The 1760's saw the granting of many towns in this area, so in the 1960's, they celebrated their bicentennials, including Holderness and Plymouth. This must have led people in Ashland to think about their own centennial in 1968.
The first mention of the Centennial I have so far found in the newspapers is an open meeting called by “a group of citizens” in the school gym on February 9, 1967 to consider a week-long celebration in the last week of July 1968. Apparently few attended the meeting.
But at the same time two petitioned warrant articles were in process: 1) to establish a committee, the members to be appointed by the moderator, to prepare for the 100th anniversary celebration 2) to raise $400 for initial preparations for that centennial celebration. Both articles passed at the March 1967 town meeting.
Moderator Tom Pryor appointed a committee: Mary E. Hughes, chairman, Margaret Whitcomb, secretary, John Smith treasurer, also Mary Louise Hughes, John Hughes, James Rollins, George Ober and Robert Proulx. The first meeting of the committee was held at the Hughes home on April 8. This coordinating committee met regularly thereafter. Margaret Whitcomb resigned in January 1968, so acting moderator William Deachman appointed Rhenda Paquette in her place and three additional members- Joy Bricker, Marion Merrill and Thomas Heinz. Mrs. Paquette later resigned, so Mary Louise Hughes became secretary. The Centennial had a top down organization. The committee appointed chairs of sub committees for specific events or projects, who then recruited sub-committee members. There were 32 sub committees of varying size. This was an attempt to get as many people as possible to participate in the celebration.
The committee received $100 in May 1967 from the planning board, then $400 from the 1967 town appropriation, and a $100 contribution from the Squam Lakes Association. The rest of the money was raised by the committee, which decided to not ask for a further appropriation in 1968. Most of the funds came from the events or sales items themselves. The committee did also hold a food sale in July 1968. The total cost of the Centennial was $14,287.67 according to the treasurer, with money left over, $1285.51, which was given to the town general fund at the end of 1969. More on that later.
Preparing for the centennial The focus of the celebration was the eight days from July 20 to 27 in 1968, but a lot happened before that.
Clean up Campaign
In February of 1967 the Chamber of Commerce asked property owners to repair, paint and clean up their properties over the next year to get ready for the Centennial. The Chamber formed a beautification committee that outlasted the centennial and had some immediate successes, including tree plantings, building painting, and the removal of burnt out buildings, such as the Marine block on Main Street, which we will come back to.
The centennial had an official decorator, a firm from Massachusetts that would rent bunting and banners for storefronts or homes. Many stores on Main Street were so decorated that summer of 1968.
By March 1968, a centennial birthday cake, made by Lucien St. Arnauld and Dick Straw and painted by the Dames and Roger Brown, was erected in the little park on the corner between Main Street and Highland Street. The cake was equipped with electric birthday candles that were lit every evening. It was labeled “Join Us July 20-27 For The Centennial” and was part of the general publicity campaign. (We should also mention the new flagpole that was raised in the flagpole triangle on July 19, 1968, just in time for the celebration.)
The first committee project was to erect signs at the road entrances to the town to announce the centennial week.
Newspaper articles were published in Ashland Citizen, Laconia Citizen, Summer Times of Laconia, Lakes Region Trader, and Manchester Union Leader. The committee paid for a large ad in the Winnipesaukee Times, in an issue that carried four articles on the Ashland centennial and Ashland history.
Posters, 14 by 20 inches in size, were printed with the schedule of events. Smaller handbills, 7 ½ by 14 inches, were also printed with the schedule. There was even an exhibit in the visitors’ center in the NH State House, along with exhibits for other towns celebrating similar events.
The centennial committee purchased a special cancellation die for the Ashland Post Office, which beginning in February or March of 1968 was used to cancel the envelopes mailed from Ashland. The cancellation imprint announced the Ashland Centennial 1868-1968 and gave the dates of the celebration. Invitations were also sent out by a sub-committee to former residents, summer visitors and friends, inviting them to the celebration.
To promote the centennial and to make some money for it, the committee produced sales items.
