WASHINGTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY
A NEWSLETTER FOR MEMBERS AND FRIENDS
WINTER 2002 EDITION


President's Message

Well the holiday season is behind us now, so we will attempt to get caught up on our WHS work. Winter is a time for the committees to formulate their plans for the coming season; it is this behind-the-scene work that is very important to the programs, visibility and success of the Society.

I thank the dedicated people on the Board and the committees and all of the volunteers for their dedication and hard work.

It was gratifying to be asked to take the leadership role in the WHS once again. As the founder of the Society twenty years ago, I saw it through its infancy and into a growing youngster; then as a Board member, I helped to raise it through childhood. Ten years later, I again took the leadership role and brought it into its adolescent years, helping to acquire and prepare the new home and Museum.

Now at twenty years, I'm back again and the Society is in its young adulthood years, grown, matured, a wealth of information, willing to educate and share the knowledge that it has gained, but still young enough to listen and gather more information.

It's people like you that make this all possible. Keep up the good work, don't be bashful, come out and join the more active members and volunteer some time. You will find that it will be very rewarding from the people that you meet and the information that you learn.

You only get the tip of the iceberg at the meetings; the pictures and information and the former residents who visit and tell their stories are at the museum: that is the place to spend some time.

And a special thank-you to the people who donate items to the museum and financial aid to the Society

Phil Barker, President
Washington Historical Society 2002


NEW ROOF FOR OLD SCHOOLHOUSE

A contract was signed late this last fall to replace the roof on the Old District #5 Schoolhouse in East Washington. In researching the records it appears that the last roof was put on more than 25 years ago and it has been starting to leak in places. We have already received over $300 in contributions towards this major expense and further donations would be more than welcome, so that we do not have to deplete inordinately the general funds of the Society.

In addition, Lynda Roy, one of our long time members, has generously offered to donate one of her hand-made quilts to a raffle devoted to the expenses of replacing the roof. Those of you who attended our last meeting of the fall may recall seeing it at the "show and tell" display of more than 30 quilts (see next article), which were exhibited at the November meeting. It is a queen size quilt and the pattern is called "Trip Around the World."

Tickets will be priced at $2 each, or 3 for $5, and a drawing will be held at our August meeting next summer. You do not have to be present to win. If you would like to participate in this benefit toward the new roof, you will be able to purchase tickets at one of our regular meetings next Spring and Summer, or you may send a check marked "quilt raffle" to our treasurer at P.O. Box 90, who will record your ticket number(s) and mail back to you the number of tickets you specify.


A Patchwork of Quilts

WHS members describe their favorite quilts at the November 2001 meeting.

Each quilt had a unique beauty and a rich history... made by friends and relatives or by our own gifted members.

Click on photos to enlarge


Gwen Gaskell


Martha Hamill


Joan Phipps


Betty Talpey

Web Site Bonus!! More Quilt Photos!!!


The Founding of the Society

According to the first minutes of the Washington NH Historical Society, Phil Barker hand-distributed 100 invitations for an organizational meeting on October 25, 1982. Forty-five persons attended an informal informational meeting (see sign up sheet at right), at which time six persons were chosen to investigate and further the ideas, intents and ideals to be incorporated into such a society. Phil Barker, Kenneth Brighton, Sally Krone, Virginia Macy, Manning Harvey and Ethel Crane were named to this committee. Judge Kenneth Brighton volunteered his legal services in drawing up a charter and by-laws in accordance with the aims of the Society and the laws of the State of NH governing such societies. In the interim, the committee of six held two meetings. The proposed by-laws and charter, as prepared by Kenneth Brighton, were presented to the group and found to be acceptable.

Since the town was incorporated on December 13, 1776, it seemed appropriate for the first formal meeting of the Society to be held on December 13, 1982. The Charter Meeting opened with chairman, Phil Barker, presenting the proposed Articles of Agreement for the Society together with the constitution and By-Laws. All were approved and a slate of officers was elected.


