Hope Historical Society

Meeting of June 17th 2008


Members & guests met at Hope Volunteer Library in the Town Office at 7 PM. Present were: 37 members and guests were present including, Marie Berry, Hope Chase, Faith Hart, Herb Hart, Lois Hebb, Mary Ireland, Bill Jones, Dottie Kimball, Ron & Ann Leadbetter, Barbara Ludwig, Teresa McGrath, Florance Merryfield, Donald & Laura Pushaw, Susan Pushaw, Bob & Betty Shaw, Sharon Spear and 6 members of Girl Scout Troop #2121 (Madison Ames, Sammi Campbell, Ashley Gunn, Caitlin McGrath, Shannon Spear & Nicole Wincapaw).

The program, dedicated to Flag Day, began with the trooping of the colors by Hope's own Troop #2121, the pledge of allegiance, and a presentation on the history of the American flag researched by Caitlin McGrath and presented by Ashley Gunn.

Bill Jones presented the history of Hope's memorial stones.
#299 was founded in 1888, 21 years after the Grange's national start and after its largely-unsuccessful efforts to organize farm coops. Camden's Megunticook Grange merged into Hope Grange in 19xx, and it turned in its charter in 2006 at which time most Hope members joined Pioneer Grange in East Union. During most of its 119-year history, the Hope Grange was the largest and most influential institution in town. In the mid-Twentieth Century, figures show that well over half the adults in Hope belonged to Hope or South Hope Granges. These institutions were the center of entertainment and of adult education. Grangers and non-Grangers shared recollections on Grange programs, plays, dances, minstrel shows and suppers.

The structure and purpose of the Grange were also explained. Like a blue lodge of Freemasonry, on which it was modeled, the Grange is a secret society only in having secret passwords; its membership, purposes, doings, and finances are public. Unlike Freemasonry, it does not exclude anyone on the basis of sex. Secrecy was important early on because the Grange is a farm organization and fought hard against railroads and other monopolists that were victimizing farmers. The Grange maintains a lobbying presence in Augusta and Washington DC. The system of officers, chairs and degrees was explained.

Grange #299 originally met above Hope General Store where suppers and dances were also held until Raymond Ludwig sold the store to John Salisbury in 1949 (?) because the Salisbury's lived upstairs. #299 met in the Hope consolidated school until its new building was completed, largely with volunteer labor and contributed materials, in 1952. The Pearses saw to it that the Historical Society got almost all of #299's records and memorabilia (except the stage curtain) in 2006. They contributed photographs of Grange meetings, including the burning of the mortgage in 1960.

Members urged that HHS try to get the records of South Grange, now stored at Grange state headquarters in Augusta, and organize a program on the history of South Hope Grange.

* * * * *

President Jones called the business meeting to order at 10:30.

There is no Secretary and there are no minutes. Jones offered to be secretary if someone would be president.

Treasurer Faith Hart ran down expenditures and income since the last meeting. Our current balance is $8,xxx.xx.

Committee Reports/Announcements:

For the Hospitality & Sales Committee, Lois Hebb reminded that we will be selling baked goods at the June 10th Town election. She extracted promises of assistance and baked goods from members for that occasion and for the June 17th monthly meeting.

For the Publicity Committee, Hope Chase reported that we again have a system of informing the public about meetings. Where faxes are required - Francina Pearse's Camden Herald column and the Lincolnville cable TV station - she will work through the Jones's fax machine.

Herb Hart reported on the Memory Garden's over-wintering and all the work he has done since. For the Building Committee, he reported that we should probably buy new window-well covers at about $10 each. The executive committee should consider this. Lois Hebb noted that we need back steps, a rail on the steps from the ell to the barn, that the timbers under the living-room floor may be rotten and ought to be checked, that the basement windows ought to be opened and the screens lowered on other floors. These matters were referred to the building committee.

Mary Ireland reported on progress with the first round of Historic Signs, mainly identifying sites and closing dates of schools. Some of the smaller of the 7 schools closed and re-opened in response to varying supply of scholars. Information on the Mansfield School is particularly lacking. William Pearse will travel with Bob Appleby and his geographical positioning device in his fuel-efficient car to fix the coordinates of the 7 schools.

For the Website Committee, Bob Appleby reported progress he and Jean Ettlinger have made in photographing, measuring and fixing the exact coordinates of every plot in Morey Hill Cemetery. Members and non-members are urged to find and report errors in and omissions to www.hopehist.com.

Ann Leadbetter reported for Program Committee. The next meeting, 7 PM TUESDAY JUNE 17th, will feature Hope's war veterans and the memorial stones at South Hope and at Hope Community Bible Church. This meeting follows Flag Day by three days.

