BETHEL – The first lecture in the Bethel Historical Society’s 2004 series was held on May 13 in the Dr. Moses Mason House Exhibit Hall. Howard Reiche and Hugh Chapman spoke on “Highlights of the History of Gilead, Maine” as part of the society’s recognition of the celebration of the western Maine town’s bicentenary.

Chapman described how he came to gather material and find someone to continue the research and writing of the book that came out of the effort, “The Smile of Providence: A History of Gilead, Maine.”

Reiche of Falmouth described the evolution of Gilead from the early 19th century to the present. As the town was divided by the Androscoggin River, many institutions were present on both sides, including churches and schools. There was, however, one store in town on the south side of the river.

Gilead was once known for its boarding houses and a rail line that ran from Gilead Village to Hastings Village in Batchelder’s Grant. Farming and logging were the principal occupations of most of the residents through much of the town’s history.

The presentation was completed with slides of old photographs of Gilead.

Refreshments of a special Gilead birthday cake and ice cream completed the festivities. It was mentioned that this month marks the 30th anniversary of Stanley R. Howe’s assumption of duties as chief administrator of the Bethel Historical Society.

The Faye Taylor Art Show will be held Saturday, May 29, at the Dr. Moses Mason House Exhibit Hall. The theme is “River Ferries on the Androscoggin.” Students in SAD 44 grades one through six are invited to enter the contest. For more information, call the society office at 824-2908.

Also on May 29, the society will hold its annual St. Never’s Day sale. Items in good condition (no clothes) are still being collected and may be left at the back entrance of O’Neil Robinson House, 10 Broad St. If pick-up is necessary, call 824-2908.

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