The picturesque town of Alton, New Hampshire has always had a small population. Even today it contains around 5,320 residents, though that number expands a bit in the summer tourist season. In 1910 the census was a mere 1,348. By 1920 when the war had ended, this number had dropped by 9.4% to 1,221 people.
Alton sent its full complement to war. Thanks to historian Herbert E. Morrell, the town’s WWI records were carefully recorded in the annual town report. His careful declaration includes totals from various branches of the service. Of the 45 men listed as entering service from Alton NH: 1 was killed in action, 1 died in camp in France (of disease), 1 died in camp in the United States (also of disease), and 2 were wounded in action. The majority entered service in the U.S. Army, followed by 13 in the Navy, 2 in naval aviation, 2 in Aviation, 3 in S.A.T.C., 1 in the Medical Corps and 1 in the Canadian army. Seven were sent overseas to fight in France, and one was sent to Scotland.
According to Marty Cornelissen, past president of the Alton NH Historical Society, “In 1919 the Town of Alton purchased a bronze memorial tablet listing the Alton soldiers and sailors of the First World War from T. F. McGann & Sons for $252.00. The plaque was mounted on a granite slab in Monument Square. In 1959, the voters decided at the annual town meeting to appropriate $2,000.00 for a memorial for Alton’s servicemen in WWII and the Korean War. Perry’s Memorial provided another bronze plaque which was mounted on the monument and dedicated on May 30,1959. The tall granite slab with rough rock faced sides and top now has two bronze plaques on its two wide polished fronts, the WWI plaque on the north side and the WWII-Korean War plaque on the south side”. This is from the National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for Monument Square.”
Alton New Hampshire’s WWI monument is located in the Monument Square Historic District on Main Street, (NH Rte 11) near the intersection of NH Route 240 [near 119 Main Street for those with auto GPS]. The World War I plaque was engraved the names of ALL who served in the military and a single star was added beside the three names of those who gave their lives: George Feeny, Claude R. Batchelder, and Alphonse J. Lavoie.
The inscription on the Alton NH WWI plaque is as follows [see close up photograph of monument]:
ERECTED BY THE TOWN OF ALTON, N.H.
HONOR ROLL OF HER SOLDIERS AND SAILORS
1914 — IN THE WORLD WAR — 1919
*George Feeney | *Claude R. Batchelder | *Alphonse J. Lavoie
ALBERT W. ADAMS
GEORGE P. AVERY
FRANK M. BENNETT
WILFRED G. BODINE
KENNETH W. CHAMBERLAIN
JOSEPH L. CHANDLER
OLIVER M. COLBY
CARLTON L. DESAUTEL
LEON T. DODGE
LEON W. DORE
EDWARD H. DOWNING
LESTER F. DOWNING
ERNEST A. DROWNS
RAYMOND C DUNCAN
ALBERT S. FOSTER
FRED R. FOSTER
MICHAEL J. FRIEL
BENJAMIN F. GEORGE
JAY A GILMAN
HAROLD C. GOOCH
WALTER R. GOODWIN
FRANK W. GRAY JR.
CHESTER P. HANSON
JOHN H. HANSON
DENNIS D. HARRIMAN
WESLEY J. HARRIMAN
FRANK A. HURD
FORRESTER R. HURLBURT
HERMAN E. JOHNSON
ARTHUR W. KAULBACK
FRANK A. KIRKPATRICK
HARLAND A LAMPER
CARROLL H. LOWE
MARTIN A. LYNCH
FRANK W. MCLAUGHLIN
JOSEPH L. MCLAUGHLIN
DANIEL B. MURPHY
ARTHUR J. NUTTER
DEAN S. REYNOLDS
CHARLES E. ROBERTS
HOWARD A. ROLLINS
HAROLD F. SANBORN
FRED H. SIMONDS
ROGER S SMITH
JOHN H. TAYLOR
CALRENCE E. TUTTLE
ARTHUR P VARNEY
ROY H. WALCH
*DIED IN THE SERVICE OF OUR COUNTRY
Heroes of ALTON NH During WWI
[A] WWI Roll of Honor, Doric Hall, NH State House, Concord NH
[B] NH Adjutant General’s List of Killed in Action from New Hampshire
[C] U.S. Army Transport Records, WWI
[D] Inscribed on WWI monument in Monument Square, Alton New Hampshire
[E] WWI Draft Registration
[F] Death, Burial certificates and/or Headstone Application
[G] Canadian Military Documents (online)
[H] Newspaper articles regarding service and/or death
[I] American Battle Monuments Commission / or / Arlington Cemetery documentation
[#] refers to a biography following the list with additional information on a particular soldier.
