Last month I introduced the topic of the monuments that populate our town, promising to explore them in future Discovering Harwich columns, focusing on the people memorialized there, when and why their monuments were created, and what their message might be for Harwich today.
In this second column I will share the information I have gleaned about the memorials that are somewhat inaccurately self-identified as marking “Memorial Squares.”
There are 17 such monuments, each consisting of a small stone and a metal plaque bearing the name of the person being honored, and the words “Memorial Square.” Most are located on small triangles formed by intersections and are maintained by the Harwich Department of Public Works. Many have a veteran’s marker and flag, which for some are the only clearly visible indicators of their presence. A few also have flowers and plants, which, in the case of those at Doane Park, are maintained by the Harwich Garden Club.
These Memorial Squares are “Property Under the Care, Control, and/or Jurisdiction of the Recreation and Youth Commission.” Frank J. Crowley, the commission’s historian, supplied me with a list of 21 such locations that he compiled in December 2005, which allowed me to locate those I had not already photographed. However, not all of the monuments on his list bear the words “Memorial Square,” which I used to identify the ones I would discuss in this column.
Many of these monuments can be easily missed by drivers as they go about their busy days. A few are hidden by surrounding foliage and other items. In almost each case it is necessary to stop one’s car in a safe place and walk to the location in order to read the names on the dedicatory plaques.
There is very little recorded or compiled history regarding who these people were or how they came to be memorialized. The following is a summary of the limited information I gained through my research.
1. Harry [or Henry] B. Albro is honored at the intersection of Sisson Road and Parallel Street, near where the Farmers’ Market is held in the summer. The town of Harwich purchased the Albro House located near the town hall from his family in the 1960s, and named it to honor his service as the town’s veterans’ agent.
2. Donald H. Barrett is remembered at the intersection of Sisson Road and Allen Street.
3. Valmer H. Bassett is honored at the intersection of Long Pond Road and Route 124.
4. Clarence Linwood Berry’s stone is on Bells’ Neck Road.
5. Earl M. Chase is remembered on a monument in the middle of a triangle where Sisson Road meets Route 28.
6, 7, and 8. Harold P. Doane, Watson B. Eldredge Jr., and Harold Wheeler are honored with separate monuments in Doane Park (also called Wheeler Square). Doane and Wheeler were World War I veterans. Eldredge’s father is mentioned as a participant in “Christmas in Harwich – 1914” and his son “Watty” served in World War II. 9. Alton P. (Plum) Hall’s monument is at the intersection of Great Western Road and Depot Street.
10. (Lieutenant) Thomas J. Haggerty’s stone is located between the Old Colony Rail Trail and the picnic area near the driveway leading to the Brooks Park playground and tennis courts, north of the new fence. This memorial was originally placed on the north side of Route 39 and Queen Anne Road in the mid-1990s to honor former Harwich High School student Thomas Haggerty, who died in the Gulf War. It was later moved to its current location.
11. Robert V. Paine is remembered with a monument at the corner of Sisson Road and Forest Street. Paine (1921-1942), the only son of John and Mildred Paine, enlisted in the Coast Guard during World War II. While on duty with the USS Muskeget conducting a weather patrol, the ship was torpedoed in September 1942. All lives were presumed lost.
12. Scott C. Nickerson is honored with a stone and plaque at Route 28 and Kendrick Road.
13. A monument remembering Josiah D. Nickerson is located on the intersection of Route 137 and Cemetery Road. He served in World War I and is also remembered on the monument outside Chatham’s Community Center.
14. C. (Clarence) Clifford Peters is memorialized at the corner of Great Western Road and Main Street. Soon after graduating from Harwich High School, Peters (1925-1944), the only son of Gordon Silva Peters and Bernice H. Lopes, whose families had come from the Cape Verde Islands, enlisted with the First Infantry Division during the Second World War. He was killed in Belgium on Oct. 29, 1944 and was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroism on the battlefield and a Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf Cluster.
15. Lt. Richard Rogers’ Memorial Square stone is located at the corner of Route 28 and Chase Street. A Richard Rogers once owned a livery stable in Harwich Center.
16. Ralph W. Saley is remembered with a monument at Bank and Freeman streets.
17. Robert B. Megathlin is commemorated at the intersection of South and Miles Street.
For many of those named on the Memorial Square monuments I was unable to learn more than what is reflected above. If you would like to assist me in compiling a more complete and detailed listing of those who past generations believed worthy of being remembered and honored in this way, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.