Courtesy of Jim Record
Before Maine became a State, Minot was a flourishing township. The Town of Minot of vast acreage, which in the early years was a part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and was known as the Poland Empire was incorporated as a Town in 1802 and at one time was known as Bakersville. The Town is said to have been named by the agent Dr. James Rice in the honor of Judge Minot, a member of the General Court who rendered effective service in the passage of the bill incorporating the Town. The name selected by the Town’s people was Raymouth. Nathaniel C. Adams, Esq. of New Gloucester was empowered to issue the Warrant calling the first town meeting, which was held, in the schoolhouse near Levi Shaw’s on April 5, 1802. Nicholas Noyes, Wm. Briggs and John Chandler were chosen the Board of Selectmen and Chandler Freeman the first Town Clerk and Treasurer. The city of Auburn, the towns of Poland and Mechanic Falls in later years were carved out of this empire.
The first settler that came to the Town of Minot was Moses Emery from Newbury, Mass., arriving with his wife and infant daughter at Poland Empire in the spring of 1769. During the summer he built a log cabin on the northerly side of the road, a few rods east of the bridge at Hackett’s Mills into which he moved his family in the autumn of the same year. Two or three years later he removed to the falls below since known as Emery’s Mills, Payne’s Mills, Dunn’s Mills and now Minot Corner. He lived near the present site of the old Pulsifer’s Store (no longer a store), having for his neighbor an Indian of the Anasagunticook, or Androscoggin Tribe whom he lived with on friendly terms.
Among the names to follow Moses Emery to the new Town of Minot were: Samuel Shaw, his brother Levi, Henry Sawtelle, Israel Bray Sr. and son John Herrick, Edward Jumper. In 1778 came John Leach. In 1784 came Joseph Leach, Samuel Verrill and sons William Verrill and Davis Verrill from Gloucester, Mass. The following year, Dr. Jesse Rice came in. More new names were added year by year: John Hodge, Job Tucker, Solomon Walcott, Edmund Bailey, James Tool, Stephen Yeaton are but a few of the new settlers in the late 1780’s.
The famous peace society started by Capt. William Ladd held its meetings over the blacksmith shop, operated in recent years by the late Harrison Yeaton. It was then called Peace Hall. Here at Minot Corner was the powerhouse for the Hackett’s Mills Leather Board Mill and here was the corn shop run by John Cuskelv. Many villagers here had tragic Indian history connected with their growth. But Minot Corner tales center around. The river of how the Little Androscoggin took off this mill or that bridee or somebody’s logs. The first bridge was built in 1774. Minot Corner claims the distinction of being the oldest settlement on the Little Androscoggin River and was early an industrial center. There were two tanneries, two or three blacksmith shoos. Two harness shops, a shoe shop, barrel manufactory and mills for all purposes centered around the bridge. In those years when Lewiston and Auburn were small for the circus it came to Minot Corner.
Capt. William Ladd was a liberally educated man. He was a graduate of Harvard College in the class of 1791. Not succeeding in the mercantile business, he entered the carrying trade with Russia, commanding his own fleet. Having amassed a satisfactory fortune, he left the sea and settled in Minot at the age of thirty-six, becoming a model farmer of his time. He was for many years the untiring advocate of the settlement of International disputes by arbitration. The organization of the American Peace Society was mainly the results of his labors. He spent much of his time in advocating its principles both by the use of pen and public addresses. Being a man of means he contributed largely to its funds during his lifetime and made the society residuary legatee of his estate by will after his death. Though much of his time was spent working for the betterment of the society, he always found time to help with whatever tended to improve the moral and material interests of his adopted town. He was truly a good man and the results of his labors will long remain as monuments of his goodness and liberality. The William Ladd Memorial Center is located at Minot Center.
The Town of Minot is divided into three sections known as Minot, Center Minot, and West Minot. Nestled in the foothills with Streaked Mountain at its back lies the picture postcard section of Minot known as West Minot. Through West Minot flows a stream known as Bog Brook where many of the oldsters waded, swam, and fished for trout, perch, bass and pickerel. Capt. John Bridgham 2nd built a gristmill at Faunce’s Mills, previous to 1790, which was soon carried away by high water and rebuilt at West Minot. From this time, trade centered here from Hebron and the surrounding country, and the Bridghams and others conducted trade and other enterprises for many years. When Bog Falls, now Mechanic Falls, was first developed West Minot was a brisk village, but with the development of Mechanic Falls and Auburn business languished. Col. Joshua Parsons located here in 1817 and carried on carding and cloth dressing until 1843, when he built the gristmill, which was later run, by Jeffery Parsons and Mr. Allen in the early 1900’s.
