Turner's Public Spirit, March 10, 1923
A look back in time to a century ago
By Bob Oliphant
Center. Mrs. Frank C. Wright is reported on the sick list.
Mrs. Josie A. Prescott, president of the Alliance, announces that Mrs. J. M. Hartwell, of Littleton, has been chosen director of the Alliance to succeed Mrs. Maynard. Mrs. Hartwell is no stranger to the Westford branch and the ladies extend to her a hearty welcome.
There was no school on Wednesday on account of the storm.
The regular monthly supper of the fire department was held in the firehouse on Tuesday evening. Mrs. J. E. Knight prepared the supper, as usual, and it was thoroughly enjoyed by the twenty-one who attended. The committee consisted of Arthur G. Hildreth and S. B. Watson.
The colors were displayed at half-mast at the Legion headquarters the first of the week, owing to the death of Comrade Edward Bechard, who passed away at the home of his parents on Forest road the latter part of last week. The funeral services were held from St. John’s church, North Chelmsford, Monday morning, and a number of the members of the post, under Commander Harold W. Hildreth, attended in a body and performed the last military honors for the deceased. Comrade Bechard served overseas for a long period and while there was badly gassed, which made him an easy prey to the ravages of his last illness, pneumonia.
The meetings of the Congregational church this week will be under the direction of B. Stanley Battstone, a student in Gordon college in the sophomore class. Mr. Battstone is the son of missionary parents who served in India, under the American Methodist society. His present home is in Moncton, N.B. The following Sunday will welcome again Miss Eva Clark, who has preached so acceptably here from time to time. The Sunday school is preparing an interesting and beautiful pageant to be given Easter Sunday evening, April 1.
The board of overseers of the poor organized recently with Wesley O. Hawkes as chairman; Fred R. Blodgett, secretary; Perley E. Wright is the other member of the board. Charles S. Ripley, superintendent of the town home for the past five years, and Mrs. Ripley, matron, have tendered their resignation, and their places will be filled at the next meeting of the board. Mr. and Mrs. Ripley have given fine satisfaction in their positions, and the Westford town home has the reputation of being one of the best kept institutions in the state by the state inspectors, which speaks highly of the present superintendent and his wife. It was with regret that the overseers accepted the resignation.
Mrs. Ralph Bridgeford has a flock of 200 Rhode Island Red hens which have established quite a record for themselves, having laid 833 dozen eggs in four months, November, December, January and February. Master Elmer Bridgeford, the young son of Mr. and Mrs. Bridgeford, is the owner of a very intelligent dog, Bessie by name. She is a collie, three years old, and for the past 2 ½ years has been in the harness. The young owner has always made his own harness and while he has never driven his pet on any long rides, she is very strong, and when hitched to either a cart or sled draws wood or takes pails of feed and water to the poultry house. The children in the neighborhood have fine times with Bessie, riding on sled or double runner. They coast down the hill and Bessie draws the sled back up the hill. In the summer she draws loads of hay in a cart with side racks built especially for this purpose. In addition, Bessie will play hide and seek, and when called upon will wink approvingly at her little master
About Town. Upset went the sleigh last Sunday morning on the Stony Brook road with two men passengers in it, just below the Old Oaken Bucket farm buildings. So much were they upset and so deep the snow that they were obliged to uncouple the horse from the sleigh in order to make a turnaround to the Lowell road. They were both smoking T.D. [white clay] pipes when they started to go down the Stony Brook road, and they did not lose their grip on the aforesaid T.D.’s by the turn affairs took at the snowdrift. The sticking qualities of the T.D. are much superior to the sticking qualities of the modern envelope.
Our new $5000 tractor went over the Lowell road last Saturday in charge of J. Austin Healy, the new superintendent of roads. It is a success in clearing the road from snow and making it a roadbed for auto travel. But say, with good wheeling on the Lowell road and other main roads, and snow so deep on the Stony Brook road and other side roads that we cannot get to our fields to do our early planting; with summer on some roads and mid-winter drifts on others, will it not be necessary to make a sleigh track on roads where the snow is all scraped off?
