It’s Time to Remember Their Names

From the African American Memorial Committee

 Over the last several months a group of Windham residents have formed the African American Memorial Committee which has been working in conjunction with the Cemetery Trustees, The Windham Endowment, The Windham Presbyterian Church and the Historic District Commission, to develop a meaningful way to remember the African American community which was a vital part of the town of Windham during the time period surrounding the American Revolution. As you may know, there are at least four African Americans buried in the Cemetery on the Hill in unmarked graves. 

   The past spring, radar imaging was completed that verified the location of the four African Americans identified by Leonard Morrison as being buried in a corner of the Cemetery on the Hill. Members of the Committee reached out to the Black Heritage Trail NH, who will be partnering with us to provide a portion of the cost for creating a bronze plaque at the cemetery to remember the African American community in Windham. More specifically, Peter Thom, Pompey, Jeffery and Rose. We will also memorialize Nicholas Vicksham, a free black man from Windham, who fought in the Revolutionary War. In this way, their names will not be forgotten again.

   Squire John Dinsmoor died in 1805 and he had an estate estimated at over $60,000. That was a sizable sum in the early 1800’s. Dinsmoor was a very successful man, he owned a store in the eastern part of town, he was an early investor in the Londonderry Turnpike, he was a judge who ruled on important local cases, and he also owned slaves which he leased out to his friends and neighbors in Windham. I have many of his log and account books showing every penny he earned from both his store and other enterprises. John Dinsmoor was rich in material wealth, and he spent his life ever increasing his personal gain.

     Robert Dinsmoor was his cousin and a farmer, who had a farm in Windham which sat high on a hill overlooking Cobbett’s Pond, who was better known for his poetry, for which he gained nothing but the joy of being able to beautifully describe and celebrate the human condition. The following is an exchange with his son William, who had hired himself out as a laborer to a wealthy man in Massachusetts:

…Mr. Gardner’s sickness and death gave me some trouble as the two of us, Mr. Dow and I had to sit and tend him in his sickness. He was not aware that he was dying. This should teach us, (I think a Good lesson,) that a deathbed is an uncertain place for us to prepare to leave the world. I am afraid that Mr. Gardner trusted too much in his moral honesty. He believed if he was honest and industrious, he would pass for a good man, thinking when a man left the world that was to be the last of him…What good can be found in being very anxious? We have been striving to complete this road this summer to make a rich man richer. It is worthy of notice that the first carriage that came across the bridge, came to Mr. Gardner’s Funeral!” William Dinsmoor, September 12, 1807

   All of the charges for the work of Jeffrey and Pompey, two African American slaves, are meticulously recorded in entries of John Dinsmoor’s log-book. One of them stood out to me because it shows that African American hands were involved with other members of the community in the construction of our Windham town hall. The hall was built for government functions and to house the Presbyterian church. The following is from Dinsmoor’s logbook:

“May, 1799 Town of Windham D–

To one day provisioning Stuff for the M.H. (Meeting House) Pompey.

For one day S–ing Boards and S—-ing.. Pompey

To one day after S—- from A Wilson finding Clapboards

To going after nails.

To one day examining the work and cleaning the Meetinghouse——–

The role of African Americans in New England just prior to and after the American Revolution is a history that has been hidden and which only recently has been uncovered by many historians and interested groups. It’s a compelling story. Hundreds of African Americans fought in the American Revolution among the patriots of that time. Many of them used the wages they received in the army to buy their freedom. Some such as Nicholas Vicksham fought as a free black man with other Windham men. Because of their bravery and service in the cause, New Englanders changed their outlook on slavery and many families joined the abolitionist movement and were supporters of the Underground Railroad in the area.

    I have been really moved by the group of people who have joined the effort to remember the slaves and free-men who were once part of the town of Windham. We’ve dubbed out ourselves the “African American Memorial Committee” and we have been working to find a way to remember our former black towns people who were in a very real sense forgotten. This group has freely contributed their time and efforts to see that the names and lives of the early African American residents of Windham will be remembered though the erection of a memorial and inclusion in the Black Heritage Trail.  Its only common decency that we remember them, as all the other old Windham residents have been remembered, on the Cemetery on the Hill. 

   We will be providing more information in the near future on ways the community can participate in this effort through donations and in joining us in a dedication ceremony in the Spring of 2022. Again, the committee wants to thank all of the individuals and organizations who are participating in this effort.

Brad Dinsmore, Chairman

The African American Memorial Committee

Diane Carpenter

Bob Coole

Ruth Coole

Peter Griffin

Renee Mallet

Susan Mitchell

Shelley Philippe

Windham Life and Times – October 8, 2021

“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”

In Fact, You Can Hardly Tell It’s Taking Place.

