of Springfield, Mass., daughter of William Melcher, and has a family of three young children. He is superintendent of the Gilford Hosiery Company, and has been so for many years.

Ida Lettice Moulton, was born June 4, 1850. She married Joshua B. Holden, of Boston, Mass., and they have a young family of four children.

Mr. Moulton married his second wife, Sarah A. McDougal, Aug. 18, 1866. Her many virtues and useful charities have endeared her to a large circle of warm friends.

The lives of men who are absorbed in the exacting duties of many diversified and burdensome pursuits are not crowded with incidents which interest remote posterity; but the successful and many-sided enterprises of such men exert a wide and beneficial influence in their day and generation. Such a man is Mr. Moulton. He has always been an open-handed, public-spirited citizen. To him, and to two or three others, we owe the building of the finest church in Laconia and the support of a liberal ministry. Long after he has passed away, the town of his adoption will continue to exhibit many evidences of his liberal contributions to whatever tended to promote the growth of the town, the prosperity of its business, or the public welfare.