(click on image to enlarge)

Original Slate of Officers - 1982
President: Phil Barker
Vice President: Ronald Jager
Secretary: Wendy Otterson
Treasurer: Mabel Kimmel
Directors: Sally Krone
Donald Crane
Virginia Macy

Kenneth Brighton suggested that we file our Charter with the state before the end of the year, and we received it in March 1983.

Six life-long residents of Washington were voted to be honorary members: Carroll Farnsworth, Ernest Cram, Grace Iadonisi, Zaida Cilley, Elsie Fletcher and Hazel Drew.

Early meetings were held in the Town Hall, before we acquired our present Museum building. Many of these charter members are still active in the Society, although regrettably some have passed away. A recent review of the membership role came up with the names of 12 people who have been members continuously since 1982. Our total membership is now approximately 150.

It is interesting that one of the topics discussed at the first meetings was the task of locating old cemeteries and family burial grounds. Some of these have since been located. 14 members of the Historical Society visited the Spaulding Cemetery on the Lempster Mountain Road on June 21, 1997. It is also interesting to note that the age difference between the eldest hiker, Miriam O'Keefe, and the youngest, James L. Gaskell II, was 85 years. Pictures were taken of the four stones found there and added to our cemetery records. We are still searching for the cemetery located on the northwest side of Lovell Mountain. We have talked to a few people who have come across it, but have not been able to find it again. Can anyone help with the mystery?


Receipt for copying invitations to the original 1982 organizational meeting of the Society.


Visit the new Washington NH Town Web Site www.washingtonnh.org


State House Visit


Representative Bob O'Dell arranged a tour of the NH State House on July 11th


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EARLY HALLOWEEN?

Story by Gwen Gaskell

The Washington Police Log appears in the Speakout newspaper on Thursday, October 4th:

"A worker for a local contractor who was digging a foundation under a 100+ year old barn on No. Main St. dug up some clothing fragments and bones. The NHSP Major Crime Unit and Medical Examiner were called and responded to the scene. The bones were taken to the Medical Examiner's Office."

And the Villager carried this article the same week...

"Bones Turn Out Not to Be Human"

What was rumored as human bones that had been buried under Washington residents Lincoln and Lolly Gilbert's barn for 50 years have been confirmed by the state medical examiner's office to be only animal bones.

The rumor circulated after a building contractor came across the bones last Thursday. Lincoln Gilbert said the contractor was attempting to install posts to repair the barn when he discovered the bones.

After state police were called to the scene and then taken under research by the state medical examiner's office, the Gilbert's concern didn't lie in when the remains were buried or if the bones link to a human, but rather continuing to repair the barn without any holdup.

'I was unconcerned'" said Lincoln Gilbert. 'Any bones found under the barn have been there for a long time. Who knows what was under there? It hasn't been a hold on fixing the barn.'

The news interested some residents in town, but most had no idea the bones had been discovered. But to the Gilberts it's business as usual."

These articles prompted me to do a little research. The barn is the one presently owned by the Gilberts, beside the big brick home in the center of town. It was originally part of the Lovell Hotel, which was built in 1802. It stands to reason that the barn was built about the same time when horses and livestock supplied the hotel with food- and they needed shelter. The carriage sheds, springboard dance floor and rooms were added in front of the barn about 1881 and were taken down about 1933 as was the long wing toward the Congregational Church, which had been built in 1891 when Jasper Goodwin owned the property.

The stagecoaches changed horses here to continue the trips up steeper grades. Every barn or location where a barn stood probably has bones, because they all had animals to supply their families and/or boarders with food. The likely place to discard the waste was under the barn, and it was also a likely place to throw a pair of worn out shoes or a broken belt.

There were questions about the bones for a day or two - Had anyone suddenly disappeared over 50 or 75 years ago? If the bones were human - who could it have been? A lone traveler? A tramp? A transient mill worker? None of our few old timers who were here that long ago knew of any strange occurrences back then and it was comforting to learn that the bones were animal. Our police chief offered this picture for the newsletter. It did seem to be of historical interest and an article could provide a bit of a chuckle!