Milton’s First Postmasters (1818-c1840)

By Muriel Bristol | October 1, 2018

Scales’ History of Strafford County states that

Owing to the destruction of the post-office records and papers by fire, it has been found impossible to determine who was the first postmaster in Milton. John Nutter, however, was the first at Milton Mills, and the post-route was from Emery’s Mills [Shapleigh, ME] through Milton Mills to Middleton, and the mail was carried once in two weeks by a Mr. Home.

Local postal records may have been destroyed, but Federal ones were not. They indicate that Simon Chase became the first postmaster of Milton, NH., in 1818. Lewis Hayes became the first Postmaster of Chestnut Hill, i.e., West Milton, in 1821. John Nutter became the first postmaster of Milton Mills, NH, in 1826.

Many of these men were store-keepers in Milton, West Milton, and Milton Mills, respectively. Two of them were doctors. Dedicated post-office buildings would have been rare. The local post-office often occupied a corner of a local store or office.


Milton Post Office

The Postmasters of Milton, NH, from the first postal establishment in 1818 up into 1840 were Simon Chase, J. Norton Scates, Benjamin Gerrish, James M. Twombly, and Dr. Stephen Drew.

Simon Chase (1818-22)

Simon Chase was born in Berwick, ME, September 30, 1786, son of John and Hannah (Dennett) Chase. He died in Rochester, NH, in 1878. (He is buried in the Rochester Cemetery).

Simon Chase headed a Milton household at the time of the Third (1810) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 16-25 years (himself). The census taker recorded his household between those of Widow Elizabeth Gerrish, Saml. Palmer and Jno. Fisk on the one side, and Nicholas Harford and Gilman Jewett on the other.

He married in Milton, NH, October 28, 1813, Sarah Wingate. She was born in 1794, only child of  Enoch and Mary ((Yeaton) (Meserve)) Wingate. She died in Rochester, NH, in 1870. (She is buried in the Rochester Cemetery).

The Post Office Department appointed Simon Chase as Milton’s first Postmaster on March 3, 1818. Prior to his appointment, one assumes that Milton mail came to the Rochester Post Office.

The Milton entries for the Fourth (1820) Federal Census are missing. Simon and Sarah (Wingate) Chase resided in Milton as late as 1823, but had removed to Rochester by 1827.

Simon Chase headed a Rochester household at the time of the Fifth (1830) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 40-49 years (himself), one female aged 40-49 years (Sarah), one female aged 15-19 years, one male aged 5-9 years, one male aged under-5 years, and one female aged under-5 years, and one female aged 60-69 years.

He was engaged in “Commerce” in the Sixth (1840) Federal Census and identified as a merchant in the Seventh (1850) Federal Census. Both in Rochester. While not proof that he kept a store during his Milton years, in which the post office would have operated, it does seem likely.

J. Norton Scates (1822-26)

There appear to have been two John Scates residing in Milton for a time. They do not appear to have been father and son. The younger one (born circa 1790) used the name “J. Norton” or “Norton” to avoid confusion.

A Thomas J. Scates died in Boston, MA, December 21, 1860, aged forty-seven years and three days. His birthplace was given as Milton, NH. By computation, he would have been born there circa December 1813. The parents listed on his Boston death record were Norton (born Milton, NH) and Hannah (born Rochester, NH) Scates.

Norton Scates served in the militia company raised in Milton, NH, in September 1814, for service in Portsmouth, NH, during the War of 1812.

The Post Office Department appointed J. Norton Scates as Milton’s second Postmaster on April 8, 1822.

Norton Scates moved away, probably in 1826, leaving John Scates in possession of the name and Benjamin Gerrish in possession of the postmaster position.

Norton Scates headed a Middleton household at the time of the Fifth (1830) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 40-49 years, one female aged 30-39 years, one male aged 20-29 years, one male aged 10-14 years, one male aged 5-9 years, and one female aged 5-9 years.

