New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of Wilmot

Old postcard view of main street in Wilmot NH circa 1910.

Wilmot is a picturesque New Hampshire town in the northwest part of Merrimack County. During WWI it had about 580 residents (614 in 1910 and 536 in 1920). This small town sent more than its quota to serve in the military between 1917 and 1919.  Before I continue I would like to thank the following people from Wilmot who helped make this story possible: Liz Kirby, Mark Davis, Mary Fanelli, the Wilmot Historical Society, and the Wilmot Public Library.

Wilmot NH Soldier’s Monument on Village Road. Photograph courtesy of Wilmot Historical Society. Used with permission.

Much of the following monument description was gleaned from the Town of Wilmot’s official web site. That site states: “The Wilmot Soldier’s Monument is located in the heart of Wilmot Village on Village Road. The land for the monument park was purchased from several owners by Luvia M. Carr, Addie R. White, J. H. Greeley and Benj[amin] Emons at the cost of $210.00 and deeded by them to the Town of Wilmot in 1919. The monument was erected on the site and then dedicated on May 30, 1920; it bore the names of 214 veterans who served from the Revolution through World War I….” [later WWII and other names were added].  The Wilmot Garden Club maintains the flowers that grow at its base.

Florence Langley of Wilmot wrote about her town, and included a story about the monument. She stated that her great-grandfather Ben Emons ran into Addie White at the Post Office. They talked about possibly leaving money in a will to the soldiers monument. After a bit of discussion, they mutually decided they wanted to see the monument before they died.

For this story I focus only on the names listed on the monument, or gleaned elsewhere of those from [or of] Wilmot, New Hampshire who served in some branch of the U.S. services during WWI.  Their eleven names are as follows:

William F Caldwell
* Charles P. Doran
Matthew A. Kristl
Eugene F. Perkins
Harold H. Piggrem
Clyde W. Sawtelle
Sylvester F. Smith
Harry B. Stearns
Theron R. Tewksbury
Harland A. Wheeler
Leroy Wiggins

To this list I must add: Pvt 1c David N. Hodges.  When the list of New Hampshire Gold Star Mothers was published, Mrs. Ella H.H. Houston of Wilmot Flat was shown as the mother of the above soldier who had died during WWI.

Heroes of WILMOT NH
Died In Service During WWI


Charles P. Doran | Corporal | Died of Wounds 6 October 1918 France | 2nd Platoon, Co K, 23rd Infantry | Buried Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial | [1]

David H. Hodges | P1C | Died of Disease 22 Nov 1918 France | HQ Troop, 86th Infantry Division | Buried Oise-Aisne American Cemetery | Credited to Antrim NH, see story

More Heroes of WILMOT NH
SERVED in Military during WWI


William F Caldwell 1894-1984 [2]
Matthew A. Kristl 1899-1990 [3]
Eugene F. Perkins 1890-1965 [4]
Harold H. Piggrem 1892-1964 [5]
Clyde W. Sawtelle 1893-1971 [6]
Sylvester F. Smith 1896-1968 [7]
Harry B. Stearns 1883-1964 [8]
Theron R. Tewksbury 1889-1978 [9]
Harland A. Wheeler 1895-1985 [10]
Leroy Wiggins 1894-1976  [11]

 B I O G R A P H I E S

Charles Patrick Doran signature from his WWI Registration form in 1917.

[1] Charles Patrick Doran was born 9 October 1887 in Quebec,  Canada according to both his WWI Registration form and his U.S. Naturalization papers.  He had arrived in the United States through the state of Maine in 1907 by railroad.  By 1910 he was working as a farm laborer in the town of Andover New Hampshire. By 1917 when he completed his WWI registration he was working as a laborer for Charles E. Murphy in the town of Wilmot.   At that time he was single, of medium height and build with brown eyes and black hair.

