Revolutionary War

Revolutionary War monument: 6th part of War Memorial talk by David Ruell October 12, 2011

I was the chairman of Ashland’s American Revolution Bicentennial Committee, so I was personally involved in the Revolutionary War monument, which was one of several events and projects that were part of the Bicentennial celebration in Ashland. Another project that was directly relevant was the publication of a book New Holderness in the Revolution, most researched and written by Doris Tatham, which gave us a list of the revolutionary soldiers from New Holderness as the town that is now Holderness and Ashland was called at the time.

A monument honoring the Revolutionary soldiers was discussed at the very first meeting of the committee as something we should do. Another project that we considered was working on improving the appearance of the Town Hall grounds with some landscaping. Those two projects were soon combined into one – to create a small landscaped area outlined by granite curbs and planted with grass and trees and featuring the Revolutionary War monument. James “Jim” Rollins planned the project.

At that time, the state American Revolution Bicentennial Commission was offering a $1000 grant to be matched by the local Bicentennial committee for projects of this kind. I believe this grant money came at least in part from the federal government as we did thank the US Congress for helping to fund the project.

We did obtain the grant using a $500 appropriation from the town and money we had raised at various events and from the sale of the book and its ads. In November 1976, the Ashland Historical Society voted a $100 donation specifically for the Revolutionary soldiers monument.

In 1975, we did consider more elaborate cut granite memorials and got proposals and estimates from a few memorial companies. But our funds were limited. Most of the project money was spent on the landscaping, particularly the granite curb. That work was done by Winston P. Titus, a general contractor who did a lot of work for the L.W. Packard woolen mill at the time and who did a very good job for us. So we did a smaller and more modest monument than we at first considered. Another firm that did work for the mill was the Colonial Brass Co. of Middleboro, Massachusetts. John Smith, a committee member who worked at LW Packard, arranged for them to make the plaque. Doris Tatham’s historical research gave us the list of 44 names for the monument. Earl Sanborn composed the inscription.

In June of 1977, the committee paid the Colonial Brass Company $392 for the 18 x 24-inch bronze plaque and a freight company another $12.15 for shipping the plaque. That appears to have been the total financial outlay by the Committee on the monument, save for a $12 wreath for the dedication. The rest was donated. Ken Forbes collected granite doorsteps from old houses and he donated one for the stone of the monument. He cannot recall now which house it came from. L.W. Packard Co. and particularly Russell Cross prepared the stone and mounted the plaque on it. The town highway department under Willis Holland moved the stone, and Ken Forbes erected it at the site.

We had originally planned to dedicate the monument on Memorial Day in 1977 but that had to be rescheduled to the Fourth of July which was, of course, more appropriate in any case for a Revolutionary War monument. So, in the morning before the parade on the Fourth, the ceremony was held at the Town Hall yard.

The Legion Color Guard and The Royal Eagles were information behind the monument. I made a few remarks and thank yous and introduced the other participants. The principal speaker was Prof. William Taylor of Plymouth State College, who was the vice-chairman of the state Bicentennial Commission. The monument was unveiled by Irene Berry, who was a direct descendent of Enoch Rogers, one of the Revolutionary soldiers from New Holderness, who also took part in the Boston Tea Party.  There was a rifle salute and a goodbye, then the marching groups marched away to join the parade.