​​THE FIRST LOSS OF A DRAFTED MAN

 
            The name George W. Caldwell does not appear on the bronze plaque ordered placed on the Cooke County Courthouse in 1920 bearing the names of those from Cooke County who paid the ultimate price for freedom in the Great War, but George Washington Caldwell, a farm laborer from Valley View, was the first drafted man from the county to die while in service in the new national army.  His death, like many others, occurred during training at Camp Travis, San Antonio, Texas.  Also, like many others, his death was the result not from combat, but rather respiratory disease facilitated by pneumonia.
            On his draft registration card in 1917, Caldwell was list as a natural born citizen, a Caucasian, born in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, November 23, 1887.  As for his occupation, George Washington Caldwell listed farm laborer and sited his place of employment as Valley View, in Cooke County.  As for his physical attributes, the draft registrar listed him as a 28 year old man of medium height and medium build, with brown eyes and black hair and most importantly, as far as draft eligibility was concerned, with no dependents and no physical liabilities.
            Come reassignment day, G.W. Caldwell was assigned the draft serial number of 926, a large number that at first would bring ease, but later prove irrelevant as 926 was one of the early numbers drawn in Washington D.C. where the order list was assembled virtue of a random drawing.  Accepted by the local board for consideration in the new national army, it was not until all names in consideration for activation were approved by the district board for the eastern district in Tyler that it became a certainty that Camp Travis in San Antonio was the next stop.
            The certified list which arrived in the hands of the Cooke County Exemption Board, Tuesday September 18, directed all men who had been approved by the local Cooke County board to leave for Camp Travis the following day to be mustered into the new national army.  The tense countdown of only hours to departure had begun for George W. Caldwell and the others called to arms.  Contacted mainly by the publishing in the Gainesville Daily Register of the names of those chosen to depart the following day, the apprehensive and anxious began watching the hours tick away for the 81 men called upon to ride the Santa Fe to San Antonio, September 19, 1917.
It was a spectacle seldom before witnessed at the Santa Fe depot the following day, as the draftees crowded into their reserved car on the Sante Fe to make their journey to Camp Travis. Women, children, young men and the old mingled together and in separate clumps before loading the train.  It was a tense occasion, marked by excitement and apprehension. For some of the Cooke county chosen, the trip to San Antonio was the furthest they had ever been from home. Somewhere on the coach though, minds were whirling at the prospect of the next trip which would be across the ocean, followed by the prospect of the talked about trip "over the top" on the battlefields of France.  One observer wrote that fear could be detected on every face in the depot as the train pulled away to the cheers of some and the waving of the flags brought by the well-wishers.
            After taking in barely three months training with Company B of the 359th Infantry, Private George W. Caldwell fell ill with pneumonia.  Being checked into the base hospital on January 6th his condition declined and at 4:30 p.m. on January 12, 1918, Caldwell passed away.  The cause of death is listed as lobar pneumonia which had infected the right upper, middle and lower lobes.  The official death certificate of the Texas State Board of Health listed Private Caldwell as a white male, single, thirty years of age with his nearest of kin being his father, Charles, in Comanche, Texas.
            The fact that no living relatives resided in Cooke County may have led to the overlooking of Caldwell as a Cooke County service man.  The major who signed the death certificate, indicated that the body of the private was delivered to Comanche, Texas, where the father, Charlie W. Caldwell resided.  Burial records obtainable through the Comanche County Museum, confirm that G.W. Caldwell is buried in the Pendergrass Cemetery near Sidney, Texas in Comanche county.  He is buried near his father Charles W. Caldwell who died 08 July 1936 and another family member distinguished only as D.A. Caldwell. 
           The headstone marking his grave reads simply;

                                                    
G.W. CALDWELL

 
1887 ---  1918
 

            George Washington Caldwell's name as of early 2010 was not listed on a memorial marker in Cooke County.  The names on the veteran's memorial at Leonard Park were the names transferred from the bronze plaque applied to the Cooke County Courthouse in 1920 and as of the same period does not include Caldwell.  The name is present on the Adjutant General Report of 1928.  His service and death are documented in the 1931 graduate work by Cora Staniforth.  Just as Travis Williams Anderson, who would outlive Caldwell by less than two weeks at Camp Travis, a serial number had not yet been assigned Caldwell when he died.  Caldwell was not a native of Cooke County, but he was the first of the men drafted from Cooke County to die.                        

                   

