Milton in the News – 1917

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | September 8, 2019

In this year, we encounter used cars in an estate sale, a civil rights violation, an automobile fatality, puppies for sale, an automobile accident, a soldier’s marriage, a good mouser, and three mothers out for a walk.

This was also the year in which the German empire resumed unrestricted submarine warfare, sent the Zimmerman Telegram (proposing an alliance with Mexico), and the year in which the United States entered the Great War on the side of the Triple Alliance.

Buick Model 17 - 1910
Buick Model 17 (1910)

Two used automobiles were to be sold to settle a Milton estate. The name of the original owner is not specified. (However, that of blanket manufacturer John E. Townsend, who had died in 1914, does come to mind).

AUTOMOBILES. CHEAP FOR CASH to settle estate, two Buick cars, one Model 17, one Model 10, both convertible to trucks, good mechanically, but need overhauling by standing through Winter. For further particulars write to Box 83, Milton, N.H. (Boston Globe, May 13, 1917).

Note the recommendation that the cars should “stand,” i.e., stand idle, while they are overhauled over the Winter. We have had anecdotal evidence of this practice before (see Milton Automobiles in 1906-07).

President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war against the German empire on April 2, 1917. The U.S. Senate complied on April 4, and the House on April 6, 1917. A military draft was voted in early May and draft registration for Class I – men between 21 and 30 – began June 5, 1917.

A young man with some apparent connection to Milton Mills got sent to jail in Boston, MA, for accosting two women on Columbus avenue, on or before June 8. (His Milton Mills connection remains elusive). He was at the time wearing an American flag pin on his lapel.

The U.S. had been seized in April by a sort of war hysteria. Articles, editorials, and letters strove mightily to outpace each other in condemning “slackers” – those who might not have volunteered immediately for military service. Anyone not in uniform might be subject to rather aggressive public abuse.

In Britain, this had taken earlier the form of women – for some reason usually suffragettes – accosting young men in public in order to present them with white feathers: a symbolic accusation of cowardice. Famously, they once did this to a man in civilian dress who was on his way to receive the Victoria Cross (Britain’s equivalent of the Congressional Medal of Honor) for his heroism.

Suggests White Feather. Dear Sir – I take the liberty of writing this note to let you know that I am heartily in favor of your method of making some of the Hub’s men enlist. I know several men, and all they want to talk about is baseball, dancing, the latest shows, etc. I for one am disappointed in some of Boston’s and Greater Boston’s young men. I would rejoice to see every ‘slacker’ be made to wear a white feather – for their lack of real manhood. in order to make them do their duty some of them will certainly need to be taken by the scruff of their necks (Boston Globe, April 29, 1917).

This authoritarian hysteria reached the point where U.S. military authorities found it necessary to issue special certificates (and placards for window display) to men who had volunteered but had been rejected for medical reasons. These documents were intended to “protect” them from harassment, or worse. For example, this Marine Corps “Not Yellow” card, proposed even before the actual declaration of war.

MARINES PLAN HONOR CARDS. Certificate That Rejected Applicant Is No Slacker. To protect the patriotic citizen who offers to enlist, and who fails to pass, from being dubbed a “slacker” by others, the Marine Corps yesterday asked authority from headquarters at Washington to print so-called “Not Yellow” cards, to be issued to rejected applicants. These cards will, if approved, be issued to every young man who is examined and who is rejected because of physical disability. They will be issued only to men who have permanent disability and who show an honest desire to serve their country. They will read; “This is to certify that ________ has this day applied for enlistment in the U.S. Marine Corps and has been rejected because of permanent physical disability.’’ The signature of the officer in charge will be appended to each card (Boston Globe, April 4, 1917).

In the following account, it might well have been the two women that accosted Frank E. Hall, rather than the other way around. Note too the affronted “special” city employees who moved Heaven and Earth to make sure that Hall was imprisoned for the longest possible time. They were the “witnesses” against him.

