Friday, January 15, 2021
When considering early Windham history, discussion often centers around the founding families of New Marblehead, the South Windham area or even Popeville. But one part of town that usually receives only scant attention in books and articles, yet contributed greatly to the unfolding heritage of this lakes region municipality, is the Kennard neighborhood near Windham Center, or the rotary (The Windham Eagle – Dec. 4, 18, 31, 2020). As discussed earlier, from Elias LeGrow’s pitchfork confrontation with the tax collector during post-Revolutionary times, to the creation of the Fosters Corner rotary in 1951, early farm families and merchants displayed extraordinary perseverance and creative ingenuity in creating a tradition of high character, hard work and fraternity.
Local historians differ on who first settled the Kennard neighborhood, but there is good evidence that It may have been Elias “pitchfork” LeGrow. The reader may recall that he had settled in the vicinity before joining the fight against the British in the Revolutionary War. Writing in 1904, citizen historian Isaac R. Jordan, utilizing “traditional” sources, recounted a story about LeGrow’s wife as she worked the Windham farm and cared for their children during his absence.
Mrs. LeGrow’s nearly six-mile journey “was performed by the aid of spotted (marked) trees,” and she often remarked that she hurried during the return trip because there was “most always a bear come to drink at (a certain) brook” along her path.
Commenting on his story, historian Jordan wrote, “(…these were) days that tried men’s souls, and women’s souls too.”
Jordan estimated the Kennard district covered about 1500 acres, and by the 1800s had “the wealthiest and best farms in town.”
One of the next settlers in the district was Samuel Kennard, for whom the early settlement was named. He came from Kittery to Falmouth (Portland). Unhappy with his new surroundings, Jordan says “…he loaded his house frame, which was already hewn, on an ox-team and moved to this place (Windham). His wife, on horseback, brought their child, Elijah, in her arms (about 1776). Like many of these early settlers, the Kennards were Quakers, so would not have served in the war. The Kennards would later have three more boys.
Around this time, a family named Varney had settled near Windham Hill on the road today named Hall Road, the only farm on the road at that time. They had four girls. And as was typical of the time, the four Kennard boys married the four Varney girls.
Apparently, the Varney farm was the jewel of the neighborhood. Jordan described its features this way: “(It) had a large and well-filled barn (and) frontage on the road for nearly a mile from his road to the Windham Hill road…nearly 100 acres. I have been informed that he used to keep two yokes of oxen, nearly the same number of steers, and a nice herd of cows, besides young stock, also two horses, and cut enough hay to keep them. This farm was a model of thrift and neatness. Fences and gates were all in trim order…they (also) were plough (plow) makers and were considered fine workmen.”
One of the best-known farmers in later years was Lott Morrell. His spread totaled nearly 200 acres and was located right where the Fosters Corner rotary is today. George Hall, who was born in the neighborhood in 1938 and is the proprietor of Hall Implements, knew the Morrell’s and recalls fondly their farming expertise. An astute historian, Hall has written a memoir of his knowledge and experiences in the Kennard neighborhood.
“I have memories of Lott and Annabelle who built a nice home with barn attached named Tri-Gon Farm. The buildings were taken down in the 1980s, which is now the location of Hancock Lumber (and) Mercy Hospital quick care and health services. In the area of the rotary’s location there were fields used for hay and (situated squarely inside today’s traffic circle) a blacksmith shop” operated by Lott Morrell. “I recall seeing the fields cut for hay with Lott’s 1936 John Deere tractor and an old homemade tractor used for pulling the hay rake. A neighbor, Warren Thomes drove the vintage tractor made from used automobile parts. The hay was hauled to the barn to feed Morrell’s animals.”
Old-timers still remember Annabelle’s spectacular flower garden of the ‘30s and 40’s directly across the road from the Morrell’s farmstead. The grounds were an ornamental landmark of the time; adding to its striking beauty were several used mill stones and a granite watering trough.
