New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of Francestown

Old postcard showing the Francestown WWI
monument. Property of J.W. Brown.

Francestown was, and still is, a rural community southwest of Manchester, New Hampshire.  In 1910 before the World War the town’s population was 602. Just a few years after the war in 1920 the census had drastically dropped to 363, followed by 342 a decade later. Then slowly the population began to grow to its estimated 1600 people today.

There were many in the town, men and women who though not in the military, still served their town and country through supportive activities.  Victory gardens, Red Cross work, philanthropic efforts were all important pieces of Francestown’s community World War promotion.

When the Armistice was announced, the town was determined not to forget not only the soldiers who did not come home, but all of the men that went to war.  Francestown arranged for a monument that was dedicated in 1920.  This beautiful plaque was created by the famed woman sculptor, Theo Alice R. Kitson, and cost the town $400.  Today the monument still sits where it was installed, at 35 Main Street beside the Old Meeting House, between two flag poles (USA and NH flags).

Francestown NH WWI Monument was designed
by Theo A.R. Kitson. FIHS (Francestown
Improvement & Historical Society) file photo.
Used with permission.

The plaque is engraved as follows:
*Died In Service

Two of the men who left from Francestown, New Hampshire to serve in the military are known to have died in service or from wounds received in service (though only one is recognized as such on the plaque)–John Herman Miller and Wilson Morse.  Miller’s biography follows here, along with briefer biographies of all the other men listed on the monument.

Who Did Not Return

John Herman Miller |Private |Died of Disease 28 September 1918 (lobar pneumonia, Base Hospital, Camp Devens, Harvard MA | Co. D, 12th Supply Train | Francestown Cemetery #3, Francestown NH

John Herman Miller was born 6 October 1896 in Manchester NH, son of Hentry T. and Lenna F. (Hackett) Miller.  In the 1900 U.S. Census he can be found living in Manchester, NH with his parents and sibllings Arthur J., George E. Mary A., Henry B., and Clarence E.  He registered for the WWI Draft on 5 June 1917 stating his residence at Francestown NH, working for F.A. Whitcomb of Dublin NH. His nearest relative was his father, Henry T. Miller. John H. Miller’s description was that he was of medium height and weight with gray eyes and black hair.

Boston Daily Globe newspaper
of 1 October 1918 showing
death of John H. Miller.

The Boston (MA) Daily Globe of Tuesday, Oct 1, 1918 published an article entitled, Epidemic on the Wane, and stated “the death list today shows a decided decrease also. There are only 41 names on it. It includes men who died during the 24 hours ending at midnight last night. Those from New England who are on the list are as follows ….. John H. Miller, Francistown [sic], N.H……..”   John H. Miller was then serving at Camp Devens in Harvard Massachusetts as a Private in Co. D, 12th Supply Train.  The website, World War I Letters explains the deadly situation behind this story: “The 12th Division did not serve overseas, but did its own battle with the Spanish Flu epidemic during the Fall of 1918 and sustained heavy casualties: Approximately 14,000 men were hospitalized with influenza and pneumonia. Of these, more than 2,278 died including five nurses and two doctors.”

Listed erroneously on his death records as John T. Miller,  John Herman Miller died 28 September 1918 at the Base Hospital, Camp Devens, Harvard, MA of lobar pneumonia, no doubt originating from influenza.  His body was returned home for a military burial in Francestown Cemetery #3, Francestown NH.


Robert Parkman Bryant was b 1 May 1896 in Francestown NH, son of Charles P. & Clara (Paige) Bryant. He married Arvilla Fiske and had children Dorothy A., Charles P., Jane and Cynthia. During WWI he served as a Corporal in Co. D, 417th Telegraph Battalion. He died 6 March 1959 and is buried in Meadow View Cemetery, Amherst NH.

Allie Frank Paige was born 30 November 1888 in Manchester New Hampshire, son of Frank H. & Elmyra L. (Newton) Paige. He registered for the draft on 5 June 1917 at that time living in Francestown NH working as a farm laborer. on 16 February 1918 Allie F. Paige of Francestown NH appears on a list of men who were on their way to the Vancouver Barracks at Vancouver, Washington. My great-uncle Albert P. Kilborn of Reeds Ferry (Merrimack) NH was on that list, so it is very possible that Allie knew him and ended up serving in one of the Spruce Camps in Washington state. Allie died 6 Aug 1976 in Danvers MA. In 1940 he was living in Middleton, Essex Co. MA with his wife Hariett Louise (Trask) Paige & daughter Elizabeth Trask Paige (b 1925 Peabody MA, m. Ernest E. Frazier and d. 15 January 2016).

Carl Avery Johnson was born 26 June 1897 in Francestown NH, son of George & Carrie A. (Avery) Johnson. In 1900 he was living with his parents in New Boston NH, an only child. He had one sibing, Carrie Gladys Johnson, b abt 1902 in New Boston who m. Oliver A. St. John. He served during WWI enlisting 24 Jan 1916 in the New Hampshire National Guard, and then serving as P1c 103rd Infantry 26th Division.  He married on 26 June 1917 in Manchester NH to Gertrude Hanscom, daughter of Leander & Nelly (Stoley) Hanscom. He died 22 November 1957 in Concord NH and is buried in Francestown Cemetery #3, Francestown NH.

Philip Fletcher Patch was born 7 June 1894 in Francestown, NH son of Edson H. & Nell E. (Fletcher) Patch. He finished his 2nd year of college. On 5 June 1917 he registered for the Draft, stating he lived in Francestown NH, working as office manager for Standard Oil Co. of Manchester NH. He was single, of medium height and stout stature, with brown eyes and black hair.  He married Bernice C. Hayes. Philip F. Patch served during WWI. On 28 March 1918 he sailed from NY NY to Europe aboard the ship Olympic. His service Number was 779811, and he was a Private First Class in Base Spare Parts Depot, Unit 3, QMC, National Army. In 1940 he was living in Hingham, MA with his wife and children, Phillip, Fletcher K. and Elaine. He died 6 July 1976.

Harry Raymond Cochrane was born 14 June 1888 in Francestown NH, son of David H. & Eugenia P. (Manning) Cochrane.He registered for the U.S. Draft on 5 June 1917 from Francestown NH where he resided, stating he was employed on guard duty at W.H. McElwain Co. in Manchester NH. He had previously served for 6 years in the Field Artillery of the NH National Guard. He was single, tall and of slender build, with blue eyes and light brown hair.  Harry R. Cochrane enlisted on 25 July 1917 and was honorably discharged on 30 April 1919. He served during WWI as a Sergeant in Headquarters Co., 103rd Field artillery, 26th Division. He married 12 Sept 1917 in Manchester NH to Annie Elizabeth Cole, daughter of David & Annie (Arnold) Cole. In the 1930 US Census he was living with his wife Annie in Manchester NH at 747 Hanover Street, occupation: Enforcement Officer for the U.S. Government [Federal Agent]. He answered yes to Veteran Status, World War. In 1940 he was living in Manchester NH with his wife, an aunt, Addie L. Follansbee and a lodger, Robert A. Witcher. He died 7 April 1957 and is buried in #3 Cemetery, Francestown NH where a military marker graces his burial spot.

William Felix McLine was born 19 April 1890 in London, England, son of Mike McLine. The 1920 U.S. Census states he arrived in the United States in 1898. He became a naturalized citizen on 17 March 1919. He registered for the WWI Draft on 5 June 1917 at Francestown NH where he was living, a laborer on the farm of Abraham O’Hanlon. He was single, of medium height and build with blue eyes and light brown hair.  He enlisted on 18 February 1918 and was honorably discharged on 21 March 1919. He was shipped to Europe aboard the ship Rhesus on 7 May 1918 from Philadelphia PA listing his residence as Fitchburg MA where his brother Jerry W. Mcline resided. He served as a Private in the Co. H, 58th Infantry, Service #559923. He returned from Bordeau France to NYC on 2 March 1919 on the ship Niagara. He married on 19 Nov 1919 in Francestown NH to M. Elizabeth “Minnie B.” Jellerson, daughter of Robert E. & Cynthia M. (Duncklee) Jellerson. They had children Marion E., William F., and Roberta I. He died 2 April 1973 (not 1977) and is buried in #3 Cemetery, Francestown NH.

Clarence D. Edwards alias Parker was born 22 March 1890 in Lowell Massachusetts, son of Henry E. & Mary Agnes (Loring/Loren) Parker. In the 1910 U.S. Census he was living in Francestown NH with his family, the eldest child with siblings Zilpha, Eva, Helen, Lawrence, Alfred, Elmer, Walter, and Edward/Edwin. In the 1930 U.S.  Census he was living in Francestown NH single, and indicating he was a veteran of the World War. He married 20 May 1941 in Henniker NH to Effie E. (Hastings) Cilley, daughter of John W. & Almira A. (Whitfield) Hastings.   He died 22 April 1980 in Hartford, Windsor VT of Bronchopneumonia.  He is buried in Francestown #3 Cemetery with the inscription: Clarence D. Edwards / CPL U.S. Army WWI / March 22, 1890 – April 22 1980.

Carl Ambrose Richardson was born 24 January 1893 in Milford NH, son of Mark A. & Myrtie A. (Parker) Richardson. His WWI Registration card was completed on 5 June 1917 at Francestown NH where he was living, and working as a farm laborer for Mark H. Richardson. He was single, of medium height and slender build with blue eyes and light hair. He died 12 August 1964 in the VA Hospital in Manchester NH. His obituary in the Nashua Telegraph says he was a life long resident of Milford, and that he served in the medical corps during WWI. He worked at the Abbott Worsted Co. in Wilton NH. He married after 1930 to Nellie M. Chapman. No children. Buried Edson Cemetery, Lowell MA.

