In December 1926 Clarence Morton President of Norway/Paris Kiwanis Club had a vision. That vision was forming a Kiwanis Club in Berlin, N.H.
On February 8, 1927 that vision became a reality. February 8th was Charter Night in Berlin N.H. It is the birthday of Kiwanis Club of Berlin N.H. The first few members of the Berlin Kiwanis Club who came together at their first meeting knew they were just a handful of men, but they were convinced of what they could accomplish.
They were 36 charter members, 22 attended the first meeting and the future of Kiwanis in Berlin looked shaky, but they were dedicated to an Ideal. That handful grew to what we are today. In the past, most clubs were dedicated to that good of their members, but to men like Clarence Morton and Henry Stahl, that was not enough, they wanted to help their fellow men. Charter night took place on February 8, 1927. It was held at the YMCA, later known as the Berlin Community Club. The sponsoring Kiwanis Club was the Norway/Paris Club headed by President Clarence Morton. The Norway/Paris Club had around 200 Kiwanians, wives and guests. They came from South Paris by chartered train. When they arrived in Berlin the chartered train was parked on the Brown Co. tracks between St. Anne church and High Street. From there the Kiwanians marched across the community club bridge to the gala affair.
In 1929, under the leadership of President Rev. Leshe Hodder, the Berlin Kiwanis Club sponsored the Lancaster Kiwanis Club. Also in 1929 an insurance man, Wesley Enman, was transferred to St. Johnsbury, VT. He had been impressed by the young Berlin Kiwanis Club. One night at an insurance meeting, he was sitting with two other men discussing clubs, and after being told by Wesley Enman about the Berlin Kiwanis, the three of them agreed that there should be a Kiwanis Club in St. Johnsbury. Wesley Enman wrote to Henry Stahl. On November 17, 1930 Berlin with the help of Lancaster sponosored the St. Johnsbury Kiwanis.
1945 was the start of the Tom Gill Sr. Gardens. Tom Gill Sr. furnished the plants (tomatoes, cabbage, green peppers, squash, lettuce, cucumbers, etc.) to young people who did the planting. Kiwanis would judge and present trophies to winners of each category and also to the best all-around gardener. The Gills provided, at their expense, planting materials & 4H, along with much encouragement and expertise. Kiwanis provided the awards.
Every year the Boy Scout Troops of the North Country were always looking for a place to go camping, and every year it was the same story, “No place to go.” Some members of the club, Young Tom Gill, Jack Story, Herve Blais, Robert Gosselin, Bill Sawyer and Arthur Taylor were thinking that it would be nice if Kiwanis would do something about that. They proposed the idea of buying a piece of land for this purpose. The Board of Directors approved the proposal and named all the above members as a committee to do something about it.
In April 1954, Arthur Taylor, Robert Gosselin, Herve Blais and their wives were riding around on a Sunday afternoon looking for a piece of land in Stark, West Milan or Dummer. They located a lot where a house had just burned to the ground. The firemen were still there. Inquiring around they found out that the land was owned by Mr. Fred Hand. Asking more questions they found that Mr. Hand had gone to Percy. So to Percy, N.H. they went. Mr. Hand was located and was willing to sell the property for $600.00. (40 acres of land, a barn, and a chicken coop.) The three members of the committee made a deposit of $40.00 on the deal, and the Boy Scouts of the North Country had a place to go camping. This is how Camp Sawyer came about.
Bill Sawyer, a most active adult scouter, must have been a persuasive mover since the club began to clear a piece of property and renovate an old barn setting on it to fit both scouting and Kiwanis needs. Today Camp Sawyer is one of the finest Kiwanis accomplishments. Many community groups as well as member and family groups use the property annually
On June 15, 1977, asked by President Eli Isaacson to try to form a new Kiwanis Club in Colebrook, N.H. Herve Blais called Robert Mason, Field Service Representative, four days later we were in Colebrook. The first man we talked with said “you will never make it.” The second man, when I told him I represented Kiwanis said, “What in the hell is Kiwanis?” that was guite a start. Three days later we had a Kiwanis Club in Colebrook.
The Colebrook Kiwanis Club has since been a potent force in that community and has caused me to be very proud of their membership and also proud to have been a part of their development.