The family of Warren Thomes, the vintage tractor driver, operated a small store with gas pumps on the corner of (today’s) Lott’s Drive and route 302. After several owners, and now closed, it remains there today.
One of Hall’s tastiest memories involves Seavey’s Red & White Store, which opened in 1941 (The Windham Eagle – photo, page 10 – Dec. 18, 2020). Owners Clyde and Helen (Hall)
Seavey sold groceries….and ice cream cones. “My parents always gave me a few cents, knowing it would buy an ice cream. Us kids would wait until Clyde was busy at the counter so Helen would dip. (She) would always give us a larger scoop of ice cream.”
Kennard neighborhood dairy cows have contributed to Oakhurst Dairy since the 1940s, and farming continues in the area to this day. George Hall’s parents, Stanley V. and Mary (Libby) Hall, bought land and farmed in the area in the 1940s, and purchased land around the rotary from the heirs of Lott Morrell in the early 1950s. They built a large barn at their home across from Lott’s Drive and for many years raised Holsteins. In order to move his cows from the barn to a grazing field across route 202 on the rotary’s east side, an underground tunnel beneath the road was built. About 40 cows accessed the tunnel, often twice a day. The tunnel, unused, remains there today.
Stanley Hall farmed all his life and found time to represent Windham as both a selectman and state legislator. As a teen in the 1930s, he milked cows for a neighbor before school, earning $2.50 a week. The late Charles Legrow, local historian and one of the founding members of the Windham Historical Society once said of Hall, “In my opinion, he is one of Windham’s most successful businessmen.”
As referenced in our earlier installment, there may be more changes coming to the rotary. According to the transportation analysis division of the Maine Department of Transportation, due to lengthy rush-hour back-ups at both 302 rotary entrances, right turn “by-passes” will be built to accommodate traffic accessing route 202. Vehicles approaching the traffic circle from the north and headed west (toward South Windham) will simply take the by-pass road without having to enter the rotary. Vehicles traveling north and headed toward Gray could also access a by-pass road. Construction may begin later this year or in early 2022. <
Friday, January 8, 2021
A Windham teacher and her school received a huge surprise recently when Megan Juhase-Nehez was recently honored as a grand prize winner in the “Dunkin’ Raise a Cup to Teachers” sweepstakes.
Juhase-Nehez, a special education teacher at Manchester School, was chosen from more than 6,000 sweepstakes nominations in Maine for Dunkin’s grand prize of $5,000, a new computer, free Dunkin’ coffee for a year, and $10 Dunkin’ gift cards for her students. Manchester School was also awarded $5,000 by Dunkin.’
Megan Juhase-Nehez has been
a teacher for 13 years and has
taught special education at
Manchester School for the past
three years. She has been honored
as one of two 'Dunkin' Raise a Cup
to Teachers' sweepstakes winners
in Maine this year.
The promotion asked Mainers to nominate deserving teachers in their community to help shine a light on the invaluable role they play in children’s lives both in and out of the classroom. Juhase-Nehez was nominated by Casey Melanson of Windham whose son had the teacher in her class last year.
“She is the kind of teacher that figures out what works best for each student and then adapts her teaching to them,” Melanson said about Juhase-Nehez. “She gave him the confidence to know he could do anything he put his mind to. She always has her students’ well-being in mind and encourages them to aim high.”
Overall, Juhase-Nehez has been a teacher for 13 years and has taught special education at Manchester School for three years. She says the new computer will be used by her children for remote learning sessions.
As a vegan, she said that she loves Dunkin’s Beyond Breakfast Sausage patty and Dunkin’s new oatmilk latte.
Juhase-Nehez was one of two “Dunkin’ Raise a Cup to Teachers” grand prize winners in Maine. Dunkin’ also awarded more than 400 weekly $50 Dunkin’ gift card prizes to nominated Maine teachers and their nominators. And Dunkin’ also selected 20 different Maine teachers to receive free Dunkin’ coffee for a year on World Teachers’ Day in October.
