Spanish American War

Spanish American War Monument: 4th part of the War Memorial talk by David Ruell October 12, 2011

The arrival of the World War bronze plaque must have inspired someone to think about the Spanish American War veterans of the town. There were not many and their service had been relatively short, but still, they had not been recognized by a monument.

Seven Ashland men enlisted during the war, all in the First Regiment NH Volunteer Infantry, the only unit raised in the state during the war. All joined in May or June of 1898. The regiment left Concord in May, was sent to an army camp in Georgia, then to Kentucky in late August, and finally back to New Hampshire in September, where they were mustered out in October. Their experience was typical of the war. Of 200,000 volunteers in the war, 136,000 never left the county. But their service was not without casualties. Thirty members of the regiment died of typhoid fever in Georgia.

So, one year after the World War I tablet was installed, an article appeared in the 1921 annual town meeting warrant “to procure a tablet for the Spanish War veterans of the town of Ashland”. But this was the meeting that turned down the request for additional funds for enlarging the town hall, and this article suffered the same fate, being dismissed by the meeting. The newspaper provided no other information on the failure of the article.

The following year, a similar article “to secure a tablet for the Spanish War Veterans for the town of Ashland” appeared in the 1922 town meeting warrant. As with the town hall project, the 1922 meeting was more receptive and voted $300 for the memorial. The work was done within two months. One small item appeared in the May 13, 1922 newspaper “The monument for which the town raised money to be erected in honor of the soldiers in the Spanish-American war has been put in place in the town hall yard. It is a handsome piece of granite and does credit to the makers.” But the article does not name the makers, acting as if everybody knew them. The annual town report is equally anonymous, just recording that $300 was spent on the monument for Spanish War veterans. Fortunately, the Town Treasurer’s cash book for that year still survives. It records the payment of $300 to F.J. And E.O. Sanborn. The purpose for the payment is not named, but this is the only payment for that amount in that period of the year. So I am almost 100 % certain that the Sanborns made the monument. They were a father and son firm. Fred J. Sanborn was a stone cutter all his life. He taught the trade to his son Earle O. Sanborn. The firm of FJ and EO Sanborn first appears as an Ashland monument firm in 1912 business directories. They bought the property that is now Dunkin Donuts, opposite the cemetery, in September 1913. They had the equipment to take raw blocks of Barre, Vermont granite, cut, polish, and letter them. Their main product was gravestones, but they also made public monuments as simple as this monument or more sophisticated and complex like the war memorial in Plymouth.

The monument was, according to people who remember it, placed at the front of the Town Hall lot, near the street. The monument was ready in time for Memorial Day, but the reporting on the holiday was again quite brief both before and after. Nothing was said about the monument or dedication in those reports, but there were services at the town hall and a band concert and a speaker in the afternoon in the Town Hall yard. So something may have been said or done at that time to dedicate the monument.

For the memorial’s later history, see the Deane Lot section