Norton Scates headed a Dover household at the time of the Sixth (1840) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 50-59 years (himself), one female aged 30-39 years, and two females aged 15-19 years. One member of his household was engaged in “Agriculture” as opposed to the other two possibilities of Commerce or Industry.

Norton Scates married (2nd) in Rochester, NH, October 29, 1849, Hannah E. Matthes.

Norton Scates kept a grocery store on Main street in Dover between 1859 and 1867. He lived in the rear of the store.

Hannah E. Scates later claimed a War of 1812 widow’s pension for Norton Scates’s service in Milton’s militia company.

Benjamin Gerrish (1826-27)

The Post Office Department appointed Benjamin Gerrish as Milton’s third Postmaster on April 16, 1826.

Benj. Gerrish headed a Milton household at the time of the Fifth (1830) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 30-39 years (himself), one female aged 30-39 years, two females aged under-5 years, and one female aged 70-79 years. The census taker recorded his household between those of Steph. M. Matthes and Wm. H. Brewster on the one side and Elizabeth Gerrish (aged 60-69 years) and Thos. Wentworth on the other. (This page, number 11 of 18, presumably contains Milton households).

James M. Twombly (1827-37)

James Twombly served in the militia company raised in Milton, NH, in September 1814, for service in Portsmouth, NH, during the War of 1812.

The Post Office Department appointed James M. Twombly as Milton’s fourth Postmaster on September 18, 1827.

J.M. Twombly, W.B. Wiggin, and H. Meserve were Milton selectmen in 1829.

Jas. Twombly headed a Milton household at the time of the Fifth (1830) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 50-59 years, one female aged 50-59 years, one male aged 15-19 years, and one female aged 10-14 years. The census taker recorded Twombly’s household between those of Jos. Horne and Matthias Nutter on the one side, and Lydia Twombly and Saml. Clemens on the other. (This page, number 1 of 18, presumably contains Milton households).

J.M. Twombly was again a selectman in 1831, 1832, 1833, 1836, 1840, 1841, and 1842.

James M. Twombly headed a Milton household at the time of the Sixth (1840) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 30-39 years (himself), one female aged 30-39 years, one male aged 20-29 years, one male aged 10-14 years, one female aged 10-14 years, one male aged 5-9 years, and one female aged 5-9 years. Two members of his household were engaged in “Commerce,” as opposed to the other two possibilities of Agriculture or Industry. The census taker recorded Twombly’s household between those of Robert Matthes and Benjamin G. Willey on the one side, and Elizabeth Gerrish and James H. Twombly (aged 40-49 years) on the other side.

Dr. Stephen Drew (1837-40)

Stephen Drew was born in Newfield, ME, September 2, 1791, son of Elijah and Abigail (Claridge) Drew. He died in Milton, NH, February 25, 1872.

He married in Milton, NH, October 26, 1817, Harriet Watson. She was born in Milton, NH, April 9, 1795. She died in Evanston, IL, May 7, 1876.

The NH Medical Society certified Dr. Stephen Drew of Milton, NH, in 1818.

State of New Hampshire. This may certify that we the subscribers, Censors of the New Hampshire Medical Society, have examined Dr. Stephen Drew of Milton in said State, a Candidate for the practice of Physic & Surgery, respecting his skill and knowledge therein, and having found him duly qualified therefor, do, in testimony of our approbation, hereunto subscribe our names at Farmington, this 21st day of July Anno Domini 1818. Asa Crosby, Samuel Pray, Censors of the NH Med Society. Attest, Saml Morril Sec’y.

Stephen Drew headed a Milton Household at the time of the Fifth (1830) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 30-39 years (himself), one female aged 30-39 years (Harriet), one male aged 20-29 years, one female aged 15-19 years, two males aged 10-14 years, one female aged 5-9 years, and one female aged under-5 years.