Founded in 1950, Dunkin' is America's favorite all-day, everyday stop for coffee and baked goods. Dunkin' is a market leader in the hot regular/decaf/flavored coffee, iced regular/decaf/flavored coffee, donut, bagel and muffin categories.
Dunkin' has earned a No. 1 ranking for customer loyalty in the coffee category by Brand Keys for 14 years running. The company has more than 12,600 restaurants in 40 countries worldwide. Dunkin' is part of the Inspire Brands family of restaurants.
Follow Dunkin’ on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to learn about other sweepstakes, holiday menu items, or promotions on the Dunkin’ app.
For more information, visit www.DunkinDonuts.com. <
Thursday, December 31, 2020
By Walter Lunt
In the early days, new road construction and road upgrades often resulted in either the reduction or the enhancement of commercial activity in neighborhoods. Such was the case on Windham Hill and in the area known as Foster’s Corner, or the rotary. This part of Windham has assumed many names over its nearly 300 years of settled history: early on it was the Kennard neighborhood; in the 1800s (before being assigned to the neighborhood surrounding the intersection of Route 202 and Windham Center Road) it was sometimes called Windham Center; in the 1850s, it became Morrell’s Corner after a store owned by Andrew Morrell at a newly constructed intersection; by the late 1800s the store was owned by the Foster Brothers, so Foster’s Corner; in 1951, with the creation of a circular intersection, the rotary.
When it was the Kennard neighborhood (pronounced KEN-nard, as opposed to the Ken-NARDS of North Windham), a single road ran through it – a thruway connecting the towns of Gorham and Gray known as ‘County Road,’ later Gray Road. Todays Lott’s Drive, which runs nearly parallel to Route 202 around the rotary, traces the original (or old 202) route.
As far back as 1784, maps showed the thoroughfare that would become Route 302. But that early road skirted the area settled and farmed by the Kennards and others. It ran from Raymond (later Bridgton) to Ward Road in Windham, then to Windham Center Road at Windham Hill, and then to Portland (joining today’s 302 just south of Albion Road).
Due to the creation of a new section of the Raymond/Bridgton Road, the Kennard neighborhood would be changed forever. The added section, from Ward Road in Windham to the spot near Albion Road - which ran through the center of the Kennard neighborhood - eliminated the need for travelers and teams of horses to navigate Windham Hill. Also, as a result, due to loss of traffic, commercial activity like overnight lodgings and taverns would transfer from Windham Hill to the new intersection at the Kennard neighborhood. Perhaps this was the trade-off for land taken from the Kennards and others for the new road. That new section of road joined the Raymond/Bridgton Road to become Route 302.
Citizen historian Isaac R. Jordan, writing in a local newspaper in the early 1900s, described the early settlers of the Kennard neighborhood this way: “I cannot help thinking that (they built) better than they knew. They are gone, but a pleasant memory of their doings still lingers…we are left with reminders of their well-done duties all around us.”
Although the new road created an intersection that would prove to be problematic (The Windham Eagle – Stubborn Drivers, Dec. 18, 2020), the farmers and merchants of Foster’s Corner contributed immensely to Windham’s rich heritage.
Their story when we conclude this series next time. <
Friday, December 18, 2020
Before the memory fades: Stubborn elderly drivers and car crashes help pave the way for the creation of Foster’s Corner rotary
By Walter Lunt
Widespread use of the automobile in the 1920s raised certain safety issues in many small towns. In Windham, the increased numbers and greater speeds of cars and trucks forced local officials to consider the condition of its narrow, windy, mostly dirt roads. Many were little more than reconstructed wagon paths.
The following decades brought more challenges as vehicles became bigger, faster and more numerous. One of the biggest problem spots was the intersection of state highways Route 302 and Gray Road (Route 202). Until the 1950s, Gray Road ran just north of the present-day rotary at Foster’s Corner and is today named Lott’s Drive. In the 1930s and 1940s motorists were required to yield, not stop, at the intersection; but due to a rising number of accidents, transportation officials placed stop signs on the Gray Road crossing. Many long-time, mostly older, drivers were incensed!