This waterpower also operated a carriage factory. A short distance from the business section was located the saw mill originally owned by William Rowe in 1872 and was operated by his son Frank E. Rowe and later by Merton E. Rowe who worked with his father. Although many of the original buildings in the Town of Minot were made of brick this mill sawed much of the long lumber that are part of the homes now standing in the town. During the time it was operated by Merton Rowe, apple boxes were made here which later contained the fruit of this section and was shipped to all parts of United States. At this date, one of the more prominent citizens, Merton E. Rowe is still living hale and hearty at the age of 77.
Among some of the other industries was a cheese factory, a cooper mill turned out thousands of barrels used by the agricultural farmers to ship and store their produce. In later years an enterprising man by the name of Cushman started operation of a shoe shop but most of the area of Minot was agricultural and the farmers were not interested in manufacturing industry so like many other Maine towns Minot instead of becoming the shire town of the County became a residential area and thus lost its opportunity.
On a plateau overlooking the town site of West Minot is located a series of buildings which contained a grain mill and a packing plant, owned and operated by the Portland Packing Co. of which another West Minot prominent citizen, J. Merrill Hatch was Superintendent. Mr. Hatch is still active in the community and Master of the State Grange. At this plant the produce from the surrounding communities was canned and packed. With the advent of the freezing plants and lack of production of the farmers, this concern was forced to retire from business. (It was purchased by an enterprising young man by the name of Wayne 0. Stevens, who had been operating the Withington plant in nearby town of Buckfield and moved his business to West Minot.)
Located in West Minot at the site of the old corn factory on the plateau which overlooks the little township of West Minot is a renovated set of buildings, most modern, painted in gay colors after the bows and arrows, toboggans and skis, dog sleds and bob sleds which are manufactured here. The name of this concern, Withington, is known all over the world. The owner and president of this growing concern is a versatile, enterprising young man who was born under the name of Wayne 0. Stevens. Mr. Stevens at the age of thirteen won high honors and championships on the ski slopes of Lake Placid, New York, one of the skiing capitals of the world. In his salad days and during his college days he won the ski championship of the New England States and was slated for the United States Olympic teams. Mr. Stevens had the unusual foresight to recognize that champions come and go and like Gene Tunney, a former boxing champ of the world, he decided at the peak of his championship to retire and enter the business world. Many of the present day champions he defeated. Although he was born in Auburn, some of his forebears were residents of Minot. During the vacation periods and when he could find the time from his duties as a scholar and ski champion he worked in his father’s woodturning shop, learning his skill with tools. After retiring from his ski exploits he purchased the little brush business of a man named Withington located in the town of Buckfleld, located about ten miles from his present location at West Minot. Being of a creative nature, he designs the merchandise, also the tools that are sold under the trade name of Withington. His merchandise when exhibited at the yearly New York trade show receives a most favor~~ able comment. In the early beginning he manufactured archery equipment, adding skis, toboggans, ski skates and bow guns. He has given employment to numerous people in this area. Two of the latest creations are a single dog sled and a bob sled featuring a combination of the old fashioned bob sled, the bob sleds used on the bob sled runs of European and American design, plus his own ingenuity in adding modern features making it one of the most attractive and comfortable sleds on the market today. The orders for these are pouring in. Informative brochures and prices will gladly be sent upon request to this firm.
Also located on this plateau is the former railroad station owned by the Maine Central Railroad on a line going from Lewiston to Rumford. The station consisted of a large brick building and a wooden freight shed building. Many of the pupils of the nearby academy located in the town of Hebron adjacent to West Minot arrived and departed from this station. Also many high school students used this means. Thousands of boxes and barrels left here for the city markets during the apple season. Milk was shipped from the station to Auburn daily. Thousands of tons of coal arrived here and was delivered to the Western Maine Sanitorium (now closed) and Hebron Academy. Mail and passengers were picked up here for the surrounding communities. The station is now owned and operated. by the Station Craft Shop. Woodcarvings and three-dimensional oil paintings have been shipped to all parts of the world. On the walls of the brick station hangs a letter from President Eisenhower attesting to the workmanship produced here. From the first lady of the land to the movie queens of Hollywood, they wear products made at this craft shop.