    So there is something that provides me with a profound sense of perfect peace as I watch the sad display of self-destruction, during the non-televised revolution, inexorably marching on in the once great United States of America. Make no mistake, we are living through the takeover of this country by communists/fascists while the populace sleeps; forever attached to the screens that hypnotize, mesmerize and deceive. Luckily, for The Plan, our president is also soundly sleeping.  For god’s sakes, the nominee for the Comptroller of the Currency, Saule Omarova, is an avowed communist who graduated from Moscow State University on a Lenin scholarship! The government is proposing we spend 4.5 trillion of money we do not have and cannot afford for some vain fancies of the progressive left, while Social Security and Medicare face bankruptcy in the very near future. Argentina was also the richest nation on earth, in 1910, then slowly at first, then suddenly, it wasn’t. 

     The social media oligarchs have become our very own Pravda and paid handsomely for their nefarious work. You do know that Merrick Garland’s son-in-law, Xan Tanner, is cofounder of Panorama Education, a company that supplies critical race theory materials to public schools. Oh, but there’s no conflict of interest to see here. Parents and their attempts to control the education of their children make them domestic terrorists that need to be investigated. America was not founded on evil ideals! Every human enterprise is flawed; so why are we as a nation on such a suicidal path? Who wants us destroyed? Do you see yet?

     Oh, how easy we have made it for the people who are our sworn enemies. We’re so blind and given over to our own devices, lusts, fancies, and a desire for fleeting normalcy that we don’t even see it.  The vapid, corrupted, aging, decrepit, politicians of both parties, perform the script, of their NWO controllers, stuffing their pockets with ill gotten gains while attacking American citizens as our feckless bureaucrats, play their final acts in the crumbling set-piece of the U.S.A. Despite this gloomy time, the world still turns…

     In fact, to be precise, it turns at 1,000 miles an hour, while we frolic on its surface blissfully unaware.  And now just as ordained, the earth is tilting 23.5 degrees on its axis, allowing for the change of seasons that is now upon us. Again, this massive shift goes little noticed by us as the temperatures drop and the daylight dims. However, my summer friends are all beginning to notice the changes even as I drench them with water to shield them from the dropping degrees. 

     It’s was a incredibly glorious summer to be alive. Supply issues meant that I could not get my regular vines and I had to start them from very small containers…but they were magnificent still.  I was also privileged to see a rare event while sitting near the water of Cobbett’s Pond with my 90 year old parents. Three bald eagles; together over the lake. Gazing with wonder as they hovered perfectly still in the wind, and as one dropped straight down, claws first to grab a fish from the water. Most every night, at cocktail time, I have watched my eagle friends flying down the lake.

    For several weeks this summer, I could hear an Osprey nest nearby my home. Then just recently two baby Ospreys appeared in my yard…Rabbits and Chipmunks beware. Of course, my wife, the ever down to earth and rational one, thinks my obsession with the earth; with  the creatures and plants that inhabit it with us is crazy. Well, for the health of my being, and my gratitude to the One who has given me all the good and great gifts within which I live, breath and move; I boldly claim with glorious abandon the madness of my deeply heart-felt perception, of a very wonderful, awe inspiring world.  It’s time to prepare for a very bumpy ride! The Revolution is not being televised but it is taking place.

Windham Life and Times – October 1, 2021

Harvest Time has Arrived…Are You Ready?

Harvest time comes and goes and in America there is little thought about how food is grown and where it comes from. Its wrapped in cellophane and displayed on handsome store shelves. Nothing else to know except that it is delivered in trucks that apparently nobody wants to drive anymore. We are totally divorced from the old time rhythms of life, because of  suffocating industrial society ( I promise, I won’t go full Ted Krasinski on you). We really have lost touch with the organic, with human context, and basic reality. That we don’t care that our food is genetically modified with round-up inserted into it’s DNA mystifies me.  How could this ever be a good idea even for profit motivated mega-corporations.

     These photos from the late 1800’s show how the production of food used to be a local enterprise. The photographs on the left are of the Kendall Mill which was located on the Windham/Londonderry town line. Farmers selling there apples to be pressed into cider or vinegar. Above, the Campbell family pitches in to harvest potatoes, a staple crop which kept people alive during the winter. In Maine, back in the day, school children were dismissed to help dig potatoes in the fall.