I either said, or was meant to say, in last week’s issue in quoting from the report of Chief Whiting that he handled “over 100 cases.” It should have read “over 1100 cases.” I don’t understand after figuring up this number why I should be so stingy with my ciphers, for I am better stacked up with ciphers than anything else.
And now comes forward something else to credit annihilation: “A convention establishing a closed season each year, from November 16 to February 15, on halibut in the North Pacific ocean, has been signed by Secretary [of State Charles Evans] Hughes and Ernest Lapoint, minister of marine and fisheries of Canada. The halibut fishing industry, which is rapidly being depleted, it is said, will be given prolonged life as a result.” This word “depleted” sounds so much like America.
Amos Polley of the Morning Glory farm heard what he thought was a dog barking in his yard on a recent night. In looking out it proved to be a fox barking near the henhouse, evidently trying to notify the hens that it was time to get up and get breakfast.
The farm credit bill has been passed to the stage of blessing. Cheer up, cheer up and go dig those potatoes—the government will hold you up financially while you dig them and encourage you to double up the acreage of your follies the coming season.
In reading under the Groton news in last week’s issue of the death of Solon R. Dodge, it recalled to my mind that his wife was the daughter of Leonard and Mary (Sherburne) Walker, both former residents of this town. Mr. Walker lived on the old Walker homestead on Main street, and was one of the old scholars at the old Stony Brook school, and as schoolmate I recall many of the happy, frolicsome times we played together in the playground (mostly in the road) of the little red schoolhouse, and sometimes within the schoolhouse, when the teacher was too busy to catch on. He was a most genial and companionable schoolmate. He passed on in his early manhood many years ago leaving a daughter, now Mrs. Minnie W. Dodge, and his widow, formerly Miss Mary Sherburne, whose early home was on the Groton road about half a mile east of Flushing Pond.
More than 200 were in attendance at the meeting of Middlesex North Pomona Grange in Lowell on last week Friday. The program for the day proved to be exceedingly interesting. Announcement was made that a field day was being planned by Middlesex-North Pomona Grange and that Middlesex-Worcester Pomona Grange is to be an invited guest. This event will be held some time in August and probably in this town.
The next meeting of Westford Grange will be held next Thursday evening and will be observed as “health night,” with a talk by a local physician and the health nurse.
Take notice you Groton Farmers’ and Mechanics’ club that is located west of me, that east of me, the Lowell Horsemen’s Trotting club have planned for a big agricultural fair in connection with their trotting park. This affair of a fair is on the books for August 30 and 31 and September 1, to be held at Golden Cove, near Chelmsford Center. With this forewarning keep from collusion or colliding with this date.
Mrs. Gladys Faye Fillebrown recently gave a luncheon at her home in Brookline to announce the engagement of her daughter, Miss Eleanor Faye Fillebrown, to Robert Bruce Wetmore, elder son of V. C. Bruce Wetmore and Mrs. E. Florence Wetmore, of Jamaica Plain. Miss Fillebrown is very athletic and is much interested in all out-door sports and is a teacher of physical culture. Mr. Wetmore attended the Hackley school and then became associated with his father in the electrical supply business in Boston in the well-known firm of Wetmore-Savage Co. The wedding will probably take place in the fall. The Wetmores for several years spent their summers at their beautiful country place here—the Nashoba farm [corner of Concord Rd. and Hildreth St.]—which burned some time ago.
“Hackley School is a private college preparatory school located in Tarrytown, N.Y.” … “Founded in 1899 by a wealthy philanthropist, Frances Hackley, Hackley was intended to be a Unitarian alternative to the mostly Episcopal boarding schools throughout the Northeast. Since its founding, Hackley has dropped its Unitarian affiliations and changed from all-boys to coeducational.” See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hackley_School
Mr. Griffin, of the Oak Knoll farm, who is spending the winter in Kissimmee, Fla., has bought a five-room bungalow there.
