Hooksett New Hampshire even today is a relatively small town. Its southern portion (the village of South Hooksett) is adjacent to the City of Manchester. In 1917 when the United States entered The Great War (WWI) Hooksett only had between 1500 and 1800 residents.
For a town with a small population, it sent more than its quota of men to serve in the military. Every family that remained at home did their part.
The 1919 Hooksett Town Report posted a list of residents who served. I have transcribed that list here. At least one of the men mentioned was killed in action.
I would like to acknowledge and thank Kathie Northrup, Chair of the Hooksett Heritage Commission who provided me with photographs and information about the town monuments. If you have additional information about WWI veterans from Hooksett she is the person to contact.
Names of WWI veterans as published in the Hooksett New Hampshire Annual Report, Year ending January 1919 [additional names that were included on the later monument are marked with a “+” ;
HOOKSETT ROLL OF HONOR
Names of Men that Service in the World War
Austin, Ralph H.
Allen, Roy [name is listed in town report, but not included on town monument]
Bascom, Albert S.
Batchelder, Clinton D.
Burbank, Raymond S.
Beauregard, Theodore T.
Blair, Walter A.
+Burbank, Raymond P.
+Campbell, Wilfred J.
Carl(e)ton, Raymond D.
Casey, Joseph A.
Cook, George A.
Couchene [Couchine], Henry
Couturier, Joseph G.
+Coutourier, Joseph C.
Crosbie, George H.L. [name is listed in town report, but not included on town monument]
Gay, Wilfred H.
Goodwin, Guy H.
Hayes, Thomas J.
+Heath, George E.
Herbert, Edmond [name is listed in town report, but not included on town monument]
Hines, Joseph Jr.
Houston, Hermidas L. [Hormidus]
Howe, James A.
Jameson, Henry H.
Keating, Frank R.
Kimball, Ralph O.
Kimball, Roy S.
Lafond, John B.
Lawrence, Henry C.
Leonard, Frank [name is listed in town report, but not included on town monument]
Main, Matthew W.
Means, Joseph W.
Merrill, George E.
Merrill, George E. [the monument shows two named George E. Merrill]
Mitchell, Eugene H.
Morse, Clayton H.
Neill, Robert A.
Otterson, Maurice F.
Poor, Benjamin G.
Roberge, Thomas F.
Robie, Harley A.
Rushton, Francis H.
Sleeper, Cyril F.
+Sleeper, Lester M.
Strickford, Arthur A.
St. Hillaire, Ariste
Togus, Leopold T.
+Turbin, Thomas T.
Tyrrell/Tyrell, George T.
Vanasse, Nector G.
White, Chauncey W.
On page 6 of this same town report, the officers sought to appropriate funds to create a honor tablet. Whether this came about, I am still investigating. It reads as follows: “12th. To see if the town will vote to raise and appropriate a sufficient amount of money, not to exceed two hundred and fifty (250 dollars to purchase a suitable tablet to be placed in the Public Library of Hooksett, in honor of the Hooksett boys who entered the service to take part in the great World War. This tablet to be suitable inscribed with their names and ranks thereon, as petitioned for by John F. Rowell and eleven others.” [This plaque apparently was not created. Instead, see next paragraph].
History of Veteran’s Park, Jacob Square
According to the book, History of Hooksett (NH) a granite memorial was erected in memory of Cpl. George E. Merrill on the lawn of the (then) Town Hall and “dedicated with appropriate ceremonies on November 11, 1933.” In the 1950s the memorial was moved and combined with the memorial to soldiers of all wars at Jacob Square, Veteran’s Park near the south end of the Hooksett Bridge. The American Legion was formed in 1919 and named in honor of Cpl. Merrill (who died in 1918), its name changing after WWII to honor both Cpl. Merrill and Cpl. Raymond P. Follansbee who died in 1943 while serving in the Marine Corps (i.e. Merrill-Follansbee Post, American Legion). This American Legion post helped pay for the expensive granite memorials that are in Jacob Square. In 2011 the Heritage Commission arranged for the cleaning of the stones, refinishing the plaques, adding park signage and landscaping. A memorial area honoring all who served in war and peace was added in 2013, and a re-dedication was held in that year on 6 October 2013.
