Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Great War, Through Uncle Zeke's Eyes

by David Parmer

In his column for the Braxton Democrat, the Bard of Buzzard Town P. N. "Uncle Zek" Blake, left us a sketch of his changing view of World War I. His rhyming thoughts on The Great War began in his January 2, 1917 column where he bespoke the attitude of most Americans at that time, that we had our hands full here in our own hemisphere:

How big was Woodrow Wilson, pa?
That people called him great.
They say he kept us out of war,
In these United States.

Was he so large that he could stand
At Washington, D. C.,
And reach to Europe with one hand
And wipe out Germany ?

O no, my child, about as large
As I or Uncle Zeke.
But then he knocked old Mexico
In the middle of next week.

To the left is Solomon Brown, son of Homer and Doshia (Love) Brown.

Woodrow Wilson Takes U.S. to War
Woodrow Wilson ran for re-election as President of the United States in 1916 on the slogan “He Kept Us Out of War.” The early fathers of this country preached that the United States would be better off if we would avoided taking sides during Europe's generational wars. We had our own concerns right here in the Western Hemisphere. While European countries were fighting each other in 1914, the United States was engaged in a struggle along our southern border with Mexico. Pancho Villa was crossing the border at will, robbing, stealing and burning, apparently with the consent of the Mexican government. Wilson sent General “Black Jack” Pershing to deal with the Mexican bandit. Pershing, with armed force, invaded Mexico and chased Villa ragged. With the United States preoccupied with trouble on our southern border, it seemed foolhardy to become embroiled in a dispute with Germany.

However, less than one month after his Second Inaugural Address, Wilson went to Congress seeking a declaration of war against Germany. Despite his narrow victory in the election attributed to a belief by the voters that “he kept the United States out of the European war” Wilson plunged the country into the conflict, although the public was overwhelmingly against the idea.

Uncle Zeke’s View
Uncle Zeke writing on February 5, 1918 in his Buzzardtown News, expressed misgivings about the war and opined:

I am with the war like the Irishman was when he was being rode on a rail. When asked how he liked his ride he exclaimed, “Begorra, if it was not for the ‘oner I wud jisht as soon walk.” If it wasn’t for the ‘oner
of the war I would just as soon it would stop.

To support Wilson ’s war, since the United States had only a small standing army, Congress passed draft laws to conscript millions of American youth to fight in Europe.
Uncle Zeke, who had been complaining in his Buzzardtown News column about the high prices for basic food stuffs caused in part by the European war, and reflecting on the looming military draft, wrote in his February 5, 1918 column,

War seems to have raised everything but the dead. It begins to look like there might have to be a draft made on the graveyards yet, before the war is ended.

Young men from the Orlando area were suddenly transformed from farmers or railroad workers into Doughboys.

Orlando Draftees

Shortly after World War I, the state of West Virginia published a book titled Organization and the Execution of the Selective Service Act in the State of West Virginia which listed by post office address the names of draftees in the various counties for the period 1917 to 1920.

Some Orlando area residents who live on Oil Creek, Red Lick or in the Goosepen area have a Roanoke post office address. Also some residents of the Rocky Fork, Indian Fork, Clover Fork and Knawls Creek areas have an Orlando mailing address. It is difficult therefore to ascertain from the post office address the precise place the draftees lived. The following list includes all young men identified as draftees with either an Orlando or Roanoke address.

Orlando, Lewis and Braxton Counties
* indicates additional information below.

C. Bennett .. . . . . . . . Daniel Richard Moran* . . . . . . . . Darius Blake. .
. . . . .. Clyde Emmert Skinner* .. . . . .. .. .. John Burrows . . . .z=. . . =Simon Lewis Cole*. .. . . . .
. . . .Oscar Lee Henline*. . .. . .. . Michael E. Donaldson*. . . . . . Burr Sarber Skinner*
...............Edward C. Hefner . .. . . . . . . . Howard Ellison . . .. . . . .. . . . Herbert Heath*
................. John P. Brice* . . .. . . . . . . Ernest Rye Heater . . . . . .. . . .. Charles Posey
. .Claude R. Knight . . . . .. . . . Charley Townsend*. . . . .. . . John E. Murriner
. . . Patrick Conley* . . . . .. . . . . . . . John A. Rush*. . .. . . . . . . . Solomon H. Brown* . .
. . . . . . . . .Edward Sprouse*. . . . . . .. . Upton Matthews . .. . . . .. . . John Henry Shepherd* . . . . .
. Robert E. Shepherd* . .. . .. . . . . Frank Riffle. . . ... . . . . .. . . Oras Lenord Stutler*
.. Charles A. Barnett . . . .. .. . . Thomas M. Scarff . . . .. . . . . . Linsey Earl Strader*
. . . . . . Cecil Allen Taylor . . . .. . .. . . Coleman Conley* . . . . . . . Harley Shelton Workman . . ..
. . . Earse Elihu Skinner* . .. . . . Joseph Stranger Posey* . . . . . ... Audrie Ray Skinner. . .
Pete E. Blake* . . .. . . . . . . . . Perry R. Rexroad . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Roanoke, Lewis County
. Ian H. Bond. . . . ..... . . . Michael Edward Lohan .. . . . . . Freddie Oris Bond
. Adam J. Linger . . . .. . . . Rufus Clarence Blake . . . . . . . Harry Russell Myers
. . David Clyde Bennett . . . . Thomas Bernard Mullooley .. .. . . . . James Bohan. . .. . . ..

