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Merrimack Valley

July 10, 2013

Tour highlights locals' role in U.S. Civil War

LAWRENCE — It all started out as a project for a Civil War-related course Richard Padova was taking at Salem State University.

To satisfy his class requirement for his second master’s degree, Padova, who teaches history and government at Northern Essex Community College, designed a historic walking tour of Lawrence called “Boys in Blue.”

“After learning Lawrence had furnished over 2,600 volunteers and draftees, I thought why not design a walking tour with a local Civil War theme?” said Padova.

In addition to his class material, he did research with Joe Bella, of Methuen, a member of the Lawrence Civil War Memorial Guard.

For more than 21 years, Bella has made it his personal project to locate the grave sites of the 3,740 soldiers and sailors from Lawrence and Methuen. So far, he has found more than half of them.

Padova will lead the tour on July 11 and 25 beginning at 10 a.m. at Heritage State Park, 1 Jackson St.

Mike Mitchell, park supervisor and Jim Beauchesne, Visitor’s Center supervisor at the Lawrence Heritage State Park, liked the idea and adopted Padova’s project as a new walking tour last year.

During the 1 1/2-hour walk, Padova focuses on seven soldiers and officers who lived on Mechanics Block, Haverhill, Garden, Jackson and Summer streets. He will speak about each man, rank and occupation after returning from combat.

After the war these men worked in the mills as watchman, laborers and overseers; policemen, letter carriers, businessmen and doctors. The city’s most prominent Civil War veterans were Sgt. Frank Davis, who was elected Mayor in 1869, and Capt. Edgar Sherman, who became a lawyer, State Representative, district attorney, state attorney general and superior court justice.

“I was pleasantly surprise that some of these men were able to achieve such recognition and status giving the physical and psychological stress they carried from the war,” Padova said.

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