Local gathering helps to ID historic subjects

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Hebron - posted Wed., Jun. 1, 2011
A group of Hebron World War I soldiers, circa 1920. Identified are: #1 Daniel Horton, #2 H.O. Thompson, #3 Reverend Champ, #4 possibly Fred Brehant, Sr. Billard would like to identify the remaining soldiers. Contributed photos. - Contributed Photo

Projected on the screen was a group of neatly-dressed elementary school students, standing with their teacher in front of a white clapboard schoolhouse. “I know the teacher,” said a voice from the back of the room. “I had her eight years. Her name was Ida Heck.” The speaker was Bob Jones, a Hebron resident who has provided a number of photos for the Hebron Heritage Photo Project. The photo showed a 1938 class from Gilead Hill School. “Are you in that one?” asked a voice from across the room. “No, not that one,” said Jones. But the next slide showed Jones with his graduating class, circa 1945. “I’m the smallest one there,” he said.

The slide show, held the afternoon of May 31 at the Hebron Senior Center, was the latest event hosted by Hebron Heritage Photo Project organizer Peter Billard. During three scanning days over the past several months, Billard has collected hundreds of photos portraying life in the town of Hebron. “Some people came in with single photos,” said Billard, “others had entire albums.” Many of the photos had identifications written on the back. But other subjects were more difficult to identify. The purpose of the slide show was to try to fill in as many gaps as possible.

Included in the audience was Billard’s mom, Marie. Her photographs, and photos from other members of the family, inspired Billard to embark upon his project. “The purpose is to preserve these old photos, as well as the stories behind them, while we still can,” he said. Photographs are being scanned onto a website, which can be found at http://web.me.com/peterbillard/Hebron_Heritage_Photo_Project.

“Oh,” exclaimed Marie with a chuckle, as a Model T with four passengers appeared on the screen. “My father’s there.”

“Isn’t that Will Porter in the back there?” she asked, viewing a 1935 Gilead Hill School photo. After some conversation back and forth between audience members, the general consensus was that the pictured school boy was Doug Porter, not his brother, Wilbur.

The back of one of the earliest school photos, identified as a 1906 or 1907 photo from Hebron High School, read like a “Who’s Who” of Hebron town history, with recognizable names such as Smith, Holbrook, Lord and Porter. “That’s my grandfather there,” said Billard, pointing to a tall young man in the back row.

Billard may hold another scanning day during the summer, details to be announced. In the meantime, contact him at pbillard@snet.net to submit photos or for more information. Billard is interested in documenting many different aspects of town life, including cultural events, interiors of homes and businesses, people at work, early town services, early town facilities and domestic life. See the website for a full list of pertinent subjects.

There is a second slide show scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on June 28, at the Hebron Senior Center. “I’ll have another group of slides compiled,” said Billard. The public is invited to come help identify some more of the “mystery” photos.

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