. . Joe Mullooley . . . . . .. . . George Ross Brinkley . . . . . . . . Daniel A. Mahoney

. . . . Bee Bott. . .. .. .. . . . .. . . . Lee Roy Myers . . . .. . . .. . . .. James Ollie Bl.

. . . Charles William McCray . . . . . . Guy Ball Orville. .. . .. . .. . . . . . Battell McCray . . . . . . .

. Audie Bush James . . . . ..... . . Richard Johnston . . . . . ... . . Randal Brinkley .. . . .
. .Delmer Johnston .. . . .. . . . . Noah E. Cumberlege . . . . . . . . Russell Law Paxson .
. . .. . Ira Thomas Curtis* . . . . .... . . Howard Marion Riffle . .. . . . . Lloyd Wesley Curtis*. . . .

George Radabaugh . .. . . . . . . James Oliver Cooper. . . . .. . . . Glen Rohrbaugh . . .

. John Edward Dolan . . . . . . . . . . Calvin Riffle . . . . . . . . . ... . Thomas Jerome Dolan

Benjamin Harrison Riffle . . . .. . Cecil Howard Ellis . . . . . . . . Charles Thomas Smith. .

. . . . ..John Raymond Fox . . . . . . . Aaron William Sanford . . . . ... Loyal Newton Francis . . . ..
Thomas Delbert Samples . . .. . . . Patrick R. Francis. . . . . .. .. . . . . Okey Spencer . . .. . . .
. Thurman Gay . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . Shobe Swecker. . . . . . . . .. .John Ma?ion Gaston .
. Cyrus Townsend . . . . . . . . . . John Summers. . . . . . . . . . . . Gaston Roy A. West . . .
rayd Summers . .. . . . . . . . . Gaston Otis Wilson . . .. . . . . Henry Clinton Harris .
George Wilson . . . . ... . . . . . Harry Earl Heflin . . .. . . . . . . . Granville Wanless. .
Russell Sempre Horner . . .. . . Cecil Edward Weaver . . . . . . . . .French Hull John . . . . . .
. . . . . Cecil Watson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Margan Hyre . . .. . . . . . . ..George Arnett Watson . . .
. .. . Ervin Glen Helmick . . . . . . .. .. . . Stokes West . . . . . . . . . .. . . Cecil Marie Horner. . . . . . .
Velvie Warner . . . . . . . . . .. . . J. B. Helmick. . . . . . . . . . . .. Olen Clyde Watson . .
. .. Charles Walton Heavner . .. .. .. . Madis Glen Wilson . . . . . . . .Ezra Marvin Hawkins . . .. .. .
Roscoe Fountain Heflin . . . . . . John Ronald Lohan . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

America In the European War
Although most Americans had been against involvement in the war, patriotic fervor was whipped up by ubiquitous propaganda poster art. Deeming the war as patriotic, Americans thereafter quickly endorsed the idea of the war. Uncle Zeke, who had been dead set against the United States becoming embroiled in the European war, soon saw the evil in Germany. In his January 22, 1918 column, Uncle Zeke penned:

God made man,and man made money,

God made bees and bees made honey
God made the Devil and the Devil made the miser.

To me it's very plain that the Devil made the Kaiser.

American patriotism quickly transformed a nation opposed to war into a dedicated protagonist. Uncle Zeke exemplified this attitude. In his Buzzardtown News column of April 29, 1918, he wrote: “Let us remember that some of our brave boys are in the training camps, some are in their graves, died fighting to retain our freedom and that Old Glory might always wave over our blessed nation, and that the Stars and Stripes will not be trampled in the dust by a set of barbarians

Mademoiselle from Armetieres, Parley-voo?
Mademoiselle from Armentieres, Parley-voo?
Mademoiselle from Armentieres,
She hasn’t been kissed in forty years,
Hinky, dinky, parley-voo

Listen to an old recording of Mademoiselle from Armentieres.

