|from The Webster Times,
1883 Webster Memorial Service
Never did a Memorial day dawn upon the town of Webster with brighter prospects, or a day of more unalloyed pleasures and amusements than that of Wednesday of the present week. The sun shone in his fullness animating all nature with his benign beams and warmth giving life and vigor to all.
The preparations for the day had been on a large scale and the people of the town were offered attractions in abundance. there were means of gratification and pleasure to be had on all hands and that of a very varied character, but that which was looked forward to with greatest interest was the annual Memorial Services of the departed defenders of our Republic, by the members of Nathaniel Lyon Post, G. A. R. This organization had made suitable preparations for this service on a scale of greater magnitude than on former occasions, and had met with the hearty encouragement and co-operation of the citizens to make it one of great success. Flowers though so scarce on account of the backward season, were furnished in abundance, and their headquarters in Eddy block, Wednesday morning, was a complete bed of sweet smells and gay colors. The Post met early in the morning and proceeded to the town of Dudley, headed by the Webster Brass band, and under the command of E. P. Morton, Post Commander, and helped the soldiers of Dudley to honor their departed comrades, after which the homeward march was made, stopping at the residence of E. P. Morton for a slight refreshment, and thence to the depot to meet General Devens, who was coming from Boston by the 10:45 train and on his arrival was met by Captain Amos Bartlett, who fought under his command during the rebellion, and was then escorted to the Joslin house for dinner, where the General and a large number of the Post sat down to one of host Joslin’s excellent dinners.
At half past one o’clock promptly the Post was again called to duty, and the ceremony of memorial for those heroes lying in the north and East Villages was entered upon. The procession formed in front of Eddy’s block, and took up the following order and line of march: Webster Brass Band, Loren Waters, Leader, Nathaniel Lyon Post 61, G. A. R., James H. Marshall Hose Co., wagon with flowers for decoration, which was the same that had been used at Dudley in the morning, and was kindly loaned Nathaniel Lyon Post 61, by H. W. Williams, Esq., carriages containing the clergymen of the various denominations, members of the press, selectmen of Webster and Dudley, and the children of the soldiers and sailors of the war.
The line of march was taken up Main, to North Main, to the cemetery at North Village, where on its arrival a detail of 21 was made to bestrew flowers on the graves of such soldiers whose bodies were at rest within the consecrated grounds. A solemn dirge was played by the band and the G. A. R. quartette, comprising Messrs. E. D. Clemens, D. M. Cowie, H. J. Ball, James Bracken, and Henry Huntington sand the memorial hymn, “Come Unto Me,” and then the Rev. John F. Redican offered up a feeling and earnest prayer for the repose of the souls resting there whose memories were that day remembered by living comrades.
This over, the line of march was reformed, and the procession took its course towards the East Village, where the ceremony of remembrance was again impressively performed. A detail of 40 was made to drop the flowers on the various graves, a feature among which was a beautiful emblem given by James H. Marshal Hose Co,. No. 1 to be deposited on the grave of the late Capt. James H. Marshall. The emblem comprised a design of a chief engineer’s hat made from roses, everlastings, evergreen, and other flowers, made by our popular florist, V. M. Jepson. Past Commander E. W. Smith made a few touching remarks in memory of the departed comrades. At the sound of the cornet the flowers were deposited on the graves, after which music by the band and the singing of “Yet They are Living Still” by the G. A. R. quartette with a prayer by the Rev. T. T. Filmer brought the ceremonies to a close at the cemeteries. The homeward march was then made and the route laid through East Main Street, where a halt was made in front of the Catholic church for the purpose of decorating the grave of a revolutionary hero. Thence the line was continued by South Main Street to Music Hall, where the oration was to be delivered.