​A WAR WORKER'S DEATH


            The world war was just that, it brought home to many that they could be affected by the actions of a few a worlds away.  That seemingly unrelated incidents could have a profound effect on the lives of others.  Had O.D. Dooms, the manager of the Gainesville Harvey House not have gotten engaged to be wed in June of 1917, McKinley Brisco would have been sent elsewhere by the Fred Harvey company and it is unlikely he would have drawn the same draft serial number where ever it was his name was drawn.  His visit to Gainesville ended up with his being drafted from Gainesville and in turn ended with his trip to Camp Travis and his death to pneumonia.
             In another instance, had not influenza come calling when it did in Gainesville and had the death of the mayor's son have not occurred when it did, would the series of events that brought about the death of Martin Luther Brown of Gainesville have occurred?
            It was October of 1918, and already eight servicemen from Cooke County had died while in uniform due to repertory disease.  Either pneumonia or influenza had taken the young lives at such a rate that the Shelley-Loring Undertakers in San Antonio, who handled the deaths at Camp Travis, could scarcely keep up with the daily flow from the camp.  The story was the same at other locations where the close proximity of men brought about the rapid spread of a virulent, never seen before or since, variety of influenza, capable of killing within a matter of days.  Even 100 years later the epidemic, which claimed more lives that the war itself, is still being researched and studied to try to determine what caused the 1918 strain of the disease to appear so rapidly, be so deadly and to disappear so unexplainably.
            The decision to close the schools in Gainesville was not an easy one to make.  The closing of gathering places for the protection of the public meant a loss of revenue for many businesses.  For some it meant a set back in business plans and a set back in income, but for those marginal businesses it threatened a loss of everything.  Having conducted classrooms himself, Gainesville Mayor J.Z. Keel understood how quickly a disease could spread among children in a crowded classroom. 
            After moving to Gainesville in 1875, Keel, two years later, had opened a private school and became one of the city's leading business men.  Along with the obvious promise of a locally obtainable, quality education, Keel attracted a glut of students to his school when he ordered 200 patented school desks for the facility.  In 1882 when the first public school was opened, J.Z. Keel again played a role, being hired as an educator at the South School, which opened with a principal and a staff of ten.  During the latter parts of the 1890's, the future mayor played an active role in the organization of the County Fair, serving in key roles over the years to help organize the civic activity.
            In 1916 a municipal swimming pool was built in the city park during Keel's first term as mayor and to climax the dedication speech at the new pool, the mayor performed a somersault dive off the springboard to the delight of an enthusiastic crowd.  With an obvious interest in public entertainment and education, the mayor was on the horns of a dilemma as influenza swept through town and the option was to temporarily close schools, churches, theatres, anywhere the public gathered until the epidemic subsided.
            The week before the Gainesville closings, five nurses were dispatched from the Gainesville sanitarium to help out in Denison where the Influenza had hit hard.  The Red Cross began mobilizing local nurses in the county as the number of cases swelled to more than 40.  A circus slated to appear in Sherman was notified that they would not be allowed to appear due to the outbreak of influenza there.  In Cleburne, in Johnson County, it was estimated that more than 500 cases were being treated in the county and with more than 200 of those reported in the city.
            In nearby Oklahoma, the reports were more frightening.  In Muskogee the schools were closed and the city health officials took over a large school building to utilize as a hospital.  District court activates were discontinued as a safe guard and numerous deaths were being reported in all parts of the state.  Schools, churches and libraries were being closed until the danger passed.
            The decision would not be determined until Keel's younger son, 22 year old Bonner, succumbed to influenza only a few days after becoming infected with the disease. A second son and his wife would die of influenza after the first of the year adding to the family’s tragic legacy.  A mayoral proclamation called for the closing of the public facilities and the suspension of the schools.
            Its closing meant that R.C. Carson, manager of the Liberty Theater would have to let his motion picture machine operator, 20 year old Martin Luther Brown go.  The shows were closed because of influenza and there was no guessing as to when they could reopen.  There was no money coming in and little work alternatives available.
            Registering for the draft only a few weeks before the layoff, Brown had listed his birthday as September 1, 1897, and listed that he had been born outside McKinney, Texas.  At age ten, he and his mother and father would move to the Hood community in Cooke County and would remain there until his father's death.  Afterwards, Katie Brown and her three sons moved to Gainesville looking for work. 
            At the time of his registering for the draft in September of 1918, the brown eyed, dark haired boy was residing with his mother at 207 North Throckmorton in Gainesville.  His grandfather, A. Rosenfield, his two brothers Raymond Brown and Roy Brown, and his aunt, Mrs. C.H. Spires were all residing in the city as well.
            Martin seemed to catch a break through the county Labor Board which was calling for volunteers to go to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to help construct air nitrate plants which were necessary to the war industry needs.  The local board was created in August of 1918 to facilitate the government in acquiring men to work in government plants to supplement the war effort.  The Cooke county board was headed up by Chairman J.T. Adams assisted by L.J. Greer and Z.T. Douglas with S.A. Bryan conducting an office for the registration of applicants at city hall in Gainesville.  Between August and November 9, 1918 around 65 men from Cooke County were enlisted for the work in Mussel Shoals.  Most were volunteers either simply looking for work, but others were men who had been rejected for army service because of physical considerations but were suited for industrial work. 
In her 1931 graduate work for the University of Texas Cora Standiforth interviewed S.A. Bryan who related that not every volunteer was exactly that, telling the graduate student in an interview that Sid Loving, the Chief of police of Gainesville brought loafers and vagrants off the streets to the attention of the Labor Board and if they did not choose to volunteer for the army they were sent to Muscle Shores to work for the government in the construction of the air nitrate plants. It is unclear how many of Cooke County's 65 volunteers may have gone in this fashion, what is clear, is that men were in demand.   As a young man with electrical experience, Martin Brown was soon on his way with a group of men from Gainesville to Mussel Shoals by the first of November 1918.
            Shortly after arriving in Alabama, Martin was coughing and having a hard time breathing.  By the tenth of November, he had become another victim of Influenza and plans were now being made to ship the body back to Gainesville for burial, but there was a snag.  Mrs. Brown had recently left Gainesville for Richman, California and all efforts to reach her had been unsuccessful.
            The Alabama death certificate indicates the body was originally intended to be sent back on November 14 but due to the confusion in finding Mrs. Brown, the transfer was moved back several days.
A week after his death, on Sunday, November 17, Martin Luther Brown arrived back in Gainesville, a few hours apart from the arrival of his mother who had been located in California.  The following day at his aunt, Mrs. C.H. Spires’s home, at 705 East Elbridge Street, funeral services were held before burial at Fairview Cemetery.
            An obituary with ran in The Gainesville Daily Register identified Martin Luther Brown as a member of the First Baptist Church and a prominent member of the Yeomen and several other orders.  A grieving R.C. Carson and his wife submitted a poem in his memory.

                                                                                 
  
Weep not, dear mother.

For God knew best

When he called Luther

He called him home to rest.

 
As bowed by sudden storms, the rose

Sinks on the garden's breast

Down to the grave our friend goes,

In silence there to rest.

 
No more with us his tuneful voice

The hymn of praise shall swell;

No more his cheerful heart rejoice

When peals the Sabbath bell.

 

Yet, if in yonder cloudless sphere,

Amid a sinless throng,

He utters in his Savior's ear

The everlasting song.

 

No more we'll mourn the absent friend

But lift our earnest prayers,

And daily every effort bend

To rise and join him there.

 

Peaceful be thy silent slumber,

Peaceful in the grave so low;

Thou no more wilt join our numbers,

Thou no more our songs shalt know.

 

Dear friend thou has left us.

Here thy loss we deeply feel;

But 'tis God that hath bereft us,

He can all our sorrows heal.

 

Yet again we hope to meet thee,

When the day of life is fled,

There is heaven with joy to greet thee

Where no farewell tears are shed.

 

Grieve not dear brothers,

Grieve not in vain.

When Jesus called him,

He freed him from all pain.

 

                                                                                    ----By his friends       Mr. and Mrs. R.C. Carson

 

            Roe C. Carson, who helped pen the poetic farewell to his former employee is, buried a few rows away from Martin Luther Brown in the Gainesville Fairview Cemetery.  In 1922 he passed away at the Santa Fe hospital in Temple, Texas, at age 43, after a puzzling complication of the stomach occurred.  He was a Texas A & M graduate employed by Santa Fe as a machinist in the local shop.  His wife, Minnie, was buried at his side in 1933.  It was while he was operating the Liberty Theatre that he had come into knowing Martin Luther Brown.                                                                                                                                                            
            Martin Luther Brown was not a soldier but as pointed out in his obituary, "He gave his life for his country the same as if he had been killed on the battlefield, for he was doing all he could to help his country."  His name appears on the courthouse and on the Leonard Park Monument.  His name is not listed in the Adjutant General Report or the Standiforth work, both which only listed military losses.
            Brown is buried at Fairview within a few yards of Lieutenants Lewis and Manahan, and his former employer R.C. Carson.  At his side in 1969, his mother, Katie was laid to rest.  Martin's slender, upright, gray granite monument reads;

 
 

MARTIN  L. BROWN                


 Born  Sept.  1,  1897

Died Nov   10,  1918

 

