United Press International , as printed Boston Globe, May 2nd1976
NEWMARKET, N.H. — Edward Hilton of London sailed up the Piscataqua River in 1623, stopped at a spit of land now known as Hilton Point and became the first settler in New Hampshire. His descendants are living on some of the land granted him in 1631 by King Charles I of England—hoping they won’t be forced off by ever-rising property taxes. George Winthrop Hilton Sr., 63, an animal husbandry specialist who recently retired as superintendent of the Rockingham County Home, and his wife are the 10th generation of Hiltons to live on Grant road, which takes its name from the land grant to their ancestor.
They live in a Hilton home dating to about 1730. Their two sons and their families live across the road in modern homes built on the roughly 150 acres remaining of a grant which once stretched a dozen miles from Dover Point to Exeter, and three miles inland along that line. The tip of Dover Point is now called Hilton Point and houses a state park called Hilton Park.
The Hiltons own the oldest family homestead in New Hampshire. The Hilton farm now is a tree farm, but for most of its existence it was a dairy farm and orchard. The Holstein herd was sold off before Hilton’s mother’s death, when it became too much for her and his uncle, another Edward Hilton, to manager. They also had to give up their milk route and an old cider mill which George’s father, Richard, always said at least gave him money each year to pay the taxes.
Property taxes are a worry because New Hampshire taxes on the potential most costly use of land. Since a road splits the Hilton property, most of it is considered as potential house lots. A new valuation this year would have put taxes at $2,300.
A recent state law allows for taxation based on current use of the land, not potential use, The Hiltons applied for such taxation, reducing the bill to $900. “It made quite a difference to us in being able to hold onto our land. George would feel very badly to have to dispose of this land. He’d like to keep it in the Hilton name. We have four little grandsons, so we hope it will go to them,” Mrs. Hilton said.
The Hilton land includes a hill they allow people to use for sledding, snowmobiling and other recreation in the winter. “If the young people want any land left so they have recreational areas, they’re going to have to be in favor of current land use taxation,” Hilton said.
The Hiltons were married 40 years ago, shortly after he graduated with an animal husbandry major from the University of New Hampshire. He worked on the Ayrshire farm of the late Gov. Robert Blood in Concord, then was employed as a herdsman of the state reform school farm in Manchester, where Mrs. Hilton found a job as secretary.
When Hilton was 24 he became superintendent of the Rockingham County Home and his wife became matron a title displeasing to a woman only 23, “When I became old enough to really use the title I had become an administrator,” she said.
Experts date their square-built white wooden house with its huge central chimney and covered beams as about 1730. The front door is on the side away from the highway because, Mrs. Hilton said, in those days they sited houses directly east and west so they could be used as giant sundials by men working in the fields.
When the men could look up and see no shadows on the roof, they knew it was exactly noon and time to come in for dinner.
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