Saturday, June 23, 2012

Windham Mystery History Tour 2012

This past Wednesday night, 20 June 2012, I joined the Windham, New Hampshire Historical Society for their 19th Annual Mystery Tour.  No one knows the theme for the night until they show up for the tour, but this year the theme was "The Bicentennial of the War of 1812".  In the past years the themes were Ghosts, The 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, and even a surprise boat tour of Cobbett's Pond.

Our first stop in the tour was an air conditioned
lecture in the Windham History Museum!

I was the only "out of towner" attending this year's tour.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how organized the whole tour turned out to be, with a keepsake history book, and even costumed characters.  Since we were experiencing a heat wave, the first hour of the tour was inside the Windham Museum (in air conditioned comfort) before we all set out in cars to see the sites described in the lectures.  I was told that the lectures were usually given "on site".

The nicely prepared book for the tour included
historic maps, genealogies, photos and
lots of War of 1812 information from multiple sources

Frank Johnson portrayed General James Miller who was a hero of
the Battle of Lundy's Lane, near Niagara Falls in Canada.
Miller was born in Peterborough, NH in 1776

This table lists 36 Windham men who served in
the War of 1812, his unit, homestead in town (and sources!)
I learned a lot about the War of 1812 on this tour. One interesting bit of trivia is that only 4 men in Windham voted for the war.  So most of the men who served from Windham were probably recruits, not volunteers.  Since a large part of this war was fought at sea, nearly all the men from Windham who served in the war were stationed in Portsmouth for the protection of the harbor.  One man served in Bath, Maine.

Last month I posted the photograph of the honor roll of men from Windham which is displayed inside the museum.  You can see the photo at this link:     After researching the names on the honor roll list for the tour, the committee found several names missing.  The tour book lists all 36 men, their biographies, genealogies, excerpts from the town history about their service or family, as well as photos of their homesteads and gravestones.  There are still four houses standing in Windham which were the homesteads of veterans of the War of 1812.
David Campbell b. 1793 lived here until about 1837
when it became Windham's Poor Farm (Kendall Pond Road)
Campbell served in Capt. Godfrey's Company for 60 days.
He later removed to Wapello, Iowa with his
military land grant.

The crowd enjoying the stories at the Cemetery on the Hill

Robert Park Dinsmore is buried at the
Cemetery on the Plain.  He served in Captain
Goss's Company, and he was also the
chorister of the Presbyterian Church in Windham. 
Every tour ends at Johnson's Farm for ice cream, which was a nice surprise for me the "newbie".   Windham's own "Paul Revere" was Samuel Armour (1766 - 1831), who rode in from Haverhill, Massachusetts on horseback to spread the news that the War of 1812 had ended.  He rode up to houses in the eastern end of Windham and shouted "Peace, Peace, Peace!"  Samuel Armour was buried in the Cemetery on the Hill, and he lived at the house on the Range, which is now the Johnson Farm.

Stay tuned to be surprised for next year's Mystery Tour, which will be the 20th annual event given by the Windham Historical Society.

Farm fresh ice cream at Johnson Farm was the perfect
ending for the tour on the hottest day of the year!
The Windham, New Hampshire Historical Society

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. It sounds like you had a wonderful learning experience and I'm sure the Historical Society will be pleased with your good report and pictures.

  2. Thank You for your informative account. I was unable to attend. Your narrative was an opportunity for me to enjoy the tour as well.

  3. How fun! I have not heard of a 'Mystery Tour'. What an opportunity to learn more about a specific time and event in history in such an enjoyable way. Enjoyed hearing about your experience... thanks for sharing.