Many young men seeking adventure in Europe responded to recruiting posters and patriotic exhortations by politicians and news media and enlisted into the military services. Most of these young men had spent their entire lives to that point in and around Orlando. A trip to Weston or Burnsville was an adventure but all that was about to change. The handsome men in uniform on the war posters were appealing. A military uniform made a country boy look sharp and definitely would attract the ladies, maybe even French mademoiselles, as the popular song of the day suggested.

Some of the Doughboys and Sailors Who Served
One of the Orlando area young men to enlist into military service was Simon Cole of Three Lick. Simon was the son of Henry Harrison Cole and Mary (Heater) Cole. Simon enlisted into the United States Navy and served in the Atlantic fleet. As he waded the shallow waters of Three Lick as a boy, Simon must dreamed about bigger ponds, and the thought of wearing a naval uniform and riding the waves of the Atlantic Ocean seemed a dream come true. After the war, Simon married Sibyl Heater, daughter of Andrew Jackson and Ora (Riffle) Heater, and spent most of his life working for the Hope Gas Company in Gassaway.

For more on Simon Cole's family, see the Jan '07 entry
Henry Cole Died a Hero
To the right is Simon Cole in uniform.

To the left is a later photo of Simon whith the woman he married, Sibyl Heater.

Homer Mitchell of Orlando was another enlistee in the military service. He was the son of Alonzo and Samantha Jane (Riffle) Mitchell. Homer, always noted for his maturity and good judgment, became a Sergeant in the United States Army and served in France and Germany in Company K of the 4th Infantry Division. Homer’s unit participated in the Aisne-Marne campaign of 1918 and served in both the British and French sectors of the front lines. His unit, the famed “Ivy” Division, suffered 11,500 casualties during the war. After he returned from Europe, Homer married Lula Henline, daughter of Samantha Skinner Henline and Beham Henline. Homer worked in the coal mines of Braxton and Webster Counties after the war.

For more on Homer Mitchell see the Dec '06 entry Homer Mitchell's Family
Homer Mitchell is to the left, the badge for the Ivy dividsion is to the right.

Dan Moran, the son of Patrick and Mary (Murphy) Moran, served in the 313th Field Artillery Regiment of the United States Army in France. This military unit was comprised almost entirely of boys from northern West Virginia. Dan’s niece, Mary Bush of Venice, Florida, the keeper of Moran history, reports that her uncle was in service from September 1917 until the end of the war. Dan served during the Meuse-Argonne offensive and was in battle for forty seven straight days without a break. Dan recalled the battle was “bloody” and something he would never forget.

Dan Moran is to the right.

Oscar L. “Doc” Henline served in a unique capacity during his stint in World War I. Doc, the son of Lloyd and Mary Virginia (Slaughter) Henline, and husband of Laura (Copeland) Henline, served as a teamster in a light artillery unit of the United States Army. Doc’s pre-war experience with horses qualified him to deliver the horse drawn artillery pieces through the heavy mud of northern France during World War I. Berton “Bud” Conrad, who was raised by Doc in Orlando after Bud’s mother died in 1943, recalls that Doc was fond of telling his war stories to all who would listen. Doc, on one occasion, reminisced about coming across a French army unit burying barrels and kegs of wine before going into a battle. Doc also told Berton that one night another teamster borrowed Doc’s team of horses and equipment for a night maneuver and was killed by a direct hit by German artillery along with Doc’s team. Berton, to this day, has a “one pounder” artillery shell which Doc brought home as a souvenir. This shell was defused, and consists of a one pound steel projectile with a brass screw mechanism in the nose which acted as a timer to regulate the explosion after impact.

To the left (l to r) are "Doc" Henline and John Conley. To the right is a later photo of Pat Conley.

Patrick Conley and John Conley, the sons of Thomas and Ellen (Dempsey) Conley of Posey Run, both served in the United States Army during the First World War. Irene (Conley) Absten, daughter of Patrick Conley, recalls playing with her father’s gas mask which her father brought back from France. Irene also remembers playing with his coffee grinder war souvenir and that she ground dirt, instead of coffee, in it. Patrick’s brother John Conley was wounded in France. By coincidence, John’s son, John Jr., who served during World War II, was in the very same unit in which his father served in the First World War.

To the right is the badge of the 80th dividion, in which Doc Henline, Dan Moran and John Conley served.

Below is the Purple Heart

John Conley of Posey Run enlisted and served as a Private First Class in Battery E of the 313th Field Artillery, 80th Division of the United States Army. John served in the same artillery regiment as Doc Henline and Dan Moran. This military unit participated in the bloody Argonne Forest campaign of 1918. This offensive ended in a victory for the American Expeditionary Force and won the war for the Allies. During this battle, John was riding a horse pulling an artillery piece to a firing location when he was shot by a German sharpshooter in the left leg and knocked off the horse. The wound was serious and John was evacuated to a field hospital. The war ended shortly thereafter and John was then moved by hospital ship to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D. C. where he recovered from his wound. John was awarded the Purple Heart.

