Historian says existing plaque contains errors, omissions
By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Writer
WESTBOROUGH – To set the record straight and “properly commemorate Westborough’s substantial contribution” when the alarm sounded on April 19, 1775, resident David Nourse recently proposed that a second plaque be placed in Minuteman Park.
The plaque would honor the 101 men who marched into battle in Lexington and Concord at the start of the Revolutionary War.
Although Minuteman Park currently has a plaque dedicated to 46 minutemen from town, Nourse told the Select Board on June 8 that it contains several errors and does not tell the whole story, only memorializing one company’s worth of men.
In fact, Westborough had two militia companies led by Captain George Baker and Captain Seth Morse along with a minute company helmed by Captain Edmund Brigham. They collectively marched into battle that day, he said.
Nourse reviewed the various Massachusetts Historical Society muster rolls preserved in the archives along with citations from a Soldiers and Sailors publication. The documents included names, ranks, mileage traveled and monetary pay records.
When a bicentennial commission in 1975 set out to honor Westborough’s minutemen, it apparently relied heavily on a documentation of Westborough history by Reverend Heman Packard De Forest and only included Captain Brigham’s company response.
Brigham is identified incorrectly as “Edward,” on the existing plaque. And several other errors were made recording names and ranks, Nourse explained.
Noting there is no way to correct the existing monument, Nourse proposed erecting an additional one, featuring a bronze medal set on a stone boulder.
Nourse began researching the information in spring 2019, having been aware of his ancestor Daniel’s service in the American Revolutionary War.
He said that the proposal was unanimously supported by the Trustees for Soldiers’ Memorials. Nourse added that he was hopeful they wouldn’t need taxpayer money for the project. Instead, he said it might be raised through organizations and private supporters.
Select Board member Patrick Welch said that his mother is a librarian researcher for the Daughters of the American Revolution and his wife and daughter are involved with the organization.
He said that in 1775, Westborough had a population of around 1,000, with 500 men. Therefore, it is noteworthy that 101 or 20 percent of 500 men answered the call to battle.
Select Board member Ian Johnson noted that a lot of the names sound familiar and many are street names. He said that he is fully supportive of getting the project done and “done right.”
Select Board Chair Allen Edinberg thought the research was “captivating,” in how individuals could connect its names to be honored with local landmarks, etc. He said leaving the existing monument in place and installing a second plaque is “clearly the way to go.”
The board members voted to have the Trustees for Soldiers’ Memorials take responsibility for the project’s administration and also unanimously expressed their support.