So as the Harvest approaches are you ready.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored
He have loosed the fateful lightening of his terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on

Glory, Glory halleluhja
Glory, Glory halleluhja
Glory, Glory halleluhja
His truth is marching on

I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded him an altar in the evening dews and damps
I have read his righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps
His truth is marching on

Glory, Glory halleluhja
Glory, Glory halleluhja
Glory, Glory halleluhja
His truth is marching on

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnish’d rows of steel
As ye deal with my condemners so with you my grace shall deal
Let the hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel
His truth is marching on

Glory, Glory halleluhja
Glory, Glory halleluhja
Glory, Glory halleluhja
His truth is marching on

He has sounded form the trumpet that shall never call retreat
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat
Oh, be swift, my soul to answer, oh be jubilant, my feet
His truth is marching on

Glory, Glory halleluhja
Glory, Glory halleluhja

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me
As he died to make men holy let us die to make men free
His truth is marching on

Glory, Glory halleluhja
Glory, Glory halleluhja
Glory, Glory halleluhja
His truth is marching on

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the lord
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored
He have loosed the fateful lightening of his terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on.

 The “Battle Hymn of the Republic“, also known as “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory” outside of the United States, is a popular American patriotic song by the abolitionist writer Julia Ward Howe.

Howe wrote her lyrics to the music of the song “John Brown’s Body” in November 1861 and first published them in The Atlantic Monthly in February 1862. The song links the judgment of the wicked at the end of the age (through allusions to biblical passages such as Isaiah 63:1–6 and Revelation 14:19) with the American Civil War. Wikipedia

The Battle Hymn of the Republic. William Steffe. I wonder if this song is still being sung in the churches in America?

The Kendall Pond Mill at Harvest Time. Baldwin Coolidge photograph courtesy of SPNEA
The Kendall Pond Mill at Harvest Time. Baldwin Coolidge photograph courtesy of SPNEA

Windham Life and Times – September 24, 2021

Cobbett’s Pond Fire Department: 1954-1968

Does anybody know who the woman in the bathing suit standing in front of the Cobbett’s Pond Volunteer Fire Dept. truck could be? I am quite sure the truck is parked on Community Beach because I can see the lake behind the truck. The photo is double exposed but it gives you an idea of what this Volunteer Department on Cobbett’s Pond was all about. Dick Ford explained to me that Chief Harris had an alarm in front of his cottage. If there was a fire you knocked on his door and he would turn on the electricity to the alarm for you.

   So I was asked whether I had ever heard of the Cobbett’s Pond Volunteer Fire Department, and I actually had not even though there is quite a bit of information in Rural Oasis about it. Dennis Root was good enough to track down and copy a photograph he had of one of the trucks for me.  It’s a little double exposed but you get the idea. It looks as if it is parked on Community Beach in this photograph. Does anybody know the girl in the bathing suit posing in front of it?

     Rural Oasis says, “In 1954 a group of summer residents at Community Beach on Cobbett’s Pond started the “Cobbett’s Pond Volunteer Fire Department.” The leader, Richard (Dick) Harris, made a canvass of that area of the pond seeking funds to purchase a second hand fire truck. He visited every camp owner in his area and succeeded in Collecting the sum of $411.50. Of this money $200 was used to purchase a second hand 1923 American Lafrance fire truck which had belonged to Belmont, Massachusetts department. The rest of the cash was used to buy new hose and the necessary material for restoration. However, this truck did not prove too successful for its use was limited to a very short distance from the pond. In 1956 it was sold by James McKeon to a group on Beaver Lake.

     A new group of volunteers was then formed and a new truck was purchased. This was a 1946 Chrysler oil tank truck.  Many hours were spent converting it to a fire truck. Most important was the installation of a booster pump and new hose which could send water 175 feet. Much of this work was done by Doug Marshall, George Hughes, Fred Marquebreuck, Dick Harris, and Harry Pearse who was a member of the Malden, Massachusetts, Fire Department. Sirens were installed at various locations, these donated by James McKeon. A truck siren was donated by Ollie Lalumiere and a hose reel by the Wakefield, Massachusetts, Fire Department, with valves and piping installed by Dick Harris.

    A charter was drawn up and Dick Harris was named chief, Walter Lalmiere, assistant chief, William Benkoski, captain, and Gustaaf DeVits, first lieutenant. During the summer months there was always the danger of a serious fire and on more than one occasion small blazes were kept under control until the regular fire trucks arrived, no doubt preventing the loss of one or more summer homes. This group remained active until 1968 when it was disbanded and the truck was sold.     

Windham Life and Times September 3, 2021

Happy Labor Day Weekend. Wide Ranging Sentiments on Work

John H. Dinsmore wheeling in the hay – Gate-keeper at Windham Depot – Stone masons laboring on Searles gate

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,

And prosper the work of our hands—

O prosper the work of our hands.” Psalm 90:17

“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you; that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” Thessalonians 3:10

Draupadi said: “The Devatās desire him who offers worship and works hard. They do not like him who loves to sleep and is lazy. The hard working person gets great praise from them.”

