Friday, October 30, 2020

Virtual event raises more than $140K for Riding to the Top programs

According to Sarah Bronson, Riding To The Top’s Executive Director, the increase in lesson costs and loss of program and event revenue drove her decision to take a leap of faith and turn the organization’s most important fundraiser of the year into a virtual event.

“Honestly, at first I was somewhat concerned because I know how much people love coming to our “Party with a Purpose,” Bronson said.  

An outpouring of community support
helped raise more than $140,000
to support Riding To The Top's
clients, horses and programs during
a Livestream fundraising event
conducted at Headlight AV Studio
on Oct. 17. From left are
Elizabeth Ross Holmstrom, Triple
B Auctioneer, Cookie, an RTT
miniature horse, Sarah Bronson,
RTT Executive Director, and
 Becca Platz, an RTT volunteer.
Last year more than 350 people attended the Annual Triple B ~ Boots, Band & BBQ at the RTT farm in Windham. Bronson said she realized that this event was more than a party to RTT supporters when sponsors, donations and registrations started to pour in this year’s Virtual Triple B.

She said she was especially pleased to welcome back Reserve Grand Champion sponsors, IDEXX, Norway Savings Bank and Portland Volvo.  

Still, that did not mean Bronson was expecting the outpouring of support the organization received during the virtual event on Oct. 17.

It was a new Triple B experience for all of us and thanks to the generous support of so many, this year due to COVID, community support is more important than ever,” Bronson said. “While RTT's cost to deliver lessons has gone up, we have not passed these costs along to our clients and we remain committed to serving as many clients as possible while keeping everyone safe.”  

In case you missed the LIVESTREAM, you can see a recording by going to the RTT website: and click on the View LiveStream Recording button.  Wonderful videos capture all that has been happening at RTT during 2020. In addition, check out the DIY demos for cocktails (thanks to the Falmouth Lions Club) and DennyMike’s special mouthwatering BBQ. 

It is not too late to donate at! All Triple B proceeds support the programs and horses of RTT. 

Founded in 1993, Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center’s mission is enhancing health and wellness through equine assisted activities and therapies. More than 250 clients participate annually and are assisted by certified instructors and/or therapists, volunteers and horses, all specially trained to assist with therapeutic riding, carriage driving, equine assisted learning and hippotherapy. RTT is a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International).   

Just five miles outside of Portland in Windham, Maine, the center is located on a 50-acre farm and is the state’s only year round PATH Intl. accredited program solely dedicated to equine assisted activities and therapies. 

For more information about client services, volunteering, making a referral or a gift, please visit us at or call 892-2813. <



Friday, October 23, 2020

A matter of historical folklore: Laughing and playful sister spirits haunt Chute Road graveyard

According to local legend, the ghosts of two
little girls playing in this Windham cemetery
haunted residents for many years. The story
By Walter Lunt

Halloween. Time for that obligatory ghost story. Every town and city have their share of haunted places, eerie happenings and ghosts. Windham is no exception. The intriguing tale that we’ll share now is both haunting and tragic because if there’s an element of truth in it, we’ll have to accept the horrific death of two little girls.

The legend is probably about 200 years old. Most versions are similar, although embellishments likely have been added along the way.

It seems two young sisters, Mary and Catherine Chute, ages 5 and 3, were playing near their home located somewhere in South Windham. 

Their extreme misfortune was to fall into a deep well, or mineshaft, where they both died. Their bodies were never recovered; however, legend says that the grieving family placed one or two memorial gravestones for them at the Brown Cemetery.

Brown Cemetery is located on Chute Road near its intersection with River Road. It is one of Windham’s oldest burial grounds.

Today it is well kept, mowed, signed and fenced. Many of the gravestones date to the late 1700s; some are broken and no longer standing.

Stories of the sisters’ ghostly spirits appearing inside the cemetery began shortly after their disappearance, and have been passed down through generations of Windham residents, particularly
among families living on Chute Road. An early farmer was supposedly one of the first to observe the pair as he drove along Chute Road in his horse-drawn carriage. Through an early morning mist, as the story goes, he observed two young girls dressed in the garb of an earlier time: long ankle-length dresses, wool stockings and sunbonnets. The pair ran among the gravestones, hiding, jumping around and giggling in gleeful play. Believed to be the ghosts of the two young sisters who had perished earlier, it seemed to be their grand protest against a stolen childhood.

Down through the years, though infrequently, the ghostly apparitions appeared to others, although not in modern times.

Countless historians and paranormal detectives have scoured the cemetery grounds, but have failed to find the memorial stones placed there for Mary and Catherine Chute.

The legend is now an embedded and familiar part of Windham folklore. One, it seems, writers are obligated to repeat from time to time.

