Groton is a small, bucolic town in Grafton County New Hampshire that includes the village of North Groton. Groton had about 250+ permanent residents during the WWI era (ranging from 319 people in 1910 to 199 by 1920). Of these less than 2% percentage of their population was sent to service (this was not unusual among the smallest towns, and really the majority of NH towns provided the same amount). Not all the young men who left for military service would return–Napoleon Houle and Fred Arthur Marshall being two.
My personal thanks to Elizabeth Jesperson of the Groton Cemetery Committee, and Kathy Sobetzer of the Groton Historical Society for going above and beyond to help me to write this article. In addition Elizabeth graciously provided some of the photographs you see here.
The town of Groton does not have a formal WWI monument of stone or bronze. A circa 1919 photograph shared with me by the Groton Historical Society shows two local children, Clarence A. Remick and Flora (Remick) Braley standing in front of a rustic wooden honor roll that was hand painted and held up by two logs.Many New Hampshire towns created similar wooden monuments that decayed with time and weather.
The list of names reads as follows:
GROTON NEW HAMPSHIRE
Benjamin F. Andrew
Frank E. Butterfield
Joseph W. Cilley
Frank Gurney Jr.
George B. Gurney
Howard W. Hall
Wilbur J. Hall
William G. Huber
Fred A. Marshall
Frank E. Matthew
Rexford R. Wheet
Verne J. Wheet
A second list compiled by the Groton NH Historical Society is somewhat different, having more names than the original sign. The transcribed list follows. Names that are not found on the original honor roll are marked with a “–“.
Edward Ned Albert —
Benjamin F. Andrew
Frank Elwyn Butterfield
Joseph Woodbury Cilley
Hubert Elmer Duncklee —
Charles Gilbertson —
Frank Gurney, Jr.
George Brown Gurney
Howard Wadleigh Hall
Wilbur Jerome Hall
William George Huber
Fred Arthur Marshall
Frank Elmer Matthew(s)
Frank O. Matthews
Herbert W. Remick —
William M. Traunstein —
Fred Eugene Wheet —
Harvey Averett Wheet —
Lee Harold Wheet —
Rexford Elwin Wheet
Verne Josiah Wheet
Fred Joseph White, Sr. —
HEROES OF GROTON
WHO DIED IN SERVICE
Napoleon Houle | Private | Killed in Action 5 November 1918 France | Co B, 309th Infantry | Pleasant View Cemetery, Rumney NH
Napoleon Houle was born 14 March 1889 in Haverhill MA, son of Medrick & Leah (Rowe) Houle. Napoleon grew up in, and attended schools in Haverhill MA, and he is shown there in the 1900 U.S. Census with his parents, and siblings Joseph Daniel (who married Catherine A. Hannan and died in Danvers MA in 1966) and Edmund (who also served during WWI from N. Groton NH). Napoleon Houle completed his WWI Registration form on 5 June 1917 at North Groton NH. At that time he was a farmer, single, short, of medium build with blue eyes and brown hair. During WWI he served on the battlefield of France. As a Private in Co B 309th Inf 78th Division he departed Brooklyn NY for Europe on the ship Morvada on 20 May 1918. His residence was 77 High Street Danvers MA, and his next-of-kin, mother Lea Houle. His Service No. was 1749333. During WWI it
often took months for deaths to be reported. His was announced on 18 January 1919 in the Boston Post newspaper: “New England Boys on Casualty List. KILLED IN ACTION. Pt. Napoleon Houle, 77 High st., DANVERS. He died possibly at or near Brieulles, France. As was normal for that time, his body would have been buried near the battlefield where he fell. When the war ended, some of these soldiers were returned home at the family’s request. Private Napoleon Houle was returned on the ship Somme from Calais France to Hoboken NJ arriving 14 March 1921. He was buried in Pleasant View Cemetery, Rumney NH (my thanks to Elizabeth Jesperson for providing this information). Private Napoleon Houle’s name is engraved on the NH WWI Honor Roll, Doric Hall, New Hampshire State House, Concord.
