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William Tell Club Records

Identifier: SpC MS 0629

Scope and Contents

The collection contains records of the William Tell Club kept by the organizers and members of the club. They include the papers of incorporation, bylaws and minutes of annual meetings, 1903-1941, plus a series of photograph albums from the annual trips to the lodge. The volumes of minutes also give listings of expenses for the hunting trips, records of yearly dues, cash on hand, and general expenses of the club. Membership records and a guest register are also included.

Of particular interest are the photograph albums, many entitled "Encampment of the William Tell Club," which were faithfully kept each year and given to club members. Dating from 1908-1933, most have the name George R. Hall stamped on the cover. Photographs show members engaging in a variety of activities, including getting on the train to go to the lodge and posing for a group picture, as well as more candid shots at camp of members singing, sleeping, playing cards, or posing with the results of their hunting excursions.

The collection also includes a series of letters written by club member George Bain to his future wife Mabel H. Estes of Portland, Maine. Dating from December 15, 1917 to March 30, 1918, they document Bain's military service at Camp Joseph E. Johnston in Jacksonville, Florida until he was ordered to the aviation field in West Point, Mississippi. They describe his daily life in the camp, including a quarantine for an outbreak of scarlet fever, and give the flavor of military life for a soldier on the home front. The Bain family papers also include a photograph album from 1915-1916 and a photograph entitled: First run of Ford Auto Club of Portland, Me., June 26, 1910.


  • Creation: 1903-1950
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1903-1933


Restrictions on Access

Kept at Fogler Library's offsite storage facility. One week's notice required for retrieval.

Use Restrictions

Information on literary rights available in the Library.

Historical Note

The William Tell Club was incorporated as a social club in 1903 by ten men, eight from Maine, one from New York and one from Rhode Island. It claimed to be the oldest incorporated hunting club in the country. In the first volume of the club's records the secretary described it as follows: "This club was originally intended as a home for the over-worked toiler but it has now come to be a retreat for good fellows ... it is the ideal spot to rest and is beautiful beyond compare. Business is forgotten in the contemplation of nature and the sportsman reigns supreme." When it was founded, the club purchased the clubhouse, furniture and furnishings for $1173 from David M. Parks, its first president. The original bylaws limited the Club's membership to eleven, later expanded to include more members. The membership fee was $100; annual dues were $10.00. Many of the members were from the Lewiston and Auburn, Maine, area and included Arthur G. Staples, editor of the Lewiston Journal, and Hiram Ricker, Jr. of Poland Spring.

Members made trips every fall to Moosehead Lake. In the early days the trip was made to Kineo Station by train, using a special car attached to the regular train. The trip continued by boat, often the steamer Katahdin, to the opposite shore of the lake at Spencer, then a hike through the woods to the lodge on Spencer Pond. Guides and cooks were engaged to provide services to the members during their two-week stays at the lodge.

Club membership grew through the years, reaching a peak of 40 members in the 1930's. World War II made it difficult to maintain the property for its limited use; the last trip was made in 1941. After the war the few remaining members were unable to generate sufficient interest to revive the club and it was dissolved. The buildings were torn down and the lease agreement ended in 1950.


3.1 cubic feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials



Records of the William Tell Club, a private hunting and social club on Spencer Pond near Maine's Moosehead Lake. It also contains a small group of papers of George T. and Mabel Bain, parents of the collection's donor.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The William Tell Club records came to the Special Collections Department, Raymond H. Fogler Library, University of Maine as a gift from Sherwood E. Bain in 1974.

Related Materials

The Fogler Library collections also include a copy of "William Tell Club Hunting Songs," with words by R. J. Hodgson, donated by members of the Tonner family and cataloged as Pamp 4360. Please contact the Special Collections librarians for information on access.

Guide to the William Tell Club Records
Box And Folder List Available
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for uncoded script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections Repository

5729 Raymond H. Fogler Library
University of Maine
Orono ME 04469-5729 United States