Birth of The Killingly Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc.
"A somewhat wise man once said that it is better to make
history than to write it. A wiser man said that if history
is not written, no one will ever know it was made."
Only a few times in the long history of the Town of Killingly have individuals stepped forward to undertake the task of recording the history of the villages and the people who lived in them so that it may be preserved for the generations who follow. Even more rare was the gathering of six like-minded citizens who set out to form a historical society and then proceeded to make it work.
Through the summer of 1972 the following women worked together to organize the Killingly Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc.: Bertha Graves Carragher, Ruth A. Fiske, Ethel Kennedy Holehouse, Sadie Jordan Lindner, Gertrude A. Pradel, and Dorcas Lindner Ross. They listed as their reasons for organizing as the "need to appreciate and preserve the cultural and industrial heritage in the town of Killingly, and preparation for the coming bicentennial of the United States."
The charter meeting was held on October 13, 1972, in the Community Room of the Danielson Federal Savings & Loan Association. The guest speaker for this meeting was Alton Aldrich, Director of Harvard H. Ellis Vocational Technical School, himself a historian and collector of historical memorabilia whose topic was "Killingly and the Quinebaug Valley." Other guests were the ladies who had initiated the organization of the society and Mathias Harpin, a historian who had helped arouse interest in historical societies in many towns in the area. Several other guests were descendants of early settlers of the town or some who had become renowned in various ways.
At later meetings members volunteered to carry out various tasks such as clipping articles from newspapers of history in the making and gathering genealogies of many early families. Many topics of interest were researched and papers written. (There is a file box in the Killingly Historical Center and Museum containing the file cards enumerating the tasks that were assigned to each member to accomplish their goals.)
During the following year of 1973 the members of the new Historical Society planned a broad program of historical research to collect, catalogue and preserve the record of their community. To help arouse interest in their organization, the members conducted tours of old cemeteries and sites of the mills that first brought so much life to our town.
Thus was the Killingly Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc. born.
---Natalie L. Coolidge