The Carlisle Historical Society Celebrates the Armistice Centennial

Most people in Carlisle are aware that November 11th marked the Centennial of the Armistice. The Carlisle Poppy project produced the wonderful art installation of thousands of handwoven
poppies to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the conclusion of World War I. In addition, the Carlisle Historical Society took out a full page in the Mosquito to remember the people of Carlisle who served in the Great War along with their service histories. Also appearing in this newspaper was an account of the original Armistice celebration in Carlisle from 1918. Since the Armistice, the Carlisle Historical Society has worked diligently to assemble objects which tell the story of Carlisle in World War I, now a part of our exhibit, Echoes of the Armistice. The exhibit contains pins, medals, photographs, an authentic Doughboy uniform, a German helmet, and the Diary of Oscar E. Pedersen. Individuals interested in Carlisle history are encouraged to visit this exhibit to learn more about the role their town played in one of the largest wars in US History. The exhibit opened on November 11th, 2018 (the Armistice Centennial) and will conclude on June 28th, 2019 (the Centennial of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles).-j

Right to left: restored Carlisle Honor Roll sign, trunk, and uniform of medic Dana. D. Woodbury on loan from descendent Dana Booth, German Helmet awarded to Kenneth Duren for selling the most liberty loan bonds.


Carlisle Historical Society Curator and Board Member, John Troast shows Kenneth Pedersen his father’s World War One discharge certificate signed by Calvin Coolidge. Mr. Pedersen is one of the individuals who has been contacted as part of the Society’s  Doughboy Descendent’s Appeal. He has loaned the Society several pins belonging to his father along with a diary his father kept while serving oversees.

The Red Lion Inn Tavern Sign – A Palimpsest

This sign originally hung in front of the Red Lion Inn Tavern, built by Captain John Heald in 1771, which stood on the west side of what was then Groton Road and is now West Street, when that portion of Carlisle was part of Concord. It is thought to have functioned as a tavern until the advent of automobiles at the end of the 19th century. In the winter of 1934-5, the building was moved across the street, where it now stands, a privately owned dwelling.

The sign, painted on a single wide board, originally showed a crowned lion rampant, but at some point- probably near the beginning of the Revolutionary War in 1775 – the lion, being a symbol of England, was scrubbed off, and an elm tree painted over it, and the tavern was rechristened the Liberty Tree Tavern. Nevertheless, on the sign the lion is still quite visible (Can you see it?), presumably because the paint protected the wood underneath while the unpainted surround was left to weather. This is a palimpsest, a word formed from the Greek words meaning to scratch again, first applied to wax tablets used by the Romans for writing.

This sign was on loan to the Historical Society through the courtesy of Janet Lovejoy and her daughter Hillary.

The Boston Post Cane

In 1909, the Boston Post, a newspaper that circulated in the New England states, presumably to gain publicity, gave a black-ebony, gold-headed cane to the governing bodies of 700 towns in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine with instructions that each cane was to be given to the oldest living male citizen in that town. The Carlisle Selectmen duly received a cane, which was awarded to George Warren Wilkens.  The recipient was expected to keep the cane until he died or moved out of town, at which time the Selectmen would award the cane to the next oldest male citizen.  In 1930, after considerable controversy, the terms were expanded to include women.


Carlisle’s cane is still extant and currently resides in the office of the Council on Aging in the Town Hall.  Until recently it was held by Edwin Sadler, who died this year at 105.  With his passing, a new plan has been adopted: the original cane, after refurbishing, will reside permanently with the COA, and a replica cane, purchased through the generosity of those who remembered Mr. Sadler, will be given to the oldest citizen of Carlisle.  On April 9, Ms. Clara DiNicola, now 98, received the new cane.


Unfortunately, most of the history of recipients of the cane has been lost, and the Carlisle Historical Society and the Council on Aging have been trying to find the names of recipients over the past century.  Largely through the efforts of Angela Smith, director of the COA, a partial list has been compiled:


  • George Warren Wilkens: received it in 1909 and passed on Jan 22-1911
  • George West: received it in 1959 and passed June 29, 1965
  • James Patch received it in 1965 and passed August 23, 1972
  • Edmund Lewis French received it on July 11, 1973, and passed on May 1982
  • Phyllis Towle received it on March 30, 1983, but her date of passing is uncertain (1998?)
  • Anna Johnson received it on June 14, 2002, and passed on June 28, 2005
  • Ruth Waywell received it in 2005 and passed on December 26, 2008
  • Edwin M. Sadler received it on March 24, 2009, and passed on January 27, 2013
  • Clara DiNicola received it on April 9, 2013


The Society and the Council on Aging will be grateful for any additional information that may be available from townspeople.