Hanson MA Veteran Memorial Markers

This Memorial Day weekend Veteran’s Agent Tim White and his wife Diane arranged for flags, flowers, and wreaths to be set up at each of the Veteran Memorial corner markers throughout the town of Hanson. Selectman Wes Blauss photographed each of the corners featured below. Special thanks to each of them for their efforts!

You are welcome to share additional memories, service details, or photographs of these soldiers and sailors in the comments below.

First Lieutenant David C. Hall Corner, South Hanson Train Depot, Main St. KIA 1967 Vietnam.


Washington DC 074

David C. Hall’s name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington D.C.  Photography courtesy of Mary Blauss Edwards, 2006.



Dave Hall. Photo courtesy of Ed McKee of the the 191st AHC Association, courtesy of Shawn Hall.

David Colin Hall (1942-1967) served in Vietnam. His memorial from FindAGrave reads: “On August 29, 1967, First Lieutenant David Colin Hall, a U. S. Army Helicopter Pilot, died in Vietnam from the injuries he received when the helicopter that he was piloting crashed after encountering severe weather conditions. David grew up in the Hanson-Whitman area of Massachusetts, where he attended Whitman High School, graduating with the class of 1960. While he was a student at Whitman, David was active in athletics, playing on his school’s football and track teams. After high school, David continued his education at Cornell University, where he was a member of the University’s track team. In 1964 David graduated from Cornell and received his undergraduate degree and a Commission as a second lieutenant in the U. S. Army. Shortly after David joined the U. S. Army, he applied for and was accepted into the Army’s Officer’s Rotary Wing Aviator Course. David became a U. S. Army helicopter pilot when he completed that course at Fort Rucker, Alabama, graduating with Fight School Class of 66-20. After becoming a U. S. Army helicopter pilot, Lt. Hall was assigned to the 191st Assault Helicopter Company, which was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In May of 1967, David deployed to Vietnam with the 191st until his untimely death in August of 1967. The awards and decorations that David received for his military service include: U. S. Army Pilot Wings, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal, the National Defense service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. David was 25 years old at the time of his death, and he was survived by his wife Janet E. Hall and his daughter Michelle of Whitman, Massachusetts, his parents Ralph E. and Emily Hall of Hanson, Massachusetts, his brother Albert W. (Lorraine) Hall, and his nephew Shawn Hall of Charlton City, Massachusetts, and his sister Sally Hatch of Gilford, New Hampshire. David was preceded in death by his sister Elizabeth “Betty” Hall. David’s photograph and the information contained in his bio were collected and processed by his nephew Shawn Hall and the 191st AHC Association. Other crew who were lost in the same incident were: 1LT Sharel Edward Bales (1937-1967), Berthoud, Colorado; SP4 Peter Steven Martinez (1942-1967), Chicago, Illinois; SP4 Joseph Leon Whitaker (1947-1967), Ontario, Oregon; and, SGT Louis Charles Muser, II (1947-1967), Hoboken, New Jersey. Lt Hall is remembered on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall at: Panel 25E, Line 62.”

A memorial ceremony for David Hall was held in Hanson in 2017.

Capt. Dr. Royce B. Josselyn Corner, Reed Street and Main. WWI.


Dr. Royce Brewster Josselyn (1888-1925) served in WWI in the Medical Corps, with active engagements at Aisne-Marne, Meuse-Argonne, and the battle of St Mihiel. He trained at Bowdoin Medical School in Maine and practiced as a doctor in South Hanson, Mass. and Portland, Maine. He is buried in Fern Hill Cemetery.


Dr. Royce B. Josselyn gravestone, Fern Hill Cemetery, Hanson, MA. Courtesy of Pamela R. on FindAGrave.

Howard Willis Corner, Pleasant and Main. WWI.


Eng. 2C Howard Franklin Willis (1895-1928) served as a sailor in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Fulton in WWI.


Gravestone of Howard Franklin Willis (1895-1928) Fern Hill Cemetery, Hanson, Mass. Courtesy of JoeDel14 at FindAGrave.


Bourne Square, Pleasant and South Street. Civil War.


Three Hanson Bourne soldiers were killed during the Civil War: Daniel Bourne (1839-1864), a member of the Union Army, Co. D 58 of the Massachusetts Infantry, was killed in action at the battle of the Wilderness, George H. Bourne (1840-1863), a private in Co. B, 40th MA Infantry who died at Folley Island, SC, and Joseph Thompson Bourne (1824-1862), a soldier in Co. E, 32nd Massachusetts Infantry, who died at Sharpsburgh, Md.


Joseph T. Bourne gravestone, Mount Pleasant Cemetery
Pembroke. Courtesy of James Bianco at FindAGrave.

Esson Baker Square, South and Monponsett Streets. Spanish American War and WWI.


Esson O. Baker (1865-1929) served in the Spanish American War and World War I.


Esson O. Baker gravestone, Fern Hill Cemetery, Hanson, MA. Photograph courtesy of Pamela R at FindAGrave.

James F. Harrington Corner, Hancock Field, Hancock St., Monponsett. KIA 1951 Korea.

Army Sgt. James Francis “Red” Harrington (1928-1951) graduated Whitman High in 1946. Sergeant Harrington was a member of the 937th Field Artillery Battalion. He was killed in action in North Korea on 8 April 1951. Whitman-Hanson Express, 1 October 2015: “Hanson honors native son killed in Korean War“.


Admirals Albert S. Barker and Albert C. Read Memorial, Main Street, in front of the First Baptist Church.


This marker memorializes Hanson’s two admirals:

Albert Smith Barker (1843-1916) was an admiral in the United States Navy who served in the American Civil War and the Spanish–American War. In the Spanish–American War he commanded the battleship USS Oregon and participated in the bombardment of Santiago on July 1, 1898. He was Commander-in-Chief of the North Atlantic Fleet from 1903 to 1905.


Albert Smith Barker, photograph courtesy of William Bjornstad at FindAGrave.

Albert Cushing Read (1887-1967) was an aviator and Rear Admiral in the United States Navy. He and his crew made the first transatlantic flight in the NC-4, a Curtiss NC flying boat in May 1919, eight years before Charles Lindbergh’s flight.


Albert Cushing Read gravestone at Arlington National Cemetery, courtesy of David McInturff at FindAGrave.

Chester Loring Besse Corner, High Street and Main. WWI.

Chester Loring Besse (1892-1929) served in WWI as a Quartermaster for the U.S. Coast Guard aboard the cutter Gresham.


Theodore Lyman Bonney Corner, Holmes and High Streets. Civil War.

Theodore Lyman Bonney (1836-1863) enlisted in the Civil War in 1861 and died of typhoid fever caught at the Battle of Chancellorsville on 11 May 1863 at the age of 26. He was buried at Potomac Creek Station. His body was later re-interred in Fern Hill Cemetery, and Hanson’s GAR Post was named in his honor. See HHS’s previous article “Theodore Lyman Bonney Civil War Photograph” for more details about his Civil War service and life.



Theodore Lyman Bonney (1836-1863). From the Hanson Historical Society collection.

Roland Ford Square, at the intersection of High Street, Routes 14 and 58. WWI.


Roland Ford (1898-1927). The marker is near where his father Watson B. Ford’s house was located on Liberty St. near McDonald’s.

Ramsdell Corner, at West Washington & Spring Street, named for Isaac and Nathaniel Ramsdell. Civil War.


Isaac Ramsdell (1822-1899) served as a private in Co. C, 38th MA Heavy Artillery from August 1862 to November 1863.

Nathaniel F. Ramsdell (1830-1893) served with four regiments during the Civil War. According to historian Donald Thompson, Nathaniel “first enlisted on April 16, 1861 and was mustered into the 4th Massachusetts Infantry, Co. E on April 22, 1861. He was mustered out of this regiment on July 23, 1861. He then enlisted on Feb. 7, 1862 and was mustered into the 31st Massachusetts. Infantry, Co. K on Feb. 14, 1862. He was discharged due to disability on June 17, 1862. As a 34 year-old shoemaker from Boston, MA, he was one of the last men to enlist and be mustered into the 18th Massachusetts Infantry, when he enlisted on March 21, 1864 and was mustered into the regiment on March 24, 1864. He had been recruited for three years military service in Boston by N.I Nash and was granted a $350.00 enlistment bonus. He was transferred, with the remnants of the regiment, to the 32nd Mass. Infantry on October 21, 1864 and assigned to Company L and mustered out of military service with the 32nd Mass. Infantry on June 30, 1865.”

