New Marblehead was the name of the new settlement along the Presumpscot River. From the mid-1700s, people who were weary of the crowded conditions in Marblehead, Mass. had been traveling northward to find more room.

The handful of settlers needed someone to “manage” their little village, so they agreed to get together once a year to choose individuals for the varying municipal jobs. At their annual meeting in 1767, they voted that Peter Cobb be a selectman to replace Curtis Chute who had been killed by lightning.

At these meetings, people were selected for such jobs as hog reeve and informer of deer and moose. In 1774, they chose several men to go to Boston to express their feelings about the tea tax. Militiamen were elected to form a committee.

At the 1781 meeting they set the wages for the first road crew – paying $50 a day for a man and $50 for a yoke of oxen to work on building roads.

The leaders of the new town held their yearly meetings at different places, mostly each other’s homes and by the early 1800s decided to build a “town house” where all the settlement’s business would be conducted.

In 1832, the town meeting was held at Friends School, and in 1833 the new brick town house was open for business. It included a storage vault for the town records and also served as a school until 1937. The town’s selectmen and school committee conducted their official business here. The first school committee had been elected in 1815, before Maine became a state. That committee appointed district agents for the 19 districts in Windham. (Records from those early days are among the archives of Windham Historical Society, still in the building where they were originally written.)

Windham’s selectmen met once a month from the beginning, but as the town grew, they began meeting weekly. In 1973, it was voted to elect five selectmen to conduct town business. At the end of the following year, a special referendum was held and a new style of government was voted by the people. It would be a town manager and council consisting of one representative from each quarter of the town, and three at-large members.

The new form of government went into effect Jan. 1, 1975, with the town clerk and treasurer, Barbara Strout, acting as manager until an “acting” town manager could be found. Mrs. Sharon Whitlow was hired in February to be acting town manager.

In July of 1975, Windham’s first permanent town manager, David Miller, was appointed. The first Town Council included Kenneth Cole, Fred Haskell, Joseph Bean, Stanley Hall, Gary Plummer, Robert Hunt and Harold Haskell.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.