​​​The Boys on the Wall

​AN ORPHAN BURIED AT FAIRVIEW

             Edgar A. Baker could easily be mistaken for another American who lost his life while service to his country during the Great War.  At the Cave Hill National Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky lies Edgar Baker who lost his life only a few days before Muenster's Edgar A. Baker.  In Haulsee's Soldiers of The Great War another Edgar Baker from Toxla, Oklahoma is listed among the casualties. He is not the Muenster draftee whose death certificate reads buried in Muenster, Texas, but even that Edgar A. Baker was not buried there. The newspaper burial announcement announcing Edgar Albert Baker’s funeral in the Gainesville Register explained that the lost soldier would be buried in Valley View, Texas, but for some reason neither Muenster nor Valley View ended up being Albert’s final resting place as he was buried instead in Gainesville, Texas.  Although his death notice listed him as a single man, his headstone reads Husband of Iona.  Cooke County's Edgar A. Baker died in training camp at Camp Travis and after three stops was buried in Fairview Cemetery in Gainesville.
            Born July 28, 1896 in McKinney, Texas, Edgar A. Baker was already an orphan when the 1910 census was conducted.  The enumerator found him living with an uncle, Wilham A. and his 90 year old grandfather, Robert F., in Cooke County.  With a wife and five children of his own to take care of, it has to be handed to W. A. Baker, for taking in two more mouths to feed.  Edgar had been born in Texas, but his father and uncle had both first seen the light of day in North Carolina before they had moved to Texas early in their lives.  With Wilham operating a general farm, there was probably enough work to go around for his daughter, four sons, a nephew and his father.
            By draft registration day, June 5, 1917, Edgar had gone to work for J.M. Sparkman of Muenster and he listed his address as Muenster and his nearest of kin as his uncle W.A. Baker of Muenster.  There was no spouse listed to impede the draft of the man, but due his draft order, it would not be until September 5th of 1918 that he would be called to service.
            By now the army was in full mobilization mode and men were being processed, drafted, trained and shipped overseas at a rate that a year earlier had seemed improbable.  By September 5, Baker had passed his physical examination and was being joined by 21 other men who had registered for the draft in 1917 and 18 more from the class of 1918 at 6:15 in the evening to travel over the Santa Fe for Camp Travis near San Antonio, Texas.
            Those traveling with Baker to the camp that evening included another Cooke County man who would also die while in the service, William Charles Cobb.  Others on the 6:15 transport to Camp Travis were listed as;

 
            Edgar A. Baker              Muenster

            William C. Cobb            Pilot Point

            Alfred A. Belz                Valley View

            Harbert Benny               Muenster

            Herman H. Blagg          Gainesville       

            Richard G. Bouldin        Gainesville

            Jesse Caulfield             Gainesville

            William J. Caulfield        Forestburg

            Joe Compton                Gainesville

            John A. Dobson            Gainesville

            Ernest A. Felker            Myra

            Max F. Flusche             Lindsay

            William H. Gardner        Gainesville

            Claude B. Green           Gainesville

            Henry Grotte                 Saint Jo

            Clem Hermes                Lindsay

            Clarence House            Era

            William H. Huckaby       Houston

            Maxie M. Jackson         Gainesville

            Emmet L. Lawson          Myra

            Russel B. Light              Gainesville

            Ernest Links                  Rosston

            Augustus Livingston      Muenster

            John Lueb                     Ardmore

            Jesse E. Malene            Dexter

            Joseph F. May              Gainesville

            Cecil E. Mayall              Gainesville

            Joseph F. Neu               Lindsay

            William O'Kelly              Era

            John M. Park                 Gainesville

            Joe B. Patterson           Tioga

            Fred Pittner                   Lindsay

            Diamon K. Ragsdale      Dexter

            Henry L. Schmidt          Sanger

            Thomas R. Settle          Forestburg

Elbert T. Shotwell          Gainesville

            Joe Simmel                   Pilot Point

            William F. Solomon       Myra

            Oscar Thurman              Lindsay

            Henry B. Tune               Valley View



            Baker arrived at Camp Travis attached to 45 Company 12 Battalion 165 Depot Brigade and began his basic training, but with the influenza epidemic raging worldwide, it wasn't long before death came calling.  The camps were proving to be a fertile incubation bed for influenza.  Tens of thousands of men housed in close proximity allowed the disease to spread quickly and for those who came down with the chills and fever, the end too often came quickly.  Exactly one month after he had entered the service, Edgar A. Baker, suffering with symptoms of pneumonia and influenza was checked into the base hospital October 5, 1918.  Another Cooke County man who was on the same troop transport from Gainesville to Camp Travis on September 5, William C. Cobb, also checked into the camp hospital that day.  Two weeks later, on October 19th at 3:25 a.m., Baker breathed his last; Cobb had passed away five days earlier.
            1st Lieutenant T.G. Allen of the medical corps listed the cause of death as broncho pneumonia influenced by influenza.  It was an identical diagnosis as to the cause of death of William C. Cobb.  The Shelley-Loring Undertakers directed the body to be delivered to Muenster, Texas, where it would be buried, according to the Standard Certificate of Death of the Bureau of Vital Statistics, on October 20, 1918.  The certificate indicated that Private Baker was married.
              There is no mention of a particular faith on the death certificate or the draft registration but being a member of a particular faith may have had a role to play in why Baker was not buried in Muenster, as indicated on the death certificate.  The only cemetery in town is the Sacred Heart Cemetery which is on consecrated ground and is available only to Catholics.  In the event that Baker was not a catholic a secondary location would have to be found to bury the departed.
            In a story which ran in The Gainesville Daily Register, on October 23, 1918, it was noted that the departed soldier was an orphan who was brought up by his uncle W.A. Baker in the Wolf Ridge community, and listed his only direct survivors as a brother and a sister.  There was no mention of a wife in the article.  The news stated that the private was 22 years of age and had been in camp for only a few weeks when stricken with influenza.  It offered that the uncle had gone to San Antonio to be with him, and left after it appeared Edgar was almost out of danger.  Within a few days of his return to Cooke County, Wilham received word that his nephew had died. The article concluded saying that the body had arrived in Gainesville and had been taken to Valley View, where it was to be buried that same afternoon.
            Whatever the reason, the remains were not buried in Valley View, the body of Edgar Albert Baker, is buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Gainesville, Texas beneath a gray stone obelisk.  In the gathering of names for the county bronze, the name mentioned on two occasions and the widow listed was Mrs. Irma Baker of Muenster.  The name Iona Baker is mentioned in a 1920 local article in which the Memorial committee was seeking information about Cooke County losses in the war.  A week later another plea was put out by the committee and this time Edgar A. Baker was named.  His name was overlooked from the American Legion list of losses at their ceremony March 15, 1920.
            The name Iona Baker appears in the 1985 publication Fairview Cemetery, Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas published by the Cross Timbers Genealogical Society.  According to the Fairview records she is buried alongside of her husband Edgar Albert Baker in section 22 of the cemetery near the intersections of what were once known as Camellia and Begonia Avenues.  The records do not indicate when she was buried at the cemetery and while her plot does not have a headstone her name is prominently displayed on her husband's gray granite marker adjacent to her final resting place.
                        Edgar Albert Baker is buried along the same line in Fairview, a few yards south of another Cooke County man who lost his life while in the service, Jasper Gardner.  Baker's serial number was 3,985,872. His death is listed as OCD-Died of other Causes, Domestic Death. 

