Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Edward F. King - World War I Soldier

   Edward F. King was born In Chester, Hampden, Massachusetts, on 15 December 1898.  He was  the third of four children of Edward W. King, born in Washington, D.C., a railroad section master, and his wife Mary Power who had come from Ireland as a young girl.  The King family moved to West Brookfield, MA, sometime between 1910 and 1920 and Edward is said to have attended school there.  He received his secondary education at Warren High School before moving to Hartford, Connecticut where he was employed by the Chase Metal Co.
   Edward enlisted in the Army in Hartford, Connecticut on June 30, 1917, and received training in Sparta, Wisconsin.  He served in Headquarters Division, Battery C. of the 17th Field Artillery, of the 2nd Division, A.E.F. and saw action in France during World War I.  He was also a part of the Army of the Occupation of Germany.
   The French Croix de Guerre with star was awarded to Edward for bravery in action in the Champagne battle during the attack on the famous Blanc Montridge.  He wrote a letter to his parents, dated March 20, [probably 1919], from Coblenz, Germany, relating his thoughts on his service, and an account of a review of the troops by General Pershing.   The letter was published in a local newspaper (probably the Worcester Telegram) as was common during that era.
   One quote from this letter reads, "The 2nd Division won its glory by releasing the doomed city of Rheims.  We lost men so rapidly that it was literally a slaughter.  All one had to do was just close one's eyes and fight like hell, and trust in the Lord.  We lost more men than any other division over here.  Some of the men are buried in the poppy fields of Flanders and in the fields of Picardy."
   Another quote says, "I know I joined the army to fight and I did it every chance I got.  I know one thing, the old 2nd division never retreated, they always lead the attack."
   Edward returned to the United States after the war, and sadly became ill with Tuberculosis.  He died December 5, 1933 in Madisonville, Kentucky after nine years of illness.  He was buried with full military honors on Dec. 9, 1933 in Sacred Heart Cemetery, in West Brookfield, Massachusetts.

Sources available upon request.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Are you interested in West Brookfield World War I and World War II Servicemen?

   Recently I received some war time scrapbooks full of newspaper clippings.  Included are articles about local servicemen (some with photos), and also activities of local organizations in support of the troops, and the war effort.  There a some articles about war time rationing, and some recipes, as well.  There are handwritten dates on some of the articles, but the newspaper they came from was not identified (probably Worcester Telegram.)
   I hope to share the information contained in these scrapbooks in future blog posts; but in the meantime, I will be happy to answer requests for lookups.  Please leave a comment requesting information about a particular soldier of interest, or fill out the Information Request Form available by clicking on the tab above.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Photos of West Brookfield World War I Veterans Found- Update

I have done further research and confirmed that the men below were indeed soldiers from West Brookfield.  I will be posting more information about each in the future.

Thanks to Donna Seger's blog post "Some Came Back" on her blog streetsofsalemI was introduced to a potentially valuable resource.

State Library of Massachusetts has a collection of  World War I soldiers' photographs searchable by name. I found a few photos of interest, though I cannot positively identify them as West Brookfield soldiers.  These photos are of men with names the same as known soldiers from town.  I would appreciate feedback from anyone who knows if these photos are indeed of West Brookfield men.
Clifford L. Pratt
Alfred R. Allen
W. E. Gilinsky

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

52 Ancestors #29: Robert A. Edson - Federal Prohibition Agent

    Robert Adams Edson, was born in West Brookfield, on January 21, 1894.  His parents were Charles O'Meara Edson and Cora Richards.  Robert was a chemist by trade, and at the time of the 1920 census, was living in Hackensack, New Jersey. has a  record collection entitled, U. S., Identification Card Files of Prohibition Agents, 1920-1925.    I entered the search term, "West Brookfield, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA," in the locations box, and found a copy of the Photo ID for Robert A. Edson.   The ID dated Mar. 9 '21 bears the number 7799 in red, and says, "The United States Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service.  This Certifies that Robert A. Edson of W. Brookfield, Mass. is a duly employed as a Federal Prohibition Agent and is hereby authorized to execute and perform all the duties delegated to such officers by law."  It is signed by John F. Kramer Federal Prohibition Commissioner and Wm. M. Williams, Commissioner of Internal Revenue.
    Prohibition Agents were responsible for eliminating the sale and consumption of alcohol by closing speakeasies, destroying stills, and apprehending bootleggers and gangsters.  Jeffrey H. Fiske, mentions two prohibition raids in town, on page 151 of A History of West Brookfield: 1675-1990. The "Uwanta Lunch" was raided by unnamed prohibition officers in October of 1923.  Twelve bottles of whiskey and brandy were seized. The "Happy Rest Eat Shoppe" owned by Sheick Masoonaian was fined $150 for selling liquor in September of 1927.  The location of both establishments was on Route 9; and in fact, may have been identical
   I do not know how long Robert worked as a prohibition agent.  He was living in the Brighton section of Boston by 1930, and working as a chemist in a glue factory.  He married Elizabeth Gunther sometime between 1930 and 1940.  The couple lived together in Boston until June of 1954 when Robert jumped from the Harvard Bridge into the Charles River and drowned.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

