Friday, July 21, 2023

Early Raymond settler leaves lasting impression upon community

By Ernest H. Knight

One of Raymond’s most prominent early citizens was Joseph Dingley, who was born in Duxbury, Massachusetts about 100 years after the landing of the Pilgrims at nearby Plymouth.

Joseph Dingley was one of the pioneers
and early settlers of Raymond in the 18th
century and is buried in the cemetery on
Raymond Cape Road across from his
homestead where he operated a grist
mill for many years.
As to how he came into contact with the Beverly Proprietors of Raymondtown to acquire right to land in their township is not known, but he arrived here in 1770, and having won a race against Dominicus Jordan to be the first settler, received an additional 100 acres for his victory.

As he came by water there is not an agreement as to whether his first landfall was at the head of Kettle Cove near where he had Lot 15 in Range Two or by Dingley Brook to Lot 9 in the same range where he developed his sawmill.

When the proprietors in 1771 realized the great need for a mill for the settlers they sought someone to erect one on the lot reserved for that purpose on the outlet from Panther Pond, then named Painter Pond. Dingley countered with one of his own to build a mill on his lot on the outlet from Thomas Pond, which was accepted by the proprietors.

Both proposals included a provision that the proprietors find millstones and deliver them to Falmouth (Portland) and Dingley was committed to have a “sawmill fit for sawing boards by the next June and a corn mill fit to grind corn by next fall.” This provided Raymondtown with the minimum commercial requirements for survival, a sawmill, and a grist mill.

Settler Dominicus Jordan also had a mill site above the present Route 302 bridge over the Jordan River, but once again, Dingley got ahead of him. It was to the Dingley mill that resident Jeremiah Tarbox was carrying a sack of corn on his back to provide corn meal for his family when he fell exhausted into the snow, and froze to death, together with his wife who tried to help him back to their cabin.

Joseph Dingley’s progeny were plentiful and active in the life of their community, as were those of Dominicus Jordan, both before and after division of the town into Raymond and Casco. Dingley’s daughter Susan married Richard Manning, a blacksmith from Salem who was agent for the Beverly Proprietors in Raymondtown, who after Manning’s death married Francis Radoux. Joseph’s son Samuel settled on the other Dingley lot near Kettle Cove, building a house that still stands just beyond the Bridgton Road Church on Route 302. Samuel later moved to Joseph’s homestead and helped run the mill in Joseph’s advanced years. Joseph is recorded as having an odd habit of mouth distortions, shaking hands and an unsteadiness that would today probably be called Parkinson’s or some other affliction.

Both Dingleys, father and son, volunteered for military service at the start of the Revolutionary War in the company of men from Raymond and Windham and returned to the fast-growing Raymondtown as Captains, a title that Jospeh retained for the rest of his life, even though he later held the rank of Colonel in the militia. Joseph is buried in the cemetery behind the Manning House across the road from his homestead and across the brook from his mill.

Off the mouth of Dingley Brook in Sebago Lake are a dozen Dingley Islands, one or more of which were used by Joseph. There he cleared pasture for his sheep, a wise procedure as an island has a ready-made fence of water to keep livestock in as well as an equally ready-made barrier to marauding bears and wolves. In those days of wilderness living there were many predatory animals from which domestic stock needed protection as well as did people for which fences offered little security.

Dogs were also employed as an aid to security and in the collection of artifacts from the era at the Friends Schoolhouse at the Raymond-Casco Historical Museum, there is a homemade iron dog collar on which is soldered a copper plate engraved “Joe Dingley, Casco, Me No. 15.” Whether the “Joe Dingley” was our Joseph Dingley, or the name of the dog is not known. But it is an interesting and rugged collar, suitable for rugged times. There is legend that in the Dingley household there was at one time a pet bear that had the run of the house in the summer and hibernated under the mill in the winter, so all wild animals were not their enemy.

