On Monday December 5, 1881, a crowd assembled at Windham's town hall to attend a performance of Schaffer's Swiss Bell Ringers. The musical troupe, headed by Oscar and Louise Schaffer, toured the East Coast during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Oscar himself was a talented ventriloquist and songwriter. At each performance songbooks containing Oscar's original songs would be distributed to members of the audience for a sing-along. As the same songs were used from show to show, Oscar would then recollect the songbooks at the end of the show, leaving the audience without a single memento of the evening. Louise was the headlining musician of the group and was known for her cornet solos, as well as her skills with the xylophone and banjo. Although Oscar and Louise were often billed as the headlining acts of their shows, their Swiss Bell Ringers eventually became very well known. The bell ringers would perform rather complicated pieces of music by hand ringing individual brass bells. As their popularity increased, they began to tour and give performances on their own, without the acts of Oscar or Louise. The bell ringers were greeted by a large audience in Windham, and according to William Samuel Harris, all "were well pleased with the entertainment."
Derek Saffie is an avid Windham historian who enjoys researching and sharing his collection with all those interested in the history of the New England town.