Union Congregational Church, East Braintree – Young Adult Choir, early 1940s

 union congrgational choir 1940s

I wonder if the stars on the banner hanging from the podium represent church members serving in the military. One of them is a lighter color, possibly indicating someone who has died in action.

The back of the photo had the following notations courtesy of my mom, Peg (Shepardson) Bence.

First Row – Left to Right
1. Barbara Borden – S
2. – S
3. Doris Davis – S
4. Janice Young – A
5. Jean Collier – A
6. Ruth Haines – SSecond Row – Left to Right
Director Alice Seamans
1. Ruth Bailey – A
2. Margaret Collier – A
3. Peggy Shepardson – AS
4. Laura Gifford – S
5. Clara Nott – S
6. Doris Stovald – SS
7. Beverly Simpson – S
8. Pauline Perrualt – A
9. Dolly Knug – S
Rev. Mr. Justice

Third Row – Left to Right
1. Shirley Marsh – S
2. Madelaine South – S
3. Gordon Cummings – B
4. Kenny Mc – B
5. John Arthur Simpson – B
6. Gordon Stovald – B
7. Warren Loud – BS
8. Ralph Pratt – B

Avia Ellstrom – A
Mr Alfred Blythe – BS
Myron Pratt – TS
Norman Allison – T
Bill Pratt – B (In the Navy)

S – Soprano
SS – Soprano Soloist
A – Alto
AS – Alto Soloist
B – Bass
T – Tenor
BS – Bass Soloist
T – Tenor Soloist

1863 Civil War Draft Registration for William and Thomas Bence

bence william civil war draft reg

Civil War Draft Registration for William and Thomas Bence

June 1863 Civil War Draft Registration record for William Bence, age 37,  and his brother Thomas, age 42. Both are listed as residents of Fall River, MA with their place of birth as England. In the “Remarks” column next to each of their entries is the note “Says he is an alien”.

Source Citation

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records (Provost Marshal General’s Bureau; Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865); Record Group: 110, Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War); Collection Name: Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865 (Civil War Union Draft Records); ARC Identifier: 4213514; Archive Volume Number: 3 of 4

Norman McKenzie – 1861 Census, Prince Edward island, Canada

This the earliest record I’ve found for my great-grandfather in Canada. He was born in Scotland in the early 1830s and was still living there for the 1841 Scotland Census.

Norman McKenzie – 1861 Census, Prince Edward island, Canada
Occupation teacher, 2 married people in household plus 2 females under the age of 6 and one 7-16, religion “Kirk of Scotland”.

mckenzie norman 1861 canada census crop

Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Census Returns For 1861; Roll: M-898

“Somewhere in France”

This is a recent discovery from my own “archives”.

reb 04 notebook 01 IMG_2262

A bit of back story – I knew that my grandfather Raymond Everett Bence served in World War I. There is a picture in a family album of him standing in uniform in the snow labeled “Camp Devens Feb. 1918” and a story my mother told of his being gassed. But that was the extent of my knowledge. Archive searches only turned up his draft registration with no unit information.

This summer I tackled a box of files that I believed consisted of my mother’s tax records (she died in 2011). One of the folders was labeled “Raymond E. Bence”. At first I thought  it was tax info for my father, but no…

Among the items in the folder were my grandfather’s honorable discharge – in addition to listing his unit it also listed all engagements he fought in including dates and the two times he was injured in the same engagement – once being shot in the arm and the other being “slightly” gassed.

Also in the folder was a small memo pad. The first few pages are a record of his first few weeks in France. The entries end about the time he first sees combat. I’ve attached an image of the front page showing his changing locations, ending with the note “somewhere in France”.

My next archival visit will be to learn more about his unit, Company L, 102nd U. S. Infantry.

Home at Last


Bertha Alice (Ratcliffe) Bence and her son Staff Sergeant Raymond Everett Bence Jr.

In World War II Raymond served in the 445th Bomber Group, 8th Air Force as a nose-gunner in a B-24 Liberator. He was shot down over Germany on September 27, 1944 during the infamous “Kassel Mission”. He spent the remainder of the war as a prisoner-of-war, first in Stalag Luft IV and then on “The Black March”.

This photograph accompanied an article in the Quincy Patriot Ledger on Raymond’s first visit home to Braintree, Massachusetts. At the time of his liberation in May of 1945 he weighed less than 100 pounds. A few months later he still appears to be very gaunt.