|April 25, 1963 Newspaper
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
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
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