Next time, history is put on the move as one of Windham’s most historic and familiar corners changes forever.  <

American Legion Oratory Contest now under way

The Windham American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 and the American Legion National High School Oratorical Scholarship Program is once again under way.

The program is a Constitutional Speech contest that provides winners with scholarship opportunities at all levels (Local-District-Department of Maine-National). Contestants are asked to speak on a topic of their choice related the U.S. Constitution for eight to 10 minutes followed by a speech of about five minutes on a Constitutional topic selected by the judges.

All high-school students in Grades 9 to 12 attending public high schools, private schools, parochial schools, military schools and home-schooled (great opportunity for home-schools) are invited to compete in the 2020/2021 contest. The usual procedure is for contestants to compete in a local Legion 148 Post contest, then progress to a district contest, and the winners representing each district advancing to the State Finals.

The department winner will represent Maine in the National Contest in Indianapolis on April 9 to April 11, 2021 with the national organization funding round-trip tickets and lodging for both the contestant and a chaperone over 21 years of age.

The primary purpose of the contest is to instill in our students a better knowledge and appreciation of the United States Constitution. Additionally, the Legion post hopes to develop enhanced leadership qualities, thinking and speaking clearly, and preparation for acceptance of the duties, responsibilities, rights, and privileges of American citizenship. A secondary purpose is to assist students in paying the high cost of a college education.

Previous contestants have remarked that the positive experience of speaking in front of an audience will help them in many aspects of their lives going forward.

Students who compete in these contests have the opportunity of receiving money awards toward their future school endeavors.  Post and district awards are to be determined by those areas. 

At the Post level, the winner will receive $200. On the state level, the first-place winner receives $1,500; second-place $500; third-place $300; and fourth-place $125. Students who compete in the National Contest will receive at least a $2,000 scholarship with the final competition awarding $25,000.

The State Oratorical Contest will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021 at Thomas College in Waterville. A tentative snow date of Feb. 20, 2021 has also been scheduled.

For additional questions and information pertaining to the Oratorical Contest in Maine, please contact your Guidance Officer at your school or The Field-Allen Post 148 Commander, Eric Bickford at 207-310-8618 or Department Headquarters at 207-873-3229.

For more information, visit  or your local American  Legion Post. Check out state and local oratorical contests by visiting the American Legion’s national website at <

Friday, October 16, 2020

‘Trunk or Treat’ launching spooky new drive-through tradition

Windham Parks and Recreation and the Sebago 
Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce are
co-hosting this year's 'Drive-Thru Trunk of Treat'
from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday. Oct. 24 behind the
North Windham Hannaford. Pre-registration
and COVID masks are required. Trunk hosts and 
candy sponsors are still needed and have until
4 p.m. on Oct. 21 to do so at
By Ed Pierce

Ghosts, goblins, and things that go bump in the night are prepared to substitute for the hallowed tradition of trick or treating as Windham gets ready for a pandemic-edition “Drive-Thru Trunk or Treat” from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24 behind North Windham Hannaford.

Hosted by Windham Parks and Recreation and the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, the spooky “Trunk or Treat” event is open to Windham-only residents. All pre-registered trick-or-treaters and their families will drive through the grounds with pre-packaged candy and goodies distributed at each trunk.

In lieu of admission, a donation will be accepted for the Windham Food Pantry. The event is open to families with children through eighth grade and to abide by health requirements, COVID masks must be worn by participants over the age of 2.

Families will drive-through and not get out of their cars and may only drive-through at a time designated when they pre-register.

Those who wish to host trunks for participants are encouraged to register by 4 p.m. Oct. 21 at

According to Linda J. Brooks, Windham Parks and Recreation department director, the town has been hosting “Trunk or Treat” since 2017.

“We initiated it as a way to handle the growing number of people that were attending our Halloween party each year,” Brooks said. “Additionally, we recognized that since Windham has its rural areas,
there are some families who wanted the benefit of seeing the kids in their costumes, but don’t traditionally get trick-or-treaters at their homes.”

She said that the most challenging aspect of staging the event has been managing the large crowds that have turned out each year to celebrate Halloween. 

“Prior to last year, ‘Trunk or Treat’ was just one part of our larger ‘Halloween Adventure’ that had included a costume contest, games, refreshments and ‘haunted happenings.’ By 2019 we had acknowledged that we had to focus on the ‘Trunk or Treat’ alone, since that was the best way to effectively manage so many people,” Brooks said. “We had plans in place to move the event to the high school for 2020, since we had outgrown the middle school – both the parking area for the outdoor event and the inside facilities available for our inclement weather alternative.” 

Brooks said that the best part of Trunk or Treat every year for Parks and Recreation is the collaborative effort involved in bringing an event of this magnitude to the Windham community and the expressions
of gratitude they receive from those involved.

