The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 12, 2010

Veterans support one another: past, present and future

The Carr burial plot. (Photo by Mollie McPhee Ho)

You never know where and when a bit of Carlisle history may find you. On a recent Halloween tour of Civil War graves at the Woodlawn cemetery in Acton, a history buff from the town told me that information about the death of a veteran from Carlisle was posted on the Acton website. He recalled this veteran – not because he died from injuries suffered in the war – but because he died from a bee sting!

Further research yielded some interesting facts about the life of Edward (Edwin) J. Carr, who died in Carlisle on August 9, 1906. Apparently, the man originally came from New Ipswich County in New Hampshire where he was born on July 23, 1843. He first entered military service as an army private in Concord, New Hampshire in August, 1862. Carr participated in battles at Fredericksburg and the Siege of Petersburg. He was discharged at the end of the war in June, 1865 in Richmond, Virginia.

After the war Carr eventually made his way to Carlisle, where he settled on a farm. He subsequently joined a fraternal order of Union war veterans called the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) 138, located in Acton. The U.S. State Department established the posts, and the assigned number reflects the order in which each was formed. (An earlier group had formed in Acton but disbanded due to lack of interest).

Although many posts started as social clubs, the organization morphed into a national force in politics working to advance the needs of disabled veterans and their survivors.

Civil War veterans in the area first met informally at the train station in West Acton in 1880. The group grew to 38 veterans and organized into an official post in 1882. The members chose to name it after Revolutionary War Captain Isaac Davis, thereby honoring a veteran who had preceded them. A G.A.R. in neighboring Maynard, named Henry Wilson Post No. 86, suffered a decline in membership, relinquished its charter, and joined the new Acton post. The Isaac Davis Post, 138 G.A.R. met monthly at Robinson’s Hall in Acton. The group raised money to aid disabled veterans and families of casualties. A state law in 1889 required schools to hold memorial observances, so G.A.R. members from this post visited local classrooms.

Carlisle connection

Carr passed away suddenly when he was stung by a bee while cutting hay with a mowing machine in his meadow in Carlisle on a Friday. The bee stung him and he died almost immediately. Carr had been stung the previous year, and had remained unconscious for some time before recovering.

Several Acton men and members of the Isaac Davis Post No. 138 G.A.R. attended the funeral services held for Carr on Sunday morning in Carlisle, according to the August 15, 1906 edition of the Concord Enterprise. The attendance of these veterans led to the snippet noted on the Acton town website. The last member of the Acton post, George L. Towne, died in 1940 at the age of 96. The State Department officially retired the Acton G.A.R. post in 1956.

The Green cemetery in Carlisle holds the remains of Carr and his wife Luranah. A small marker denotes his grave as that of a veteran. You can view the records about Carr’s military service in the civil war archives of the Acton Memorial Library.

Today the Acton Commission on Disability addresses the concerns of disabled veterans in that town. Every town has or shares an agent to deal with support and services of veterans at large. The Carlisle Veterans Agent is Ken Buffam who works out of the Billerica office.

If you are a disabled veteran and would like to share your history by participating in an Carlisle Mosquito article about how the town addresses your needs today, please contact writer Anne Marie Brako directly, ∆

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