"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Who was John Legat?

This question was asked yesterday at a non-partisan think tank's school funding policy forum presented to state legislators. I already knew the answer because the Chap had attended the same presentation at some point and told me it began with that question.

He was the first teacher employed by a town (in this case, Hampton) in our state, in the 1640's.

As a historian, I was delighted by the inclusion of historical fact in the Power Point. I was also very much aware of a personal connection to this piece of history--because in 1639 (most likely) one of my ancestors, Thomas Chase, arrived in Hampton.

More on him in a moment.

Such a busy week, so far! I spent Monday afternoon at the County Corrections Department (the Jail) reviewing the 2007 budget. Yesterday I attended hearings on two bills--one in my committee and one in another committee for which I was a co-sponsor.

With an empty hour between my last committee meeting and the "social time" at the Barley House, popular watering hole across the street from the Capitol, I visited the Historical Society Library (also across from the Capitol) for more of my ongoing exploration of Hampton's early (and very well-documented) history.

The comprehensive source is History of Hampton. John Legat's name pops up in several contexts.

I made a new discovery, a map showing the exact location of my ancestor's dwelling.

I've marked the house of Thomas Chase with a big red dot. It was located on the northward side of the road "To the Sea".

Information about Thomas Chase of Hampton abounds on the web. In 1642 he married Elizabeth Philbrick, daughter of another Hampton settler, whose family geneology can be seen here at Janice's Cow Hampshire. Thomas Philbrick lived across the road from Thomas and Elizabeth Chase. One can even study family probate records and there's a wonderful book which I've accessed in the Historical Society Library.

Members of the family migrated to Martha's Vineyard, and are buried there...however, today I won't digress to that location.

My ancestor knew the very first teacher in New Hampshire. Now his legislator descendant is caught up in the court-ordered mandate to define, fund, and deliver education to the students in this state. I'm not sure how that's going to turn out...

I do know that back in 1640, it was a far easier, less complex undertaking!

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