Fred Arthur Marshall was born March 1891 Enosburg Falls VT, son of Henry & Bertha (Miller) Marshall. He completed his WWI Registration form on 5 June 1917 from Groton NH. He was a farmer in North Groton, single, of medium height and build with brown eyes and brown hair. He married 21 Feb 1918 in Rumney NH to Lena Gladys Kidder, dau of Henry [or Frank] & Bertha
(Miller) Kidder. During WWI he served as a P1C (Private First Class) in the 327th Field Signal Battalion, Signal Corps. He was stationed at Camp Stuart in Newport News VA when he was involved in an accident (a wagon ran over him). His death certificate mentions the fracture of spinal vertebra and ribs, and paralysis. He died on 19 October 1918 at the Embarkation Hospital of Camp Stuart. He was buried in Union Cemetery, North Groton NH [see the Find-A-Grave site link that has his obituary]. I found a Disinterment form from 27 October 1964 showing that his wife Lena had his body moved to Highland Cemetery in Rumney, New Hampshire.
GROTON WWI VETERAN
Edward Albert aka Edward Prospere Albert was born “Joseph Edoward Albert” on 27 Jan 1891 in Caraquet, Gloucester Co., New Brunswick Canada, son of Prosper & Mary Agathe (Albert) Albert. He enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in April of 1918. He was 5 ft 7-1/2 inches tall with medium complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair. He was assigned to the 1st Depot Battalion, 1st Quebec Regiment. He served 5 months with the 1st Quebec Regiment in Canada, and 9 months with the 23rd Regiment in England. In 1920 he was living in Lincoln NH but by 1930 moved to Groton and was living there in 1940. He married Marie Elizabeth “Elsie” (Hachey) Adam. Edward “Ned” Albert died on 28 Oct 1971 in Hebron NH. He is buried in Woodstock Cemetery, Woodstock NH.
Benjamin Fay Andrew was born 13 July 1891 in Cheektowaga, Erie Co. NY NY, son of Ralza E. & Clara A. (Fernald) Andrew. Clergyman. In 1900 he was in Moira, Franklin Co. NY. In 1910 he was living in ANdover NH with his parents, aged 18, in college. In 1917 he completed his WWI Registration form in Oberlin Ohio where he was a seminary student, and Student Pastor at Penfield Congregational Church. In 1920 he was the Pastor of the Union Congregational Church at Hebron NH. In 1922 He moved to Ashland Maine. From 1924 to 1928 he was a field worker for the New Hampshire Congregational Conference and later Christian Work secretary at UNH. In 1930 he was in Durham NH. In 1940 he was in Dublin NH. He served Dublin Community Church and Nelson Congregational Church from 1932 to 1945, then to Columbia Ohio. Schools. He retired in 1966 and moved to Keene NH. During WWI he served in the U.S. Field Artillery. Education: Proctor Academy, Tilton Academy, graduated Dartmouth College 1913 A.B. from the Graduate School of Theology, graduate Oberlin College School of Theology. He married 28 Apr 1920 in Keene NH to Marion Louise Russell, daughter of Elmer U. & Sarah J. (Sheldon) Russell He is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery, Keene NH.
Fay Russell Beede was born 12 Sep 1896 at Haverhill, Grafton Co. NH, son of John C. & Alice M. Mudgett Beede. As a widow she m2d) Lewis Andrew Chayer. He died 5 March 1976. In 1910 he was living in Piermont NH with his mother and stepfather. He served during WWI as a Private in Co G, 103rd Infantry. He departed NYC for Europe on 25 September 1917 aboard the ship Saxonia, and returned on 20 Jan 1919 from Brest France, arriving in Hoboken NJ aboard the ship Pueblo. His Service Number was 68392. He is buried in Meredith Village Cemetery, Meredith NH. In 1942 he was living in Woodsville NH. Fay R. Beede’s name does not appear on either of Groton NH’s WWI Honor Rolls, though at the time of his service, he claimed Groton as his home town, so he is included here.
