How Did It All Start? Celebrating 70 Years At The #FarmingtonNH Historical Society

When did it all begin? The founding of the Farmington Historical Society

Almost Seventy years ago, on November 11, 1949 the Farmington Historical Society was created. Well, it actually started as a combined effort of two towns, Farmington and New Durham, and thus the organization was called the Farmington-New Durham Historical Society.

Eugene Nute

Above Photo Back Row: Ned Parker, Delores Bridges, Mary Cloutman

Above Photo Front Row: Iola Sabine, Lilian Emerson, Henry Johnson

The founders of the organization were: Mary Cloutman, Edna Berry, Eva Blanchard, Kenneth Davis, Kathleen Dolliver, Ellen Jennings, Violet Jones, Eileen Souter, Irene Wentworth, Stanley Nute and Eugene Nute, who was elected the first president of the society. The first meeting of the society was held in the lower level of the Goodwin Library.

Though this was a collaborative effort, make no mistake the person behind gathering support for, planning, and organizing the society, was Mary Cloutman. Within the society she is known as the founder and a photo of her, honoring that merit, hangs above my desk, in the museum, to this day.

The goal was of the nascent organization was to explore and document the history of the two towns.  To “seek out the oldest homes and burying grounds and whatever else pertained to the history of the area,” to borrow a phrase from the November 1999 issue of the Puddledock Press, covering the fifty year anniversary of the society.

Farmington had already lost most of the early recorded history of the town and early donated effects, when the Opera House, containing the library, burned to the ground in 1928. Large collections of records also perished in floods in the early twentieth century. There was a real need to find, collect, organize, restore, and prepare for long-term care of Farmington history and artifacts relating to life in Farmington.

The joint society chaired many events together and hosted more speakers than anyone cares to count. They invited historical writers, restoration artists, and amateur historians to add to the knowledge of the organization. Eventually, after several decades of working together, they separated into two successful town societies, to focus exclusively on their own towns.

The Farmington Historical Society continues to have a meeting, and often a program, speaker, or featured author or historian, the first Friday of each month, from October to June. The November meeting is usually an anniversary celebration for us; sometimes it takes the form of a potluck, sometimes it is a catered meal. 

The mission of the society is to collect, preserve, and protect the stories, records, and artifacts relating to the Town of Farmington in order to discover, document, and record the history and evolution of our Town. The society believes that by showcasing our past, and providing opportunities to share and learn from those experiences, we can help develop community and belonging for our members and fellow citizens of the Town of Farmington.

Kyle Leach, Curator
Farmington NH Historical Society
Museum of Farmington History

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