The U.S. Military Transport Passenger records show that on 7 September 1917 he was aboard the ship Dakalb, departing Hoboken NJ for Europe, as a Private in Co. K, 23rd Infantry. At that time he noted his next of kin was Walter E. Armstrong of Wilmot NH.  [Walter Edwin Armstrong was born 14 Aug 1869 in Glassville, Carleton, New Brunswick, Canada, son of James & Abigail (Thompson) Armstrong].

The Boston Sunday Globe of 1 December 1918 announced the following: “Franklin N.H.–Charles Patrick Doran, who died of wounds in France, enlisted in Boston soon after America entered the war. He was in the 26th Division. He was born in Canada and was 28 years old. He was working in Wilmot at the time of his enlistment.”   Charles P. Doran had died of wounds in France on 6 October 1918. Based on his death date and place of final burial he probably was one of the men who fell at the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of Sep 26, 1918 – Nov 11, 1918.

Charles P. Doran was probably at first buried near the battle ground.  Later his remains were moved to the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial where he still lies.  His grave information states he was a Corporal, whether he was promoted before or after his death is unknown.  [Editor’s note: Grave recorded as 6 October, NH Adj Genl’s List says 5th.]
[2] William Fredric “Will” Caldwell was born 12 April 1894 in Andover NH, son of Will Charles & Ella J. (Meister/Myster) Caldwell. His parents were natives of Nova Scotia, having immigrated to the U.S. in 1870. Their children were all born in New Hampshire. Siblings include Viola Mae (who married Arthur Reuben Hughes), Bert Benjamin “Bertie” (who d. 1969 in Hartford VT), Walter E. (who married Alice B. Churchill and d. 1978 in Hartford VT), Mary Ethel (who married Wilfred Robert Nordine), and Blanche T. who married John I. Copp).   In 1917 when he registered for the U.S. Draft, William Caldwell was employed as a silversmith by William B. Durgin Co. of Concord NH.  He served in the United States Army, enlisting on 14 June 1918 and being honorably discharged on 10 April 1919. William F. Caldwell married on 25 May 1923 in Manchester NH to Nellie Helen Ducey, daughter of Denis Joseph & Ellen (O’Brien) Ducey.  He died 3 November 1984 in Volusia, Florida.
[3] Matthew Arthur Kristl was born 25 Dec 1899 in New York City, NY, son of Edward & Blanche M. (Pelletier) Kristl. His father was a tailor who had immigrated from Germany to the United States in 1892.  By 1910 Matthew was living with his grandmother, Sophia Verbick [Verbeck] in North Wilmot NH.  During WWI Matthew served as a Private in Battery E 50th Artillery CAC 38th Brigade. He enlisted on 13 Jun 1918, and was honorably discharged on 19 Feb 1919.   On 20 September 1919 he married in Wilmot NH to Thelma Ora Morrill, daughter of Harris & Denzie (Swett) Morrill.   She died, and as a widower he married 2d) 12 March 1958 in New London NH to Martha Ann Berckmans.  Matthew A. Kristl died 24 Mar 1990 in Hanover NH and is buried in Old Main Street Cemetery, Hanover NH.
[4]  Eugene Fredrick Perkins was born 4 October 1890 in Chicago IL, son of Albert E. & Mary Joanna (Huntoon) Perkins.  He grew up in Chicago IL but by 1910 he was living with his family in Franklin NH. He completed his WWI Registration form on 5 June 1917 in Wilmot NH. At that time he was living in Wilmot, working as a dairy farmer for W.C. Hayes of Wilmot. He was single, tall, of medium build with gray eyes and dark brown hair. Eugene F. Perkins married 9 March 1918 in New London NH to Edith E. Pedrick, daughter of Sidney M. & Nettie Elnora (Emery) Pedrick.  By 1930 & 1940 moved to Bridgewater, Grafton Co. NH with wife and daughter Mary Joanna Perkins. In 1940 his aged mother was also living with him.  For some years he was caretaker at The Uplands farm in Bridgewater NH.  He died in November 1965.
[5]  Harold Hetherington Piggrem was born 24 Nov 1892 at South Framingham MA, son of Roland & Sarah L. “Ella” (Hetherington) Piggrem.  In 1900 he was living in Walpole MA with his parents and siblings Ada May who m. Alton Leslie Perry, and Hedley Roland Piggrem. In 1917 completed his WWI Registration form from Wilmot NH where he was working as a farmer, employed by his father. He was single, tall with blue yes and brown hair.  In 1940 he was living in Cambridge MA working as a pipe layer with his wife Bertha and daughter Esther. He died in July of 1964.