Frank Elwyn “Frankie” “Frank” Butterfield was born 13 March 1893 in Groton NH, son and 5th child of Frank & Anna M. (Jewell) Butterfield. He completed his WWI Registration form on 5 June 1917 in Groton NH. He was single, a farmer, short, slender with dark blue eyes and light brown hair. During WWI he served in the U.S. Army, enlisting 22 October 1918, and honorably discharged 16 Dec 1918 (from BIRLS Dept of Veterans Affairs File). He married 17 Feb 1936 in Hebron NH to Doris C. Flanders, daughter of William F. & Lora (Gould) Flanders. Frank E Butterfield died June 1978 in Hebron NH aged 85.He is buried in Homeland Cemetery, Bristol NH. [Note: Find-A-Grave lists his name as Franklin, however nowhere in any records I found was he listed anything other than Frank or Frankie].
Joseph Woodbury Cilley was born 26 April 1890 in Dorchester NH, son of Joseph E. & Lucy (Woodbury) Cilley. He was an only child. He completed his WWI Registration form on 5 June 1917 at Groton NH. He was a farmer, single, of medium height and build with dark blue eyes and light hair. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Files show that he enlisted in the U.S. Army on 31 May 1918 and was honorably discharged on 1 August 1919. U.S. Army Transport Passenger Lists show he departed Newport News VA for Europe on 10 July 1918, ship Matsonia. He was a P1C in Co F, Second Corps Artillery Park, National Army (his res Canaan NH). His next of kin was father, Joseph E. Cilley. He returned as Joseph Cilly [sic], Private, Service No 387980. Returned from Brest France to Hoboken NJ on ship Harrisburg arriving 26 June 1919. Served in 21L CAS Co., Detachment No.343. Brest. Next of kin, mother, Lucy Cilly, (sic) Groton. Joseph W. Cilley married 21 Sep 1930 in Gilford NH to Nellie E. (Brown) Burke, daughter of Ira J. & Addie S. (Towle) Burke. He died 28 January 1896 at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Manchester NH and is buried in Village Cemetery, New Hampton NH.
Hubert Elmer Duncklee was born 23 July 1890 in North Groton NH, son of Albert & Amy E. (Wells) Duncklee. In the 1900 U.S. Census he was living in Groton NH with his parents, and siblings Bessie M. (who m. David W. Sorrell), Roscoe Wells (who m. Lucy M. Ramsey), and Perley Raymond (who m. Elsie Emma Merrill). He married 10 May 1913 in Plymouth NH to Celia May Downing, daughter of John R. & Abbie E. (Tatham) Downing. On 5 June 1917 he completed his WWI Registration form in the town of Plymouth NH, stating he was working as farm laborer in Plymouth NH, he was married and had a medium height and build with blue eyes and dark brown hair. The 1930 U.S. Census indicates he served during WWI. He died in April of 1968 in Meredith NH.
Charles Ingwalde “Gilly” Gilbertson was born 27 January 1898 in LaCross Wisconsin, son of Frederick Gulbrandsen and Marit Pedersdotter. During WWI he served as a Seaman in the U.S. Navy, on the U.S.S. Salem. He married 1919 in NYC to Murtie Rena Turcott(e). She was born 14 May 1902 in Boston MA and died 8 October 2003 in Norwood MA. In 1930 he was living in Somerville MA with his wife and daughter Louise. In 1940 he was living in Boston MA with wife and children, Louise, Richard B., and Clayton H. He worked as a Route foreman for Hoods in 1952. Charles I Gilbertson died on 10 April 1970 in Brighton MA. The connection to Groton NH appears to be that his daughter, Louise (Gilbertson) Traunstein, wife of Russell Murdock Traunstein [a WW2 vet], was living in Plymouth NH late in life, and is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery, Rumney NH.
