PO Box 411, 2-4 Boston Road, Westford, MA 01886
Tel: (978) 692-5550, Fax (978) 692-5550

 

A Century Ago in Westford

Archives from The Westford Wardsman

The Westford Wardsman was published weekly as part of Turner's Public Spirit, an Ayer-based newspaper. In the 21st century, Bob Oliphant, a longtime Westford Historical Society supporter, transcribes the complete articles from digital copies. His abridged versions of the Wardsman are published weekly in the Westford Eagle.

This page is continually being updated, so check back soon for more recent articles.

October 13, 1917 - Westford Academy trustees elect officers. Two new direct telephone trunk lines to Ayer are installed. Tadmuck Club holds its opening meeting. Due to rush orders from the government, Abbot mills are open on Columbus Day. Camp Devens population rises to almost 37,000 recruits & officers.

October 6, 1917 - Seven more Westford draftees report to Camp Devens. Concord, Groton & Westford state guard companies meet in Concord for an all-day drill. Forge Village soccer club loses first game of its season. Ladies' Aid Society of the Methodist Church holds baked-bean & salad supper, followed by readings as entertainment. 200,000 people estimated to visit Camp Devens on most recent Sunday.

September 29, 1917 - Funds being raised to stock Camp Devens libraries. Nearly 200 townspeople turn out to send off first 9 Westford draftees. Prize awarded for largest pickerel caught in Forge Pond. An estimated 150,000 people visit Camp Devens on recent Sunday.

September 22, 1917 - The Red Cross draws largest attendance of workers to date. Large flock of pheasants thriving on buckwheat field at a local farm. Farewell reception given for St. Andrew's vicar & his wife, & new vicar preaches his first sermon.

September 15, 1917 - Young women of Forge Village's Jolly Club donate $40 to the Red Cross. An early autumn frost severely damages garden & farm crops throughout the area. On one morning, 36 cars of horses & 8 cars of soldiers in 2 separate trains pass through town on their way to Camp Devens.

September 8, 1917 - Equipped with new uniforms & rifles, Home Guard holds weekly drill. The Red Cross & French Aid societies continue to knit, sew & make bandages for the troops overseas. A porcupine is shot in Forge Village. New rails being laid on section of Stony Brook Railroad at Westford station. Schools reopen with some returning staff, some new.

September 1, 1917 - Tadmuck Club's Reading Circle continues to study modern contemporary drama. A large auto truck loaded with furniture catches fire on Beaver Brook Road, demolishing both truck & furniture. Largest crowd to date visits Camp Devens, where 7400 men are employed on constructing the camp & some troops are preparing to go abroad.

August 25, 1917 - 100 soldiers & officers attend dance at Town Hall. Three regimental companies camp overnight in town on their way back to Camp Devens from Lowell. Local Red Cross chapters giving each soldier from Westford a sweater, wristers & one pair of stockings.

August 18, 1917 - Blueberries are ripe & being picked rapidly in Forge Village, despite high water in swamps. While its office building is being enlarged, C. G. Sargent's Sons sets up temporary offices in the nearby shop boarding house. Rapid build-out of Camp Devens continues.

August 11, 1917 - Spalding Light Cavalry Association holds its annual meeting but cancels annual outing on account of the war. Selectmen place "silent policemen"--traffic-control signs--at the Common & in Graniteville & Forge Village. Brookside woman killed by lightning while loading hay. Lowell woman gives "excellent swimming and diving exhibitions" at Sandy Beach on Long-Sought-For Pond.

August 4, 1917 - In two months of work, Red Cross members make over 3,000 items for the troops overseas. County Farm Bureau reports census of town's agricultural acreage & farm animals. Many take trolley to Ayer to visit the still-under-construction Camp Devens. The camp also increases auto traffic through Forge Village, causing safety concerns.

July 28, 1917 - Lecturer focuses on how to can corn, string beans & cherries at a well-attended demonstration at Town Hall. Fletcher quarry closed due to heat. Man, "seeking relief from the severe heat," drowns in mill pond. A large number of young men have been drafted.

July 21, 1917 - Ladies' Aid Society of the Congregational Church holds all-day sewing meeting. Home guard accepted by state authorities. Graniteville auxiliary of the Red Cross meets weekly to make bandages, comfort pillows and similar work. Thieves steal turnips from Forge Village garden.

July 14, 1917 - Recently organized home guards make a good impression on inspector from Boston. Land owners are warned against the appearance of a " real pest," the orange hawk weed or Devil's paint brush. Westford's subscription to the special fund for Red Cross work is reported to come to nearly $52,000.

July 7, 1917 - Two Westford men volunteer for military service. A new baseball club is formed in the Center. 4th of July eve is quiet except for ringing of church bells. The home guard, with 90 men as members, holds two practice drills.

June 30, 1917 - Local doctor gives first of 12 talks & demonstrations on first aid work. Westford Athletic Association decides not to sponsor 4th of July celebrations as it has in the past but instead to contribute to the Red Cross. Several from town visit the military camp being built in Ayer. Concert & dance held in Forge Village benefits the Red Cross.

June 23, 1917 - Local society for the French wounded makes surgical dressings, stockings, trench caps, mufflers, sweaters, wash cloths, eye bandages, pillows & wash mitts. Six graduate from Westford Academy. An "entertainment" at St. Andrew's Mission includes a comedy-sketch as well as 6 tableaux portraying war-related & patriotic themes. Construction begins of new military camp in Ayer.

