Bellingham Soldiers’ Monument (Norfolk County)

Location: Town Common, 15 Mendon Street, Bellingham
Coordinates: 42°05’15.0″N 71°28’35.1″W
Date dedicated: 1874
Architect/contractor/sculptor: Unknown
Number of names: 10 men who died in the war

Fundraising for a soldiers’ monument in Bellingham began as early as 1863 when the women of the soldiers’ aid society began holding social events to benefit the effort. It took several years, but they eventually raised more than half of the cost of the monument–the town covered the rest.[1]

Bellingham’s unassuming obelisk was originally placed in front of the Baptist Church on a little triangle of land in the middle of what is now the very busy intersection of Mechanic and South Main Streets. Bellingham was a small town of about 1,200 during the war but now is one of the larger towns in the area with a bustling business district. By the 1990s, necessary improvements to the heavily trafficked roads in the town center necessitated the relocation of Bellingham’s monument.

Fortunately, in 1997, the town completed a beautiful new park just a short distance away along Mendon Street. Known as the Bellingham Town Common, this attractive and well-laid out space became available when a supermarket occupying the site closed. The town took advantage of the opportunity. The effort was led by Selectman Guy Fleuette along with a large group of volunteers.[2] The present situation of Bellingham’s monument is perhaps one of the best examples in the Commonwealth of the way in which thoughtful relocation can improve not only the aesthetic surroundings of a monument but also bring about increased attention and interaction with it.

The first and largest group of volunteers from Bellingham (out of roughly 101 who served over the course of the war) were 19 men who signed up with the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry in May 1861. Nearly all of them were in Company F. Half of the names on Bellingham’s monument were men from the 2nd Massachusetts. All of them died of disease. The highest ranking soldier enlisting from Bellingham was Capt. Ira B. Cook, a 21 year-old college student who was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and them promoted to captain and command of Company B of the 42nd Massachusetts Infantry. This company was predominantly made up of men from Medway.[3]

Click images to enlarge:

[1] Alfred S. Roe, Monuments, tablets and other memorials erected in Massachusetts to commemorate the service of her sons in the war of the rebellion, 1861-1865, (Boston: Wright and Potter Printers, 1910), 28.
[2] Kenneth Hawmey, “Bellingham Town Common Is A Dynamic Asset,” Bellingham Bulletin, July 23, 2018.
[3] Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marine in the Civil War, (Norwood: Norwood Press, 1931).

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