Captain Gary T. Porter, USMC, Killed in Action, 1967, in Vietnam. Liberty and East Washington Street.

Gary T. Porter (1941-1967) was a UMASS graduate who was commissioned as a Second Lt. in the US Marine Corps and went through aviation training.  He performed Marine Corps helicopter operations in Vietnam. He crashed off the coast of Vietnam on 20 June 1967.  The Vietnam Veterans Memorial reported: “On June 20, 1967, a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter CH-46A (tail number 150936), YT-15, from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 164 (HMM 164), was part of an eight-ship troop lift when it suffered an apparent power loss and went into the sea as it lifted off the USS Tripoli (LPH-10). Two crewmen were rescued and two were lost at sea. The lost crewmen were pilot CPT Gary T. Porter and crew chief LCPL Leslie E. Engelhart.” Gary’s family operated Porter’s Apple Farm on East Washington Street in Hanson.



Gary T. Porter (1941-1967), courtesy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall of Faces.

William Callahan Corner, County Road and Independence Avenue.

Hanson’s most recent hero to be honored, Marine Staff Sgt. Bill Callahan, USMC, died at age 28, during combat in Iraq’s Al Anbar province on April 27, 2007.


John J. Ferry Square at Liberty and Winter Street.  WWII.

John J. Ferry (1923-2015) was the proprietor of Ferry’s Sunoco and recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross in WWII. According to John’s obituary, he served as a: “B-25 flight engineer-gunner in the China-Burma-India theater of the war, flying 75 missions during that time and achieving the rank of staff sergeant. He served with the 83rd Bomb Squadron, 12th Bomb Group of the 10th Air Force. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with three bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, seven Bronze Stars, the Good Conduct Medal, and the Asiatic Pacific Service Medal.”


Ebenezer Henry Gurney Square, located on the island by Jay’s Carpets at the intersection of 27 and 58. Civil War.


Ebenezer Henry Gurney (1841-1902), son of Ebenezer Bourn Keene Gurney and Almira Jane Josselyn. He was a private in the 3rd Massachusetts Infantry, Company A, enlisted on 14 Apr 1861 and fought for three years. During his initial training at Fort Monroe, Virginia Henry wrote a letter to his brother Lt. Thomas Gurney:

Fort Monroe Saturday 11th, May, ’61
My dear Brother,
I received your letter of the 28th of April, last Thursday, so you see that it was a long time on the way. I would like to have you here this day just to see our style of living and how we work too, but I shouldn’t want you or anyone else to come here and live as we do, unless it was for the preservation of our country’s flag, as it is with us. I always thought I was not so hard and tough as the other boys from home, but I find, to my astonishment, that I go far beyond the endurance of the other boys. All of the other boys except Wallace (e.g. Wallace Hood, Pleasant Street) have been hauled up with something or other and I have been tough as a bear. Edwin Thayer has been in the hospital three or four days from a swelling in the neck. Willard is sick from boils. Otis (e.g. Otis Bonney, Washington Street) is not very well this day and the others have been complaining about something almost every day. All from our mode of living, which is pork and bread to eat, almost every day. I never felt better in my life than I have since I have been here, notwithstanding I never worked so hard before. I get up at quarter before five in the morning and shake my blanket; then I have to go out on company drill until breakfast, when we have pork and bread; never anything else. After breakfast we have our own time until eight o’clock when we have regimental drill for three hours. Afternoon we have our own time until four and then drill for two hours. We have to keep awake until 9 o’clock for roll call and do not get to sleep until 10 or after on account of the boys making so much noise. There are 150 of us in one room.
This is our parade duty. On guard and fatigue days we get up as usual and shake our beds but do not have to go out on line until 8.00 a.m. Our fatigue duty is the easiest and our guard duty the hardest. They are bound to put us through every day. As I have very often explained , our victuals are just right to create humors. I don’t eat anything except the bread, beans once in a week, meat once in ten days, rice once a week and what I buy from the officer’s wives or from the cooks. Nothing but pork and bread for breakfast and bread and coffee for supper. This is to serve one’s country.
Our place here is well fortified beside the fort. Yesterday the Pawnee, Cumberland, Harriet Lane and Monticello were all here as blockade; Pawnee, 10 guns, Cumberland, 3p., Harriet L, 6 or 8, and Monticello, 1 large 10-inch gun besides two small ones on deck (Howitzers). Today the Pawnee went out and the Quaker City came in. The Harbor is full of sail stopped by the blockade. We don’t know whether the rebels will be bold enough to attack us or not, but every place is being strengthened and guns put in order. Today they are covering the magazine with bags of sand to prevent all possible explosions. Last night was a busy night over in Hampton for the secessionists. Drums were going all night and this morning the scouts reported a sand battery in process of erection. If they get too fast, they may be used up before they expect. That big gun weighs 19.099-11 marked on it. Will throw a shot or shell from 4 to 7 miles and costs $100.00 everytime it is fired. It is a 15-inch Columbiad and is called the Floyd gun. It is four feet and over through the “britch”. I have stood on it and it was about 15 feet from the ground. I wish you to write as often as you can and tell me all the news. My love to all.

Your brother Henry

Henry was a musician and during his second enlistment he was Chief Bugler in the First Rhode Island Cavalry. Don Blauss reports that “one of the stories remembered by his family was that Henry rode with General Sherman on that “scorching raid through Georgia.” On another one of his letters he reported entering a beautiful Georgia mansion where the soldiers were destroying everything in sight. There was a fine piano there and Henry refused to let them touch it; instead, he sat down and played until they left the room. In a flyleaf of a book he found the name “Semple”. When his first daughter was born, he named her Amy Semple Gurney.”

PFC Belmiro J. Tavares, USMC, Killed in Action in Vietnam, 1966, located on the island at School and Maquan Streets, across from the library.

Private First Class Belmiro Tavares Jr. (1947-1966), served with Company C, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Third Marine Amphibious Force. He was killed in the line of duty on October 2, 1966 in Quảng Nam Province, Vietnam.



Belmiro Tavares. Photograph courtesy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall of Faces.


PFC Joseph Wirth, US Army, Killed in Action in 1970, Vietnam. His memorial is at the intersection of Brook and State Streets.

PFC Joseph William Wirth (1949-1970) was killed in the line of duty on March 2, 1970 in Quảng Ngãi Province, Vietnam.



Joseph Wirth (1949-1970) Courtesy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall of Faces

PFC Robert S. Hammond Memorial Bridge on State Street. KIA 1945 WWII.


Robert Searles Hammond (1917-1945) enlisted 6 April 1944 at Fort Devens for service in WWII. He died in battle of artillery shell wounds in Belgium on March 4, 1945.

Luther Square is at the intersection of East Washington and Winter Street. Brothers Austin E. Luther KIA 1864, Edward Luther, Herbert Luther. Civil War.


Luther Square is named in honor of three Luther brothers who served in the Civil War, all sons of Job Luther and Ludy Josselyn: Austin E. Luther (1836-1864), Edward Luther (1839-1875), and Herbert M. Luther (1841-1883). Austin was a private in Co. E, 3 MA Cavalry, and was wounded in battle in Louisiana and required leg amputation, then died in a field hospital of infection. He is buried in Chalmette National Cemetery, Chalmette, St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. Herbert enlisted as a private in Co. G, 18th MA Regiment and served from Aug 24, 1861 to Jan 31, 1863, and mustered out at Boston at rank of Sgt. Edward and Herbert are buried in Fern Hill Cemetery.


Austin Luther (1836-1864) gravestone in Chalmette National Cemetery, Chalmette, St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. Courtesy of Joseph Mann at FindAGrave.

