Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lieutenant Commander Richard Swan Baron

Photo from "Lucky Bag" Class of 1924 US Naval Academy at Annapolis

Richard Swan Baron was born in Lowell, MA January 22, 1901 to Charles and Mary Louise (Swan) Baron and grew up at 88 Eleventh Avenue in the Centralville section. He graduated from Lowell High School and was appointed to the US Naval Academy at Annapolis just like his father. He had a twin sister Gwendolyn, brother Gerald and sister Natalie. The family also had a summer home on Baker's Island in Salem, MA.

Richard's mother was the great grand daughter of Robert Swan of Peterborough, NH and a member of the Daughters of the Revolution (55251). Robert Swan fought at Ticonderoga with Captain Joseph Parker's company. Richard's parents are buried in the Lowell Cemetery.

He rose to the rank of Lieutenant  Commander while serving in China and the Philippines. Right after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor they attacked the Philippines. General McArthur and American forces had been there for about three years. They were unprepared for the attack. Lieutenant  Commander Richard Swan Baron was in Cavite during the initial attack and was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions entering a burning building at grave danger to himself to retrieve important military documents. The Navy Cross is the second highest Navy military honor, second only to the Medal of Honor.

The Lieutenant Commander was killed in action on March 15, 1942 by the Japanese invasion in Cebu. He was survived by his wife Anne Baron, his mother, his siblings and three young daughters; Mary Louise, Ann and Gerald. In his memory the US Navy had a Destroyer Escort ship named in his memory. The USS Baron DE-166 was christened in New Jersey May 9, 1943 and saw wartime service.

Lieutenant Commander Richard Swan Baron is buried in the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines. This cemetery, covering 152 acres, maintained by the American Battle Monument Commission, contains 17,206 American burials and  3,744 unknown burials. The cemetery contains the largest number of graves of any U.S. personnel killed during World War Two.

He never came home. We must not forget Lowell native Richard Swan Baron who paid the ultimate sacrifice so far from home.

Friday, November 22, 2013

American Revolutionary War Hero - Benjamin Pierce

Benjamin Pierce was born in East Chelmsford, Massachusetts (now Lowell) on Christmas Day 1757 to Benjamin and Elizabeth (Merrill) Pierce. The house no longer exists but it would be near the intersection of Jenness and Chelmsford streets. Benjamin's father died when he was six and he was taken care of by his uncle Stephen Pierce who was married to Bessie Bowers. His mother remarried Oliver Bowers. He attended a little red school house at School and Westford streets.
Governor Benjamin Pierce
Portrait in NH State House, Concord, NH
Benjamin was 18 years old and plowing his uncle's land near the intersection of Powell and B streets on April 19, 1775 when word arrived via courier that shots were fired in Lexington and Concord . He hitched his steers to a tree stump, unhooked the plow and grabbed his uncle's gun, some supplies and headed to Concord. By the time he arrived on foot they were gone and he made his way to Cambridge. He enlisted in the Army and fought at Bunker Hill.
From a letter of Benjamin Pierce of Ford's Company, later of Hillsborough, N.H.: "I went into the Hill about 11 o'clock, A.M. When I arrived at the summit of bunker's Hill I saw two pieces of cannon there standing, with two or three soldiers by them, who observed they belonged to Capt. Callender's Company, and that the Captain and his officers were cowards and had run away. Gen. Putnam there sat upon a horse * * * * and requested our company, which was commanded by Capt Ford, of Chelmsford, Mass., to take these pieces and draw them down. Our men utterly refused, and said they had no knowledge of the use of artillery, and they were ready to fight with their own arms. Capt. Ford then addressed his company in a very animated, patriotic and brave strain, which is characteristic of the man. The company then seized the drag-ropes and drew them to the rail fence about half the distance from the redoubt on Breed's Hill to Mystic River." - "The History of Chelmsford"  by Wilson Waters

Benjamin Pierce stayed in service until the end of the war in 1784. After Bunker Hill, he spent the rest of the war in Colonel Brook's regiment. He participated in campaigns in New York and wintered with Washington's army at Valley Forge. He held the ranks of common soldier, corporal, sergeant, ensign and lieutenant. He stayed in the army until they disbanded at West Point. He stayed in service attaining the rank of Brigadier General back home.

