How the Pelham Historical Society was Started

Below you will find some Newspaper articles from 1963, explaining how the society was formed, who helped to form it and why


January 23, 1963 Newspaper Clipping Excerpt...

Historical Society Seeks Old Town Records

A preliminary meeting for the formation of a Pelham Historical Society was held in the library with several interested citizens at attendance. Highlight of the discussion was the fact that an accumulation of valuable records is definitely needed. Documents, such as deeds and maps, all town records, any pictures of the early houses, mills or public buildings, articles which have a place in Pelham's history should be catalogued and filed in one place. Preservation of these articles which add to the history of the town is a necessity for posterity.

Investigation is being made to set up this organization in proper form. Anyone interested is cordially invited to attend a meeting which will be held in the near future. A definite date will be announced. Fred Garland opened opened the meeting naming Ernest Law as temporary chairman. Also attending were Judge J. Albert Lynch, Selectman Albert Harris and Albert Nolin, Mrs. Mary Sherburne, Mrs. Fred Garland, Mrs. Ernest Law, Miss Blanche Hillman, Miss Frances Hobbs, Mrs. Richard Ivers, Mrs. Mary Lyon and Town Clerk Ralph Hermon.


March 22, 1963 Newspaper Clipping...

Form Pelham Historical Society

Recently, a group of citizens interested in the history of Pelham and the preservation of Pelham records, maps, sites, etc., gathered to form a Historical Society for Pelham. Representatives of several of Pelham's oldest families met with the selectmen and others interested in the local history. Dr. Ernest Law of the Department of History at Boston University was elected organizing chairman. With the aid of the N.H. Historical Society, and others, a set of proposed articles relating to the management of this society has been formulated.

Sunday at 2 p.m.an organizational meeting will be held in the town hall to consider these articles for adoption. It is hoped that all persons interested in the history of Pelham will attend.


April 25, 1963 Newspaper Clipping...

Pelham Educators Start Historical Society

by: James Goldsmith

The tireless efforts of an ambitious group of local people have finally resulted in the formation of the Pelham Historical Society which will be of use and service to all townspeople.

The idea to start such an organization was kicked around for several years, but nobody bothered to take the initiative, says its president, Dr. Ernest Law, a history professor at Boston University. Actually, he continued, "a lot of paper work and research was necessary before the movement could get off the ground, and I guess people are just too busy to take the time necessary to organize such a group."

However, the president of the society and his four committee members have devoted uncounted hours in what appears to be a labor of love. There is no pay for the work done, other than realizing that a worthwhile project has been completed which will be of great value to the town. Prior to the first organizational meeting in January of this year, representatives of the selectmen met with state representative Frederick Garland to get the ball rolling in the right direction. Since that time progress has been slow but steady. Municipal court judge, J. Albert Lynch also spent some time with the group to work out detailed plans which were necessary to the society's formation.

After the articles of incorporation and the by lays were worked out the society became a reality at a meeting held April 5 at the town hall where the official ceremonies took place.

One of the stalwarts of the society, and according to Prof. Law its hardest worker, is Miss Frances Hobbs, a former schoolteacher who is listed as the society's historian. For several years she has been keeping the records and clippings of the town activities on file in separate books. She joined forces with former selectman Thomas Cleghorn and one day they took a trip upstairs into the musty attic of the town library. What the two society members found there was really exciting -- at least in the opinion of a history lover. No, there weren't any skeletons or old suitcases, but there were copies of valuable books and documents which were in poor condition. One of the proudest possessions of the historical society is a rare copy of the orders of the Civil War, published by a special act of Congress and presented by George Burnham. There are only a few copies of these in the state. Another favorite possession is the history of the Congregational Church which dates back to the early 1800's.

The first days of history in this town date back to 1719 when immigrants from Scotland, Ireland, and England stopped and settled while on their way up the Merrimack River Valley in search of suitable land for building a colony. A plaque on famed Pulpit Rock tells the story of the early beginning and the first sermon which was given on the imposing rock structure. A formal charter was granted the colony in 1746 by Benning Wentworth, Esquire, Commander in Chief of the Province of New Hampshire. A lot of water has gone down the Merrimack since those day 217 years ago, and today's mode of living is undoubtedly much more advanced. However, the early history of any town, city, state, or nation is always of interest and thus the reason for such an organization. While some people say that "History never repeats itself, " the members of this society would not necessarily agree.

The advice and encouragement of the State Historical Society located in the state capital in Concord, was most helpful, says Prof. Law. The curator and director there, a Miss Jane Kayford, was most helpful.

As of this moment, a permanent home and storage facilities for the newly formed society are in question. However, the library is presently the most likely spot. The members of the society urge any person or persons who might have access to documents or books relating to Pelham's past to contact Dr. Ernest Law or Miss Frances Hobbs.

The active members of the Pelham Historical Society are Dr. Ernest Law, President; Miss Frances Hobbs, a director; Mrs. Catherine Harmon, program committee; Thomas Cleghorn, membership and Albert Knowlin, selectman-membership. There are also 14 other members and the membership committee is currently looking for new people who might have something to contribute to this movement. As of the moment, the operating budget is scraping the bottom of the barrel, so all history lovers -- here's your chance.

Much of the information found in the Historical Town Sites section of this website was taken from the Reflections, A Pictorial History Of Pelham, New Hampshire 1746 - 1996, Published by The Pelham 250th Anniversary Committee, copyright 1998 and the Pelham 250th Anniversary Souvenir/Program Book, Published by The Pelham 250th Anniversary Committee, copyright 1996.  There are still copies of these books available at our On-Line Bookstore, as well as other historical books and records.

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