Each season provides its own unique beauty. There are places to hike, bike, fish, cross-country ski, paint, photograph or just walk to replenish your spirit. Hampton is the perfect place to gather family and friends together to experience the very best of Northeast Connecticut.
Within its borders, you will find friendly people, knowledgeable farmers, skilled tradesmen, talented artists and writers as well as dedicated Town Officials, teachers and volunteers.
Settled in the early years of the 18th century as Windham Village, the first settlers were primarily farmers, whose immediate work was to clear and plow the land, plant crops, dig root cellars, and build houses, barns, and sheds. They also harnessed water power to run the grist and saw mills.
Cattle were crucial for survival. The settlers needed oxen to plow and cows for milk, butter, cheese, and meat. Their diet also included fish, turkey, deer, rabbit, duck, and dove as well as fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
Work on the farm was hard. The entire family worked day and night. In addition, some time had to be set aside to home school the children. But none of this discouraged more people from moving to the new settlement.
Years passed...the settlement grew. And when the call came to declare independence from England, the finest men went to fight in the Revolutionary War - among them were Peter Foster and his 12 sons (a united service that was unsurpassed by any other Colonial family). Local farm families generously supplied food for Washington's' men.
In 1786, when the Town of Hampton was incorporated; its citizens were farmers, tradesmen, merchants, teachers, lawyers, pastors, and doctors. There were mills along the Little River as early as 1718, making cider, shingles, and cotton. There was a tannery and factories that made pins, buttons, rakes, spectacles, hats, and silver spoons. There were one-room schools for the children and inns for travelers. And in the Winter, local ponds were used to supply ice to everyone who owned an ice house.
During the Civil War, many brave men served in the Union Army. Their mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters stayed at home sewing and knitting for the troops.
The Town experienced a dramatic transformation in 1872 when a railroad station was built here due to the efforts of former Governor, Chauncey Cleveland. Having the railroad stop in Hampton meant that farmers could safely transport perishables to places as far away as Boston and students could now travel to better their education. By the early 1900's, Summer visitors came and brought a welcome new source of revenue to the Town.
With the arrival of the Industrial Age, the men - and later the women - left their Hampton farms and declining businesses and commuted to work in the large mills in Willimantic.
The Great War, the Depression, and the invention of the automobile also came after the turn of the century. Electricity, central heating, and indoor plumbing were becoming commonplace here.
James L. Goodwin developed orchards, as well as lumber and stone-cutting businesses, all were contained within the original 1,723 acres now known as Goodwin Forest. Pride swelled as Hampton got a Library and Volunteer Fire Company.
The hurricane of '38 blew through the Town. Then came the dark days of World War II. Hampton sent 49 outstanding men and women to defend our flag and suffered one casualty...an important member of a founding family - Technical Sergeant Leslie L. Jewett.
As the economy of Hampton became less dependent on farming, people realized the need to focus on preserving as much of the remaining open land as possible. No one was more qualified to promote this thinking that the Pulitzer Prize winning naturalist, Edwin Way Teale. He and his wife, Nellie, called their 168 acre Hampton property "Trail Wood." The walking trails, their house, and his books are still available for all to enjoy.
Because so many people cared about land preservation and the rural lifestyle, the character of Hampton has come full circle. There are open spaces, woodlands, and farms dotting the landscape again. And throughout the Town, there are neighborly people who want to enjoy the benefits of country living.
It is in this exact setting - a blend of the "old" and the "new" - that Hampton residents will continue to enjoy a good quality of life for generations to come.
Preserving open space and controlled, responsible development are 2 of the town's goals. To read more, please see the Hampton Plan of Conservation and Development.