Another pair of Orlando area brothers who donned military uniforms during the First World War was John Henry Shepherd and Robert Emmett Shepherd, sons of Henry and Alice (Sandy) Shepherd of Ben’s Run in the Indian Fork area.

Coy Clarence “Frank” Henline, son of Beham and Samantha (Skinner) Henline, was another Orlando boy who donned the Doughboy uniform and ‘parlez vous’d’ a little French during the First World War. Prior to the war, Frank had been working in a rubber plant in Akron, Ohio and entered the service from Ohio. Frank also participated in military engagements along the Meuse River, the “fortified town” of Metz and the Argonne Forest. After hostilities ended in November 1918, Frank was sent temporarily to the south of France to a horseshoeing school. Frank became familiar with and enjoyed French libations during his European tour. After the war, he would tell a story about visiting a French bistro with his cousin, Doc Henline, where a prolonged sampling of the French line of liquors occurred. Frank said the French didn’t have a word for how drunk he got. June Henry recalls that her uncle Frank brought home a small sewing kit and scissors gift from France for her mother Margaret (Henline) Nixon, which she carried in her purse for years. Frank’s son, Burlen Henline, recalls that Frank gave his World War helmet to his nephew Tom Thomas, and that Tom later gave it to Burlen. Burlen also has a gray German field cap with red piping which his father brought back from France. Frank returned to the United States after his deployment on the Mauretania, the sister ship of the Lusitania, which was torpedoed by a German submarine in 1915 with all passengers lost. Tom Jeffries recalls that his father, Coleman Jeffries, told him that when his uncle Frank returned to Orlando after the war, he would often complain highly about his unit being required to march from near St. Michiel to Brest, a distance of approximately 200 miles, to board ship for home.

To the left, the ancient fortifications at Metz.

Coy "Frank" Henline is above, right. For more on Frank Henlin e's family see the Oct '06 entry Samantha (Skinner) Henline's Family

To the right is a French troop train filled with American soldiers. (from the internet.)

Early Riffle, son of Morgan and Rosetta (Blake) Riffle, who grew up on Road Run also answered the call to duty during the First World War but instead of serving in the Army chose the more exciting adventure of the United States Marines. Many Orlando residents will recall Early as the father-in-law of longtime postmaster Pete Henline. Rose Shaver, daughter of Early Riffle, remembers that her dad sent her grandmother Rosetta Riffle, a boxed light pink silk handkerchief embroidered with a rose from France and that her mother would often open the box and stroke the silk of the handkerchief which she treasured.

Early Riffle is to the left.

Rose also remembers her father reminiscing about reveille in France and the sergeant who would wake the troops by shouting “Rise and shine and get your feet on the rocks; it ain’t daylight, but its six o’clock.” Of course, getting up at six o’clock in the morning was no problem for a West Virginia country boy like Early. Marie Henline, another daughter of Early Riffle, and widow of Pete Henline, still has her father’s military dogtags.

Earse Elihu Skinner, son of John J. and Margaret (Blake) Skinner, also left footprints in the heavy soil of northern France during World War I and was another of the lucky Orlando boys who made it back alive. Earse, a rifleman, was captured
by the Germans during the early part of the American involvement in the war. He told his son Jimmy that at the time he was captured, the Spanish influenza was devastating the German ranks and German support personnel were being brought up to the battle lines to replace the German combat troops who had fallen ill or died of the flu. Earse and other American prisoners were put to work by the Germans to replace the German support personnel who were sent to the front lines. Earse was detailed to taking care of the horses of the German battle groups. According to his son Jim Skinner, Earse was well treated during his imprisonment as a prisoner of war.

The photos on the left and right are of Earse Skinner. His comrad in the left photo is unidentified.

Clyde Skinner, son of Perry “Jessie” and Flora (Bennett) Skinner, was another fighting Doughboy from Orlando who managed to survive the war. Following his war service, Clyde married the former Mariah Pritt and resided in Clarksburg.

Okey Strader of Road Run served in the United States Army in France and Germany during the war and survived German poison gas attacks. Okey served in the 9th Infantry and 132nd Infantry Divisions and participated in the Meuse and Argonne Forest offensives in the Verdun and Troxeu Sectors. During the Argonne Forest battle, which lasted from September 1918 until the November Armistice, over 26,000 Americans were killed and over 95,000 were wounded. Oke spent an extra year in Germany with the Army of Occupation after the war ended.

John P. Brice of Three Lick was another young man from Orlando who served in the World War. John was the son of John and Margaret (McFadden) Brice. Lee Paul Moran recalls seeing John in military uniform in a photo which was displayed in the Brice living room. After the war, John married Celia Tulley, daughter of John and Margaret (McNeal) Tulley of Tulley Ridge. John was proud of his military service and was a member of the American Legion until his death.