As the arguments over the stop signs heated up and persisted, the intersection grew more dangerous. “It was common to have an accident there at least twice a month in the summer.” according to Hall, “…usually a fender bender and a few roll-overs.” Serious injuries were rare, …”because the cars did not travel as fast back then.”
The biggest problem was medical treatment for the crash victims. Hall explained, “There were no rescue units then (so) the local people would come and help (and) drive them to a Portland hospital in their personal cars. If it was a serious injury the local undertaker would bring his hearse for the transport, (but) often-times…it could be an hour’s wait.”
Hall remembers an old story oft told during those times. It seems there was a collision involving a beer delivery truck. One of the local men who was helping with the clean-up wore heavy overalls with large pockets, which he filled with cans of beer. A fellow worker approached him from behind and cut the man’s suspenders, “dropping his over-loaded overalls to the ground.”
By 1950, the accident rate at the intersection had become untenable. A blinking light was installed, to no avail.
Finally, the state Department of Transportation decided on a relatively new safety design for the dangerous corner – a rotary. Engineering plans called for straightening and improving Gray Road from Windham Center to the Gray town line. The nearly mile-long section, now known as Lott’s Drive, included homes and businesses, so could not be eliminated. The rotary, located just south of the accident-prone intersection, enabled motorists to barely slow down when entering from either Route 202 or 302. The innovative and safer circular intersection opened in 1951.
Trees, nursery-grown and already 18-years old, were added to the spacious center of the rotary in 1956. Today, their graceful branches, adorned with bright lights, greet travelers with a spectacular display of holiday cheer.
Beginning in 1987, as part of Windham’s 250th birthday celebration, beautiful flower gardens were added to the rotary’s four points of entry. Every year since then, dozens of citizen volunteers have donated time, materials and funds toward keeping the gardens blooming with cheery, colorful annuals and perennials.
Today, with traffic going faster and the number of accidents rising, perhaps it’s time re-examine the Foster’s Corner rotary – maybe another relatively new safety design.
Next time, more on the history of the neighborhood known as the rotary. <
Friday, December 11, 2020
By Lorraine Glowczak
“This year, Santa knows it may be hard to visit him like usual, so he has decided to come out and visit you,” was the announcement made early last week on the Windham Maine Community Board Facebook page.
Visit, he did! Despite the steady flow of raindrops last Saturday, Dec. 5, Santa - whose alternate ego goes by the name of Eric Twitchell, met children at the bottom of their driveways in the neighborhoods between Falmouth and Varney Mill Roads in Windham. Boys and girls greeted Ol’ St. Nick with a cheer and shared their Christmas wish lists with him. Although social distancing was adhered to and promoted, joy was experienced by all.
|The young Linscott Family greeted|
Santa early Saturday morning
(L to R) Mother Nicole, Chase,
Olivia and Connor Linscott meet
with Santa. PHOTO BY
Already looking forward to next Saturday’s visits, Santa took a moment out of his busy schedule to share his experiences from last weekend.
“It was a lot of fun to see the kids happy to see Santa and to also see parents smiling as a result of their children’s excitement,” Twitchell said of donning the spirit of Kris Kringle. “A couple of moments that made it great was a few children ran right to me in excitement. One little girl couldn’t get enough goodbyes in as they drove away, and one girl blew a kiss at me. Some funny moments happened when I asked a few children if they had been good this year - they looked to their parents for a response.”
There were also instances where Santa felt compassion for a few children experiencing especially difficult times.
“The biggest pull on my heart strings was when I read a letter from a foster child asking for her forever home,” he said. “That really got me. I sincerely wish I could help her. Ultimately, knowing that I can bring some joy during a time when traditions may not be happening, and people could use a distraction from everything, brings joy to my own life and to lives of my wife and children.”