“No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity.”

“One day our society will come to respect the sanitation worker if it is to survive, for the person who picks up our garbage, in the final analysis, is as significant as the physician, for if he doesn’t do his job, diseases are rampant.”
 Martin Luther King Jr.

“Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck, your professions is what you’re put on earth to do, with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.” Vincent Van Gogh

“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much higher consideration.” Abraham Lincoln

“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.”

“The return from your work must be the satisfaction which that work brings you and the world’s need of that work. With this, life is heaven, or as near heaven as you can get.” 

“Nations reel and stagger on their way; they make hideous mistakes; they commit frightful wrongs; they do great and beautiful things. And shall we not best guide humanity by telling the truth about all this, so far as the truth is ascertainable?” W.E.B. Du Bois

“The best way to find yourselves is to lose yourself in service to others.” Gandhi

“Originality and the feeling of one’s own dignity are achieved only through work and struggle.” Fyodor Dostoevsky

“Work and family are at the center of our lives, the foundation of our dignity as a free people.” Ronald Reagan

“The basic goal of labor will not change. It is— as it has always been, and I am sure always will be — to better the standards of life for all who work for wages and to seek decency and justice and dignity for all Americans.” George Meany

My people are destroyed because they lack knowledge of me. Hosea 4:6

America in 2021 disdains labor, as our country is now totally controlled by the MIC, financial interests and the FED, the big investment banks, investment houses, multi-national corporations and supra-national organizations ushing in their green new deal and great reset. Mass illegal immigration further depresses wages. For God’s sakes, we make almost nothing useful…how is that a sign of national greatness? Republicans can be accused of being deaf to the needs of labor, but  the Democrats used to be the champions of labor, and now just provide weak lip service. If Taiwan is invaded by the communist Chinese we have no source of semi-conductors. Ford and G&M just announced they are shutting down assembly lines because of a lack of supply of chips. What would happen in a war, hot or cold. In case you’re not aware, World War II started because the United States attempted to cut of Japan’s access to raw materials. This is why they attacked Pearl Harbor…because the cold war had begun in the 1930’s. Without Lithium the Green New Deal is just a bad joke. Most all of the ingredients of pharmaceuticals are manufactured in China; does that not give you pause? How the heck could we ever fight a war without a manufacturing base? Why have our politicians (on both sides) left us defenseless against our enemies? Why do they hate us so? Why do they disdain small business, the working man-woman, farmers and soldiers? Because the politicians love themselves first, and the people and swindles that make them the biggest bribes and investment profits! Decent Americans…the working people be damned!

They couldn’t even bring themselves to honor the  soldiers fallen in Afghanistan in the US House of Representatives. There are reports that the identity of the terrorist bomber was known, his location was known, and there was a drone lock on him before he blew himself up killing and maiming the American marines. And why was the “Profile in Courage” Harris; “They’re not going to pin this sh__ on me,” posed in front of a statue of Ho Chi Min in Viet Nam, a humiliating juxtaposition, at the very moment the debacle in Afghanistan was taking place…” Optics that are just too awful and odd to be coincidence. And now Americans are being held hostage in Afghanistan; Biden and Harris are vacationing and campaigning, while Afghanis and their kidnapped child brides are being welcomed into our country. Could it really be any worse than this?

Windham Life and Times – August 27, 2021

Afghanistan; The Graveyard of Empires

The last stand of the 44th Foot, in the first British-Afghan War, during the Massacre of Elphinstone’s Army in 1842. Painted by William Barnes Wollen in 1898. A Soviet tank taken by the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.

    So the withdrawal of U.S. troops and dependents from Afghanistan has been an unmitigated disaster. That rests at the feet of the Biden administration, however, we can thank the “brain trust” presidency of George W. Bush for putting U.S. troops into the “Graveyard of Empires” in the first place. After all Dick Cheney told him it was a great idea and Donald Rumsfeld, not satisfied to blow it once, as in Viet Nam, set us up for our current travails, and the enrichment of the Military Industrial Complex to the tune of trillions of dollars. Poor IKE must be rolling over in his grave, having warned us about this immoral cabal and what they were capable of doing for money and power.