Commemorative plates, produced by a committee headed by Phyllis Small, were ready for sale in time for Christmas 1967. The plate had nine scenes the library in the center, a view of Squam River, the Civil War monument, the old school, the fire station, the Legion hall, the beach, the Booster Clubhouse and the Samuel Shepard tavern. It was produced by E.S. Cunin Company of Ohio. Mr. Cunin did the artwork himself, which was apparently a rare occurrence. It sold for $2 each. 1008 plates were made. 25 plates were given away and 809 plates sold, leaving 154 at the end, some of which we still have for sale, although the price has increased. It is a very nice plate, but I do feel obliged to point out an error. On the plate, it says that the Samuel Shepard house was the site of the first town meeting in July 1868. The tavern was used for town meetings in the 1820s and 1830s, which may have led to an oral tradition that it was used for early town meetings and that got changed to the first town meeting. This claim was repeated in news articles during the centennial, but the town records actually tell us that the first town meeting was held in Squam Lake Hall, a private hall that stood where the Town Hall is now.
The commemorative plates were also used in another interesting way. Letters were sent to the other communities named Ashland in the country, about 20 of them, along with a plate, asking them to send some memento of their community for display during our centennial. The items that were received were put on display, probably with the historical display in St. Agnes parish hall.
Another big seller was the commemorative coin. Ed and Dot Dupuis were co- chairs of the coin committee. The coins depict the steamer Kusumpee with the town seal on the reverse. The steamer was used by the Kusumpee Lumber Co. at the sawmill dam that holds up Squam Lake. It hauled tourists in the summer and log rafts to the lumber mill in the off seasons. 500 silver coins and 1000 bronze coins were struck by the Robbins Co of Attleboro Mass. and Providence RI. The standard price was $10 for silver, $2.50 for bronze. The coins went on sale in 1968 with pre-order sales as early as February. Ashland residents had first dibs on the coins. The silver coins were numbered, and coins 1 to 10 were auctioned off to the highest bidders. Coin #1 sold for over $300. The silver coins were very popular and were all sold. Most of them were actually gone before the centennial week celebration began, with the newspapers reporting that very few were left by then. By l969, the silver coins were said to be selling for 3 times their original price. All but 374 of the bronze coins were sold, so again we have some left. This was the most successful of the committee's fundraisers, making a net profit of $2415.01.
Stock certificates were also sold by the Centennial Committee. They had no par value and were non assessable, so a purchase was basically a donation to the committee. They were all signed by the “President” Mary E Hughes Chairman and by Secretary Mary Louise Hughes. The certificates were illustrated with a view of Squam Lake House, the major downtown hotel that burned in 1934, and a view of the proposed Howard Johnson restaurant and motor lodge near the Interstate exchange. It was never built and Howard Johnson later sold the land to Burger King. (Burger King and Comfort Inn show that it was nevertheless a good idea.) 1000 certificates were printed by Lerman Press for $137.50. That number turned out to be overly optimistic. The stocks were sold for $ 1 each by Fire Department members beginning in May. 357 were sold, for a net profit of $219.
Another committee sold buttons 1 ¾ inches in diameter depicting a bearded man with the inscription Ashland Centennial and its dates around the rim. The committee purchased 1000 buttons at a cost of about 6 ½ cents each. I don't know what they sold for or how many were sold, but a profit of $90.50 was reported on their sale.
It was announced as early as April 1967 that an historical booklet and centennial program would be published. The co-chairs of the book project were Doris Tatham and John Smith, who oversaw the compilation of the book and probably wrote much of it. Many sections of the book are unsigned, but about a dozen authors wrote and signed individual sections. It was called a booklet but, as was pointed out at the time, it was big enough to be called a book, with 119 pages of historic text and historic photos, and 8 pages devoted to the centennial celebration. Joy Bricker led the effort to sell ads. It cost $5 to be listed as a sponsor and $25 to be listed as a patron. There is a page each for 11 sponsors and 13 patrons. I don't know what individual ads cost, but the total sales of ads and sponsorships raised $2000. There were 66 ads ranging from 1/8 page to full page. Most of the ads are now historic in themselves, listing businesses that no longer exist. The books sold for $2.50 for hard cover and $1.50 for paperback. I don't know how many were printed, but at the end there were still 1580 copies on hand. So we have been selling them ever since. It remains the only general history of the Town and was one of the major legacies of the centennial.