At the annual town meeting in Dunstable on Monday it was unanimously voted to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the incorporation of the town next September, and $500 was appropriated for expenses. I recall the celebration of the 200th anniversary and a part of all Westford was there. Let us plan not to cut in or cut out with our agricultural fairs and other shows this anniversary by a needless and heedless collusion of dates. Those who have the fixing of dates remember the danger signals are set showing that there is something ahead on the track that has a 250-years’ right of way.
Frank W. Banister, our mail carrier, who has occasion to rise early, reports seeing two foxes nearly every morning playing with snowbanks on the Cummings road while he is carrying the mail from Westford station to the center of the town. Let them play with the snowbanks, it is a cheaper plaything than a lovely old motherly hen.
Something has been said about the farmer losing millions of dollars last year by daylight saving. Well, now look here. With all this daylight saving time we raised more crops than it paid to harvest; we lost millions by excess production and now we are squealing to have the government rescue us. Why produce two blades of grass where one grew before when you cannot sell it? We are opposed to interfering with the Lord’s timetable or government rescue, but just where the farmers have lost millions by daylight saving I am unable to see, even by the use of the X-rays. It costs no more per hour to raise crops by daylight saving than it did the increased hours from sunrise to moonrise. As farmers we are not pinched financially by daylight saving, but rather by conditions that is in our power to remedy. We might cooperate and regulate the acreage of many of the staple farm crops. I am unable to see many millions in money lost or millions of evils in daylight saving, provided the time saved is wisely used to improve life.
Deaths. Edward J. Bechard died on last week Friday evening at his home on Forest road. He was a brave soldier in the world war, volunteering at the outbreak, and going overseas with Company E, 2nd Infantry, of the famous Second Division. He remained overseas twenty months. He was gassed and wounded with shrapnel several times and never recovered his full health. He leaves his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bechard, and three brothers, Leo, Henry, Jr., and Walter Bechard, all of this town. Their home on Forest road was formerly the Adam Taylor place, about a quarter of a mile north of Lake Nabnassett, close by the Lowell & Fitchburg street railway.
The funeral took place on Monday morning from his home. A large delegation of the Legion, under Com. Harold W. Hildreth, with J. Edward Clement, color-bearer, attended the services at St. John’s church, North Chelmsford, where at nine o’clock a solemn high funeral mass was sung by Rev. Francis J. Keaney, assisted by Rev. Emile J. Dupont as deacon and Rev. John J. Linnehan as sub-deacon. The choir, under the direction of Raymond Kelley, who also was organist, sang the Gregorian chant. The bearers were Howard Hodge, Andrew Pettinella, Leo Bechard and Norman Young, all world war veterans. The body was placed temporarily in the receiving tomb in St. Bridget’s chapel, St. Patrick’s cemetery, where Capt. Frank C. Johnson of this town, read the burial service of the Legion, and a firing squad from the Westford post, consisting of Joseph Perkins, Clarence Hildreth, Charles Robey and Benjaman [sic] Russon, fired the three final volleys. Bugler Williston Carll [sic] sounded “taps.” There were many flowers. Burial will take place later in the family lot in St. Joseph’s cemetery.
Joseph Henry Fletcher, a prominent citizen of Belmont, died Friday, March 2, at his home, 439 Pleasant street, after an illness of two years. He was born on September 26, 1844, in Belmont, the son of J. Varnum and Marcy Anne (Hill) Fletcher. After studying at Chauncey Hall school he went into business with his father in the firm of J. V. Fletcher Co. produce dealers in Faneuil Hall Market. His father was president of the firm, and later he himself.
Mr. Fletcher had many positions of trust and honor. In 1900 he was chosen a director in the Faneuil Hall National bank to succeed his father, who was president. When this bank was merged with the Beacon Trust he was made a director there. In 1899 Mr. Fletcher was made president of the Belmont Savings bank to succeed his father, which office he held until failing health two years ago caused him to resign.
In all community affairs Mr. Fletcher took an active interest. For three years he was on the school board, for eight years a selectman, and for two years he was a member of the house of representatives, declining to be a candidate for the senate. He was a member of the Boston Chamber of Commerce, Boston Fruit and Produce Exchange, Middlesex club, Massachusetts Horticultural society, Exchange club and Oakley Country club.
Upon the death of his father, the birthplace of J. Varnum Fletcher in Westford came into his possession, known as the Cold Spring farm, and he enjoyed spending part of his summer here,
In 1874 Mr. Fletcher married Nellie E. Woodbridge, of Cambridge, who survives him. There are three children, Mrs. John Cameron Abbot [nee Anna Munroe Fletcher], of this town, Mrs. Robert Bacon, of Winchester and Arthur W. Fletcher of Belmont. There is also a brother, George V. Fletcher, and a sister, Mrs. Herbert A. Clack, both of Belmont.
Funeral services were held in the Unitarian church, Belmont, Monday afternoon at 2:30.
Word has been received in town of the death of Miss Alice L. Davis in Somerville, on Sunday evening, February 25. She taught the Friday before as usual and on Saturday was taken ill and passed away on Sunday at the Somerville hospital. Miss Davis was born in Westford sixty-eight years ago, the daughter of Abel L. and Hannah J. (Coolidge) Davis. Her home was the place now owned by Alonzo H. Sutherland. With her parents she was a regular attendant at the old First Parish church and those who know her will recall her devotion and loyalty to this old historic church.
Miss Davis graduated from Westford academy in 1864 when Albert E. Davis was the preceptor. She taught at the old Stony Brook school here, then in Marlboro and in Somerville. She was assistant principal in the [illegible name] school, Marlboro. For the past twenty-six years she was a teacher in the junior high school, Somerville and proved her ability in that capacity.
Funeral services were held on February 28 at the home of her cousin, Mrs. C. L. Cutter, Marlboro. Many friends were present from Somerville. Rev. Stanley H. Addison, pastor of the First church, officiated. The entombment was in Maplewood cemetery. Later the body will be placed in the family lot here in Fairview cemetery.
A Man of Quality and Character. If ever I thought I met what seemed to be the personification of all that goes to make up the very best qualities of life and a self-sacrificing willingness to use the qualities in a patriotic and generous way for the public welfare, it was when I met the late George H. Brown, of Ayer, and I regret that I only personally knew him in these few brief years towards the closing scenes of his earthly life. Never did I meet him but what I felt an increased inspiration for the tastes of life. It is refreshing to occasionally meet a man who has thought out his own opinions and viewpoint of life and is not tethered to the findings of others. It is harder to daily live clearly in our individual orbit rather than an orbit handed down from the past which fails to produce individuality. Such was George H. Brown, as I briefly knew him.
I recall one last happy, sunny, wholesome, inspiring chat together at the Groton fair last fall. He had a spirit that buoyed him up to unselfishly viewing public betterment. Farewell to one of the best of men. More such and the millennium would not always be a future sense affair.
Graniteville. The members of the junior league of the M.E. church held a pleasant entertainment in the church vestry on Wednesday evening.
The M.E. church cottage prayer meeting will be held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. A. B. Carr on this Friday evening.
A meeting of the Ladies’ Aid society was held at the home of Mrs. C. M. Sawyer on Thursday evening.
Edgar Nutting, who has been ill with pneumonia for the past few weeks, is now rapidly improving.
A large number of the soccer fans from this vicinity attended the game in Pawtucket, R.I., on last Saturday, when the Abbot Worsted team were defeated by the J. & P. Coats’ team 1 to 0. This was the semifinal for the eastern championship in the national cup series. The crowd went down on a special train accompanied by the Abbot Worsted Co. band of 35 pieces. It was a hard game to lose and was played on a field covered with mud and water.
The Young People’s Social club will meet in the M.E. church vestry on Saturday evening at 7:30 o’clock.
Mrs. Fabyan Packard, who has been ill at the Lowell General hospital, has recently returned to her home here.
A son [John Abbot Farquhar] was born to Mr. and Mrs. Peter Farquhar, sr., on Tuesday March 6.
Harry E. Whiting has been appointed chief of the Westford police dept.
The sewing class met in the Abbot hall in Forge Village on Tuesday evening with a good attendance.