It was 1937, and after seventy years Worcester, Massachusetts' George H. Ward Post No. 10, G.A.R., which over that time had numbered 2,324 members, had been reduced, by age and infirmity, to just eight -- only two of whom were able to regularly attend meetings, or carry on the organization's basic functions. The time had come, with limitless regret, to call an end to the post's long service of "Fraternity, Charity, Loyalty" (as reads the G.A.R. motto). Acting Commander George E. Frizell, the Post Commander, George A. Blunt, and Senior Vice Commander Benjamin H. Jacques having both passed within two weeks that April, sat down and wrote the following record of Post 10's history. He sent it to the Headquarters of the G.A.R. Department of Massachusetts. Although the story of just one of the thousands of Grand Army posts across the country, it can well represent them all.
George H. Ward Post 10 Memorial Building
Currently home to the Willie Grout Camp #25,
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
GEORGE H. WARD POST 10 G. A. R.
55 PEARL STREET WORCESTER, MASS.
October 20, 1937Headquarters Department of Massachusetts,
Grand Army of the Republic
Room 27 State House Boston, Mass.
Frederick H. Bishop
Assist. Adjt. Genl. G. A. R.
Dear Sir: In the evening of April 13th, 1867, seventy years and six months ago, eleven veterans of the Civil War met in an ante-room of old Brinley Hall, and there consummated the plans they had discussed for months, that here in Worcester there would be founded a post of the Grand Army of the Republic. In due time they received their charter bearing the name of George H. Ward Post G. A. R. and the number Ten. It was the tenth post so instituted. Because of this fact it was possible that the Department of Massachusetts itself could legally come into being. It became at once one of the largest Posts in the State, having in 1870 over 900 members. It ranked second in size for many years, and now at the end of its life, its eight living members form the largest Post in Massachusetts.
During these years in Department affairs, Post 10 took an active and strong influencing position. Out of its membership six became Department Commanders. The first, A. B. R. Sprague in 1868 became the second Massachusetts Department Commander. From it also came its only national commander-in-chief, Edwin J. Foster in 1929. Post 10 was peculiarly blest in that it had within its membership from the beginning strong and far sighted men. Through them it initiated many proposals which first won the support of the State Department, and then with this support carried these proposals to the National Encampments and witnessed there the adoption of the majority of them.
While it was always strongly represented in the State Department Encampments, perhaps as was natural, it was to the National Encampments to which many times it was represented not alone by official delegates, but by large numbers of its members. The 24th National Encampment held at Boston August 13th and 14th, 1890 was attended in full force by Post 10. 419 Post members were mustered for the "Grand Parade." Another notable National Encampment which Post 10 attended was that of the 26th, at Washington, D. C., Sept. 21st and 22nd, 1892. The Department of Massachusetts had 9000 in line, including 50 brass bands and drum corps. Post 10 itself was represented by 400 members in the line of march. A large number of this group were mounted and the Post won its full share of applause as it marched down Pennsylvania Ave. At the 38th National Encampment held again in Boston, August 17th to 18th, 1894, it still held a high rank for of the solid phalanx of 6000 Massachusetts men Post 10 mustered 350. The 51st National Encampment also held at Boston, August 21, 1917, when it was too evident the death rate and old age was fast reducing the ranks of all the Posts. George H. Ward Post mustered 160 comrades for the march past, no mean showing or effort when it must be remembered that in that year the average age was approaching the middle seventies. Its greatest encampment was the 63rd held at Portland, Maine, Sept. 8th to 13th, 1929, when past Post and past Department Commander Edwin J. Foster, was elected National Commander-in-chief.
While the foregoing is only the very briefest account of Post 10 and its relation with Department and National Encampment affairs, its real life was that within itself. For nearly a quarter of a century it occupied quarters in the old Brinley Hall. Then it moved into new quarters and into a new building at 4 Walnut St., known as the Day Building. There on March 5, 1897, Post 10 suffered its first real catastrophe in the complete burning and destruction of the whole building. While the actual money loss was not so great, some $5000.00, it was the destruction of relics and pictures and flags, which were irreplaceable. Their next quarters were at 29 Pearl Street which they occupied for another fifteen years. Then in 1912 came the culmination of years of desire and years of efforts in the realization of their own building at 55 Pearl Street.