Other literary efforts
Latetia Ash wrote a poem titled “Ashland’s First Hundred”, which became the official Centennial poem, and was published in the local newspaper, the 1967 town report and the historical book.
News articles were printed in the July issues of the Ashland Citizen before the centennial week -two articles on the town's history by Lorraine Marsh and essays on the future of Ashland by 3rd grader Betty Small and 7th grader Donald Brown.
The centennial baby was the child born to Ashland parents on the date nearest to July 1, the official date of the incorporation of the town of Ashland. As it happens, Ann Marie Barney, daughter of Susan and David Barney, was actually born on July 1, so she was presented with the silver Ashland centennial baby cup and all the centennial mementos during the centennial week.
In June of 1968, the Town's first and still only official flag was ordered. It cost $60, paid for by the Beach Booster Association, American Legion Post, Chamber of Commerce, L.W. Packard and Dipsy Doodle. Made by Priscilla Flags of Rochester, the flag shows the old town seal on a silhouette of the state with TOWN OF ASHLAND NEW HAMPSHIRE above and NEW HAMPSHIRE GEOGRAPHICAL CENTER below. It was formally accepted by the selectmen at their July 2 meeting as the official town flag and first used in the July 4 parade. It is now kept upstairs in the Town Hall and seldom seen today.
The old town seal was a rather dull thing, just text in a circle “Town of Ashland New Hampshire Incorporated 1868”. James Rollins, who was a quite decent artist, designed a new town seal, which had a view of the Civil War Monument. He took some artistic license and put the monument in a park like setting, on a lawn with a background of trees, a setting it has never had. But it is a very attractive design. The new seal is first mentioned in the local paper in November 1967. It was used on centennial committee stationery, on the cover of the 1967 town report and on the cover of the historical book. The initial newspaper report said that “it is hoped that the design will be adopted as the official seal of the Town of Ashland”, which did happen, but not until the March town meeting of 1969, which meant that the new town flag with the old seal was obsolete within about nine months.
Historical displays by Robert Proulx were mounted in public places before the main celebration. He was already doing displays from his own collection on a regular basis in the library. As early as December 1967, he put displays in the windows of Carey's Furniture, YD Pharmacy and Austin's Pharmacy. On town meeting day, there were special historic displays in the gym, including one on elections and town meetings.
Lorraine Marsh chaired a committee to put dates on houses, old or new. For $1.50, the committee would make date markers, small white signs with the date in black numerals. I don't know how many houses were marked, but I do remember the signs, although I think that there are fewer around now than there used to be.
The centennial committee promoted the wearing of historical costumes, particularly from the 1860s, by townspeople during the celebration. In June, they sold costumes, including dresses, bonnets, petticoats, and ball gowns for women, coats, vests, garters, top hats and derbies for men at Ober's Knotty Pine Lounge and at the Sirles insurance agency. The committee sold $543 worth of costumes and many people wore them at the various centennial events, notably the centennial ball. The selectmen even proclaimed Friday June 28 and every Friday in July Old Fashion Dress Up day and asked “all loyal citizens” to wear old fashioned clothes on those days.
