Dorchester Illustration no. 2317 Ralph Stevens Bissett
At the Dorchester Historical Society, we are in the process of a year-long project to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I. Using a collection of photographs we have of WWI Dorchester residents, we will be featuring servicemen and women 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 women and their service to our country.
Our next biography features: Ralph Stevens Bissett
Ralph was born on October 19, 1899 to Albert Bissett and Georgie Ellen (Stevens) of Falcon Street in East Boston. His father was born in St. John, New Brunswick and was a painter (listed as house decorator). His mother was born in Portland, Maine. In 1900, there were three Bissett families living at the same address or next door which included Albert’s brothers, sister and mother.
By 1910, the Bissett families had moved. Ralph was an only child at age 10 living with his parents on Temple Street in West Roxbury. His uncles, aunt, and grandmother had moved to Stoughton and Malden.
According to Dr. Perkins in 1917, Ralph was living on Branch Street in Dorchester. He enlisted May 10, 1917, in the Harvard University Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and then re-enlisted at Camp Devens on September 17, 1917 (Camp Devens was established in 1917 and didn’t become Fort Devens until 1931). He served in the 302nd Field Artillery of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) as a musician, first class, Headquarters Company; his photograph from Dr. Perkins shows him holding a clarinet.
In 1920, Ralph was again living with his parents on Branch Street and was listed as an electrical inspector. In 1925, he became a member of the Macedonian Lodge of the Massachusetts Masons. His occupation was listed as musician and Northeast District Manager of the White Rock Corporation, one of the largest producers of mineral water in the U.S. at the time. He married about 1928 to Charlotte Josephine Anderson and they were living with Ralph’s parents in 1930. Ralph was listed in the census as a “WW veteran” and a beverage salesman. The census indicates the house was owned and the family owned a radio set. By 1932, Ralph and Charlotte moved to Roosevelt Road in Weymouth. They had one child, Joan, around 1936.
By 1961, the family was living again in Dorchester on Branchfield Street. Ralph’s occupation was listed as “president,” but we are unsure of what this refers to. He retired by 1965 and was living in Clearwater, Florida when he died on May 8, 1969. Services were held Monday, May 12, 1969 from the Deware Brothers Memorial Chapel on Hancock Street in Quincy.
Do you know more about Ralph Stevens Bissett? 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 you think a piece of the story is missing! You can reach us through the contact box at the bottom of the Dorchester Historical Society’s home page on its website www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org.
Birth Record 1899: Familysearch.org
Census Records, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940: Familysearch.org
City Directories, Weymouth 1932, 1941; Quincy 1955, 1961; Boston, 1965; Ancestry.com
Death notice: Boston Globe, May 10, 1969
Massachusetts Mason Membership Card: Ancestry.com