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Millinocket Women's Relief Corps

The Women’s Relief Corps…mention of this organization keeps showing up in some of the old local newspapers and in articles in some museum scrapbooks. The WRC, as it was sometimes called, was a national patriotic organization founded after the Civil War as an auxiliary group to the Grand Army of the Republic. Started in Massachusetts, this “secret” organization and its members were to be women who were loyal to the North during the Civil War. Chartered in 1883, it received Congressional recognition in 1962.

Millinocket had an active Women’s Relief Corps. I found reference to the group in some 1920’s scrapbooks. They held regular meetings (mostly in member’s homes), attended services as a group at the different local churches, were present at most local funerals/burials and participated in Memorial Day parades. For some meetings, announcements were made prior in the newspaper that all should attend as an inspection would take place. The Corps presented American flags to churches and organizations.

After the Millinocket Baptist Church burned (c1922), the Corps held food sales for the new church building fund and voted to have a memorial window at the church. It is mentioned that some of the food sales took place at McCaffrey and Bishop’s Dry Goods Store and others at Dow’s Grocery (Where were these stores?)

The Millinocket Women’s Relief Corps observed various holidays with special programs. One is mentioned for Washington’s birthday in 1926. Also in 1926, the Corps held some of their meetings at the IOOF Hall. This was appreciated as having a public meeting place “does away with the necessity of longer inconveniencing a private family.”

The museum has four cast iron flag stands that are said to be from the Woman’s Relief Corps. They were donated some years ago by local Girl Scouts.

Items recently donated at the museum include: Community Press and Katahdin Times newspapers (Avern Danforth); a 1943 Voltmeter and a vintage radio (Philip/Linda Day; Millinocket’s 50th birthday parade photos (Dorea DeCourcey Engstrom); Bentwood chair (Faye Roselle); Boy Scout belt buckle and a railroad conductor’s uniform button (Jim Day); and two pieces of flooring from the original Stearns gym (Phil Paul).

The Millinocket Historical Society 2022 calendar has been sent to the printer and will be available soon! The theme is “Everyone Loves a Parade!” A new book project is in the works…hopefully by end of summer…watch for more news! In the meantime, visit the museum, check out the Museum Store, browse the current displays and take in a little local history!

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