Friday, February 28, 2020

Middle Schoolers follow Windham history trail: A photo essay

Junior Historians: Delia Thomkus, Sophie Villanueva,
Liam Holivan, Braydon Bean, Ty Stahle
at Babb's Bridge
By Walter Lunt
Photos by: Brian Brigham
Several Windham school students spent part of their recent February break visiting history. All are members of Windham’s Junior Historical Society, an after-school club sponsored by the Windham Historical Society and supported by Windham Middle School.

The five junior historians were participating in the town’s photo scavenger hunt – a history challenge created by the Windham Bicentennial Committee. Called the Maine 200 Scavenger Hunt – A Windham Bicentennial Event, teams of more than two residents registered to explore and locate up to 18 historical objects and sites in the town of Windham.

Bicentennial co-chair Linda Brooks said nine teams registered for the ‘search and photograph’ challenge, which concludes today, February 28. a recent day, under cloudy and, at times, snowy conditions, the junior historians traveled several miles over three hours with their volunteer leader Paula Sparks and photographer Brian Brigham visiting historical places located mainly in the southern part of town. Stops included an early schoolhouse, the town’s first library building (the first libraries over one hundred years ago were in the homes of local residents), the grave of a Civil War soldier, Babb’s Covered Bridge, the Gambo Gunpowder Mills and two separate sections of the 19th century  Cumberland and Oxford Canal (one which still holds water – the other is dry).

Commenting on the 17th century battle site of the New Marblehead settlers and a local band of Wabanaki Natives, student Sophie Villanueva said, “I was super-surprised (to) hear about Chief Polin and where he died.”

Delia Tomkus suggested her group do further research on the sites, then create posters to hang in the middle school.

Another junior historian commented, “…(this was) a fun way to celebrate Maine’s birthday (and) I want to learn more about the covered bridge.”

Group leader Sparks applauded and thanked the Bicentennial Committee for creating the photo challenge, and observed, “The photo scavenger hunt was a fun opportunity to explore our community (and to) learn more about its rich history.”

Corner stone of Windham's Lot #1, 1735.
The rock that 'must never be moved.'
Jennifer Alvino, the other co-chair of the Committee, said the scavenger photos of the junior historians and those of the other eight teams will be displayed at a signature event on Saturday, March 14 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Little Meeting House in North Windham. The Bicentennial event will also feature photos of Windham farms and craft activities. Tea, cake and other snacks will be served.

Site of final battle between the settlers and Sebago band of Wabanaki Natives

An early schoolhouse, later the town office, currently Windham Historical Society Museum & Research library

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