Jospeh Dingley was a farmer as well as a mill man (as applied to those working with lumber) and a miller (as applied to those working with grains). An authentic relic of his farming activity in our schoolhouse collections is his two-tined pitchfork which hangs on a wall. < 

This article was written by the late Ernest H. Knight, one of the founders of the Raymond-Casco Historical Society and contained in his book “Historical Gems of Raymond and Casco.” It was submitted by the Raymond-Casco Historical Society and articles about Raymond history from the historical society will appear regularly in The Windham Eagle newspaper. To find out more about the Raymond-Casco Historical Society, call Frank McDermott at 207-655-4646.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Grant helps Windham create new picnic area

By Nicole Levine

A picnic may very well be a metaphor for life, and if that’s true, Windham residents are about to enjoy a new favorite picnic spot close to home.

A Community Challenge Grant from AARP has helped
the Town of Windham create a new picnic table area at 
Community Park on Gray Road. Once finished, the site
will have a stone dust foundation and path from the 
parking lot to the park pavilion and picnic area.
Thanks to a Community Challenge Grant from AARP, the Town of Windham is creating a new picnic area which will be available starting this fall. AARP’s Community Challenge Program was launched a decade ago to provide small grants to fund quick-action projects that can help communities become more livable for people of all ages and create vibrant public places that improve open spaces, parks, and access to other amenities.

Windham is one of 14 recipients of the Community Challenge Grant for 2023 and funding will be administered through the Windham Parks and Recreation Department. A new shaded picnic addition will be added to the existing Windham Community Park, adjacent to the Windham Public Safety Building on Route 202.

The new picnic table area will be located under the Community Park’s pavilion between the basketball and volleyball courts. The picnic pavilion was built last year by a group of volunteers who are associated with the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing and PowerServe.

According to Windham Parks and Recreation Department Director Linda Brooks, the town is also hoping to include a self-guided walking trail at the park, which will be specifically designed to be accessible for older adults.

Brooks said that the town’s Parks Maintenance Foreman will be collaborating with Windham Public Works to prepare a stone dust surface to go under the pavilion, and a stone dust path which leads from the parking lot toward the picnic area. There will also be three ADA compliant picnic tables installed under the pavilion at the park later in the summer.

Construction for this project will take place throughout the summer, and there will be a grand opening barbecue held at the park in the early fall.

The Windham Parks and Recreation Director, Linda Brooks, originally applied for this grant as a way to act upon recommendations that were raised in the Age Friendly Windham Action Plan. The AARP Community Challenge Grant will provide residents of the Town of Windham with the opportunity to spend more time outdoors, in a community driven environment.

“We were quite pleased that our project stood out among the 3,600-plus applications nationwide, and we were among 310 projects that received funding,” Brooks said. “This project is intended to increase social connections between older adults and all residents of the community and provide permanent physical improvements and amenities in our outdoor public spaces, encouraging increased visits to these locations.”

“Once the project is completed, members of the public will also be able to rent out the pavilion for birthday parties and other events, much like the Windham Parks and Recreation Department currently offers at both Dundee Park and Donnabeth Lippman Park, Brooks said.

The AARP Community Challenge Grant program is part of the nationwide AARP Livable Communities initiative, which helps cities, towns, villages, and rural areas in all 50 states become great places to live for residents of all ages. The overall goal of the program focuses on providing adults over the age of 50 with accessible ways to spend time outdoors and is intended to help communities make immediate improvements and jump-start long-term progress in support of residents of all ages.

Since the program's debut in 2017, AARP has awarded $12.7 million through more than 1,060 grants in nearly 700 communities reaching 100 million people. The projects have been completed across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“AARP Maine is committed to working with local communities and their leaders to improve residents’ quality of life through tangible changes,” says Noël Bonam, the AARP Maine State Director. <

Friday, July 7, 2023

Family event ‘Touch A Truck’ rolls into Windham on Saturday

 By Ed Pierce

Those big rigs have fascinated kids of all ages for some time and now they’ll be able to check them out up close and personal when a free ‘Touch A Truck’ for children and families will held in North Windham.