52 Ancestors #28: Hannah Joice - Four sons survived her

   Hanora Callahan was born probably about 1811 in Ireland, daughter of David and Hannah Callahan.  She married John Joyce and gave birth to sons Michael and William early in the 1830's.  The family arrived in the United States sometime in the late 1830's or early 1840's, and sons George and Thomas were born somewhere in Massachusetts.  Census records show that the family was living in West Brookfield by September of 1850.  John Joyce died in July of 1860 in West Brookfield, and Hannah died there the following year.  
   Hannah's will, transcribed below, is dated just eight days before her death. Documents found in her probate file indicate that all four sons were living in town at the time of her death.  Son William married and raised his family in town.  George may have stayed in town for a time, as well.  What became of Michael and Thomas?  Further research is needed.
   Will of Hannah Joice

                        Be it remembered that I, Hannah Joice of West Brookfield, in the  county of Worcester, and the state of Massachusetts, Widow, being of sound and disposing mind do make and publish and declare this my last will and testament.
First                  I give and bequeath to my son Michael Joise, one dollar to be paid out of my estate within one year of after my decease.
Secondly           I give and bequeath to my son Wm Joise, one dollar to be paid out of my estate within one year after my decease
Thirdly              I give and bequeath to my two minor sons Thomas Joise, and George Joise, all my real estate, and all my personal property, after paying the above bequests, and all my honest debts.
Finally               I hereby appoint William Joise to be the sole executor of this my last will and testament, hereby revokeing[sic], all other and former wills by me made and declaring this and this only to be my last will and testament.
                         In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this fifth day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty one

                                                            Hannah Joice [her mark]

                         Signed published and declared by the said Hannah Joise, her last will and testament in the presence of us, who in her presence and in the presents[sic] of each other, have hereunto set our hands as witnesses.

                                                            Joseph A. Sprague

                                                            John Ducy

                                                            Phillip Harrington

Monday, August 18, 2014

52 Ancestors #27: John Clayton - Born John Crouch

While browsing through images of Worcester County Probate Files on, I came across a file for John Clayton of West Brookfield.  I decided to view the contents of the file and immediately noticed that John's heirs included some of his brothers.  What interested me, was that his brothers had the last name, Crouch, and not Clayton.  I did some further research, and found that John Crouch had changed his name to John Clayton on April 16, 1836.  I found an online tree which included the Crouch family and it gave me some insight as to the reason for the name change, (see notes in online tree), and while I have not been able to verify the information, I believe it to be true, at least in part.  Below, I have transcribed the Will of John Clayton from the online images.

Know all Men by these Presents,

That I, John Clayton of West Brookfield in the County of Worcester and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, being if sound mind and memory, but, knowing the uncertainty of this life, do, this thirtieth day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy two make and publish this, my last Will and Testament, in manner and form following, that is to say:-

First      I give bequeath and devise to my beloved wife Emma A Clayton and her heirs my household furniture wearing apparel and family stores which may be on hand at my decease - Also my Homestead situated in West Brookfield aforesaid and consisting of about one half acre of land with a dwelling House Barn and other buildings thereon, being the same now occupied by me

Second   I give and bequeath to my brother William Crouch and his heirs and assigns the sum of Five hundred dollars

Third      I give and bequeath to my sister Eudocia Small and her heirs the sum of Five hundred dollars

Fourth    I give and bequeath to my sister Mercy Bacon and her heirs the sum of Five Hundred dollars

Fifth       I give and bequeath to my sister Emily White and her heirs the sum of Five Hundred dollars

Sixth      I give and bequeath to my brother Levi S. Crouch and his heirs the sum of Five Hundred Dollars

Seventh I give and bequeath to my sister Mary Dunham and her heirs the sum of Three Hundred Dollars

Eighth    I give and bequeath to the Congregational Society of West Brookfield the sum of One Hundred dollars to be expended by said society in the purchase of books for their Sabbath school Library.