Providing holiday cheer during challenging times experienced by many during 2020 was the motivating factor for St. Nick’s visit.
“Last Wednesday, I was sitting on my deck and wondered how I could help out my community in some way during the holidays,” Twitchell said. “My wife and I usually take our children to see Santa at the Mall or LL Bean but due to the pandemic, it wasn’t going to be as easy or the same. Then it dawned on me. I could keep the tradition of visiting Santa by being Santa myself and going out into the community to meet with the children.”
After speaking with his wife Alicia, who encouraged him to follow through on his idea, Twitchell approached Aaron Pieper, the administrator of the Windham Maine Community Board to help get the word out that Santa was coming to town.
“Within five minutes after the Facebook posting, I had many requests to visit certain neighborhoods and four volunteers to help me.”
Santa’s wish is to reach as many children as possible this Saturday and could always use a few more volunteers. If your child wants Santa to visit your neighborhood or you wish to be one of his helpers, contact Santa Claus, via Eric Twitchell, on Facebook or by email at Erictwitchell83@gmail.com by this evening, Friday, Dec. 11.
“Being Santa isn’t just for the kids but also for the parents that look forward to experiencing Christmas traditions with their children every year!”
Keep your eyes out, listen for the bells and that familiar deep belly laugh. Santa may be just around the corner. <
Friday, December 4, 2020
Armed with a menacing frown and a pitchfork, an 18th century Revolutionary War veteran orders a tax collector to vacate his Windham farm
By Walter Lunt
The tax man had just informed Windham farmer Elias Legrow that his cow would be confiscated in lieu of an unpaid tax. The idea didn’t settle well with the Revolutionary War veteran who had just resettled on his farm, intent on resuming his former life. Now he directed the business end of a pitchfork at the visitor, and with an icy stare delivered an ultimatum. Before disclosing how the encounter ended, it’s best to explain the back story.
In colonial New England, established religion was, for virtually every living soul, essential and vital. So much so that colonial governments often mandated the creation of a church and pastor before towns and plantations could incorporate. Such was the case with Windham, first known as New Marblehead. Services were held in the old Province Fort; early pastors were John White and Parson Peter Thatcher Smith. Revenue to support the Congregational Church was collected from the inhabitants in the form of a ministerial tax.
The first push-back to the sacred surcharge came with the establishment of the second religious society; the Society of Friends, or Quakers, settled in Windham in the early 1770s, and although the small congregation actually worshipped in Falmouth (Portland), town records reveal that at a town meeting in October, 1774 it was “Voted, that all Persons who call themselves friends or Quakers … shall be Exempted from Paying ministerial Taxes.”
‘Friends’ reasoned that since their church employed no pastor to lead their services, they should not be required to pay the tax.
Returning to our story, it was Isaac R. Jordan, an early Windham history chronicler who preserved the account of this incident. He wrote, “Tradition says that after (farmer) Legrow arrived at his home after helping to free his country from British tyranny (he was) feeding his cow in the yard…a constable appeared and said that he had come to collect a priest tax for Parson Smith.”
Legrow told the man he never heard of or met Parson Smith and consequently should not have to pay the tax. The constable said if he did not receive the payment, he would be obliged to take the cow. Hardened by his years of war service and feeling threatened by the constable’s ultimatum, Legrow grabbed his pitchfork, pointed it toward the man’s torso and exclaimed, “There is the cow. Take it if you dare!” He further stated that if the cow was touched, he would “put the pitchfork through.” Legrow’s tone and language during the verbal exchange was described as “vigorous.”
The constable is said to have left, without further argument. And the old soldier heard no more of the priest tax. <
Friday, November 27, 2020
By Lorraine Glowczak
“Done right, even a six-hour Zoom webinar can be energizing,” a friend who is now a professional at online meetings said to me. She was referring to the retreat I was about to attend with speaker and award-winning author, Mirabai Starr this past Saturday, Nov. 21. I wasn’t quite sure she would be correct in her assumption – after all, it was a rare fall sunny moment in Maine and sitting at the computer all day didn’t sound enticing.
