New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of Chester

During WWI the Post Office was an important
place. Today this building is still a landmark–
the site of the Olde Post Restaurant.

When the United States entered the World War in 1917, Chester was among those towns who gladly stepped forward to offer its sons and daughters to the war effort. According to the town history 22 men from Chester served in the military (my count is 25 men and 2 women). In addition those who remained at home grew Victory Gardens, raised money for Liberty Bonds and participated in Red Cross and local aid drives. The Chester citizens both celebrated and mourned.  Four young men would leave town never to return.

On the Two Hundredth Anniversary of Chester, New Hampshire, held 27-29 August 1922

Chester NH WWI Memorial.
Photograph by Richard Marsh,
used with permission.

the memorial tablet to the Spanish and World War (I) veterans was dedicated. The History of Chester says that among the “distinguished persons present were His Excellency Governor Albert O. Brown, Hon. George E. Trudell, Mayor of Manchester, Major Robert O. Blood of Concord, and Major Frank Knox of Manchester.  Today this WWI monument is located at at 5 Chester street near the junction of Routes 102 and 121, across the street from the Olde Post Restaurant (see photograph).  The monument is inscribed as shown below. [Editor’s note, the names in brackets are names not shown on the plaque but probably should have been, while comments in parenthesis are mine also and do not show on the WWI plaque].


Charles E. Cook

Frederick C. Bartlett
Wayland J. Berry
Walter S. Brown
Bert R. Cammett
[Wilfred Culley]
*James M. Forsaith
Hans A. Hanson
*William A. Holland
Walter E. Holmes
Raymond Kourian
James Maguire
Walter W. Maguire (Pvt, Supply Co., Quartermaster Corps #306)
*Emerson P. Maple
Clarence H. Mcully
Allen J. Parker
Clifford E. Richardson
Hartwell A. Roberts
Victor B. Spollett
Percy S. Stowe
[Henry S. Stowe] (Pvt. HQ Co. 103rd Infantry)
[Charles S. Underhill] (Capt. 10A Squadron)
Charles C. Warren
*Howard F. West
Howard A. Woodard
Leroy S. Woodard
[Helen A. Fitz]
*Died in Service

Heroes of CHESTER NH
Died In Service During WWI


James M. Forsaith | Corporal| Died of Wounds 27 Sept 1918 | Co. C, 103rd Infantry | Buried Chester Village Cemetery, Chester NH | [1]

William A. Holland | Private | Died of Disease (pneumonia) 22 Sep 1918 Margaret Pillsbury Hospital, Concord NH | 28th Co., 7th Trng Bn, 151st Depot Brigade | North Chester Cemetery, Chester NH | [2]

Emerson P. Maple | Private | Killed in Action 30 July 1918 France | Co D, 103rd Field Artillery, 26th Div | Chester Village Cemetery, Chester NH | [3]

Howard F. West | Private | Died of Disease (broncho-pneumonia, influenza) 30 September 1918, Post Hospital,  Durham NH |U.S. Army, in training | Chester Village Cemetery, Chester NH | [4]

  B I O G R A P H I E S

Ceremonies held in a Hoboken pier for the war dead in flag-draped caskets, Hoboken, 1921. Hoboken Historical Museum.

