OTISFIELD — Why would a woman living in Kansas in the 1940s talk to her women’s club about one of Otisfield’s most notable residents Joe Holden, the man who proved the world was flat.

Nellie Pottle Hankins was born and died in her hometown of Otisfield, and during her lifetime she amassed a collection of stories and legends called the “People of Pugleyville,” said Otisfield Historical Society member Jean Hankins, whose late husband, David, was Nellie’s son.

Nellie’s 23-page manuscript, which consists of five stories, will be the topic of discussion as the Otisfield Historical Society kicks off its 2011 season on April 28. Nellie was an active member of the society.

“She apparently wrote all these pieces and delivered them over the years to her women’s club in Lawrence, Kan. I’m guessing they were written about 1940. One story, titled ‘Peter Jordan and an Act of God,’ was also published in Bittersweet magazine,” Hankins said.

The program, which begins at 7 p.m. in the Otisfield town office, is free and open to the public. It will feature stories and legends, including those of Joe Holden and Peter Jordan, who blasphemed against the Almighty, and Hankins’ Grammy Wardwell, who got into a lot of family trouble over her Chelsea tea set.

The stories will be read by different participants, and the audience will have ample opportunity to add their own versions, Hankins said.

Hankins, who now lives in Nellie’s Otisfield home, said Nellie attended Hebron Academy and later Colby College. Her ancestor, Ebenezer Kemp, was one of the first settlers of the town.

After marrying John E. Hankins, Nellie moved to Kansas but returned to Maine in 1956 when her husband became head of the English Department at the University of Maine. They retired to the Kemp family farm in Otisfield in 1970, actually to the place where Nellie’s mother, Annette Kemp, was born. Nellie died at age 88 in 1993. Her husband died 1996.

While there are various ideas of how the name Pugleyville came to be, Hankins said it refers to East Otisfield and is not a name used very often now.

“William Spurr’s History of Otisfield says it comes from the expression ‘puggling,’ meaning to fuss around with anything,” Hankins said.

“Longtime Otisfield resident Howard Dyer, who died at age 102, believed it was named after ceramic pugs, pieces of pottery once produced in the mill in the village. Nellie Hankins gives another explanation, that it was named for one Samuel Pugley who had a large family of attractive daughters,” Hankins said. “I tend to favor Howard Dyer’s theory.”

The program will follow the annual election of officers and a brief business meeting.

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