Frank J. Gurney Jr. was born 1 February 1892 in Groton NH, son of Frank & Minerva N. (Stevens) Gurney. In 1910 He was living in Groton NH with his parents and siblings Charles Harrison “Charlie” (who d. 1945 Concord NH), George Brown (see later) and Daisy M (m. 1928 to Harry Dame and d 1938). At that time he was 18 years old and working as a farm laborer. He completed his WWI Draft Registration form on 5 June 1917 from the town of Groton NH. He was a farmer, single, and described himself as short, slender with light brown eyes and hair. He served during WWI as a P1C in Battery C, 320th Field Artillery. He returned from Bordeaux, France aboard the ship Kentuckian, arriving in the U.S. on 9 May 1919. His Service Number was 1941523. He had enlisted on 2 October 1917 and was honorably discharged 15 May 1918. He died 16 September 1979 in New Hampshire.
George Brown Gurney was born 28 April 1893 in Groton NH, son of Frank & Minerva (Stevens) Gurney, and brother to Frank J. Gurney Jr. (see story directly above). During WWI served as a Private in HQ Co. 309th Infantry. He returned from Bordeaux France in May of 1919 aboard the ship, Lancaster. His Service Number was 8940174. The US Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File shows that he enlisted in the U.S. Army on 26 April 1918 and was honorably discharged on 10 June 1919. He married on 18 November 1928 in Bristol NH to Ruth Dudley, daughter of Scott & Viola (Fletcher) Dudley. In 1930 he and his family were living at 50 Strafford Street in Laconia NH. George Brown Gurney died 10 November 1985. He is buried in Franklin Cemetery, Franklin NH
Howard Wadleigh Hall was born 19 June 1891 in Groton NH, son of Jerome D. & Eliza A. (Roby) Hall. In the 1900 US Census he was living in Groton NH with his parents, and younger sibings Oscar E., Eugene S.L., Flora B., Albert M., Howard W., and Wilber J. [See Wilburn Jerome next]. He completed his WWI Registration form on 5 June 1917 from Groton NH. He was a single farmer, describing himself as short and slender with light brown hair and light brown eyes. From 1930 to at least 1942 he was living in Hamilton Ohio working as a carder in a woolen mill. He later returned to NH and lived in Laconia. He died in July of 1966.
Wilber/Wilbur Jerome Hall was born 4 September 1893 in North Groton NH, son of Jerome D. & Elizabeth A. (Roby) Hall. During WWI he served in the U.S. Army as a Corporal in the Quartermaster Corp., Motor Truck Company 533, Motor Supply Train 426. He served in France, returning from Brest France to Brooklyn NY, arriving on 11 Sep 1919 on the ship, Montpelier. His service number was 2795053. He gave his residence as Cheever [Dorchester] NH. He married 14 July 1920 in Rumney NH to Ethel Stewart, daughter of Thomas J. & Sauisa (Marton) Stewart. He was a chauffeur and she was a teacher. In 1942 they were living in Groton NH. He possibly died in 1958.
Edmund Houle was born 24 December 1887 in Haverhill MA, son of Medric & Leah (Rowe/Rue) Houle and brother to Napoleon Houle (see story above). He completed his WWI Registration form on 5 June 1917 at Groton NH. He was a farmer, single, support of his mother. He described himself as short, of medium build with blue eyes and brown hair. In 1920 he had moved to Danvers MA where he was repairing automobiles and supporting his mother.
William George Huber was born 11 June 1892 in Bridewood, Indiana, son of Joseph & Josephine (Kunkle) Huber. In 1910 he was living in Dedham MA with his parents and siblings Joseph, Wilhemina, Annie, Clara and Lilian. At that time he was a blacksmith apprentice. He completed his WWI Registration form on 5 June 1917 in Groton NH where he was living, working in farming. He was single, and the support of both of his parents. He described himself as tall, with a medium build, grey eyes and light brown hair. He married on 1 June 1925 in Bristol NH to Lola May Cooledge, daughter of Walter F. & Carrie Ada (Annis) Cooledge. By 1940 he and his family had moved to Stoneham MA.