[6] Clyde Walker Sawtelle  was born 24 June 1893 in Wilmot NH, son of Ervin & Lenora E. (Walker) Sawtelle.  In June of 1917 he completed his WWI Registration form in Wilmot NH where he was working as a farmer for Ray Emery of New London NH. He described himself as single, tall, of medium build with brown eyes and dark brown hair.  He married 22 Nov 1919 in Wilmot, Merrimack Co NH to Emma Keniston, dau of Perley C. & Julia (Morey) Keniston. He m2d) in 1927 to Nettie Belle Everett. He died 22 Nov 1971 in Montague MA and is buried in Arms Cemetery, Shelburne Falls, VT.
[7] Sylvester Franklin “Frank” Smith was born 9 Feb 1896 in Philadelphia PA, son of Frank C. & Ada (McIntyre) Smith.  In June of 1917 he completed his WWI Registration form in the town of Wilmot NH, stating he was a farmer working for Thomas Graney of Wilmot. He was single, tall, of medium build with gray eyes and dark brown hair.  Sylvester F. Smith married 16 Aug 1920 in New London NH to Gladys Hazel Rayno, daughter of Francis Norris & Susie Mahala (Robie) Rayno. They divorced on 5 Feb 1937. He m2d) on 30 July 1938 in Franklin NH to Sadie May Munsey-Weeks, daughter of Lyman W. & Ida (Buckman) Munsey. He died in 1968 and is buried in Blossom Hill Cemetery, Concord NH.
[8] Harry B. Stearns was born 12 March 1883 in Wilmot, New Hampshire, son of Minot & Sarah J. (Haseltine) Stearns. In 1900 he was living in Wilmot NH with his parents and siblings Guy B., and Tilden H.  Harry B. Stearns married 10 July 1918 in New London NH to Paulina Elmira Arey, daughter of Herbert & Amber I (Langley) Arey. In 1940 he was living in Cambridge MA with his wife Pauline and two children Guy B., and Prudence. In 1942 he was employed by New England Power Serve of Boston MA. He died 28 Sep 1964 in Uxbridge MA. He was a member of Solomon’s Temple Masonic Lodge. Occupation: Electrical Engineer. He is buried in Bunker Hill Cemetery, Wilmot NH.
[9] Theron R. Tewksbury was born on 8 Dec 1889 in Wilmot NH, son of George B. & Lydia J. (Merrill) Tewksbury. His siblings included Mary I., and John M. Tewksbury During WWI Theron served in the U.S. Military enlisting 3 June 1918 and honorably discharged 17 April 1919.  He married Genevieve G. Allen.  In 1942 he was living in Wabash, Indiana, employed by the City School.  He died 4 June 1978 in Lafayette, Indiana and is buried in Grand View Cemetery, West Lafayette, Indiana.
[10] Harland A. Wheeler was born 19 Dec 1895 in Wilmot NH, son of Mason R. & Clara (Tenney) Wheeler. In 1900 he was living in Wilmot NH with his parents and siblings, Herbert, Harold M. and Guy F.  In June of 1917 he completed his WWI Registration card stating his occupation as machinist. He was single, of medium height and build with dark blue eyes and black hair. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on 26 April 1918 and was honorably discharged on 13 June 1919. He married 23 March 1918 in Dracut MA [also documented in Groton CT] to Zelma R. Talbert, daughter of Edward L. & Evelyn E. (Whittier) Talbert. On 19 May 1918 the U.S. Military Transport Passenger Lists show him a Private in Machine Gun Company, 309th Infantry, Service No. 1748973, departing Brooklyn NY bound for Europe aboard the ship Menior. In 1940 he and his wife were living in Candia, Rockingham Co. NH He was a member of the Wamesit Masonic Lodge of Dracut MA, his occupation at time of membership was “weaver.” He died 9 July 1985 in Mount Dora, Lake Co. Florida.
[11] Leroy Wiggins was born 1 September 1894 in Wilmot New Hampshire, the adopted son of Scott H. & Ada (Cross) Wiggins [who were probably his actual grandparents]. In 1900 he was living in Wilmot NH with Scott W. & Ada A. Wiggins, as Roy Wiggins.  In the 1910 U.S. Census he is living with Ada Wiggins, when he is listed as “adopted son.” In 1917 he completed his WWI Registration Form from Waterbury CT where he was working as a packer for Scovill Manufacturing. He stated he was the support of his mother, 1 sister and 2 brothers. He described himself as being 5ft 10 inches tall, of medium build with brown hair and brown eyes. He served in France in the U.S. Army, service #2883852 in Co K, 313th Infantry. He sailed for Europe on 8 July 1918 aboard the ship Leviathan, listing Mrs. Ada A. Wiggins of Lebanon NH as his grandmother. He returned from service on 15 Jan 1919 at Bordeaux, France arriving in Hoboken NJ on 25 Jan 1919 on the ship Maui.  He married Hazel Cora Jones, daughter of Leland A. Jones & Etta M. Arnold on 28 Jan 1922 in Griggs Mills, NH (Springfield).   In 1930 he was living in Newark NJ with his wife Hazel C. At that time he was a salesman for an advertising concern.  Leroy Wiggins died on 30 December 1976 at Newark, New Jersey.  According to Al Price (a Wilmot Cemetery Trustee), “Wiggins is buried in the Leland Jones plot (2-20-30) at Pine Hill Cemetery, Wilmot, NH. There is no headstone, only a flag commemorating his service.”


