Center. Mr. and Mrs. J. Henry Colburn and son Clarence moved this week to Littleton, where Mr. Colburn is employed.
The Oscar R. Spaldings have purchased a new Buick Six automobile.
Miss Sarah W. Loker is planning to move this month into the west side of the Hamlin house, facing the common
The postoffice and store of J. Herbert Fletcher and the store of Wright & Fletcher, beginning October first, closes promptly at eight o’clock, and at 8:15 on Saturday evenings.
Nathaniel J. Decatur, living on the Boston road, died last Saturday after an illness of several weeks. Mr. Decatur survived his wife but a few months, she having died earlier in the year. He was well known, having resided in town many years. He is survived by two sons, Nathaniel of Lowell, and Fred, who lived at home; also, a brother, Hiram Decatur.
Capt. Sherman H. Fletcher, secretary of our local public safety committee, has received a telegram advising him to ask that churches hold no services in town on Sunday, from H. B. Endicott, executive manager of public safety committee, and therefore there will be no services in the churches on Sunday. The opening meeting of the Tadmuck club, scheduled for next Tuesday afternoon, has been cancelled, probably for one week.
The J. V. Fletcher library remains closed and the public schools remain closed until further notice.
Notwithstanding the epidemic the committees on the fourth liberty loan are doing good work. The best opening subscriptions were $25,000 from the Wetmore Savage Co., $5000 from C. V. Bruce Wetmore, and $1000 from C. Inglis Wetmore, pledged before his tragic death.
The calendar committee of the Tadmuck club have made out their calendar for the season, which is in the hands of printer. It is a war-time schedule, every alternate meeting being given to war work.
Alec Fisher, who has been sick with the grippe at the home of his sister, Mrs. L. H. Buckshorn, is better.
Our faithful Dr. O. V. Wells is one of the victims of the epidemic, being confined to his home, sick with pneumonia.
The Red Cross meetings have been held this week at the home of Mrs. Oscar R. Spalding with good results. There is to be another canvass for clothing for Belgian relief. Collections will not be made until after the abatement of the influenza, but households can be planning what they can give for this worthy call.
Death. The seriousness of this epidemic of influenza has been brought forcibly to our community in the death of C. Inglis Wetmore on Monday at the home of George A. Walker, where the deceased had made his home since the fire that destroyed his brother’s home earlier in the year. Mr. Wetmore, who was thirty-three years of age, died after an illness of two weeks from pneumonia resulting from the Spanish influenza, although everything that skill and care could do was done to alleviate his suffering and save his life. He was a genial, likeable man and had made many friends since coming to Westford to live. Those who knew him will bear loving testimony of his qualities of friendship.
The deceased is survived by three brothers, V. C. Bruce Wetmore, E. V. Wetmore and Warren G. Wetmore; two sisters, Mrs. Harmon Curtis of Newton, and Mrs. James Friel, of Mt. Vale, N.B.
Mr. Wetmore conducted the Nashobah farm in Westford and was active in town affairs. He was a member of Company L, M. S. G., and a member of William North lodge of Masons.
The remains were removed by auto hearse to the home of his sister, Mrs. F. Harmon Curtis, where funeral services were held on Wednesday afternoon. The bearers accompanying the remains from Westford were Robert Prescott, Arthur Walker, William E. Wright and John Greig.
About Town. At last we have succeeded in getting published in the list of those who pay a tax of fifty dollars and over. There is nothing like 100 pounds of arsenate of lead to boost you. If any were disappointed and fell a few cents short, next year try our plan.
A son, Robert Thomas, was born on September 20 to Mr. and Mrs. Felix McGowan, of Lowell. Mr. McGowan was a brother of Mrs. Madison Hutchins and formerly lived at what is now known as the Fairview farm [124 Main St.].
A son [Gilbert William Clement] was born on September 25 [Sept. 26 per Westford vital records] to Mr. and Mrs. William Clement, Jr., of Brookside.
A daughter [Speranza] was born on Tuesday [Sept. 24] to Mr. and Mrs. Domenico Zanchi, of Brookside.
David Dixon, and his interesting family, who lived in one of Moore’s cottages, has moved to North Chelmsford.
William J. Parfit, who has moved into the Charles Whitney place, has installed a telephone—13-11.
The Misses Knowles, of West Chelmsford, have for many years managed a successful poultry plant. They have now sold out their stock and left on Thursday for Chicago, to live with their brother. They formerly lived in Graniteville and were well-known for their sturdy New England characteristics.
Seth W. Banister is now in France and is now Sergt. Seth W. Banister.
Mrs. Mervin Steele is ill with pneumonia at her home on the Lowell road, near Westford station.
Westford Grange cancelled its meeting on last Thursday evening on account of the non-come together orders of the board of health. For the same reason the churches, while preaching “safety first,” consistently practiced it with everybody outside the church.
Frank C. Johnson has been promoted, so it reads Sergt. Major Johnson. He has been stationed at Camp Wadsworth, S.C., but is now “over seas.” Both Sergt. Banister and Sergt. Johnson are two of the bright boys of the Stony Brook valley, who know how to temperately drive ahead with safety for the rest of us on the back seat.
We were disappointed at not being able, under present danger zone conditions, to attend the Groton fair. We had our apples and pumpkins all listed for first premiums, but the sweeping orders of the state for all hands to be resolved into a state of isolation as far as possible set the brakes on the gig and jig that were to be our accompaniment. Besides, if it is unsafe to mix in a crowd of fourteen people in a large church, as per order of the board of health, how much nearer the danger zone would it be to get pinched in a crowd of animals and folks?
Amos Polley has been drawn on the jury and goes into camp at Lowell on Monday. This leaves his new cement corn barn unfinished for the rats and mice to claim imminent domain.
Nathaniel J. Decatur died at his home on the Boston road last Saturday, aged sixty-three years. He was well-known, having resided in town for the last forty years. He was a native of Barrington, N.H., and one of a large family. He was a regular attendant of the Decatur family reunion held annually in Barrington. He was socially good-natured and was industriously known in all parts of the town. He is survived by two sons, Nathaniel J., of Lowell, and Fred, of Westford, with whom he lived; also, two brothers and a sister, Hiram, of Haverhill; William H. Decatur, of Carlisle, and Mrs. Samuel Naylor, of West Chelmsford. The cause of death was consumption, with which he had been ill nearly a year.
Someone has said “Please don’t cough into the library books.” We couldn’t even if we had the cough to do it with for most our libraries have been placed on the dangerous list by order of the trustees of health, and we file no complaint. Now, if someone will advise “Please don’t cough into the rum tumblers,” we shall begin to make an indiscriminate health regulation and clear us of the charge made of old, “Ye do strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.”
The annual meeting of the Middlesex-North Agricultural society for election of officers will be held on Tuesday, October 8, at Odd Fellows’ hall, Bridge street, Lowell, at two o’clock.
The United States Board of Agriculture gives out the following statement in regard to the potato crop: “Potatoes declined somewhat in August in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut, and in the United States from 79 percent to 74 percent of a normal crop.” The following figures gives the forecast for New England, 1919, and the comparison with 1917: Maine, 23,000,000 bushels, against 20,500,000, 1917; New Hampshire, 2,000,000, against 2,347,000; Vermont, 2,964,000 against 3,000,000; Massachusetts, 4,284,000, against 4,370,000; Rhode Island, 640,000, against, 675,000; Connecticut, 2,716,000, against 3,190,000.
Miss Ella T. Wright has had her cousin from South America as a guest. Her cousin has two children, one a baby of six months, who took her naps in one of those fine old-fashioned mahogany cradles, which has been used always at this old-time homestead [120 Lowell Road]. Miss Wright has a very artistic picture of the babe asleep in this cradle out on the lawn.
Hon. Herbert Fletcher has two big government jobs on hand—the furnishing of crushed stone for new government docks in Boston and for the new freight yards in Middlesex Village [in Lowell]. The government knows where to get good stone and good service.
Westford, like many another New England town, has laid to rest its first soldier connected with this war. Frank McNally, a private, stationed at Camp Devens, was taken ill with the prevailing influenza, which developed into pneumonia. He was buried in Fairview cemetery on Sunday with military honors, taps being sounded at the grave by comrades. Private McNally was married last winter to Alice Dane, daughter of Ernest Dane, of North Westford. Mrs. McNally had recently gone to Ayer to live so as to be near her husband.
The W.C.T.U. has postponed its meeting for another month and the French relief work was postponed this week.
All of Moore’s cottages this side of the mill, at Brookside, have been shingled.
There seems to be an epidemic among the cats in Stony Brook valley for this week in four different places that we know of cats have died. At one farm five were victims. The beautiful angora cat of amber hue, belonging to the W. R. Taylor household, was one of the last victims to succumb.
Dr. Fred Virgin passed near here in a hurried auto trip from New York City to the heart of the Maine woods, recently. He and three other men came in the Virgin limousine, driven by the chauffeur. They made Portsmouth, N.H., their first night’s stop out from New York City. “Some run” we call that. One of the men was an expert hunter, like [Theodore] Roosevelt, and had shot as many as three lions in one day in his African trip. Dr. Virgin was worn out with his medical and surgical work and felt the need of rest. These men will go to a camp in the Maine woods, and with a native guide will do some hunting.
Sometimes we think that we know more than our share of high tax rates. Soothe yourself, brother, with the thought that you don’t live in the town of Savoy, among the Berkshire hills, where the tax rate is $42 per $1000, the highest in the state.
Aviators Land at Camp Devens. The first airplane to visit Camp Devens came unexpectedly last week Friday afternoon while the division was in training on the drill grounds and ranges. Work ceased instantly to observe the biplane as it dropped from a high altitude and circled around for a good landing place, choosing the main parade field as the best.
Lieut.-Col. Adams, assistant chief of staff, reached the parade ground first and cleared a path for the machine. Men of the 36th and 73rd Infantry regiments crowded around; even the men from the development battalion forgot their lameness to hurry over. Lieut. E. H. Rorick of The Dalles, Ore., the pilot, and Lieut. C. F. Finter, of Lyndhurst, Va., the observer, stepped out of the machine to receive a welcome from Lieut.-Col. Adams and Capt. Reid, assistant division adjutant. Provost guards had to form a cordon around the machine, so great was the crowd of interested soldiers.
The biplane left Long Island the day before, but descended at Narragansett Speedway that evening on account of the rain. The trip from Rhode Island was made without a stop. The purpose of the trip was to ascertain the needs of the general staff school for the field manœuvres on Monday and Wednesday. They departed for Long Island last Saturday. The machine was of the Curtiss type.
Two big biplanes arrived in camp just after retreat on Monday evening after a run of 225 miles from Hazelhurst field, Mineola, L.I., in two hours and ten minutes. Lieut. C. F. Weeden, of Newton Center, was pilot and Lieut. A. E. Eddy, of Washington, D.C., observer of one airplane. Lieut. E. H. Rorich, pilot and Lieut. C. V. Finter, observer, comprised the crew of the other machine, and made the first trip to camp last week Friday.
The biplanes circled around the town and the camp for half an hour. One of the planes used its camera to make the first photographs of the camp taken from the air. The two planes are capable of great speed and are equipped with wireless. Lieut. Col. Adams, assistant chief of staff, met the aviators on the main parade field when they landed. Thousands of soldiers ran to the spot from all corners of the camp.
To the Editor: At the request of Guy J. Stone, first reader of the Christian Science church, I wish to correct an impression which may have been given by my letter of last week. The Christian Science church was not open Sunday before last and will not be open until the request of the Board of Health is withdrawn. —Angus Dun
An Improvement on Esau. Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. For centuries his action has been a metaphor for a foolish gratification of present desire at the expense of the future. But it must be said in favor of Esau that the birthright he sold was his own. He did not attempt to sell that of his neighbor as well, or to injure them in any way. And he kept it in the family.
One of our sojourners, E. D. Clark, who favored us with a communication last week, referring to himself therein as one of our “loyal and unprejudiced citizens,” and who is described in the Boston papers as one of “the more progressive element that has come here since the camp opened” and “manager of the Ayer branch of a Boston jewelry concern” puts it all over Esau in attempting to sell the birthright of every New Englander, the right of local self-government, described by Bancroft as “the oldest and dearest and most characteristic of the established rights of New England rooted in custom and twined with a thousand tendrils round the faith of the people.”
He would barter away our rights and endanger our health in the vain belief that thereby his concern could sell a few more baubles and make a few more paltry dollars.
There is an implied threat in his communication. While the petition to the Federal government “to take over the full control of the affairs of the town of Ayer” has not yet been circulated it is “before us and there is no doubt that a strong sentiment among the loyal and unprejudiced citizens exists here in favor of such action.”
It will not be considered ungracious, we trust, to suggest that Mr. Clark as a naturalized citizen, who is neither a voter nor a taxpayer here, has many obvious advantages, when the welfare of the town is being discussed, over those of us who were born and have always lived here, because we are interested in the matter and therefore biased in our views. We elected our officials in accordance with the law. He terms them “incompetent.” We welcomed the advent of the camp and extended every courtesy to the army officers who came here to pick out the site before the camp was built. He conjures up imaginary factions opposed to its coming here. Our Board of Health, after consultation with Major Sprague, representative of the United States Public Health Services, and the camp medical authorities, and with their approval, established a quarantine against the camp to protect our health and our lives. He says it is not a “wholesome or even necessary measure,” disclaims all sympathy with it, and trusts that the boys will so clearly understand this that no prejudiced thought will be entertained against the citizens of Ayer who are only desirous of rendering you the best service within the scope of our ability.”
It was the quarantine which inspired the circular sent to Camp Devens from which we have quoted in the preceding sentence. This circular, which a few of our good citizen storekeepers were misled into signing cannot be defended and they showed belated good judgment in repudiating it as soon as its full significance became apparent. It was a layman’s criticism of something beyond a layman’s knowledge. It was a criticism of the official action of our Board of Health approved by the military authorities. Indeed it is plain that if the military authorities did not enforce it by their own police it could not be enforced at all as our police force is rather small to quarantine an army in addition to its regular work. It would be like Dame Partington’s famous attempt to push away the Atlantic ocean with her mop.
The law of Massachusetts places great power in the Board of Health, because great power is necessary to protect the public health in times of danger.
We quote with full approval from an editorial in a Boston paper of September 27. “The epidemic which has beset this community is one of the most serious with respect both to the numbers afflicted and in the consequences of the affliction which we have been exposed to in recent years. In such exigency the full responsibility falls upon our expert physicians. It always takes courage for any small body of men to take the responsibility of recommending what, in its consequences, will be a great loss of business profits or a great disturbance in the normal processes of the community and sometimes we fear that our health authorities are not quite equal to the courage required by these grave occasions.
“Our experts ought not to hesitate, however, in a crisis like the present. Human life is worth a great deal more than business profits or the normal habits of the neighborhood. If congregating in churches, in schools, in the theatres and the cars is a source of danger, or if there is any serious doubt about it, the risk ought not to be taken. The churches ought to close. The schools ought to close.”
Yet two days later the Camp Devens reporter of the same Boston paper holds us up to the country as sleepy old standpatters and rock ribbed conservatives” because our unnecessary quarantine is injuring the business of the “alien” and “progressive” merchants who came here since the camp was established.
While we are unable to understand why any reporter should send his paper false reports, often apparently inspired by malice, when a telephone call would elicit the truth which would gladly be furnished. We have grown so used to them since the reporters came to Camp Devens that we are no longer surprised at anything we see in the Boston papers about our town. We realize that we are practically helpless against such tactics. But when one of our own residents begins to advertise himself at our expense it is a different matter. We ought to be able to make him understand that we are able to protect ourselves against him.
No matter how many jewelry stores may come to Ayer, none of them shall sell our jewel of self-government.
News Items. Mrs. Dean E. Hewes died on Tuesday at the home of her parents in Ayer of Pneumonia, following influenza. Her husband, Dean Hewes, is also seriously ill with pneumonia.
Mrs. Janet E. Howes, fifty-eight years of age, wife of William F. Howes, passed away on Monday morning at the Groton hospital from pneumonia. Mrs. Howes was born in Westford. The near survivors are her husband and four sons—Dean E. and Nelson E., of Ayer, and George P. and Henry, of Shirley.
About 400 influenza cases and 50 pneumonia cases have been reported to the board of health.
George P. Hewes, who has been ill at the Groton hospital for the past week, is reported to be improving.
Deaths. Mrs. Janette E. Hewes, Clark road, died on Monday at the Groton hospital after a week’s illness with influenza and pneumonia. Mrs. Hewes was born in Westford and was fifty-nine years of age. Nearly forty years ago she was married to Fred Hewes and five children were born to them four of whom survive her—George P. of this town; Henry and Dean Hewes of Ayer, and Nelson Hewes of Kansas.
Mrs. Hewes was an industrious, hard-working woman and was highly respected by her neighbors. She was a member of the Ladies’ Aid society and Shirley Grange.
The funeral was held on Tuesday from her late home on Clark road, and burial was in the Village cemetery. The bearers, who were from Shirley Grange, were Norman R. Graves, Lester G. Holden, Charles E. Bradford and Horace C. Harris.
News Items. Mr. Jackman, of the Y.M.C.A. department, Camp Devens, is at one of the Drew cottages, Warren Lake, [East Alstead, N.H.,] recuperating from the Spanish influenza. He is accompanied by his wife and his parents.
News Items. William B. Robinson concluded his duties as caretaker at the Federation House last Saturday evening.
The board of health, at a meeting on Thursday morning, decided to prohibit the holding of funerals in homes in cases of influenza, as a precaution against the spread of the disease.
Several airplanes arrived at the camp from Camp Mills, L.I., Tuesday night, the aviators operating their machines all the way without a stop. The planes will be kept at the camp for some time and will be used in manœuvres on the camp ground, near Still River. The appearance of the war machines hovering over Ayer created a good deal of interest and attracted a large number of people. The airmen make daily practice flights over Ayer and adjoining towns, often times coming so near the ground as to make the planes clearly distinguishable. When the airplanes sailed over the camp near Still River, where the interned Germans are stationed, the prisoners became very much excited, evidently thinking that some harm was to be done them by the sky pilots. Their fears, however, soon abated when the situation was explained to them.
The influenza epidemic, which has hit Ayer unusually hard, seems to have somewhat abated. There are still many cases in town. The fatal character of the disease may well be judged from the long list of deaths in this paper during the past two weeks of people in Ayer, exclusive of the fatalities at the camp, where the disease is reported as practically stamped out. About 500 bodies of soldiers were handled at the railroad station last week, who died of the disease, and who were shipped to their homes. Doctors, nurses and undertakers are working night and day.
St. Andrew’s Church. It is now about a year since the churches of Ayer began to feel the influence of Camp Devens, and it may be of interest to know what the results have been for one branch of the church. The active parish list of St. Andrew’s church only numbers about fifty-five persons now living in Ayer, with a small fringe of persons formerly associated with the parish or living out of town. With the coming of Camp Devens the parish list was theoretically increased by about one thousand. That is, in a division there are approximately a thousand men who express their church preference in a religious census as “Episcopalian.”
To all of these men the local parish has a responsibility, though their religious needs are primarily in the hands of the regimental chaplains and the civilian chaplains representing the various branches of the church. What the local church offers is a chance for the solder to “go home,” religiously, to get back into the familiar atmosphere of his habitual worship. Men in camp do not come to the local church regularly any more than they go home regularly. Military duties and distance make that impossible. But a considerable number of men use the local church at some time.
St. Andrew’s church has the names of over two hundred visitors in the past year and it is quite certain that the total number of visitors has been four hundred. The increase in the congregations has not been as great as might have been anticipated, because many of the visitors come only once or twice. At present the attendance at the principal morning service is about double that before the war; this in spite of a falling off in the attendance of regular parishioners. A congregation at St. Andrew’s is now ordinarily two-thirds strangers.
However permanent the camp may be, there will be a permanent mark of it in the records of this parish. Some thirty baptisms and over a hundred confirmations of soldiers are recorded there already. All of these men are communicants of St. Andrew’s until their transfer to another parish is requested. Twenty-seven soldier marriages have been solemnized.
This in a mere outline is the outside story of the effect of a large camp on a very small parish. The “inside story” of the hopes and anxieties that have found silent expression in the church during this last year cannot be written. And it is in the “inside story” that religion is mainly interested.
District Court. The continued cases of Robert E. Weitz, of Medford, for overspeeding and manslaughter, in causing the death of Corp. Adam Bock on August 28, was tried Wednesday morning. The defendant was found not guilty of both complaints and discharged. Weitz, who was an auto truck driver for Coleman Bros., contractors at the camp, ran down the corporal, it is alleged, who received injuries that resulted in his death. John D. Carney was counsel for the defendant and Assistant District Attorney Fosdick represented the government.
The continued case of Ralph P. Willoughby, of Ayer, who was charged with manslaughter, also came up for disposal. He was found not guilty of the complaint against him and discharged. In this case Mr. Carney also represented the defendant and Mr. Fosdick the government. The charge against the defendant resulted from an accident on Park street on the evening of September 24, when the automobile which he was driving struck a motorcycle driven by Sergt. George A. Daley, which caused the sergeant’s death at the base hospital at Camp Devens two hours later.
Deaths. Private Robert Harold Saunders died at Camp Devens Tuesday from the effects of a self-inflicted revolver wound the previous night. He was born in Ayer, August 29, 1894. The young man was a member of the 325th motor truck company and had been at the camp a year. He was well respected, of excellent reputation and very popular with all who knew him. Many were the expressions of sorrow heard on all sides when it was learned that he was dead.
Previous to his being drafted for the army he was employed in the local express office, later being promoted to the position of messenger on the through western express trains, he being the youngest man holding that position on the entire Fitchburg division. He was a member of the George J. Burns Hook and Ladder Company.
Mr. Saunders leaves his father, Robert T. Saunders, and one sister, Mrs. Roderick Casavoy of Shirley.
The funeral took place from the home of O. Hartwell Kidder, a cousin of the deceased, at two o’clock Thursday afternoon. Services were performed by Rev. John R. Chaffee of the Federated church. John Armstrong religious secretary at Hut 27, Camp Devens, also took part in the ceremony. Full military honors were accorded the deceased, the 325th Motor Truck Company, of which he was a member, attending the services. The bearers were members of the company. A firing squad fired a volley over the grave at Woodlawn cemetery, where the interment took place.