           

             

 ​

 

 

THE FIRST OF THOSE BURIED IN COOKE COUNTY

 



            The Texas Historical Commission marker near the wide gate into the Spring Creek Cemetery proclaims that the cemetery is the final resting place of several notables in Cooke County history and is the final resting place of Travis Anderson, who died while in training during World War I.  The minutes of the Spring Creek Cemetery Association book takes it a step further saying Anderson was Cooke County's "first son to lose his life while in training for the army" in the Great War. The cemetery, originally known as the Barnhart Cemetery, thanks to the 1883 donation of the land by J.P. Barnhart, in later years became known as the Spring Creek Cemetery and is located southwest of Gainesville, Texas just west of I35 South.
            Born September 22, 1891 to George Williams Anderson and Jane Webb Montague Anderson, Travis was the third of the family's six children born in Whitewright, Texas, and the third born overall of nine Anderson children, five of whom were sisters. The first born were twins Monta (sic) and Lucille (sic) born in 1889, Martha Agnes arrived in 1893, Annette was an 1894 addition to the family and Pricila Ruth (sic) was born in 1901.  The oldest of four Anderson boys, Travis was joined at age 5 by Herbert Ray, followed 18 months later by George Miles in 1897 and mid-way through the first decade of the new century, Harold was born.
            In Travis' family his father could be traced back for generations, but it was his mother that boasted an almost unequaled lineage.  Born in Perry's Landing, Perry County, Tennessee in September of 1859, Jane Webb Montague's family could be traced back to Peter Montague of Suffolk county Virginia who witnessed his son, also named Peter, coming into the world there in 1634.  Before them, the family has been traced back to William Montague born in Buckingham, Berkshire, England in 1485.
            Moving with his family from Grayson County to Cooke County at age nine, Travis was brought up on a farm his family had bought 5 miles southwest of Gainesville.  In the 1910 federal census, each child in the family was listed as a farm laborer on a home owned farm.  The farming life must have agreed with him, because of necessity or family loyalty, when the information was put together for the draft in 1917, Travis was found living with his parents and again listed himself as a farmer. 
            June 5, 1917 was to be the day President Woodrow Wilson, under authority of the congress designated "Registration Day."  Throughout the nation, all men between the ages of twenty-one and thirty -one were to present themselves at their respective polling places between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. to register for the draft. Mayor J.Z. Keel of Gainesville took the proclamation a step further, seizing the opportunity to join with the banks in promoting the sales of liberty bonds, pronouncing that "through the patriotism of the banks of the country it is now possible for everyone to buy a Liberty bond, " adding that, "if they have not the money to pay all cash or meet the government's requirements, they can buy through their banks on the installment plan."
             The registrar noted 25 year old Travis Williams Anderson, was of medium height, slender of build, with grey eyes and brown hair.  It further recorded that he was a farmer, single, with no physical defects...  just the type of man the selective draft was looking for to enter the new national army.
            In July when serial numbers were doled out to replace the original draft registration card numbers each man was originally assigned by, Anderson was given the serial number 5 in advance of the draft number drawings in Washington which would determine in what order men would appear before their local exemption boards.  The example given was that if the first number drawn in Washington was 100, then everyone nationwide in the nation's more than four thousand local boards with number 100 would be the first to appear for screening at their local exemption boards.  From that meeting, the person with the number 100 would be either accepted for the army or deemed disqualified because of physical disability, or not eligible for the draft because of an exemption affidavit presented by the man.  Causes for exemption at the beginning of the war included participation in a vocation necessary for war time production, a dependent wife, dependent parents or children or other special circumstance.  As the war wore on and there was a greater need for men in service, many of the early exemptions were thrown out by the district board which was ranked above the local exemption board.  In the case of Gainesville, the district board was the eastern federal district of Texas board situated in Tyler, Texas.
             The first number pulled out in the national drawing was 1748, the number than belonged to Leroy Norris of Rt. 3, St. Jo, a rural Cooke County address. On the first day the exemption board examined Cooke County men for consideration for the national draft, Monday, August 06, 1917, eighteen of the first 200 men screened were accepted as delegates for the first draft.  The following day Travis Williams Anderson was ordered to appear along with 17 other men at 1:00 P.M. and after being medically screened with no exemptions listed, he became the 28th man from the county chosen suitable for the army out of the current allotment. 
On September 18, 1917 the Cooke County Exemption Board received a certified list from the eastern federal board containing the names of all the men who were passed by the local board and who were now being ordered to leave Gainesville the following day, September 19, via the Sante Fe train for Camp Travis, San Antonio, to be mustered into the national army.   
            The scene at the Gainesville depot was repeated time and again over the next year as tearful mothers, wives and children and friends, bid farewell to loved ones.  A.J. Myers, writing in the Gainesville Daily Register framed the scene appropriately, "it was a scene that had for its mingling both patriotism and pathos, for the faces of the men were wreathed with smiles, while the witnesses to it, each seemed filled with an indefinable pathetic sympathy that was so tense as to defy control and the throbbing of hearts was evidenced by tear stained faces."
            With thousands of men being housed in such close proximity the army had already anticipated the possibility of the rapid spread of communicable diseases.  When Anderson and the other men arrived from Cooke County seventy large buildings were already under construction to constitute the base hospital near Lake Como southwest of the main camp.  Each of the buildings was reported to have a capacity of 1,500 beds an amount which would prove necessary when the influenza epidemic eventually hit Camp Travis near the end of the year.
            Initially it was reactions to shots that caused concerns.  One soldier wrote that the serum treatment for typhoid which was applied with an instrument that resembled a two-cylinder bicycle pump caused a reaction in some soldiers requiring them to be hospitalized and required the treatment of a doctor.  Good hygiene was maintained to ward off other disease threats but nothing could prepare the camp and the army for what was to come from the flu and influenza of 1917 and 1918.
            In a letter from the camp dated December 31, 1917, the writer reported that things were going well with the Gainesville Machine Gun Company and correspondent J.P. Mosser even added that, "Travis W. Anderson of R.R. No. 1 Gainesville, is enjoying the best of health and looks as though he is getting fresher every day". The cheery note was included in an article which appeared in the Gainesville Register January 4, 1918.  Before the month was over Anderson would be dead.
            A little more than four months after arriving at Camp Travis, on January 27th, 1918, Anderson was checked into the camp hospital suffering from respitory sickness.  Four days later, on  January 31 at 10:45 a.m., Travis W. Anderson would succumb to meningitis pneumococci as it was described on the certificate of death, contributed to by acute lobar pneumonia in the lower left lobe.
            The certificate filed with the Texas State Board of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics was signed by army Captain James H. Agnew, MRC, with the base hospital and noted the body was removed to Gainesville, Texas, February 1, 1918 by the Shelley-Loring Undertaking Company of San Antonio.  The document is not without errors as it lists the father of the Private in Co B 345th Machine Gun Battalion as A.W. Anderson, rather than G.W. Anderson.
            Word of the loss of the first of the drafted men from Cooke County reached home quickly.  By late afternoon a telegram had already reached north Texas telling of the death at Camp Travis and the next day a follow up story in the local newspaper told of the arrival over the Sante Fe of the body and stated that the funeral under the direction of undertaker Geo. J. Carroll would be held Saturday, February 2, 1918 at 2 p.m. at the home of the dead soldier.  An obituary in the Gainesville newspaper on February 1, of 1918, described him as "a most noble man, with exemplary habits, lofty ideas, kind and generous in all his dealings and was highly respected and esteemed by all who knew him."
            A regional story under the heading of "DEATHS OF SOLDIERS AT TRAINING CAMPS," appeared in the February 2 edition of The Dallas Morning News which listed Private Travis Anderson, Company B 345th Machine Gun Battalion, as a Camp Travis death.  Two other deaths from Camp Travis and three more from Camp Pike in Little Rock, Arkansas were reported in the same story.
            In a grave side oratory, George Culp, noted attorney and orator of Gainesville lamented, "A soldier gives his all.  Travis Anderson died as an advance scout; he is entitled to the same high honor as though riddled by machine gun bullets.  He is now immortal." He concluded his eulogy before a gathering of Travis' friends and family, adding that "You should not grieve for this first sacrifice from Cooke County because he has acted a man's part in the greatest drama of all time.  Let others emulate this patriotic, swift and tragic life."
            Today, Travis Anderson lay at rest in a family plot near the southwest boundary of the Spring Creek Cemetery, south of the main entry road in a plot marked with a large family stone.  The low profile gray stone that marks Travis' final resting spot reads simply;

