|The Millbury Historical Society
|P.O... Box 367
Mary Lou Mulhane
Mary Joan Boire
G. John Gagliardi
Board of Trustees
Mary Lou Mulhane
For information on memberships, museum tours, or to make
historical donations, contact
Frank Gagliardi at
|For information on the historical markers, future programs,
or this web site,
Sharon Anderson, Treasurer
|Volunteer to be a
During museum openings,
members are needed to
maintain a presence throughout
the Asa Waters' Mansion.
Please contact Frank Gagliardi,
The Millbury Historical Society Makes Donation to
the Metacomet Land Trust to
Save Mount Ararat
Special Thanks to Darling Ron (Stead)
for Ron Darling!
For our new Championship Pitcher Display of
Millbury resident Ron Darling, we wistfully yearned
for a copy of Sports Illustrated from August 25 1986.
What were the odds anyone we knew would have
Well, they don't know MHS Board member Jerilyn
Stead's husband Ron!
Third magazine out of the box in his attic!
It pays to be a pack-rat!
HISTORICAL SOCIETY AWARDS SCHOLARSHIP
Recently, your Society presented the First Annual Grace M. Laflash Memorial
Scholarship to Julia Crosby at Assumption School in Millbury. Julia was the top
history student in the eighth grade graduating class.Grace was a Charter Member
of the Historical Society and its Secretary for nearly forty years. She was the
unquestioned expert on Millbury History.
Grace taught fifth-grade at Assumption for over twenty-five years, and she
instituted a Millbury History Class into the curriculum. Hundreds and hundreds of
students learned about this Town from Grace. Her classes often put on plays
and skits about events from Millbury’s early history and took part in every Town
When the bridge spanning the Blackstone River and the railroad tracks needed
replacing in 1983, Grace’s class researched the history and found that the
accepted name of “McGowan Bridge” was incorrect. Instead, it was originally
named the “Gowing Bridge” in honor of a prominent businessman in Town. At
the grand opening ceremony, Grace and her students were given the honor of
cutting the ribbon for the new “Gowing Bridge.”
Grace passed away in 2015, and her family asked that donations be made in her
name to the Millbury Historical Society. The Board of Trustees of the Society
voted to use the funds to establish a scholarship in her name at Assumption
School and President Frank Gagliardi made the presentation at Awards Night in
|For Millbury and the United States, World War I lasted from 6 April 1917 until 11 November 1918-
approximately nineteen months.
Two-hundred and nineteen Millbury men served during this time, and seven paid the ultimate price.
President Frank Gagliardi began the World War I program at 1:00. He explained how
The Massachusetts World War I Centennial Commission contacted many organizations and
historical societies across the state over a year ago and encouraged them to mark this Centennial
Anniversary in some manner.
The Millbury Historical Society took up the invitation and became one of the first towns,
if not the first in the state of Massachusetts, to commemorate its part in the “war to end wars.”
Indeed, State Senator Mike Moore was in attendance and presented The Millbury Historical Society
with a Certificate of Recognition for this accomplishment.
Next, Frank thanked journalist and Millbury-resident Chris Sinacola whose knowledge
of World War I and in-depth research contributed immensely to the presentation. In the future, Chris
intends to aid the Society in putting all this data into book form.
Society Board member Deb Pousland crafted a fabulous Americana rag table-runner for a door prize
and, just like old times, Board member-emeritus Dick Belisle passed out
the tickets. Dick Croteau was the lucky winner!
Next the Millbury Veterans provided a splendid patriotic ceremony of an honor guard and firing squad
with John Rice’s playing “Taps.” All the veterans in attendance went out on the portico and saluted.
The featured speaker was Dan Leclerc, military expert and member of the
Massachusetts World War I Centennial Commission. Dan regaled the crowd with anecdotes gleaned
from his many trips overseas to the battlefields of France and Belgium.
Next, President Gagliardi gave an account of the history of the World War I tablet that sits at the base
of the driveway to the Town Hall. What an amazing town Millbury is as the citizens acted so quickly to
recognize the young men returning, or not returning,
Two months after the war’s end, a committee was formed, and a mere nine months later on October
12th and 13th of 1919, Millbury held a “Welcome Home” Celebration
where a huge parade took place with floats and bands. Sermons, speeches and festivities abounded,
and the commemorative tablet, with all two-hundred and nineteen names engraved upon it, was
dedicated on the Common.
Next, Board member Jerilyn Stead detailed the history of the memorial flag found in the First
Congregational Church with stars representing those church members who served or died.
Four of the seven young men from Millbury who expired in World War I died from disease, and three
died in battle. These statistics were representative of all American boys’ experiences throughout the
Frank, Jeri and Sharon Anderson then went on to give thumbnail sketches of each of these seven.
Click on each name for a full account.
One was Warren Harris of the Harris family on West Main Street by Singletary; another was Charles F.
Minney for whom the VFW was named. A third was Charles Demers, a weaver in the Millbury Mills
from Elm Street, and the fourth was William Higginson.
Harris, Minney and Demers died from the influenza pandemic, and William Higginson, originally from
Belfast, Ireland, joined the British Army and was brought down by
cholera in India.
Three died in battle: George Devoe, nicknamed “Jumbo” perhaps because of his diminutive stature,
died south of the Aisne River; Donald McCaskill,
an eighteen year old native Scotsman died with the McClean Kilties out of Canada, and Edward
Blanchard a carpenter from Colton’s Farm perished during the Aisne-Marne offensive. Blanchard’s
body was never found.
Afterwards, The Mansion was a swarm of activity! Refreshments of doughnuts for the Doughboys and
cider were in order as World War I period music wafted throughout.
The Society’s museum with its display of World War I memorabilia drew an appreciative audience.
In addition, John Popham, one of Millbury's veterans had set up his extensive collection of World War I
weapons and letters and photos. This lent a sobering air of military
reality for all to see.
The Millbury Historical Society wishes to thank the following groups for joining them in this endeavor
and making it a success:
The Millbury Veterans’ Council
Charles F. Minney VFW Post
Devoe-Taylor American Legion Post
|Sunday, 5 November 2017:
Millbury in World War I
|George "Jumbo" Devoe
|Charles F. Minney