Lee Skinner was a well known resident of Orlando, born Alfred Lee to Charles Francis and Margaret (Cosner) Skinner. Lee was working on the rail road in Akron, Ohio when he was inducted into the military shortly before the Armistice. He served briefly, but long enough to be bitten on the leg by a mule at Camp Gordon, Georgia. Lee tried unsuccessfully for years thereafter to claim a pension for his disabling “war wound” at the hands of the Kaiser’s mule.

Lee Skinner, many after the war, is pictured to th right.

Everett Skinner, the son of Francis and Lucy (Posey) Skinner, also donned the olive drab and lifted the rifle for his country during World War I. After the war Everett found employment in Port Clinton, Ohio. He married the former Kathryn Conley and lived in Ohio the remainder of his life when he died in 1972 at age 86.

Michael Elza Donaldson of the Three Lick area was inducted into the army and served as a private during the war. Another young man from the Indian Fork area who served during the First World War was Oliver Hubert Heath, the son of Charles and May (Bond) Heath. Oliver was a private in the Army. Oliver entered the service three months before the end of the war and was sent to Camp Lee, Virginia. A sergeant at Camp Lee asked the new inductees if any of them knew how to use a double bitted axe. Oliver raised his hand and was promptly put to work cutting trees at Camp Lee which he did until the end of the war. He was then discharged. We don’t have any information on how many trees at Camp Lee he cut.

W. Edward Sprouse of the Goosepen area was twenty years of age when he answered the call of Uncle Sam and joined the army. He served as a private during the war.

Lloyd Wesley Curtis, the son of Ezekiel and May (Riffle) Curtis, served as a Private First Class in the American Army during the First World War. He died in 1978 and is buried in the Orlando Cemetery.

Linzy Strader, brother of Okey Strader, who lived on Road Run most of his life, also served in uniform for his country during “ Wilson ’s War.” Linzy remained state-side during the conflict at a base in South Carolina. Linsey was detailed to work with cavalry and draft horses and preparing them for shipment to the battlegrounds of Europe. After the war Linzy married Mae Posey, a daughter of Nina Conrad Posey and Daniel "Flukey" Posey. Mae’s sister Mary married Okey Strader, brother of Linzy.

For more on Linzy and his wife Mae, see the Oct '06 entry The Straders of Road Run.

Linzy Strader is pictured to the right.

Another descendant of Alexander Skinner to serve during the Great War was Burr Skinner, the son of Alexander “Alley Hoss” Skinner, and a grandson of Alexander Skinner. After the Great War, Burr lived on his farm in the Posey Run area. He never married.

Another descendant of Alexander Skinner, Austin Skinner, of Clover Fork, the son of William Otto and Clara (Skinner) Skinner, served his country during the First World War. Austin served as a Corporal in the 27th Infantry Division. This unit was made up primarily by New Yorkers and served during the Meuse-Argonne, Ypres-Lys, and Somme offensives in 1918. The unit suffered heavy losses with about 8400 casualties.

And still yet another descendant of Alexander Skinner who served during the First World War was Clyde Emmert Skinner, son of Perry “Jessie” and Flora (Bennett) Skinner. After the war, Clyde lived and worked in Clarksburg as a glassworker for the Continental Can Company.

Clarence Burton “Burt” Skinner, another descendant of Alexander Skinner, and brother of Lee Skinner mentioned above, also served his country during World War I as a private in the American Army. Burt was an Orlando farmer and employee of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

P. N. "Uncle Zeke" Blake's own son Pete Blake, along with several other Posey Run young men, was drafted from his employment with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. However, he was drated just ninety days before the Armistice and like many others, did not leave the United States during his service.

Pete Blake went into the service in early August of 1918. In his August 13, 1918 column, Uncle Zeke noted that since the draft law had gone into effect, the male poulation of the Posey Run area had severely diminished and that, as of that time, there were only "thirtysix men, thirtynine women, fifteen boys, twelve girls, three babies left is Buzzardtown and the rest are just dogs."

Glen Blake, son of Pete, fought in the Pacific during World War II, mentioned that the photo of his father in his First World War uniform, and particularly the leggings which he wore, was very similar to the way the Japanese soldiers dressed in the Pacific.

Oras Stutler, husband of the former Edith Skinner, was employed by the Hope Gas Company when Wilson’s War needed more men, so the draft reached Oras Stutler. He served as a Private First Class in Company A of the 161st Infantry Division. The 161st was a replacement unit during the war and its personnel were utilized to replace the fallen soldiers of other front line units.

