More From the Lowell Historical Society’s Treasure Trove

  From the Lowell Historical Society Collection: Bust of Benjamin Franklin Butler, Civil War General, Congressman and Governor

The Lowell Historical Society maintains – at the University of Massachusetts Lowell/Center for Lowell History – numerous collections of writings, documents and photographs which are open for public research. Here are more examples of collections available to the researcher and the curious:

Father John’s Medicine Company Collection (Lowell Museum)

In the 1860’s, the Lowell apothecary of Carleton and Hovey began marketing  a proprietary medicine named for a local Irish-Catholic priest, Father John O’Brien. This tonic became so popular that the apothecary was renamed Father John’s Medicine Company. The collection contains business accounts for several years at the turn of the 20th century, sample bottle labels, sound recording advertisements and promotional films.

Butler Collection

Benjamin Franklin Butler (1818 – 1893) was a Lowell lawyer who became a Civil War General, Congressman and Governor. This collection, much of which was purchased with a donation from the Whit Pearson Memorial Fund, includes personal letters, photos and portraits of Butler, Stevens and Ames family members and a series of Thomas Nast political cartoons of Butler. Recent acquisitions include political cartoons from the A.L. Eno, Esquire collection.


Old English Cemetery Part 2

For those who were unable to attend the recent tour of the Old English Cemetery down on Gorham Street, tour guide and Lowell Historical Society board member Kim Zunino has kindly provided her notes. Thanks to all those who did attend, the turnout was fantastic!

Notes are after the jump Continue reading “Old English Cemetery Part 2”

Lowell Tech Students in the 26th Yankee Division ~ WWI

This is a cross-post from LHS Board member Eileen Loucraft’s personal blog Lowell Doughboys. 

Mahlon Webb Dennett – 26th Yankee Division Battery F

Lowell Textile Institute had 23 students sign up for the 26th Yankee Division Battery F Field Artillery unit. They all served together and due to their superior mathmatics they were a great asset at firing the guns. They were the most accurate of the division’s artillery units.The 23 men were: Pvt. Eugene R. Ackley, ’19; Lieut. Wilbur F. Berry, ’17; Lieut. Russell L. Brown ’19; Corp. Mahlon W. Dennett, ’18; Bugler Walter S. Douglas, ’19; Corp. Richard F. Hadley, ’19; Lieut. John S. Holden, ’19; Sergt. Carleton R. Hosley, ’19; Corp. George H. Johnson, ’18; Pvt. John F. Larratt, ’19; Sergt. Bryan Leonard, ’19; Corp. Eric T.L. Laurin, ’18; Sergt. Carl E. Matthews, ’17; Pvt. Dan W. Moorhouse, ’19; Pvt. Brackett Parsons, ’19; Pvt. Walter W. Powers, ’17; Sergt. Lester E. Parker, ’20; Pvt. Herbert C. Roberts, ’20; Pvt. Carl G.V. Sjostrom, Jr., ’19; Corp. Frank L. Thayer, ’19; Sergt. Joseph A. Webster, ’20; Corp. Philip J. White, ’19.

The following is from a speech by Lieut. Russell L. Brown given at the dedication of the Mahlon Webb Dennett Gate on Saturday, May 18th, 1929.

“Mindful of the loss of a comrade-in-arms, these men have arranged to erect a gate at the northwest corner of the school campus, as a memorial to Mahlon Webb Dennett, who died in France.
Corporal Mahlon W. Dennett, son of Dr. D.C. Dennett of Winchester, Mass., was born June 10, 1884. In 1917 while in his third year as a student chemist, class of 1918, at Lowell Textile Institute, he enlisted in Battery B, 2nd Mass. regiment, which later became Battery F, 102nd field artillery, 26th division, AEF.
As the battery progressed from the training period to actual combat at the front, Corp. Dennett, by virtue of his knowledge of chemistry, was made gas corporal, and after a short schooling in gas technique was made responsible for the safety of the personnel during gas attacks.
It was Corp. Dennett’s duty to see that all gas masks were in good condition, that all dugout were properly blanketed, that the men were acquainted with effects and antidotes for various kinds of gas poisoning. In event of gas attacks he was to sound the alarm and see that all precautions were taken to avoid casualties. In addition to this Corp. Dennett assisted in helping maintain liason with telephone and rocket posts.
The success of his efforts and faithfulness to duty is shown by the fact that in spite of many vicious gas attacks there was not one death from gas poisoning in the battery.
At the second battle of the Marne after firing steadily for days, the battery moved forward successively until it located on July 24 in an old German gun position on the edges of the woods. The place was near the front lines and the infantry, advancing to the attack, was breaking from column to skirmish lines of squads directly in front of the battery. The location was known exactly by the enemy, and soon a terrific barrage was falling on the guns.
During this intensive fire a German 77 m.m. long fuse shell landed at Corp. Dennett’s feet as he lay in a shallow funk hole near the guns. Receiving the full effects of the lateral spray Dennett was mortally wounded. His torso terribly mutilated, arms and legs broken, the fingers of his left hand cut off, his cry for help was answered by comrades scarcely 50 feet away. Capt. Lee H. Cover, Capt. Theo R. Johnson and Sergt. R.L. Brown were by his side at once together with Private Burke of the medical squad, who gave first aid and carried Corp. Dennett to the rear under shell fire. An ambulance carried the wounded man to Mobile hospital No. 2 and later to Evacuation hospital No. 7.
Courage and fortitude alone kept him alive over two weeks. On the third day he dictated a letter to his father in which he said, “I am out of luck. I have been wounded, but expect to come out O.K.”
The odds against him were too great, however, and on August 10, 1918, he died of sepsis, and was buried at Belleau Woods in France.”

