SOUTH THOMASTON, Maine — A granite memorial to the town’s first casualty in World War I was restored this summer and is scheduled for a rededication ceremony on Veterans Day.
The tribute to Cpl. Oscar A. Hix, who died in action at age 25 in World War I, will take place at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11, at the Wessaweskeag Historical Society across from the South Thomaston post office on Route 73.
Residents and members of the society have been reconstructing the memorial for several years. Hix, a member of Co. L, 30th U.S. Infantry, died July 15, 1918, at Chateau Thierry, France.
Historical society president Charles “Chuck” Hartman said the rededication ceremony represents the efforts of many over the years who planned the project based on a wooden footbridge and boardwalk and granite monument that was originally dedicated in 1923.
The structure had fallen apart by 1950, and the Maine Department of Transportation used the granite blocks of the memorial as a culvert under Route 73, Hartman said.
More than 10 years ago, the granite blocks from the monument were discovered, and the historical society negotiated with the DOT to replace the stones. The society kept the original blocks for future restoration of the monument, Hartman said.
“We rescued the stones and piled them up in the lot across from the Keag Store [on Route 73],” he said.
The society received help from Spruce Head architect John Hansen, who drew a design of the monument to be used as the basis for restoration.
The monument had been made from locally quarried stones, many of which were too damaged to be used. New pieces would have to be made, Hartman said, and the society awarded a low bid to Freshwater Stone and Brick of Orland to fashion new stones and truck them to South Thomaston for reconstruction of the monument.
Little is known today about Hix, said Hartman. His mother had moved to Worcester, Mass., and remarried when he was 7, and he lived with his aunt, Mrs. George Hix of Rockland.
He attended schools in South Thomaston and Rockland and subsequently worked as a motorman and conductor for street railways in Worcester until he left for the Army.
The original monument was a footbridge spanning a small gully just before the center of South Thomaston, according to a 1923 newspaper account. It was built entirely of granite and reinforced with concrete.
The original monument dedication took place in August 1923, more than a year after Hix received a full military funeral in April 1922.