Photoshop rendering depicting the GAR Memorial Tablets, Templeton (Worcester County) as they will appear when reunited with their frames. Image courtesy of Brian Tanguay, President, Narragansett Historical Society. See photos below for detail on names.

Location: Tablets currently on display at Narragansett Historical Society, 1 Boynton Road, Templeton
Coordinates: 42°33’21.7″N 72°04’01.7″W
Date dedicated: c. 1869
Architect/designer/manufacturer: Unknown

The Grand Army of the Republic Hall in Templeton was an imposing building constructed about 1869 by local veteran, Capt. Veranus P. Parkhurst. He had been the commander of Company I of the 25th Massachusetts Infantry and was wounded in the Battle of New Bern, North Carolina. The building included shops on the first floor, a Memorial Hall (used as a public gathering space) on the second floor, as well as rooms on the third floor that served as the quarters of the local Grand Army of the Republic Ericsson Post No. 109. The most prominent feature in Memorial Hall was a set of four stone tablets bearing the names of 49 men from Templeton who died in service during the war. These tablets were mounted in two massive frames, 10 ½ feet tall by 7 feet wide, featuring ornate woodwork. Exactly when they were installed is not clear but it was likely soon after the building was constructed about 1869.

When the Templeton Grand Army of the Republic Hall was demolished in 1980, the tablets and frames were salvaged through the efforts of the president of the historical society at the time, Col. Edwin Tucker. The tablets were moved to the carriage house of the historical society where they remain on display today. The elaborate frames ended up in the barn of a custodian for the historical society. There they remained for roughly 35 years and memory of their original purpose slowly faded.

In 2016, with the barn deteriorating, some key members of the historical society including Brian Tanguay (President of the society) identified the frames as the original housing for the memorial tablets and set the process in motion to install them in the main hall of Templeton Grange Hall, now owned by the historical society. To do this, in 2017, a hole had to be cut in the sidewall of the Grange Hall as the frames are far too large to fit through any door. They have been restored and new decorative panels have been painted to replace the missing elements. The frames now reside at the Grange Hall awaiting a reunion with the stone tablets they once held.[1]

During the war, companies compromised largely of men from Templeton included Company A of the 21st Massachusetts Infantry (including 56 men from Templeton), Company I of the 25th Massachusetts (including 34 men from Templeton), Company D of the 36th Massachusetts (31 men from Templeton) and Company G of the 53rd Massachusetts (43 men from Templeton). The former group was the first and largest from Templeton to enlist. The 21st Massachusetts saw heavy combat in North Carolina and in Virginia with the Army of the Potomac. The latter group, with the 53rd Massachusetts enlisted for a term of 9 months and served in Louisiana, taking part in the Siege of Port Hudson and the related assaults. A third of these men in the 53rd Massachusetts did not survive the war—the regiment suffered severely from disease in the Louisiana bayous.[2]

The images below depict the tablets in their current location in the carriage house of the historical society, courtesy of Brian Tanguay.

[1] Aqeel Hisham, “Historical Society volunteers restore a valuable piece of local history,” Gardner News, February 22, 2022.

[2] Elizabeth W. Lord, The Story of Templeton, Massachusetts (Templeton: Narragansett Historical Society, 1947), 132; Massachusetts Adjutant General’s Office, Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War (Norwood, MA: Norwood Press, 1932), v. 4, 643-646.

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