How It All Started
In 1954 the Litchfield Grange named Sam Lincoln chairman of the 1954-55 National Grange Community Service Campaign, sponsor of many projects beneficial to the community. That appointment led to the awarding of a first prize to the local Grange.
At the time, Sam, casting about for some project, came across a supplement issue of National Geographic magazine devoted to the life and works of John James Audubon and to the activities and accomplishments of the National Audubon society and its chapters.
The idea of forming a Litchfield chapter came at this time but not knowing the address of National Audubon he wrote to National Geographic in Washington, D.C. asking that his letter be forwarded.
In a short time permission was received from National Audubon to organize a branch under certain terms and conditions. A specimen of a constitution and by-laws was sent, together with a list of officers and their duties and other pertinent data with a statement that the charter group should consist of at least twenty-five members.
At the next meeting of the Grange Community Service General Committee, Sam announced the good news. Fran and Reg. Miles, members of the Central Committee, were so overjoyed that they were named joint chairman of the organizational committee. It proved to be an excellent choice.
Announcements were made of a preliminary meeting held at the Grange Hall on the first Monday of April, 1955, with a surprising turnout of nearly eighty persons. These early birds included such names as Wadhams, Ongley, Root, Bittner, Hessel, Morgan, Rood, Bothroyd, Miles, Lincoln, Sticky, Brown, Catlin, Richards, and many others still active in the Branch.
Sam, being uninformed at that point, approved National Audubon’s foresight in sending Rea King McCarty who came to the rescue with answers to many questions from the floor. At this meeting no minutes were taken.
Soon thereafter, Fran Miles, of her own volition and at her own expense went to National headquarters and returned with valuable data on how to organize a branch, a suggested charter, and by-laws. She reported that Rea King had gone through the National Audubon Society’s membership list, picked out the names of members living in Litchfield County and sent them to her. National Audubon suggested that our Branch cover all of Litchfield County which is where our first name, “Litchfield County Audubon Society,” originated.
Armed with the membership list the Litchfield telephone lines became busy with Fran and Reg Miles, Sam and Jean Lincoln and others telephoning all names on the list. Meanwhile, Sam’s father, Samuel N. Lincoln of Thomaston, got into the act and contacted persons in Thomaston, Plymouth, Terryville and Watertown areas. Soon Arnold Lundberg joined the group. Samuel N. Lincoln was very active in drawing up a charter and by-laws.
Meanwhile, Sam busied himself with finding a slate of officers. They were as follows:
- President: Reginald Miles
- Vice-President: Mrs. Archibald Richards
- Treasurer: Samuel N. Lincoln
- Secretary: Frances Miles
- Directors: The above officers plus; Nellis Rood (Chairman of the Board), Herbert Root, Mrs. Clifford Onglay, James Catlin, Mrs. Emil Pulver, Mrs. Sam Lincoln, Mrs. Ralph Wadhams, Mrs, Robert Bothroyd, Miss Olive Whitman and Merrit Clark
The April 28th meeting was dedicated to the organization of the Society. Mr. Herbert Root showed his excellent slides of birds to the enjoyment of all.
On the first Monday of May, 1955 the first regular meeting was held at the Litchfield Grange Hall, where it was announced that our charter group consisted of eighty-three members. At this meeting our constitution was read and approved.
Upon nomination from the chair, duly seconded from the floor, Frances Miles was elected secretary by a unanimous voice vote and thus Fran became the first officer of the brand new Litchfield County Audubon Society. Mr Herbert Root moved that the secretary be instructed to cast one ballot for the list of officers which was seconded and so voted. And thus Reg Miles became our first president. Sam turned the meeting over to Reg and we were in business. Our speaker was Rea King McCarty who talked about the National organization and showed a film dealing with its founding and present aims and activities.
Soon thereafter, Samuel N. Lincoln, together with Arnold Lundberg took it upon themselves, at their own expense, to go to National Audubon headquarters, and returned with information concerning Audubon Screen Tours. Being new we contracted for a series of three Screen Tours instead of the customary five, all of which were held at the old Torrington High School. They were an immediate success.
In our first year we had regular programs at meetings with Betty Richards (Mrs. Archibald Richards) in charge.
A list of Presidents follows:
- Reginal Miles 1955 – 1956
- Arnold Lundberg 1956 – 1958
- Gordon Loery 1958 – 1965
- Eldridge K. Camp 1965 – 1966
- Mrs. John Fahey 1968 – 1970
During our second year it was discovered that in serving all of Litchfield County we were too unwieldy. New boundaries were set and a new name seemed to be in order. The name “Litchfield Hills Audubon Society” was proposed by Jean Lincoln, offered as a motion by Nellis Rood and so voted.
— by Sam Lincoln, with supplemental information from Reg and Fran Miles