It all started over 80 years ago with a young lady named Bertha Rogers from Beverly, Massachusetts who came each summer with her father to the Jackson Falls House. Over time Ms. Rogers became friendly with Katherine Trickey (later Mrs. Stilphen), a teacher in the Jackson School. Miss Rogers spoke with her about the children in town, some of whose families truly needed assistance with life’s necessities. Katherine mentioned that Mrs. Wigglesworth, a summer resident on Thorn Hill, occasionally sent presents to the children, a very meaningful gesture that brightened their lives. Early in December 1925, a box arrived from Miss Rogers with a note asking Katherine to distribute the contents to those children who needed them most. The box contained scarves, mittens and caps, a few games, and candy, all of which delighted the recipients.
The Jackson Town Christmas Party
Similar boxes arrived for Christmas in 1926 and 1927 but in 1928 a letter came with a check asking Katherine to buy presents for every child in town. Katherine and Mrs. Flossie Gile went to Portland to make the purchases, and Flossie still remembers the fun they had choosing the gifts. A Christmas party was arranged each year, with the children singing carols followed by Santa distributing the gifts to everyone. A great time was had by all!
The Jackson Christmas parties continued every year thanks to the generosity of Miss Rogers. Flossie Gile helped Katherine Stilphen choosing presents for 2 years until Katherine’s sister Marjorie March aided in the pleasant task. In 1955 Rachel Doucette started assisting them as well and continued to be involved for over forty years.
The Jackson Community Association is Born
In the summer of 1961 Miss Rogers wrote Mrs. March saying she had asked her lawyers to form the Jackson Community Association, with Marjorie March, Katherine Stilphen and Rachel Doucette to be the trustees with two others of their choosing. Mrs. Margaret Frost and Mrs. Elizabeth Breen were subsequently selected to serve. Miss Rogers presented the Jackson Community Association with a generous endowment, the income of which was primarily to be used for an annual Christmas Party. Any funds left over from the Party were to be spent at the Trustees’ discretion. In the mid-1990’s the trustees decided that rather than give a gift to each child in town, the JCA would give a gift to the school. Over the years the JCA has supplied the Jackson Grammar School with funding for a weather station, a photography project, classroom books and a nature trail. Surplus funds have also allowed gifts to the Jackson Public Library, new Hymnals for the Jackson Community Church, a stove for the Parsonage and has assisted the Jackson Conservation Commission with planting projects in town.
Scholarships for Jackson High School Graduates
In 1962 it came to the Trustees’ attention that there was no scholarship at Kennett High School for a Jackson graduate. When Miss Rogers heard that the Jackson Community Association was going to create a scholarship in her name, she made an additional gift to establish the “Bertha F. Rogers Fund” to be managed by the Association to insure that such scholarship(s) could continue to be awarded on an annual basis. In 1963 the first Bertha Rogers Scholarship was awarded to Susan Grey and these scholarships continue today.
The Jackson Community Association Today
Bertha Rogers continued her generosity until her death at age 99 in 1989. Surely Jackson is blessed to have such a wonderful benefactor. She would be happy to know that her legacy continues into a new century with only slight changes having been made since 1925. However, donations to the Jackson Community Association are needed to continue the spirit and generosity that Miss Rogers exemplified during her life. Anyone who might like to contribute is encouraged to contact any member of the Association for more information. The children of Jackson and our community are special treasures to us all! Thank you for your support!
Jackson Community Association Trustees
- Anne McBride Kantack, President
- Carol Ludington, Treasurer
- Emily Benson, Secretary
- Mary Badger, Trustee
- Gloria Hutchings, Trustee