Billerica Will Now and Forever Be Known as the ‘Yankee Doodle Town’

Gov. Charlie Baker will soon make the nickname official.

Photo via iStock/bluefox42

Photo via iStock/bluefox42

From henceforth, Billerica will be known as “The Yankee Doodle Town.”

Gov. Charlie Baker will make it official later this month with a signing on the steps of the town’s public library. The bill, enacted last week, was co-sponsored by state Sen. Ken Donnelly and Rep. Marc Lombardo, who faces a reelection challenge this year from Selectman George Simolaris, crosswalk painter and fecal bee auteur.

The nickname is hardly a new one. “America’s Yankee Doodle Town” appears on the town’s stationery, while the Yankee Doodle Homecoming brings Billericans together each year to celebrate the town’s revolutionary past with fireworks, a parade, and other festivities. More than 300 citizens of Billerica fought in the war for American independence, and at least 14 gave their lives.

The name comes from the March 1775 tar-and-feathering of a young farmer named Thomas Ditson, who was eager to join the Billerica Minutemen. British soldiers seized him as he tried haggling for a rifle, covered him in tar and feathers from head to toe, and hung a sign around his neck that read: “American or Democracy exemplified in a villain who attempted to incite one of the soldiers of his Majesty’s 47th Regiment to desert and take up arms with rebels against his King and country.”

The fife and drums played as Ditson was paraded around the town on a donkey cart. The redcoats mocked him, singing, “Yankee Doodle came to town / For to buy a firelock / We will tar and feather him / And so we will John Hancock.

Ditson, who recovered from the incident, went on to join the Billerica Minutemen as they joined the fight in Concord the following month. One of the elementary schools in town bears his name, and its monthly newsletter to parents is called “The Tar and Feather.”