I recently purchased an interesting old postcard dating back to World War I days. It displays a photograph of the (then) town library, along with a painted sign in the front yard. The sign’s names are those of Hancock New Hampshire’s heroes of the World War or WWI as we now call it.
It was common during World War I for a town to place the names of participants on a wooden display, reverently painted by citizens, or a local artist. After a while these memorials faded–weathered from the sun, rain, and snow. Much of the time they were not replaced. This seems to be the case in the town of Hancock.
Two of the names had stars beside them, indicating that they made the ultimate sacrifice, and died during War time. It is those two who I have focused on to write in detail about. A transcription of the sign is:
HONOR ROLL WWI
Charles E. Adams
Elmer A. Andrews
William J. Brunelle
Edward M. Coughlan
Andrew E Dufraine
Ernest L. Dufraine
Edwin W. Goodnough
Henry J. Leavitt
Earl C. Lochlin
*Ralph J. Loveren
Y. Bertram Manning
Louis B. Otis
*William H. Robinson
Stanley R. Smith
Sidney W. Stearns
Belton P. Schmoler
John J. Weston
Two two men set off with a star were Ralph J. Loveren, and William H. Robinson. Their biographies follow.
===LOVEREN, Private Ralph J====
Ralph J. Loveren was born 11 May 1898 in Antrim, New Hampshire, the son of George M. & Clara N. (Cutter) Loveren. By 1910 his family had moved from Antrim to Hancock. In the 1900 census he and his family are shown living in Antrim, his father owning a general store. By the 1910 Hancock NH census, Ralph is 11 years old, and he has siblings Harrie (Harry) A., and Ruth E. [she would marry Lucellas C. Thurson and move to Bennington NH].
Ralph’s War Registration form indicates he was a single farmer, of medium height and stature, with light blue eyes and dark brown hair. When World War I began, Ralph entered service in the regular army, being assigned to the 103d Machine Gun Battalion, part of the 26th Yankee Division. His battalion would have been sent to France in September in October of 1917. He would have been involved in many battles.
He was only 20 years old when he was killed in action probably during the Aisne-Marne (Chateau Thierry) offensive, which coincides with his death on July 18, 1918. As was normal during that war, he would have been buried in a military cemetery near where he fell. There is a record showing his remains were returned home to his family plot after the war in Norway Plain Cemetery in Hancock, NH. He was reburied there on 1 September 1921, in Range 1, Lot 27.
===ROBINSON, 2d Lieut. William H.===
William H. Robinson was born 31 October 1893 in Hancock, New Hampshire, the son of Henry F. & Ella A. (Averill) Robinson. He had two older siblings, Harold A., and Helen C (who m. Dean Abbott Emerson), and younger sibling Elizabeth N. (who m1) Herbert W. Terrill, m2) Rupert E. Wheeler). They lived in the Elmwood section of Hancock NH.
2d Lieut. Robinson was difficult to research, and I didn’t learn exactly when he entered the United States Army. The Boston Herald of 25 November 1917 announced commissions awarded at the training camp in Plattsburgh, NY, and William H. Robinson of Elmwood NH was noted to have received a lieutenant’s commission. It appears that 2nd Lieut. Robinson remained in the Plattsburgh camp, and was not sent overseas. He is later found as being among Company 8, 17th Provisional Training Regiment at Plattsburgh NY.
I have not found a specific death record for William H. Robinson, though he died before October of 1918. I found a notice that he, like Ralph Loveren, was buried in Norway Plain Cemetery in Hancock New Hampshire. On 10 October 1918 William H. Robinson’s remains were laid to rest in Range 1, Lot 25. The date of his burial indicates to me that he must have died in the continental United States, for the bodies of men who died overseas did not start to be returned until 1919 at the earliest.
If you study the history of the “Spanish flu” (badly misnamed as it did not originate in Spain), or the influenza of 1918 you will see that in the fall of 1918, U.S. Army and Navy medical officers in camps across the country presided over the worst epidemic in American history. I suspect that William H. Robinson was the victim of the influenza virus that spread like wildfire and killed so many soldiers both here and abroad.
The names of both Ralph Loveren and Willliam H. Robinson are inscribed on the Roll of Honor, in Doric Hall of the New Hampshire State House. May they both rest in peace.
[Editor’s Note: this story is part of an on-going series about heroic New Hampshire men and women of World War I. Look here for the entire listing].