Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Captain America Walton

Usually when I research a story I find another. While researching Captain Kittredge who was killed in action during the Great War, I learned he had a grandfather who served in Civil War. His name was America Walton.

America Walton was born in Franklin Plantation, Maine in August of 1835. His family moved to Peru, Maine when he was nine and then on to Lowell by himself in 1856. He worked at the Lowell Bleachery and joined the Company B of the City Guards. He must of resigned from the 6th Massachusetts because he is not listed on the roster in 1861 and in May of 1861 he went to Patten Maine where he joined the 8th Maine Company B Infantry. In 1863 while on furlough he married Sophronia Dow.

Courtesy photo - Maine Archives

He was involved in several battles and was shot twice. He was at Appomattox when Lee surrendered to Grant on April 9, 1865. He was promoted often and ended up a Captain in 1865.

After the war he was an active member of G.A.R Post #120 (James A. Garfield). At a meeting celebrating the 50th anniversary of Lee's surrender at Appomattox he was the only living person in Lowell who had witnessed the surrender.

Unfortunately, he lived long enough to see his grandson, Captain Paul E. Kittredge killed in action in World War One.

He died in Lowell March 15, 1919 and is buried in Edson Cemetery. Our own Captain America.

Update: Thanks to Walter Hickey, Historian Extraordinaire we have confirmation that America Walton was a member of the Massachusetts 6th Company D from 1857-1859.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Captain Paul E. Kittredge

Paul Edward Kittredge was born December 31, 1890 in Newton, MA to Edward and Mary E. (Walton) Kittredge. The family moved to Lowell soon after having family here. Paul joined the National Guard, the 101st Infantry 26th Yankee Division. He married Sarah R. Hemmersley of Lowell, on September 30, 1914 at the Immaculate Conception Church. They had a daughter Marion Louise born May 27, 1915 and they lived at 95 Andover Street.

Paul was called up for the Mexican trouble and was in charge of recruiting more soldiers in Lowell in 1916. His occupation is listed as Special Policeman. Two days after being promoted to Captain he was killed by a mortar shell on October 23, 1918. He received the Croix de Guerre for conspicuous bravery by the French government. He is buried in the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery in France.

Courtesy: Find a Grave

Washington Square at the intersection of Nesmith and Andover streets was renamed Kittredge Park in his honor. His mother sailed to France May 17, 1932 as part of the Gold Star Mother's Pilgrimage tour that was sponsored by the US Government. His wife remarried after the war to Howard Cameron and she died in Norwood in 1965.

He never came home. We thank him and his family for his sacrifice. Think of him when you drive by Kittredge Park.

In researching Captain Kittredge I found the story of his grandfather Captain America Walton. Isn't that a great name? Blog post about him tomorrow on Veteran's Day.

Friday, October 31, 2014

McErlane Brothers

Peter J. McErlane and Paul M. McErlane were born in Lowell to Irish born Peter and Elizabeth (Kane) McErlane along with six sisters. The family lived in the Pawtucketville section of Lowell at 53 Third Avenue and were founding members of St. Rita's parish.

Peter was the oldest and graduated from the Bartlett, Lowell High School class of 1935 and the evening division of Lowell Textile class of 1940. He enlisted in the army ten months before Pearl Harbor. He was a member of the famed Yankee Division 101st Infantry 26th Division Company K.

First Sergeant Peter J. McErlane

His younger and only brother Paul graduated from the Bartlett and Lowell High School class of 1940. He also was an excellent golfer, winning the Lowell City Caddy Championship in 1940. He joined the Air Force and was a radio gunner of a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.
Sergeant Paul M. McErlane

On April 25th 1944 the McErlane family got news that their youngest son was Missing in Action. On his second combat mission his plane had to ditch over Germany. Three of the flight members ended up being Prisoners of War and six were lost. They were shot down on Easter Sunday. Right before Paul left for his ill fated mission he sent flowers to his mother for Mother's Day. They held out hope that he had survived but at the end of the war he was declared dead. A mother's heartache.

On December 10th 1944 the McErlane family was notified by the War Department that their other son, Peter was killed in action on November 28th 1944 in Vibersviller near Metz, France. He was part of the Lorraine offensive that was so deadly. He really didn't have a chance. Lots of hand to hand fighting as the Americans marched towards Germany. Trying to clear the towns to get the tanks through. Patton's tanks. It was a deadly affair.