Men were encouraged to grow beards. The beard committee, headed by Harold Baker, proclaimed that all males should attempt to grow beards for a beard contest. Registration was at Al Guyotte's and Homer Young's barber shops and ran from Lincoln's Birthday to town meeting day. There was no fee for those who registered. Clean shaven men were asked to purchase a shavers permit button, or be subject to a fine of not more than one hundred cents nor less than than two bits. The newspaper said in March that more and more beards are appearing. But in the end, only nine bearded men showed up for the beard contest judging, which was held in the Masonic Hall on the Friday evening before the official start of the centennial week. A barbershop quartet called the Unfurnished Flats provided music. Three judges pulled and measured the length and thickness of each beard and mustache. The winners were announced at the centennial ball the next evening. 5 prizes were awarded: most original to Robert Shaw, who appeared as Abraham Lincoln, longest beard to John Hughes, best beard to Clinton Gray, funniest beard to John Beede, and best mustache to Peewee Duguay. At the end of the centennial week, on the last Saturday, Al Guyotte shaved of some of beards of the contestants in a beard shaving ceremony, including Robert Shaw and Dick Chisholm.
Centennial Week ran from Saturday July 20, which started with a flag raising at the ballfield by committee members dressed in historical costumes raising a flag that had flown over the US Capitol, through Saturday July 27, which was the grand finale. The committee tried to have a major event each day. However, there were certain things that were constant throughout the week.
One was the centennial queen who presided over all the major events. Any Ashland girl (ages 16 through 21) could enter the contest to become the queen. The judging took place at Masonic Hall, on Friday evening July 19, the same time and place as the beard contest. There were three contestants: Susan Calley, Rebecca Hiltz and Gaylen Potter. The three candidates all attended the centennial ball the next evening, where it was announced that Gaylen Potter had won. She was then crowned, and the other two candidates became her royal court. The queen had a ceremonial role at events, usually passing out prizes. She and the royal court all rode in separate cars at the parade on the last day.
The Hospitality Center in the Baptist church dining room was open daily. Here visitors could rest, chat and have some refreshments, punch and cookies. The center had one of the largest committees in the centennial celebration.
The Arts and Crafts exhibit was also held in the Baptist church dining room in combination with the hospitality center. This exhibit, organized by a committee headed by Gloria Gammons, displayed items made by many Ashland residents, including fine arts, like paintings and decorated plates, and crafts, like knit items and dolls.
The other exhibit open daily, including weekday evenings, was the historical display in St. Agnes Church Hall. The Committee was chaired by Robert Proulx, who had been collecting Ashland historical items, including photos and documents, for 15 years. Other items were loaned by Ashland residents. The hall was filled with displays of literally hundreds of photos and items. Larger items, like wagons, were displayed on the front lawn. Robert had previously created a museum, featuring a country store, in the barn of his family home right next door to the church hall, which was also open during the centennial celebration. The historical exhibit was one of the great features of the celebration and had a long range impact that we will discuss later.
News items in the Laconia paper reported that the Samuel Shepard house and the fire station were also open during the centennial week, but I do not have any more information about those open houses.
Rather than go through the events during the week chronologically, I thought that I would group them by type, except for the grand finale on Saturday.
On Sunday evening, July 21, an ecumenical religious service was held at the Stevens farm at the the top of Leavitt Hill overlooking Little Squam Lake and the Sandwich Range. Bus transportation was provided up the hill from the beach parking lot. The service was well attended, with many coming in costume. The pastors of all four churches participated, Rev. Robert Lamson of the Baptist church, Rev. Phillip Polhemus of the Methodist church, Rev. Joseph Rheaume of St. Agnes Church, and Rev. David Stoddart of St. Mark's Church. The main message was delivered by Father Rheaume. The choral group from Rockywold Deephaven camp sang. The service ended with the lowering of the flag by the color guard.
First and foremost was the centennial costume ball, which began at 8 pm on Saturday night, July 20. A large committee led by Mrs. Lester Turmelle worked for months on the ball. It was held in the school gym, which was decorated with blue and white streamers, balloons, greenery and flowers, and a revolving crystal centerpiece suspended from the ceiling. The price was $2 per person. Over 500 people attended. It was billed as a costume ball, although costumes were not required. But a large percentage did come in costume, many in 19th century dress, and some as famous characters like Abe Lincoln or Oliver Hardy of Laurel & Hardy. Music was provided by Bob Hall and his 12 piece orchestra from Concord. The emcee was Peewee Duguay. The evening included refreshments and souvenir dance programs. As we have already noted, the event included the presentation of the queen candidates, the crowning of the queen and the announcement of the beard contest winners. There was also a grand march. The costumes were judged, probably during the march, by three out of town judges. Awards were given to Joy Bricker for best colonial costume, to Mr and Mrs John Kelly for best dressed couple, and to Lawrence and Jean Lee for most original costumes.
