New Hampshire in WWI: The Hoptoad That Made It To France

I previously wrote about the 14th U.S. Engineers, a railway operating unit that trained at Salem, New Hampshire and served in Europe during World War I.  A number of local soldiers served in that unit including Denny McLaughlin who took a local hop-toad with him on his journey.  I’ll let the newspaper article speak for itself in this case.

From: The Tuscaloosa News (Tuscaloosa, Alabama) 23 April 1919, with the headline: HOME TIES BIND THE HOPTOAD, but Originally from “The Homing Instinct in Animals and Birds: by F.H. Sidney:” Private Denny McLaughlin of Company A., 14th U.S. Engineers, a railway operating unit that trained at Salem, New Hampshire,  captured a hoptoad just before leaving the camp, and placed it in a box. He managed to smuggle it about ship and carried it to France. “The toad is still here,” Denny writes me that “he is obliged to the tie the toad with a long string, for every time the toad gets an opportunity he invariably heads for the seacoast, a hundred miles away. The toad wants to get back home.” Continue reading

New Hampshire WWI Military: Railroad Regiment Daredevils

Mess line of the 14th Engineers at Camp Rockingham, Salem NH in 1917. From “History of the Fourteenth Engineers, U.S. Army,” 1923.

The Light Railway Engineers of World War I are little known regiments composed of men initially recruited from among railroad workers.  Most of the men of the  Fourteenth Engineers (Rwy), my primary focus, came from the Boston MA area including New Hampshire. When war was declared in April of 1917, the United States War Department requested nine regiments to be formed to work specifically with railroads–three for operating, five for construction, and one for repair. These recruiting efforts resulted in the Eleventh Regiment from New York, NY; Twelfth Regiment from St. Louis, MO; Thirteenth Regiment from Chicago, IL; Fourteenth Regiment from Boston, MA; Fifteenth Regiment from Pittsburgh PA; Sixteenth Regiment from Detroit, Michigan; Seventeenth Regiment from Atlanta GA; Eighteenth Regiment from San Francisco, CA; and the Nineteenth Regiment from Philadelphia PA. Continue reading

New Hampshire’s First Woman Governor (Acting), Politician, Civic Leader, and Campaign Advisor: Vesta Maurine (Coward) Roy (1925-2002)

Photograph of Vesta Coward from her high school yearbook.

Photograph of a young Vesta Coward (later Vesta Roy) from her high school yearbook.

She was born Vesta Maurine Coward on 26 March 1925 in Detroit, Michigan, the only daughter of  Percy A. & Mildred J. (Paterson) Coward.  She had three siblings, Thomas, Richard, and James. In 1940 her father was an inspector in an automobile factory (per U.S. census).  She attended school in Dearborn, Michigan, including graduating from Fordson High School where she was a member of both the student council and the girl’s field hockey team.

Vesta attended Wayne State University (Biographies differ, one stating she graduated, and a second stating she left college prior to completion to serve in the military during WWII, the latter probably being accurate).  When the United States military deemed her too young, she became a radio operator with the Royal Canadian Air Force (from 1943 to 1945). Continue reading

The Faces and Families of William Leonard Pressey of Bradford MA & Jennie Eliza Stacey of Dover NH

Leonard Pressy watermark

William Leonard Pressey (1845-1908)

As family history researchers know so well, our ancestors moved around much more than we expected them to. This applies to both the Pressey and Stacy families whose research is presented here. William Pressey’s family lived in Bradford MA, Sutton NH and Amesbury MA. The Stacy family were from the Dover-Farmington area of New Hampshire, and before that the York Co. Maine area. Both families had ties to Salem Massachusetts and the infamous witchcraft trials.

Their faces are distinctive–William Leonard Pressey and Jennie Eliza Stacey each married twice and lived long and productive lives.

This is astonishing, at least for William, because of his past. He was a Civil War veteran, a member of the 22nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (also known as Henry Wilson’s Regiment), Company H. The surprise is that William survived the War of the Rebellion at all. During service the regiment lost  9 officers and 207 enlisted men killed and mortally wounded; and 1 officer and 102 enlisted men by disease. (A total of 319 deaths).  Of Company H that started with 146 men: 18 were killed in action, 2 died of wounds, 11 died of disease, 1 died in prison, 54 were discharged for disability, 1 was dropped from the roll, 2 drowned, 31 were transferred, 6 deserted and at the end of service, 17 were mustered out.   Continue reading

The Horrible History of 4th of July Accidents from New Hampshire Newspapers

Coloured Japanese Prints of Fireworks manufactured by Messrs Hirayama of Yokohama; From book, Pyrotechnics, the history and art of firework making, by Brock, Alan St. Hil, 1922

Coloured Japanese Prints of Fireworks manufactured by Messrs Hirayama of Yokohama; From book, Pyrotechnics, the history and art of firework making, by Brock, Alan St. Hil, 1922

As long as there has been fireworks, human beings have been injured by them. In the early days of Americas celebration of the Fourth of July, multiple injuries have occurred on or around a day that should be one of happiness. New York City seemed to have the worst of the deaths and dismemberments, but New Hampshire was not accident free.  These stories speak for themselves.

Salem, (Mass.) July 7, 1823; Afflicting Accident.–On Friday evening last, during the brilliant exhibition of fireworks on Washington Square, prepared in honor of our National Jubilee, a disastrous event occurred, which marred the pleasures inspired by the occasion,–and has spread gloom over the town.–When the exhibition was about half completed, over 300 rockets which were in a chest under the stage, were accidentally set fire to, and being in a horizontal position, many of them took a direction immediately towards the immense assembly of spectators, spreading terror, alarm and confusion among them, and melancholy to add, wounding and maiming about thirty persons,l–several of them dangerously,–and three of whom have since died. Continue reading