To the left is Oras Stutler, the day before he left for the service.
For an intimate look at Oras' home life in his retirement years see May '07 The Dolan House, When the Stutlers Lived There

John Taylor, of Route 2, Orlando, a son of Curtis Fisher and Malissa Jane (Moss) Taylor, was another Orlando area boy who served his country during Wilson’s War. John was the father of Berton Conrad who was Mike Moran’s right hand man in the funeral trade in Orlando. John served his country first in England and then joined the fighting forces in northern France and did battle until the Armistice.

Ray Thomas “Hoppy”Hopkins, husband of Nellie Ruth (Godfrey) Hopkins, served in the United States Navy aboard the U.S.S. Pennsylvania during World War I. Ray entered the service from Iowa. Ray died in 1970 in Orlando and is buried in the Orlando Cemetery. Ray and Nellie were the parents of Pat Reckart. who still owns the family property on Oil Creek.

Ray "Hoppy" Hopkins is pictured to the right, on board the U.S.S. Pennsylvania.

Photos of Nellie and her mom are in the Nov ’07 entry The Dolan Hotel, the section on employees.
A photo of daughter Pat ins in the Sept '07 entry 1946/47: Orlando School's grades 6, 7, 8 .

James D. Workman, the son of Joseph L. and Anna (Conley) Workman, served as a Private in the American Army during World War I. After the war he was employed by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and served as a Justice of the Peace in Hackers Creek District of Lewis County. He died in 1943 and is buried in Orlando.

Andrew Rush was the son of Michael A. and Elizabeth (Farrell) Rush who were the proprietors of the Rush Hotel in Orlando. Andrew was born in 1894. Andrew’s son, John Rush, recalls that his father entered the United States Army in 1917 and after training was on his way to Europe with his military unit on a ship when the Armistice was declared. Andrew was living at 150 W. Pike Street in Clarksburg when he entered the service.

Charles S. Townsend of Clover Fork, the twenty six year old son of Perry Townsend and Betty (Wheeler) Townsend, was deployed to the trenches of northeastern France in 1917 with his American comrades. Charles was one of the lucky Doughboys who made it back alive and shortly found work with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad where he worked for thirty seven years. Charles belonged to the Meuse-Argonne Post No. 573 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Clarksburg when he died in 1968.

Coleman Conley, A. J. Loomin and Alva Mick of the Posey Run area all were drafted into the United States Army in August 1918 and were sent to Camp Meade, Maryland for basic training. The war’s end came barely three months later and all were still state-side at the Armistice. Loomin was a gas well blower for the Philadelphia Gas Company at Posey Run.

James Wesley “Wes” Kidd was the son of Oscar and Rachael (Higgins) Kidd, early merchants of Orlando, and farmers of the Clover Fork/Fleshers Run area. Wes graduated from Burnsville High School before the First World War. He was married in Elkins in 1918 to the former Laura Wilson. Wes served as a Corporal in the 27th Company of the 154th Depot Brigade at Camp Meade, Maryland, but was medically discharged after a short time in the service because of a health problem caused by a childhood illness. He was born in Orlando in 1895 and died in 1956.

Wes Kidd is to the left.
John Griffin is to the right

John Griffin was the son of Charles and Bridget (Thornton) Griffin and was born on Fleshers Run in 1885. The Griffin family of Fleshers Run intermarried into many of the Irish Catholic families around Orlando including the Moran, Carney, Kennedy, McFadden, and Green families. John was drafted into the United States Army when he was nearly 33 years of age and served through the end of the war. .

Those Who Did Not Return

Many Americans served on the seas and on the ground in Europe, some never to return. Two Orlando lads were among those who fell in battle in the Great War who lie buried in the soil of France, another died stateside.

Solomon H. Brown, the son of Homer and Theodosia (Love) Brown, of Route 2, Orlando, who served in the 128th Infantry Regiment of the 32nd Infantry Division, fell in battle on November 8, 1918, three days before the Armistice, and lies buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Romagne, France

The activities of Pvt. Brown's division are recorded at, Particularly, “… on the night of 5 November the Corps ordered the 32nd Division to send a regiment to report to the 5th Division for use in support of the right flank. The 128th was designated for this duty and crossed the Meuse that night. On 6 November the 128th was in position on the right flank of the 5th but the desired contact was still not made. On 7-8 November the 128th attacked, capturing the town of Brandeville and finally connecting with the 17th French Colonial Division.”

See the town of Brandeville today at

In order that his family would be reminded of his sacrifice, a monument was erected to commemorate Solomon in the family cemetery near the Little Kanawha River, which was later moved to Heaters when the Burnsville Dam backwaters flooded the Knawls Creek area.

Above to the left is Solomon Brown.

The monument remembering Solomon Brown, now located in Heaters, is to the right.

Clell V. Riffle, the son of Thurmissa Riffle (better known as “T. A.” and sometimes as “Russ”) and Lucy (Skinner) Riffle of Clover Fork, was another soul who never made it back to West Virginia. A private in the 7th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division, Clell was killed in battle on October 24, 1918. He was buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Romagne, France. Clell was the grandson of Granville and Martha (Walton) Skinner. and of Jacob Isaac Riffle and Francena (Blake) Riffle. All four grandparents were pioneer children who helped their parents tame the Oil Creek watershed.

To the left is the badge of Cell Riffle's unit.

To the right is the Croix de Guerre to which he was entitled.

Edwin Myers, of upper Clover Fork, the son of Cora and Marsh Myers, was drafted into the American Expeditionary Force in 1918 at age 30. In 1918, disease was rampant in American military bases. Unfortunately, Edwin contracted spinal meningitis and died just prior to the war’s end. He was buried in the Casto Cemetery off Pigeonroost Road in the upper Clover Fork area. Edwin’s brother, Ira Myers, also was a veteran of the First World War. They were descendants of the Myers who were pioneers on Salt Lick, and also of Hugh and Martha (Williams) Blake, the Clover Fork pioneers. Their grandfather Samuel Myers was one of the men tried for Confederate sympathies in 1869.

Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery Burial Spot of Clell Riffle and Solomon Brown.

Late in the war, with the public becoming aware of the terrible losses being suffered by the American Expeditionary Force in the trenches of France, and with the draft continuing to take more and more Orlando youth, with no end in sight, Uncle Zeke was deeply touched by the sacrifices being made by the boys in France. He wrote in his August 27, 1918 column:

The Boys in France

As I sat alone in the office
Of the Philadelphia Gas Company one night
I wondered if any more of our boys
Would have to go over to France to fight.

Then I just kneeled down there in silence
And asked God if there was yet any chance
To save the young men of our country
Who have recently gone over to France

It seemed I could see a great army
With the American boys in advance
Then I said O Father in Heaven
Be with our boys in France.

As I arose from my kneeling position
And brushed the dust from my pants
With tears in my eyes I said
God save our boys in France.

Troop Trains

During World War I troop trains frequently passed through Orlando on their way to ports of debarkation or to the many military bases throughout the country. The Doughboys would frequently wave to small children who patriotically watched the trains as they trundled through Orlando. The local children also talked to the soldiers when the trains stopped in Orlando to transfer passengers from one line to the other. Dale Barnett recalls that soldiers would frequently throw change or small coins to the children who gathered in the streets in Orlando. Dale remembers being told the story one local youth, Fred “Sally” Bee, who was a small child during the war and who was dressed in girls’ dresses by his mother when he was young. On one occasion when a troop transport train was going through Orlando, the soldiers were tossing coins off the train when “Sally” Bee was in the vicinity. Unfortunately some of the change landed in a mud puddle near Sally, but without hesitation he jumped into the mud puddle, his pretty dress and all, to retrieve the pennies. Bystanders recalled the comical sight that Sally presented after his mud bath. Undoubtedly, Sally got more than a mud bath when he arrived home.

Selling War Bonds

American involvement in the First World War was extremely expensive. Even before the United States entered into the war in 1917, the United States was extending credit to Great Britain, France and Italy for war supplies and material with little or no hope of repayment. The burden of support of the war with Germany therefore was falling upon the shoulders of the American taxpayers. Americans in 1917 were already struggling with high prices of food and other daily requirements, caused by the massive food shipments being sent to Europe. With the entry of the United States as an active participant in the war, even more investment of money was required and the United States Treasury did not have it. To finance American involvement in the war, the United States Congress authorized the sale of war bonds, referred to as “Liberty Bonds,” to the American public. Bond drives were organized all over the country, including Orlando. Women particularly were called upon to assist in the sale of bonds and they were eager to do their part in the war effort since so many of the men were in uniform. Uncle Zeke used his Buzzardtown news column to drum up sales of Liberty Bonds and described it as a “patriotic duty.”

We have a photo record of a campaign in which some of Orlando’s fairest ladies, dressed in manly or military garb, participated in war bond sales campaigns in the railroad town during the war and even following the war because the war debts had to be paid and the sale of Liberty bonds was crucial to the financial solvency of the nation.

In the upper left photo are Edith (Skinner) Stutler and an unidentified friend.

Below that are Opal Jeffries, Maggie Henline, Lula Henline, and Laura Copeland, doing their patriotic duty selling Liberty bonds. (Lula and Laura would marry returning Doughboys. Edith and Oras Stutler were married just prior to his entry into the service.)

Red Cross Ladies

Frightful casualties began occurring as American Doughboys were thrown into the fray in European trenches. Bombs, bullets, shells, poison gas, and rampant disease decimated many military units. Even military camps in the United States were suffering dreadful losses from the Spanish influenza epidemic which were killing hundreds of men daily.

