Hampstead seeking photographs of four mayors

September 28, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

Hampstead is trying to get all of its former mayors together at Town Hall but can't seem to find four of them for the celebration.

Once the town finds photographs or portraits of Mayors William Warehime, Thomas J. Hunt, Benjamin Stansbury and J. Frank Switzer, all 14 of Hampstead's leaders since 1892 will be represented on the council chamber wall, said Westminster photographer Bob Porterfield.

Mr. Porterfield, who grew up in Hampstead, is copying and restoring the photos for the project town officials started last fall.

"At this point, we've hit a real blank wall on some of them," said Mr. Porterfield, who has done similar restorations for the Manchester Town Council and Hampstead's volunteer fire company.

"I'm going to meet with the mayor to decide whether we go with what we have or wait and see," he said. Mayors for whom the town can't find photos will be represented by brass plaques, he said.

"We really would like to have [the collection] complete," said Councilwoman Jacqueline Hyatt, who got the idea from Manchester's mayoral wall of fame. The 8-by-10-inch photos will be matted, framed and identified with plaques indicating name and years of service, she said.

"I thought it was a very nice thing to hand down to the generations," Ms. Hyatt said. "They will be in a spot where they will be attractive and visible to people attending town meetings."

At first, town officials focused on mayors who had served since 1920, Mr. Porterfield said. Then, through research by town employee Judy Warehime, council members learned the identity of mayors who had served since 1892.

The town was incorporated in 1888.

"They thought there were only seven or eight mayors," Mr. Porterfield said. "But there were actually six more before that group. Judy spent hours going through the minutes verifying and getting the dates."

Town minutes for meetings since 1900 have been kept in the archives, Mr. Porterfield said. Information about the first three mayors -- Warehime, Hunt and Stansbury -- came from a town history written by Elizabeth Tipton, he said.

Some of the photos were easy to obtain because those former mayors are still alive, Mr. Porterfield said. And two mayors served for 51 years of the town's history, he said.

"Dr. [Edgar M.] Bush served for 32 years, and [William] Leslie Wheeler served for 21 years," he said. "That took a big chunk out of it."

The rest of the pictures were obtained by friends, relatives or business associates, he said.

For example, Mr. Porterfield got William A. Abbott's photo from a group picture of the board of directors of the now-closed Hampstead First National Bank.

The picture of J. William Kelbaugh, former president of First National Bank, came from a portrait in its boardroom, Mr. Porterfield said.

"Some of them are already portraits and just need a little cleaning up," he said. "Others are the snapshot-type or group shots and need a lot of artwork to put them into the portrait format."

Mr. Porterfield guesses that the four missing mayors probably were photographed but that the pictures may not have been saved.

"I have a theory that everything goes through a point of being junk," he said. "Some family members might say 'He's dead, we don't need that' and throw away pictures. Or, in some families there are no heirs so this material becomes obsolete.

"Not everyone is interested in their family tree."

Anyone who has pictures of the missing mayors should call the town office at 374-2761 or 239-7408.

All original photographs will be returned.

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