In January of 2017, the Stonington Historical Society joined with the La Grua Center and the Connecticut State Library in capturing the letters, photographs, and memorabilia relating to World War I held in the private collections of local residents. This effort was part of a larger state-wide effort led by the Connecticut State Library, but also created a digital database of images to be held in our local archive.
A “Call for Letters” went out in January and the response was overwhelming. More than a dozen families brought their precious family archives to the R. W. Woolworth Library and Research Center for scanning by Charter Oak Scanning located here in Stonington. These were also shared with the Connecticut State Library and formed the basis for an exhibit featuring the war letters of southeastern Connecticut at the La Grua Center.
Stonington During World War I: From the Stonington Chronology
The Township’s war activities included: Mar.—Geo. H. Robinson, Isaac Gavitt, and James H. Stivers appointed recruiting officers in the Borough for the Home Guard, and Walter T. Fish, Frederick W. Taylor, and Roscoe K. Burrows in, Mystic. Mystic unit, 125 men, had 1st drill Mar. 29 at Willow Pt., with Percy H. Morgan, Capt.; Walter T. Fish, 1st Lt.; F. W. Taylor, 2nd Lt.; R. K. Burrows, clerk; Drs. W. H. Gray and A. M. Purdy, surgeons. Borough Home Guard officers were I. Frank Gavitt, Capt.; James J. McCoart, 1st Lt.; Chas P. Williams, 2nd Lt.; Drs. H. T. Thurber and H. C. Little, surgeons, and Cos. A, B, C, and D, 1st Batt., 3rd Regt., held battalion drill at Stone Ridge, home of Major C. P. Williams. May 21— Stonington women organized food conservation committee with classes in canning and drying fruits and vegetables: Mrs. James H. Stivers, chmn.; Mrs. Eugene Atwood donated use of Elm St. dwelling to Red Cross. June 15—Borough Liberty Bond drive ended, with $5,000 from Borough treasury, $100,000 from Atwoods, and $13,150 from residents; Mystic purchased $85,000 worth. June—Borough over-subscribed Red Cross drive collecting $7,121.66; Mystic Red Cross started special fund to purchase Christmas gifts for Mystic men in service. July 26—Mystic’s naval reserve, 27 strong, to Newport for active training, and Aug. 18, 17 Borough naval reservists left. Nov.—Mystic residents donated $3,457.52 to Y.M.C.A. war drive, and Borough raised $1,452.49, with W. Fred Broughton, Rev. G. B. Marston, Frank 0. Grandy, and Harry W. Babcock collecting.
Pawcatuck War Memorial
by Connor Beverly
Pawcatuck Has Not Forgotten
- The monument that sits atop the hill where West Broad St. forks and becomes South Broad St., and Pequot Trail is a monument that Pawcatuck is really very proud of. Not many people realize it, but the monument has quite an interesting history!After the first World War had ended, the people of Pawcatuck had been debating back and forth whether to erect a monument to remember the men of Pawcatuck that served in the war. There was even a book (Pawcatuck in Olden Times written by Elias Hinkley in 1926) promoting the idea of “a monument made of lasting granite”. From what the reader gathers, the book really promoted the idea of honoring the men who served in the war and constructing the monument.Well, on Veteran’s Day (Nov. 12th) 1927, roughly nine years after the war had ended, the monument was dedicated. The ceremony drew quite a crowd.
- The monument had been constructed entirely of Westerly granite, cost about $15,000 to build and was designed by Louis Whitehouse. The speakers that day included Lieutenant Governor Edwin Brainard, former principal of Bulkeley School in New London Walter Towne, Town (Stonington) Prosecutor George McKenna, Commander Michael McCarthy of the local (Pawcatuck) V.F.W. Students from West Broad St. School took part in the ceremony. The unveiling of the monument that bore all the names of every Pawcatuck man who served in the war was done to Joseph Alfred Ozanne Jr., who never got to meet his father since he died in the conflict.
- Unfortunately, the monument was a victim of vandalism on several occasions. The of the first and most significant was the most famous was when someone broke the bayonet off the gun carried by the doughboy. Nobody ever figured out who committed this crime.The next incident occurred in November of 1949 when vandals covered the monument with lipstick, which was eventually removed.Today, the Pawcatuck World War Memorial property is owned by the Pawcatuck Fire District.