New Hampton History: The Gordon Family

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Written by Jerrica Blackey P’19, Library Director and School Archivist

During the library’s recent renovations a poem written by a descendent of one of New Hampton’s first settlers was uncovered. The poem “Must we die” is a walk through life with the ultimate end in heaven. Written by Deacon John Calvin Gordon to his future wife Sarah “Sally” Robinson, they were married in 1830. The letter was given to the library in 1979 by Isabel Rand, with a note explaining she found the poem in the files of her grandparents, Henry and Catherine Gordon of New Hampton. It was a wonderful surprise to find that the young Gordon attended New Hampton Academy in 1825.

Must we die

When youthful scenes around us rise
And hope in every vein beats high
When fairest prospects greet our eyes
Tis hard to die
When the good will of all we gain
And friends so near and dear stand by
When love around us winds his chain
Tis hard to die
When health wealth honor all are ours
Secure from every slander die
Reposing in love’s pleasing bowers
Tis hard to die
But when our youthful scenes are o’er
And all our youthful hopes do fly
Then prospects fair are seen no more
Tis rough to die
When on a sick bed pained we lay
When friends do from us causeless hie
When every earthly tie gives way
Tis good to die
When boundless mercy does proclaim
Secure our mansion in the sky
Then trusting in his holy name
Tis bliss to die

John Calvin Gordon for Sarah Robinson
(Names written in mirror writing)

Growing Up in New Hampton

John Gordon grew up on Main Street with his nine siblings in the house pictured. He and Sally also grew a large family of seven, moving into the family home with his parents.

John was a farmer and wool manufacturer who produced stockings and gloves prepared in a large iron kettle. He was Deacon of the Calvinist Baptist Church for many years and also served the town as clerk. According to A Small Gore of Land,

“The avenue of maples, which formerly stretched from the village to the Old Institution, is said to have been planted by Deacon John Calvin Gordon to shade the path taken by him and his family each Sunday when they went to the Calvinist Baptist meeting house.”

John Calvin Gordon
A portrait of John Calvin Gordon of New Hampton, New Hampshire.

A Family Legacy

John’s son, Adoniram Judson Gordon, born in 1836, attended New Hampton School until it was taken over by the Free Will Baptists. He then transferred to a school in New London. Like his father, A. J. Gordon felt the pull of the pulpit. He became a preacher and rose very rapidly in the church eventually becoming pastor of the Boston Baptist Church.

Widely known as a speaker and writer, he was a great power in Baptist affairs for more than 30 years and the founder of Gordon College. He came home to New Hampton in summer and held services at the Dana Meeting House even donating generously for its restoration. I believe his portrait still hangs in the meeting house. A. J. Gordon’s book, Risen With Christ, is in the library’s collection, along with several other titles by him.

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