A look back in time to a century ago
By Bob Oliphant
“Forge Village. The following is a report to the Westford board of health by the public health
nurse, Miss Eva Lord, [for] December: 4 cases of diphtheria, 4 of chicken-pox, 2 of scarlet fever,
1 of mumps, 1 of septic sore throat, 1 of influenza reported; 2 of scarlet fever were carried over
from last month; 2 children sent home from school with impetigo; 1 family quarantined for 10
days where child had died of diphtheria; 2 houses fumigated and quarantine lifted; number of
visits made to communicable diseases 61, school visits 24, absentees visited in their homes 50,
baby welfare visits 10, prenatal visits 5, instructive and observation visits 38, nursing visits 4,
social and business calls 9, throat cultures taken for diphtheria 7, children examined in school for
minor ailments 181, 3 children taken home sick from school and 1 child taken to hospital.
“Extensive Repairs. Abbot’s hall which has been undergoing extensive alterations for the past few months will soon be open to the pubic again. This hall has been doubled in size with a large stage made in sections to be added to or taken away as the occasion requires…. The hall is
finished in dark oak with a bluish gray tint on the walls, making a very pleasing effect. A new Steinway piano and a fine new floor will meet all the requirements of the dancers….
“The general contracting for this hall was done by P. Henry Harrington, of Graniteville, under the supervision of William Cox, architect, of Boston….
“Center. One of our village bird students reports seeing a robin one day this week.
“There will be an adequate ice supply next summer as Wallace Johnson expected to finish
harvesting his crop on Burgess [i.e., Burge’s] pond this week. The ice is ten inches thick and of
the best, clear quality.
“The annual appraisal of property at the town farm took place last Saturday. The three
appraisers were Robert Prescott, George H. Burke and Otis W. Day…. Everything about the
place is kept in the best of condition by Supt. Charles S. Ripley and the matron, Mrs. Ripley.
“Welcome Home Committee. The committees for the welcome home celebration for the
world war veterans are as follows: Capt. S. H. Fletcher, chairman; H. V. Hildreth, secretary. The
date set for the banquet is Thursday evening, January 29, at six o’clock. Hon. Herbert E. Fletcher
is chairman of the banquet committee; H. E. Fletcher, H. V. Hildreth, A. R. Wall, committee on
speakers; Mrs. H. V. Hildreth, Mrs. H. D. Wright, Mrs. Precious, decorating com.; C. W.
Robinson, P. Henry Harrington, A. W. Hartford, E. E. Nutting, F. C. Wright, E. H. Flagg,
Thomas Costello, soldier com.; Mrs. A. W. Hartford, O. R. Spalding, F. L. Furbush, W. O.
Hawkes, John Edwards, banquet com.; A. W. Hartford, A. R. Wall, E. E. Nutting, C. W.
Robinson, Mrs. H. V. Hildreth, dance com.; board of selectmen, O. R. Spalding, S. H. Fletcher, F.
L. Furbush, medal com.
“Obituary. Ai Bicknell, an aged and life-long resident of Westford, died early Wednesday
morning aged 76 years…. He was born at the old Bicknell homestead on the Carlisle road at the
south part of the town on March 1, 1843….
“Mr. Bicknell was a veteran of the civil war, having a long record of service. He enlisted on
July 2, 1861, in Company C, 16th Regiment, and re-enlisted on December 27, 1863, in the 11th
Regiment. His service expired on July 14, 1865. Two brothers, Nathan and James, also served in
the civil war. At the battle of Gettysburg it fell to his lot to bury his brother [Nathan] who was
killed in battle….
“About Town. The Abbot Worsted Company, with their usual generous spirit, remembered
the overseers at their mill at Brookside: James Zanchi, of the spinning room, a handsome ruby
ring; William Balmforth superintendent, a diamond stickpin; Eugene St. Onge, of the spooling
room, a Morris chair, rug and smoking stand; William Bettwood of the drawing room, a sum of
gold; Edward M. Abbot presented the overseers with a box of cigars.
“Frank T. Johnson, as Santa Claus at the Unitarian Christmas tree [exercises], was a real hit in
adaption. The ‘movies’ furnished a variety of entertainment and everybody got something that
appealed…. The church is grateful for the generosity of the Abbot Worsted Company.
“Resignation Accepted. At a meeting of the joint committee of the schools of Acton,
Carlisle, Littleton and Westford, held Saturday afternoon in the Littleton town hall, the
resignation of Superintendent Frank H. Hill was formally presented and accepted with regret. At
the same meeting … Herman C. Knight of Lunenburg was unanimously elected superintendent of