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Beautiful minerals and gems including fresh water pearls have come from this district. Mt. Appetite, once a part of Minot, now located in Auburn produce feldspar, tourmalines, rose quartz and many other minerals and gems. There are also mine deposits at Center Minot. One of the fresh water
M.E. Hewison J. D. Boardway pearls found here was purchased by Tiffany of New York and later adorned the queen’s crown in England.
West Minot is located in the heart of the western lake region of Maine. Streams, ponds, and lakes furnish the sportsman the greatest game fishing in the world. Fighting salmon, rainbow trout, brown trout and brook trout have given the Isaac Waltons the thrill of catching and the delicious eating of these game fishes. Within a two-mile radius of the town, last fall in hunting season over fifty-eight deer were tagged at the local inspection station. One of the largest bobcats shot in the State of Maine was shot within two miles of the Post Office. Pheasant, grouse, and rabbits are plentiful. One of the town’s citizens had a family of five raccoons who stayed with him during the summer months, leaving in the fall for the woods surrounding his home. Also within a radius of ten miles one may gaze upon one of the largest in Maine, the moose. We also have the big black Maine bear and the lowly red fox. ‘Tis truly a sportsman’s paradise.
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In the early days each school in the district housed all the grades from the first to the ninth. The teacher had to be very firm as there were sometimes pupils as large or larger than the teacher who taught them. Sometimes she had to wade through deep snow in the early morning hours to start a fire in the big wood stove to have the room warm upon the arrival of her pupils. As one of the older citizens stated bluntly when told they were going to raise the taxes, “What are we raising the taxes for?” and he was told they wanted to add a new gym and he inquired, “Jim who?” The clerk patiently explained to him, “It’s not Jim but gym. It is a place where the pupils are exercised and have recreational fun.” “By gum, thet does it! When I was a boy I had to git up four o’clock in the morning, feed the cows, horses, hens, slop the haugs, and my Ma put my dinner up in a lard pail and I had to walk five miles to school and back. Now they pick the kids up at the door in a bus, haul ‘em to school, feed and burp ‘em and now they gut to exercise ‘em and they gut no hoss sense when they git out.”
One lady, Maria Hackett Perkins, said in a story written for the 1952 sesquicentennial the following: “I went to school at the Verrill District and my first teacher was Etta B. Hutchins of Minot Corner. In those days we went to school two terms a year, December to March and June to September. We went to school on Christmas day and how we disliked that. Imagine getting up on Christmas morning and finding our stockings filled with gifts and then tramping off to school, no chance of playing with the gifts that Santa left the night before. This was the longest day of our lives. I was ten years old when I saw my first decorated Christmas tree. We just hung our stockings by the fireplace. Our school was graded. It was classed First Primer to First Reader. My first teacher was Lucy Woodman, then Calvin Stanley, a brother to the twins, F. E. and F. 0. Stanley, inventors of the Stanley Steamer automobile in Lewiston, Maine. Another teacher I remember was Ella Dean, a home town girl. In 1881 I became a teacher in the Minot Corner Primary School. I love to recall the names of the people who used to live along the Woodman Hill road. When I started out early in the morning for school, the first house I came to be the Inn that served the Stage that ran from Buckfield to Portland. Mr. Tim Downing owned the Inn and served many a weary passenger that traveled on the stage. The Inn today is the residence of Gustav Nelson. Mr. Downing, a clever farmer, owned the house where Mr. Fred Priest lives. The next house was that of Abner Toothaker. This place burned some twenty years ago. The Yeaton farm was next on the left and this farm is still owned by the Yeaton family. I passed a graveyard on the right and then came to the Hodge farm. Passing a beautiful grove of pine trees I came to the Charles Martin homestead. Mr. Charles Harris and family now occupy this house. Down the hill a short distance on the right was the Hackett farm next to Indian Brook and after crossing the bridge and about a mile through the woods I came to the Steven Davis home high on the ledge with a fine view of the White Mountains. Today this is the home of the late Clarence Harris family. Heading down the hill towards Minot Corner I passed the Tim True Downing house, now owned by George Rowe, then the Elmire Downing home and the Cutler place now owned by Ernest Witham. The Cobb homestead was owned by Henry True, and Dr. Horr, the community doctor lived across the street with his wife who was also a doctor. After Dr. Horr left, Dr. Cobb settled in the house and took up the duties of community doctor. This house was later owned by the late A. K. Damon.”