WW I Flag Pin
WW I Flag Pin

CONVICTED OF INSULTING THE FLAG. Frank E. Hall Given Month in Jail Was Already in Charles-St. Jail on Another Sentence. Frank E. Hall, who claims both Barnstable, Mass. and Milton Mills, N.H., as his home, who has been in Charles st. Jail since June 8, when he appealed from a two months’ sentence at Deer Island, after being convicted of accosting and insulting two women on Columbus av., and carrying a dirk knife, was brought up from jail this morning on a capias, placed under arrest again by policeman Eaton of Station 5, and tried on a charge of insulting the American flag, was found guilty and given another month in jail. The complainant in the case was John P. Flynn, a special officer and city employe, who was assigned to guard duty at the Columbus-av. Bridge. The reason Hall was not charged with the offense when first arrested was because the statute was looked up and Flynn told that because of the wording of the complaint Hall would not be convicted, that it might be enough to press only two charges, carrying the dirk knife and accosting the two girls and speaking improperly to them. But special officer Flynn, a good American citizen, was unwilling to let the case drop. He visited the Federal Building with Corp. St. Lawrence of Co. F 6th Regiment, Marlboro, and two soldiers witnesses, with the result United States Marshal John J. Mitchell told Flynn to proceed against Hall, and directed him to see Capt. Driscoll of the East Dedham-st. Station, which he did, policeman Eaton securing the warrant. Hall appeared before Judge Parmenter in the first session of the Municipal court at 10:30, and when the complaint was read which charged him with insulting the United States flag, he seemed bewildered, for it appeared to be a new one on him. Special officer Flynn testified to the arrest and conviction of Hall before another justice on June 8 on charges of accosting and carrying a dirk knife. “Your Honor,” said Flynn, “this man in the dock insulted the American flag and the country. He used vile, vulgar and indecent remarks that could not be mentioned in court. There were several witnesses who heard him insult the flag and I saw him take a small American flag from the lapel of his coat and make a remark and throw the flag on the ground.” Corp. St. Lawrence testified that he heard Hall curse the flag and take it from his coat saying what the h— is the good of the d— old flag, throwing it away as he was making the remarks. “I asked him why he was wearing the flag, if he was a German as he said he was, and he said to me the flag was no good anyway.” Special officer Flynn at the time of Hall getting his first sentence June 8, told the judge that Hall told him that he was a German, and if he had a gun he would shoot him, at the same time drawing the dirk knife. There was evidence that Hall had been drinking at the time, but witnesses said he was not drunk and knew what he was saying (Boston Globe, June 19, 1916).

GETS MONTH IN JAIL FOR INSULTING FLAG. Frank E. Hall, claiming Barnstable, Mass, and Milton Mills, N.H., as his home, was yesterday sentenced to one month in jail for insulting the flag. Hall has been in jail since June 8, on a charge of insulting two women on Columbus av. and carrying a dirk knife. He appealed from a sentence of two months on Deer Island. At the time of his arrest, the flag charge was not brought against him. Special officer Flynn and Corp. St. Lawrence testified to the throwing of a flag on the ground and making insulting remarks (Boston Globe, June 20, 1917).

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1989, in the case of Texas vs. Johnson, that insults to the actual U.S. flag, up to and including its actual destruction by burning, are constitutionally protected acts. Free speech supersedes flag idolatry. In a sacrilegious attempt to thwart and override that First Amendment ruling, Congress passed immediately the 1989 Flag Protection Act, which was struck down promptly by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1990 case of U.S. vs. Eichman.

An affianced Rochester, NH, couple’s car was struck by a train at Porter’s crossing in Milton on the day of their wedding.

COUPLE IN AUTO KILLED BY TRAIN IN MILTON, N.H. MILTON, N.H., June 27 – A passenger train struck an automobile at Porters crossing late today, causing the instant deaths of Joseph O’Brien of Rochester, a hotel manager, and Miss Norah Collins, a school teacher of that city, who were occupants of the automobile. It was said they were to have been married tonight. The train, bound from North Conway for Boston over the Boston & Maine Railroad, carried the wreck of the machine 300 yards, ripping up the track as it went. As a result, traffic in both directions was suspended. The crossing at which the accident occurred is protected only by a bell (Boston Globe, June 28, 1917).

Nora Katherine Collins was born in Rochester, NH, December 29, 1889, daughter of John J. and Mary A. “Minnie” (Murray) Collins. In the Rochester directory of 1917, she was a teacher at the Allen school, who resided in her father’s house at 8 Osborne street. She had two older sisters who were teachers too, one of them a principal.

Joseph O’Brien was born in Lynn, MA, June 17, 1874, son of James and Mary (Kilcarney) O’Brien. In the Rochester directory of 1917, Joseph O’Brien was a clerk at the Hotel Rochester, who resided in the hotel, at 64 Hanson street.

