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Pieces of our Past: Part 1 Deeds & Descriptions

Graeme Noseworthy — March 3, 2016
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As we move closer to celebrating our Centennial, I’ve been spending some time digging around the archives at the Cheshire Y’s Main Office and speaking with long time Takodians about our rich history.

My goal is to track down, and share with you, key items, documents, photographs and other such records that show important milestones from the past 100 years. Ive been especially interested in finding meeting minutes from the Board of Directors that show when votes were taken for property being purchased, buildings being built, campaigns being initiated, detailed reports or requests being provided by the staff, and other such significant pieces of our past that helped developed the property in Richmond to what we have all come to know and love.

Throughout the year, I’ll be sharing what I find with you and, in some cases, looking for you to help identify names, faces, people and places that remain unknown to the younger generations.

One of my recent discoveries was a set of fragile old deeds to the Camp property. I found them sitting in a safe at 32 Lake Street. Ryan, who pointed them out to me, had recently removed them from the Y’s Safety Deposit box from a bank in Keene (where they were, no doubt, tucked away with other such treasures) in order to apply for a grant from the Y of the USA. Here are some of the deeds, ranging from the 20s to the 30s, laid out on the table in the Bob Ferranti Board Room:

deeds

I’m hoping to accompany these documents when they get returned to the banks vault so I can see what else is waiting to be discovered. In the meantime, I can tell you that it was an exciting moment to have them in my hands. I found it fascinating, if not emotional, to hold the very genesis of our beloved Camp back when it was nothing more than a parcel of hardly-used forest owned by several local families.

As you can see, the deeds range from simple, typed single-sheet promissory notes to stamped, signed legal documents that would look somewhat similar to what we would see used today. They are full of names and signatures of recognizable personalities from our past and they bring to light those early days of Camp Takodah for us all to see.

One of the oldest deeds I could find is dated January 31, 1920. It shows a sale of land from Burton C. Russell to the Cheshire County Y.M.C.A. for a total of $1,700 (although my sources indicate the amount was actually $2,200.) What really caught my attention was the description of the property boundaries and markers. Take a look at this scan of the deed itself:

Exhibit A

Besides the description, which I can imagine being a great set of clues for a Nature Nook class to re-trace the original steps, there is one name in particular that should jump out: Jonas R. Wheeler. Sound familiar? That’s the name of the rocky path that leads down from the Office, past the Birches, Overlook and the Chapel, behind Mem Lodge and ends past the benches and canoes. Most of us simply call it Waterfront Road but its actually Wheeler Road. And, as you can see, at one time, Cass Pond was Wheeler Pond.

My, my, how things have changed.

I hope you enjoyed taking a look at this precious relic from our earliest days. Coming soon, Ill share a special letter from Buffalo Bob Smith that he wrote on his 5th anniversary of joining the Y (we don’t think anyone has seen it since he submitted it to the Board in the early 80s.) Ill also share a series of spectacular photos and artifacts from a variety of decades spanning the century, and some interesting historical tidbits Ive uncovered in the notes and records that were kept by my preceding secretaries and clerks of the Board.