So, now back to present day, the gate is long gone. In 1955, the area in front of Cumnock Hall was renamed as Dennett Mall. I need to walk the area to see if there are any memorial plaques in his honor anywhere on North Campus.

Posted by Eileen at 5:09 PM 0  

Lowell and the Civil War: An Armenian from Lowell

Chelmsford’s Gary Koltookian, left, and Pennsylvania researcher Paul Sookiasian at at the grave of Lowell mill worker and Civil War sailor Khachadour Garabedian in Fernwood Cemetery, Lansdowne, Pa. COURTESY GARY KOLTOOKIAN
In yesterday’s Lowell Sun, writer and history reseacher, David Peaver continues his occasional articles related to Lowell and the Civil War. He tells us the story of local historian, collector and Lowell Historical Society member Gary Koltookian and his research attempt to find more about Khachadour P. Garabedian, a Lowell mill worker who enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1864 and is believed the only Armenian to have served in combat during the Civil War.

From the article:

The trail to a deteriorated headstone in a Philadelphia-area cemetery, and to the restoration of a Civil War sailor’s honor, started from a flea market in Hollis, N.H., in 1991.

Chelmsford’s Gary Koltookian was shopping for worthy additions to his collections of antique bottles and Lowell memorabilia. A Lowell native intensely proud of his Armenian heritage, Koltookian’s eyes were drawn to an 1855 Lowell Courier on a dealer’s table, and to an advertisement placed in that newspaper by a “Menas Garabed, Cabinetmaker.”

“Wow. 1855. An Armenian in Lowell,” he marveled.

“There were not many Armenians in America in the 1850s,” says Koltookian, 78, a retired social-studies teacher whose ancestors arrived in the early 1900s 10 years into the first great wave of Armenian migration.


And so the search began!

Read the full Peaver article here at Reminder: the Sun archives their stories very quickly!


Lowell Historical Society Research Collection

Original Old Residents' Association Book Cabinet

Original Old Residents’ Association Book Cabinet

The Lowell Historical Society maintains numerous collections of writings, documents and photographs which are open for public research. The collections are comprised of the Society’s original archives as well as those of the Lowell Museum. The holdings of the Society, which differ in size and scope, are located at two neighboring facilities and use of the collections should be coordinated in advance of visitation. Most of the books, photographs, maps and documents are housed the UMass Lowell / Center for Lowell History while the remainder of the collection is in the Society rooms at the Boott Mill site.

Here are two collections that might interest a researcher – one recalls an well-known entertainment venue and the other an effort to preserve the information on very old local grave stones.

Commodore Ballroom Collection

Originally built as the Kasino, the Commodore Ballroom opened in 1924 to become the preeminent Lowell dance club under the ownership of Carl Braun and his family. This collection includes business records from 1936 to 1950 as well as tax filings and payroll information from 1937 to 1945. Also in the collection are song books, sheet music and over 200 autographed photos of musicians including Ray Anthony, Les Brown, Clooney Sisters, Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Sammy Kaye, Vaughn Monroe, Artie Shaw and Jack Teagarden.

Cemetery Gravestone Rubbings

A project financed by the Lowell Historical Society, Lowell State College ( now the University of Massachusetts Lowell) undertook to document and preserve pre-1850 slate stones. The project was directed by Dr. Mary Blewett and involved the work of her students. The collection of imprint rubbings are from many of the oldest graveyards in the city including the Clark, Edson, Hildreth, Lowell, Mammoth Road, Old English, Pawtucket, Saint Patrick’s, School Street and Woodbine Cemeteries.

More collections will highlights will be over the coming weeks.