Monday, May 23, 2016

The last of the World War One Veteran's in Greater Lowell

I've been researching World War One and Greater Lowell for quite a few years now. In 2011 Frank Buckles passed away and he was noted as being the last U.S. veteran of World War One. With the 100th anniversary coming up, I'm trying to determine who were the last surviving veterans of WW1 from Greater Lowell.

In 1993 the U.S. Veteran's Administration funded by the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation awarded 75th anniversary medals to surviving veterans of World War One. It was estimated that only 1 percent of the veterans of this war were still alive. Nine thousand medals were awarded in total.

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Robert R. McCormick was the editor and the publisher of the Chicago Tribune. Col. McCormick was the Commander of 1st Battalion of the 5th Field Artillery of First Division in the U.S. Army during World War One. Colonel McCormick died in 1955 and his will funded the Tribune Foundation.

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Veteran's or their families had to prove their military service during World War One to the Veteran's Administration. The awards were presented to the following Greater Lowell veterans:

Demetrios "Jimmy" Banacos
Alphonse Brule
Merle Hamilton
Joseph Leo Rivet

If anyone knows of any other Greater Lowell veteran that was awarded this medal please let me know. Over the course of the week I will be giving information on each veteran about their life and their service.

We thank them and remember them.

History of American Legion Post 87

Most people in Lowell are familiar with the American Legion Post 87 at 684 Westford Street near Tyler Park. Let's talk a little history.

The American Legion was formed in 1919 right after World War One. American Legion Post 87 was formed on July 25, 1919 in the Community Hall located at the current site of the Club Diner on Dutton Street. It's first officers were: Walter Scannel, Commander; John O'Rourke, Sr. Vice Commander; Joseph T. Sullivan, Jr. Vice Commander; Eli B. Hart, Quartermaster; James F. McCready, Adjutant; Winifred C. MacBrayre, Historian; John Graves, Officer of the Guard; John King, Sentinel; James Brown, Insurance Officer. At first I thought the Historian was a female but it's a male.

In 1922, Post 87 had their quarters in the newly completed Lowell Memorial Auditorium. They became the largest Post in Massachusetts. Dues were three dollars a year. In June 1950 they purchased the Harry A. Thompson Estate, located at 684 Westford Street near Tyler Park in the Highlands section of Lowell. Harry Thompson was the treasurer of the Moxie Corporation for 40 years and the son of Augustus Thompson the inventor of MOXIE. Arthur Thompson sold all of his stock in 1943 thereby severing the Thompson family connection and the Lowell connection with MOXIE.
Massachusetts Cultural Heritage Inventory - Carriage House at 684 Westford Street

The post renovated the house and carriage house for their purposes until the house was destroyed by fire in 1963. At that time the post raised money and built the current facility that stands today. Not only does the American Legion support veterans it also supports the community in many ways. Please remember all the current and deceased members of American Legion Post 87 this upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

Google street view image captured 5/22/2016

I wonder if the bar serves Moxie?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The First Soldier From Lowell Killed in Action in France - Pvt. James W. McClellan

The first soldier from Lowell killed during World War One was Pvt. James William McClellan who was mortally wounded on April 6, 1916 and died the next day. He was 22 years old.

He was the son of Andrew and Sarah (McCann) McClellan of 32 Rock Street, Lowell, MA. He was born in Lowell on April 12, 1894. In the 1910 Federal Census, at age 16 his occupation was listed as trimmer in a shoe shop. He had attended St. Patrick's Boys' Academy.

He left for Toronto and enlisted in the 36th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force on April 16, 1915. He first set sail for England. In the early part of February 1916 he was sent to France to fight. He received a fatal gunshot wound to the head on April 6, 1916 and died on April 7, 1916. His name is listed on the Doughboy memorial in the Acre.
 Courtsey of

He is buried in the Etaples Military Cemetery in Nord Pas-de-Calais, France. He was survived by his parents, brothers George and Joseph and sisters Sarah and Mrs. Mary Gibbons.

Please remember James McClellan who left home to never return again. We will not forget.