Norton

Norton Civil War memorial tablet

Location: In Town Hall, 70 East Main Street, Norton
Coordinates: 41°58’15.1″N 71°10’46.7″W
Date dedicated: 1913 (possibly May 1913)
Design/Manufacturer: T. F. McGann & Sons of Boston

The Town of Norton voted on March 6, 1911 to place a memorial tablet “in some suitable location” to honor those from their town who served in the Civil War. The plaque was originally installed in 1913 in the old Newcomb Town Hall on Taunton Avenue. The building was constructed in 1882 and gifted to the town by Harriet Augusta Newcomb in honor of her father, Nathaniel Newcomb. By the 1970s, the building was in disrepair and the town moved its offices elsewhere. Wheaton College eventually bought the structure, restored it, and presently uses it as the “Old Town Hall Bookstore at Wheaton College.”[1] When the Town of Norton offices relocated to the current Town Hall building in 1978, the Civil War plaque was reinstalled there.

Lewis Lauriat was one of the key organizers behind the creation of the tablet. He served with the 42nd Massachusetts Infantry, enlisting at the age of 19 after three previous attempts to enlist. After the war, he lived in Norton and became commander of the Grand Army of the Republic Post #170 in Mansfield. He died in 1936 at age 92, the last surviving member of the Mansfield Post.[2] He was involved in many civic organizations in both Norton and Mansfield.

The plaque was manufactured by T. F. McGann & Sons of Boston. They manufactured statues and tablets in granite, marble and bronze and had a foundry in Somerville. According to a newspaper account, the tablet was finished in May 1913, was exhibited in the window of their showroom for some days before the installation, and attracted a good deal of attention.[3] Given that it was completed in May, is likely the installation took place on Memorial Day of that year, May 30, 1913, although a definitive date is elusive.

The plaque lists 79 names of Norton men who served in the war. Fourteen did not survive the war according to the rosters in Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War. Of these, three died from battle wounds and eleven died from disease. The majority of these casualties, nine in all, were men who served in the 4th Massachusetts Infantry during its second term of service—nine months from September 1862 to August 1863. The unit suffered very much from disease in the Louisiana bayous and in New Orleans and also saw heavy combat during the Siege of Port Hudson, Louisiana.


[1] “Old Town Hall Bookstore,” Wheaton College website, https://collegehistory.wheatoncollege.edu/nineteenth-century/1880s/bookstore/

[2] Boston Herald, May 1, 1936, 49.

[3] Unidentified newspaper account quoted in Norton Historical Society Newsletter, May 21, 2013, 2. http://cs.wheatonma.edu/nhs/static/media/05-21-2013.f67372b8.pdf