Jonathan Moulton Makes a Deal with the Devil?
Jonathan Moulton is a uniquely interesting Founder as his life has birthed several tall tales which make him a mythical figure in
Today, we will review Moulton’s career as a Revolutionary before diving into the good stuff…his legends.
By the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Jonathan Moulton was already a decorated veteran and one of the most successful military men in all of New Hampshire. His experience in both King Philip’s War and the French and Indian War made a natural choice to lead soldiers in the fight for freedom.
Moulton had the unique task defending the New Hampshire coastline.
Patrolling the Coast
Moulton’s regiment patrolled the fifteen miles of (what was then) America’s northernmost State. If the British came knocking, no one was coming to the rescues.
With the exception of the Battle of Saratoga, Jonathan’s men stayed in and around New Hampshire for the duration of the Revolution. That’s not to say he didn’t do his share of fighting, as he was eventually promoted to Brigadier General on his merits.
Moulton also receive election to the State Assembly as well as serving on the Committee of Safety.
At large, Moulton’s place in the American Founding would seem fairly ordinary. However, this man grew into a legend.
Jonathan Moulton had several legends tied to his name, one more fantastic than the next.
Let’s take a look.
Deal with the Devil
As a younger man, Moulton had gone from a frontier trader to one of the wealthiest men in New Hampshire in a very short time. But how could someone make so much money out there?
To his rural neighbors there was only one answer…he made a deal with the Devil!
So the legend goes, Moulton agreed to sell his soul to the Devil in exchange for two boots full of gold. Ahh, but Jonathan was crafty. He cut holes in the floor as well as the bottom of his boots. No matter how much gold the Devil poured in, the boots would never fill up.
Moulton (allegedly) now had a basement full of gold and got to keep that precious soul all to himself.
In retaliation for the trick, the Devil burned down Jonathan’s house. He and his family barely escaped alive.
Now, if we look at the burning of his house with a cooler head, we can safely assume it was either an accident or it was destroyed by his neighbors. Moulton was not shy to flaunt his wealth and even had the audacity to waste the time, money and resources to paint his house white (imagine that!). There is a good chance the other frontiersmen wanted to set an example and burned it down.
As the American Revolution set in, Moulton’s wife, Abigail, passed away from smallpox. Within the year, he had married a younger, prettier trophy wife named Sarah.
Apparently, Jonathan recycled his Abigail’s wedding ring by giving it to his new bride (though there is no proof of this).
On their wedding night, the ghost of Abigail appeared in their bed and attempted to steal the ring back from Sarah. Spooky.
Unlike the first legend, which appeared during Moulton’s lifetime, this story was written in a poem decades later by famous writer John Greenleaf Whittier.
The final tale that we will discuss today occurred after Moulton’s death.
Apparently, one of the pallbearers at Jonathan’s funeral took a peak in his casket to see his friend one last time. But when he looked…there was no friend there to see!
The body had simply disappeared.
In its place was a bag of coins with the Devils face stamped on them!
This story most likely stems back to the jealousies of his neighbors. Concerned that his tombstone would be destroyed, Jonathan Moulton (again, a Brigadier General in the American Revolution) was buried in an unmarked grave.
Although this was done for the sake of a peaceful rest, it only added fuel to the fire of those telling tall tales about the life of this curious Founder.
Want to read about other Founders who achieved legendary status?
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Want to read a full recounting of Moulton’s deal with the Devil?
‘General Moulton and the Devil’ is a full recounting of the deal, by one of the greatest American Folk Story authors of all time.
If you’d like a precious copy for your very own you can through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same).