The other two dances were also in the school gym. On Wednesday evening, a local group, Spud Dicey's Square Dance Band, held a square dance that was “well attended” and “enjoyed by everyone”. On Friday evening, the Mullens, a band of three teenage brothers from Lynn, Mass., played for a teen dance.
Robert Thompson of West Center harbor gave boat rides in the gristmill pond on the Squam River in his small steamboat, a craft from the 1890s which was known as the Kehonka when it sailed on Lake Winnipesaukee. It was restored and renamed the Rumhound by Thompson. He donated the use of the boat, so the only cost to the centennial committee was $3 for the coal that was burned.
Hayrides were given on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evening, starting from the playground. The hayride was described in one news article as “a wild and wonderful ride through the cooling countryside” and in another as “slow and peaceful”. The one accident the newspapers mention during the whole celebration occurred on the Monday hayride, when the overloaded wagon spilt in two as it was leaving the playground and deposited children suddenly on the ground, but it does not appear that anyone was hurt.
Three Children's Events
Children's Field Day was held on Tuesday afternoon at the playground, organized by the playground supervisor. I don’t have many details. There were many races, jumping and throwing contests “enjoyed by a throng of enthusiastic youngsters of all ages”.
Children's Swimming Meet was held on Thursday afternoon at the town beach under the charge of the lifeguard, with more than 40 participants, ages 8 to 18. Harold Acer Proulx was emcee and starter. The Harris sisters were judges. The swimmers were divided into classes with four in each class for the back crawl and freestyle. There were six entrants in the diving competition. Ribbons were given to 1st and 2nd place winners in each class, so a total of 22 ribbons were awarded.
Children's Pet Parade and Show was one of the more unusual events, described as “entertaining and well attended”. The committee was chaired by Marge Glidden. Any child 16 or under could enter. Registration forms were given out at the school and at Bailey's store. The parade started at the town hall and proceeded to the bandstand at the playground for the actual pet show. All the pets had to be leashed, caged or carried. All of the children and even some of the pets wore costumes. One prize was given for best in the parade. At the playground, the pets- 17 dogs, 7 ponies, 7 cats, 2 mice, 2 woodchucks, 2 guinea pigs, and one bird, were judged. There were 5 prizes each for the most original, for prettiest and for best preparation, 4 prizes for funniest and just one for most horrible, which was won by Lyndel Simpson's pony. The first prettiest prize went to Debbie Green and her poodle Penny, who were dressed in matching colonial costumes. Trudy Glidden's horse, dressed as a cow, won the top funniest prize. The pet show also included a mutt derby for dogs to come when they were called by their masters, with the winner the dog who got to its master first.
Horse and Pony
Show held at the playground on Saturday morning,July 20. The committee was the Tathams and the Bavises, who had horse show experience. The show did have several local participants. The entry fee was just $2. The horse and pony judging included halter class horse, halter class pony lead line class, and western trail class. There were also races-barrel race, egg & spoon race, saddle carrying race, and fanny race. The awards were shared by three horses, two of them Ashland owned, Lawson Glidden's horse Paint and Kendall L. Hughes's pony Xanthus. The third winning horse was Gypsy from the Piper stables in Meredith. The newspaper noted that many of the youngest riders received much applause.
Horse Pull at playground on Sunday afternoon, July 21, was put on by a committee headed by Kendall L. Hughes. The contest was teams of draft horses pulling heavy loads on sleds. Teams came from throughout New Hampshire and Vermont. There were 2 classes of pulls. The light weight class was won by Wilford Sneat of Springfield, Vermont whose team pulled 5655 lbs 30 ½ inches, beating another team pulling the same load two inches less. The free for all class was won by a team from Lancaster that pulled 7260 lbs 22 inches.
