What we are cataloging now at the Dorchester Historical Society
At the Dorchester Historical Society, we are in the process of a year-long project to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of World War I. Using a collection of photographs we have of World War I Dorchester residents, we will be featuring soldiers in a number of short biographies throughout the year. At the culmination of the project, we hope to produce an online exhibit which highlights these men and their service to our country.
Our first biography features a pair of brothers: Arthur and Earle Means – the photograph is of Arthur.
Arthur and Earle Means were brothers who both served in the United States armed forces during World War I. Arthur was born in 1890 and 10 years older than Earle, who was born in 1900. They were raised in a large family in the Mattapan section of Boston on Sturbridge Street in Lower Mills. Like many other families in Lower Mills, their father, Fred, was a factory worker at the Walter Baker Chocolate Factory only a few blocks away. Fred was also a Civil War veteran and his sons, Earle and Arthur, would follow in his footsteps when the United States entered World War I in 1917. Arthur enlisted in the military and joined the U.S. Navy when he was 27 years old on April 17, 1917. We know Earle joined the military as well but not sure of the exact timeline. Not much is known about their time in the military but from various genealogical sources, we can see what their lives were like when they returned from war. In fact, after the war, it looks like Arthur and Earle went in separate directions; we find Arthur living in New York City and Earle staying close to his family in Boston.
Arthur was honorably discharged from military service on April 16, 1921. In the 1925 New York State Census, we find Arthur Means living in New York City with his wife Helen and working as an “organizer of automobiles.” In the 1930, according to the United States Census, he is still living in New York City but is now listed as an “automobile executive.” Finally, the 1940 census still has him living in New York, but now listed as a manager of a ship supply company. He died in 1947 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. His interment records record indicates he was a Chief Machinist Mate in the United States Navy Reserve Forces.
After returning from the war, it seems Earle was living at home in Lower Mills, working as a machinist. However, in the 1929 Boston Directory, Earle is listed as a physical instructor at 48 Boylston Street which, at the time, was the Boston Young Men’s Christian Union (BYMCU) and living in Norfolk Downs – more commonly known as Quincy – with his wife Catherine (Cook). Throughout the years, he is seen living in various towns on the South Shore of Massachusetts including Quincy, Weymouth, Randolph and eventually settling in Holbrook. All the records indicate he was some type of physical fitness instructor. Earle died, at the age of 42, in 1943; his death records list his occupation as “retired physical instructor, World War I.” He is buried at the Forest Hills Cemetery in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston.
Do you know more about the Means brothers? We would love to hear from you! All material has been researched by volunteers at the Dorchester Historical Society, so please let us know if we got something wrong or if you think a piece of the story is missing!
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.
“Massachusetts Births, 1841-1915”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FX4S-F77 : 1 March 2016), Arthur Henry Means, 1890.
Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
“United States Census, 1930,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X45M-MMB : accessed 18 May 2017), Arthur M Means, Queens (Districts 1001-1250), Queens, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 1089, sheet 17B, line 96, family 291, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 1596; FHL microfilm 2,341,331.
“United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K3B2-X1M : accessed 18 May 2017), Arthur H Means, Assembly District 4, Queens, New York City, Queens, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 41-864B, sheet 2A, line 21, family , Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 – 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 2737.
Ancestry.com. U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
“Massachusetts Births, 1841-1915”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FXNJ-NL9 : 1 March 2016), Earle Archer Means, 1900.
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Year: 1920; Census Place: Boston Ward 21, Suffolk, Massachusetts; Roll: T625_739; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 523; Image: 680
Year: 1930; Census Place: Weymouth, Norfolk, Massachusetts; Roll: 938; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 0139; Image: 177.0; FHL microfilm: 2340673
Year: 1940; Census Place: Randolph, Norfolk, Massachusetts; Roll: T627_1632; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 11-253
Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.