Friday, March 26, 2021

Before the memory fades: The creation of Windham’s town seal, and the story behind it

By Walter Lunt

During the first week of June 1987, Windham was in the midst of a four-day birthday bash. The celebration commemorated the 250th anniversary of the arrival of the community’s first established resident, Thomas Chute, in 1737. There were parades, a giant festival, concerts, historical events and a giant birthday cake.

From the planning process came a suggestion that the town adopt an official seal, or logo; a committee was appointed by the town council to consider the idea. The group, including Windham resident Marcia Blanchard, turned to a story found in Frederick Dole’s History of Windham which, curiously, was written in conjunction with the town’s bi-centennial celebration, 50 years earlier.

Dole describes the arrival of surveyor Rowland Houghton and two assistants from Massachusetts in 1935. They were commissioned the task of laying out the boundaries and land grant lots of a new settlement to be known as New Marblehead (later incorporated as the town of Windham in 1762). 

The group arrived during the time of spring rains and were carrying heavy equipment through what was then a vast wilderness. 

When they reached a stream, today located at the boundary of Windham and Westbrook, the cold, rushing water made for a rough crossing. Houghton dropped his ink horn, a hollowed-out animal horn, into the stream.

History is silent regarding whether the powder was lost or damaged, and, if so, how the surveyor was able to record his work. Hence, the stream became known as Inkhorn Brook – the settlement’s first place name.

Committee member Blanchard says local artists Erla Davis and Dana Plummer collaborated on a design for the seal, which produced an image featuring a pine tree, a winding stream, an inkhorn and a quill pen with a sky blue and grass green background.

Blanchard says the imagery shows the history of the town’s creation, “It was a group decision. I was pleased with it and it was appropriate (because) that’s what the town was built around.” 

She recalls not all citizens favored the image, but it prevailed by a vote of the committee, and ultimately the town council.

The seal is reproduced in a hallway at town hall and appears on official town stationery. <

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