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New Southampton war memorials to be dedicated on Veterans Day

— The names of 331 former town residents who served in wars in the 18th and 19th centuries are now listed on two new memorials in their honor located in front of the Town Hall on College Highway.

At a Veterans Day ceremony Sunday at 2 p.m., the memorials will be dedicated and the late soldiers, and veterans everywhere will be honored.

Southampton historian Richard Frary, who serves on the Historical Commission, Community Preservation Committee and as the veterans’ grave officer, has been working to create the monuments for about three years.

“We have the World War I and II memorials across the street, and I thought, But what about the other wars?” Frary said Monday. He suggested the town spend $18,000 in Community Preservation Act funds on the memorials, and voters approved the amount in 2010.

Then came the hard part: finding and verifying all the names that would go on the memorials. “That really takes a lot of looking; it wasn’t done in 15 minutes,” he said.

He had help from Assistant Town Clerk Ruth Bernier and her husband, David Bernier, who are Revolutionary War re-enactors. They found the names in records in the Town Hall and local libraries, including death certificates and state-issued volumes listing the men who served in certain wars, Frary said.

The Highway Department employees installed the engraved granite memorials a few months ago, he said.

The first granite memorial honors veterans of the 18th-century wars: four from King George’s War from 1744 to 1748, four from the French and Indian War from 1754 to 1763, and 190 from the Revolutionary War from 1775 to 1783.

Frary’s ancestor, Obadiah Frary, was among the seven Southampton residents who were killed in the Revolutionary War, he said. The names of veterans who died at war are marked with stars on the memorials.

The second memorial lists soldiers from wars in the 19th century: one from the War of 1812, 131 from the Civil War from 1861 to 1865, and one from the Spanish-American War in 1898.

After working to assemble the names, Frary created a book that includes the names of the soldiers, details about their service and in some cases their deaths. Copies are available for viewing at Edwards Public Library on East Street, the Old Schoolhouse in Conant Park, the Town Clerk’s office or from the Historical Society.

At the ceremony Sunday, speakers will include Select Board member Jacqueline Sears, American Legion Post 168 Commander Richard LeClerc and resident Barry Searle, who will read a letter his ancestor wrote while serving in the Civil War.

Wreaths will be laid at the memorials and there will be a gun salute and cannon fire from the 25th Continental Regiment Revolutionary War re-enactors, Bernier said.

Veterans will also be honored at two other events in town this weekend.

On Friday, veterans are invited to join students at the William E. Norris School on Pomeroy Meadow Road for breakfast followed by an all-school assembly to honor veterans. On Saturday night, a roast beef dinner will be held in honor of Veterans Day at the First Congregational Church of Southampton.

A Veterans Day exhibit created by Southampton veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Borucki is also on display at the Edwards Public Library.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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