A free 'Tuch A Truck' event sponsored by the Windham Lions
Club runs from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 8 in the parking
lot behind Hannaford's Supermarket in North Windham.
Kids and families will be able to explore trucks of all sizes
at the event, which includes food vendors and ice cream with
proceeds to benefit the Windham community. 
Sponsored by the Windham Lions Club, the ‘Touch A Truck” event runs from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 8 in the parking lot behind Hannaford’s Supermarket on Route 302 in North Windham.

At this year’s ‘Touch A Truck,’ participants will be able to climb into the cab of a fire truck, see the inside of a police car, explore land excavators, dump trucks and much more. There will be many large vehicles on hand from throughout the community for kids to inspect and honk the horn.

The event has been in the planning stages for months by Windham Lions Club members and admission is free, but donations are greatly appreciated. All contributions are used to benefit our Windham Community.

Water and snacks will be available and there will be an ice cream truck at the site so participants can purchase their favorite treats. Entertainment at this year’s ‘Touch A Truck’ will be provided by Party Palooga.

“We appreciate the participation of Windham agencies and local businesses that are making this possible,” said Evelyn Brissette, president of the Windham Lions Club.

“The ‘Touch A Truck’ event provides a hands-on educational community event to see and touch the trucks and machinery used in the community and to meet the men and women who operate these machines,” Brissette said. “Participating vehicles will be displayed in a safe, supervised environment and it’s the perfect venue for exploring the machinery while learning about the people who build, protect and serve Windham.”

The idea for hosting ‘Touch A Truck’ staged by the Windham Lions Club came from an idea Brissette had a few years ago.

“I had done some research online and it seemed like ‘Touch A Truck’ would be a fun way to interact with kids and people in our community,” she said. “We also want our community to be aware that the Windham Lions Club does exist and with everyone’s help we can make life a lot brighter for those less fortunate.”

Brissette said that the Windham Lions Club staged its first ‘Touch A Truck’ last summer and it exceeded expectations in terms of participation and people’s willingness to help others.

“Because of the generosity of our Windham community, in 2022 we were able to adopt seven families at Christmas, provided Windham Middle School with a very generous $1,000 check to provide Christmas gifts for their students and their families and were able to provide a generous gift to the students that participated in the Odyssey of the Mind program and were asking for donations to fund their trip. We are looking forward to continuing our programs to support our community in 2023.”

Brissette said that she believes when Windham residents take an interest in their own community, and work together for a cause, they can make a difference.

All proceeds from this year’s ‘Touch A Truck’ event, coupled with the Windham Lions Club’s Craft Fair in October, and cash donated at the club’s annual “Stuff-the-Bus” event in November will go to helping those in need in Windham, Brissette said.

Since its inception, the Windham Lions Club has played a significant charitable role in the community, supporting a variety of causes and issues affecting the lives of residents.

Some of those include purchasing and manning Windham’s first rescue van in 1968; donations to the Windham Public Library; helping with expenses related to eye exams and eyeglass when they meet the Lions Club criteria; assisting with expenses related to hearing tests and hearing aids when they meet the Lions Club criteria; conducting RSU 14 eye screening with more than 5,000 students screened so far; sponsoring the “Student of the Month” program; Speakout competitions; Breakfast with Santa; Stuff-the-Bus with more than 10,000 pounds of food collected for those in need; supporting the Windham Veteran’s Center; and collecting used eye glasses and hearing aids.

Brissette said the Lions Club is grateful to Windham Mall owner Jay Wise, truck company and business participants, and Windham Public agencies for their help with the ‘Touch-A-Truck’ event. “We want our neighbors to know that through their generosity, we can help to make a nicer Christmas possible for the families we are able to adopt this year,” she said. “We will do everything we can with our community’s support.” <