Ninth     I hereby order and direct my executor herein after named to cause to come to be erected in the burial ground at Brimfield Massachusetts three grave stones of suitable size and quality to wit: one to the memory of my brother Benjamin Crouch and his wife - one to the memory of my fathers second wife and one to the memory of my brother Ruel Crouch

Tenth     I hereby autherize and direct my Executer[sic] herein after named to sell and dispose of , pass deeds and convey, at such time and in such manner as he shall deem best for the interest of my estate, any and all of my real and personal estate wherever situated -(Excepting such part thereof as is herein before bequeathed and devised to my wife Emma A Clayton)

Eleventh After the payment of my just debts and funeral charges, the erection of  suitable grave stone to my memory (which I direct to be done) the bequests and orders herein before expressed and the necessary expenses of administration of my estate - I hereby give and bequeath the remainder of all my estate both real and personal (That is the proceeds of the sale thereof) of what value and nature soever to my aforesaid wife Emma A Clayton and her heirs

                                                                              And I do hereby appoint Joseph F Hitchcock of Warren in said county of Worcester sole executer[sic] of this my last Will and testament hereby revoking annulling and declaring void all former wills by me at any time heretofore made

                         John Clayton [signature]

                         Witnessed by A. G. Blodgett

                                              Augustus W. Gilbert

                                              Alfred A Gilbert

1. Foskett family tree including descendants of Ephraim Crouch research by Marilyn Labbe, copyright Sandra Smith
2. Massachusetts Name Changes, 1780-1892, List of Persons Whose Names Have Been Changed in This Commonwealth,page 7980, Operations Inc, Provo, Utah, 1998
3. Massachusetts, Vital Records, Brimfield, Brookfield, and West Brookfield
4. Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1925, images, FamilySearch (,1055515901 : accessed 18 Aug 2014), Worcester > Case no 12335-12432, Clark, William-Cleveland, Ellen M, 1731-1881 > image 208 of 1175; citing Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts.

52 Ancestors #26: Valentine G. Hewett - Will Transcription

Will of Valentine G. Hewett - Allowed June 20, 1876

Worcester County, Massachusetts Probate Case No. 29239
Vol. 455, Page 509
Be it remembered that I Valentine G. Hewett of West Brookfield, in the County of Worcester, and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, do make and declare this my last Will and testament and dispose of my estate in the following manner.

First         I direct that so much of my real estate shall be sold as may be necessary for the payment of my just debts and Funeral charges.

Second    After the payment of said debts and charges, I give and bequeath to my wife Caroline A. Hewett the use and income of all the remainder of my estate real or personal during her lifetime.

Third        After the decease of my wife Caroline A Hewett I give and bequeath to my son Edward G Hewett, one hundred dollars, to be kept in the house of his brother George H. Hewett, and paid to him or his family in such sums and such time as they may need for their benefit and comfort.

Fourth      I hereby direct that the remainder of my estate real or personal to be equally divided between my sons George H. Hewett, Charles F. Hewett, and my daughters Elvira Barnes, Mary A. Batcheller, and Adie A. Aldrich, or their heirs or assigns.

Fifth         I hereby appoint my son George H. Hewett the executor of this last will and testament.


                In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal, in the presence of these Witness named below, this twelfth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy six

                                                                                     Valentine G. Hewett

Signed. sealed and declared by the above named Valentine G. Hewett, to be his last Will and testament, in our presence who in his presence and at his request, and in the presence of each other we have signed our names as witnesses.

                                                                                    Horace G. Rawson

                                                                                    John R. Tomblen

                                                                                    Elizabeth C. Rawson

   Northbridge, Massachusetts vital records include the birth of Valentine G. Hewet, son of Eli and Betsey, born June 16, 1816.  [Other records show birth place as Douglas or East Douglas, MA].  His marriage to Caroline A. Morey of Grafton on July, 1836 was recorded in Sutton, MA.  Six known children were born to Valentine and Caroline, and all are mentioned in his Will.
  Valentine and Caroline came to West Brookfield from Sutton, probably in 1869, when Valentine purchased three acres of land with buildings in the village of West Brookfield, from Onslow P. Maynard. [Worcester County Deed Book 803, pages 361 and 362.]
   Valentine, died of Consumption on May 15, 1876, at his home in West Brookfield.

Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1925, images, FamilySearch (,1292497701 : accessed 13 Aug 2014), Worcester > Case no 29178-29256, Hearsey, Ellen A-Hicks, David, 1731-1881 > image 1061 of 1234; citing Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts.