New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of Bedford

Stevens-Buswell Building in
Bedford NH, formerly a school house
named after the two men of WWI who
died in service.

It is not my intent to reproduce the fine work already completed by the Bedford Historical Society in their town history about World War I. That volume can be purchased from that organization, and it gives details of the community work performed by various societies and clubs to support the war effort. They also provide a brief biography of each man’s service which is worth reviewing.

As for my story–I will write of those who did not survive, or those whose names, for various reasons, have not been included on the monument. I have written to the historical society to see when the monument was installed, and it was probably around or after January 1, 1923.

According to the Bedford Town History, forty-seven local men served in the military during World War I. The book also notes that before the United States declared war, some were already in service, namely Frank A. Story (Canadian Army, 1915), Henry Colburn (Canadian Grenadier Guards, 1916, POW), Harold B. Grant and Charles Bursiel (National Guard). By January 1st 1918 Bedford had already sent eighteen men to war.

Heather Wilkinson Rojo has published a story on her blog Nutfield Genealogy showing photographs of Bedford NH’s WWI & Spanish American War memorial including a transcription of the names, and so I suggest you visit there to see them. This memorial was installed near what is now the Old Town Hall at 74 Bedford Center Road in Bedford NH. It is composed of a boulder with a bronze plaque that includes the names of all from the town who participated in the military. Those who died in wartime have a star beside their name.    A then-new school house was named for the two men (see photograph above) who died in service, as was the American Legion formed in the town.  Both Buswell and Stevens names can be found on the Honor Roll plaque in Doric Hall of the New Hampshire State House.

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Heroes of BEDFORD NH
Died In Service During WWI

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Frank A. Buswell | Private | Died of Disease, influenza-pneumonia on 27 Sep 1918 Fort Devens MA | Co H. 74th Infantry, 12th Div. | Bedford Center Cemetery, Bedford NH| [1]

Willis A. Stevens |Landsman Electrician |Died of Disease (septicemia) 13 Jan 1917 Naval Hospital, Chelsea MA | United States Naval Reserve Force | Bedford Center Cemetery |[2]

Frank Appleton Buswell signature.

[1] Frank Appleton Buswell was born 11 Feb 1891 in Bedford, Hillsborough Co. NH, son of Eugene F. & M. Imogene (Langley) Buswell, and grandson of Nathaniel & Judith (Scribner) Buswell. Eugene, Frank’s father was a farmer, and they lived in River Road in Bedford NH. Frank A. Buswell had 2 siblings: Ernest Langley Buswell and Edith N. Buswell. His WWI registration form was completed June 5, 1917 in Bedford NH. At that time he was working for B.W. Mack of Manchester NH as a book keeper. He was single and supporting his mother. He was of medium height and stature with blue eyes and brown hair.  Frank Appleton Buswell died 26 September 1918 at Camp Devens MA. The History of Bedford book shows: “entered service January 25, 1918, Co. H, 74th Infantry, 12th Division. Transferred to Headquarters Co. Died of Spanish influenza at Ft. Devens. Sept 27, 1918.”

[2] Willis Albert Stevens was born 5 May 1898 in Bedford NH, son of Eddy Willis & Nella Augusta (Bean) Stevens. He had siblings: Eveline/Evelyn Agnes Stevens b 22 Apr 1878; m. 30 June 1923 to Pliny H. Radcliffe /and/ Minnie Alice Stevens m 1900 William Melendy; she died 23 Feb 1946. The U.S. Navy Casualties Book shows: “Stevens, Willis Albert, landsman electrician (R), United States Naval Reserve Force. Enrolled: Boston, Mass October 31, 1917. Died: Naval Hospital, Chelsea, Mass, January 13, 1918 Cause: Septicemia.”  The application for his military headstone shows: “Stevens Willis Albert. Rank: Lds for Elec. Company: Class 4 Naval Reserve G.S. Harvard Radio School Died January 13, 1918. buried Bedford Cemetery Bedford NH Shipped to: Adgt. Stevens Buswell Post #54, Bedford NH.”  The History of Bedford NH adds: Enlisted Nov 19, 1917 for wireless telegraphy on land or sea. Entered the Radio Dept of Harvard University.”

Woodbury family plot in Bedford NH.
Photograph copyright J.W. Brown, editor.

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More Heroes who Survived
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Gordon Woodbury was one of the personnel on the Committee of One Hundred on Public Safety. His son, Peter Woodbury, was badly wounded during the War, survived and returned home to become a judge.


[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].

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