In the hall were already assembled a large number of citizens. On the platform were arranged the members of the Post with orator and invited guests. The platform or stage was decorated with bunting and a picture of a volunteer in full uniform, with the motto: “For what he was and all he dared remember him today.” The Webster Brass Band played a selection and the quartette sang an appropriate hymn, when Rev. L. C. Stewartson offered prayer, after which Commander E. P. Morton introduced the orator, who spoke in an interesting manner for a half hour or more. Gen. Devens is of commanding appearance prepossessing and kept his audience close and attentive listening to the close. His address was purely patriotic, and contained many telling points. He was frequently interrupted by bursts of applause. His discourse was as follows:
“The fifteenth regiment, of which I was the commander, was made up of ten towns of Worcester county, of which Dudley now known partly as Webster formed one of the towns. No braver company did I command during the war, than those who enlisted from this town. And why do we meet here on this particular day? It is that we may scatter the earliest flowers on the graves of those soldiers who fell upon the battlefield, or have died since from wounds received. But we meet here not alone for this, but to consecrate ourselves to preserve the liberty which has been given us, and to instill into the minds of our children the lesson of patriotism we have been taught, that they may prove as loyal as the fallen dead if it should be needed, which God forbid. What the all Saints Day is to the Catholic church, Memorial Day is to us. All Saints Day commemorates the souls of the departed saints, Memorial Day that of all departed soldiers.
It is now 22 years since we heard the news of the war. It is because the soldiers saved the Union that we set these apart from the members of the mighty dead. If they could be restored again, but with them came that discordant union, who could wish them back? They themselves would prefer sacrifice to secession. The larger number of the soldiers were volunteers, therefore the sacrifice was voluntary. Side by side soldiers and commanders fell, and side by side those who have survived walk. There is no prouder name than that of an American soldier. you cannot separate the name of Grant, from that of every veteran who fought with him, (and I am sure he would not let you if you would.) We honor the G. A. R. boys not for what they did, but for the noble purpose that filled them, not for the victory they gained, but for the spirit of patriotism that animated them. We do not know how great their ambition, but we know how lofty their purpose. And if they did not wear the red cross upon their breasts, they carried it in their hearts, and I would say with Pericles, the great Athenian, “If there be one among you less worthy than the other I hold above him the shield of his valor in his county's cause.” Let us cherish their memories as holy. The paths of glory leads not to the grave in the Christian life. In the other world we will be one with the departed brave in devotion and fidelity to the country which is the mother of liberty and of us all.”
The concert of war songs in Music hall in the evening, was a fitting close to the days ceremonies. The leading attraction of the evening was Mrs. Marchington soprano of Boston, who took the place of Mrs. Knowles, previously announced. Mrs. Marchington appeared in two numbers and two encores. first the Star Spangled Banner in which she reached the conventional tonique, responding with the ballad “A summer Shower,” and at the last of the program in a patriotic French song, singing the cadenza ….. ….. to finish Her most imperative recall was after this number, when she responded with “Home Sweet Home”.
We are satisfied that Mrs. Marchington suited our Webster people full as well as Mrs. Knowles would have done, although in the “Star Spangled Banner” she was quite unequal to the task, especially on the lower passages, where it demands a full and powerful round voice, more adapted to choral and oratorical work. In the French song she appeared to better advantage, it being more suited to her voice, which is of the two inclined to be striking and shrill, her high register being particularly piercing, comparatively she is one of the best sopranos ever heard here and will meet with a warm welcome should she ever come again.
The bugle and drum calls of the army were interspersed through the program with fine effect, and were given in commendable style by Mr. Loren Waters and Harry Heald. The G. A. R. Quintette and church choirs acquitted themselves in a praiseworthy manner, all taking hold and entering into the spirit of the songs with true patriotism. Mrs Butterfieldd with the Baptist quartette and James Bracken made a good hit in their …… presentation of “Weeping Sad and Lonely” and with the quartette in the distance could not have been materially bettered; the selection, “On, on, on” by the Universalist quartette showed good training, the solo by Mrs. C. P. Davis being particularly clear in enunciation and tone and well deserved the liberal applause bestowed. “Wake Nichodemes” and “Tenting Tonight” by the Methodist and Congregational choirs were also carefully sung, the solos being very creditably sustained by Miss Holt and Mrs. Murdock. Mr. Huntington’s “Yacob’ the raw recruit was good and well received; the Webster Brass Band, under Mr. Loren Water’s direction played two of their best selections at appropriate stages in the programme. Mrs Annie Edmunds, Miss Flora B. Gould and Miss Altie Avery furnished accompaniments in acceptable style.
The concert taken collectively reflects great credit upon Mr. H. J. Ball the musical director, who has been untireing in his efforts, and is to be congratulated upon the successful termination.