Our July meeting will feature the history of Beaver Lodge Girls' Camp, now the home of Knox County Fish & Game, presented by Betty Lou Richards. Our August meeting will feature the history of Highfields Boys' Camp, presented by David Bowman. Programs for the remaining months of 2008 are planned. Our highest priorities are for programs on the histories of South Hope School and of the Fiske House Hotel. Both of these topics are considered so urgent that special meetings will be scheduled if necessary to accommodate them. Cynthia Dellapenna has already researched the history of Fiske House (site now owned by her mother, Hope Chase), of Decatur Fiske and related South Hope topics. Her work was incorrectly reported without proper credit in the Camden Herald. She would like a chance to tell us about her research and to set the record straight but cannot predict much in advance when she will be able to do so. A program on South Hope School is obviously urgent in view of efforts to save the building.

We had more members (7) at the 2008 regional Come Spring Conference of historical societies at Lincolnville Beach than anybody else. Several members reported. Two items stand out.
Lincolnville's transcription and imminent publication of the Beach Postmaster Richard's diaries inspired thoughts about transcribing and publishing our much older diary of Abner Dunton. Bob Appleby will see with our archivists whether we can safeguard the document (now housed in our borrowed, temporary, but fireproof safe) by putting it on hopehist.com.
The fine state of Lincolnville's collection, its labeling & presentation, and Lincolnville's use of the PastPerfect computer software for recordkeeping and other purposes were noted. Lincolnville Historical received the system and support for inputting the information from the Camden Area History Center; such support has not been available to Hope; Union Historical has financed the same work itself. We have not been willing to incur the expense of PastPerfect and its maintenance. Ann Leadbetter suggested that, even without PastPerfect, we would benefit from the assistance of a summer college intern to help us better label and present our collection. It was decided without objection that the executive committee consider this proposal, bearing in mind the work it would create for our archivists, and report back to the next monthly meeting.

Other announcements/reports:
- members & non-members are urged to take returnable cans & bottles to Coastal Workshop for the account of Hope Historical or to call Bill Jones (763-3576) so he can collect them and do it for you;
- no report from Map Committee;
- Jones has submitted Historical Society page for Town Report;
- three Payson descendants, now Warrens from San Diego, visited the family home and joined the Society when Jones gave them the Payson Barn monograph. They will be in touch with genealogist Florance Merryfield;
- no progress to report on organizing Friends of South Hope School group; more windows have fallen out but Lawrence Nash has obtained replacement windows from an abandoned identical school elsewhere. The Program Committee has discussed.


Old Business:

The president called for volunteers for Secretary. He got none.

A volunteer is needed to work with Bob Appleby to change the display-case exhibit at the Town Office. Bob will furnish the photographs and other material from www.hopehist.com.

New Business

Without objection, the Society agreed that we should repatriate the records of South Hope Grange from the Augusta state headquarters. The Executive Committee should see to this, contacting Sherrill Snowdeal to facilitate the process.

Donovan Bowley reported that ca. 1900 picture postcards of Hope, probably by photographer Frank Cunningham, are available on eBay for $5-10 each. HHS already owns some of these. It was agreed that the archivists should report what we have to the Executive Committee, and that the Executive Committee should recommend to the next meeting whether weshould consider buying more.

Donovan Bowley presented some of his research at the New England Historical & Genealogical Society in Boston and findings that concern Hope. He unearthed the critical 1799 map showing the numbers of the original lots, as well as a copy of the contract between our developer Samuel Barrett and the Twenty Associates, the proprietors of Camden, Hope, Appleton, Liberty and Montville, showing which lots were sold by Barrett and which by the Twenty Associates. The initials of 8 Associates who were selling lots are on the map as well as many names of purchasers.

This is the Rosetta Stone for Hope that Anna Hardy was looking for but did not find before she published her History of Hope Maine. It shows that, by 1799, Hope's ponds had been raised more or less to their present level. It shows the original layout of "roads." It apparently shows that the original meetinghouse, which also served as a school and church, was at the Jones Taylor place, not at the Roy place. Bowley also unearthed a document from the Twenty Associates advertising for settlers for Camden which includes the proposed terms of settlement, which terms are similar to those entered into by Hope settlers.

Bowley presented the Society with a color copy of the 1799 map with the promise of a bigger version to come and, perhaps, other relevant documents. He has also produced and presented an overlay map showing present roads and those of 1799. For now, the documents may not be reproduced without permission.

Next meeting will be 7 PM TUESDAY JUNE 17th at the Town Office and will feature Hope's war veterans and our memorial stones.
The meeting adjourned at 11:37.

Respectfully submitted,

Bill Jones, Acting Secretary