Charter members recall beginning of historical society

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BETHEL – Six former presidents, the current president and one of the two surviving charter members, were present on May 11 in the meeting room of the Dr. Moses Mason House to discuss their memories of the Bethel Historical Society.

Founded on May 31, 1966, in the Bethel Library by 18 individuals interested in local history, the society has grown from a handful to nearly 1,400 members in 45 states and several foreign countries, owns two buildings and is among the largest organizations of its type in Maine.

Former presidents attending and their years of service were Donald G. Bennett, 1981-1984; Alden T. Kennett, 1984-1987; Marvin Ouwinga, 1987-1990; Jane Hosterman, 1990-1993; Walter Hatch, 1996-1999; and Arlan Jodrey, 2002-2005. Those unable to attend included Barbara Lapham, 1973; Margaret Joy Tibbetts, 1973-1976; Catherine Newell, 1979-1981; Charles Raymond, 1993-1996; and Alvin Barth, 1999-2002.

Society Director Stanley R. Howe served as facilitator for the oral history evening. Charter member Rosalind Rowe Chapman recalled some of her memories of those early days, including the early struggle to keep the organization going, largely through the iron will of the founder, Eva Bean.

When Bean died in 1969, others stepped forward and moved to incorporation in 1971. The gift of the Dr. Moses Mason House from the Bingham Trust and the arrival of Howe as site administrator came in 1974. From that time on, the society membership, range of activities and visibility has grown, including exhibits, school programs, special events, publications, lectures and museum tours.

A number of the former presidents recalled developments during their time in office, ranging from endowment gifts to special events. Some humorous moments were also noted.

For more information about the society and its activities, call 824-2908 or 800-824-2910, e-mail info@bethelhistorical.org or visit www.bethelhistorical.org.

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