In addition to the names acknowledged on the Wilmot monument, there was one additional military man who listed WILMOT NH as their home when they were shipped to Europe, and so I am adding those names here.

Dean Bixby Merrill, born 23 Jan 1895 in Concord NH, son of Addison W. & Linnie E. (Bixby) Merrill. He completed his WWI Registration form from Amesbury MA where he was working at the time for Amesbury Body Co., though he was living in North Sutton NH. He was single, of medium height and build, with blue eyes and light hair. He married 8 Dec 1917 in Hampton NH to Caroline Ruth Noyes, daughter of Harry I. & Mary L. (Emerson) Noyes. Dean Bixby Merrill died 9 December 1988 in Hampton NH. He was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution.   During WWI he was a Private 1c, Supply Company, 304th Infantry, Service #1662030.  Home: Wilmot Flats NH.  Departed Boston MA on 8 July 1918 bound for Europe. His Next of Kin: Addison Merrill.  He returned from Brest France arriving in Brooklyn NY on 23 August 1919 aboard the ship Madawaska.

[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].



This entry was posted in Genealogy, History, Military of New Hampshire, New Hampshire Men, NH WW1 Military and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of Wilmot

  1. Amy says:

    How appropriate for Veteran’s Day. So many serving from such a small place.

    • Janice Brown says:

      I had run out of steam LAST Veterans Day when I stopped writing my WWI stories (well the town focused ones). I came across mention of this town recently and so decided to finish writing this story. Thank you Amy for reading and commenting.

  2. Al Price says:

    Leroy Wiggins is buried in the Leland Jones plot (2-20-30) at Pine Hill Cemetery, Wilmot, NH. There is no headstone, only a flag commemorating his service.

Leave a Reply