Coventry Roots: Memorial Day 1912
In honor of Memorial Day I thought I would take my readers back to Memorial Day in 1912. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day.
This Memorial Day took place 47 years after the end of the Civil War so there were still veterans left to honor the memory of soldiers, sailors and marines who served and died during it.
In the Pawtuxet Valley, the Grand Army of the Republic McGregor Post #14 located in the Temple of Honor Hall in Phenix, RI, organized the celebration for Sunday, May 26th, to honor Dr. John McGregor for whom the McGregor Post was named.
The parade formed at Post Hall on Phenix Square and Quartermaster John Burdick, Officer of the Day, led it to Parker Hill where a ceremony was held at the grave of Dr. McGregor. Jerry B. Foster led the service assisted by Quartermaster Burdick and Patriotic Instructor Elisha R. Watson. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was read by Comrade Malfred Arnold and guns were fired by the Sons of Veterans under the command of Captain Edgar Thornton. The parade then returned to Phenix Square where dignitaries rode a street car to Quidnick Baptist Church. Reverend Amasa Putnam preached the service. In the evening they attended the Natick Baptist Church patriotic celebration.
On Thursday, May 30, the GAR McGregor Post #14, The Woman’s Relief Corp and Sons of Veterans Francis C. Greene Post organized a parade also. Flowers could be left at the McGregor Post Hall, Mrs. Charles Cornell’s in Fiskville, Mrs. Joseph Gardner’s in Hope, Comrade G. D. Greene’s in Riverpoint, Comrade William H. Ball’s in Natick, Frazer’s Florist in Arctic, E. C. Green’s Drug Store in Centreville, the late John Lord’s residence in Crompton, the Windsor Pharmacy in Anthony, and the Post Office in Washington Village as long as they were there before the passing of the Flower Wagon.
GAR members were to be at the Post Hall at 7 a.m. in full uniform with white gloves and side arms. The parade began and proceeded down to the Harris Bridge where marchers boarded wagons and went to the Cottrell Cemetery in Fiskeville where Comrade Malfred Arnold again read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and graves were decorated by John W. Hollihan, Officer of the Day.
The Hope Grammar School participated in the ceremony along with the Sons of Veterans who fired a salute. The parade then continued to the St. Philip’s Cemetery in Crompton, the Centreville Burial ground and the Knotty Oak Baptist Church and Cemetery where memorial services were carried out and then proceeded into the church accompanied by the Women’s Relief Corp for dinner. At 12 noon the valley churches rang bells in honor of the soldiers. Undaunted by the cold, torrential rains “the boys who went out in defense of the union” decorated the graves and completed the Memorial Day exercise at the Greenwood Cemetery, showing “the same fortitude and patriotism that distinguished them of old.”
As you attend the Coventry Parade this Memorial Day take a few minutes, look around at the buildings and reflect back on all the parades and celebration this area has seen.