We now have a consolidated school built in 1954, which house grades one through eight. They have a nice cafeteria, auditorium and classrooms. As the older citizen said, “They have a school bus which hauls them to school and them home.”
A few months after Minot was incorporated as a Town, on October 8, 1802 to be exact, it is stated in the early records of this church that “sundry persons in the Town of Hebron in the County of Cumberland, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, who desired to be formed into a Church State,” met at the home of Mr. ASAP Bearcat. Ecclesiastical Council met with them and organized the Church. It was then called the “The First Congregational Church of Christ in Hebron in the District of Maine.” At first the meetings were held at private homes or at the schoolhouse until in 1811 when a meetinghouse was erected on or near the site of the present building. It is recorded that it was a large two-story building with a gallery on three sides and an old-fashioned high pulpit, which was reached by a flight of stairs. Each pew was provided with a door to “shut its occupants safely in”.
The first recorded meeting held in this Church was on June 22, 1812 when the Church “voted unanimously to give Mr. Henry Sewall, of Winthrop a call to settle with us in the work of the gospel ministry”. So after due ceremonials, Mr. Henry Sewall became the first resident Pastor. After about fifty years this first church was torn down and our present church was built and dedicated on November 15, 1854. Mr. Charles Moody was clerk at this time. More than fifty years later on September 18, 1908 the dedication of the Church bell was held. On the side of the bell is the inscription: “This bell presented to Union Church, West Minot, Maine by J. G. Hildren in memoriam, Anno Domini 1908”; and on the other side: “For the use of the Church and the people barring political triumphs.” The next year, after many repairs and improvements had been made to the Church and a furnace had been installed a rededicatory service was held on December 12, 1909. On May 30, 1932 a maple tree was planted on the lawn in front of the Church with appropriate exercises as a memorial to George Washington on the two-hundredth anniversary of his birth. A long list of pastors, nearly forty, have served this Church from the first, Rev. Henry Sewall, to our present, Rev. Ralph Cole. We have one, Rev. Frederick D. Hayes of the High St. Congregational Church of Auburn, whom we are still pleased to call upon for Christenings and other special services.
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The Minot Center Church had its beginning with the early history of Minot as part of Bakerstown. For eight years before the formation of the church, religious services were held at the home of Joseph Freeman, who took charge of the meetings, and who was later the first Deacon of the new church.
In all Bakerstown there was no church of any denomination until 1791 when an Ecclesiastical Council met in the house of Jonathan Bradford in the northern part of Minot and organized the Bakerstown church, consisting of thirty-nine members. There was no preaching except from itinerant Missionaries until Rev. Jonathan Scott came to Bakerstown, December 11, 1793. The letter of invitation was exactly six months in reaching him and he was fifty-one days coming from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, to Bakerstown in the Province of Maine.
The first meetinghouse was raised October 29, 1794. It stood about ten or fifteen rods north of the Frank Coller house. There were sometimes two services on Sunday, and occasionally an evening service the same day. Sermons of their ordinary length were said to have been three or four hours long.
On May 29, 1805 was raised the first meeting house at West Auburn, then East Minot. Mr. Scott preached the first sermon. July 3rd and 4th, 1805, about a month after the raising of the East Minot Church, the first church at what is now Minot Center, then West Minot, was raised. However, it should be remembered that this was not the present West Minot village, which borders on Hebron.
Mr. Scott was much opposed to the building of the church at Minot Center, one reason being that the town had voted not to build two meeting houses, but the one at Minot Center was a proprietor’s meeting house, the town having no hand in it. In 1807 Mr. Scott’s dwelling house burned to the ground and with it perished his son Sylvanus. With the two large meeting houses there was no longer any use for the old Bakerstown meeting house, so it was taken down and erected as a dwelling for the Scott family.