“The trunks have been hosted by a number of local businesses, community organizations, Town of Windham departments or committees, not to mention generous and creative residents wanting to contribute their own resources to make this all happen,” she said.

This year’s event co-sponsor is no exception.

“The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce jumped at the chance to partner with Windham Parks and Recreation on this event,” said Robin Mullins, Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce executive director. “The SLRCC has worked with Linda Brooks and her amazing staff on several events and have been impressed with the hard work and dedication the team gives to the residents of Windham. We as the local Chamber of Commerce want to do our part by immersing ourselves in the communities we support and be a resource not only for our 10 towns and their programs, but also for local businesses, residents and non-profits as well.”

In addition to “Trunk or Treat,” Windham Parks and Recreation also will host a virtual Halloween Costume Contest sponsored by Dairy Queen.

Brooks said the contest is for kids ages 18 and under. Photos of children in costumes must be submitted
by 4 p.m. Oct. 28 for judging. Along with the photo submission, they require a child’s name, child’s age, parent’s name, a description of costume, and your address as the contest is limited to Windham residents only.

Windham Lions Club members will serve as judges and costumes are judged based on creativity, effort, originality and authenticity. Contest submission may be made to Parks&

Pre-registration for the “Drive Thru Trunk or Treat” opens at 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 19.

For more information or to pre-register, go to  <

Friday, October 9, 2020

A matter of historical record: Lonnon Rhode of Windham – slave and Revolutionary War soldier

By Walter Lunt

Before he was a rebel soldier during the American Revolution, Lonnon Rhode was the house “servant” of Windham’s second settler, the blacksmith William Mayberry. According to history writers Andy O’Brien and Will Chapman (The End of Slavery in Maine – Mainer, June, 2020), due to “…the ambiguous status (of) many African Americans in the north at the time, (a servant) was not considered a slave in the household, but neither was he truly free.”

Many African-Americans in the north
were not considered a slave in the 
household, but neither was she or he
truly free. COURTESY PHOTO 
Add caption
Rhode married Chloe (surname unknown) in December of 1763, according to old records, in a ceremony officiated by Parson Peter Thatcher Smith (The Windham Eagle – Sept. 25, 2020). They were “owned” by Mayberry and, as such, taxed as “property.”

According to the late Windham historian, Kay Soldier, William Mayberry died soon after the couple married; under the estate settlement, Lonnon was bestowed to Mayberry’s son and daughter-in-law, Thomas and Margaret, while Chloe went to another son.

Lonnon and Chloe would have four children. Three died young. Lucy, believed to be their youngest, would live out her 65 years as a pauper.

Slavery in Massachusetts (including the District of Maine) would not be abolished until 1783. However, freedom prior to that could be achieved in a variety of ways; one was service in the War for Independence. For his enlistment in Capt. John Skillings’ Company in January of 1777,  Lonnon would receive 26 British pounds; he would pledge 20 pounds of that to Margaret Mayberry for his freedom.

Lonnon served with distinction in the Revolutionary War, including the bloody and pivotable battles of Hubbardton and Saratoga. His company joined Gen. George Washington’s army at Valley Forge in December. It was there he died, probably of exposure after 10 ½ months of combat and misery. It is believed he was buried where he died.

Of the nearly two dozen Windham soldiers who served at Valley Forge, historian Samuel T. Dole (Windham in the Past – 1916) wrote “…their sufferings were almost beyond human endurance. They were without sufficient food, clothing, and shelter…the destitution of these soldiers…cannot be expressed by any language we possess.”

Lonnon Rhode left a widow and his 5-year old daughter, Lucy. After her mother died, as was the custom of the time, Lucy would be “auctioned” off annually at town meeting. She would go to the highest bidder to perform household duties and farm chores in exchange for room, board and clothing. Records show that in 1817, Dr. James Merrill paid $36 to the town in exchange for Lucy’s services for one year. Later, she would live at Windham’s Town Farm (for the poor). Lucy died, age 65, in 1837 and is buried in the paupers’ section of Brown Cemetery on Chute Road in Windham.

In their book Maine’s Visible Black History, authors Price and Talbot comment on the life and military service of Lonnon Rhode, “(He) bought his freedom by paying twice – to earn the money and with his life.”  <                                                             

Friday, October 2, 2020

Windham Masons rededicate lodge building on River Road

By Ed Pierce

Every day drivers traveling on River Road in Windham pass by a large brick building not realizing the history and tradition associated with the structure. To be precise, 964 River Road has been the home of the Presumpscot Lodge 70, the local gathering spot for Freemasons in the area since it was constructed and dedicated in 1970.