Peter and Paul's sister Rita was serving as a Lieutenant in the US Army Nurse Corps in Italy. On the front line. She survived the war and married in Milan, Italy.

After the war the McErlanes were popular members of St. Rita's and the Pawtucketville neighborhood. The square across the street from the Joseph A. McAvinnue Elementary School is named in their honor. It's at the intersection of Mammoth, 4th Avenue and Woodward Avenue.

Paul never came home. He is memorilized on the Tablet of the Missing at Netherlands American Cemetery in Margaraten, Netherlands and on the family stone at St. Patrick's Cemetery.

Peter's body came home in 1948 and he had a funeral at St. Rita's and burial at St. Patrick's Cemetery. They were both survived by their parents and sisters Joan Donaghey, Anna Monnahan, Frances Fadden, Rita Miller, Eleanor Sullivan and Patricia Bartlett. Thank you McErlane family.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Our Friends to the North - World War One

The National War Memorial in Ottawa was dedicated May 21st 1939 in honor of all the Canadians that fought in the Great War. Over the years it has been updated to include all the wars the Canadians have participated in. Last week Corporal Nathan Cirillo was shot and killed by a terrorist on sacred ground. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.

In researching World War One and remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, I knew that we had several servicemen who served for the Canadian Expeditionary Forces from greater Lowell. Because the United States tried to stay out of the war for as long as we could, many men went north to Canada to get in on the action.

In greater Lowell there total of 174 war time deaths for those fighting for the allies. Some were accidents, illness or killed in action.  Looking closer at who they were fighting for we have a total of 21 servicemen who died fighting under the Canadian flag.

Please remember the ultimate sacrifice they made.

Aubrey Bearisto 5th Canadian Battalion September 28, 1918
Harry Burke Canadian Black Watch October 1, 1918
Mederic Champagne Canadian Expeditionary Force August 18, 1918
Gavin Caldwell Royal Air Force mechanic October 13, 1918
Narcisse Desrosiers Canadian Expeditionary Force August 27, 1918
Phillip Doyon 22d Canadians August 27, 1918
Eldon Elston Canadian Black Watch October 16, 1918
Thomas Fennelly Canadian Expeditionary Force November 7, 1918
Anthony Gray Canadian Expeditionary Force September 20, 1918
Thomas Hamblett Canadian Infantry August 27, 1918
Bertrand Lamarre Canadian Expeditionary Force August 19, 1917
Lee MacKenzie 4th DT Mortar Battery September 28, 1918
Stewart Maclean 42nd Canadian Kilties August 12, 1918
James McClennan 42d Bn. Canadian Infantry April 7, 1916
Edmond  McNamara American Legion of Canadian Army April 12, 1918
Harry Miller Canadian Expeditionary Force December 6, 1918
Joseph Paquin Canadian Expeditionary Force October 26, 1917
John Regan Canadian Expeditionary Force October 11, 1918
Edward Rowe 224th Canada. August 28, 1918
William Swift Canadian Expeditionary Force October 1, 1918
Ray Turner Canadian Expeditionary Force January 5, 1918

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Benjamin Franklin Butler

Lawyer - Civil War General
Governor - Congressman
Industrialist - Yachtsman

Photo credit: Library of Congress

Love him or hate him he knew how to use his power and influence. After the Civil War Major General Butler returned to Lowell to practice law. He was very active in the affairs of the textile mills both for and against the owners.

The General had a house in Lowell at 133 Andover Street. The house (mansion) was torn down in the 1970s and was located on the land of Mansion Drive, Carriage Drive and Butler Drive off Andover Street.

He also had a summer residence in Gloucester called Bay View that he built in 1866. Still owned by his descendents it is available for rent today if you are interested.

General Butler invested in the Pentucket Navigation Company in 1867. The steamer Merrimac brought vacationers from Lawrence and Haverhill to the Black Rocks at Salisbury Beach for summer recreation. He also brought coal up the river to sell in Lowell. He made a lot of money. General Butler also purchased the yacht "America" from the U.S. Navy in 1873. He was an excellent yachtsman. The trip from Lowell to Gloucester is 40 miles so you have to wonder how many times he made the trip by water.

The mouth of the Merrimack River is one of the most dangerous on the east coast. Boats coming out of the river have Black Rocks and Badger Rocks on the Salisbury side to navigate. A light house was positioned on the Plum Island side. Along with a life saving station. The jetties that are on each side of the entrance to the Atlantic Ocean did not exist.