To assist the war effort, Red Cross ladies were called upon the furnish bandages and to minister to the sick. Orlando had its dedicated group of patriotic Red Cross ladies. Shown in the photograph is Opal Jeffries who did her part in the war effort. The photo was taken during Armistice Day activities in Orlando a few years after the war.

Mrs. P. N. Blake, Mrs. F. W. Lemley, Mrs. G. J. Posey, Mrs. Charles McCord, and Miss Allie Posey of the Posey Run area spent many months knitting sweaters through the Burnsville Red Cross for our Doughboys in France. Uncle Zeke noted in his November 12, 1918 column, one day after the Armistice, that “No siree, there are no slackers here.”

Armistice Day

Many wars have come and gone since our boys came home from Flanders Field and the Argonne Forest. Seven large immaculate cemeteries in France mark the final resting spot of many thousands of Doughboys who gave their lives for their country in the first great world conflict. When the author was growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, the veterans of the trench warfare in northern France were still revered with Armistice Day activities. Parades were held in the smallest of towns. Ceremonies were held in small cemeteries all over the country including the Orlando area cemeteries. Buddy poppies were sold to assist the aging and disabled veterans of the Somme, Chateau-Thierry, the Meuse and the Argonne. Sergeant Alvin York was an honored hero and the movie of his exploits in France brought tears to the theatre audiences wherever it was viewed. The heroes of the First World War were poor country boys from Posey Run, Three Lick, Oil Creek, Clover Fork, Red Lick, Knawls Creek, Orlando, and other small towns and cities throughout the United States. Armistice Day was perhaps the most respected of all holidays, a day of quiet remembrances and reverence. Small children stood at attention as the flag passed by, carried by graying men with limps, hobbled gait and a far-off look in their eyes. And on the lips of every school child were these most recognizable words:

In Flanders Fields
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow.
Loved, and were loved. And now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Field.
. . . . . . . . . - John McCrae

In Flanders Field — Where Soldiers Sleep and Poppies Grow
originally entitled Coquelicots (Poppies)]
Robert Vonnoh (1858-1933)
(copyright date 1914)

A Doughboy’s End
“Hit the ground running and keep your head down low.
Jerries are taking potshots and laying us out in rows.”
The trenches are full of water; sweet stench fills the air;
Everybody’s gagging or screaming from bloody nightmares.
The Major nearly choked and cried, mumbling about old Jericho
And quietly said to Company A, “Come early morn, over the top we go.”
Luck has spared my life so far; I’ve been sane and not loco,
But come the woeful morrow’s eve, the Chaplain will be eyeing me,
And Quartermaster boys will be handling the awful massacre.
I was but ten and six when the posters beckoned loud,
And picked me out for a uniform from the local school boy crowd.
My mommy waits for me at home and works in a Red Cross gown;
She’ll sure collapse when the Western Union boy rings, wearing a deep-dyed frown.
It was a pretty day in May, and the ocean was still and blue
When last I saw my wet-eyed mother, waving at Pier Two.
November is an awful month, not fit for digging a grave
For this young soldier boy, too young to die, not brave. -D. Parmer


comment by Tom Pumphrey
I am 86 years young and live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. My father was William J. Pumphrey who lived both near Goosepen and on Three Lick. My father operated a blacksmith shop at Goosepen for many years.

Uncle Zeke who wrote the Buzzardtown News in the Weston Independent and the Braxton Democrat was an acquaintance of my father. My father carried around with him for years a little poem that Uncle Zeke wrote back during World War I. When my father died this poem was in his wallet.

Kaiser Bill went up the hill
To get a look at France.
He got a peep at Uncle Zeke
And nearly lost his pants.

comment by John Jeffries
I attended Walnut Grove School on Oil Creek during the 1950s. Garnie B. Teter was the principal and teacher at the school. Mr. Teter often would mention his service during World War I and his role as a machine gunner during the war. Mr. Teter was also fond of reading the poem “In Flanders Field.”

comment by Donna Gloff
Solomon Brown
died on Nov 8, 1918. The activities of his division are recorded at, Particularly, “… on the night of 5 November the Corps ordered the 32nd Division to send a regiment to report to the 5th Division for use in support of the right flank. The 128th was designated for this duty and crossed the Meuse that night. On 6 November the 128th was in position on the right flank of the 5th but the desired contact was still not made. On 7-8 November the 128th attacked, capturing the town of Brandeville and finally connecting with the 17th French Colonial Division.”See the town of Brandeville today at

NOTE: Below are a couple painings that didn't find their way into the story, but I think they are beautiful, First, a scene of a French troop train pulling into a station. Second, the Mauritania, on which Coy "Frank" Henline returned to the States. -dwg

1 comment:

  1. My Grandmother was a niece of Frank Henline. I remember a family legend that told a story of one of the Henlines being captured by the Germans, but let go because of his German name. Does anyone know the details of this?