Woodsmen Field Day was held on Monday afternoon at the playground. The chairman was Bernard Avery, a local lumberman. With the help of the Grafton County forester, he secured the appearance of David Geer of Jewett City,Conn., the world champion lumberjack. Also performing was bucksaw champion Andre Chabot of Holderness. This was a demonstration event, not a prize competition, with exhibitions of various woodsmen skills: woodchopping of blocks and of standing tree trunks, bucksawing, cross cut sawing, chainsawing and ax throwing.
The centennial committee paid $300 to have the Nashua Sky Divers, a team headed by Ralph White put on a skydiving demonstration. To whet the public appetite, a movie on skydiving was shown at the Masonic Hall at the Friday evening judging of the beards and the queen candidates. The exhibition required the permission of the N.H. Aeronautics Commission. It was held in the late afternoon on Friday July 26 at the playground. Spectators were urged to bring binoculars and sunglasses. There were a total of 3 jumps. In the first jump, from 7000 feet, the jumper fell for 30 seconds before opening his chute and landed close to the target on the field. The plane than went higher and the second jumper free fell for 45 seconds before his chute opened. The last jump was a double jump with two jumpers from 12,500 feet. The jumpers waited a full 60 seconds before opening their chutes. The preliminary news article said that the two jumpers would attempt to pass a baton during their fall, but the later news reports did not say if this was successful or not.
Saturday, July 27, the finale of the celebration began in the morning with what the committee promised in 1967 would be a” spectacular parade” and they seem to have delivered. The parade committee chair was Mary Louise Hughes and the parade marshal was Donald Knowlton. The route was an unusual one, which I believe was never used before or since, starting at the town beach, than down River Street and Riverside Drive and on Main Street to the playground where the floats and decorated vehicles were lined up near the bandstand. The route was 2.4 miles long by my odometer, so it was possibly the longest parade ever held here. It required the detour of Route 3 traffic via Owl Brook Road, Highland and School Streets. An estimated 5000 spectators saw what the Laconia paper called the “biggest and most outstanding” parade in Ashland's history. The theme was “100 Years of Patriotism”. The parade lasted almost an hour. There were seven bands, including the Granite State Highlanders Band with bagpipes, Plymouth's Golden Cadets and Golden Eagles, and marching bands from Franklin, Manchester, and Claremont.
Some fifty units were led by Gov. John W. King in his official car. The parade had lots of floats, floats from organizations like churches, the Grange, Masons, and Rebekahs, serious floats like the John Birch Society with its Captive Nations Cemetery, humorous floats like Dr. Bricker in a 19th century bathing costume, historical floats, like the Ashland Elementary School with a class of 100 years ago, commercial floats, like Wonder Products which won a prize. The parade also had a Civil War reenactors group from Vermont, other costumed marchers, antique autos, decorated autos, Congressman Cleveland and the Centennial Queen in cars; horse drawn vehicles including a stagecoach and covered wagons, decorated bikes and doll carriages, horses, ponies, oxen, three elephants (one ridden by a chimpanzee), fire engines and last but not least a calliope. 3 out of town judges, chaired by Raymond Burton of Bath, gave out the parade prizes. The prize for best entry, a 56 inch high trophy and $50, went to the Dupuis Cross Post for its Pueblo float, which was the cause célèbre at the time. The Pueblo was a navy spy ship captured by the North Koreans. Its crew were still in captivity at the time of the centennial, although they were released by the end of the year. (The North Koreans still have the ship.) There were prizes for floats, walkers, bikes, doll carriages, horse and ponies.
