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The First Ten Years: A Short History Of Mystic Valley Chapter

The First Ten Years: A Short History Of Mystic Valley Chapter, Sons Of The American Revolution

by William Walter Obear
Somerville, Massachusetts 1946

This article looks to the history of a former chapter and the spirit of the men who ran it from 1935 into 1950s

December 4, 1935 was the opening date of the organized activities of The Mystic Valley Chapter, S. A. R. The State Board of Management had on November 25, 1935 authorized the issuing of a charter to the new chapter. These two simple statements, however, do not tell us of the circumstances which led up to this happy event nor do they do justice to the compatriots who worked so hard to get the group together and who, though often discouraged, never lessened their efforts until the chapter was born.

Apparently the most active workers in the preliminaries were Compatriots Davis Maraspin, Daniel Goodnow,Jr., and Clarence Peirce. Strictly confidential information from each one of these assures the writer that the other two did most of the work.’

It appears that in 1935 individual chapter actrivities in the section immediately north of Boston were at a very low ebb and our petitioners believed “that it would be possible to organize and maintain a chapter north of Boston which would bring together a group of members living in that area who were not able to attend noon luncheon meetings in Boston and who were interested in the history and development of the cities and towns in that region.”

Eleven men from the several communities in the district which includes Arlington, Everett, Winchester, Woburn, Stoneham, Melrose, Medford, Malden, Lexington, and Cambridge, became the original petitioners and charter members.

They met to organize at the Jason Russell House in Arlington on December 4, 1935. Present were Compatriots

  • Davis G. Maraspin
  • Clarence F.. Peirce
  • Daniel H. Goodnow, Jr
  • Melville H. Rood
  • Frank E..Dresser
  • William E. Gould
  • Parole D. Jordan
  • Wathen B. Henderson
  • George E. Norton, Jr.
  • Frederic 0. Kileski
  • Eben F. Dewing (one of the petitioners) was unable to be present.

At this meeting the name “The Mystic Valley Chapter” was chosen and the first officers were elected as follows;

President Clarence Peirce,

Vice-president George Norton, Jr.,

Secretary-Treasurer Laniel Göodnow, Jr.

At a following meeting December 18, 1935 by-laws were adopted and three new members elected. This meeting was held at the home of Compatriot Goodnow in Medford and most of the early meetings were held either there or at the home of Compatriot Peirce in Arlington.

By the time of the meeting in March 1937 the membership had increased to twenty (almost doubled) and the work of the Secretary-Treasurer was divided, Compatriot Goodnow continuing as Treasurer and Compatriot Richard W. Obear being chosen as Secretary. At this time also our treasury was put upon a very substantial basis by the receipt of about $500 from the assets of the Maiden Chapter which had been discontinued.

The following table gives the dates of all meetings, where they were held, the speakers and their subjects, and the officers elected at each annual meeting.


1935 Dec. 4 – Jason Russell House. Officers elected:

– President – Clarence Peirce
– Vice President – George Norton, Jr,
– Secretary-Treasure – Daniel Goodnow,

Dec. 18 – Goodnow’s home

1936 Jan. 29 – Peirce’s home. Davis Maraspin, “The Life and Service of Joseph Warren.”
Mar. 4. – Goodnow’ s home. Wathen B. Henderson, “Early Kentucky.”
May 6. – Hotel Commander. Arthur T. Hopkins, “The Middlesex Canal.”
Oct. 7. – Peirce’s home. Frederic G. Kileski, “Armistice Day, 1918.”
Dec. 4. – Hotel Commander. Davis Maraspin, “Significance of the American Military Tactics at the Battle of Bunker Hill.” Prof. Albert Bushnell Hart, “The Military Record of Artemus Ward.” Officers elected:

– President Clarence Peirce,
– Vice President George Norton, Jr.
– Secretary-Treasurer. Daniel Goodnow, Jr.
1937 Mar, 3. – Peirce’s home. Ross H. Currier, “Adequate National Defense as a Preventive of the Participation of the United States in War.
Officers elected:

– Treasurer Daniel Goodnow, Jr.
– Secretary Richard W. Obear

May 5. – Somerville Historical Society. Pictures, “Looking Forward through the Past.” Ford’s Greenfield Village.
Oct. 13. – Hotel Commander. Daniel Goodnow, Jr., “Discussion of J. F. Cooper’s ‘History of the United States Navy ”
Dec. 7. – Hotel Continental. Cap. Frederic T. Van Auken “Morale.” Officers elected:

– President – George Norton, Jr.,
– Vice President – Melville H. Rood,
– Secretary – Clarence Peirce,
– Treasurer – Daniel Goodnow, Jr.
1938 Mar. 2. Hotel Commander. Theodore G. Holcombe, “Immigration Problems.”
May 10. Dr. Rowe’s home, Melrose. Dr. Frank E. Rowe, Old Firearms.”
Sep. 17. Boston City Club. Lemuel Sanford, “Hillside School.’
Nov. 9. Hotel Commander. Mr. Bachelder, “How to Deteat Counterfeit Money.”
Dec. 5. Hotel Commander. Moving pictures. War scenes.
Officers elected:

– President George Norton, Jr.,
– Vice President Dr. Frank E. Rowe,
– Secretary Clarence Peirce,
– Treasurer Daniel Goodnow, Jr.
1939 Mar.23. Hotel Commander. Major Fleming, “History of the Marine Corps.”
Oct. 18. Hotel Commander. Louis O’Malley, “Impressions of Russia.”
Dec. 6. Hotel Commander. Clifford H. Davis, “Adver tising.”
Officers elected:

– President Dr. Frank E. Rowe,
– Vice President Richard W. Obear,
– Secretary Clarence Peirce,
– Treasurer Daniel Goodnow, Jr.
1940 Mar. 6. Hotel Commander. Rev. E. F. Ronka, “Finland.”
May 1. Hotel Commander. Rev. Ambrose Jenkins, “New Crusade.”
Oat. 2. Hotel Commander. C. C. DeSaulniers, “Why is American Business on the
Dec. 11. Harvard Club, Boston. Col. Fred. G. Bauer, “Washington’s New Jersey
Officers elected:

– President Dr. Frank E. Rowe,
– Vice President Richard W. Obear,
– Secretary Clarence Peiree,
– Treasurer Daniel Goodnow, Jr.
1941 Mar. 5. Hotel Commander. Andrew Metz with films of war and sports.
May 7. Hotel Commander. S. M. Cowles, “Twelve Years in China.”
Oct. 1. Hotel Commander. Sgt. Hendricksen, Experience on the Metropolitan District Police.”
Dec. 4. Hotel Commander. Rev. J. H. Hooper, “Work with Refugees.”
Officers elected:

– President Dr.. Frank E. Rowe,
– Vice President Richard IV, Obear,
– Secretary Frank E. Dresser,
– Treasurer Walker Chamberlain
1942 Mar. 5. Hotel Commander. Dr.. Herbert Gezork, “Inside Germany Today.”
May 7. . Hotel Commander. Col. Albert T. Rich, “War in the Philippines.”
Oct. 6. Hotel Commander. Donald H. MacAfee, “Condition in France in 1940.”
Dec. 4.. Hotel Woodbridge. Moving Picture, “Prevention of Cruelty to Children.”
Officers elected:

– President William E. Gould,
– Vice President. Donald E. Whidden,
– Secretary Richard 17. Obear,
– Treasurer Walker Chamberlin.
1943 Mar. 5. Hotel Woodbridge. D. E. Knight, moving pictures “Historic New England.”
May 6. Hotel Woodbridge. A. Chesley York, “The Old Musket.”
Oct. 5. Hotel Woodbridge. Daniel Griffin, “F. B. I.”
1943. Dec. 7. Hotel Woodbridge. Moving pictures, “India.1’ Officers elected:

– President William E. Gould,
– Vice-President Donald E. Whidden,
– Secretary Richard W. Obear,
– Treasurer Walker Chamberlin
1944 Mar.10. Hotel Woodbrldge, Wade Hervey, “Roaming in the Past.”
May 3. Hotel Woodbridge. Harold P. Fleet, “Army Experiences Here and in India.”
Oct. 4. Hotel Woodbridge. Rev. Lawrence Barber, “Our New England Heritage.” with pictures.
Dec. 4. Betel Woodbridge. Lt.-Col. Breakefield, “Watertown Arsenal.”
Officers elected:

– President Donald E. Whidden,
– Vice President Richard W. Obear,
– Secretary Edward Dubois,
– Treasurer Walker Chamberlin
1945 Mar. 7. Hotel Woodbridge. Rev. Ralph Simonette, travel pictures.
May 16 Hotel Woodbridge. Edward B. Worthen, “Arlington and Lexington.”
Oct. 10 Hotel WoOdbridge. Rev. Mattocks, “Prisoner of War in the Philippines.”
Dec. 5. Hotel Woodbridge. John K. Whittemore “Hillside School.”
Officers elected:

– President Donald E. Whidden,
– Vice President Warren G. Kennedy,
– Secretary Edward Dubois,
– Treasurer Walker Chamberlin

This makes a total of forty seven men at some time belonging to the chapter. None were elected in 1942 and 1943 but every other year has seen a growth with a record high of six new members in 1936. We have lost seven members by death.

Members deceased

  • Percie D. Jordan
  • Harold C. DurelJ.
  • Arthur T. Hopkins
  • George IlL Norton, Sr.
  • Nestor W. Davis
  • Gilbert C. Brown, Jr.
  • Harold Bradbury

This leaves only four men in ten years who have not continued their membership in The Mystic Valley Chapter. This is certainly a remarkable record, showing a high loyalty to our organization and also paying a deserved tribute to the hard work done by all of our presidents and their officers in making our meetings enjoyable as well as interesting and profitable.

Our ancestors whose services in the Revolution make us eligible for membership in this Society were practically all fighting men.. It is not surprising then to find the spirit of devotion to our cour1trr persisting even now and we take great pride in the fact that nine The Mystic Valley Chapter Compatriots were in the armed service in World War II. They were in various branches if the services, of various ranks, and served all over the world.

The group consisted of the following:

  • Daniel H. Goodnow, Jr.
  • Warren G. Kennedy
  • Frederic (3. Kileski
  • Alexander H. Ladd
  • Philip F. Lackey
  • Davis (3. Maraspin
  • George E. Norton, Jr.
  • Clarence F. Peirce
  • Ii. S. Whitcomb

This is a full quarter of our membership and considering the number of older men in such organizations as ours and the many who were doing essential work as civilians this is an outstanding record for The Mystic Valley Chapter.

Men’s clubs of all sorts owe their continuance to the pleasure and satisfaction we get from meeting together with congenial people, discussing subjects of common interest, developing friendships and carrying away fr9m the meetings something of an inspiration to make out is richer and happier. The Mystic Valley Chapter has fulfilled all of these needs of the gregarious male with a great deal of success.

There are always some, however, who being also practically minded want to know what any club has actually accomplished that can be advertised to the public to justify its existence. For these it will be well at least to mention here some constructive deeds of
Mystic Valley Chapter.

  1. We have been active in marking Revolutionary graves.
  2. We are on record as opposing the violation of Boston Common by using it for parking purposes.
  3. In 1939 we actively sponsored and assisted in a celebration in Arlington of the 150th Anniversary of the Constitution.
  4. We have been well represented among the State officers and those in charge of State activities such as the Bulletin, and on various committees.
  5. Compatriot George Norton, Jr. was commander of the State Color Guard and a large group from The Mystic Valley Chapter were members at the time
  6. We purchased and now own War bonds.
  7. We contributed to the furnishing of the Guest House at Camp Devens.
  8. We presented the S. A. H. service ribbon, to all of our members in service..
  9. We have had as speakers at our meetings Mr. John Whittemore, the present superintendent of Hillside School and also his predecessor, Mr. Lemuel Sanford. We have shown our interest in the work of the school by generous contributions.

The writer ventures to predict that through the Second Ten Years The Mystic Valley Chapter will continue to be prosperous and to increase its sphere of influence, fostering true patriotism and love of country.

Doubtless the historian of the second decade will have much additional material to include in his records but we devoutly pray that no more war will mar the pages of our history.


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