from The Webster Times, July 11, 1907 (Volume 48 # 17), 
Of Nineteen Hundred and Seven

Webster’s great day has come and gone.  The hundreds of visitors who thronged the streets have returned to their homes, and Webster has settled back into its accustomed tranquility.

The Fourth dawned gloriously.  The day was ideal, not a cloud in the sky and a fresh breeze blowing.  The town was early astir and the blowing of horns, snapping of fire crackers and other explosives was sufficient announcement that independence day was at hand.  The usual chorus of church bells at five o’clock was missing however, a solitary bell ushered in the day.

By nine o’clock many of the societies which were to parade had gathered on the streets and under the direction of the marshal and his aids were forming on the side streets, ready to fall into line.  At ten o’clock the time when the procession was scheduled to start, crowds of people in holiday attire were on the streets and every car that arrived in town was loaded even to the running board.

Main street presented an attractive appearance with its gaily decorated buildings and store windows effectively trimmed with the red, white and blue.  At a stroke of the fire alarm the procession, the longest ever seen in Webster, started from School St, proceeded down Main to the Merino bridge, countermarched up Main street over Lake to Prospect, to East Main as far as the railroad crossing, and then countermarching to the soldiers monument.

More than 1500 men were in the procession, which was 22 minutes in passing a given point.  First in line was chief of police Maurice P. Claire with (a) squad of five police followed by Chief Marshal F. A. Wellington, with these aids: Louis Papineau, Samuel Roberts, Eugene Gaborne, Andrew Martin, Henry Drechel and Charles Leuth.  The D. L. K. band followed, preceding the members of the G. A. R. who occupied the post of honor at the head of the societies. 

These veterans organizations were in line:
15th regimental association of Worcester with Johnson’s drum corps
George H. Ward post of Worcester
Malcolm Ammidown post of Southbridge
J. Arthur Johnson post of Sturbridge
Charles Devens post of Oxford, and
Nathaniel Lyon post  of Webster

The posts were followed by Sons of Veterans from Southbridge , Sturbridge, Oxford , Douglas and Webster, after which came the various societies in order of seniority, beginning with the oldest.  The order was as follows:
Garde National
Webster Turn Veria
Division 11, A. O. H.
Pulaski Cornet band.
St. Jean Baptiste society
Club Gagnon
Slater Literary club.
St. Joseph’s society
Polish Independents
Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paper Hangers.
St. Jean Baptiste band
Chabunagungamaug tribe, I. O. R. M.
Polish National guards
John Sobieski society
Webster aerie, F. O. E.
Boot and Shoe Workers Union .
Carriages with members of monument committee and Webster and Dudley town officials.
Webster Fire department.

The parade was the longest ever seen in Webster.  Old veterans marched with springing step to the music of the band, only a few being obliged to drop out of the way.  The procession abounded in picturesque features., the one that attracted the most attention being the appearance of the red men dressed in Indian costume.  A large float was elaborately with the red, white and blue and Uncle Sam and Liberty occupied the two front corners, while in the rear a huge nest was fashioned of hemlock in which sat several little children with an eagle hovering above them.  Members of the eagles degree team appeared in costume carrying Japanese umbrellas.  All the societies appeared with banners and some articles of regalia so that it was easy to distinguish the various divisions.

Arriving at the soldiers monument the procession was admitted to the enclosure and the members of the G. A. R. were seated facing the speakers stand.  Main street was thronged with eager spectators and the grounds admission to which was by ticket, was nearly as crowded.

On the speakers stand were the speakers of the day and a number of honored guests.  At the left sat the chorus of school children who opened he exercises with the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner, “ under the direction of Miss Margaret Chase.

Henry Brandes, commander of the Nathaniel Lyon Post and chairman of the monument committee, acted as master of ceremonies, and in a brief introductory speech, welcomed the visitors, in behalf of the post and spoke of the nature of the occasion.  Rev. Harvey H. Paine offered prayer, and Honorable Charles G. Washburn extended greetings from the commonwealth, telling of the part Massachusetts bore in the war, how the old Bay State was the first to get a get a regiment to Washington and Massachusetts blood was the first shed in the great struggle to preserve the Union .  “During the War,” said Mr. Washburn  Massachusetts sent forth 160,000  of the best men in the state and raised $50,000,000 that the Union might be preserved.”