Frank Elmer Matthews Sr. was born 20 Feb 1896 in Groton NH, son of Charles E. & Hattie B. (Cross) Matthews. Frank E. Matthews completed his WWI Registration form on 5 June 1917 at Groton NH. He was a resident of the town, working as a farmer for his father. He was single, tall, of medium build with light blue eyes and light brown hair. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File shows that Frank E. Matthews enlisted in the U.S. Army on 27 June 1918, and was honorably discharged on 28 January 1919. He married 20 Dec 1922 in Bristol NH to Lena Mae Hobart, daughter of Frank E. & Josephine (Miller) Hobart. They had children: Mary B., Frank E., Vernon Malcom, Roland E., and Charles R. In 1940 they were residing in Groton NH raising their family. He died Dec 1981 in Haverhill, Grafton Co. NH. He is buried in Pratt Cemetery, Hebron NH.
Frank Osmond Matthews was born 17 AUgust 1874 in Groton NH, son of Charles & Ella (Fellows) Matthews. He married Margaret F. “Maggie” Merry/Merrie/Murry. He completed his WWI Registration form on 12 September 1918 at the age of 44 (Old Man’s Registration). He was a miner for Joseph A. Rogers of Groton NH. He was of medium height and build with blue eyes and black hair. In 1930 he was living in Bristol NH. He died 11 December 1949 in Franklin NH. He is buried in Homeland Cemetery, Bristol NH. The 1930 U.S. Census shows “NO” under the veteran column so there is some confusion why he is on this list, unless there was some special civil service he contributed.
Louis Alvin Pierce was born 27 November 1887 in Groton NH, son of Edwin O. & Florence S. (Stevens) Pierce. In 1900 he was living in Groton NH with his family and siblings Charles Edward, and Clara Bell (who m. — Davis). He completed his WWI Registration form at Plymouth NH on 5 June 1917, at that time he was working as a laborer, fence crew for the Boston & Maine Railroad in Plymouth NH. He was single, tall of medium build with light blue eyes and light brown hair. The US Army Transport Passenger List shows that Private Louis Alvin Pierce, Co. C, 309th Infantry departed Brooklyn NY for Europe on ship Morvada on 20 May 1918. Service No. 1749349. Next of kin, sister, Mrs. Clara B. Davis. Louis Alvin Pierce is not on either of the Honor Rolls of Groton, but he claimed his residence there.
Herbert Wadsworth Remick was born 29 October 1900 in Groton NH, son of Alfred A. & Flora B. (Gurney) Remick.He married 26 July 1920 in Hebron NH to Dorothy Jane Hill, daughter of Walter B. & Lora J. (Rollins) Hill. In 1930 he was the Town of Groton’s Road Agent. The 1930 U.S. Census lists “NO” to military veteran question. He died 8 June 1953 in Lebanon NH and is buried in Pratt Cemetery, Hebron NH.
William M. Traunstein was born 16 Dec 1898 in Boston MA, son of Max and Regina Traunstein. In 1900 he was living with his family in Boston MA, his parents being Austria-Hungarian immigrants to the United States. He had siblings Harry J., Ida A., Moses, and Joseph L. He was a mason, and a member of the Shawmut Lodge. He married Ethel Viola Murdock. Their son Russell Murdock Traunstein married Louise Marie Gilbertson, daughter of Charles I. & Murtie R. (Turcotte) Gilbertson mentioned above. In 1935 he lived in Boston MA, a musician. William M. Traunstein died 23 Nov 1962 in Dade Co. Florida. He is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery, Rumney NH. [I am not sure of his military service, nor of his connection to Groton NH].
Frederick Eugene “Fred” Wheet was born 11 Nov 1867 in North Andover MA, son of Josiah & Hannah Wood (Southwick) Wheet. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1889 and in medicine from New York University in 1892. Physician (M.D). He married 27 October 1892 in Meredith NH to Hattie Phoebe James, daughter of George K. & Phoebe (Sisson) James. He practiced medicine in Bristol NH from May 1892 to August 1893. Then living in Stevens Point, Portage Co. Wisconsin where some of his children were born. In 1900 living in Rumford Falls, Maine. From 1920-1940 living in Westbrook, Cumberland Co., Maine. Three children: Frances, Mildred Gertrude and Dorothy Kempton. During WWI he performed some military service as his name is listed on the Rumford, Maine WWI Honor Roll. Connection to the town of Groton NH is his father lived there from the 1880s-to his death in 1918.