An Old Home Day event followed the parade at the playground. A crowd gathered at the bandstand for speeches. (The centennial committee had actually found the bandstand in poor condition, so they had paid for new flooring and paint to spruce it up.) Grafton County Attorney William Deachman, a local man, introduced the speakers. Gov. John King and Congressman James Cleveland spoke. Speaker of the N.H. House Walter Peterson and local judge Hiram Gingras presented a flag from the U.S. Capitol from Senator Norris Cotton who was unable to attend. Peterson was actually a candidate for governor at the time and went on to win that fall, so we had both the sitting and the future governor at the event. The judges made the parade awards. The 500th silver coin was given to Chairman Mary E. Hughes in recognition of her work. Hiram Gingras was slated to give a talk on the history of the ballpark and playground, but there was not enough time, so the talk was later published in the local paper. Congressman Cleveland was persuaded to ride a small elephant with the chimpanzee, which amused the governor and delighted the photographers.
A committee chaired by Ed Dupuis served bean hole beans baked in the ground at lunch time at the playground which were a sell-out. The afternoon was advertised as an Old Home Day, giving old friends time to visit, but there were three interesting events at the same time. At 3 p.m. at the playground the Kelton Stock Farm of White River Junction was slated to present its performers including ponies, elephants, a chimpanzee and a fire engine. Unfortunately, I have no further description of that event. Also at 3 pm a waterfront show and regatta was scheduled on Little Squam Lake at the town beach. Apparently no reporter went out to the lake to describe it, so I have no details on what the regatta included. Meanwhile, throughout the day, the Civil War reenactors from St. Johnsbury, Vermont were bivouacked in Avery's field on Winona Road where Avery Street is now. There they demonstrated firing muskets and cannon, firing cans of cement from their cannon, and were to hold a mock skirmish in the late afternoon.
Back at the playground, the Pemi-Valley Fish & Game Club served a chicken barbecue from 5 to 7:30 p.m. The Plymouth Community Band gave a concert from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. After the band concert, fireworks ended the centennial week celebration. They cost $1285.75 with $500 from the centennial committee, $539 from the Hughes family and $246.75 from the Atlas Fireworks Company. The local paper called them “a giant display of fireworks, many claim some of the most spectacular ever seen in Ashland”.
The centennial committee hired the Plymouth Community band to give another band concert on August 29, which was apparently the last centennial event.
A time capsule full of mementos was to be buried with a ceremony at the Civil War monument on Labor Day weekend and to be unearthed in 2068 for Ashland's bicentennial. I was unable to find any mention of such a ceremony on Labor Day or any other date, but the centennial committee did purchase a stainless steel box for the time capsule and I have been assured that it was buried at the monument full of stuff, although perhaps without much ceremony.
The centennial committee also recorded the celebration. Harriet Addison created a scrapbook of newspaper articles on the centennial. Lasher Photos took photos of the centennial events for the centennial committee. Later the photos were displayed at Merrill's Insurance, so that anyone could order copies. Aftermath The centennial led to two significant developments. The celebration of Ashland's history and particularly the large historical display of Robert Proulx's collection inspired some to do more to preserve Ashland's past and particularly the Proulx collection. The local paper noted on August 1 that “a movement is afoot to locate a permanent residence for the historical display”. Shortly after centennial week, a committee was formed to consider establishing an Ashland Historical Society. A proposed constitution was drafted, and on August 20 about 20 Ashland residents met and voted to form a historical society. As they say “the rest is history”. In its last report in the 1969 town report, the centennial committee expressed its wish that its remaining inventory be turned over to the Historical Society and the 1970 town meeting approved that move without dissent. So we still have centennial books, plates and coins for sale.
The effort of the beautification committee to clean up and beautify the town, combined with the opportunity that the removal of the Marine house in the center of the downtown provided, led to the effort to create what was soon called Memorial Park. This effort was endorsed by the centennial committee, who asked in their 1969 report that the funds they had raised and turned over to the Town be appropriated to the Memorial Park. The 1970 town meeting agreed to do that, appropriating $1302.01, an amount equal to that given into the general fund by the centennial committee, to be used for the establishment, of the park. It was further voted that this donation was to be made in memory of Mary E. Hughes, who had died in October of 1969.
This presentation on Ashland's Centennial Celebration was delivered to the Ashland Historical Society on October 23, 2014, by David Ruell.