                                                                                            

TRAVIS ANDERSON

 

1891 ---------- 1918

 

Blessed Are The Dead

Who Die In The Lord

 
            Anderson was among the first of the drafted men from Cooke County to die in service to his country.  Six of the 81 men who left Gainesville, September 19, 1917, would eventually be joined for an eternity in the unique fraternity of those who would perish while in the service during the Great War.  Frank Burneville Keel of Gainesville, James Madison Curb of Myra, Wayne Jacob Gentry of Muenster, George Washington Caldwell of Valley View, Samuel Richard Dennis of St. Jo, all rode together over the silver ribbons of the Sante Fe rails that fateful day, on their way to Camp Travis and destiny.
            In the 1928 Adjutant General report of the World War Dead of Cooke County, Travis W. Anderson is listed as having died January 31, 1918 as a result of causes other than combat while state side, better known as O.C.D. -Died of Other Causes, Domestic Death.  The domestic part of the description is an indication that the death occurred in the states rather than overseas.
            For the record, the death is recorded as January 30, 1918 in some notes, but is listed twice as January 31, 1918 on the official death certificate with the Bureau of Vital Statistics.  The date, January 31, is further supported by several newspaper reports of the incident.

            

COOKE COUNTY'S LOSSES IN THE WAR

 

LOSSES BY RANK

 

 

Lieutenant              3                              John Riley Lewis

                                                                James Arthur Manahan

                                                                Edward Burke Sullivan

 

Sergeant                 3                              Ora Ralph Anderson

                                                                Richard Bland Cunningham

                                                                Sam W. Tune

 

Corporal                 7                              Joseph H. Block                                                    

                                                                McKinley Brisco

                                                                James Madison Curb

                                                                Samuel Richard Dennis

                                                                Thomas Urban Hughes

                                                                Frank B. Keel

                                                                Warren Puttman Murchison

 


 

Pvt 1st Class           3                              Lee Oral Cobble

                                                                Wilburn Haskell Edwards

                                                                Charles Otis Strickland

 

Private                 22                               Travis Williams Anderson

                                                                Edgar Albert Baker

                                                                Roger Harrison Bird

                                                                Sherman Frank Brockman

                                                                George Washington Caldwell

                                                                William Charles Cobb

                                                                Louis Golden Dickson

                                                                Hugh Ed Downard

                                                                Ernest W. Ellerton

                                                                Jasper Gardner

                                                                Audie Franklin Gentry

                                                                Wayne Jacob Gentry

                                                                Lamonte Hartsell

                                                                Emory Hobbs

                                                                Leon Jirasek

                                                                William H. Keele

                                                                Lem Liles

                                                                William Archie Norman

                                                                John S. Rosenberger

                                                                John Stevenson

                                                                Albert Waddell

                                                                Thomas Fountain Witt

 

 

U.S. Navy

Fireman 1st Cl        1                              Albert Sidney Morris

Blacksmith 2nd Cl   1                              Jesse Larkin Barnard

Seaman                  1                              Joseph David Lockhart

 

 

 

 

War worker             1                              Martin Luther Brown

 

 

 

Rank unknown       1                              J.W. Walker

                                               

 

 

CAUSES OF DEATH

 

KILLED IN ACTION               (K.A.)      9

 

Ora Ralph Anderson

Joseph Henry Block

James Madison Curb

Hugh E. Downard

Thomas Urban Hughes

Frank Burneville Keel

James Arthur Manahan

William Archie Norman

Charles Otis Strickland

 

 

DIED OF WOUNDS (D.W.)     6             

 

Samuel Richard Dennis

Wilburn Haskell Edwards

Wayne Jacob Gentry

William Harvy Keele

John S. Rosenberger

Sam W. Tune


DIED IN ACCIDENT                               1

 

Edward Burke Sullivan                           Plane crash            Ardmore, Oklahoma

 

  

DIED OF DISEASE (O.C.D.)  14

( O.C.D. - Died of Other Causes, Domestic deaths.)

 

Travis Williams Anderson                       Camp Travis           San Antonio, Texas

Edgar Albert Baker                                 Camp Travis           San Antonio, Texas

Roger Harrison Bird                                Camp Travis           San Antonio, Texas

McKinley Brisco                                      Camp Travis           San Antonio, Texas

Sherman Frank Brockman                      Camp Dix                Hoboken, New Jersey

Martin Luther Brown                                                Mussel Shoals, Alabama

George Washington Caldwell                 Camp Travis           San Antonio, Texas

William Charles Cobb                             Camp Travis           San Antonio, Texas

Lee Oral Cobble                                     home                      Gainesville, Texas

Louis Golden Dickson                            Ft Bayard                Fort Bayard, New Mexico

Jasper Gardner                                      Camp Grant            Camp Grant, Illinois

Leon Jirasek                                           Fort Bliss                El Paso

John Riley Lewis                                    Fort Dix                   Hoboken, New Jersey

Josiah David Lockhart                            Naval Hospital        Norfolk, Virginia

 

DIED OF DISEASE OVER SEAS   8     

(O.C.F. - Died of Other Causes, Foreign deaths.)

 

Richard Bland Cunningham           Beres-Castle-Cues   Germany

Audie Franklin Gentry                                                             France

Lamonte Hartsell                                                                    France

Warren Puttman Murchison                                                    France

Lem Liles                                                                                France

John Stevenson                                                                      France

Albert Waddell                                                                        France

Thomas Fountain Witt                                                            France

 
 

DIED OF DISEASE  

O/S or DOMESTIC UNKNOWN   2

 

 

Emory Hobbs                                         Buried in Foster, Oklahoma, listed in THE SOLDIERS OF THE GREAT WAR.

Ernest W. Ellerton                                  Listed in THE SOLDIERS OF THE GREAT WAR as a resident of Dexter.

 
 

LOST AT SEA        2

 

Jesse Larkin Barnard                             Disappeared on  U.S.S. Cyclops.

Albert Sidney Morris                               Storm related drowning accident Key West, Florida.

  
 

UNDETERMINED   1

 

J.W. Walker                                            Undetermined

 

BURIALS IN COOKE COUNTY, TEXAS

 

 

Fairview Cemetery, Gainesville, Tx                        10            Edgar Albert Baker, Sherman Frank Brockman,

                                                                                                Martin Luther Brown, Lee Oral Cobble, Jasper

                                                                                                Gardner, Leon Jirasek, John Riley Lewis, James

                                                                                                Arthur Manahan, John Stevenson, Edward Burke

                                                                                                Sullivan.