Of  Co. I. Mr. Washburn said “The record of Co. I., or the Slater Guards of Webster, is one of the proudest, from the battle of Balls Bluff to Cold Harbor .  Its record is engraved deep in the history of success of the Union cause.”  Mr. Washburn was interrupted several times by applause and cheering.

At the conclusion of his speech, Chairman Brandes arose, and with a few brief, but forceful and impressive words, presented the monument to the board of selectmen..  When he had finished a deep silence fell upon the company and attention was directed to the monument.

George Hodges Bartlett, grandson of Capt. Amos Bartlett, the honored commander of the Slater guards, stood at its foot holding the ribbon that would unloose the covering.

At a signal the ropes securing the veiling were pulled and the monument stood revealed in all its glory.  A deafening salute from a score of revolvers greeted its unveiling, and it was several moments before the ceremonies could be proceeded with, so great was the enthusiasm.  When the noise had somewhat died away, Frank Hartley, chairman of the selectmen, faced the vast assembly and for the town of Webster accepted the monument with all that it signified, and extended words of cordial welcome to the visitors, offering them the freedom of the town and the hospitality of its citizens.  He resumed his seat amid a burst of applause.

Then something took place that was not on the program.

Chairman Brandes beckoned to a man to come forward and when he had taken his place in front of the speakers stand, Mr. Brandes said, “This is the gentleman who carried the colors of the 15th infantry throughout the war.”  The flag was shown, furled, for it was riddled with bullets and to unfurl it would have meant its destruction.  Prolonged applause greeted the color bearer and his precious flag which was only equalled when a little lady made her way to the front of the stand and Chairman Brandes said, “Gentlemen, Clara Barton.”  Those three words were enough.  They signified all that was grand and noble to the soldiers’ mind, and applause, hearty and spontaneous, broke forth from the veterans who long ago, on many a battlefield learned to revere one of the nations grandest women, and the applause found a ready response in the heart of everyone who watched her, as she acknowledged the tribute of love and gratitude.

The speaker of the day, Honorable Herbert Parker of Worcester, was then introduced and was received with cheering as he opened his address which was a masterly tribute to the soldiers and especially to the soldiers of the 15th regiment, tracing their fortunes through the heart rending battles of the war, Balls Bluff, Chancellorsville, Antietam, Cemetery ridge, the Wilderness and Gettysburg, and remarking on their uniform bravery.  Several times he was interrupted by applause and an unusual stillness came over the crowds as his voice rang out in a stirring tribute to the veterans of ’61.

Following his address the chorus led the assembly in the singing of “ America ” and as the familiar words “My country tis of thee,” rang out there was an answering thrill of patriotism in every loyal heart.

The throng melted rapidly away when the exercises were over, the G. A. R. men going directly to music hall, where under the direction of Arthur G. Patterson, a diner was served consisting of chicken, ham and tongue sandwiches, pie, doughnuts, cheese and coffee.  The lunch was put up in boxes which were handed to the G. A. R. men as they entered the hall.

In G. A. R. hall the members of Women's Relief Corps. served a dinner to out of town guests.  The absence of serious accidents was one of the pleasantest features of the day that is so often marked by some catastrophe. The program was carried out smoothly and everything moved off in the order planned with little or no friction.  The members of the committee which served for the day included Henry Brandes, chairman, Louis E. Patterson, Andrew R. Snow, Frank Hartley, Hubert Authier, James Duffy and Michael Schofield.

Many pleasing comments were heard regarding the monument itself, out of town people saying it compares favorably with any monument in the state.  Its dedication brought to town a large number of old residents and G. A. R. men and the day was one of universal pleasure, long to be remembered.  In the afternoon many sought the lake, where boating, bathing, ball games and the rustic theater were attractions.  Still others repaired to Slater field, where the Slater A. A. played against Milford .

In the evening there was a band concert at the Joslin house, which was followed by one of Webster’s annual and unique attractions. One after another four huge strings of thickly twined firecrackers were suspended over the street, the end ignited and for several minutes an earsplitting  succession of explosions precluded any other sounds.  A large number of people remained in town just to witness this display which is planned yearly by the Chinese people of the town.

Following the entertainment at Beacon Park theater there was a display of fireworks that attracted hundreds of spectators.

Taking altogether the fourth was marked by a succession of pleasurable events and it was universally agreed that the celebration was the most successful ever planned in town and the one longest remembered.


15th Massachusetts VI