Mary Dillingham Chapter was organized January 1895 as the second chapter in Maine. The organizing Chapter Regent was Mrs. Caroline Webster Stockbridge Downs Rich, daughter of John Stockbridge, Jr. and Anna Leavitt; granddaughter of John Stockbridge and Mary Dillingham of Byron, Maine and Joseph Leavitt and Anna Stevens of Turner, Maine.
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Androscoggin Historical Society Beginnings
The Androscoggin Historical and Antiquarian Society, as it was first called, was conceived on June 10, 1922, at a meeting of the Mary Dillingham Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The meeting was an outing held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Bryant in South Lewiston, a colonial home containing many historical items. It’s reported that talk turned to preserving such relics and that Mrs. Helen Frye White and Mrs. Alice Frye Briggs, daughters of Senator William P. Frye, expressed the need for a place where their father’s valuable collection could be safely kept.
This was not idle talk, for at its next meeting, the chapter discussed the founding of an historical society and appointed a committee to look into the matter. As a result, this society was incorporated in November of the following year, and its first meeting was held on May 13, 1924. “Thus it was,” as an early president of the society, James E. Philoon, wrote, “that the Daughters of the American Revolution became the mothers of this society.”
In the beginning, all members of the Mary Dillingham Chapter became voting members of the society, paying no fee. For all others, membership was one dollar, later changed to one dollar annual dues. The chapter used a fund left by Nancy B. Emery to help outfit the new society with show cases, tables, and other supplies. Over the years, a close relationship with the Mary Dillingham Chapter has continued, with current by-laws requiring that one member of the society’s board be a representative of the DAR chapter.
When the society was formed, officers consisted of president, clerk, treasurer, custodian, to be in charge of the collection, and three directors. First to hold these positions were Mrs. John Sturgis, president; Mrs. James A. Pulsifer, clerk; Mrs. Charles A. Turgeon, treasurer; Mrs. H. O. Cutler, custodian; and Mrs. B. G. W. Cushman, Mrs. George C. Wing Sr., and Mrs. Franklin W. Packard, directors.
The first quarters were a room on the third floor of the old part of the Androscoggin County Building. Within a year, the society moved to a larger room on the third floor [later removed] of the Auburn City Building. In 1936, the growing collection was moved back to the third floor of the County Building, but this time to three rooms in the new part of the building, which the Androscoggin Historical Society still calls home.
The Mary Dillingham Chapter’s own Miss Leslie H. Wight’s father was one of the people that helped make it possible to move all of the book cases and files back to the third floor of the County Building. Miss Wight was a past DAR State Regent, past Chapter Regent, and Honorary Member of the Androscoggin Historical Society. Miss Wight is pictured at the left.