In 1.806, the Second Church of Minot was formed consisting of sixteen members. Rev. William Pidgin was the first and only pastor.
After the death of Rev. Jonathan Scott. October 1819 at the age of 75, and fifty-one years of preaching, the first and second churches were reunited and called the Rev. Elijah Jones to be their pastor. May 1. 1844, two years after Auburn was set off from Minot, the West Auburn Church was organized, taking eighty-six members from the parent church and leaving one hundred sixty-three. Up to this time, Rev. Jones had preached alternately in the two churches.
After the division of the church, the meetinghouses were larger than necessary and had never been properly heated, also the Minot Center Church, at least, needed repairs, so it was voted to take it down and rebuild on a smaller scale. The lumber from the old house was used when suitable and the ends of the pews and the partition between the body pews are parts of the old pew doors. At the rear side of the church may be seen a part of the old foundation as originally placed. Mr. Jones, in recording the building of the present Minot Center Church says: “The building committee consisted of Ezekiel Merrill, James Washburn, and Samuel Merrill, to whom the highest credit is due for perseverance and energy. The demolition of the old house commenced June 1, 1846 and the new house was dedicated in less than six months, November 25, 1846.”
Mr. Jones died April 27, 1869. Aged 78, after a pastorate of forty-six years. Since then this church has had no settled pastor but there are plenty of good words for those who have supplied it. Among these nearly all were from the Sixth Street Church. Those serving for the longest periods were Rev. George E. Kinney and Rev. Alban B. Hyde.
The Minot Corner Church history is most interesting. The first public service was held November 30. 1774 in the home of Chandler Freeman, conducted by his father, Deacon Joseph Freeman. The first church was built on the Poland side, which was not only the first church at Minot Corner, but was also the first church in Poland on the site of present buildings of Pratt’s of Keystone Waterworks. There is an ancient cemetery of the first settlers hut there are no stones and but few people know where to locate it.
The first church on the Minot side was where George Rowe lives and the hill was called “Meeting House Hill”. Before this church was built the “old meeting house” on Poland side had long disappeared and Minot Corner folks walked or rode to Minot Center to hear Elijah Jones preach. The present church at Minot Corner was built in 1860. It was made a part of the Mechanic Falls Charge in 1898. In 1902 the inside and outside of the church was painted and the colored windows were installed. A carpet was laid and the chandelier was added. The present pulpit furniture and choir chairs were purchased at that time. The organ was given to them.
The church was again remodeled in 1913, when Rev. Charles E. Brooks was pastor. The present furnace was installed. The steel ceiling was put in the auditorium and walls were redecorated. Three years later the vestry was painted gray. Electric lights were installed in 1922. In 1941 during the pastorate of B. F. Wentworth, the chancel was remodeled at which time the old original pulpit was refinished to be used for an altar table. Hobart Kilgore gave the offering plates in memory of his father, Fred Kilgore, and Edward Staples made the cross.
In 1946 the auditorium was redecorated, and the church painted outside. Contributions by individuals made possible the installation of the new oil burner, an American flag, and a Christian flag, the pulpit Bible and marker, pulpit lamp, candle holders and cross, and communion cloth and other coverings.
Like all small towns and villages there are the so-called characters that provide humor that makes towns of this type interesting. One such character who rose to national fame (?) was a woman by the name of Annie Wilkins who in her youth was a bare back rider with some of the big circuses. Her mother and father owned a piece of property atop Woodman Hill, one of the highest elevations in Androscoggin County. Upon the death of her father and learning of her mother’s illness, she returned home from the circus, bringing with her a mare from the circus troupe. After her mother’s recovery she and her mother were employed in one of the shoe factories. At this time she drove back and forth to work with an animal called a jackass. Leaving work the Jack was sometimes rebellious and Annie had a hard job in getting him started towards home. Ribald suggestions from her co-workers used to upset Annie and she would reply to them. “You look after your Ass and I’ll look after mine.” And thus she acquired the nickname of Jack-ass Annie by which she’s known to the people of Minot, many who don’t know her real name. Her fame (?) came when she left her home in West Minot and migrated to California astride a large farm horse and accompanied by a faithful dog and a packhorse. Upon arriving in California she received much publicity and appeared on such programs as the Art Linkletter and Groucho Marx TV Shows. Later she headed back East and her last known whereabouts was New York City where she is supposedly writing her memoirs.