Only a history of thousands of words can record the life of the Post over these years. The words "Fraternity Charity and Loyalty" became more than mere words associated with their organization life. They were lived in their full meaning of brotherly consideration, brotherly love and brotherly support. Neither were these words and their actions limited to their own Post but extended from the Heart of the Commonwealth, to places far beyond the limits of these United States, which these men were willing if necessary to give their all, that its unity should be preserved. Over a period of fifty-five years, from 1869 to 1924 the Post spent $75,000.00 in assisting worthy comrades and their families, but in no case was this charity, it was the love that true charity in its highest meaning is expressed. To this sum another amounting to over $15,000.00 was sent to those who suffered in the great fire disasters of Chicago, Chelsea, Boston, San Francisco and other places. Sent to those who suffered in the floods at Dayton, Ohio, as well as China, and other world disasters, whereby some of their comrades might have suffered. Not alone these but the liberal support they gave to such worthy institutions as the John A. Andrew Home and others, which space will not allow to be enumerated. Referring again to its work among its own. In the second year of its life 1870, $3000.00 was expended in helping its own comrades, and in 1897 $3400.00. The yearly average up to 1900 was $1760.00. If this speaks of its "Charity," then in its social life from "Studlefunk's Brigade Parade, July 4th, 1872," the 25 times it produced the play, "The Drummer Boy of Shiloh," its fairs, balls, camp fires, outings, if when written would make a chapter of a social life few organizations could duplicate.
For sixty-three years until age alone made the burden too heavy for them to carry alone, every Memorial Day they decorated the graves of those who had been called before them to the "Larger Encampment." The papers of those years state when year after year Post 10 had five and six hundred men in line of march. Then as the years passed by and the graves grew in number so did those that at one time marched grew less. Grey heads took the place of dark ones. Bent shoulders which once were straight. Footsteps that faltered, that once kept swift pace with the best. Then too few, too old, and first carriages, then horse cars, then trolleys, then auto- mobiles took care of them, until now at the forthcoming Memorial Day 1938, it is doubtful that one Grand Army man will be able to even for the short space of an hour or so, take his place among those which shall carry on the rich legacy in this day of loving memory which they instituted.
And so it would be throughout these seventy years and six months of life, but as in all things human, there comes a time when life grows old, as even now in our own beloved Post and we see that the "three score and ten" of allotted life has been reached. We no longer can carry on. In April 1937, within the short space of two weeks, death summoned our Post and Senior Vice Commander to join their comrades. It left things in a condition that needed to be recognized and so by the authority delegated by the Massachusetts Department through its Assistant Adjutant General I was named Post Commander to carry on, and to aid me Past National Commander-in-chief Edwin J. Foster was appointed as Post Quarter Master and Adjutant. We faced together a trying situation. The only solution was that of liquidation of the Post's affairs and the surrender of its charter. This move was dictated by section four of the Deed of Trust executed by the Post and accepted by the City July 9th, 1930. This instrument was by an act of the Great and General Court, Chapter 282 of the Acts of 1930, wherein it states: "That for the purpose of the administering of the trust the Post shall be deemed dissolved when there shall be less than five active members able to attend meetings." While it is true our roster counts eight living members it is also true that at the best only two can qualify under the above clause. This situation being an unavoidable one, ... it now becomes my regretful duty to report that out of eight comrades (one not voting), seven voted to close up the affairs of the Post, and instruct the Department of Massachusetts to this effect, that they have voted to surrender the Charter of the George H. Ward Post 10 G. A. R., granted them April 13th, 1867, as of October 30th, 1937.
In accordance with the custom established in recent years by the Department of Massachusetts Grand Army of the Republic, we shall maintain the physical charter in a place within our own Memorial Hall, where at all times it will be exposed to public view. Also that the records of the original membership roll book of the Post will be so deposited in its archives that they shall be at all times accessible to anyone having due authority and need of the information held within them. The present membership of Post 10 is as follows:
Edwin J. Foster, E. Company 40th. Wisconsin, 22 So. Kentucky Ave., Lakeland, Florida.
Edward L. Jaynes, F Company 51st. Mass., 2 Clarence St., Worcester.
Robert E. Gibson, Transfered, 28 Chestnut St., Worcester.
George A. Brown, B Company 25th. Mass., H. Company, 57th. Mass., Soldiers Home, Chelsea, Mass.
Albert Everett, H. Company 15th. Mass., Hornell, N. Y.
George E. Frissell, F. 1 B.N. H.A. Mass., 7 Bellevue St., Worcester.
Charles K. Hardy, M. 1 H.A. N.H., 1158 Pleasant St., Worcester.
Lucian A. Lamson, F Company 11th. Vt., 56 Richmond Ave., Worcester.
Therefore, exercising regretfully the authority invested in me, in behalf of the George H. Ward Post 10 G. A. R. and its eight remaining members, it becomes my duty as its acting commander to state that on October 30th, 1937, the George H. Ward Post 10 G. A. R. will cease to exist as an active organization. That this notification to the Department of Massachusetts Grand Army of the Republic is official and irrevocable, and that thereafter in accordance with
this notice, the Department of Massachusetts, will consider that the George H. Ward Post 10 G. A. R. as an organization will have ceased to exist, and the rights and benefits conveyed by it to the Post, when it was instituted now become void, cancelled, our charter surrendered, and our position vacated.
George E. Frissell, Acting Commander
George H. Ward Post 10 G. A. R.