SANDWICH — Meredith author Peter Miller will speak about the life of Lakes Region legend Jane Varney Durgin on Saturday, July 12th, 10:30 a.m. at the Sandwich Grange, 36 Maple Street, Center Sandwich. This event is sponsored by the Sandwich Historical Society.
Jane Durgin (1820 – 1895) was a Quaker who was born and raised in Wolfeboro and who lived in Sandwich most of her adulthood. She was a highly intelligent, dynamic, courageous, and independent-minded person who refused to be boxed in by society's narrow definition of women's place in life or by the Quakers' rules of conduct. From adolescence on, she was a "fearless equestrienne," performing circus-like stunts on horseback. She risked disownment by the Society of Friends for eloping with a non-Quaker and being married by a Baptist minister.
She purchased real estate in her name alone at a time (1851) when married women had scant legal means of doing so. She risked imprisonment by being a "station master" on the Underground Railroad. Though women of her era were strongly discouraged from getting involved with politics, in 1856 she formed the Sandwich "Jessie Circle" in honor of the equally free-spirited Jessie Benton Fremont, wife of Republican Presidential candidate John C. Fremont. Despite her individualism, Jane was a lifelong Quaker and a devout Christian who won people's love, admiration, and respect through her force of mind, character, and vivaciousness.
To assemble a complete record of Jane Durgin's life and times, Peter Miller researched the Sandwich Historical Society's Quaker archives, Strafford and Carroll County property transactions, local town and county histories, and memoirs written by Jane's descendants. His presentation will touch on many of the unexpected facts he discovered about Jane.
Personally inscribed copies of Miller's newly-published book, "Jane Varney Durgin – Trick Rider, Quaker Preacher, Opponent of Slavery – Her Life and Times," will be available for purchase at this event.
For more information, contact the Sandwich Historical Society (284-6269).