Preservation works of NR Company of Minit and Militia recognized

Nov 9, 2017 by

Published in the November 9, 2017 edition

THE NORTH READING Minit and Militia has served as caretakers of the town’s Colonial-era history for over 40 years. Their members were recognized for their years of dedication Monday and each was presented with citations from the Board of Selectmen, the State House of Representatives and the State Senate. Members present were front row: Rich Stratton, John Richard, Tom Parker, Gordon Hall, Geoff and Patty Bemiss and Roy Walters; back row, from left: Sen. Bruce Tarr, Rep. Brad Jones Jr., Selectmen Andrew Schultz, Kathryn Manupelli, Chairman Mike Prisco, Steve O’Leary and Bob Mauceri, and Town Administrator Michael Gilleberto. (Maureen Doherty Photo)

By MAUREEN DOHERTY

NORTH READING — The Selectmen did a little time traveling Monday night by taking the time to recognize the North Reading Company of Minit and Militia for the over 40 years of service its members have given to the town.

Selectmen Chairman Michael Prisco told the company members who were present, many of whom were attired in their Colonial era-garments so familiar to spectators of the town’s Memorial Day parades, that this recognition was “long overdue,” and well deserved for their service.

In addition to the citations presented to each member from the Board of Selectmen, both state Rep. Brad Jones Jr. and state Sen. Bruce Tarr attended the meeting to personally present citations they brought from both branches of government to each Minit and Militia member.

PAT ROMEO

Pat Romeo, who has been associated with the town’s historical community for decades, provided a history of the organization while photos of the many buildings the Militia members have preserved on the grounds of the Putnam House flashed on the screen.

“The town’s historical community is widespread; there are several groups involved. There is the Historical Society, which is a 501(c)3 private organization active since the 1950s when town celebrated its 100th anniversary,” she said.

In preparation for the country’s Bicentennial, the Historical Commission was formed as a town board, she said. Many years later, the Historic District Commission (HDC) was formed. The HDC looks over the “historic buildings in the center of town or other sections of the town” to determine if changes proposed to historic buildings will “seriously change it to the detriment of building,” Romeo said.

Romeo added that leading up to the country’s Bicentennial “it was was really hard trying to raise money,” but the Historical Society members formed a Bicentennial Committee, and through “blood, sweat and tears they wound up with a surplus of $85,000, and this group of men said we are going to reactivate the original veterans group.” That group was the Minit and Militia.

CAPT. RICH STRATTON

“They look a little different but they are still working still defending the town and doing wonderful things. They rescued a building that was being torn down to make way for a liquor store,” she said. That building was the one-room West Village Schoolhouse, circa 1840, which she said “is used constantly by school children to see what school would be like in North Reading. Then we found the bones of one of the original settler’s homes and resurrected the house.”

“They were offered the entrance of the First Meeting House and it got dedicated this year. But there is no grass growing under their feet. They rescued farm implements and built farm museum. I saw children who were awed by what they saw — implements that didn’t run by computer! We have so much to be grateful for,” Romeo said.

Past Captain Rich Stratton explained that the Minit and Militia members are “representatives of the town’s original Minit and Militia that went to Lexington and Concord in 1775 and fought against the British on Battle Road after the engagement.”

During its first decade, Stratton said the Minit and Militia members “participated in various parades around the state and then we decided it would be a good idea to get involved in preservation of buildings. I moved to town in 1981 and joined in ‘85 after I saw a presentation at a local Boy Scout group. They had already taken town the original school and it was in a pile behind Putnam House,” he said.

The Minit and Militia members present for the recognition ceremony were Gordon Hall, Roy Walters, Tom Parker, Geoff Bemiss, Rich Stratton and John Richard. Stratton pointed out that Geoff’s wife Patty was also an original “dame” of the organization who remains actively involved.

Additional members of the Minit and Militia who could not be present for the ceremony were: Nick O’Brien, Dick Bowen, Brad Brooks, Tom Brooks, Bill McDonnell, Charlie Peacock, George Perry, Ronald Yeakel and Makayla Griffin.

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