Chester Historical Society celebration

A winnowing machine.  Photo Provided
A winnowing machine.
Photo Provided


This past July 16th & 17th, Chester celebrated its 250th birthday. At the Chester Historical Society is a scrapbook kept by Lucy Metzger of the 1966 Chester Bicentennial. Many will remember Lucy. She kept every newspaper article she could find and put it in her scrapbook.

These newspaper clippings show how the Bicentennial Committee was formed, and by who. Additionally they record all the events of 1966. Before the 1966 event was over, committee members began to talk about forming a Chester Historical Society.

On August 12th, the Chester Historical Society will celebrate its 50th anniversary. The historical society has a Gala Reception planned for Friday, August 12th at the Academy Building on Main Street in Chester.

The Junior High School in 1966 was the building we now call the Academy Building. For the 1966 Chester Bicentennial the ground floor classrooms were emptied for artifact displays. Many Chester residents searched their attics for old Chester artifacts. These artifacts were exhibited all summer at the Junior High School.

There was so much interest in these artifacts that the Bicentennial Committee began talks on establishing a Chester Historical Society. The first hurdle was separating from the select board. The 1966 Bicentennial Committee was an agent of the town under the direction of the selectmen. This was accomplished and a meeting was held to form the Chester Historical Society.

At that meeting, John Whitaker made a motion to hold the first annual meeting on September 9, 1966. Some of those in attendance were: Mr. & Mrs. Whitaker, Mr. & Mrs. Huyler, Mr. and Mrs. Orcutt, Mr. and Mrs. Perry Bascom, Elmer Butler, Lucy Metzger, Tom Chadwick and Gale Peck.

At the August 1966 meeting, officers were appointed and committees were formed for all the posts required. Those temporary officers were: Mr. & Mrs. Orcutt, Gale Peck, Mrs. James Smith, Paul Whitaker, Miss Helen Park and Elmer Butler.

These founders of the historical society recognized how important it was to preserve Chester’s history. Today the Chester Historical Society continues this legacy.

This August 12th, from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. we are hosting a special Gala Reception in honor of our 50th year. It is also in honor of Merritt Edson and the final event of Chester’s 250th birthday. Below is a schedule of the August 12th event.

Mark Verespy, owner of The Killarney in Ludlow, will cater the event starting at 5:00 p.m. under the tent. At 6:00 p.m. Peter Farrar will give a report on his research findings on why the 1761 New Hampshire charter is not the charter on which Chester operates today. Peter has done a lot of research to bring us this program.

At 7:00 p.m. Erik Johansson will treat us to his unique musical talent.

Erik Johansson is a singer-songwriter-instrument builder with an interest in the interface of folk and classical instruments and songs. He accompanies himself variously with lever harp, harmonica, recorders, mountain dulcimer, a small melodeon, and several kinds of guitars including a German Baßlaute, a type of harp guitar. He has rebuilt a number of small antique pipe organs on his own, and works further afield on larger instruments with other local pipe organ builders. Currently he is restoring a little free reed “rocking melodeon” for the Weston Museum, made in concord NH in 1847. This instrument is an identical twin to one he refurbished for his own use. Erik lives with his wife Alysoun near the historic Rockingham Meeting house, where she has been a career grandmother for the last 4 years.

In the basement of the Academy Building we have several interesting farm implements. We have a bean winnower, corn shellers, butter workers and churns, horse drawn ice scoring machine, a primitive eight foot section of wooden water pipe and other items. There is also one of the first metal ice boxes ever produced in this country.

We need a couple strong young men to help us get these items out of the basement and help clean them. Come on boys give me a call.

The photo with this article is our winnowing machine. At the top you’ll notice a hopper where the wheat was fed into the machine. When you turn the crank a series of screens sift and separate the wheat from the chaff. A blower blows the lighter chaff away leaving good clean wheat. You are invited to help celebrate this event.

This week’s old saying. “Of all the monuments man has erected, you’ll never see one to a committee.”

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