If you would like to visit and pay respects at any of these memorials, here is a map of the sites:


  1. First Lieutenant David C. Hall Corner, South Hanson Train Depot
  2. Royce B. Josselyn Corner, Reed St & MA-27
  3. Howard Willis Corner, Pleasant and Main
  4. Bourne Square, Pleasant and South Street
  5. Esson Baker Square, South and Monponsett Streets
  6. James F. Harrington Corner, Hancock St. Field
  7. Admirals Albert S. Barker and Albert C. Read Memorial, 214 Main Street
  8. Chester Loring Besse Corner, High Street and Main
  9. Theodore Lyman Bonney Corner, Holmes and High Streets
  10. Roland Ford Square, at the intersection of High Street, Routes 14 and 58
  11. Ramsdell Corner, at West Washington & Spring Street
  12. Gary Porter memorial, East Washington Street & Liberty Street
  13. William Callahan Corner, County Road and Independence Avenue
  14. John J. Ferry Square at Liberty and Winter Street
  15. Ebenezer Henry Gurney Square, located on the island by Jay’s Carpets at the intersection of 27 and 58
  16. Belmiro J. Tavares Memorial, School Street & Maquan Street
  17. Joseph Wirth Memorial, Brook Street & State Street
  18. Robert S. Hammond Memorial Bridge on State Street
  19. Luther Square,  East Washington and Winter Street
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1839 Founding of the Hanson Mass. Anti-Slavery Society

In early June 1839, a meeting was held by supporters of William Lloyd Garrison’s abolitionist newspaper The Liberator and members of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society at Chardon Street Chapel in Boston, Massachusetts. A committee (including Rev. Edwin Thompson and Nathaniel H. Whiting) was appointed to “circulate papers for donations and subscriptions”. [1]


Chardon St. Chapel, Boston, 1851. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In late June 1839, Universalist minister Rev. Edwin Thompson (1809-1888) met in Hanson, Massachusetts with a group of anti-slavery supporters, who were impressed with their conversation with Thompson, and determined to form a local Hanson branch of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. They met again in July of 1839 to determine who would serve as officers in the new organization. They elected:

They determined that meetings of the Hanson Anti-Slavery Society would be held at the Universalist Society church, located on the southeastern corner of the intersection of Whitman St. and East Washington St.


Universalist Church on 1856 Map of Hanson. Headquarters of the Hanson Anti-Slavery Society. See discussion of the Hanson Universalist Society at the Hanson MA USGenWeb.

In August 1839, Nathaniel Howe Whiting (1808-1889) of Marshfield met with Hanson women who were interested in abolition and collected $7.62 in donations from 20 Hanson women:[2]

On Sept. 27, 1839, the Hanson Anti-Slavery Society sent a letter to be published in The Liberator, announcing their formation and founding resolutions.[3]

FRIEND GARRISON: A new Anti-Slavery Society, auxiliary to the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, has just completed its organization in this town. Previous to organizing, an interesting lecture was delivered to the people by Edwin Thompson. At two succeeding meetings the officers were chosen and resolutions discussed and adopted. The following is a list of the officers. Joshua Perry, Esq., President; Capt. Job Luther, Vice President; D. B. Harris, Secretary; Mary B. Perry, Treasurer; Ambrose Josselyn, Willard Poole, Jeremiah Soper, Directors.

A committee of three was appointed to collect funds to aid the cause in this vicinity. The following resolves were introduced by different members of the society, and after animated discussion, adopted:

Whereas, We are firm in the belief that American slavery is a political and moral evil, under all circumstances, an evil which casts a dark and sinful stain upon our nation’s glory – therefore

Resolved, That as Christians – as lovers of universal freedom – we cannot discharge faithfully our duty to God, to ourselves, and our fellow men, unless we put forth our unflinching efforts for the total and immediate abolition of American slavery, – but while we do this, we feel bound by the ties of our common nature, to labor for the promotion of harmony and peace in the community, when we can do this and not shrink from principle and duty.

Resolved, That the most effectual way to increase the manufacturing interests at the north is to abolish slavery at the south.

Resolved, That the success which has attended the cause of emancipation in this country, calls for debout gratitude to Almighty God, and should quicken our zeal and animate us to renewed exertions in behalf of the oppressed. Resolved, That the gospel minister who fails to bear his testimony against the sin of American slavery, and to urge the duty of remembering those in bonds as bound with them, is an unworthy follower of him who came to proclaim liberty to the captive – to break every yoke, and to let the oppressed go free.

Resolved, That southern slavery is a sin of such enormous turpitude, of so vast extent, and is identified with so many selfish interests, that the most strenuous and undivided efforts of the north are required to effect its abolition.

Resolved, That the public sentiment of the north sanctions and sustains southern slavery – and therefore every genuine friend of the slave should fearlessly array himself against this public sentiment, until it shall turn in favor of immediate emancipation.

Voted, That these proceedings be published in the Liberator.

JOSHUA PERRY, President. D. B. HARRIS, Secretary.


The following year, the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society Treasurer collected $2.44 from Hanson residents in October and November 1841:[4]

The Hanson Anti-Slavery Society also became a subsidiary branch of the Plymouth County Anti-Slavery Society. In 1842, the Plymouth County Anti-Slavery Society held its quarterly meeting at Hanson’s Universalist meeting-house on Saturday, Oct. 8, 1842. Joshua Perry ran the meeting, as president of the Hanson Anti-Slavery Society and Vice President of the Plymouth County Anti-Slavery. A prayer was said by Hanson First Congregationalist Church minister Rev. Samuel L. Rockwood (1810-1881). They elected a business committee consisting of Seth Sprague of Duxbury, Jairus Lincoln (1794-1870) of Hingham, and William Whiting of Abington. Resolutions were presented and debated by Sprague, Lincoln, Perry, Rockwood, Rufus Bates (1794-1878), Edward Young Perry (1812-1893) of Hanson, Elmer Hewett (1805-1897) of Abington,  S. Reed, S.H. Gay of Hingham, and Mr. Curtis of Hanover. They concluded by singing W. L. Garrison’s song ‘I Am An Abolitionist‘ [sung to the tune of Auld Lang Syne]. [5]


[1] The Liberator (Boston, Mass.) 7 June 1839, p. 3.

[2] “Receipts into the Treasury of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society from 21st August to 26th August inclusive,” The Liberator (Boston, Mass.) 30 August 1839, p. 3.

[3] The Liberator (Boston, Mass.) 11 October 1839, p. 3.

[4] The Liberator (Boston, Mass.) 17 Dec. 1841, p. 3.

[5] The Liberator (Boston, Mass.) 21 October 1842, p. 3.


[Post written by Hanson Historical Society Curator Mary Blauss Edwards]

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Hanson Soldiers Who Died In The Civil War

This Memorial Day, a moment to honor the 27 men from Hanson who gave their lives during the Civil War.

The first Hanson casualty was soldier Augustus F. Elmes, who died of typhoid fever while training on 25 October 1861.

Hanson’s final casualty was Thomas Drake, who died at the prisoner of war camp in Andersonville, Ga. 14 March 1865. Read about the life and death of Thomas Drake here. Robert E. Lee surrendered less than a month later, on 9 April 1865.

