Dorchester Illustration no. 2337 Sewell Wilcutt Rich
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 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 next biography features: SEWELL WILCUTT RICH
Sewell was born 26 December 1894 in Cohasset, Massachusetts to Thomas A. Rich, a hair salesman born in Mass. and Mary A. Wellman, born in Waldoboro, Maine.
In 1900, Sewell was the youngest of 3 children. His brother Thomas W. was 15 years old and his sister Anna L. was 9 years old. By 1910, the family was living on Frost Avenue, Dorchester and the elder brother was no longer at home. Sewell graduated from the Osgood Primary School, Cohasset in 1900, Mary Hemingway School, Dorchester in 1907 and Mechanics Art High, Boston in 1908/09.
In 1917, Sewell registered for the draft. His occupation was listed as an automobile mechanic at Franklin Motor Car Co., Commonwealth Avenue, Boston and his residence as Radford Lane. He was tall with medium build, gray eyes and dark brown hair.
He enlisted in the Massachusetts Calvary Headquarters Department May 1916 and was on the Mexican border by June 1916. At age 22, he enlisted in the National Guard at Allston, Mass. on June 7, 1916 with D Troop, Separate Squadron, Cavalry, Massachusetts National Guard through August 5, 1917. He had been stationed at Fort Bliss (headquartered in El Paso, Texas) for five months. On return from the border, he was called for service again in June 1917, transferred to Co. B, 102nd Machine Gun Battalion through April 20, 1918. He had been promoted from Private to Corporal, July 23, 1917, mustered August 1, 1917 and sent to France on September 1917. He was in front line trenches by February 1918 and promoted to Sergeant. He was engaged in the Defensive sectors of Chemin-des-Dames and Toul-Boucq. Unfortunately, he was severely wounded and taken prisoner at the Battle of Seicheprey, one of the earliest battles, on April 20, 1918. He was held in prison camps in Limburg, Damstard/ Darmstadt, Luchail and Rastartt/Rastatt from April 20 to December 8, 1918. In January 1919, his father had received a telegram that he was in Vichy France in an American Hospital. He was honorably discharged on April 4, 1919 after serving overseas from September 25, 1917 to March 6, 1919. (Photo 80A was taken behind the lines in France.)
In 1920, Sewell was living with his parents on Radford Lane. He was listed as a wholesale candy dealer. By 1930, he was married to Ruth Bennett, lived with her family (mother and sister) on Lombard Street and worked as a furniture salesman. In May, 1933, they had one son, Robert, who was raised in Hanson, Massachusetts and who served in the Army during the Korean War.
Sewell died on December 23, 1937 at age 42, of Tuberculosis at the V.A. facility in Rutland Heights, Massachusetts. He was survived by his wife and son. He is buried at Cedar Grove Cemetery, Dorchester and is memorialized on a plaque of the Third Religious Society (Unitarian) that is located at the Dorchester Historical Society.
Do you know more about Sewell Wilcutt Rich? 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!
Census Records, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, FamilySearch.org
Death Record, Vital Statistics, Mt. Vernon St., Dorchester
Dr. Perkins’ Notes
Obituary, Patriot Ledger, Robert Bennett Rich, August 7, 2013
Service Record,The Adjutant General Office, Archives – Museum Branch, Concord, MA
WW1 Draft Registration, FamilySearch.org