By Sharon MacDonald
This year will be a year of many celebrations in the whole country and also in our State of Maine. Four hundred years ago in 1620 a Merchant ship called the Mayflower sailed from Plymouth, a port on the southern coast of England, to a place they named Plymouth, Massachusetts. Many states in the country have celebrations planned for this occasion.
Our State of Maine will have celebrations too because it was 200 years ago in 1820 that we became an independent State apart from Massachusetts.
In 1735 some sixty signatories sought a grant to settle in this six square mile piece of land which they called New Boston. The grant was given and they tried to settle the township more than once, but because of the Indian War places were burnt and destroyed and other difficulties also arose. This is an excerpt from the book published by the Gray Historical Society called ‘Past and Present 1778-1978’, “Consequently, a petition was prepared in August 1777 ‘humbly to pray your honors to take our distressing circumstances under your Wise Consideration and graint us the Priveliges of an incorporated township.’ This was signed by 38 residents of New Boston”. It was granted on June 19, 1778 and the township was renamed Gray, in honor of Thomas Gray, a Boston merchant who had been one of the most active and interested proprietors. Gray would be the39th town to be incorporated.
Two hundred years ago in 1820, Gray had grown with a few new buildings including a grain store which was built on Main Street. Our current Gray Historical Society building was built along the same side of the road in 1836 and served as the town hall. More buildings were erected in the 1830’s which form Main Street and now our “Gray Corner”.
The Gray Historical Society will be planning an open house this summer to help celebrate Maine’s 200th year and will be featuring a new display of a Selectman’s office on our ground floor. Also on that floor in two bays we have displays of old tools, old school desks and many more items that have finally been unpacked and displayed. We are also very proud to show our Fireman’s display in the last bay of that floor. More details to come later on the open house event. We would love to have everyone come to see our progress!