27 Hanson soldiers died in the Civil War:

  1. Stephen Bates (died of chronic diarrhea at Baton Rouge, 21 May 1863, buried Baton Rouge National Cemetery, Baton Rouge, La.). [FindAGrave] [HRR] [HTH] [HOH] [VGH]
  2. Hiram B. Bonney (b. 27 April 1818 Hanson, died Baton Rouge 16 July 1863 of disease). Private Co H 38th Inf service 21 Aug 1862 to 16 July 1863. [FindAGrave] [VGH]
  3. Theodore Lyman Bonney (b. 27 Oct 1836, son of Ezekiel and Angeline Dean (White) Bonney, died of typhoid fever at Aquia Creek, Virginia, 11 May 1863;  body returned to Hanson). [FindAGrave] [HRR] [HTH] [HOH] [HVR] [VGH]
  4. Daniel Bourne “died in Virginia of gunshot wound in groin, received in Battle of the Wilderness” 7 May 1864;  buried in Fredericksburg National Cemetery). [FindAGrave] [HRR] [HTH] [HOH] [HVR] [VGH]
  5. George H. Bourne, Co. B, 40th Reg’t, of diarrhoea, near Folly Island, S.C., Nov. 28th 1863, buried Beaufort National Cemetery, Beaufort, SC. [FindAGrave] [HOH] [VGH]
  6. Joseph T. Bourne (d. of chronic diarrhea at Sharpsburg, Va., 11 Nov. 1862, body returned to Pembroke, buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery). [FindAGrave]  [HTH] [HVR] [VGH]
  7. William M. Campbell (died 15 Dec 1862 Falmouth Va of wounds). Private Co E 16th Infantry, service 12 July 1861 to 15 Dec 1862. [FindAGrave]  [VGH]
  8. James Coolican (b. 1838 in Ireland, died of chronic diarrhea 25 Feb. 1863 at Baton Rouge). [FindAGrave] [HRR] [HTH] [HOH] [HVR] [VGH]
  9. Thomas Drake (died at Andersonville, Ga., 14 March 1865, buried Andersonville National Cemetery, Andersonville Ga). [FindAGrave] [HRR] [HTH] [HOH] [HVR] [VGH]
  10. Augustus F. Elmes (died of typhoid fever at Camp Brightwood, 25 Oct. 1861, buried Fern Hill Cemetery, Hanson). [FindAGrave] [HRR] [HTH] [HOH] [HVR] [VGH]
  11. Henry Ewell was “wounded in left arm at the taking of the Weldon R.R., Petersburg, Va., Aug. 25/64” and died at Washington, D.C., 2 Nov. 1864, buried at Arlington National Cemetery. [FindAGrave] [HRR] [HTH] [HOH] [VGH]
  12. Andrew W. Fish (died of chronic diarrhea at a hospital in Baton Rouge, 3 Aug. 1863, buried at Baton Rouge National Cemetery). [FindAGrave]  [HRR] [HTH] [HOH] [HVR] [VGH]
  13. Joseph Lewis Fish (b. Phillips Me 10 May 1837, son of Lewis and Sarah Fish; died of chronic diarrhea, died Hanson 31 Oct. 1863), buried Mount Pleasant Cem, Pembroke. [FindAGrave]  [HRR] [HTH] [HOH] [HVR] [VGH]
  14. Horatio Foster (b. Hanson 24 February 1826, son of Seth and Joanna (Robinson) Foster, “died at Warrington”, of disease, battle at Catlett Station, Va., May 22d 1862). Served in 1st R.I.  [FindAGrave] [HRR] [HTH] [HOH] [VGH]
  15. George Golbert “died [Aug. 1862]”. [FindAGrave]   [HRR] [HTH] [HOH] [VGH]
  16. Luther M. Hayward/Haywood b 18 Jan 1839, d. of diarrhea Halifax 6 July 1863 Private Co A 3rd Mass Volunteers Militia. Service 18 September 1862 to 26 June 1863. [FindAGrave]
  17. Morton Eddy Hill died at New Orleans, La., 19 April 1863 [date of death discrepancies]. [FindAGrave] [HRR] [HTH] [HOH] [VGH]
  18. Alfred Gardner Howe, d. 5 May 1864, shot in battle, d. and buried Wilderness, Virginia, son of Gardner and Jane Howe. [FindAGrave] [HVR] [HOH]
  19. Austin E. Luther was “wounded in the U.S. service” and died at New Orleans, 5 April 1864. Service Private Co. E, 3 MA Cavalry. [FindAGrave, which mistakenly lists him as ARTHUR E LUTHER] [HRR] [HTH] [HOH] [HVR] [VGH]
  20. James Allen Lyon (b. 27 May 1835, d. 17 Apr 1863 of wounds, at Brashear City, La.) Co. D, 38th Regiment. [FindAGrave] [HOH]
  21. John Lyons Co. B, 41st Reg’t, died of chronic diarrhea at Port Hudson, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 29 September 1863. [FindAGrave]  [HRR] [HTH] [HOH] [HVR] [VGH]
  22. Edward P. Mansfield (“shot in the Battle of Wilderness” and d. Spotsylvania, Va., 4 May 1864). [FindAGrave] [HTH] [HOH] [HVR] [VGH]
  23. Julius W. Munroe (taken prisoner 19 Oct. 1864 and died of chronic diarrhea at the Salisbury Confederate Prison, N.C. 18 Feb 1865). [FindAGrave]  [HRR] [HTH] [HOH] [HVR] [VGH]
  24. John H. Perry, died at Hampton Va 31 Oct 1862. [FindAGrave]  [HRR] [HTH] [HOH] [VGH]
  25. Edward Smith (b. 28 Jan 1837, son of Joshua and Saba (Drew) Smith, died of typhoid fever at Annapolis, Maryland, 19 Nov. 1863). [FindAGrave burial at Annapolis and FindAGrave memorial in Hanson] [HRR] [HTH] [HVR]
  26. Benjamin F. Thayer (d. Newburn NC 25 June 1862 of disease. Private Co E 23rd Service 21 Sep 1861 to 25 June 1862). [FindAGrave] [VGH]
  27. George Thompson 11th Reg’t, d. of starvation, at Andersonville, June 13th 1864. [FindAGrave] [HTH] [HOH]



www.FindAGrave.com Hanson, Mass. Soldiers Who Died In The Civil War [FindAGrave]

Gurney’s History of Hanson (1867) [HOH]

Hanson Rebellion Records (from Hanson Assessor’s Office) [HRR]

History of the Town of Hanson (1959) [HTH]

Hanson Vital Records [HVR]

Veterans Graves in Hanson [VGH]

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Hanson Civil War Soldier Thomas Drake (1828-1865)

On this day in 1865, Hanson, Mass. Civil War soldier Thomas Drake died in the notorious Andersonville Prison in Georgia, a Confederate-operated Union prisoner of war camp. He was Hanson’s last Civil War casualty, with Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendering less than a month later.

Thomas Drake was born in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts on 16 May 1828, the son of Timothy and Polly (Beals) Drake. He was raised in East Bridgewater and moved to Hanson after his marriage. 25 year old Thomas Drake and 16 year old Mehitable P. Brown were married in East Bridgewater on 7 June 1853 by justice of peace Isaac Pratt. Mehitable was born in East Bridgewater on 31 June 1836, the daughter of David and Mehitable (Brown) Brown. Mehitable was seven months pregnant at the time of their marriage with their first child, Alice Drake.

Thomas and Mehitable (Brown) Drake had five children:

  1. Alice Drake, b. East Bridgewater 11 August 1853; d. East Bridgewater 1946; m. Abington Mass. 1 May 1870 George W. Holmes.
  2. Samuel Drake, b. East Bridgewater 28 July 1855; d. Abington 22 July 1934 and bur. Mount Vernon Cemetery, Abington; m Abington 2 Oct. 1888 Mary Alice McKenney.
  3. Edith Drake, b. Hanson 22 January 1858; d. Franklin, Mass. 6 March 1888; m. Abington 20 October 1879 Fred D. Straffin.
  4. Thomas Drake, b. Hanson 30 March 1860; d. Hanson 1945; m. Lynn Mass 21 Feb 1883 Isabel Stanton.
  5. Timothy Drake, b. Hanson 5 March 1862; d. 1949 and buried in Mount Vernon Cemetery, Abington; m. 31 Dec 1885 Nellie G. Nash.

Thomas Drake (26, shoemaker) was enumerated in the 1855 Massachusetts Census in East Bridgewater with wife Mehitable (19) and children Alice (3) and “Infant” Samuel (1).


Thomas and Mehitable Drake family in East Bridgewater, Mass. in 1855 Census.

In 1857, the Drakes moved from East Bridgewater to a house on Brook St. in Hanson. History of Hanson Houses reported that Thomas and Mehitable (Brown) Drake lived in two houses across the street from each other on Brook St. during their marriage. Timothy Drake, the youngest son of Thomas and Mehitable (Brown) Drake, reported that sometime prior to his birth, his parents lived in a house on the south side of Brook Street owned in 1830 by J. Pratt . This is probably the house where their daughter Edith Drake was born in 1858. Timothy Drake reported that “all the [younger] Drake boys were born” in another house on the north side of Brook Street which had been owned in 1856 by Luther Howland. After Thomas Drake’s death and her remarriage, Mehitable (Brown) Drake Fuller sold the property to Jerome Shaw [Plymouth County Deeds, 462:215].


The two houses lived in by Thomas and Mehitable Drake on Brook St. can be seen here in this 1856 map of Hanson. The Drakes lived in the house marked J.S. Pratt ca 1857-1859, and lived in the house marked “L. Howland” circa 1860 until Mehitable’s remarriage in 1869.

Thomas Drake (33, shoemaker) was enumerated in the 1860 Census in South Hanson, Mass. with wife Mehitable (24), and children Alice (7), Sam (5), Edith (2), and Thomas (4 months).


Thomas and Mehitable Drake family in Hanson, Mass. in 1860 Census.

South Hanson shoemaker Thomas Drake, aged 35, enlisted 2 January 1864 as a private in Company D of the Massachusetts 4th Calvary Regiment. He was one of Hanson’s later recruits in the war. Perhaps he delayed enlistment to tend to his homestead and support his young family.

According to a history of the Massachusetts 4th Calvary: “On June 6, two companies under Capt. Morton moved to Jacksonville, Fla., and encamped there. In the early part of Aug., the detachment formed part of an expedition up the St. John’s river to Palatka, engaging the enemy at Palatka, Magnolia and Gainesville, with a loss during the expedition of 6 killed and 50 captured, including 3 officers.”