 

Rosston Cemetery, Rosston, Tx                             2             William Archie Norman, Lamonte Hartsell

 

St Peter's Cemetery, Lindsay, Tx                             1             Joseph H. Block

 

Bulcher Cemetery, Bulcher Tex                              1             Samuel Dennis

 

Valley View Cemetery, Valley View, Tx                  1             Samuel Richard Tune

 

Witt-Ratliff Cemetery, Cooke Co.                           1             Thomas Fountain Witt

 

Mt Zion Cemetery, Cooke Co.                                1             William Keele

 

New Hope Cemetery, Mt Springs, Tx                     1             William C. Cobb

 

Barnhart/Spring Creek Cemetery, Cooke Co.          1             Travis Williams Anderson

 

TOTAL COOKE COUNTY, TEXAS                        19

 

 

 

OTHER LOCATIONS                                             12

 

TEXAS   

               

Pendergrass Cemetery, Sidney, Tex                      1              George Washington Caldwell

IOOF Cemetery,  Denton, Tx                                  1              Richard Bland Cunningham

Hardy Cemetery, Montague County, Tx                 1              Lem Liles

 

                                                                               

OKLAHOMA:         

Foster Cemetery, Garvin County, Ok.                      1             Emory Hobbs

5 Mile Creek Cemetery,Pontotoc County, Ok.        1             Wilburn Haskell Edwards

 

 

NEW MEXICO

Fort Bayard National Cemetery, Ft Bayard, N.M.   1             Louis Golden Dickson                                                           

 

MISSOURI                                                                                                                             

Springfield National Cemetery, Springfield, Mo.      1             Ora Ralph Anderson

 

VIRGINIA               

Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va.            3             Audie Franklin Gentry

                                                                                                Wayne Jacob Gentry

                                                                                                Charles O. Strickland

               

FLORIDA               

Key  West  N Cemetery, Key West Fla.                 1              Albert Sidney Morris (Name on Memorial)

                               

 

KANSAS                 

Allen  Cemetery, Allen, Ka.                                     1             McKinley Brisco


 

FRANCE

 

Oise-Aisne Cemetery - Fere-en-Tardenois             1             Warren Putman Murchison

 

Meuse Argonne American Cemetery - Romagne   3             James Madison Curb, Thomas Urban

                                                                                                Hughes, Hugh E.  Downard

 

St. Mihiel American Cemetery - Thiaucourt              1            Frank Burneville Keel

 

                                                                TOTAL       5

 

 

UNKNOWN

 

Lost  On  U.S.S. CYCLOPS                                     1             Jesse Larkin Barnard was lost with the U.S.S. Cyclops.

                                                                                                No wreckage was found.  The story is featured in

                                                                                                Bermuda Triangle folklore.

                                                                                                No bodies of the crew were recovered.

 

Rush  Springs, Oklahoma                                       1             Thomas Harrison Bird's Death Certificate indicates

                                                                                                body was delivered to Rush Springs, Ok. but the

                                                                                                trace ends there.  Neither he or his family is in the area

                                                                                                burial records.

 

Pennsylvania                                                           1             John S. Rosenberger.  Family lived in Pennsylvania

                                                                                                during the 1900 and 1920 census.  Father, a steel worker,

was working in Gainesville, Texas in 1918, but was back

 in Pennsylvania when the body would have been sent home.

Name not listed in American battle cemeteries.   Grave site

 of he and his family unknown.

                                                                                                               

J.W. WALKER                                                        1             Unable to find any information on Walker.  No match

                                                                                                 in A.G. Office for Cooke County, no match in

                                                                                                Soldiers of The Great War, no Draft registration

                                                                                                records of Cooke County, no ABM records, or other

                                                                                                searches including above listed resources.

 

JOE LOCKHART                                                    1             Listed in Naval losses.  Death due appendicitis stateside. 

                                                                                                Place of interment unknown.  1920 notes from Lillian

                                                                                                Gunter, Cooke County Library, indicate he and his father

                                                                                                resided at Victory Hotel in Gainesville. 

                                                                                                Not on ABM lists or Cooke County lists. 

                                                                                                Burial location unknown.

 

ALBERT WADDELL                                               1             Draft registration in Valley View and drafted from Cooke

                                                                                                County.  Birth place indicated as Shreveport. 

                                                                                                In Soldiers of The Great War listed as a casualty from

                                                                                                Louisiana.  Wife passed away in Shreveport in 1933. 

                                                                                                Neither grave site located.

 

ERNEST W. ELLERTON                                        1             Does not appear in Draft Registration, A.G. Report,

                                                                                                Staniforth book or census reports.  Appears as

                                                                                                a loss from Dexter in SOLDIERS OF THE GREAT WAR.

                                                                                                Name is on the Cooke County courthouse and Leonard

                                                                                                Park monuments and is cited in THE FIRST 100 YEARS IN

                                                                                                COOKE COUNTY by A. Morton Smith.

                                                                                                No available information discovered.

 

                                                TOTAL                    7

 
             

​THE PROFESSOR

 

