The Hampton Salt Marshes

Hampton's 325th Anniversary, 1638 - 1963

by Ruth G. Stimson

Salt Marsh Conservation Park
1963 -- Salt Marsh Conservation Park

Joseph Dow's History of Hampton records that the early settlers were attracted by the vast salt marshes, "covered in summer with grass and level as a prairie". The staddles or wooden posts for the haycocks may still be seen. While farmers no longer use salt hay, the Hampton salt marshes are still valuable today, but for other reasons.

The foremost value of salt marshes anywhere, wetlands in land use classification, is their economic worth in:
1. Reduction and prevention of erosion.
2. Stabilization of runoff of excess water from inland.
3. Forage fish habitat in tidal estuaries, and source of nutrients for shellfish harvest.
4. Home of waterfowl and shorebirds with recreational value, and scientific habitat of flowers and animals.
5. Buffer for storm tides that damage houses and move rocks.

Recognizing these economic, recreational, historic and scientific values conservation-minded citizens and organizations since 1957 have worked to create interest in conserving a part of the town's natural resources, its salt marshes.

At the 1962 Town Meeting, it was voted to establish a committee of seven conservation-minded citizens to study about acquiring "a portion (350 acres or more) of Hampton marshland, east of U.S. Rt. 1, to be preserved forever in its natural state for wildlife and conservation purposes, under the protection of the U.S. Dept. of Interior (Fish and Game Wildlife Service) or similar state agencies."

Town Moderator, the late Edward S. Seavey, Jr., appointed the late Donald Dunbrack, Dr. Harold Pierson, Mrs. Richard Waters, Conservation Officer Floyd Potter, Mrs. Margaret Lawrence, Mr. Raymond Downer, and Miss Ruth G. Stimson, Chairman.

The Committee asked advice of all interested conservation organizations in the state in making its study, which was reported to the town's people and officials. The conservation area selected lies between Tide Mill Creek, Hampton River, and the Boston and Maine Railroad right of way. The committee contacted as many marshland owners as possible, and is still in process. Gifts of salt marsh are still welcome. [

As of the 325th anniversary of Hampton, the people who donated their salt marsh for "wildlife and conservation purposes" have their names recorded on a permanent marker near the Tide Mill Creek Bridge. This was done through the cooperation of the N.H. Dept. of Fish and Game under Director Ralph G. Carpenter, 2nd, and the Dept of Public Works & Highways under Commissioner John O. Morton, and the Hampton Marsh Conservation Committee.

Governor John P. King at the public recognition ceremony presented the following donors with citations for their gifts of salt marsh as a part of New Hampshire's heritage:

Mr. and Mrs. Donald Munsey in memory of Mr. Harry D. Munsey.
Mrs. Arthur Brown.
Mr. Charles E. Greenman.
Miss Adeline C. Marston.
Mr. and Mrs. Howard Ellis in memory of Mr. Frederick W. Blake.
Miss Mary Ruth Perkins, Mrs. Ethel B. Perkins, Mr. Robert B. Perkins.
Mr. Victor Garland, Mrs. Marguerite P. Garland, Miss Marion E. Garland.
Mr. and Mrs. O. Raymond Garland.
Mrs. Mildred B. Swain in memory of Mr. Warren Brown.
Mrs. Annie Drysdale.
Mrs. Harold Blake and Mrs. Shirley McRae in memory of Mr. Harold Blake.
Mr. Roland Emery in memory of Mr. Isaac Warren Emery.
Mr. Eugene Leavitt in memory of Mr. Irving E. Leavitt.
Mrs. Frances James Perkins.
Mr. and Mrs. Horace M. Batchelder.

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