At the end of the war he returned to Chelmsford to live at the corner of Chelmsford and Midland streets. He had been gone for nine years. He earned $200 for his service and went north to the wilderness of Hillsborough, New Hampshire where he purchased 50 acres of land with a log hut for $150. He went to work clearing the land. He married Elizabeth Andrews who gave birth to his daughter Elizabeth but his wife died four days later from complications from childbirth. Alone with a baby, Benjamin soon remarried Anna Kendrick of Amherst, NH. They would have 8 more children. Later he would purchase 200 more acres and built a mansion and tavern. It is a museum today as part of the Hillsborough Historical Society.

Courtesy - Library of Congress

Benjamin Pierce was very active in civic affairs. He held many offices and was elected Governor of the state of New Hampshire for two terms in 1827 and 1829. His last official act was to cast an electoral vote for Andrew Jackson in 1832. He was an original member of the Society of Cincinnati. He died in Hillsborough, NH on April 1, 1839.

He visited Lowell many times during his life maintaining his family ties. As did his son, Franklin Pierce the fourteenth President of the United States. Franklin Pierce's wife was also related to Nathan Appleton.

Benjamin Pierce was a great statesman and patriot with Lowell roots. His father and grandfather both lived and died here. The Pierce family, sold land in 1833 to the City of Lowell for the poor farm. This land is where Lowe's is located today.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Red Sox Win World Series at Fenway Park

Yes, they won last night but this story is about 1918. On September 11, 1918 the Boston Red Sox beat the Chicago Cubs 2-1 in the sixth game of the World Series. The world was at war. Baseball was not a big deal.

 Mrs. Walter Marr finally learned that her husband had died July 22nd in France. He was killed in action near Tugny Woods. She hadn't heard from him in months and had been contacting the army in vain to learn what had happened to him. She feared the worst.

Walter Marr was born in 1884 in Lowell to Lawrence and Mary (Brennan) Marr. He married Mary Quinn and had three children; Leonard, Virginia and Marion. The family lived at 24 Smith Street. Walter reported for duty April 1, 1917 and went overseas September 16, 1917. He was a member of Company I, 102nd CT Infantry Regiment. He was killed in action July 23, 1918 near Trugny Wood in France.

Walter was a great amateur baseball player in Lowell. In the army he became a grenade thrower. His baseball experience helped him but this was dangerous duty. He came from a family of service. Three uncles served in the Civil War and two of them lost their lives during the war.

Walter's body was returned to the United States in 1921 for burial at St. Patrick's Cemetery. We remember the sacrifice that Walter Marr's family has made for us.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Col. Mary A. Hallaren - First Commander of Women's Auxiliary Army Corps

Mary Agnes Hallaren was born in Lowell on May 4, 1907 to John and Mary (Kenney) Hallaren and she had two sisters and three brothers. The family lived on Second Street in the Pawtucketville section of the city. She went to Lowell Teacher's College (now known as UMass Lowell) graduating class of 1927. She taught junior high school in Lexington for fifteen years. Every summer she went on grand adventures all over the world. She did a lot of her traveling by hitchhiking alone as a single woman with no lipstick and lots of walking.

She was one of the first women to enlist in the Woman's Auxiliary Army Corps, the precursor to the Woman's Army Corps (WACs) during World War Two on July 10, 1942.  She was the first officer not in the medical branch. During her recruitment she stood on her tiptoes to make the five foot minimum height requirement. She was actually 4' 10" tall. When the recruiter questioned her size she told him "you don't have to be six feet tall to have a brain that works."
Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, NYWT&S Collection.

She was known for her excellent organization skills and command. She was affectionately called "The Little Colonel". She commanded 9,000 women in the European theater. She became the third Director of the WAC in 1947. She served in that capacity through the Korean War and until 1953. She remained in the service until her military retirement in 1960. In 1965 she became the first Executive Director of Women in Community Service in Virginia.

She has received numerous awards, citations, and honors throughout her lifetime. She received the Bronze Star, The Legion of Merit, Croix De Guerre, Legion of Honor, UMass Lowell Distinguished Alumni Award, National Women's Hall of Fame in 1996 and more. She is highlighted in Tom Brokaw's book "The Greatest Generation".

