Marlborough Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument
Location: In the square at junction of Main and Mechanic Streets
Coordinates: 42°20’47.1″N 71°33’13.3″W
Date dedicated: June 2, 1869
Number of names: 91 who died in the war
The Marlborough Soldiers and Sailors monument was built through the efforts of a town committee chaired by Capt. William S. Frost (then commander of the John A. Rawlins Post 43) and dedicated June 2, 1869. Four thousand people participated in the dedication procession.
According to Capt. Frost, who gave some remarks in formally offering the monument to the town, 831 men served from Marlborough. The monument was dedicated in memory of the 91 who died. “To show their gratitude for the sacrifices made by these men,” Capt. Frost stated, “and to keep in remembrance their names, this monument has been erected, not to honor men whose names are inscribed thereon—that we cannot do; they have honored us—but in memory of their deeds that can never die. Let us not think for a moment that we have now paid the debt we owe them, for that we can never do; this is simply an acknowledgment of that debt…”
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John Brown Bell Tower
Location: Union Common, 91 Main Street
Coordinates: 42°20’50.8″N 71°32’43.7″W
Date dedicated: September 2, 1968
The bell tower houses the famed “John Brown Bell” which came from the firehouse at the Harpers Ferry Arsenal used by John Brown and his company during his attempt in 1859 to incite an insurrection among enslaved African-Americans in Virginia.
Early in the war, Marlborough’s militia company became Company I of the 13th Massachusetts. In September 1861, the company was detailed to remove from the United States Arsenal at Harpers Ferry anything useful to the war effort. Some of the men belonged to Marlborough’s local fire company and, aware that their engine house needed a bell, they were determined to take the Harpers Ferry Bell home. Lieutenant David Brown of Marlborough led a small detachment who removed it, and after securing permission from the War Department, they brought it as far as Williamsport, Maryland where the bell was left in the keeping of farmers William and Elizabeth Ensminger. The intention was to retrieve it and bring the 800 pound bell to Marlborough at the first opportunity. But the years slipped by…
31 years later, in 1892, six Marlborough veterans attended a G.A.R. encampment in Washington and decided they would go to the Ensminger farm in Williamsport to see what had become of the bell. Elizabeth (who had been widowed and was now Elizabeth Snyder) had kept the bell on her property the entire time. For seven of those years it was buried to keep it hidden. The Marlborough men arranged for its transportation and mounted it on front of their G.A.R. hall.
By 1968, the hall was in tough shape and several civic organizations, most prominently the local American Legion Post, led an effort to build this bell tower on Union Common. It was dedicated on September 2, 1968. A plaque on the tower reads, in part, “In tribute to the men of Co. I, 13th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, may the ideals and achievements serve to remind us that freedom with equality is the promise to all men, everywhere fulfilled only when a nation stands united through the mutual understanding, respect, and determination of its people.”