     Of course, the fist empire that was destroyed in Afghanistan was the British. They fought three separate wars in the region, the last being in 1919. The First Anglo-Afghan War also known as the “Disaster in Afghanistan” was fought between the British Empire and the Emirate of Afghanistan. (Oh isn’t that now the new name given by the Taliban to Afghanistan?) “…the British successfully intervened in a succession dispute between emir Dost Mohammad (Barakzai) and former emir Shah Shujah (Durrani), whom they installed upon capturing Kabul in August 1839. The main British Indian force occupying Kabul along with their camp followers, having endured harsh winters as well, was almost completely annihilated during its 1842 retreat from Kabul. The British then sent an Army of Retribution to Kabul to avenge the destruction of their previous forces. After recovering prisoners, they withdrew from Afghanistan by the end of the year. Dost Mohammed returned from exile in India to resume his rule.” The occupation was abandoned in 1842: On 1 January 1842, following some unusual thinking by Major-General William George Keith Elphinstone, which may have had something to do with the poor defensibility of the cantonment, an agreement was reached that provided for the safe exodus of the British garrison and its dependents from Afghanistan. Five days later, the withdrawal began. The departing British contingent numbered around 16,500, of which about 4,500 were military personnel, and over 12,000 were camp followers. (sounds very familiar), Lieutenant Eyre commented about the camp followers that ‘These proved from the very first mile a serious clog on our movements’. Lady Sale brought with her 40 servants, none of whom she named in her diary while Lieutenant Eyre’s son was saved by a female Afghan servant, who rode through an ambush with the boy on her back, but he never gave her name. The American historian James Perry noted: “Reading the old diaries and journals, it is almost as if these twelve thousand native servants and sepoy wives and children didn’t exist individually. In a way, they really didn’t. They would die, all of them – shot, stabbed, frozen to death – in these mountain passes, and no one bothered to write down the name of even one of them”. The military force consisted mostly of Indian units and one British battalion, 44th Regiment of Foot. Dost Mohammad is reported to have said:

‘I have been struck by the magnitude of your resources, your ships, your arsenals, but what I cannot understand is why the rulers of so vast and flourishing an empire should have gone across the Indus to deprive me of my poor and barren country.’”

     In 1843 British army chaplain G.R. Gleig wrote a memoir of the disastrous (First) Anglo-Afghan War, of which he was not one of the few survivors as alleged by some authors such as Dalrymple, but in fact someone who interviewed the survivors and wrote his account as declared on the first page of his book which is described as an “Advertisement” but is in fact the preface. He wrote that ‘it was a war begun for no wise purpose, carried on with a strange mixture of rashness and timidity, brought to a close after suffering and disaster, without much glory attached either to the government which directed, or the great body of troops which waged it. Not one benefit, political or military, was acquired with this war. Our eventual evacuation of the country resembled the retreat of an army defeated.’ ” This could be an accurate quote from 2021. And people have the gall to say that the liberal arts are dead; history is an important teacher and guide to those who would rule a nation.

    Later in the twentieth century, the Soviet War in Afghanistan lasted from 1979 through 1989. “They went in to shore up the newly established pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. In short order, nearly 100,000 Soviet soldiers took control of major cities and highways…Rebellion was swift and broad…Foreign support propped up the diverse group of rebels, pouring in from Pakistan, China, and the United States. In the brutal nine year conflict, one million civilians were killed, as well as 90,000 Mujahedeen fighters, 18,000 Afghan troops and 14,500 Soviet soldiers…” Many historians feel that the quagmire in Afghanistan was a major contributing factor to the fall of the Soviet Union. Within 30 years after of Third British Afghan War the British Empire was no more. One can only wonder, if this debacle is signaling to the rest of the world, if not to the sleeping and deceived citizens of the United States, the end of the American Empire. Its funny that President Biden recently made the statement that “insurrectionists would need a lot more than guns to take on the US government because it is equipped with a nuclear arsenal and war planes.’” Well the rag-tag, asymmetric fighters of the Taliban have elegantly proven him very wrong.”

Windham Life and Times – August 20, 2021

Fairview Rocks – Cobbett’s Pond North Shore

Late on Sunday afternoon I was gazing down the lake toward North Shore Road, and saw the massive boulders of Fairview Rocks, or the “Look-Out,” actually glowing, in the warm, fading light of the setting sun. The whole shoreline from North Shore to Rocky Ridge is littered with the monolithic remains of the glaciers, which haphazardly flung these standing stones in their place. This includes “Indian Rock” and the now gone Cobbett’s Rock. When the John H. Dinsmore owned this area, before he sold it to Edward Searles,  it was known as the “Rocky Pasture.” Will Harris owned the adjoining land where Fairview Rocks was located. I wonder if the Native Americans  called this hauntingly beautiful stretch of shoreline by name? Gogebic…”rocky shore,” short for agojebic.