Thomas Drake fought at the Battle of Gainesville in Co. D, Mass. 4th Calvary under Capt. Joseph W. Morton on  17 August 1864 which took place in the town square in Gainesville, Florida. 342 Union soldiers under the command of Col. Andrew L. Harris were in the town that day, having just performed a grueling two day 50 mile march from Baldwin, Florida in the summer Florida heat. They were taken by surprise when a Confederate force under the command of Captain John Jackson Dickison attacked from the rear. Thomas Drake was captured by the Confederate forces during the battle.

He was sent to Camp Sumter (also known as Andersonville Prison) as a prisoner of war. Andersonville was a notorious prisoner of war camp, known for its horrific conditions. The camp was constantly overcrowded, was extremely unsanitary, and lacked water and food supplies. Its commander, Henry Wirz, was executed after the Civil War for war crimes, including “violation of the laws of war, to impair and injure the health and to destroy the lives—by subjecting to torture and great suffering; by confining in unhealthy and unwholesome quarters; by exposing to the inclemency of winter and to the dews and burning sun of summer; by compelling the use of impure water; and by furnishing insufficient and unwholesome food—of large numbers of Federal prisoners.”


Birds-Eye View of Andersonville Prison. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

A Connecticut prisoner who entered the camp shortly before Thomas Drake described his first impression of the camp:

As we entered the place, a spectacle met our eyes that almost froze our blood with horror, and made our hearts fail within us. Before us were forms that had once been active and erect;—stalwart men, now nothing but mere walking skeletons, covered with filth and vermin. Many of our men, in the heat and intensity of their feeling, exclaimed with earnestness. “Can this be hell?” “God protect us!” and all thought that he alone could bring them out alive from so terrible a place. In the center of the whole was a swamp, occupying about three or four acres of the narrowed limits, and a part of this marshy place had been used by the prisoners as a sink, and excrement covered the ground, the scent arising from which was suffocating. The ground allotted to our ninety was near the edge of this plague-spot, and how we were to live through the warm summer weather in the midst of such fearful surroundings, was more than we cared to think of just then.”

Nearly a third of the Union soldiers who were imprisoned at Andersonville died. About 45,000 in total were imprisoned there, with almost 13,000 prisoners dying from disease and starvation.


Phillip Hattle of 51st Pennsylvania Infantry who survived Andersonville Prison but died several months later. Courtesy of the National Park Service “Prisoner Photographs of Andersonville“.



Thomas Drake was a prisoner of war at Andersonville for seven months until his death in the prison. The 36 year old Thomas Drake died there on 14 March 1865. Andersonville records simply record his cause of death as rheumatism. His rheumatism was likely caused by scurvy and starvation. His widow Mehitable more emphatically stated his cause of death in her pension application: “He died at Andersonville, Georgia of chronic diarrhea, starvation, and brutal treatment.

Thomas Drake was buried in Andersonville National Cemetery and was given a military-issued headstone.


Gravestone of Thomas Drake at Andersonville National Cemetery. Photograph taken by and courtesy of Andersonville historian Kevin Frye, available on Thomas Drake’s FindAGrave entry.

Mehitable (Brown) Drake was devasted when news reached her about the death of her husband, especially on the heels of the end of the Civil War. With five young children to support, she applied for a widow’s pension on 24 June 1865. On 25 August 1865, she was granted a pension of $8 a month,  with back-pay starting at the date of Thomas’ death. On 25 July 1866, her pension was raised from $8 a month to $18 dollars a month,  representing an increase of $2 per month per child of Thomas Drake.


Mehitable Drake’s Civil War Widow’s Pension Application, on behalf of her husband Thomas Drake.

The widowed Mehitable Drake (28) was enumerated in the 1865 Census in Hanson, Mass. with children Alice (11), Samuel (9), Edith (7), Thomas (5), and Timothy (3). She lived in a house with her parents David Brown (55, tackmaker) and Mehitable Brown (54, housekeeper) and brother Elias G. Brown (15, tackmaker).


Widowed Mehitable Drake family in Hanson in the 1865 Census.

Widow Mehitable P. Drake married the widowed Lucius Tisdale Fuller in Hanson on 28 November 1869 by Rev. B. Southworth at the Hanson Congregational Church. Lucius Fuller’s first wife Eliza B. (Pratt) Fuller had died of consumption in 1862, leaving him a widowed father to their children Ella M. Fuller (1852-1923) and Hiram T. Fuller (1858-1914).

Mehitable moved into Lucius T. Fuller’s house, located on West Washington St. (then called Willow St.)


Lucius and Mehitable Fuller house in the 1879 Plymouth County atlas.

In the 1870 Census, Lucius T. Fuller (47) was enumerated in Hanson with his wife Mehitable Fuller (34), daughter Ella M. Fuller (18), son Hiram T. Fuller (12), mother Patience B. Fuller (75), and step-daughter Edith Drake (13).


Lucius and Mehitable Fuller family in Hanson in the 1870 Census

In the 1880 Census, Lucius T. Fuller (53, shoemaker) was enumerated in Hanson with his wife Mehitable Fuller (44) and mother Patience Fuller (86).

Lucius T. Fuller died at home of heart disease in Hanson on 5 November 1893 at the age of 71.

In the 1900 Census, Mehitable P. Fuller (64) was enumerated in Hanson with a relative, Joseph Brown (17), and her grandson Charles A. Drake (17).

Mehitable’s Civil War widow’s pension was renewed in 1901 at a rate of $12 per month. Hanson assessors reported at this time that Mehitable owned a house valued at $500, a barn valued at $150, 2 hen houses valued at $20, a 2.5 acre houselot valued at $100 and a 40.5 acre woodlot valued at $250, totaling real estate valued at $1,020. Mehitable testified that “I own an old homestead house [located on “Washington St. in North Hanson”] of eight rooms built about the year 1750, it is in bad condition and occupied entirely by myself for the reason that it is an out of the way locality, and not convenient for letting purposes, there is about 40 acres of land connected with the house and not fit for cultivation except about two acres, all the hay I could raise last year (1900) I sold, for five dollars. Most of the land is not fit for pasture. I have neither cow nor horse and cannot let the land as it is of little value for any use. My place is taxed for $1000 for last year, I have neither stocks, bonds, or any other investments. I have no income whatever, nor any persons who is legally bound to provide for my support. My support is derived from my own labor on raising enough vegetables and etc. on my garden for my own use.”

According to History of Hanson Houses, the widowed Mehitable, wife of Lucius T. Fuller, lived on [West] Washington St. in a house built by John Beal circa 1767. The house was purchased by Barzilla Fuller in 1825, and later inherited by his son Lucius T. Fuller, then his widow Mehitable (Brown) Drake Fuller. [Plan 2, House 44]


Mehitable (Brown) Drake Fuller house on West Washington St., just north of the intersection with County Rd. and Holmes St. Labeled Mrs. N. [sic, M.] Fuller. From Richard’s 1903 map of Plymouth County, Mass.

In the 1910 Census, Mehitable P. Fuller (74) resided on Washington St., Hanson with Joseph W. Brown (39).

Mehitable’s Civil War widow’s pension was renewed in 1916 at a rate of $20 per month. In 1926, it was increased to $50 per month.

In the 1920, Mehitable P. Fuller (83, widow) was enumerated on Washington St. in Hanson with her son Thomas Drake (59, real estate salesman).


Four generations of Drake women in the 1920s, believed to be standing in front of the Fuller house on West Washington St. in Hanson. Left to right: Mehitable (Brown) Drake Fuller, Alice (Drake) Holmes (daughter of Thomas and Mehitable Drake and wife of George W. Holmes), Katherine (Fraser) Holmes (wife of George W. Holmes Jr., a son of George W. and Alice (Drake) Holmes). Bottom row: Eleanor Margaret Holmes (daughter of George W. and Katherine Holmes, granddaughter of George W. and Alice (Drake) Holmes and great-granddaughter of Thomas and Mehitable Drake). Photograph courtesy of Ally Smith, a descendant of Thomas and Mehitable (Brown) Drake.

In the 1930 Census, Mehitable Fuller (93) resided on Washington St., Hanson with son Thomas Drake (70, furniture dealer) and daughter Alice Holmes (65).

A few weeks before her 94th birthday, Mehitable P. (Brown) Drake Fuller died in her home on West Washington St. in Hanson on the morning of 4 June 1930 of chronic myocarditis and arterio-sclerosis and was buried in Fern Hill Cemetery, Hanson. Her son Thomas Drake was present at her death and he reported that her final Civil War pension check arrived in the late morning just after she had passed away – 65 years after the death of her husband Thomas Drake.