[1] James Matthew Forsaith was born 15 April 1894 in Chester, Rockingham Co. NH, son of Rufus & Mary Francis (Morgan) Forsaith.  In the 1910 U.S. Census he was living in Chester NH with his parents and siblings Ralph M. Forsaith (b 30 July 1892, m. Lillian M. Storms, had sons Matthew Rufus and Ralph); and Cora C. Forsaith (who married Henry C. Hastings).  His WWI Registration form was completed in Nashua NH on 5 June 1917. At that time he was living at 23 Temple Street, working as a chauffeur for E.B. Sanders & Co. of Nashua NH. He was single and it was noted a member of Co. C, 103rd Infantry. He described himself as tall, of medium stature with blue eyes and light brown hair.  The U.S. Army Transport Passenger lists shows that J.M. Forsaith was shipped to Europe from New York City on 27 September 1917 aboard the ship Celtic. His rank at that time was Private in Co. , 103rd Infantry.    He was reported in the newspapers as “Died of Wounds” and also Killed in Action.  The dates of death vary, usually the 27 or 28 August 1918.  The New Hampshire Adjutant General’s Casualty List shows his death date as 27 September 1918 and that he was a Corporal, credited to Nashua, NH. It is generally believed that he was wounded at the Battle of Chateau-Thierry (per the town history).   He was probably at first buried near the battlefield.  There must have been some question about his death as the American Legion Weekly magazine, Vol 2, No 16 May 14, 1920  shows the following query: “103d Inf., Co C. — Cpl James M. Forsaith; reported killed in action Sept 27 or 28, 1918. Anyone with information regarding his death write his brother, Ralph M. Forsaith, East Northfield, Mass.”  The remains of James M. Forsaith were returned from Antwerp, Belgium arriving in Hoboken NJ on 2 July 1921 aboard the ship Wheaton.  Service Number 67366.   The town history notes: “1921. Public Funeral services held for Corporal J.M. Forsaith and Emerson Maple in the Stevens’ Memorial Hall. The Hon. George C. Hazelton of Washington D.C. delivered the eulogy.”  He is buried in Chester Village Cemetery, Chester, New Hampshire.

[2] William Albert Holland was born 29 June 1894/95 in Chester NH, son of Charles A. & Laura E. (Abbott) Holland. [The date of his birth is 1894 on his birth certificate and 1895 on his registration document].  In the 1910 U.S. Census he was living in Chester NH with parents and sibling Florence A. Holland (who married Kenneth Norman Healey. )  William A. Holland married 30 Sep 1916 in Rochester NH to Ruby Foss, daughter of Henry R. & Etta B. (Woods) Foss.The widowed Ruby (Foss) Holland would later m2d) 18 Aug 1923 in Rochester NH to Isaac Thomas Barrett.  William A. Holland completed his WWI Registration form at Bow NH where he was living, aged 23, working as a teamster for Horace McDuffie of Bow NH. He stated he had a wife and child. He described himself as being of medium height and stature with blue eyes and brown hair.  He enlisted in June 1918, and was sent to Fort Devens as a Private, part of the 28th Co., 7th Trng Bn, 151st Depot Brigade. For whatever reason, perhaps he was on leave, he was admitted to the Margaret Pillsbury Hospital in Concord, New Hampshire where he died 23 September 1918 of pneumonia, as the result of influenza. He is buried in North Chester Cemetery, Chester NH.

Private Emerson Maple,
courtesy his 2nd great niece,
Kathleen O’Connell Piasek.

[3] Emerson P. Maple was born 16 December 1898 in Charlotte, Chittenden County, Vermont, son of Frank & Charlotte “Lottie” (Lyons) Maple.  In the 1900 U.S. Census he was living in Ferrisburg, Addison Co. VT with his parents and siblings, and by 1910 the family had moved to Chester, New Hampshire. His siblings include Clyde R., Frances I., Marie E., Harold, Archibald. Emerson P. Maple served during WWI as a Private (in Co. C, 103rd Field Artillery.  He was shipped to Europe with this regiment and was killed in action in France on 30 July 1918.   The NH Adjutant General shows his rank as “Cook” and credits his service to Chester, NH.   At first buried near the battlefield where he fell, after the war ended, Emerson Maple’s remains were returned to the United States on 2 July 1921 aboard the ship “Wheaton.” His service number was 136942.  He is buried in the family plot in Chester Village Cemetery, Chester, NH. Thanks to Kathleen O’Connell Piasek’s information that the Raymond NH American Legion Maple-Wheadon Post was named in his honor.

[4] Howard Foster West was born 18 Dec 1896 in Chester NH, son of William H. & Laura B. (Morse) West. In the 1910 U.S. Census he was living in Chester NH with his parents, and maternal aunt, Winifed H. West. He registered for WWI Draft on 5 June 1918, living in Chester NH,employee of Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery Maine. Describes self as being of medium height and stature with blue eyes and dark brown hair. He had probably been sent for special training at Durham New Hampshire, and like most army camps influenza was pandemic.  Howard F. West died 30 September 1918 at the Post Hospital of pneumonia, having contracted influenza only 6 days earlier [the town history says 1 October 1918]. He was buried  in Chester Village Cemetery, Chester, New Hampshire.

[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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