Their Milton death records gave as cause of death: “Traumatic shock, struck by R.R. train on grade crossing in automobile.” He was a hotel manager, aged forty-three years and ten days. She was a school teacher, aged twenty-six years and seven months.

Guy H. Chamberlain had foxhound puppies for sale. He was born in Wakefield, NH, July 22, 1887, son of Fred M. Chamberlain, and grew up in the Phoenix Hotel in Milton.

DOGS, CATS, PETS, ETC. FOR SALE – Foxhound pups, six weeks old from my trained female foxhound, sired by “Highland”; beauties; $5 males, $3 females; black, white and tan. G.H. CHAMBERLAIN, Box 54, Milton, N.H. (Boston Globe, September 9, 1917).

Guy Chamberlain’s father had offered similarly a litter of rabbit dogs for sale from his Phoenix hotel in October 1904.

Phoenix - 1905
Phoenix Hotel Advertisement – 1905

Fred M. Chamberlain kept a livery stable in 1892. He appeared as proprietor of the Phoenix hotel (or Phenix hotel) in the Milton business directories of 1894, 1898, 1901, 1904, and 1905-06. It was situated near the B&M railroad depot. He and his second wife aided the victim of the 1908 Hennessey Kidnapping at their hotel. He kept also for a time a separate summer hotel (“The Sands”) at Meeting House pond. He was proprietor of Chamberlain House in 1909.

Chamberlain divorced his first wife, Grace M. (Dicey) Chamberlain, October 2, 1902. (She died at the NH State Hospital in Concord, NH, June 15, 1908). He married (2nd) in Milton, February 8, 1907, Caroline E. (Armstrong) Reed, he of Milton and she of Houlton, ME. (It would have been she that aided the Hennessey kidnapping victim).

[Ed. note: it might seem that the Phoenix / Chamberlain House hotel fell also victim to the Town no-license vote of this time, as had the ill-fated Hotel Milton].

Fred M. Chamberlain, an odd jobs teamster, aged fifty-one years (b. NH), headed a Milton (“Milton 3-Ponds”) household at the time of the Thirteenth (1910) Federal Census. His household included his [second] wife (of three years), Caroline Chamberlain, aged thirty-five years (b. Canada), his [step] children, Myrtle Chamberlain [Armstrong], a dressmaker, aged fourteen years (b. ME), and Elmer Chamberlain [Armstrong], aged thirteen years (b. ME), and his hired man, Mike Sullivan, a stable laborer, aged thirty-five years (b. MA).

In 1912, the erstwhile hotelier was engaged in “teaming,” i.e., working as a teamster, and now resident at 107 North Main street, rather than in his hotel near the depot. (His second wife divorced him also, October 15, 1915). By 1917, he was employed by the Boston Ice Company, and still resident at 107 North Main street.

Fred M. Chamberlain, ice cutter laborer, aged fifty-nine years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Fourteenth (1920) Federal Census. His household included his son, Guy H. Chamberlain, an ice cutter laborer, aged thirty-two years (b. NH), and his grandchildren, Marion G. Chamberlain, aged eleven years (b. MA), Gardner M. Chamberlain, aged ten years (b NH), Madeline L. Chamberlain, aged eight years (b. MA), Howard R. Chamberlain, aged six years (b. MA), Pearl E. Chamberlain, aged four years (b. MA), and Muriel Chamberlain, aged two years (b. NH).

Frederick M. Chamberlain died in Milton, May 30, 1935.

This South Milton accident happened when an automobile skidded and “turned turtle.”

SOUTH WEYMOUTH AUTO PARTY IN N.H. WRECK. MILTON, N.H., Oct 20 – An automobile owned and driven by J.T. Price, also containing Mrs. Price and Mr. and Mrs. Barraud, all of South Weymouth, Mass., skidded and turned over late this afternoon at South Milton, pinning Mr. Price under the machine. He was badly injured and Mrs. Price’s right wrist was broken. Mr. and Mrs. Barraud escaped with a severe shaking. The machine was wrecked The automobilists were taken to the office of Dr. J.J. Buckley for treatment. They will return home tomorrow (Boston Globe, October 21, 1917).

In the 1916 Weymouth directory, Ernest S. Barraud was a [drug] salesman, whose house was at 27 Walnut av. His wife (of thirteen years) was Ida C. (Ratcliffe) Barraud. John F. Price was a foreman at River Works [shipyard], whose house was at 701 Front in Weymouth. His wife (of fifteen years) was Blanche L. (Childs) Price.