The Fuller farmhouse on West Washington St. was later purchased by the Mullen family and named “Red Acres Farm”, who since 1955 have hosted an annual Red Acres Christmas Sing in Hanson which continues today.


Red Acres Farm, home of Barzilla Fuller from 1825 and his son Lucius T. Fuller and his wives Eliza and Mehitable from 1852 until his death in 1893 and Lucius’ widow Mehitable (Brown) Drake Fuller until her death in 1930. Photograph Courtesy of Red Acres Farm Facebook.

Special thanks to Drake descendant Ally Smith for wanting to learn more about her Civil War ancestor, and to Andersonville historian Kevin Frye for his assistance in accessing Thomas Drake’s Andersonville records.

[Written by Mary Blauss Edwards, Hanson Historical Society Curator]

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“Our hearts were adjudged as dark as our complexions”: The 1805 Murder Accusation of the John London Kelley and Susannah Prince

In the spring of 1804, 26 year old farmer and laborer John London Kelley struck a deal with Kilborn Whitman to rent the 21 acre Lindsay farm and orchard on Oldham Street in Pembroke. Whitman, recently retired from the Pembroke ministry and now a judge and lawyer, agreed that John London Kelley’s rent would total $30 for the year, consisting of $15 cash due at the end of the year, and $15 worth of farm labor on Whitman’s behalf during the summer.


In 1804, John London Kelley and his wife Susannah Prince lived on the “Lindsay Farm” (the former homestead of Ephraim Lindsay/Lindsey) on Oldham St., Pembroke, Mass., which they rented from Kilborn Whitman. In the 1831 Map of Pembroke, African American/Mattakeeset Indian Martin Prince lived on the farm. Map courtesy of the Boston Public Library.


Kilborn Whitman. Image courtesy the Pembroke Historical Society.

John London Kelley found the terms agreeable, and settled his new young family on the farm, including his common law wife, 19 year old Susannah Prince, and their infant daughter Sarah. John London Kelley was the son of former Bridgewater slave, Kelley/Calley London Brewster and Margaret Stewart (likely of African and Mattakeeset Indian heritage), who settled in Hanson after the Revolutionary War.

John London Kelley was baptized by Rev. Gad Hitchcock in the Hanson Congregational Church on 29 April 1786, along with several of his siblings.


29 April 1786 Baptism of siblings Hannah, Charles, and John, children of Calley and Margaret. They were baptized by Rev. Gad Hitchcock in the Hanson Congregational Church.

Susannah Prince had been born in Maine in 1785, the probable daughter of Pembroke “mulatto man” Sylvester Prince and his wife Rhoda Caesar (the daughter of a Marshfield slave father and Wampanoag Indian mother), who returned to the Hanson/Pembroke area during Susannah’s childhood. Summer arrived, and John London Kelley brought in the harvest to support his family, as well as Kilborn Whitman. Grain, root vegetables, and apples lasted the family into the winter.

One cold night in January 1805, an acquaintance, Benjamin Bates of Hanover, appeared at their door. Bates had overdue debts and had recently heard about a job opportunity to work as a sailor aboard a ship. Bates perhaps drunkenly heard about the job at a Pembroke or Hanover tavern, because he apparently did not inform any relatives or friends about his sudden money-making intentions. Benjamin Bates was welcomed into John London Kelley and Susannah Prince’s home, where Bates asked to exchange some of his old clothes for food to take on his journey, then immeditately left for Plymouth or Boston port. Within several days, Bates’ friends began to speculate where he was, and rumors began to circulate throughout Pembroke and Hanover. It quickly became apparent that Benjamin Bates had last been seen at the Kelleys’ home on the “evening of his departure.” The Kelleys later reported that “suspicions were excited against [us], that [we] had murdered the said Bates and concealed his death; popular prejudice being excited against us, it was but a short period before we began to experience some of its distressing effects.”

On 7 February 1805, several Pembroke constables forcibly took the Kelleys from their home and brought them before a Plymouth magistrate, who deemed it suspicious that Bates had suddenly disappeared, was last seen at the Kelleys’ home, and that they had some of his clothes. They claimed they had no knowledge of any foul play, but the judge ruled that they should be imprisoned at the Plymouth jail until a trial. Plymouth’s jail at the time was a small wooden building on Court Street, and prisoners were required to provide their own supplies during their stay. The Kelleys were imprisoned for four months “in that cold and inclement season, without money and without friends to soften the rigors of our confinement.” Their juried trial was held in May 1805, in which the judge and jury determined that there was no legal evidence against the Kelleys. Since there was no proof of Benjamin Bates’ death, the Kelleys were released from prison.

Upon returning to Pembroke, however, they discovered that Kilborn Whitman had rented the Lindsay farm to another African American-Mattakeeset Indian, John Wood alias Pero, and his family. Whitman also then immediately sued the Kelleys for not paying their remaining part of the rent, for damages totaling $50 (much more than the agreed upon and partially paid $30 rent). Whitman won his case, and John London Kelley was forced to default on the payment. As John explained, he and Susannah experienced physical and mental strain during their imprisonment, due to lack of food, clothing, blankets and support: “weakened & debilitated by [our] long confinement [we] were rendered incapable of earning [our] bread by [our] industry, and have suffered many & great hardships in conveyance of said confinement, & have not been able to this day, to do that quantity of labor, [we] easily performed before : [we] feel [our]selves poor & depressed.”

Although now free, the Kelleys could not lift the cloud of suspicion their neighbors held. “It was in vain we solemnly declared our innocence; in vain did we attempt to prove, we came honestly by the cloths that once belonged to Bates, by saying we had exchanged them; we were accused and therefore were not believed; we were people of colour, and our hearts were adjudged as dark as our complexions.”

During the fall of 1805, Benjamin Bates “returned from sea, visited his friends, and confirmed by his declaration, all [that] we had said in our defence.” It was a bittersweet moment for the Kelleys: “thus we are relieved of the horrid epithet of Murderers, which has often assailed our ears & wounded our hearts; and which we must probably have borne in the minds of some, at least, if Bates had been lost on his voyage.”

With their names finally cleared, the Kelleys still faced debts owed from their period of imprisonment, and they turned to the Pembroke selectmen for support. Towns at that time were required to support any impoverished residents, of any color, who had been born there. But despite the fact that both John London Kelley and Susannah Prince had both been raised in Hanson (then Pembroke), neither had technically been born there, so the selectmen refused. However, the selectmen had recently heard that former slaves or children of slaves could sometimes receive support from the state, since it was the Massachusetts government and judicial system that had deemed slavery to be illegal at the end of the Revolutionary War. This tactic didn’t always work, and often the towns or former slave owners in Massachusetts who petitioned the Massachusetts government were denied and ordered to pay for the support of their elderly or impoverished former slaves themselves. This may have happened with the Kelleys’ case, which was withdrawn by the Pembroke selectmen shortly after submitting it in early 1806.

Feeling abused by their Pembroke neighbors, the Kelleys left Pembroke and moved to Maine for several years, where a son Charles was born. They then returned to Plymouth County, where John and Susannah were officially married in Hanover in 1810, and had several more children. They later found more welcoming neighbors in Plymouth, and on Betty’s Neck in Lakeville, which both had Native American and African American communities.


Sources: Harvard’s Antislavery Petitions Massachusetts Dataverse, “House Unpassed Legislation 1806, Docket 5794, SC1/SERIES 230, Petition of John London Kelley”; MA Vital Records; Plymouth Court Records Whitman v. John London Kelly; Plymouth County Deeds 101:42 Whitman to Pero.

Researched by Mary Blauss Edwards.

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Object of the Month: January 2017: 1773 Pembroke Letter Supporting Massachusetts Abolition

In November 1772 Boston patriots formed a Committee of Correspondence and encouraged others towns throughout Massachusetts to do the same. This provided a powerful voice to the Patriot cause at a vital local level – the town meeting. The first publication of Boston’s Committee was a list of grievances against Britain and a request for endorsement of those beliefs. The town of Pembroke [which also included the town of Hanson] formed their own Committee of Correspondence in response to this letter. On 28 December 1772 the town elected John Turner, Abel Stetson, Jeremiah Hall, and Seth Hatch to Pembroke’s Committee of Correspondence “to support the cause of liberty & property; and so subscribe ourselves hearty friends and well-wishers in the cause aforesaid.” The town then voted to support the pamphlet published by Boston’s Committee and they agreed to publish their own pamphlet in response, known as the Pembroke Resolves. [Boston Evening Post, 11 Jan. 1773, p. 2.]