Heroes of Hooksett
As far as I can determine, only one of the men on the Hooksett honor list died during WWI–George E. Merrill who was killed in action in France. A man not on this list who died in war time was Arthur Lemire. He was born in Hooksett, and became a baker in the United States Navy. He died by accident aboard the ship, “Peerless,” and he is mentioned in a story I wrote about him previously [See #31 in story, “Heroes of Nashua”].
There are other men who were born in Hooksett, survived the war, and should be mentioned here. For example, Burton Wilder Knight was born in (“Martin’s Ferry”) Hooksett, and kept a diary of his time in France as a military medic.
**KILLED IN ACTION**
Corp. George E. Merrill | Killed in Action 15 October 1918, France | Co. H, 128th Infantry, 32d Division | Buried Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery; cenotaph in Pine Grove Cemetery Manchester NH | Recognition: NH Adjutant General List of WWI Casualties; WWI Honor Roll, NH State House.
George E. Merrill was born 5 August 1897 in New Hampshire, son of Arthur B. & Myrtie Ellen “Myrtilla” (Gile) Merrill. George’s father was a carpenter who died in 1901 in Manchester NH of meningitis. George E. was only 3 years old at the time.
George’s mother remarried to Fred G. Severance, and by 1910 they were all living in Hooksett, New Hampshire where George attended the local schools. When the United States entered World War I, George entered the U.S. Army, Co. H, 128th Infantry. He was sent to the battlefields of France. He would have been involved in several battles.
By October of 1918 the Germans were in retreat but the fighting continued. George E. Merrill was killed in action on October 15, 1918 near the Argonne Forest. He would have been buried at first in a cemetery near where he fell. Later he was removed to the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery where a simple, dignified cross marks his resting place.
His paternal grandmother, Charlotte Diana “Lottie” (Sanders) Merrill-Worthley’s burial stone in Pine Grove Cemetery, Manchester NH has an engraved cenotaph on one side dedicated to her grandson George: “In memory of Corp. George E. Merrill | Co H 128th Inf |World War | Born Aug 5 1897 | Killed in Action Oct 15, 1918 | Buried Argonne Cemetery France.”
*DIARY OF A MEDIC*
Sergt. Burton Wilder Knight | Medic, U.S. Army | Survived WWI, died in 1958 | 101st Sanitary Train, 104th Field Hospital, 26th Division | Buried Pine Grove Cemetery, Manchester NH.
Burton Wilder Knight was born 23 April 1893 in Martin’s Ferry (Hooksett) New Hampshire, son of Timothy Wilder & Theresa (Benton) Knight. He grew up in Hooksett and in 1910 was living there with his parents and siblings Ethel, Eva, Charles, and Edna. He was a member of the New Hampshire National Guard prior to WWI service, and according to his own notes had, as a Private, been sent to the Mexican border. During WWI he was a medic and a member of the 101st Sanitary Train, 104th Field Hospital, 26th Division. Field Hospitals were located close to the battlefields, and were a dangerous place to work.
Burton W. Knight’s grand-daughter Anne Baillie has transcribed his diary, written during WWI in France between August of 1918 and January of 1919. It is worth reading to give you an idea of a medic’s first person view of that war. She also gave me permission to include his photograph here. More can be found at the link above. After Burton returned home from the war, he remained in the reserves until 1936. He married Gertrude Olive Caldwell, lived in Manchester NH and had children, Paul, Thena and Joan.
In 2012 Kathy Northrup, Chair of Hooksett’s Historic Commission released this additional information in a press release regarding the refurbishment of the Veteran’s Memorial:
– Dr. Leopold Togus started practicing here in 1910. He served in the armed forces during WW I and was commissioned a Lieutenant. Upon his discharge, Dr. Togus returned to Hooksett and was named the first Commander of George E. Merrill Post, American Legion, in 1919. His office was in the basement of the house at 18 Merrimack Street. He subsequently moved to Manchester where he died in 1951. He is buried at Head Cemetery.
– George A. Cook, named Citizen of the Year in 1960, served the town as an elected official for 30 years beginning in 1932. He was a selectman, supervisor of the checklist, chief of police, town and school district moderator and a cemetery sexton among other offices. He was the town road agent for many years, leaving that position in 1963. The former town garage building (now the courthouse) was dedicated in his honor in 1976.
– Maurice F. Otterson died in November 1919, a short time after he was discharged from service in WW I and returned to Hooksett to start an auto repair service. Tragically his death was at the hand of another. The death took place at the homestead which still stands near the junction of Route 3 and Granite Street. His sister-in-law was indicted for the murder, but the evidence at trial was largely circumstantial resulting in a verdict of not guilty. The murder remains unsolved. [See additional information below]
– Clifton Burbank was one of 10 children born to John S. and Clara Burbank, a part of the family who ran the Burbank Ketchup Factory that operated until 1913. As a boy he helped his parents on the farm and in the factory. He died at age 93 in 1987.
– Ralph O. Kimball served in the Army. He worked for New England Telephone and Telegraphfor many years after returning from the military. He was a member of the Hooksett Legion. His daughter recalls that he worked on the Jacob Square memorial.
To Kathie’s biographies I add just a few more I have compiled, that may be of interest.
– Albert Cantara, son of Joseph Cantara was born 17 June 1893 in Montreal, Quebec (based on his WWI Registration form). He was single, and in 1917 he had been a member of the New Hampshire National Guard’s Cavalry for 10 months. He entered the U.S. Military, as a member of Col. B 103rd Machine Gun Battalion. He was sent to France where he served until August of 1918 when he was reported missing in action, and later wounded. Albert Cantara returned home from Brest France (left 6 April arrived Boston MA 17 April 1919) on the ship, Patricia. He was mustered out with other members of his battalion at Camp Devens, MA. By 1920 he had moved to Claremont NH, living with a brother, George, and working in a mill. It is unknown whether his injuries during the war shortened his life span. He was only 35 when he died 6 July 1928. He is buried in St. Jean Baptiste Cemetery in Allenstown NH, with a military headstone that was shipped to and placed by the Hooksett American Legion Post 37.
– George Henry Leslie “Herbert” Crosbie, born 8 May 1894 Manchester NH, son of Herbert & Elvina (Adams) Crosbie. His father was a painter. He completed his WWI Registration form on 5 June 1917 in Manchester NH, at that time a helper at C.A. Hoitt Company in Manchester. He served as a Private during WWI in Co. A, 59th Ammunition Train, Coast Artillery Corps. George H. Crosbie died 5 November 1960, and is buried at Martins Corner Cemetery, Hooksett NH.
– Edmond Hebert born 10 May 1898 in Island Pond VT, son of Roche/Rock Hebert. He died 18 April 1955 in Goffstown NH and is buried in Mount Calvary Cemetery, Manchester NH. In 1917 he filled out his WWI Registration form , working as a mill operator at Suncook Mills, residing in Hooksett NH. In 1930 and 1940 he was working as a trackman for the B&M railroad. He married in 1923 to Albertine Desrosiers
MURDER IN HOOKSETT
Private Maurice F. Otterson, was born 5 May 1897 in Hooksett NH, son of John I. & Eva (Cummings) Otterson. A garage owner, he had served during WWI in Company F, 117th Engineers. He returned from France arriving in Hoboken NJ on 28 April 1919. In a few months he would be dead. On 6 November 1919 he was found murdered in his home in Hooksett NH. His sister-in-law Marion Otterson was accused and brought to trial. On 5 May 1920 a jury of her peers found her not guilty and she was released. Mrs. Otterson claimed two men broke into the house, performed the murder and a robbery. Maurice F. Otterson’s funeral was held on November 9, 1919. Nashua Telegraph, Monday, November 10, 1919 | Funeral of Otterson, Victim of Hooksett Murder | Hooksett funeral service for Maurice F. Otterson victim of the brutal murder here last week was held Sunday afternoon. Full military honors were paid him as a veteran of the World War. Rev. C.B. Williams, pastor of Hooksett, First Congregational Church officiated. County Solicitor H. W. Rainie of Merrimack County has laid the full particulars of the crime before Attorney General Young. No new clues appear to have been developed by officers investigating the crime.
[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].