             Educator, administrator, coach, and soldier, Ora Ralph Anderson, is the first name to be found on two monuments to Cooke County’s fallen heroes of the Great War.  His is the first name on any list of those from the county, who lost their lives in the war due to its alphabetical make-up, but there are many reasons why this former, coach and superintendent, is prominent among those who entered the service in 1917.
           Named for his father, Ora William Anderson, Ora Ralph was born November 09, 1888 in Billings, Missouri.  The elder Anderson had been brought into this world in Wellsburg, Erie County, Pennsylvania and his mother, Martha Jane Connick, entered the race in German township, Chenango County, New York.  The two were wed in Conneautiville, Pennsylvania, January 14, 1873.  The couple, later that year, while residing in Steamburg, Pennsylvania, brought Lynne, the first of their four children into the world.  The next three children would be born in Billings, Teresa in 1885, followed by Ora R. in 1888, and a final child, Alice was born in 1890 according to the 1900 census.
            A graduate of Missouri State Normal with a degree in B.P.E., Anderson came to Gainesville from Palestine, Texas, in 1913 at the age of 23 to teach science.  In THE FIRST 100 YEARS IN COOKE COUNTY, author, A. Morton Smith, credits Anderson with becoming Gainesville High School's first football coach during this time and lists some of his players as T.D. Mitchell, Yancy Culp, Addison Kendall, and Merlin Mitchell.  Several of these students would earn distinction in the upcoming conflict brewing in Europe. 
            Merlin Mitchell went on to become one of the youngest Captains in the new national army.  A graduate of Gainesville High School and Texas A & M, the young man, noted for both his academic and athletic prowess, went through training at Leon Springs and was one of the few men under the age of 22 who was granted commission as a captain in the 90th division.  Mitchell, the son of postmaster B.F. Mitchell, saw a good deal of combat during the war, and survived after having been gassed and wounded during one assault.
            Another of the student-athletes under Anderson's scope in high school had been T.D Mitchell, who entered the army as a second Lieutenant in the Gainesville Machine Gun Company before it was mustered into the federal army and served with honor throughout the conflict.  T.D. was a brother of Ruth Mitchell Bullock, mother of Bob Bullock, noted Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and Texas Lieutenant Governor in the 1980s and 1990s.    
 Yancy Culp also served with distinction during the Great War, becoming a Lieutenant and became active in the community affairs afterwards, lobbying voters to support efforts to improve the roads in Cooke County based upon the excellent roads he had seen in France, during and after the war.  Culp was wounded in action October 4, 1918 while serving with the 358th Infantry.
            All of these young men and literally hundreds of others would be influenced, educationally and spiritually by this young Missourian over a four year period in Gainesville.
            In an April 6, 1917 article published in The Gainesville Daily Register, it was noted that Anderson was elected superintendent, after offering himself for consideration in 1916.   As a result, it added, "during the short term that he has served it should be said wonderful advancement has been made."  The present graduating class it emphasized consists of 47 members, and now, thanks to changes initiated by Professor Anderson, new courses including bookkeeping, typewriting, shorthand were being offered to allow the students to face the duties of life without resorting to business college, which often caused them to leave high school before graduating.
            The final paragraph of the multipage article summed it up saying, "It is Mr. Anderson's intention of making the local course of studies so complete that there will be no need for any youth going away from Gainesville for a thorough education.  He believes in college education, naturally, but wants to see the local schools capable of educating the majority instead of a minority."
            The "Professor," as a man of his standing in the educational system was known, was recognized as being not only young and energetic, but also being wise enough to surround himself with an able body of instructors excited by the idea that "higher education means higher morality."  Under Anderson's tutelage, the local institutions were now on the accredited list of the University of Texas, and the graduates of the high school were now allowed to enter the college's first years' work on their merits.
            Much of the success of the city in general was being thrown in the direction of O.R. Anderson, his educators and indeed the students themselves.  It was noted that Professor Anderson had won the support of the student body, as well as that of the Board of Education.  Anderson recognized the importance of the manual training and domestic science departments; he carefully managed the re-arrangement of the existing buildings and handled the enormous overflow of pupils in the system while less efficient minds had deemed it impossible.
            In 1917 Anderson was fast gaining a reputation with educators and local dignitaries as well.  His image as an important part of the community received an added boost when he announced his intentions to marry a young lady from a prominent Gainesville family.  Una Stark was the daughter of, W.H. Stark, a wholesale druggist in town who resided in a comfortable home in the affluent Denton Street area in Gainesville. Mr. Stark was also a member of the board of trustees at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, where Una had finished her musical education.  The spring announcement of a June wedding, two weeks after Una graduated from TCU, could not take into account the June 5th summons of all men between the ages of 21 and 31 to register for the new national draft.
            On his draft registration card, Ora Ralph Anderson was listed as 28 years of age, born on November 9, 1888.  He was described as being a white male, of medium height with a medium build, topped off with blonde hair and was brown eyed, and was listed with no physical afflictions. As such, he was a prime candidate for the national army being assembled to sail to France's rescue.  Little could he know when he marched his young bride down the aisle at her father's South Denton Street home, June 27, 1917 that he would be in the first consignment of drafted Cooke County men to head to training camp.
            When the Mayoral decree, of Gainesville Mayor J.Z. Keel appeared in the local paper May 30, encouraging the locals to get behind President Woodrow Wilson's call for all men between the ages of 21 and 31 to register for the draft and to support the war effort, there was still reason to believe the young married couple would be separated by the war.  After all, one of the common assumptions was that married men would not be among the first called into service. A man could file for local exemption if he were the sole provider of the household and his chances of being called up, it was thought, declined with the number of children dependent on the head of the household.  Perhaps even being an educator of young children would influence the local board to bypass the Gainesville superintendent, but the theory would never he tested as Anderson would later exert his intention to enter the fray ahead of his draft number.  But that was yet to occur.
            Come Wednesday night, June the 27th at 8 p.m., an estimated crowd of 250 crammed into the Stark's home to witness the marriage of the popular local couple.  The blooms of gladiolas, sweet peas and daisies cast a rainbow effect in the living room, where beneath a constructed canopy; the ring ceremony took place amidst ferns and palms.  Miss Gertrude Duston played the piano, as the brides procession entered the room singly coming down the winding staircase.  First came two small girls carrying ribbon with which they formed an aisle for the bride and her maids.  The five young women, who made up the ensemble of maids were followed by little Ken Heath, years later an insurance agent in Gainesville, who carried a silver tray on which rested a white satin pillow on which rested the ring.
            Clad in a white linen suit with white shoes and socks, the young ring bearer walked down the aisle just in front of little Helen Cahoon of Fort Worth, who from a basket, cast down rose petals in advance of the bride who was escorted by her father.  The pair were met at the alter by Ora R. Anderson, and his best man Robert Beasley, to take lead rolls in the service being performed by Anderson's brother, Rev. L.D. Anderson of Fort Worth.  At the reception following the service, over punch, it was announced that the newlywed couple would leave Friday night for points of interest in Missouri, and would be returning to Gainesville, in mid-August.  The prolonged matrimonial honeymoon would be cut short however, as word of Ora's draft status reached the vacationing couple.
            The draft serial number 8 was assigned to Anderson in early July, but with the random selection of numbers being at hand there was no reason to believe a low number would result in an early appearance before the exemption board. The thought was probably subdued somewhat July 24, 1917, when a story ran in the local paper saying that the 500 names to be printed in the edition that day would be the first men to appear before the local exemption board.  Appearing in groups of 200 men at a time, each group taking three days to examine, Anderson would appear in the third group along with draft registration numbers # 1205 Wayne Gentry, # 1188 James Madison Curb, # 49 McKinley Brisco, # 1059 Albert Waddell and # 557 Thomas Urban Hughes.  All were draftees who would not come home alive from the military service.
            Tuesday, August 21, 1917 Ora Ralph Anderson would appear in a fifty man grouping which included McKinley Brisco and Thomas Urban Hughes.  The recently married superintendent declined to enter an exemption form to avoid selection from the national draft, and later when chosen, he declined an offer for a commission, choosing again to enter the service with the men who would be in the fighting.
            Appearing before the exemption board, Anderson was one of the nine men accepted out of the fifty screened on August 20, as ready for military service.  As was his nature, Anderson was ready to go.  He would not await further screenings; he volunteered to go ahead of his time to Camp Travis in San Antonio, Texas to begin training for the army. 
            On September 5, 1917, Ora R. Anderson joined ten other draftees, all who were chosen ahead of him, in route for camp.  The first group departing over the Santa Fe to San Antonio, represented five per cent of the quota for Cooke county.  The full quota was 215 men.  It was projected that on September 19, forty per cent  more would entrain for camp, followed by forty per cent more on October 3,  and  later, the remaining 15 per cent making up the county's quota would leave.  Joining Anderson on the departure from Gainesville, were, Joseph H. Endres, Gilbert G. Holman, Joe E. Hardy, Goalsby A. LeMaster, Buck Younger Lewis, Hubert H. Moss, Charles A. Puckett, Clarence O. Varner, Chester A. Robb and Ballard N. Watts, who after the war would become active in establishing the American Legion in Gainesville.  One of the earlier mentioned, Hubert H. Moss, would later become an educator at Gainesville Junior College and is the name sake of Moss Lake northwest of Gainesville.
            In camp, Anderson quickly advanced through the ranks and obviously blended in with the enlistees.  A letter containing news regarding the Gainesville Machine Gun Company, which was also training at Camp Travis, indicated that the former superintendent was going to have to speed up his dishwashing if he had any thoughts about overcoming the skills of another Gainesville man, Doc Morris. Anderson took on all tasks and by November 8, he had already become a Supply Sergeant.  The winter winds were visiting early that year, and one recruit wrote that Anderson's quick response to the dip in temperatures was to issue another blanket, a move that was literally warmly received by the new soldiers.
            In January, Lieutenant E.C. Adkins of Co A 359th Inf and Supply Sergeant Anderson visited in Gainesville and then in June, a letter written to a Gainesville friend by Anderson appeared in the local newspaper.  In the letter, written to Judge C.R. Pearman, Anderson confirmed that the 359th Infantry and the 90th division were "enroute to Berlin."  He wrote that the boys were in good spirits and were still being treated to the best of all thing needed.  The men, he explained were traveling in a train of solid Pullman cars, noting that with only three men assigned to each car there was plenty of room.  Two or three times a day, the train would stop and the men could be allowed to walk around and even drill a bit, he wrote.  Since the field kitchen was set up in the baggage car, there were good meals and plenty to eat.
            The exuberance on the crowds along the route were noted by Anderson, who wrote that he had to hand it to these people, saying that they have Texas backed off the map when it comes to being nice to the passing soldiers.  In Bowling Green, Kentucky, they were met at the station by pretty girls and veterans of the Civil War, who each waved flags and cheered the soldiers.  He added that the receptions made the soldiers feel like fighting and that he pitied any of the Kaiser's bunches who ran into them.  He  closed the letter apologizing for missing commencement, but added "you can realize now my reason for not doing so," and further added that the soldiers expected the war to be over shortly, and that he hoped to come back when it was all over and recite some war stories for the judge.  Anderson could not know that the future stories regarding his exploits would have to be related by witnesses to his death.
            In early November there were signs that the war might be ending soon.  The rumors spread quickly as tens of thousands of Germans all along the line began surrendering; preferring to sit out the end of the war rather than risk death in the trenches, but not every sector was falling back easily.  In enormous artillery duels the sky burned at night as huge stores of ordinance were fired with intent to use it, rather than lose it, mentality among the Germans.  Near Bantheville, northwest of Verdun in the Meuse Argonne sector, Company B of the 359th Infantry was fighting for its life. 
            During the night of October 30th, 31st and November 1st, the first battalion took over the line as the expeditionary forces took up a fierce bombardment of the enemy lines.  At first light the morning November 1, the first battalion went over the top in assault of dug in positions supported by machine gun emplacements and artillery.  A witness wrote that the enemy opened up with high explosive shells, machine gun bullets and gas shells, but through three barrages, the battalion continued to make its advance.  The major battle would continue over the next four days.    The lieutenant leading Anderson's platoon was killed in the assault on a series of machine gun nests leaving Anderson in charge of the platoon.  The American's continued their assault in the upcoming days of battle, cleaning out the machine gun nest as they took one hill, crossed a valley and advanced up the slope of a second hill.  As the remnants of the company battle their way up the hill, a strong enemy barrage was unleashed which sent the men diving for cover.  Sergeant Anderson and two other men of his platoon dove into a shallow shell crater and were there when a shell exploded on the lip of the crater killing all three men.  The captain and both lieutenants of his company were killed in the same battle which continued over the next few days.
            Chaplain Lieutenant Mathias M. Hoffman of the 359th Infantry wrote the family after the first of the year, advising, them he was a personal friend of Sergeant Anderson's having met him at Camp Travis when the chaplain had charge of a school for illiterates which numbered almost 200.   At San Antonio, Anderson had become the supervisor of the teachers serving the training camp and thus by chance, the two men had been cast together and had become friends.  In France, the chaplain said, he found his friend Ora Anderson again and had the opportunity to talk with him at length, upon occasions.
            It was the chaplain who found Sgt. Anderson lying dead with the others in the shell crater they had sought protection in.  Hoffman wrote that the body was not mangled, but rather only bruised where the small pieces of shrapnel had entered the side of Anderson's head and chest.  Chaplain Hoffman wrote that the men were carried to the crest of the hill the platoon had captured and were buried there with a large cross at the head of each fallen soldier.  Sgt. Anderson was buried alongside his Lieutenant on the spot one mile north of Bantheville, which he wrote is about 25 miles northwest of Verdun.
            The men in the 359th reported killed in the battle between July second and fifth, were; Lieutenants Eugene C. Bell, killed on the 5th and Raymond A. Schobert, who died on the 3rd; Sergeant Ora Anderson who was killed in the fighting Nov. 3, as was Sgt. Vasco Layfield of Denton County; Corporal John C. Williams, and Privates Henry Miller, Robert L. Lackey, Robert F. Hinkle, Holger A. Hansen, and another Cooke County casualty, Pvt. William A. Norman, were reported killed in action November  5.  Privates Floyd Rice and George F. Ridenour fell on November 3, the same day that Privates John Badgwell and Boyd Neely were reported missing in action.  Captain Dan C. Leeper of Denison was reported killed on Nov. 2, 1918.  Company B Bugler Oscar Spraggins, who grew up near the Hemming community in Cooke County was reported as killed in action Nov. 5 according to Major Wythe’s HISTORY OF THE 90TH DIVISION published in 1920 and the records compiled in the 1928 Adjutant General’s report.  According to the headstone in the Era Cemetery, Spraggins death occurred in combat  November 2, 1918.
            The date reported for as the date of the death of Sgt. Anderson in THE HISTORY OF THE 90TH DIVISION written in 1920 by Major George Wythe, the division historian, was drawn from the official unit reports according to a notation in the text.  In Springfield, at the national cemetery, Ora Anderson's headstone gives the date as November 3, 1918, as does the 1928 Adjutant General report on the death, and the research conducted in 1931 by Cora Allen Staniforth in her graduate paper for the University of Texas, A History of Cooke County Texas in the World War.  Was another Cooke County man in the crater that Anderson was killed in?  If the deaths both occurred on November 5, 1918, it would have been a possibility based on the numbers who died that day.  Regardless, two Cooke county men, perhaps together, perhaps yards away, none-the-less died in the same battle.  If Bugler Spraggins is added into the mix then three Cooke County servicemen fell in the same assault over a period of days.  