In January 1773 Felix Holbrook, who had been enslaved for over two decades by Boston schoolteacher Abiah Holbrook, petitioned the Massachusetts government on behalf of all Massachusetts slaves to abolish slavery in Massachusetts. Felix and his supporters were emboldened by the creation of these Committees of Correspondence which publicly discussed revolutionary ideals. Felix’s first petition, however, was framed using religious and moral arguments, rather than patriotic language. The petition was denied, but the discussion generated during the session gave Felix “a high degree of satisfaction.” Therefore, on 20 April 1773, Felix Holbrook and three other slaves – Peter Bestes, Sambo Freeman, and Chester Joie, again petitioned the Massachusetts government to abolish slavery in Massachusetts. This time their arguments strongly paralleled the Patriots’ own arguments defending the right to break free from Britain’s “enslavement” of the colonists. Felix and the others “expect great things from men who have made such a noble stand against the designs of their fellow-men to enslave them.” Felix’s first petition had generated much discussion and complaints at the Massachusetts Assembly about the financial losses of slave-masters if slavery was abolished. The petitioners acknowledged “we are very sensible that it would be highly detrimental to our present masters, if we were allowed to demand all that of right belongs to us for past services,” and so argued that if abolition were granted, “we are willing to submit to such regulations and laws, as may be made relative to us, until we leave the province, which we determine to do as soon as we can from our joynt labours procure money to transport ourselves to some part of the coast of Africa, where we propose a settlement.”

Boston’s Committee of Correspondence was favorable to this petition. On 17 May 1773 Pembroke held its town meeting to elect a Representative to the Massachusetts Assembly. They chose their town clerk, John Turner, and also voted that Turner should read aloud a series of instructions elected by the town, because they held it vital “In this time of general danger and distress, when our Civil Rights are torn from us by peacemeals, and Acts of the British Parliament still enforced, which are manifestedly inconsistent with our character, and as we think directly contrary to a fundamental principle of the British Constitution.”

Pembroke included a favorable response to Felix Holbrook’s April petition and argued that God himself might grant white colonists their freedom from England if they themselves granted freedom to their slaves:

“We think the Negro Petition reasonable – agreeable to natural justice and the precepts of the Gospel, and therefore advise that in concurrence with the other worthy members of the Assembly; you endeavour to find a way in which they may be freed from slavery without wrong to their present masters or injury to themselves – and that a total abolition of slavery may in due time take place; then we trust we may with humble confidence look up to the Great Arbiter of Heaven and Earth, expecting that he will in his own due time look upon our Affliction, and in the way of his Providence deliver us from the insults, the grievances, and impositions we so justly complain of.”

1773 Pembroke Instructions.jpg

Boston Gazette (Boston, Mass.), 14 June 1773.


John Turner wore many hats in this process – as town clerk, selectman, and head of Pembroke’s Committee of Correspondence, he wrote the list of instructions he presented at the Massachusetts Assembly following his election as Pembroke’s Representative. However, the Massachusetts Assembly again denied Felix Holbrook’s petition. Additional petitions to abolish slavery were presented to the Massachusetts Assembly throughout the Revolutionary War. Although each petition was denied by the electorate, it generated a great deal of discussion and disagreement among Massachusetts’ politicians and general populace. General support for abolition grew throughout the decade, and in 1783 a series of Supreme Court judicial rulings led to the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts.

Recently, the Pembroke Historical Commission has held lengthy and ongoing discussions concerning the possible preservation of John Turner’s house, derelict and located behind a gas station on the corner of routes 53 and 14 in Pembroke, as a new fire station is slated to be constructed on the Turner lot.


John Turner House, 2013, Photograph Courtesy of Deborah Wall.

And what became of Felix Holbrook? He married Lusanna Cato of Scituate, daughter of an enslaved father Caesar Cato/Torrey and Massachuset Indian mother Sarah Wapping, in Scituate’s First Church in 1772. He was manumitted by Abiah Holbrook’s widow, and his family removed to Providence, where he was a founding member of the Providence African Union Society which planned, but never executed, an expedition to bring former slaves to Sierra Leone.


[Written by Hanson Historical Society Curator Mary Blauss Edwards]

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Object of the Month: April 2015 – April 1775 Muster Roll of Hanson Soldiers who Marched on Marshfield

240 years ago, the “shot heard ’round the world” launched the famous battles of Lexington and Concord. Less well-known is a battle that almost came to pass at Marshfield, Massachusetts, where Plymouth County soldiers gathered to fight in the aftermath of Lexington and Concord.

Word of the fighting at Lexington and Concord had reached Plymouth County via messengers on horseback by the afternoon of April 19th, 1775. The majority of towns in Plymouth County, including Pembroke (whose west parish later became Hanson) had Patriot sympathies, and many of them immediately gathered their local militias in response. But Lexington and Concord, thirty some-odd miles away, was not the main concern of Plymouth County residents. They had a threat much closer to home: Three months earlier, in January 1775, Marshfield, the only Loyalist center in the area, had invited a British regiment of over one hundred soldiers to lodge in the town. This was in part due to events which culminated in the fall of 1774, when a mob said to include more than 2,000 Plymouth County Patriots gathered in Marshfield to protest Loyalist Nathaniel Ray Thomas. Thomas escaped to Boston in advance of the mob, narrowly missing a possible attack on his life and estate. Marshfield therefore held the unique position of being the only town in Massachusetts, besides Boston, to be occupied by British troops for a substantial period of time before the Revolutionary War began. The presence of the British soldiers in Marshfield, led by Captain Nesbit Balfour, only served to increase tension in Plymouth County between January and April 1775.

Plymouth’s Theophilus Cotton led the Plymouth County patriot regiment. He gathered the various town militias at Duxbury, allowing both the 19th and 20th to pass without direct action against Marshfield, hoping to either allow more time for additional town militias to gather, or to allow time to see if the British soldiers would simply return to their larger force at Boston. On April 21st, Cotton led the Plymouth County soldiers near the British garrison at Marshfield, and it was estimated by noon on that day that Cotton had 500 soldiers compared to Balfour’s 100. But still Cotton waited. Kingston’s Captain Peleg Wadsworth “greatly dissatisfied by the delay”, drew his men within firing range of the garrison, but felt his numbers were too small to fire on the British.

With additional Plymouth County soldiers gathering around the British garrison, the dramatic siege quickly ended when it was revealed that Capt. Balfour and his soldiers were picked up by boats and brought to Boston. It was later rumored that Balfour claimed “that if he had been attacked, he should have surrendered without a gun”. Although Capt. Wadsworth and many of the Plymouth County soldiers were ready for a fight, no blood was shed at Marshfield that day, compared to the battles at Concord and Lexington in which the colonists suffered the deaths of 49, wounding of 39, and five who were missing, as well as the British who lost 73 soldiers, and had 174 soldiers injured and 26 missing.

49 men from the West Parish of Pembroke gathered under the leadership of Captain James Hatch of Pembroke and joined the march on Marshfield. They served from April 19th until the 29th of April, a total of 11 days. After the hasty departure of the British soldiers from Marshfield to Boston, they left behind supplies which the Plymouth County soldiers confiscated. Patrols were then established to determine that the British would not be returning to their garrison, located on the Nathaniel Ray Thomas estate in Marshfield (later purchased by Daniel Webster). Below is a transcription of Captain James Hatch’s muster roll for his men’s service. The Hanson men were not provided a salary for their service until almost a year later, on 14 March 1776, just as the siege of Boston was coming to an end.

Muster Roll of a Company in Minute Men that Marched from the West Parish of Pembroke to Scituate and Marshfield, on the Alarm of 19th of April, 1775.

Length of service 19 April to 29 April, 11 days.

Captain [£6 per month]. James Hatch.

Lieutenants [£2.8 per month]. Consider Cole, 1st Lieutenant[£4 per month]. Eleazer Hamblin, 2nd Lieutenant [£3 10 s per month].

Sergeant [£2.4 per month]. Caleb Howland, Thomas Fuller, Nathaniel Thomas, Seth Phillips.

Corporals. Daniel Crooker, Samuel Howland, Ephraim Briggs, Lyons Tsar.

Musicians. Ezekiel Bonney, fifer. Isaac Wade, drummer.

