When the United States entered the Great War the National Guard were deployed to guard bridges in New England. Pvt. Joseph F. Harding, an 18 year old soldier from Lowell, was assigned to the Mascoma River Bridge in Enfield, NH. This was a B&M freight train bridge.
Joseph F. Harding was born in Lowell on August 4, 1899 to Harry F. and Winifred B. (Keith) Harding. He enlisted in Co. K 6th Infantry, Massachusetts National Guard and report for duty March 30, 1917 and was mustered April 6, 1917.
On the day of April 21, 1917 Pvt. Joseph H. Harding was guarding the bridge. He was near some loud rapids of the river, sitting in a chair with his feet on the rails. He never heard the freight train coming. A neighbor, Ezra Lawrence of Enfield ran to him to try to save him. Ezra lived nearby with his wife and five children. They were both struck and killed.
Pvt. Harding was survived by his father, Harry Harding of 68 Branch Street, his brother Harry and his grandmother Mrs. Mary Harding all of Lowell. His mother had passed away in September of 1902.
Erza Lawrence was awarded the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission Medal in 1917. He left his widow and five children. He was a teamster and only 31 years old.
Rest in peace Pvt. Harding and Mr. Lawrence. You are remembered.
This is my first in my series of causalities of the Great War with Lowell connections.