She died February 13, 2005 in McLean, Virginia at the age of 97 and is buried in the family plot at St. Patrick's Cemetery in Lowell, MA. Thank you for your service!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering Bartholomew B. O'Sullivan and the Shenandoah Air Disaster

The United States Navy's first American made Dirigible was the Shenandoah ZR-1. The Shenandoah was 680 feet long and had six 300 HP engines capable of going 60 MPH. It flew on the east coast and was based in Lakehurst, New Jersey. 

Photo Courtesy of Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection

On September 2, 1925 she crashed in three pieces after breaking up in heavy winds over Ada, Ohio. Fourteen men of the crew of 42 were killed.  Chief Petty Officer, Bartholomew B. O'Sullivan a nineteen year resident of Lowell, Massachusetts was killed. He was thirty five years old. 

Photo Courtesy of Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection

He was born in New York and moved to Andover, Massachusetts as a small child. He graduated from Lawrence High School and Lowell Textile school. He was married to the former Elizabeth Rawley. He left four children; Edward who became Rev. O'Sullivan, OMI of the Immaculate Conception parish, Francis, Bart Jr. and Elizabeth who later married James Dunn. 

His funeral was widely attended at Sacred Heart Church on Moore Street. His flag draped casket was carried on the Battery B caisson. The funeral cortege proceeded for burial at St. Patrick's cemetery on Gorham Street. Planes flew overhead to honor the valiant hero. Thank you.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Lowell's Highest Ranking General - Hoyt S. Vandenberg

The highest ranking General with Lowell roots is Hoyt S. Vandenberg.  He was born Jan 24, 1899 in Milwaukee, WI but spent his childhood years in Lowell.  He attended the Moody Grammar School and graduated from Lowell High School Class of 1917. The Vandenberg Esplinade by the Merrimack River in Lowell was dedicated to him in 1977 by Gov. Dukakis.

After he left Lowell he went to West Point where he graduated 240th in his class of 261. Fortunately, he became an excellent airman. During a time when flying was very dangerous he was a great leader. The men really liked him. He became a 4 star General, Commander of the US Air Force and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was the second director of the C.I.A. One of his legacies is that he picked out the blue color of the Air Force uniform with the silver buttons.

In 1948 his wife started "The Arlington Ladies" to honor veterans during the burials at Arlington National Cemetery.  A lady will always be present at each burial so that no soldier dies alone.  It continues to this day.

For his full biography see this link:

Time Magazine Cover January 19, 1945

General Vandenberg is named for Eli W. Hoyt of Hoyt German Cologne fame. His mother's aunt, Mary A. (Ingraham)  was married to Eli W. Hoyt and she lived at 286 Andover Street in the matching house of Eli's best friend Freeman Ballard Shedd. The General had one brother and his name is Aaron Shedd Vandenberg but he went by the name of Shedd.  His middle name is in honor of Elis' best friend, business partner and neighbor Freeman Shedd.

Eli W. Hoyt died in Lowell February 9, 1887 of tuberculosis. His wife remarried Henry Felton in 1891. She continued to live at 286 Andover Street right next to her neighbor Freeman Ballard Shedd until her death in 1908. In 1909 to settle the estate an auction was held and the highest bidder was her niece's husband Collin Vandenberg! The family moved from Milwaukee to relocate to Lowell so that his wife could take care of her ailing mother (Nellie Ingraham Kane). Her mother died in 1910 but the family stayed in Lowell until after both boys graduated from Lowell High School. The house was sold again at auction in 1919 to Dr. Adam E. Shaw.  The doctor lived in the house and used  the carriage house as Shaw's Hospital on East Merrimack Street.

General Vandenberg died shortly after retiring from prostate cancer at Walter Reed Hospital on April 2, 1954 at the age of 55.  President Eisenhower attended his funeral. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery with his wife. More information about his funeral can be found here:

Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompac, California is named in his honor. His parents are buried in Lowell Cemetery. He is survived by a son, 2 star General Hoyt Vandenberg Jr. and Mrs. Gloria Miller.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Callery Park

Before the Vietnam War there was a park in the Highlands section of Lowell called Highland Park. It is surrounded by Stevens, Parker, B and Wilder Streets. There are baseball and softball fields along with tennis courts.

Callery Park via Google Maps

On May 22, 1966 Callery Park was dedicated in the memory of PFC William T. Callery. An impressive dedication ceremony was held and Governor Volpe attended.