Clarence Batchelder Foote, Jr. was b 5 July 1887 in Lynn Massachusetts son of Clarence Batchelder & Laura Etta (Lewis) Foote. He completed his WWI Registration card from the Tow of Pepperell MA where he was working for the Nashua River Paper Company. He listed his home address, however, as Francestown NH. He noted on the form that he was nearsighted. At this time he was single and the description given was tall, of medium build with gray eyes and brown hair. During WWI he enlisted on 25 July 1918 and was honorable discharged on 20 May 1920. He died 24 July 1976 in Salisbury, Rowan, NC (Veteran’s Hospital).  He served in the U.S. Army.  His body was returned to Francestown where he was buried in #3 Cemetery.

Emblem of the Polar Bear Expedition of WWI

Wilson Morse was born 9 April 1894 in New Boston, NH, son of  Elisha W. & Ruth Mabel (Atwood) Morse. In 1910 he was living in the District of Columbia with his parents and siblings Naomi Caroline (who m. William Alfred Lord), Dorothy (b 1899 Boston MA, m. Edward Newell Colburn), Paul A. (b 1904 m. Helen Irma Dunn), and Roger Ripley (b 1908, d. 1972). In 1913 he is shown in the Washington DC city directory working as a messenger, living at 1723 Willard NW.  During WWI he began service as a Private in Company A., 19th U.S. Engineers (Railway), and departed for Europe aboard the ship Saxonia on 9 August 1917 at that time stating his residence as Francestown NH with his next of kin his sister, Miss Naomi Caroline Morse. At some point during service he was transferred to the famed 168th Transportation Corps, and was a member of the “Polar Bear Expedition” to Northern Russia, 1918-1919. [Read a history of the Polar Bear Expedition].  The Polar Bear expedition of 4,500 troops including the 339th Infantry regiment, the 310th Engineer battalion and other attached units were dispatched to Archangel from England and landed in early September 1918. The primary mission of this force was to guard and recover American war supplies shipped to this sector. Wilson Morse was honorably discharged from the service on 26 August 1919. He died 14 May 1922 at a Naval Hospital in the District of Columbia, aged 28 of wounds received in Europe.  Two notices from the local newspapers: (1) News and Observer, Raleigh North Carolina, 21 May 1922, Page 20. Wilson Morse Dies from War Wounds. News has been received in the city announcing the death of Mr. Wilson Morse, of Virginia. Mr. Morse died from the effect of wounds received in the World War. Mr. Morse had many friends in this city where he formerly lived. When in this city he was connected with the North Western Life Insurance Company. (2) Evening Star, Washington DC 16 May 1922, page 7. MORSE. May 14, 1922 at Naval Hospital Washington D.C. of injuries received in France. WILSON MORSE of Lynchburg Va., formerly of Company A., 19th U.S. Engineers in the twenty-seventh year of his age. Interment at Arlington Cemetery, Wednesday, May 17, at 12:30 p.m.   //  Wilson Morse was interred on 17 May 1922 in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington VA, Section 18, Site 4444. His tombstone in Arlington shows: WILSON MORSE / District of Columbia / CPL / 68th Trans Corps / May 14, 1922.

John Lawrence Parker was born in Groton MA on 17 January 1898, son of Henry E. & Mary Agnes (Loring/Loren) Parker. In 1910 living with his parents and siblings in Francestown NH. After his marriage they removed to Bow NH where he worked as a repair man at a garage. He married 24 Nov 1928 Holy Rosary Church Hooksett NH to Eleanor Helen “Lena” Willett/Ouellette, dau of George & Anna (Audette) Ouellette. He died June 1984 in Concord NH.  Brother of Clarence B. Parker (shown above).

Frederick Albert Vanderheyden was born 12 May 1896/95 in Francestown NH, son of John & Marion Jesse “Mary” (Militte/Millette) Vanderheyden. In 1900 he was living in Deering NH with his parents and siblings Louis (res. Nashua NH) and Arthur J. (who m. Maria Dubee, resided Milford NH). He also had a sibling Mary N.S. (who m. William Grenier).  In 1924 the Hartford Courant Newspaper reported on an inspection of the CT State Armor and that Private Frederick A. Vander-Heyden, 118th Motor Cycle Company was granted a furlough of six months duration. In 1942 he was living in New London CT. In 1968 he was residing in Hylviel California. He died June 1972 in Hilmar, Merced, California and is buried in North Hilmar Cemetery, Hilmar, Merced Couty, California.

My deepest thanks to Charlie Pyle, President & Curator, Francestown Improvement & Historical Society for his assistance with this article.

[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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