A look back in time to a century ago
By Bob Oliphant
“Center. Notwithstanding the extremely cold weather of late, robins are again reported.
Workmen on the side of Prospect hill last week heard robins and later saw them.
“The funeral services of Ai Bicknell, lifelong resident of Westford and civil war veteran, were
held from the Unitarian church on Friday afternoon of last week at one o’clock….
“The concert and ball under the auspices of the local post of the American legion last week
Thursday evening at the town hall proved a great success. There seemed to be a very cordial
desire to respond to this event and a large attendance of townspeople as well as from the
surrounding towns was the result. So crowded was the hall that not until the first intermission
when some went home was it more comfortable for the dancers. Fogg’s ten-piece orchestra of
Brockton furnished spirited music for the concert from eight until nine, and for the dancing
spaced with two intermissions and continued until two o’clock….
“The W.C.T.U. held its January meeting at the home of Mrs. George A. Walker Wednesday
afternoon with seventeen members present….
“The Edward M. Abbot hose company held their monthly meeting on Wednesday evening at
the fire house. A good supper was served by J. Herbert Fletcher and William E. Wright. The
menu consisted of cold ham, scalloped potatoes, baked beans, rolls, coffee and a good variety of
“About Town. Michael E. McGlinchey is taking the census for the town south of the Stony
Brook railroad, and Seth W. Banister and Ernest T. Wright, two returned soldiers, are taking the
census north of the Stony Brook railroad.
“Amos Polly [Polley] has been on the sick list for several days. Guy R. Decatur has been
acting as milking machine and in other friendly helps.
“J. Frank Chandler has been appointed janitor at the Unitarian church in place of Samuel H.
Balch, resigned. Mr. Chandler will be remembered as the grandson of William Chandler, a
constant attendant at this church in the long ago years in those palmy days of enthusiasm when
Rev. Thomas Whittemore [1800-1861], of Boston, the eloquent Universalist minister, was a
supply several summer sessions.
“We desire to add a brief word to the war record of the late Ai Bicknell which we believe has
not been mentioned. He was in both the battles of Bull Run, was taken prisoner and bravely
faced the inhuman horrors of Andersonville prison, which in some respects required more
courage to face than Gettysburg or Bull Run. He not only was a brave soldier in war, but brave in
his loyalty in peace to the ideals of American life….
“We are all sorry to part with Mr. Hill, school superintendent. He not only has been an
efficient superintendent but an efficient society man in the most useful sense of that term. The
Knight [surname of new superintendent] that is coming is highly recommended.
“Graniteville. Lewis Palmer, Jr., now has the cellar dug for a new bungalow that will be
erected on East Main street.
“Forge Village. Grand Opening. Abbot’s hall [Bradford St.], which has been enlarged and
improved, is now finished and on Thursday was formally opened. The Abbot Worsted Co. have
been planning this opening for the benefit and entertainment of their employees and friends, and
all have been looking forward with eagerness to the completion of the building.
“On Thursday afternoon arrangements were made to entertain all the school children from
different schools in the town. The Abbot Worsted Co. provided conveyances to bring the
children from Graniteville, Westford and Brookside. Scott and Boyd, colored song and dance
artists and comedians of Boston, were the feature of the afternoon’s performance….
“In the evening employees from the Graniteville and Forge Village mills were present. There
was a fine program, consisting of Scott and Boyd, … and Miss Edith Marshall, also of Boston,
who rendered different musical numbers, among them the chimes and xylophone solos.…
“There was a moving picture which lasted about half an hour. The apparatus for the movies is
entirely new and everyone had an opportunity to see how well it is going to work for the shows
that will be given with it twice weekly.
“And last but not least the Abbot Worsted band made its first public appearance. The band is
comprised of thirty members in the employ of the company, who also furnished the brass
“Friday evening will be given to the entertainment of the people from the Brookside mills and
all those who were not present the first night….
“The Abbot Worsted Co. is to be congratulated upon having provided one of the very finest
halls in this vicinity and also upon having given enjoyment to a great number of people.”