DIED IN WARTIME
George F. Feeny | Private | Died of Disease 21 Sep 1918, France | 5th Replacement Battalion, U.S. Army | Reburied Arlington National Cemetery | [A][C][D][E][F][I]
Claude R. Batchelder |Soldier| Died of Disease 28 Sep 1918, Camp Devens, Harvard MA | Training Camp | Pine Grove Cemetery, Gilford NH | Claude R. Batchelder Post No 72 American Legion named in his honor |[A][D][E][F]
Alphonse Joseph Lavoie |Private| Killed in Action 1 September 1918 France | 14th Battalion, Canadian Infantry | Upton Wood Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France — Cenotaph in Saint Ignatius Cemetery, Sanford Maine | [A][D][G][I]
 George Francis Feeny/Feeney was born 15 April 1893 in Saugus, Essex County, Massachusetts, son of John William & Leona F. (Tebbett) Feeny. Their surname was also listed as FEENEY in several places. In 1900 he was living with his family in Lynn MA and included siblings Millicent, Harold Leroy, Raymond Oliver, Edie M., and Leona. George completed his WWI Registration form in Alton NH on 5 June 1917 stating and signing his last name as “FEENY.” He was a resident of Alton, was single, of medium height and stature with light brown hair and light blue eyes. He claimed exemption from the war based on “Theosphy Rel, Physical Dis.” though the form does not explain either. U.S. Military Transport Passenger lists show that as a member of the Eleventh Battery, Camp Jackson South Carolina, as part of the automatic replacement draft, he left New York City aboard the ship, Minnekahda bound for Europe. His service number was 388139. George F. Feeney can be found in the Haulsee WWI casualty listing as having died of disease. The U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Form for Arlington National Cemetery shows: Geo. F. Feeny | Private, 5th Repl. Bn, U.S. Army, WWI | Date of Death: Sept. 21, 1918 | Date of RE-Interment: Sept 8, 1921 Europn. | Original Bur Gr. 345, #34 American City., Suresnes, Seine, France. C.R. Sept. 1921.
 Claude Rosar Batchelder was born 7 October 1891 in Alton NH, son of Joseph A. & Nellie F. (Glidden) Batchelder. In 1900 he is shown living in Alton New Hampshire with his uncle and aunt, Frank and Ida Glidden. By 1910 he was living in Alton NH with his mother, stepfather Seth E. Grant. Claude married 31 May 1911 at Gilford NH to Lena E. Bossell, daughter of Charles & Addie M. (Hatch) Bossell/Bosel. [Claude and Lena had a daughter Iva E. Batchelder who was born abt 1911 and who m. 25 Dec 1932 at Lakeport NH to Elmon L. Phelps, son of Arthur L. & Jessie (Leroy) Phelps. She m2d) to Howard A. Roberts. In 1920 Lena was living in Gilford NH with husband, son Donald W. Roberts, and daughter Iva E. Bachelder.] On 5 June 1917 Claude R. Batchelder filled out his WWI Registration form showing he was living and working in Alton, New Hampshire. He was of medium stature, tall, with light brown hair and light blue eyes. He was self employed and he listed his parents are being dependent on him. He apparently was sent to Camp Devens MA for training, for that is where his death certificate [mis-indexed as Claud Balchelder] originates from. That document states he died 28 September 1918 at the Base Hospital at Camp Devens in Harvard MA of pneumonia lobar. Though there is no mention of influenza, that was the primary cause of pneumonia in the camp at this time. That document also states he was buried in West Alton NH. Claude R. Batchelder is buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, Gilford, New Hampshire in plot 75W.
