New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of Holderness

Holderness NH Veteran Monument, located next to the town’s public library.

Holderness in Grafton Co. New Hampshire has been, from it’s beginning, a farming community. Today its population swells during the summer months when vacationers and tourists arrive to enjoy the water views, cool breezes and boating or swimming.  When the United States entered World War I in 1917, the town’s population was about 925 people.  Of those at least 19 of Holderness’ youth went into military service.  Two of these men would make the ultimate sacrifice and not return home.

WWI era postcard showing a service flag with a blue star in the front window of a home.

After World War II a wooden sign listing the veterans of both World War I and World War II was created, painted and placed near the Holderness Town Library. This was common in many of the smaller towns who could not afford to build a memorial of granite or bronze.  This simple remembrance lasted for a while, but soon disintegrated in the snow and rain.  In 2009 (according to a Union Leader newspaper story) Pat Ford and her son Ed spearheaded fund raising activities to replace the wooden sign with that of an 8,000 pound granite monument.  On this new memorial, located on the left side of the Holderness Public Library,  is engraved names of more than 400 residents who served their country during wartime, from the American Revolution to 2009.

In this story I am concerned only with the World War I veterans–heroes of a mostly forgotten war.  If I understand the 2009 newspaper story correctly, the original wooden sign included some names of men who were summer guests of the town, and perhaps were not natives or long time residents.  They deserved as much as anyone to be listed there.  At any rate, the list of WWI veterans that I provide here was from an official list supplied by the Town of Holderness on its web site, as follows:

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WWI Honor Roll of HOLDERNESS NH
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Francis L. Baker
*Herbert E. Baker
Vance B. Beatty
Reginald Clark
Howard R. Greenleaf
Frank L. Harvey
*Earl R. Maxwell
Harvey O. Merrill
Paul S. Morin
Gustaf H. Nilsson
*Richard T. Pease
Lloyd D. Perkins
Marshall C. Pratt
Clarence J. Reed
Leon S. Rogers
Ralph W. Smith
Frank A. Tucker
Joseph Vontell
Jerome P. Webster

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Two names from the U.S. Army Transport Service Passenger Lists who claimed Holderness NH as their home town, but were not listed on the town’s WWI plaque were:

Purvis S. Berry, son of Curtis G. Howe. Private, HQ Co. 103rd Infantry, departed NY for Europe on Ship Saxonia on 25 Sep 1917. Returned from Brest France as P1C, arriving Boston MA on ship America 5 April 1919. Service number 69,843.

Bernard B. Tibbetts, brother of Mrs. Georgia Baker. Private in Hospital Unit of Co. F, 103rd Infantry, departed NYC on ship Saxonia bound for Europe on 20 Sep 1917. He returned from Pauillac France on 15 Feb 1919 ship Antigone. Service #68,264.

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HEROES OF HOLDERNESS NH
DIED IN SERVICE

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Herbert E. Baker | Private | Died of Disease 4 October 1918, Camp Mills NY | Battery B, 73d Artillery, C.A.C. (Coast Artillery Corps) | Meredith Village Cemetery, Meredith NH | [1]

Richard T. Pease | Cadet | Died of Disease (influenza) 9 October 1918, Infirmary Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT | Student Army Training Corps | Green Grove Cemetery, Ashland NH | [2]

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[1] Herbert Eugene Baker was born 24 May 1893 in Laconia NH, son of John S. & Clarissa E. “Clara” (Gilman) Baker. His siblings included William H., Francis L., and Fern C.  He married 27 Sep 1917 in Ashland NH to Rose L. Baird, daughter of John J. & Jane L. Baird. They had a son Herbert Eugene Baker, b. 2 Nov 1918 in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. The widow, Rose L. Baird m2d) — Mogelefsky.

Camp Mills NY. Unidentified soldiers in front of tents being aired out as precaution against spread of influenza. New York Heritage Digital Collection. Hofstra University.

Herbert’s WWI Registration form was completed in Holderness NH on 5 June 1917. At that time he was living in Ashland NH, working in farming for F.P. Bowden of Holderness NH. He was single and described himself as being tall, of medium stature with blue eyes and light brown hair.

During WWI Herbert E. Baker had enlisted and was assigned a Private to Battery B 73rd Artillery. His service number was 2796603.  He was supposed to depart with his regiment to Europe on 25 September 1918 on the ship Scotian.  The U.S. Army Transport Passenger List notes by his name “Transferred to Base Hospital September 23, 1918. MILLS.”  “Camp Mills” [Camp Albert L. Mills] was located at Hempstead Plains, [Mineola] Nassau Co. Long Island. Camp Mills was a training camp, embarkation camp and debarkation camp [the location is now called Garden City].  It was here that Herbert E. Baker died on 4 October 1918 of disease (influenza, pneumonia).  The Gold Star Record of Massachusetts adds some details: Enlisted 15 July 1918, Btr B, 73d Arty, C.A.C. [Coast Artillery Corp].   He is buried in his family’s plot in Meredith Village Cemetery, Meredith NH.  His name can be found on the WWI monument at Holderness, NH, and on the New Hampshire WWI Honor Roll in Doric Hall of the New Hampshire State House.

[2] Richard Towers Pease was born 6 Aug 1899 in Holderness NH, son of Frederick Joseph & Abby Frances (Jewell) Pease.  He completed his WWI Registration form   in Holderness, Grafton Co NH, aged 19, occupation student.  His next of kin was his mother, Abbie F. Pease, 95 Penn Ave, Somerville Mass. Richard was tall, slender with dark brown eyes and dark brown hair. He was a student at Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT when he died (see further).

Student Army Training Corps (SATC) at Wesleyan University, 1918. Wesleyan Magazine, Historical Row; Courtesy of Wesleyan University Special Collections & Archives.

The Boston Globe of 11 Oct 1918 page 2 reported the following: “Somerville Boy Dies at Wesleyan. MIDDLETOWN, Conn., Oct 10 – Richard P. Pease, 19 of Somerville Mass, a sophomore at Wesleyan University, died today of influenza.”

The Wesleyan University Bulletin, page 24, offers the following additional information: “RICHARD TOWERS PEASE, of the class of 1921, was born August 6, 1899 in Holderness, New Hampshire. He prepared for college at the Sanford (Maine) High School. He entered in September 1917 and was inducted into the Student Army Training Corps in October 1918. He was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He died of pneumonia in his sophomore year, October 9, 1918 in the Wesleyan Infirmary.”

Richard Towers Pease was buried in Green Grove Cemetery, Ashland NH. His name is engraved on the Holderness (NH) Veterans Monument.


[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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