History-Sharing Event Proves Extremely Popular

LACONIA — The Share Fair, an exhibition of family and community memorabilia at the Belknap Mill on Feb. 15, proved to be a big draw, with the third-floor function room packed with people coming to see the many displays and to exchange information.

The event, sponsored by the Family History Initiative, a joint project between the Laconia Historical and Museum Society and the Belknap Mill, featured displays of journals, letters, photographs, postcards, advertising, and handiwork. In addition to family memorabilia, there were historical displays by Lakes Region General Hospital, the Masons, and Proctor's Lakeside Cottages, among others.

A planned discussion and Q&A got called off because of the level of communication taking place at the individual booths which filled the main function room and circled around the kitchen at the rear of the Rose Chertok Gallery. The exchanges allowed people to make connections between their personal histories and even put some in touch with relatives they were unaware of having.

Not only did the displays show a history that many had forgotten; some collectors found objects they did not know existed, such as a toy trolley that was a replica of those made by the Laconia Streetcar Company.

Displays ranged from handiwork — quilts, clothing, and objects — to examples of manufacturing and printing. There was even a historical portrayal, as "Lucy Philbrick Sanborn" appeared in period dress: Born in 1795, she married Jonathan Sanborn in 1814 and they settled on property his family owned — and which remains in the family today.

The Family History Initiative serves to help people retrieve, preserve, and share family and community history. The initiative grew out of the positive response to a Mill presentation derived from historical journals and the continuing interest people have in history, especially as it pertains to their family, their friends, and their community.