New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of Laconia

World War I Roll of Honor. Bronze plaques installed before February 1920 in Laconia, NH. As found in the 1920 City of Laconia Annual Report.

Otto E. Duerr, historian of the City of Laconia, summed up the city’s military participation in WWI through his recap in the 1919 annual report. [Extract of 1919 WWI Honor Roll Laconia]. A total of 553 people were on the official honor roll including 254 in the National Army, 117 in the National Guard, 88 in the Regular Army, 35 in the Navy, 31 in the Naval Reserves, 4 in the Marine Corps, 17 in the Medical Corps, and 7 with the Allied Army.

Those who made the “supreme sacrifice for the cause of Humanity” were listed as follows–Killed in Action: Earl O. McGrath, Arthur Roux. Died of Wounds: John F. Holland. Died of Disease: Herbert W. Blackstone, Guy H. Blackstone, Clarence L. Blair, Hollis Bockus, Wilfred J. Chabott, Lester Chapman, Albert C. Minnon, Harrison H. Morrison, Bert L. Paige, Edmund Paquette, Frank W. Wilkins.  To the historian’s list, I have added more. Continue reading

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Laconia Motorcycle Week History: 100 Years Old

The Weirs, Laconia NH in August 1936 – “Screwball” Motorcycle Club (two years before Bike Week events were moved there). Photograph by B.H. Webster, property of Janice W. Brown.

Laconia Motorcycle Week is quickly approaching [June 10-18, 2017] and once again discussion arises as to how old this event really is. The official commercial web site says that it is 99 years old. In my humble opinion, that’s fake news. On the other hand, the answer “just depends” on what you consider to be the starting point.

My father, Berwin “Webby” Webster was an active participant starting back in the late 1920s. He took multiple photographs to prove it. In 2015 I wrote a comprehensive year-by-year history of the event Continue reading

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100 Years Ago: Memorial Day of 1917

Pre-WWI Memorial Day Postcard; from the collection of the blog editor

On May 30, 1917, almost 2 months after the United States joined in WWI and declared war against the German Empire, Memorial Day arrived. An important part of this day was teaching school children about patriotism.

There were oratory contests with speaker titles such as “What Our Flag Means,” and “Hats Off“–all intended to educate in addition to help a future public speaker to hone their skills. If you took a close look at the classes you would see a strong mix of immigrant children, first generation residents and descendants of early settlers. To some of them, these topics would have been new. A salute to the American flag was included in every class, along with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. Continue reading

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New Hampshire WWI Military: Yankee “Hello Girl” Agnes Theresa (Houley) O’Brien of Groveton

Sketch from Sonnets of a Telephone Girl, 1903, illustrated by John C Hill; from Hathi Trust.

From the cratered Hells of No-Man’s Land
To the switchboard where you sit,
There are none who serve so loyally,
We know that you do your “bit.”
For the world’s bound round with a copper wire
With you on the outer end,
Each flashing light that you plug in the night
A message of hope you send.

You sit all alone at a magic loom
And weave from out of the air
The words of faith, of home, of love,
That go to our boys “out there.”
For the war’s not won with bursting shells,
Shrapnel or cannon alone,
You’re doing your part with all your heart,
Little girl of the telephone.
— Telephone topics, “To the Telephone Girl,” By Frances A. Johnson, Philadelphia Toll Operator

Continue reading

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New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of Groveton – Northumberland

The first World War I Memorial in Groveton New Hampshire. This photograph would have been taken in front of the current Post Office building, facing the street.

Groveton is a census-designated place (CDP) in the town of Northumberland in Coos County, New Hampshire, United States.   In 1920 the town had 2,567 residents, more than they do today.  Yet in 1918 they sent a large number of their young men and women to war.

I recently purchased a photo postcard that shows a World War monument. The look of the card seems to place it in the mid to late 1920s, and, after conferring with Betty Craggy of the Groveton Town offices (and to whom I owe a great deal of thanks), I agree with her that the location in the photo is not where the monuments are now situated.   This earlier monument would have been located on the island parking lot where State Street veers off to the left at Church Street. Continue reading

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