welcome to the true history zone

The story of the Exeter Sportsmen Club is pretty straight forward, right? A great club, prize winners in the old days, but treated somewhat shabbily by the Town. The Town is responsible for making them move, twice. This particular narrative is powerful and helpful to the Club position. It generates sympathy, amongst  those that while not owning firearms or being hunters, or plinkers, or perhaps are hard of hearing a sense that a great wrong must be righted. I bet some would pay to join the Club just to stand shoulder to shoulder with the members.

You know, if you get all worked up about personal freedom.

Guns Guns Guns.

Romance

A 44 magnum becomes a movie star.

I don’t remember any of this growing up. I grew up in a place where I am sure guns were present in homes. I just don’t remember being awash in guns as we are  now.

I don’t care how many  guns you own, good for you.

It’s just a little weird  that the range is now, right in the middle of a developing Town “on the  move”.

The Club was given land  for one dollar, by the Exeter Academy Trustees.  I have that document dated 1923.

It was about 10 acres  over at Jady Hill, near the Exeter Golf Course. The Course has been reconfigured some over the years so this was by the driving range, it doesn’t really matter to the story.

It was a skeet range,  probably few pistols. It was also a small organization, with  infrequent use.

In August of 1956 the Club members decided to sell the land and range to the Golf Club, for 3,750.00.

They sold the Club.

A Mr John J Cahill was the Club President. He sponsored with 15 others in 1955 a warrant article to see if the Town will vote with approval of the Selectmen a lease of ten years  over at the water works area.

That of course happened, and Mr Cahill  later was elected a Selectmen .

This must have been a time when guys were allowed to shoot here and there, it’s unclear to me. I am not sure if the Golf Club let the members continue to shoot there, or the Club went into limbo.

The Selectmen did not complete the deal with a legal lease till 1964 , a two year lease with fairly stringent terms.

It was a very different Exeter back then, and probably men that played golf and shot skeet , leisure activities for sure, were also involved in Town affairs.

You can forget about reading some of these documents on your smart phone. I had to print them and was going to borrow a magnifying glass for the handwritten items!

The take away  from this post?

The Town  has never conspired to  push the Club out, so put your hanky away.

Oh and for all that want to point to “those Windemere folks” “from away people” as the “problem” that they should have exercised due diligence before moving to Exeter.

Lynda Beck, the retired chemical engineer? She spoke at the BOS meeting and recently wrote a letter to the ENL on the Club. She is a long time Community member, and lives on Robin Lane, within earshot for sure.

She has been writing letters since the 1980’s to the Town regarding noise.

Long suffering, for sure.

The Club was not pushed out by the Town for a sewage pumping station either , that is part of Mr Kenicks tale. That piece of land was given to the Town by a widower.

So if  this festering saga is something you want to get all worked up about you could at least be talking true and not repeating the tired tale of Mr Kenick.

Old deeds!  I know folks around here love old deeds.

1923 Warranty Deed

1955 Warrant

Deeds

1964 Lease

Current ESC Lease

2 comments

  1. Mike, this is a good bit of investigative reporting on the true history of the Exeter Sportsman’s Club. You should send a copy of this piece to the Exeter Newsletter and to the town selectmen. Another omission from the “official” history is the story about how the ESC in its long history has become an environmental Typhoid Mary, having contaminated four different sites with lead and other carcinogenic materials:

    Rowland Springs (where many people in Exeter still fill their water jugs) on Forrest Street from 1878 to 1919

    Jady Hill from 1919 to the mid 1950’s

    and

    the two sites on town land near Waterworks Pond from the mid 1960’s until today.

    Although the EPA does not require the ESC to clean up the current site as long as it is used as a firing range, the previous three sites are considered hazardous and by law require environmental remediation. I wonder why this is not included in the club’s version of its history.

  2. Excellent research! We hope to be working with facts, too often stories are repeated and believed without verification. Thank you.

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