Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lucinda Rose: Angel of Mercy

by David Parmer

Sacrifices are soon forgotten and often fail to be remembered by the next generation. It is true that those who make the ultimate sacrifice do not usually seek a lasting memorial for their selfless endeavors, and so it was with Miss Lucinda Rose, angel of mercy.

The Great War
World War I created quite a stir in Orlando. During the early years of the war the primary effect of the war on the lives of Orlando residents was the high prices of food and other commodities caused by diversion of those supplies to England to feed and clothe that nation. Gradually, the crescendo of war-time propaganda built political support for participation in the war in small villages and hamlets throughout the United States. Enlistment posters and the selective service draft put many Orlando boys into doughboy uniforms or sailor whites. That story can be found at The Great War, Through Uncle Zeke's Eyes. Another often forgotten group of Americans to don white uniforms during The Great War were Red Cross nurses who selflessly placed themselves into harm’s way in the performance of their duties.

Left: Lucinda Rose
Right: WWI Red Cross poster

David Van "D.V." Rose
and Mary J. (Strother) Rose
D. V. Rose and his wife Mary Josphine(Strother) Rose were natives of Doddridge County and came to the Oil Creek valley in the early 1900’s, sometime between 1900 and 1910. In the 1900 census, the D. V. Rose family was living in the Gem area of Braxton County. The occupation of Mr. Rose was listed in the census as a merchant. In the 1910 census, the Rose family was living in Orlando and Mr. Rose was identified as a teacher. News columns from Orlando in 1909 also referred to Mr. Rose as a minister as well as a teacher of the Riffle Run School. We now know that David V. Rose was a minister of the fledgling United Brethren Church community in Orlando which was just coming into its own in the first decade of the 20th century and still without a church building and parsonage which would be built in the decade to come. The 1910 census indicates that the Rose family lived on Flint Knob in Orlando and his neighbors were Mike Moran who was a tenant of Catherine Tulley, the Beham Henline family and Francis Blake, a storekeeper and later postmaster of Orlando.
The Rose Children
David Van Rose and Mary Josephine (Strother) Rose were the parents of seven children: Clytemenstra, known as “Clyta”, born in 1880; Delcie, born in 1883; Grace, born in 1885; Lulu, born in 1886; Lucinda, born in 1892; Mattie, born in 1893; and Jasper, born in 1895.

Clyta, the oldest of the Rose children, married Waitman Furbee, brother of Orlando’s Dr. Gilbert Furbee, in 1908. Clyta was a graduate registered nurse who earned her whites at City Hospital in Parkersburg. Delcie, the second oldest daughter of D. V. and Mary J. Rose, married William G. Meadows, the postmaster of Burnsville who served in that position from 1910 to 1914. Lucinda, the fifth daughter and the subject of this biographical sketch, served as a clerk in the Burnsville post office beginning in 1910 until she entered nursing school at St. Mary’s Hospital in Clarksburg. She graduated from that nursing school in 1914. Grace, the third daughter, also was a nurse, graduating from the Kessler Hospital in Clarksburg in 1910. Lulu, the fourth daughter, married Jim Conley, the son of Tom Conley of Posey Run. Lulu and her husband re-located to Oakland, California where Jim had employment as a railroad engineer. Mattie, the sixth girl of the Rose family, began nurses training at St. Mary’s but did not complete the course. She married Warren Elemuel Robinson of Clarksburg in 1914.

Right: Lucinda's sister Lulu "Lue" and her husband Jim Conley

The Rose Family Comes to Orlando
The Oil Creek town of Confluence welcomed many new residents and visitors when the Coal and Coke Railroad completed its line through the town. Charleston-bound travelers could now disembark from the Baltimore and Ohio line and transfer to the Coal and Coke to continue their trip to the State Capitol city. Prior to the completion of the Coal and Coke there was little need for travelers to get off the Richwood–bound B & O trains in Orlando.

One of the new families to locate in Confluence was the David V. and Mary J. Rose family who previously had lived on Salt Lick, between Burnsville and Rollyson, the latter being a small community on the B & O line, half-way between Gem and Heaters. The swains of Confluence undoubtedly welcomed the Rose family with its bevy of pretty daughters. It is unknown the exact year the Rose family moved to town still known as Confluence but it is believed to have been around 1904 or 1905.

Lucinda Lovie Rose
Lucinda would have been around twelve years of age at the time her family arrived in Orlando. Although we have no school records, Lucinda undoubtedly attended the Braxton County Orlando School since she was of school age and her family was living on Flint Knob, just a short distance from the school. At this time the Orlando School was a one-room building.

A Silver Medal
During the 1890’s and the early 1900’s the Women’s Christian Temperance Union was a politically important organization created for the express purpose of combating the use of alcohol. In connection with its grass roots appeal, the WCTU developed a novel approach to spread its message. Local WCTU groups sponsored oratorical contests for young people with the theme of the abolishment of saloons and alcohol. These contests were very popular and drew large crowds and many contestants seeking the cherished silver medals. Whether as the result of native intelligence, good teaching, or the coaching of her school-teacher and minister father, sixteen year old Lucinda excelled in oratorical skills and in April 1909 won the Women’s Christian Temperance Union silver medal during a public-speaking contest held in Orlando.
Left: WCTU Silver Medal for Oratory
Below left: St Mary's Hospital in Clarksburg

A Post Office Job
Perhaps as the result of her public speaking abilities and her ease with the public, Lucinda secured a position as assistant to the postmaster in Burnsville in 1910 where she was employed until her acceptance into the nursing program at St. Mary’s Hospital in Clarksburg. Dr. J. W. Kidd, medical doctor and also editor of the Burnsville Kanawha Banner, mentioned Lucinda frequently in the news columns of the Kanawha Banner.
A Nursing Career
Lucinda graduated as a registered nurse from St. Mary’s in 1914. Ann and Gertrude Rush, whose family owned the Rush Hotel in Orlando would study nursing at the same hospital a few years after Lucinda granduated. Lucinda began her nursing career in Shinnston where her sister Clyta was also a practicing nurse. Lucinda was known and well-liked throughout the Shinnston area and noted for “her sunny disposition.”
But the clouds of war in Europe spred and Lucinda volunteered for the cause as a Red Cross nurse. Lucinda served several months providing nursing services at Camp Wadsworth, a new army base near Spartanburg, South Carolina, which was used as a mobilization point for troops en route to the trenches in France. Embarking by ship in early 1918 for Europe at the same time the tentacles of the influenza epidemic was gripping America, Lucinda ministered on ship-board to those who fell ill of the contagious disease. Working tirelessly to nurse the sick, Lucinda herself fell ill and her condition was critical as the troop ship entered the English port of Portsmouth.
The hospital at Camp Wadsworth, S.C.

Morn Hill
She was laid to rest in the Military Cemetery of “Morn Hill,” near Winchester, England, with full military honors. An army bugler sounded the mournful notes of “Taps” to honor the fallen Lucinda and to say fare-thee-well to this West Virginia girl who gave her all for her country. The Red Cross officer who wrote the letter to her mother telling of her passing stated: “Her resting place is a beautiful spot overlooking many miles of this lovely English country, and several of her comrades, who also gave their lives in this great cause, are buried beside her.”

Right: The WWI military camp at Morn Hill in Winchester, England, ca. 1917

A Small Tribute
She gave her life without a thought
To wounded men, the war had brought,
Into her care and skillful hands,
In that warring and distant land.
The Oil Creek girl that we once knew,
A Red Cross girl, with heart so true.
Her silent passing, forgotten toil;
Alone she lies in foreign soil.
Can we play Taps, to bare our woe,
To honor our Lucinda Rose.

A Post-Mortem Honor
The generation of Americans who witnessed the sacrifices of the Great War, recognized the patriots who served in that war. It was only fitting that Lucinda Rose would be so recognized. After the guns had ceased firing in Europe, some of the fallen Americans who were interred in foreign lands were returned to be buried in their native soil. Lucinda Rose was one of those. In 1920, her remains were returned to the Green Lawn Cemetery in Clarksburg and laid to final rest with full military honors.
In 1930, Lucinda received a fitting tribute for her sacrifice. Governor William G. Conley, governor of the State of West Virginia, came to Clarksburg to honor Lucinda Rose. Speaking to the members of the Lucinda Rose Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and to public, Governor Conley dedicated a portrait of Lucinda, and recounted her sacrifice to her country, and her service to her fellow man.
Reciting John Greenleaf Whittier, Governor Conley spoke of the short life and sacrifice of our Lucinda Rose:
Alas, for him who never sees
The stars shine through his cypress trees;
Who, helpless, lays his dead away,
Nor looks to see the breaking day
Across the mournful marbles play;
Who has not learned, in hours of faith,
The truth to sense and flesh unknown,--
That Life is never lord of Death,
And Love can never lose His own.

Note: Thanks to David McNemar for the following reference and links to the material in this entry.

Address from Gov. Conley at unveiling of Lucinda Rose's potraitState papers and public addresses of Wm. G. Conley: governor of West Virginia. March 4, 1929, to March 4, 1933By William Gustavus ConleyPublished by Jarrett Printing Co., 1933Original from the University of MichiganDigitized Oct 18, 2007. 572 pages

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