He was one of twelve Milton justices of the peace in 1835. The Post Office Department appointed him Milton Postmaster on June 17, 1837. He had stood as a surety for the previous postmaster, James M. Twombly, back in 1827.

Stephen Drew headed a Milton Household at the time of the Sixth (1840) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 40-49 years (himself), one female aged 40-49 years (Harriet), two males aged 20-29 years, and two females aged 15-19 years. One member of his household was employed in a learned profession or as an engineer. (He was Milton’s town physician).


Chestnut Hill [West Milton] Post Office

The Postmasters of Chestnut Hill (West Milton), NH, from its establishment in 1821 up through most of the 1840s were Lewis Hayes, Israel Nute, and John Hayes.

Lewis Hayes (1821-1828)

Lewis Hayes was born circa 1793-94, son of Daniel and Eunice (Pinkham) Hayes. He died in Kittery, ME, March 31, 1862, aged sixty-eight years and one month. (He is buried in the Hayes Cemetery in Milton, NH).

Lewis Hayes served as a musician, i.e., a fifer or drummer, in the militia company raised in Milton, NH, in September 1814, for service in Portsmouth, NH, during the War of 1812.

He married in Wolfeboro, NH, August 17, 1820, Sarah Moody Clark, he of Milton and she of Wolfeboro. The Rev. Isaac Townsend officiated at the ceremony. She was born in Wolfeboro, NH, March 23, 1800, daughter of Joseph and Comfort Clark. She died in Kittery, ME, May 12, 1883.

The Post Office Department appointed Lewis Hayes as the first Chestnut Hill [West Milton] Postmaster on March 17, 1821.

Lewis Hayes headed a Milton household at the time of the Fifth (1830) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 30-39 years (himself), one female aged 20-29 years (Sarah), two males aged 5-9 years, one male aged under-5 years, and one female aged under-5 years. The census taker recorded his household between those of Thos. P. Ricker and Danl. Hayes on the one side and Calvin P. Horne and Chas. Horne on the other.

He moved from Milton, first to South Berwick, ME, before 1835, and then on to Kittery, ME, by 1840.

Lewis Hayes headed a Kittery household at the time of the Sixth (1840) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 40-49 years (himself), one female aged 40-49 years (Sarah), one male aged 15-19 years, one male aged 10-14 years, one female aged 10-14 years, one male aged 5-9 years, and one male aged under-5 years. One member of his household was engaged in “Commerce,” as opposed to the other two possibilities of Agriculture or Industry.

Israel Nute (1828-1836)

Israel Nute was born in Milton, NH, circa 1791-92, son of Jotham and Sarah (Twombly) Nute. He died in Milton, NH, February 15, 1836.

He married in the First Congregational Church in Rochester, NH, September 22, 1817, Hannah Fish. She was born in Milton, NH, September 3, 1797, daughter of John and Rebecca (Ober) Fish. She died in Lincoln, ME, September 24, 1874.

The Post Office Department appointed Israel Nute as the second Chestnut Hill [West Milton] Postmaster on August 3, 1828. Jotham Nute and David Nute stood surety for him.

Israel Nute headed a Milton household at the time of the Fifth (1830) Federal Census. His household included one male 20-29 years (himself), one female aged 30-39 years (Hannah), one male aged 15-19 years, one male aged 10-14 years, one male 5-9 years, one female aged 5-9 years, one male aged under-5 years, and one female aged 60-69 years. The census taker recorded his household between those of Mary Wingate [widow of Enoch Wingate] and William Matthes on the one side, and Thos. P. Ricker and Danl. Hayes on the other.

Israel Nute was one of twelve Milton justices of the peace in 1835.

Both Israel Nute  and his father, Jotham Nute, died in February 1836. Jotham Nute’s widow received a pension in Portsmouth, NH, for his Revolutionary war service, beginning in September 1836. Israel Nute’s widow moved to Lincoln, ME, before 1840, where she married (2nd), April 28, 1844, Dr. Samuel Forbes.

John Hayes (1836-1847)

John Hayes was born in Milton, NH, circa July 1802, son of Ezekiel and Mehitabel (Gale) Hayes. He died in Milton, NH, May 27, 1847, aged forty-four years, 10 months. (He is buried in the Hayes Cemetery in Milton, NH).

He married January 13, 1825, Sarah Wingate. She was born in Rochester, NH, circa 103, daughter of John and Mary (Cate) Wingate. She died in Rochester, NH, in July 1863.

John Hayes headed a Milton household at the time of the Fifth (1830) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 20-29 years (himself), one female aged 20-29 years, one male aged 5-9 years, one male aged under-5 years, and one female aged 5-9 years. The census taker recorded his household between those of Joshua Ray and Ezekiel Hayes on the one side, and Danl. Hayes, Jr., and Beniah Dore on the other.

The Post Office Department appointed John Hayes as the third Chestnut Hill [West Milton] Postmaster on March 19, 1836.

John Hayes headed a Milton household at the time of the Sixth (1840) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 30-39 years (himself), one female aged 30-39 years, one female aged 20-29 years, one male aged 10-14 years, one female aged 10-14 years, one male aged under-5 years, and one female aged under-5 years. The census taker recorded his household between those of Jacob Nute and Hiram Ricker on the one side, and Danl. Hayes, Jr., and Eliphalet F. How on the other. Three members of his household were engaged in “Agriculture,” as opposed to the other two possibilities of Commerce or Industry.


Milton Mills Post Office

The Postmasters of Milton Mills, NH, from its establishment in 1826 up into 1840 were John Nutter and John L. Swinerton.

As mentioned above, a Mr. Homes brought the Milton Mills mail over from Emery’s Mill in Shapleigh, ME, on his way to Middleton, NH. He made the trip every two weeks.

John Nutter (1826-1838, 1841-42)

John Nutter was born circa 1780-89.

John Nutter held the office of Town Moderator for a single year around 1825-26.

The Post Office Department appointed John Nutter as the first Milton Mills Postmaster on November 13, 1826. He held that office from then through March 1837. Dr. John L. Swinerton succeeded him, although he appears to have returned briefly in 1841-42.

John Nutter, T.C. Lyman, and Charles Swasey were selectmen in 1830. He was one of twelve Milton justices of the peace in 1835.

John Nutter headed a Milton household at the time of the Fifth (1830) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 40-49 years (himself), one female aged 30-39 years, and one male aged 15-19 years. The census taker recorded Nutter’s household between those of Eben. Osgood and Mehitable Swasey on the one side, and Lydia Twombly and Obadiah Witham on the other. (This page, number 15 of 18, presumably contains Milton Mills households, as he was the Milton Mills postmaster).

John Nutter headed a Milton household at the time of the Sixth (1840) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 50-59 years, one female aged 50-59 years, and one female aged 20-29 years. One member of his household was engaged in “Agriculture,” as opposed to the other two possibilities of Commerce or Industry. The census taker recorded his household between Charles Swasey and Gilman Jewett on the one side and Samuel L. Hart and Ezekiel Merrow on the other.

Dr. John L. Swinerton (1838-41, 1842-43)

John Langdon Swinerton was born in Newfields, ME, June 23, 1805, son of John and Lydia (Dunnell) Swinerton. He died in Wakefield, NH, November 2, 1882, aged seventy-seven years.

He married in Wolfeboro, NH, June 25, 1832, Ann A. Robinson. She was born in Vermont in 1803. She died September 11, 1880.

John L. Swinerton was one of twelve Milton justices of the peace in 1835. The Post Office Department appointed John Swinerton as the second Milton Mills Postmaster on December 13, 1838.

He attended medical classes or lectures at Bowdoin College between February and May 1839.

