Billerica Colonial Minute Men - Our History
By Bill Brimer
Imagine, if you will, the year is 1775. The American
Revolution has not yet begun.
The residents of Billerica, like other towns surrounding
Boston, were stirring in a cauldron of patriot fervor.
Loyalties were questioned. To be tarred and feathered
meant something. Minutemen companies were active and the
militias were prepared.
Yet tradesmen and their sons still tanned leather, cast
spoons and buttons out of pewter,
made brooms and soap. The fields were still plowed. Men
provided for their families. The wives and daughters
still baked, sewed, and made candles.
This is the history, we bring to life. We recreate the
real lives of the Billerica farmer, soldier, and his
family. We recreate 18th century history. When we don
and unusual clothes we are paying tribute and honoring
the patriots, such as our own Thomas Ditson Jr. and Asa
Pollard, who fought for our freedom.
The present day Billerica Company, known as the
Billerica Colonial Minute Men,
was formed by proclamation of the Board of Selectmen on
August 5, 1968. The purpose of the unit as stated in our
by-laws is to “Perpetuate the memory of the original
Minute men of 1775, and though example of steady,
solemn, refusal to be, subjected to tyranny, the
suppressive ways of ruler of the colony, and the whims
and caprices of any body of men.”
Our objectives are to promote, encourage and maintain
patriotic, historic, and educational
interest in town, state, and county, and to further
encourage our youth to become responsible and useful
citizens by teaching and by example. Today the group
actively participates in reenactments, living history
events, parades, community events, and remembrance
With the 1976 Bi-centennial fast approaching, many
REVWAR reenacting organizations were being formed. BCMM
was formed in 1968 by Harry Norman of Billerica. The
organizations formed during these years were mainly
As the years progressed, members lost interest and BCMM
was reformed in 1991.
To avoid conflict with the Billerica Minuteman
Newspaper, the name was changed to the Billerica
Colonial Minute Men, four words, at this time and BCMM
wrote their own set of Bylaws.
CAPTAINS OF BCMM ARE
Harry Norman 1968 - 1977
Harry Norman 1991 - 1992
Richard Hawes 1993 - 1994
Richard Kunicki 1995 - 2002
Russell Willis 2003 - 2004
Thomas Tringale 2005
Bill Brimer 2006 – present
When the organization was formed only men were allowed
to be members as was the case with the vast majority of
reenacting organizations at that time. At the first
meeting in 1991, it was voted to allow women to become
full time members and to get more into Living History.
In 1976, the Billerica Colonial Minute Men erected a
Liberty Pole on Billerica Common. A Liberty pole is a
tall wooden pole erected on a town common or square
during the Revolutionary War. A red cap seen on top of
the pole was a call for townspeople to meet and vent or
express their views regarding British Rule. On October
11, 2006 at 4:30 PM, the men of BCMM provided much
needed maintenance to the Liberty Pole and replaced the
cap. This is now done annually.
• In the early 1990’s the
Billerica Colonial Minute Men had a float in the
Arlington Memorial Day Parade
and won First prize.
• In 1996, BCMM began going to
events at the Minuteman National Park.
• In 1996, Richard Hawes built
the yellow Cannon that has always been associated with
• In 1997, BCMM fired a
salute, from Castle Island, to the USS Constitution when
it sailed under its
• In 1999, BCMM ventured to
Louisburg, Canada to take part in the reenactment of the
Battle of Louisburg.
• In 2000, BCMM filmed “Kids
Say the Darndest Things” with Bill Cosby on Bunker Hill,
after receiving a
call from CBS Television.
• In 2005, BCMM hosted the
Encampment at Winning’s Pond as part of the 350th
anniversary of the
Town of Billerica, under the leadership of Capt.Thomas Tringale.
• For many years, BCMM has
marched in the Boston 4th of July parade.
• Also for many years, BCMM
has been a part of the Redcoats to Rebels event at Old
Village held on the first weekend in August.
• We have been featured on
Billerica’s public access television station and
• We have also been featured
in local newspapers numerous times.
• BCMM has always been
involved in the Billerica Community.
• At many events we are
thanked by parents and youth alike for doing what we do
best, we bring
• The Billerica Colonial
Minute Men are known throughout the reenacting community
as an authentic
portrayal of men and women of the era.
Besides portraying an active company of militia, the
group displays living history by demonstrating
button making, musket ball and toy soldier
sewing and needlework
open fire cooking employing the use of bake
kettles and cast iron pots
Mr. Thomas Ditson Jr. is probably the most famous
Billerica Minuteman of 1775.
Mr. Ditson was a young farmer who was eager to become a
minute man for the town of Billerica. On March 7, 1775,
he traveled to Boston hoping to find a musket to better
It turns out he met Sgt. John Clancy of the 47th
Regiment of Foot who sold him a very fine musket. The
transaction was observed by an officer who ordered his
men to tar and feather Mr. Ditson. After being paraded
around Boston in a donkey cart, Ditson was told he could
On the third weekend in September, BCMM host an
encampment behind the High School as part of the Yankee
Doodle Homecoming and reenact the tar and feathering of
Mr. Thomas Ditson Jr.
On the morning of April 19, 1775, an unknown alarm rider
rode from neighboring Bedford and reached Billerica
around 2:00 AM. The alarm was sounded throughout the
town and soon the minutemen and the militia were
mustered on the common and at the Pollard tavern. Over
100 men marched to Concord that morning including Thomas
Ditson who only a month earlier had been tarred and
feathered by British soldiers in Boston.
The Billerica patriots saw action beside the Meriam
farmhouse in Concord. Meriam’s Corner marked the
beginning of the running battle between the growing
ranks of militia and minutemen companies and Lt. Col.
Francis Smith’s 700 British troops as they attempted to
return to the safety of Boston. One of our men was
killed and 2 were injured that day.
Billerica minutemen participated in the battle of Bunker
Hill, where over one thousand Americans fought, the
Battle at Bennington, VT and in the Rhode Island
campaign. After the war, a militia company was mustered
well into the 19th century. Annual musters were held at
which attendance was mandatory.