 Alphonse Joseph Lavoie was born 6 Jul 1882 Quebec, Canada, son of Lazare J. & Elabe/Elobe (Dubois) Lavoie. In the 1900 U.S. Census he was living in Sanford Maine with his parents and siblings Eliza, Hannah, Edward T., Oliver, Claudia, Leah, Damasens and Earnest. Later he would have siblings, Marie, and Rose Anna. Alphonse J. Lavoie enlisted in the Canadian army, and assigned #3082361 in the 1st Depot Bn. 1st Quebec Regt. He was transferred to 14th Battalion, Quebec Infantry on 18 Aug 1918. His enlistment exam and papers are available for view. He embarked from Canada on 24 March 1918, arriving in England 3 April 1918 aboard the S.S. Scandinavian. From there following more training he arrived in France in August 1918. At the time of his death his parents were living in Sandford, Maine. Alphonse J. Lavoie was at first reported missing that day, then amended to KIA. He was killed in action only a few days later on 1 Sep 1918 in France. He was buried with honors at Upton Wood Cemetery, Hendecourt-les-Cagnicourt, Hendecourt-les-Cagnicourt, Departement du Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France in Plot: C. 36. At the time of his death, his parents were living in Sanford Maine. When they died they added his name (a cenotaph) to their tombstone in Saint Ignatius Cemetery, Sanford, Maine. [Editor’s note: I am not quite sure of the connection of Alphonse Lavoie with Alton, but I must presume that he, or some close relative, must have been living there during and/or shortly after WWI.]
[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].
While researching the military of Alton during World War I, I found a few that I felt compelled to write about.
Willis Duer Thompson was born 13 Oct 1853 in Alton NH, son of John S. & Charlotte A.S. (Woodman) Thompson. His family moved to Concord in childhood, where he was educated in the Concord public schools. The book, “One Thousand New Hampshire Notables,” page 452 continues: “treasurer Thompson & Hoague Co. director Nat’l State Capital Bank; vice-president Merrimack County Savings Bank; director Page Belting Co., Concord Mutual Fire Ins. Co.; Capital Fire Insurance Co., Trustee Margaret Pillsbury General Hospital, Concord public library; for some years park commissioner, also member Concord board of education; on examining board Concord branch of Red Cross; Democrat; member South Congregational Church, N.H. Historical Society, Wonolancet Club; m. Concord, N.H. Oct. 27, 1887, Abby Morris Whiton; children, (1) Raymond Whiton, b. Concord, Aug. 8, 1888; ed. Concord schools, Lawrenceville school, N.J. 1906, two years Dartmouth College; with the firm of Thompson & Hoague nine years; m., Margaret Carpenter, Oct. 12, 1914; entered the service June 1917; seven weeks’ training at Tuck School of Military Stores, Dartmouth College, July, August 1917; Camp Johnston, Jacksonville, Fla., December 1917-June 1918; commissioned Second Lieutenant, Q.M.C.; d. Sept 13, 1918, Boston depot, Q.M.C.; (2) Willis Duer Jr., b May 26, 1895; ed. Concord schools, A.B., Dartmouth College 1917;; enlisted Naval Flying Corps, Flight A., April 1917, training at Mass. Inst. Tech.; Norfolk, Va., Naval Base, September 1917-January 1918; commissioned ensign, Pensacola, Fla., Feb 25, 1918; convoying ships in English Channel and patrol work overseas, March 9-December 1, 1918. Residence, Pine Street, Concord, N.H.”
Wesley Eugene Hatch was born 7 April 1885 in Alton, NH son of Charles F. & Sophronia A. “Nettie” (Flanders) Hatch. In 1917 his name was listed in a copyright journal for music composers: “Sunbeam; a song of the Winnepesaukee, words by W.E. Hatch, music by Frank Howard [of U.S.]. copyright 18782 Nov 8, 1917 2 c. Nov. 22, 1917 E 413497; Wesley E. Hatch, West Alton N.H. I have not yet been able to locate this music, nor the words that he wrote. In June of 1917 Wesley E. Hatch filled out his military registration form, stating his eye color was albino, and that at the age of 33 his hair was gray. In 1910 he was living with his parents in Alton, but by 1920 he had moved to Manchester NH, boarding on Boynton Street and working making brooms in a broom factory. By the 1940s he was living in Concord, New Hampshire, aged 57 living at 18 School Street in Concord, and employed by the Knapp Extract Co., as a salesman. It was also noted he was under supervision of the State Division for the Blind in Concord. Mrs. Addie Brock of Laconia was his contact person. His death certificate is interesting in that it does not mention any form of albinism, and gives an incorrect birth year. When he died on 10 November 1956 in Concord NH, he would have been 71 years old. Perhaps he looked older, but he was listed as being 90 years old (with a birth date of 7 April 1862 in Gilford NH).