New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of Groveton – Northumberland

The first World War I Memorial in Groveton New Hampshire. This photograph would have been taken in front of the current Post Office building, facing the street.

Groveton is a census-designated place (CDP) in the town of Northumberland in Coos County, New Hampshire, United States.   In 1920 the town had 2,567 residents, more than they do today.  Yet in 1918 they sent a large number of their young men and women to war.

I recently purchased a photo postcard that shows a World War monument. The look of the card seems to place it in the mid to late 1920s, and, after conferring with Betty Craggy of the Groveton Town offices (and to whom I owe a great deal of thanks), I agree with her that the location in the photo is not where the monuments are now situated.   This earlier monument would have been located on the island parking lot where State Street veers off to the left at Church Street. Continue reading

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New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of Canaan

Canaan NH’s first WWI Honor Roll sat on the front lawn of the Methodist Church. Photograph from old postcard of Donna Zani-Dunkerton, town historian & Canaan Historical Society.

Canaan is a small town in mid-western New Hampshire, situated just east of Hanover in Grafton County. Even today its population hovers just under 4,000 people. The town is proud of its veterans and plans have been made to update the town’s war memorial to include more recent military men and women.

Everyone I spoke with from Canaan was helpful in writing this story. I was fortunate to speak first with Harry Armstrong of the American Legion Weld-Webster Post 55 who pointed me in the right direction.  Mike Sampson the town administrator allowed me to use his photographs (credited to him here).

I owe a GREAT debt of gratitude to Donna Zani-Dunkerton, the unofficial town historian, for hours of her work to collect then provide me with photographs, news clippings, grave site locations and other details I would not have otherwise known (hint, Canaan you should name her your official historian!). Continue reading

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100 Years Ago: New Hampshire’s WWI Trench Art

Trench art man made from a bullet. WWI. Purchased from the estate of a retired Coral Gables police officer, and former patrol agent. Now in the possession of this blog’s editor.

Most people have seen a war souvenir. They take many forms from a postcard mailed from ‘the front,’ to a pillow with a sentimental message for a sweetheart. Today they are sought as collectibles.

Trench Art is a specific subgroup of these war souvenirs. John M. Ford, a photographer with a strong interest in the military, has some eye-candy photographs of trench art on his web site, along with detailed definitions of what professional collectors consider it to be. I paint the trench art category with a broader brush.

WWI soldiers sometimes had free time and little entertainment, so they took to creating and carving.  Some soldiers engraved their names or designs on their mess kits.  Others created letter openers, rifle shell desk lamps, altar pieces, candle sticks, match box covers, cups, ash trays, umbrella stands, vases, water bottles, book ends, cigarette lighters, “piggy” banks, pitchers and jugs, spittoons, toys, and vehicle models (to name just a few). Continue reading

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New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of Merrimack

Mattie (Kilborn) Webster was a Merrimack teacher who helped educate many of the young men who fought in WWI and documented what she knew about local history.

I would not have known certain intimate details of Merrimack, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire’s contributions to the WWI effort, except that my paternal grandmother, Mattie (Kilborn) Webster wrote about them. She was a school teacher in Merrimack, having graduated from the local McGaw Normal Institute (a teacher’s preparatory school). She was also the town’s first historian, compiling the town’s history on specific topics for Merrimack’s Bicentennial Celebration.

The history information immediately following about WWI is from Merrimack’s Bicentennial Pageant held on June 30, 1946,  presented on that day by speaker, Horace Patterson. I have my grandmother’s handwritten notebook that holds the original text and notes, thanks to my cousin Janice (Watkins) Trebesch who saved them for me.

As for the rest of what you will read here–it is the result of laborious but important research.  I went to a variety of sources, including the engraving on the Merrimack Soldiers and Sailors monument, and two newspaper notices that mentioned the Merrimack WWI veterans by name.  From there I sought documents from their life and death that provided me with details. Their military travel records and military stone requests were important tools.  These comprehensive details have not been published anywhere before now, as this is my unique research and compilation.  It is my gift to the people and veterans of Merrimack, and a continuation of my grandmother’s work.  It is also personal–two of my great-uncle’s names are carved into the monument.

Continue reading

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100 Years Ago: New Hampshire Gold Star Mothers

WWI era souvenir postcard with a tribute to mothers, and displaying the most commonly used style of service flag.

My Star
by Caroline Ticknor
From Granite State Monthly vol 50-51, 1918-1919, p. 470

I have a star of gold on my breast,
A star of strife, a star of rest;
It marks a sword-thrust through my heart,
It tells of glory and of pain
Of bitter loss and wondrous gain,
Of youth that played the hero’s part.


O, star of gold upon my breast,
Tell of those stars that he loved best;
He bore the stripes, he suffered all
To keep our banner free from stain;
He hath not given all in vain
In answering his Nation’s call.

O, star of hope upon my breast,
Strength the faith I have professed;
He died that nations might be free;
Help me to live for truth and right,
And with my woman’s soul to fight
Nerved by his immortality.
Continue reading

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