John L. Swinerton headed a Milton Household at the time of the Sixth (1840) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 30-39 years (himself), one female aged 30-39 years (Ann A.), one males aged 5-99 years, and one female aged under-5 years. One member of his household was employed in a learned profession or as an engineer [physician in 1850]. The census taker recorded his household between those of Bray Sims [trader] and Asa Fox [trader] on the one side, and Alpheus Goodwin [farmer] and Ebenezer Osgood [blacksmith] on the other.

The Post Office Department appointed John Swinerton again as Milton Mills Postmaster on December 15, 1842.

He was living in Milton as late as the Eighth (1860) Federal Census, but he was John L. Swinerton of Union when he paid an annual $1 US Excise tax on his physician’s license in May 1864.


Federal Registers of 1828, 1833, and 1835

Postmasters were listed also in the official Federal registers of its principal officers and officials. Below are excerpted the entries for Milton and Milton Mills in 1828, 1833, and 1835.

In the register for the year ending June 30, 1828:

Office. County. State. Postmasters. Distance from Washington, State Cap.

Milton, Strafford, N.H. James M. Twombly. 525, 58.

Milton Mills, Strafford, N.H. John Nutter. 549, 44 [Page 74].

For the year ending September 30, 1833:

Persons employed in the General Post Office, with the annual compensation of each.

Chestnut Hill, N.H. Israel Nute. $2.09;

Milton, N.H. James M. Twombly. $9.69;

Milton Mills, N.H. John Nutter, $5.07 [Page 134].

For the year ending September 30, 1835:

Persons employed in the General Post Office, with the annual compensation of each.

Chestnut Hill, N.H. Israel Nute. $1.83;

Milton, N.H. J.M. Twombly. $10.90;

Milton Mills, N.H. John Nutter. $7.51 [Page 20].

Twombly and Nutter held their sinecures during the presidencies of Democratic-Republican President John Quincy Adams (1825-29) and his successors, Democratic presidents Andrew Jackson (1829-37) and Martin Van Buren (1837-41). Postmasters were political appointees in this period. There is a strong likelihood that these men held their offices by virtue of being Democrats. There was a turnover in these offices when Whig presidents William Henry Harrison (1841-41) and John Tyler (1841-45) took office.

Postmasters in New-Hampshire, 1835

Milton, James M. Twombly, (Chestnut Hill,) Israel Nute, (Mills,) John Nutter.

References:

Bowdoin College. (1839). Catalogue of the Officers and Student of Bowdoin College and the Medical School of Maine. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=kXbOAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA11

Doubleday, Anne. (n.d.). Doubleday Postal History. Retrieved from www.doubledaypostalhistory.com/postmaster/NewHampshire/Strafford.pdf

Farmer, John. (1835). The New Hampshire Annual Register and United States Calendar, 1835. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=lugWAAAAYAAJ

Find a Grave. (2016, September 13). John Hayes. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/169877327

Find a Grave. (2016, September 13). Lewis Hayes. Retrieved fromwww.findagrave.com/memorial/169872967

Find a Grave. (2012, June 18). Simon Chase. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/92136668/simon-chase

NH Medical Society. (1911). Records of the New Hampshire Medical Society from Its Organization in 1791 to the Year 1854. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=sadXAAAAMAAJ

Scales, John. (1914). History of Strafford County, New Hampshire, and Representative Citizens. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=nGsjAQAAMAAJ

US Post-Master General. (1828, June 1). List of Post-Offices in the United States, with the Names of the Post-Masters, of the Counties and States, to which They Belong; the Distances from the City of Washington, and the Seats of State Capitals, Respectively; Exhibiting the State of Post-Offices, on the 1st of June, 1828. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=4iHiqHCs4ksC

US Department of State. (1833, September 30). Register of All Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September 1833. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=7B5AAAAAYAAJ

US Department of State. (1835, September 30). Register of All Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September 1835. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=Tx9AAAAAYAAJ

 

Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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