Benjamin Butler himself picked out the spot for the navigation aid we know as Butler's Toothpick in 1873. It's officially known as Coast Guard Black Rock Day Beacon #10 (Light List #9040). It is owned by the Coast Guard but sits adjacent to Salisbury Beach Reservation. It is forty feet tall and sits on a granite base 24 feet tall. The General also owned Cape Ann Granite so I wonder if he supplied the granite as well.

In 1947 the high tide swept out the wooden structure. It was rebuilt. It has had several updates over the years. It is a highly prized landmark today. We love visiting it when we camp at Salisbury Beach Reservation.
Thanks Ben!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Corp. Joseph Worthy - 101st Infantry Company M - WW1

Corporal Joseph H. Worthy was born in Boston September 26, 1891 the son of Joseph and Elizabeth O'Hare. His father was born in Ireland. This second generation Acre resident worked at the U.S. Cartridge Company as a moulder and attended St. Patrick's Church. He joined the National Guard and served during the trouble at the Mexican Border before World War One. 

Boston Globe Photo

Corp. Joseph Worthy was a member if the 101st Yankee Division Company M that many Lowell men fought with in France. They were one of the first to fight. He was killed along with three other Lowell men during the Second Battle of the Marne in Vaux France on July 15, 1918. Their names are Pvt. Francis M. McOsker, Pvt. Arthur McOsker and Pvt. Philip Chalifoux all of Company M.

Joseph Worthy was survived by his father Joseph, sister Mrs. Martin Brick and brothers John and Richard. His mother died in 1912. He is buried in St. Patrick's Cemetery in Lowell. A square is named in his honor at the corner of Broadway and Dutton Streets.

Shortly after the war his brother was contacted by a soldier from Boston, Sergt. H.L. Ryder that he was the one who discovered Joseph Worthy's body. He was dead and holding a prayer book. The book was "Remembering the Eucharistic Mission at St. Patrick's Church, Lowell, April 1918" with 95 Adams Street inside the cover. It is thought that he was praying when he died. He returned the book to the grateful family.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Congressional Medal of Honor and Lowell Connections

With yesterday's announcement of Sgt. Ryan Pitts of Nashua, NH being selected as the latest recipient of the MEDAL OF HONOR I thought a rundown of past recipients with local connections was warranted. Sgt. Ryan Pitts was born in Lowell and served in Afghanistan in the U.S. Army 2nd Platoon, Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion Airborne, 503 Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne. The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest award for combat valor

In the Hall of Flags at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium there is a plaque that was dedicated in 1952 to all the Lowell men who have are recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor. The plaque was updated with the addition of David H. McNerney, after the Vietnam War.

Here is the list of the Medal of Honor Recipients with Lowell connections:


Albert Ames - US Army at Bull Run, VA. Buried in Lowell at Hildreth Family Cemetery. Married General Benjamin Butler's daughter.

Eugene W. Ferris - US Army at Berryville, VA. Entered service from Lowell.

John C. McFarland - US Navy. Lowell resident. Has headstones in St. Patrick's, Edson and Lowell Cemetery. Wife and son are buried in St. Patrick's Cemetery.

Daniel J. Murphy - US Army at Harcher's Run, VA. Entered service from Lowell, MA.

Dennis J.F. Murphy - US Army at Corinth, Mississippi. Entered service from Lowell, MA.

Joseph Aton Sladen - US Army at Resaca, GA May 14, 1864. Entered service from Lowell, MA.

Joseph Swell Gerrish Sweat - US Army 6th Massachusetts Co. C at Carsville, VA. Entered service from Lowell, MA.

Joseph Taylor - US Army at Wendon, VA.. Lived in Lowell after Civil War. Buried in Edson Cemetery. I have a separate blog post about him.

Edwin Truell - US Army near Atlanta, GA. Entered service in Lowell. Buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


James F. Sullivan - US Navy. Peacetime. Saved sailor from drowning.

George Charette - US Navy. Born in Lowell 1867. Spanish American War in connection with the sinking of Merrimac in Santiago Harbor Cuba. Buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Square in Lowell in his honor.

Joseph R. Oullette - US Army Killed in Action in Korea. Born in Lowell. Buried at St. Joseph's Cemetery, East Chelmsford. Aiken Street Bridge is named in his honor.

David H. McNerney - US Army, Vietnam at Polei Doc. - born in Lowell.

Thank you Sgt. Ryan Pitts and all those Lowell men that came before you.