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
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
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
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.