William T. Callery lived nearby on Parker Street. I would imagine that he would walk over to the park with his buddies and play baseball. He graduated from Lowell High School Class of 1963. At the age of 20 he was killed in action in Vietnam on February 22, 1966. He was in the U.S. Army attached to Company A 2nd Battalion 18th Infantry Division. He was survived by his parents, Mr. & Mrs. Francis Callery, two brothers, two sisters and two grandmothers. He is buried in St. Patrick's Cemetery.

So today when the children play at Callery Park I hope they and their parents remember the great sacrifice William T. Callery made. We must not forget.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Korean War and Lowell Prisoners of War/Missing in Action

The Korean War is sometimes called the Forgotten War. Before WW2 the Japanese ruled in Korea. After World War 2 the allies divided Korea into North and South around the 38th parallel. Supporting the 2 new Koreas were the U.S.S.R (Communists)  in the North and the United States (Democracy) in the South. In 1949 the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. pulled out. Shortly thereafter the North invaded the South. The United Nations and the United States came to the support of South Korea. China aided North Korea.

Two Lowell, MA Army Corporals, Francis Joseph Krygowski and Thomas Harding, Jr , members of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 29th Infantry Regimental Combat Team were sent to fight in Korea. They participated in one of the early battles near Hadong, South Korea. It did not end well for the Americans.

They were originally listed as "Captured but Not Accounted For" on July 27, 1950. Later they were listed as Prisoners of War and then Presumed Dead. Their bodies have not been found. Their names are inscribed on the Courts of the Missing in Honolulu.
The Lowell Sun, August, 30, 1950, p1.

Francis J. Krygowski was the son of Mr. & Mrs. Krygowski of 121 Concord Street. He was a graduate of St. Stanislaus School and attended Lowell High School.

Thomas Harding, Jr. was the son of Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Harding, 37 Bartlet Street. He enlisted in the Army on his 17th birthday October 5, 1946. He was a graduate of the Immaculate Conception grammar school and attended Lowell High School.

Lieut. Alexander Makarounis of 548 Fletcher Street, Lowell, MA,  was the Company Commander and was  taken a Prisoner of War. He ended up escaping the Death March from Seoul to Pyongyang and returned home to a grateful family. Only 33 men out of 376 men survived.
The Lowell Sun, November 15, 1950, p.1.

He testified before the U.S. Senate after the war about his experience in North Korea. His story was published in several magazines. He died July 30, 1994 in Lowell at the age of 71.

Testimony by Alexander Makarounis

At the end of the Korean War the dividing line of North and South Korea was settled at the 38th Parallel.  The same place it was at the start of the War. The United States has maintained a strong military presence in South Korea and they are one of our strongest allies.

Thank you all for your service. You are not forgotten!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Legendary Locals of Lowell

Dick Howe's book, Legendary Locals of Lowell published by Arcadia Publishing is now out.  You can purchase a copy at the Lowell Gallery on Jackson Street, Barnes & Noble in Nashua or on amazon.  I highly recommend it!

Our family contributed several photos including this one of World War One hero and my husband's grandfather, Irving Loucraft.   I've written previously of his exploits in World War One.  He was a member of Company M of the Yankee Division and was the Past Commander of the Lowell's American Legion Post 87.

Dick will be having several book signings including one hosted by the Lowell Historical Society, Saturday, April 6th at 11:00 AM at the Lowell Telecommunication Corp on Market Street.  Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

PFC Donald L. Arcand

Lowell Sun, September 3, 1965, p1.

Donald Leonard Arcand was born February 13th 1946 in Lowell, MA to William and Helene (Blanchard) Arcand and lived at 130 Ford Street. Ford Street is now called Father Morissette Blvd. He was an outstanding athlete and graduated from St. Joseph High School Class of 1963.

He volunteered for the US Army in October 1964 and was a door gunner on a UH-1B "Heuy" Helicopter. One of the most dangerous assignments during the war. His helicopter was shot down and he was killed in action on September 1, 1965 in the Binh Duong Province in South Vietnam. His crew was protecting a convoy. He was a member of the 11B, 145th Aviation Battalion Regiment. It was his last mission of a 90 day tour. Donald was only 19 years old.

For his service he received the Gallantry Cross with 3 Palms, Military Merit Medal, Air Medal with 2nd and 3rd Leaf Clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart (posthumously).

On September 9, 1965 his funeral was held at St. Jean Baptiste Church and he is buried at St. Joseph's Cemetery in East Chelmsford.