June 16, 1917 - Red Cross volunteers work on surgical dressings, sewing & knitting. Graniteville Auxiliary of the Red Cross sponsors patriotic concert in the M.E. Church. Liberty Bond subscription drives are successful.

June 9, 1917 - Of 250 men registered for military service, 119 are foreign-born. Library being stocked with books, pamphlets & bulletins on preparing & conserving food & increasing agricultural production to support war effort. Plants & flowers stolen from Fairview Cemetery.

June 2, 1917 - Memorial Day observed with exercises at Soldiers Monument & Town Hall in the morning, dinner at noon, & a band concert & ballgame in the afternoon. Cameron School students celebrate Memorial Day with a program of readings & songs. Six-year-old boy found drowned in Abbot Mill canal.

May 26, 1917 - Academy students appreciating newly installed Victrola & "some well-chosen records." New switchboard installed at the central telephone office. Whist & bridge party held at Town Hall to benefit the Red Cross.

May 19, 1917 - Principal & Mrs. Roudenbush take a group of WA students to sightsee in Boston for the day. Fires are put out at the Town Farm & in "Texas." Congregational Church observes Mother's Day.

May 12, 1917 - Selectmen appoint draft board to register all men of military age. Town responds to request for "reading matter" from local enlisted man in quarantine at a NY fort. Ladies' Aid Society of the M.E. church holds successful supper & entertainment in the church vestry.

May 5, 1917 - WA students' minstrel show raises over $60 toward purchasing a Victrola. W.C.T.U. & Congregational Church's Ladies' Missionary Society hear presentation on the Frances Willard Settlement of Boston & Bedford. Flag is "furled to the breeze" on a newly erected pole on top of the Sargent machine shop in Graniteville.

April 28, 1917 - Town's road crew scrapes & rakes streets in the Center. Deputy Fish & Game Warden stocks several local brooks with trout. Plans to form an auxiliary to the Westford branch of the American Red Cross discussed in Graniteville. The John Edwards Hose Company holds its annual dance in Forge Village.

April 21, 1917 - Westford farmers react to Pres. Wilson's call to increase food production. Local Red Cross has "tag day" to raise funds. In an address on "Baby Day" about the care & feeding of infants, a State Board of Health nurse reports that of 77 children born in Westford in 1916, 13 died--almost one in six.

April 14, 1917 - First Westford man volunteers for military service after declaration of war against Germany. Meeting to form a local branch of the Red Cross held in the library. Abbot Worsted Co. offers employees free plots of land for gardens.

April 7, 1917 - Town responds to declaration of war against Germany. Nearly 40 people attend community sing at Town Hall. Young Graniteville man seriously injured in motorcycle accident.

March 31, 1917 - Tadmuck Club's annual musical event features a Lenten organ recital. German measles, though "not considered a patriotic disease," is prevalent in Graniteville. Epworth League of the Methodist Church hears talk on the South American problem.

March 24, 1917 - A new superintendent of Town Farm is appointed. Ice on Forge Pond is reported to be 31 inches thick but there are signs of spring: bluebirds, robins & a large flock of blackbirds are sighted.

March 17, 1917 - Tadmuck Club working on preserving pictures & sketches of old landmarks & houses in town. Library displays large mounted moose head. Equipment at the telephone exchange is being upgraded to better serve the increasing number of subscribers.

March 10, 1917 - Another heavy snowstorm puts the trolleys out of commission, closes schools for a day & a half, & disrupts travel. North Westford man shows off a pullet's egg 3½ inches long & 7¾ inches in circumference.

March 3, 1917 - With funds appropriated by Town Meeting, a grand piano is installed in Town Hall. Twenty women work together at the library sewing pillows, knitting socks, mufflers & trench caps, & making surgical dressings for war relief.

February 24, 1917 - Attendance at weekly community sing meeting grows to 32. WA senior class presents a 3-act comedy drama at Town Hall to raise money towards graduation expenses.

February 17, 1917 - The season's coldest weather is recorded at 20 below zero in Graniteville. Annual Town Meeting votes overwhelmingly for a "dry" town.

February 10, 1917 - The heaviest snowstorm of the season makes traveling hard & affects the schools & trolleys. The Board of Trade hears a clear explanation of the new state income tax.

February 3, 1917 - Tadmuck Club's "guest evening" attracts 225 attendees. Republican caucus nominates candidates for town officers; Democratic caucus ratifies the slate. Forge Villagers pleased to see flocks of pheasants in their yards.

January 27, 1917 - Town's oldest resident celebrates her 99th birthday. Many in Graniteville go to Forge Village to watch the harvesting of the annual ice crop.

January 20, 1917 - Grippe & colds are prevalent. Ice-harvesting begins on Forge Pond.

January 13, 1917 - Stormy weather doesn't mar success of the ninth annual firemen's ball, with dancing till 2 in the morning.

January 6, 1917 - Town officers attend annual appraisal & dinner at the Town Farm. Tadmuck Club hears report on handiwork being done for the soldiers fighting in the Great War.

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PO Box 411, 2-4 Boston Road, Westford, MA 01886, Tel: (978) 692-5550