A Milton soldier was among those marrying before going “Over There” to the Great War in Europe.

Oscar Ernest Gagnon, of Milton, registered for the WW I military draft in Milton, June 5, 1917. He had been born in Wakefield, NH, November 25, 1896, and was an ice man for J.R. Downing Co., at Milton, NH. He was of medium height, with a medium build, with brown eyes, and light brown hair.

FOUR SOLDIERS AT CAMP BARTLETT TO BE MARRIED. WESTFIELD, Oct. 31 – Four of the soldiers at Camp Bartlett have filed marriage intentions, two of the prospective brides being Westfield girls. The couples are Sergt. Joseph Torrish of Eagle Pass, Tex., and Stefania C. Gorska of this town, Harold Fuller of Northfield, Vt., and Mary Liptak Humason of 71½ Elm st, this town; William H. Prestley of Everett and Gretchen De Resce of Boston, Oscar Gagnon of Milton, N.H, and Jennie Harmon of Ossipee, N.H. (Boston Globe, November 1, 1917).

Corporal Oscar E. Gagnon, of the 91st Co., Transport Corps, left Marseilles, France, July 16, 1919, on board the troop ship Sophia, bound for Brooklyn, NY. He was a resident of Sanbornville, NH, and son of Ernest Gagnon.

Oscar Gagnon was enumerated twice in the Fourteenth (1920) Census. He appeared in the Wakefield, NH, household of his parents, Ernest and Georgianna Gagnon, where he was a railroad brakeman, aged twenty-three years (b. NH). He appeared also as a lodger in the Seaver Street, Boston, MA, household of George W. and Mary L. Shinney, where he was a railroad man, aged twenty-four years (b. NH). Jennie was not present in either household.

Oscar E. Gagnon, of Wakefield, NH, divorced Jennie M. Gagnon, of Rochester, NH, in Carroll County, June 28, 1923. He alleged abandonment.

John S. Haynes’ large house cat was more than just a good “mouser.” It was a force to be reckoned with.

Odd Items from Everywhere. John Haynes of Milton, N.H,. owns a large house cat which is a good hunter. The other day he brought a full-grown mink home which he had killed (Boston Globe, December 6, 1917).

John S. Haynes, a general farm farmer, aged sixty-three years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Thirteenth (1910) Census. His household included his [second] wife (of sixteen years), Ellen E. [(Varney)] Haynes, aged fifty-seven years (b. NH), and his aunt, Elizabeth [(Place)] Banfield, a widow [of Enoch Banfield], aged eighty-seven years (b. NH). And, presumably, their large house cat.

John S. Haynes was a farmer, on Middleton road in West Milton, near the pond, in the Milton directory of 1917.

John S. Haynes died in Milton, in 1922. Ellen E. (Varney) Haynes died in 1944.

I have seen mink in Milton, not so very often, but I have seen them. As for the cat that could take one down …

This maternal assemblage would not seem to have been so very odd, especially with the larger families of the time, but the Boston Globe evidently found it so.

Odd Items from Everywhere. Three women, two quite young and the other middle-aged, were walking along the road at Milton Village, N.H. Each young woman pushed a baby carriage and each had two toddlers besides, while with the older woman were four children. The last mentioned was mother to the four, mother-in-law to the two young women and grandmother to the six tiny ones (Boston Globe, December 17, 1917).

“Every individual citizen who in peace times had no function to perform by which he could imagine himself an expression or living fragment of the State becomes an active amateur agent … in reporting spies and disloyalists, in raising Government funds, or in propagating such measures as are considered necessary by officialdom.” – Randolph Bourne

Previous in sequence: Milton in the News – 1916; next in sequence: Milton in the News – 1918


Find a Grave. (2013, July 31). Frederick Moody “Fred” Chamberlain. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2015, May 31). John S. Haynes. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2012, August 12). Nora K. Collins. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, August 26). Flag Desecration. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, August 19). Texas v. Johnson. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, August 26). Thin Blue Line. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, May 7). United States v. Eichman. Retrieved from


Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

One thought on “Milton in the News – 1917”

  1. M.O.,

    As a resident of Ing’s (Ingeborg’s and Henry Townsend’s) Milton Mills home, former Select Chair of Milton BOS and retired Marine, thank you for your transmissions via email. Our family moved to the Mills in ’88. It is as integral to our family as your research and dissemination of history validate.

    Thank you for what you are doing.

    Semper Fidelis.

    Phil Bean


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