Two men were on the porch of the local store and were in conversation. One was a local resident of the town. Eugene Verrill, a brilliant man, who in his late eighties still had his own teeth and could read a fine print without eyeglasses, answered the question posed by the other man who was a tourist with a big car. The question he asked Gene was as follows: “There are a lot of Quaint characters in these small towns?” and Gene answered slow and deliberate, “Yes, you’re right, Mister, but they’ll all be gone come September.”
An unusual incident happened one hot day in July when a man was arrested for drunken driving by a local State Trooper. The unusual part of this episode was the fact the Trooper found him sitting in the middle of the road with a heavy fur coat on in a rather maudlin state with his horse preceding him up the road.
At the Station in its hey-day a salesman got off the train and stopped to pause for a short visit with the stationmaster and during the course of their conversation the stationmaster pointed to a barefoot boy chewing on a straw and the station-master remarked to the salesman, “See that youngster over there? He isn’t quite bright and if you offered him a dime and a nickel and told him he could have a choice he’d pick out the nickel every time.” The salesman thought he’d try it out, so he approached the boy, extending his palm upon which rested a dime and a nickel. He told the boy to take his choice and the boy, as foretold picked out the nickel. The salesman’s curiosity aroused, he asked the boy why he took the nickel instead of the dime; was it because the nickel was larger? “Naw,” replied the youngster, “some people think I’m nuts and if I took the dime instead of the nickel they wouldn’t hand them out anymore.”
A man with a provocative sense of humor, a long time resident of West Minot, left a will stating upon his demise a large sum of money should be appropriated for the purpose of holding an annual dance to celebrate his departure from this earth. The sum provided twenty years of blissful memory to the deceased.
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West Minot still has its apple trees and agriculture, also those who raise large herds of cows, supplying wholesome milk to the Hood milk people. One of these is a man named Thomas S. Slattery. Mr. Slattery’s forebears were long residents of the town of West Minot. His father, associated with a Mr. Whiting, ran a local post office for many years. The same store is now owned and operated by James Baird, a native of Vermont. He is a progressive man, well liked by the residents of West Minot. The local post office is now in the capable hands of Mrs. Doris Slattery, wife of Mr. Slattery and they have two married sons and a married daughter. The sons with their offspring are a welcome addition to this prosperous township.
West Minot, a picture postcard village, hasn’t changed too much physically for the square remains with the white steeple church, Grange Hall, two grocery stores and a post office. Two cement bridges replace the older ones, and the old familiar family names are still continuing on in the new generation.
Upon your vacation trip to Maine be sure and place the Town of Minot as a “must” to see. Minot welcomes you.
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‘Tis far better to give than receive. Give freely. Each Sunday make it a habit to attend and support the church of your choice.
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West Minot Grange No. 42 was organized October 16, 1874 in the Sam Stearns hall by Deputy C. H. Cobb of Poland. Calvin Bucknam, the first Lecturer, set things in motion and was the first to sign the petition for a Grange, using his tall silk hat for a table. Others signed until there were thirty charter members.
Among the first officers many of us remember Joseph Bearce and his wife Emma. It is interesting to note that their granddaughter is Mrs. Rachel Conant, who now lives in Hebron.
The Juvenile Grange was organized in 1945, instigated by
The Grange Master at that time, Mrs. Wilma Leighton. The
First Matron was her sister, Mrs. Geneva Trundy.
In the early days of the Grange it operated a Grange store. It is reported that the building used for this was on the site of the present post office. Two days a week our first Master, Jason Hilborn, presided over this but trade increased so rapidly that Thomas Millett was hired as a clerk and the store was open every week day.
Up until 1892 the Grange paid rent to the West Minot Trade Association for the use of the hail. As it paid a tax in 1892 we assume that is the year they bought the hall. A lot of repairing was done by the members in the next few years, only to be lost in a fire which destroyed the hail in 1895. With undaunted spirit the members decided to build a new hall so on June 4, 1896, the present hall was dedicated.
Many improvements have been added since the hail was
Built, first a piano, then a double stove for the dining room
And finally a furnace, running water and electric lights.
While there are no Charter members living now, we have several members who have belonged more than fifty years and many more who have received their twenty-five year certificates.
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