Historical Treasures Found at Library  
Thursday, May 15, 2003



Patenaude/ Webster
THURSDAY MAY 15 TELEGRAM & GAZETTE
So I've Heard Column


This is about artifacts in storage since 1936 or before and their discovery last month.
Major Gen. Nathaniel Lyon Post No. 61 Grand Army of the Republic, ceased to exist after Feb. 25, 1936, when Christian Holley, the post's last surviving veteran, died.
A G.A.R. Auxiliary, E.P. Morton Camp No. 85 Sons of Veterans, packaged materials, rolled up their charter, and bowed out at the same time.
Some of the G.A.R. furnishings went to veterans groups in the region, photographs and records were left at the Town Hall, and assorted items were donated to the Chester C. Corbin Public Library, according to a published report.
Somehow, Post 61 souvenirs--including a program for the July 4, 1907 dedication of Webster's Civil War Monument--got packaged with other items and stored in the library attic.
This is where custodian James A. Chauvin found them on a recent afternoon, a good 67 years after they were left at the library, probably by Charles R. Leavens and/or Michael Ryan, the Sons of Veterans that supervised removal of materials from the G.A.R. headquarters.
The array of artifacts uncovered by Mr. Chauvin includes a cannonball, photos of some early town officers, Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchabunagungamaugg postcards,
photos of Slater family executives, early school district records, and turn of the 20th century minutes kept by the Hand and Hand Society, a anti-liquor group led by some of the town's prominent business leaders.
There's no telling what part of the attic yield originated with the G.A.R. but Mr. Leavens script, familiar because of the Leavens papers, his historical bequest to the town, is on some of them. The artifacts might be catalogued and returned to the library attic at some point but, for the time being, library officers plan is to display them in the big glass case in the library's main reading room.
Some of them are out there now.
-oOo-
When Robert T. Craver raised his right hand for oath of office ceremonies after Webster's town election May 5, he became only the town's 5th Town Clerk in 112 years.
While 16 men worked as clerk through the town's first 58 years--before women's suffrage--terms started building to double digits from the electiom of Leroy J. Uphan in 1890. He was in charge of the town seal for 18 years.
John E. Hickey, his replacement, was returned to 30 consecutive one-year offices. Pearl Clancy Mahon, an assistant, was appointed interim clerk in 1938, after Mr. Hickey died.
Mrs. Mahon won the office in 1939, and was subsequently granted life tenure by voters. The ballot box gesture led to her retirement in 1972. Tenure laws set an age maximum for benefits at the time. While Mrs. Mahon could have run for reelection, she settled for a 32 year plus career.
Regina S. (Winski) Bugan came into the Town Hall as a high school student, handling clerical assignments for Mrs. Mahon. Her high school diploma brought a job as an assistant to the clerk. She was subsequently appointed to replace Mrs. Mahon, and elected to her first term in 1973.
The time line from Mr. Upham to Ms. Bugan reads 110 years, but Mr. Hickey's death and Mrs. Mahon's retirement, added a couple of years, and 2003 brought the 113th election since Mr. Upham's installation in 1890.
Besides standing as only the fifth clerk in the last 112 years, Mr. Craver also became the first town clerk elected without prior service as an assistant in 85 years. There's continuity in the office, however. Assistant town clerk Norma J. Bembenek remains with the department.
-oOo-
Mr. Craver and his brother, Benjamin Craver, were elected to different offices in different towns May 5.
As indicated, Robert prevailed in the race for town clerk in Webster, and Benjamin was named without opposition to the Dudley Board of Library Trustees.
The free ride gave Benjamin ti
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Telegram & Gazette

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