Walt Stockwell, secretary of the Thompson-Ames Historical Society in Gilford, helps unpack an American flag that he acquired for Tuesday's Voting Day opening ceremony. (David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun)
Flag researcher Walt Stockwell provided Old Glory to Gilford
By DAVID CARKHUFF/THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — When voters arrive at the Gilford Community Center for Voting Day Tuesday, they can thank Walt Stockwell for providing the American flag stationed there.
Stockwell loves promoting flags. The secretary of the Thompson-Ames Historical Society, Stockwell started giving lectures on flags following the U.S. bicentennial in 1976, when his interest was first kindled.
On Monday, Stockwell was on hand at the community center as Doris "Dee" Chitty, who works in buildings and grounds for the town and is a cemetery trustee candidate, opened a tube and unfurled the American flag that will be used at the opening of voting.
Voting day — also called the Second Session of Town Meeting — is 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 14, at the Gilford Community Center.
Chitty and Stockwell joined a small group setting up the voting area Monday, and bringing out the American flag was a highlight.
"The town moderator and the selectmen actually open the voting by ringing the bells, and they have the flag out there. It was Walt who helped us get our new flag set for voting," Chitty said.
The flag for opening ceremony of voting also appears on the cover of the town report.
Stockwell has a storied relationship with town flags.
"He's actually the man who brought the Gilford flag to the Gilford bicentennial which we just had in 2012," Chitty said. "Not many towns have their own flag."
"The Gilford flag is in the town office," Stockwell explained. "People probably have just walked by and said, 'Wow, that's a nice flag,' without knowing the history."
The town flag is tied to the town's origins.
"It was used at a battle during the American Revolution," Stockwell said, "It was at the southern phase of the war at the Guilford courthouse in North Carolina, and that was the flag of the militia from that state. But the naming of the town was done by a veteran who had served in that battle. And when we separated from Gilmanton, he was given the honor of naming the town, and he said, 'Oh, Gilford.'"
Through the naming process, somebody "dropped the ball" and left the "u" out of the name "Guilford," he said.
According to a town history posted on the Gilford town website, www.gilfordnh.org/content/about_the_town_of_gilford, "Gilford was first settled in approximately 1777, when it was still considered the 'Gunstock parish' or 'upper parish' section of the Town of Gilmanton. In 1812, the Town of Gilford was incorporated into a separate town. The privilege of naming the town was afforded to Capt. Samuel B. Mason, the oldest and most famous citizen. A veteran of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, Captain Gilman named the town 'Guilford' after the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, a decisive Revolutionary War battle in North Carolina in which he fought. The town was spelled incorrectly in the incorporation documents, resulting in the present spelling of Gilford. Gilford remains the only community in New Hampshire named after a Revolutionary War battle."
Walt Stockwell, secretary of the Thompson-Ames Historical Society in Gilford, and Doris "Dee" Chitty, who works in buildings and grounds for the town, unpack an American flag that will be displayed at Tuesday's Voting Day opening ceremony. (David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun)