A Century Ago in Westford

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, transcribed 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.

The Westford Wardsman, 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.

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The Westford Wardsman, 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.

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The Westford Wardsman, 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.

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The Westford Wardsman, September, 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.

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The Westford Wardsman, 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.

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The Westford Wardsman, 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.

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The Westford Wardsman, 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.

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The Westford Wardsman, 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.

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The Westford Wardsman, 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.

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The Westford Wardsman, 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.

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The Westford Wardsman, 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.

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