It turns out my friend was correct. About 120 individuals across the state and beyond participated in an uplifting online retreat from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Originally, the all-day gathering was set for this past spring and was to be held in person on the campus of Saint Joseph’s College of Maine.
“This [retreat] took many months to plan with many changes required, including the date,” said Rev. Patricia Bessey of Unity Center for Spiritual Growth located at 54 River Road in Windham. But the pandemic, as it has with everything since its arrival, shifted the plans for the in-person gathering.
the online alternative did not prevent men and women from joining in or detour
from their positive experiences. Participants learned about past and present
feminine mystics and the healing and balance they offer in a predominantly
masculine society. Starr shared poems and prayers across all sacred traditions
and the spiritual spectrum and incorporated the use of Zoom breakout rooms. Everyone
had opportunities to journal write on specific subjects.
About 120 individuals from across the state and
beyond participated in an uplifting all-day virtual
conference with award-winning author Mirabai
Starr hosted by the Unity Center for Spiritual
Growth of Windham last Saturday.
“I found the retreat to be very energizing,” Ellie Rolnick of Biddeford said. “Compared to other seminars and retreats I have attended where you sit all day, Mirabai was very respectful of our time. She pulled off this online gathering really well and I loved how she started each segment with a poem and a prayer. At the end of the day, I was not exhausted at all. In fact, as a fledgling composer, I am inspired to apply what I’ve learned to my creative pursuits.”
With frequent breaks including a 1 hour 15-minute lunch break, participants had time to step away from the computer, go for walks, eat, spend time with family and have a moment of reflection if needed. But perhaps what may have been important to many of the retreat attendees, is the way they were able to participate in their own learning through personal journal writing.
“Mirabai’s style was very matter of fact,” Carla McDonnell of Portland said. “I was taught things, but I learned by doing. Rather than teaching by talking at us, we learned by participating in our own growth.”
The activities suggested by Starr to be discussed in break out rooms pushed through some individual vulnerabilities.
“I would have never done sharing like this [in an in-person environment] but I discovered that by sharing our writings with each other, it became a shared strength,” McDonnell said. “Even Mirabai shared her own vulnerabilities. I felt hopeful.”
It was in this hopeful spirit that both McDonnell and Rolnick were able to take away what they learned in this six-hour retreat and incorporate it into their everyday life.
“I recently started making meditation a daily ritual and I experienced how important it is to combine journaling with it,” Rolnick said. “I think meditation and journaling are ways to connect to my inner self and inner knowing. My attendance at the retreat was an affirmation of the path I’m already taking.”
“I learned that it is important to start where you are,” McDonnell said. “I believe we are living in a time of great shift in humanity – and perhaps it is accelerating. I’m learning that it is not my business to be thinking about this shift. Mirabia made it simple – find what your purpose is to relieve suffering. You do this by finding what brings you joy. What we are all doing may seem ordinary on the surface – but it serves a purpose. During the retreat I felt a quiet inner conviction and assurance that whatever I am doing is enough – in a given day that is my purpose.”
McDonnell also summarized the intention of the retreat and how the feminine plays a role in balancing the masculine in western society.
“The feminine is found in poetry, in music, in nature,” she said, paraphrasing Starr. “There is courage, fierceness and determination in the feminine – and at the same time, there is compassion and inclusiveness.”
Mirabai Starr is the author of creative non-fiction and contemporary translations of sacred literature. She taught Philosophy and World Religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos for 20 years and now teaches and speaks internationally on contemplative practice and inter-spiritual dialog.
Unity Center for Spiritual Growth was joined in sponsorship of this retreat by the following organizations: Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, The Bertha Crosley Ball Center for Compassion at the University of Southern Maine, Pax Christi Maine, CHIME: Chaplaincy Institute of Maine and Abbey of HOPE. <