Harvey Averett Wheet was born 6 Feb 1877, son of Josiah & Hannah Wheet (his 1st wife). He completed his WWI Registration Form at Groton NH (Local Board in Woodsville NH) stating his residence as Groton. He was a farmer in Groton, his father Josiah being his next of kin (Address “Cheever NH”). He described himself as tall, of stout build with brown eyes and black hair. In 1910 living in Groton NH. In 1930 & 1940 he was living in Barnstead NH. He is buried in Riverview Cemetery, Barnstead NH. The 1930 US Census lists NO to veteran status. [Note the same census shows his brother Rexford YES to WW veteran status]
Lee Harold Wheet born 1 September 1890 in Groton New Hampshire, son of Josiah & Abbie Ann (McClure) Wheet. He married 12 March 1916 in Wentworth NH to Lillian J. Burnham, daughter of Frank Y. & Altie (Brown) Burnham.He completed his WWI Registration form on 5 June 1917 in Cheever NH. He was a farmer for O.M. Pratt of Holderness NH. He was married and supporting his wife and child. He described himself as tall and slender with brown eyes and brown hair. In 1930 living in Rumney NH, section hand for the Steam Railway. To the VETERAN QUESTION he answers “NO.” In 1942 living in Groton NH.He died in September of 1980.
Rexford Elwin Wheet was born 28 May 1897 in NH, son of Josiah & Abbie Ann (McClure) Wheet. In 1910 living with his family in Groton NH including siblings Lee Harold, Verne Josiah, and Harvey Averett [in addition he had half- siblings Frank E., Frederick Eugene, Isaac Newton, and Albert Sylvester; and full sibling, Ava Hulda.] During WWI he served in the U.S. Navy aboard the ships Arizona, Missouri, Maartensdijk and Maddox. He enlisted on 19 April 1917 and was honorably discharged on 8 April 1919 [US Dept of Vet. Affairs BIRLS Death File]. In 1920 he obtained a passport to work as a carpenter in Jamaica for 4 months. He married Bessie Wellington McDuffee, daughter of David Leroy & Mary Emma (Besse) McDuffee on 10 November 1923 at Barnstead NH. He died on 28 December 1973. He is buried in Riveriew Cemetery, Barnstead NH.
Verne Josiah Wheet was born 15 Jan 1895 in North Groton, Grafton Co. NH, son of Josiah & Abbie Ann (McClure) Wheat. He married 4 Oct 1919 to Louise V. Jones. He served during WWI enlisting on 29 June 1918 and being honorably discharged on 26 July 1919. He was a Private in Motor Truck Co. #528, Motor Supply Train #425 OMC. He departed NYC for Europe on 30 Sep 1918. His Service No. was 2796151. He returned to the US from Marseille, France arriving in Brooklyn NY on 17 July 1919 aboard the ship, President Wilson. At that time listed as a P1C in the 247th Co. MPC. He married 4 Oct 1919 in Wilton Maine to Louise V. Jones. After World War I and by 1920 they lived in Buckport, Hancock, Maine until their deaths. They are buried in Riverview Cemetery, Bucksport, Hancock Co. Maine.
Fred Joseph White, Sr. was born 30 March 1895 in Old Town, Penobscot Co., Maine, son of Calvin W. & Clara (Ranco) White. He married 8 Sep 1915 in Wellington ME to Cynthia Ann Hurd. They had several children [see Find-A-Grave listing for their names]. He completed his WWI Registration form on 5 June 1917 at Eagle Island, Penobscot Maine where he was working as a teamster for Eldridge Brothers of Dexter Maine. He had a wife and 3 children who were his dependents. He was of medium height and build with brown eyes and black hair. In 1930-1940 living in Groton NH. He died 15 May 1949 in Groton NH. His death certificate states he was a veteran of WWI–it was probably from the State of Maine where he registered and resided. He is buried in North Groton Cemetery.
[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].