The history of the Windham Masonic Lodge dates back 156 years and as Maine celebrated its bicentennial this year, masonry joined in the observance as it can trace its roots in Maine back to 1820 as well. Often misunderstood as a “secret society,” masonry is an international fraternity that Benjamin Franklin, a mason himself, once said “had no secrets.”

The Presumpscot Lodge at 964 River Road has
has been the local gathering spot for Freemasons
since it was first constructed and dedicated in
1970. A ceremony on Saturday will observe
the 50th anniversary of the building in Windham.
According to Jim Ross, Presumpscot Lodge secretary, Windham’s Masonic history coincides with the rise of the community of Windham.

“Organized in 1864, the first Lodge Master was John R. Rollins, and the first Lodge building was located at Windham Hill,” Ross said. “The lodge takes its name after the Presumpscot River when that river played a prominent part in the town’s early formation.”

Ross said that in 1887 the original Masonic building was dismantled and reconstructed by John R. Rollins, a local carpenter and businessman, at a location near what is now the Vacuum Doctor building at 725 Roosevelt Trail in Windham.

“The Lodge remained at that location until 1970 when its new Lodge building at its current location at 964 River Road was constructed,” he said.

In 2009 the Presumpscot Lodge was consolidated with Standish Lodge of Masons, who were in a very old building requiring needed repairs which were cost prohibitive to that membership.

“The Windham Masons happily accepted their neighbors at the Windham location and a new Lodge was essentially born while maintaining the name of Presumpscot,” Ross said.

Masonry in Maine dates back even further. In 1762, the Provincial Grand Lodge of the Grand Lodge of England (now the United Grand Lodge of England) issued a charter to form a Lodge in Falmouth, which eventually became Portland, at the request of several Masons living in the area.

In 1819, the people of Maine voted to withdraw from Massachusetts and form a separate state. There were 31 Maine Lodges at the time, active and thriving, who then met in convention and voted to follow suit and form their own Grand Lodge when the separation took place, Ross said.

“When Maine joined the Union as the 23rd state on March 15, 1820 and the Grand Lodge of Maine came into being on June 1 following,” he said. “It was consecrated by the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire on June 24, 1820 with William King, the first (and serving) Governor of Maine installed into the office of Grand Master.”

Windham’s Presumpscot Lodge’s membership in 2020 stands at 233 and its organizational structure consists of a Lodge Master who is the presiding head of the Lodge, a Senior Warden and Junior Warden who are the second and third officers respectively in charge along with a Secretary and a Treasurer. All five officers are elected by the membership at its annual meeting in December every year and hold one-year terms.

Remaining lodge officers include two Deacons, two Stewards, a Chaplain, a Marshal, and a Tyler (also known as a sentinel) and are appointed by the Lodge Master, Ross said.

Helping to celebrate the lodge building’s 50th anniversary and rededication Saturday will be the Lodge Master, Mark G. Rosenhek of Raymond.

I like being a part of a borderless, international fraternity whose members are accepting of varied opinions and beliefs,” Rosenhek said. “I find Masonry’s association with Colonial America and our member Founding Fathers, meaningful. As the Worshipful Master of Presumpscot Lodge, I most enjoy sharing our ritual with, and welcoming new members into our Fraternity.”

Ross said that Windham’s Masonic Lodge is made up of men who share similar values for their own well-being, and for the overall health and welfare of the inhabitants of their community.

“Masons contribute time and resources to charity. They participate in many outreach programs designed to better their community,” Ross said. “Many of these endeavors are performed on an individual level while the Lodge may organize to support a chosen endeavor in town that is important to its members”

He said that when a man asks to join a Masonic Lodge, he enters into an opportunity for personal development, character building, and the acquisition of leadership capacities.

“Through his Masonic journey and his association which his brethren provide, a Mason learns the skill and finds the understanding with which he can enhance his community and strengthen his family,” Ross said.

Former Maine Sate Representative Tom Tyler, a lifelong resident of Windham, said being a Mason has been a meaningful part of his life and he enjoys the camaraderie he finds at the lodge.

“For me becoming a mason was to join a fraternity of men who had a common bond of responsibility and dedication to charity,” Tyler said. “Everyone knows of the Shriners, a part of Masonry, however what I found was so much more. As we say to men interested in joining the Masons you will be ‘Not just a Man, A Mason.’ For me it is the fellowship, working with men from all walks of life for common goals,” Tyler said.

Ross said that while the moral philosophy of Freemasonry is founded upon religious principles, it is neither a religion nor a substitute for one.

“It does not solicit membership but welcomes men who have good morals and who profess a belief in a Supreme Being,” he said. “Any man sincerely desirous of serving humanity needs only to ask a member in order to receive a petition for membership.” <