Springfield, NH: 250th year starts with a party
Signing of the charter re-enacted, a big cake, a bonfire and some chili
By GLYNIS HART
SPRINGFIELD — This past Saturday the Town of Springfield began its 250th year with a party at the meetinghouse, cake, 13 crockpots of chili, a bonfire, fireworks, and a reenactment of the town's birth. The commemoration committee has planned two or three events in every month of 2019, from sugar house tours to hikes and a golf tournament and a fabulous Old Home Day; events are posted on Facebook under “250th-Celebration-Town-of-Springfield-NH.”
The party at the meetinghouse, which went on from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., included a raffle for a commemorative quilt, with a Springfield crest created by local artist Sarah Ellis. The quilt raffle and sales of mementoes collected money to put a lift in the meetinghouse.
Brandt Dennison, one of the organizers of festivities, said their goal is to raise $75,000 to put a lift in the 18th-century building. The fund stood at $54,000 Saturday morning.
Dan Hill, who described himself as “the front man for an incredible group of volunteers,” said the raffle added another $2,100.
“Our fear is in this building from the 1700s there's going to be a 'gotcha',” said Hill.
The Mike Morris family band provided entertainment for the first half hour. Morris plays “freestyle folk” and lives in Lee. Heather Morris, Lily, and Lucy played the fiddle to Mike's guitar. Lily and Lucy are 7 and 5 years old, and in addition to playing fiddle entertained the audience with lively step dancing.
Jim Bednar put together a theatrical presentation to reenact Springfield's beginning as a town in 1769.
In the presentation, Gov. Benning Wentworth read a proclamation from King George III, in the year 1774, giving a group of settlers 60 acres. At the time, the town was named Protectworth.
Wentworth's proclamation granted the town to the people on several conditions: A road 8 rods wide had to be constructed through the town, and completed within three years; 12 families had to be settled in the town by July 1, 1774; all white pine trees suitable for masts in His Majesty's Navy were not to be cut down, but set aside for the King; a center plot should be marked out with one acre for each grantee; and one year's rent in Indian corn be remitted to the King's agents.
The settlers agreed to the terms and promised fealty to the King. However, in 1794, after the revolution had obviated that oath, they received another missive from Wentworth, who lamented, “It appears I will live out my days as governor of Nova Scotia and never see beautiful New Hampshire again.”
Fred Davis, who remembered the 200th birthday of Springfield, explained that the American flag on display had once flown over the capitol building in Washington, D.C.
“It was presented to the town 50 years ago,” said Davis. “At the end of the year it will go into the time capsule.”
The time capsule will be sealed and placed in the police station, to be opened in another 50 years; perhaps one of the youngsters eating cake at this party will officiate at that party.
Perhaps, even, a new resident of Springfield. The ceremonies in the meetinghouse concluded with a welcome to Springfield's newest family, Dana and Dan Saulnier and their son Dax. The Saulniers moved here just this August, from Boston.
“We wanted to be somewhere Dax could run and play in the woods, where people stop and talk to each other on the street,” said Dan Saulnier.