On May 25, 1969, Arcand Drive was dedicated following the Memorial Day parade.  Arcand Drive was created by the Northern Canal renewal area and the building of the J.F.K. Civic Center and the neighborhood where Donald grew up.  It runs from Merrimack Street at Monument Square to Father Morissette Blvd.

The first to die from Lowell in Vietnam is honored by a street running along the Ladd & Whitney monument that marks the final resting place of the first to die during the Civil War.  We remember his service and his sacrifice.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

MOH - Joseph Taylor

The Forgotten Medal of Honor Recipient – Joseph Taylor

Joseph Taylor was born in Leeds, England December 16, 1847 and came over to the United States with his family and settled in Burrillsville, RI.  With his father’s permission he enlisted in the Seventh Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers August 11, 1862 at the age of 15.

The following is the account of how Joseph Taylor came to receive the Medal of Honor:

“This morning one of the mounted orderlies at brigade headquarters was killed outside the picket line.  Joseph Taylor was detailed to take his place and assigned to A.A. Adjust-Gen. Peleg E. Peckham.  They at once started out and he relates:  “We were obliged to pass over a route lying through dense shrubbery, he leading and I following.  The high bushes swung back with a swish into the face of my horse, and finally, he would not stand it.  I commenced to lose ground, in order to keep up, took a turn off to one side to avoid the objectionable bush.  By so doing, I lost my superior, and while trying to find him, suddenly came upon three fully armed rebel pickets, members of the Sixteenth Georgia Tigers.  I was startled for a moment, but regaining myself, immediately whipped out a revolver, and, covering them demanded their surrender.  They were at my command, for each realized that the first that dared make a move would be a dead man with chances that all would be shot, as I could handle my revolver quicker than they could handle their guns.  I made them march in front of me and took them before Brig.-Gen. John I Curtin, of Pennsylvania, who inquired with an expression of great surprise where I got them.”  For this feat the corps commander at once recommended Private Taylor for a medal of honor, which came to hand in due time, July, 1897, or thirty-three years afterword.”  [1]

Joseph Taylor was living in Lowell, Massachusetts at 28 South Whipple Street in 1897.  In 1905 another bronze medal was given to him from the war department.  This medal was awarded under an act of Congress April 23, 1904 of the new design.  This medal was for his actions on August 18, 1864 at Weldon Railroad near Petersburg, Virginia. 

Joseph Taylor married Mary Francis Chapman April 29, 1868 in Waverly, Rhode Island.  They had one daughter Frances Taylor born in Rhode Island.  The family soon moved to Lowell, MA and Joseph worked as a wool sorter and was active in the G.A.R.  He returned to Rhode Island for reunions of his unit.  His wife died June 24, 1907 and her body was returned to Rhode Island for burial.  Joseph Taylor married his second wife, Alice Cram January 20, 1909 in Lowell, MA.  They had no children.  Joseph Taylor died February 24, 1914 in Lowell, MA and is buried at Edson Cemetery in Lowell, MA.  His second wife died February 24, 1944 in North Billerica, MA and is buried with him at Edson.

Joseph Taylor’s family still resides in the greater Lowell area today.

[1]  The Seventh Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers in the Civil War, 1862-1865 by William Palmer Hopkins, The Providence Press, Providence, R.I., 1903 p. 212.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lowell Doughboys Expanding

I've come across such interesting stories about Lowell servicemen and women in too many wars to limit it just to World War One.   We are in the midst of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.  We have the Vietnam War 50th anniversary coming up. The 100th anniversary of World War One is coming up in 2017.  The generation of WW2 participants are slowly slipping away.

There are stories to be told about our Lowell area veterans.  We must honor their service.  It's the least we can do.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Final Review of 76th Division at Camp Devens Before Going Overseas

The Lowell Historical Society has the George H. Russell Collection of panoramic photographs as part of their collection.  George Russell was a commercial photographer in Lowell from 1914 til  his death in 1944.  His family kindly donated photographs that had a  Lowell connection to the Lowell Historical Society in the 1990s.

Here is the 76th Division before leaving for overseas June 19, 1918.  Enlarge Photo Here

These images have been digitized by Digital Commonwealth and the Boston Public Library.  They are available online at the Center for Lowell History.

See the entire collection here

Full disclosure:   I am a board member of the Lowell Historical Society.  Consider joining!!