> Wilton’s birthday passes without celebration
Everybody I know just celebrated the 240th birthday of our great nation on the Fourth of July, but I’ll bet not a single person in my beloved town of Wilton celebrated the fact that Wilton was incorporated as a town 254 years ago on June 25, 1762, only 23 years after Jacob Putnam and his brother Ephriam erected the first two homes in my town! It certainly wasn’t our current Board of Selectmen who have shown little or no interest in preserving the rich history of Wilton and barely understand the duties and responsibilities of being a member of the board of selectmen in the tradition of our forefathers. If our forefathers had taken as little interest in the future of our community as current boards of selectmen, Wilton would still be the home of the Souhegan River Indians as it was three hundred years ago.
Recognizing that recent boards of selectmen have no understanding of the importance of perambulating our town lines, indiscriminately use executive sessions in violation of state statutes, ignore the Sunshine Laws, and requests for legitimate information from taxpaying citizens, this now old, former member of the board of selectmen calls upon the good people of Wilton to establish a committee that will ensure the perpetuation of our town history thereby providing future generations with an opportunity to forever recall the rich heritage of past generations.
How many of our Wilton citizens know that our town encompasses 16,000 acres and is about twenty five miles square? How many of our citizens know the famous Souhegan River drops 260 feet from on end of our town to the other? How many of our citizens have ever looked at the War Memorial on Main Street and noticed that Wilton had 38 of it’s bravest men at the battle of Bunker Hill in 1775 or kinow that in the spring of 1737 a young man named Jacob Putnam left his home in Salem, Mass., and walked westward to what is now Wilton?
Luckily, the early settlers recognized the need to preserve our history for future generations even writing about the details of Wilton’s first recorded death in 1740. In today’s fast paced living environment many simply cannot even find the time to pay their respects to those who paid the supreme sacrifice for their country when we celebrate Memorial Day, but in 1740 when few residents lived in Wilton and were in the midst of a fierce winter blizzard John Badger died and his wife covered him with a blanket, told her children to remain inside, and then snowshoed through the blizzard for three miles to see the help of neighbors. In the spirit of neighborliness which still exists in Wilton, her neighbors returned to her home, hollowed out a log, placed John Badger in I, covered him with wood chips, and buried him on a knoll up on Dale Street where he remains to this day. How many of our good citizens know this story?
Thanks to those who regarded the preservation of Wilton’s history as important we now have the details of our heritage from the first annual Wilton Town Meeting on June 27, 1762, to the building of eleven schoolhouses by1807, to the fires that consumed our Main Street on three occasions 1874, 1881, and 1885, to wonderful recollections of our 100th birthday in 1839.
On the occasion of our 100th birthday the good people suspended a huge banner between Wilton’s two churches that noted: "IT IS BETTER TO TRANSMIT THAN TO INHERIT A GOOD NAME." If the taxpayers of Wilton allow current, disinterested boards of selectmen to continue this motto through maintenance of our town history future generations will never know what happened to our heritage. It is time for those who care to accept this challenge!
Francis Gros Louis
Wilton’s oldest living former selectman