Privates [£2 per month]. Increase Robinson, Isaac Beals, Seth Perry, William Cox Jr., Isaac Moore, Isaac Phillips, Christopher Phillips, John Stutson, Isaac Bonney, Reuben Clark, Elijah Cushing 3d, Daniel Child, Eleazer Bisby, David Beals, Leonard Hill, Benjamin Munroe, Thomas Lincoln, Lot Phillips, Ephraim Lindsy, Abraham Josselyn Jr., William Bonney, William Gould, Benjamin Guilliam, Seth Cox, Africa Hamblin, Alexander Soper, Daniel Garnet Jr., William Hayford, Richard Baker Jr., Hezekiah Pearce, Samuel Harden, Jonathan Bonney, Abijah Levett, Gershom Ramsdall, Samuel Gorham, Charles Jewett, Tilden Crooker.

Citation: R. G. Carter, “Muster Roll of a Company in Minute Men that Marched from the West Parish of Pembroke to Scituate and Marshfield, on the Alarm of 19th of April, 1775”, Putnam’s Monthly Historical Magazine and Magazine of New England, Vol. 4 No. 1 (January 1896): 23-24.

1775 Hanson Muster Roll 1

1775 Hanson Muster Roll 2

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Object of the Month: July 2014 – Pembroke’s Copy of the Declaration of Independence



Centuries before the 24/7 news cycle and instant access to global events, do you know how the American colonists came to learn that independence from England had been declared by the Continental Congress? On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted to declare independence and formed the new nation of the United States of America. The Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson and edited by Congressional members, was written to provide an explanation for why Congress chose to vote for the revolutionary decision, and the document was ratified two days later on July 4, 1776. After its ratification, Congress ordered the publication of a broadside containing the text of the declaration and arranged for its distribution throughout the colonies. Since the date published on the broadside was July 4, 1776, that date came to represent Independence Day. John Adams, however, wanted July 2nd – the date of the vote – to represent the celebration of Independence Day.


The broadsides were distributed far and wide by messengers on horseback and copied in newspapers in all thirteen states. John Hancock sent a broadside to George Washington, who read it to his army at New York on 9 July 1776. The news distributed throughout the newly formed states during the month of July and reached England by August 1776.


Massachusetts Provincial Congressman Richard Derby Jr. ordered the following directive for the Declaration of Independence’s distribution in Massachusetts:


Ordered that the Declaration of Independence Be Printed and a Copy Sent to the minister of Each Parish of Every Denomination Within this State and that they Severaly [sic] Be Required to Read the Same to their Respective Congregations as Soon as Devine Service is ended in the afternoon on the First Lord’s Day after they shall have Received it and after such Publication thereof to Deliver the said Declaration to the Clerks of the Several Towns or Districts who are Hereby Required to Record the Same in the Respective Town or District Books there to Remain as a Perpetual memorial thereof in the name and By order of the council.


From Pembroke, Massachusetts' copy of the Declaration of Independence. From Pembroke Town Meeting Minutes. Originals held at Pembroke Town Hall. Image courtesy of Family History Library.

From Pembroke, Massachusetts’ copy of the Declaration of Independence. From Pembroke Town Meeting Minutes. Originals held at Pembroke Town Hall. Image courtesy of Family History Library.


Richard Derby Jr.’s order that the Declaration of Independence be sent, read, and recorded by each Massachusetts town ensured that each community gathered together to learn that they were no longer British colonists, but citizens of the United States of America. Derby’s father, Richard Derby Sr. also played a major role in the distribution of news throughout the Revolutionary War. Derby Sr. was a merchant ship owner from Salem, owner of the schooner Quero which was sent to England immediately following the Battle of Lexington and Concord to offer the patriot version of the battle, which arrived two weeks in advance of the heavier and slower brig Sukey that carried the British army report. Derby’s ships then brought back to America the first news of London’s response regarding the start of the Revolutionary War. Derby’s ships also later brought the news to America detailing the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War in 1783.


At a town meeting held at the Pembroke Meeting House on Monday the 29th of July 1776, the Pembroke town clerk John Turner recorded the Declaration of Independence in the town records. At the time Pembroke also included the area which later became the town of Hanson, Massachusetts.


Per Derby’s instruction, the Declaration of Independence was read at the First Congregational Church by Rev. Thomas Smith, and at the Second Church in the Pembroke West Parish (today the Hanson Congregational Church) by Rev. Gad Hitchcock. Just two years prior, Rev. Hitchcock had delivered the patriotic election sermon in Boston’s Old South Church to an audience including the controversial Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage. Hitchcock pointedly sermoned from Proverbs 29:2 “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” It was said that Hitchcock later joked that his election sermon was a “moving discourse, inasmuch as it moved many of the [Loyalist] congregation out of the house”. The Declaration was perhaps also read at the Pembroke Friends Meeting House at a gathering of Quakers.


Since Pembroke town clerk John Turner recorded the Declaration at a town meeting on Monday, it was probably publicly read either the day before at the various churches on Sunday, July 28th, or the previous Sunday, July 21st. It was read aloud to the public in Boston at the State House on Thursday, July 18th.


The Pembroke town meeting on July 28, 1776 included the important work of recording the Declaration of Independence as a “perpetual memory” with two other items on the agenda. 10 men had enlisted in Pembroke to serve in the Revolutionary War on a mission to attempt to gain control of Quebec. The state offered a seven pound bounty reward to every soldier who enlisted, so the citizens of Pembroke voted to raise £80 through a tax on the town to provide an additional town bounty for £8 per man “making a bounty of 15 pounds in the whole”. Pembroke citizens also voted to raise £120 to repay the money hired by a committee for a bounty paid to Pembroke men who were sent to New York the previous year.


Below are the pages from the town meeting minutes of the reading of Pembroke’s copy of the Declaration of Independence, as recorded by town clerk John Turner. It must have been an incredible moment for Turner, who headed the Pembroke Committee of Correspondence which wrote the “Pembroke Resolves” in 1772 calling for the separation from Great Britain.


First page of Pembroke, Massachusetts' copy of the Declaration of Independence. From Pembroke Town Meeting Minutes. Originals held at Pembroke Town Hall. Image courtesy of Family History Library.

First page of Pembroke, Massachusetts’ copy of the Declaration of Independence. From Pembroke Town Meeting Minutes. Originals held at Pembroke Town Hall. Image courtesy of Family History Library.

Second page of Pembroke, Massachusetts' copy of the Declaration of Independence. From Pembroke Town Meeting Minutes. Originals held at Pembroke Town Hall. Image courtesy of Family History Library.

Second page of Pembroke, Massachusetts’ copy of the Declaration of Independence. From Pembroke Town Meeting Minutes. Originals held at Pembroke Town Hall. Image courtesy of Family History Library.

Third page of Pembroke, Massachusetts' copy of the Declaration of Independence. From Pembroke Town Meeting Minutes. Originals held at Pembroke Town Hall. Image courtesy of Family History Library.

Third page of Pembroke, Massachusetts’ copy of the Declaration of Independence. From Pembroke Town Meeting Minutes. Originals held at Pembroke Town Hall. Image courtesy of Family History Library.


[Posted by Mary Blauss Edwards, Hanson Historical Society Curator]

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Object of the Month: June 2014 – An Unidentified Object

The Hanson Historical Society’s photograph collection includes an unlabeled photograph of this interesting object, and we are hoping to use the power of crowd sourcing to identify it!


Here is the unidentified object:
Unidentified Object

Does anyone know what this object is, sitting upon a table? The letters “N” “W” are inscribed along the top. ID’ing the object might also help to date this image as well. Thanks, history detectives!

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Object of the Month: May 2014 – Lloyd S. Josselyn and His Bicycle


Lloyd Sumner Josslyn, 82 years old, in South Hanson after a ride from Hingham.

May is Bicycle Month, so this month’s object is a wonderful photograph of Lloyd Sumner Josselyn and his bicycle.

Lloyd was born in Pembroke on 8 September 1859, the son of David A. and Sophronia F. (Keene) Josselyn. He married in Boston on 6 August 1902, Elizabeth Weston Drake, and they settled in Hanson.

This photograph shows 82 year old Lloyd Sumner Josselyn in South Hanson, Mass. ca. 1942. He had “just returned from a bicycle trip to Hingham”.

His bicycle was a “52 inch wheel, completely nickel plated, ball bearing equipped and with a patent brake arrangement. It cost $150”.

The photograph was donated to the Society by Roland Josselyn on Dec. 27, 1973.

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