              In closing, Chaplain Hoffman wrote that Anderson had been offered a commission, but he had refused it, preferring to fight in the ranks.  His words to the grieving widow offered comfort, "Your sorrow is profound we know, but your just pride in him can be greater and more profound still.  He gave all he had for America not only his life's blood that he poured out so generously on the field of honor, but all his efforts, his whole hearted work was given for the same cause."
            A citation later received by command of Brigadier General O'Neil from the headquarters of the 90th Division in France, cited Sergeant Anderson's "great qualities of leadership and courage in inspiring his platoon to advance in the face of heavy machine gun fire."  This gallant sergeant, it told, "was later killed, but the memory of his courage was a source of inspiration to his platoon in the bitter fighting that followed the next day."
            Back in Texas, the death of the popular educator was met with shock.  Only days earlier the community had celebrated as did others across the nation when word was received that the fighting was over.  Those families with members in the service no doubt were joyous and felt their loved ones now were safe.  In reality, for weeks reports would eventually reach the home front that loved ones had been killed prior to the cessation of fighting. It was almost three weeks after the armistice was announced on November 11, 1918, that Mrs. O.R. Anderson of Gainesville was notified that her husband had been killed in combat only days before the fighting ended.  The following day, she received another letter, this one dated October 28, and it was from her husband, writing what was probably his last letter.
The Gainesville newspaper, in relating the news of the death, stated there was scarcely a home in the city that was not saddened by the word of the loss.  The news article lamented the loss of the popular young man, adding that he had been recommended for officer's training school while at Camp Travis, and even as of recent, had been offered a commission because of his brave service.  He had turned down all offers to remain with the real fighters in the tranches.
            In Dallas, a large photograph of Sergeant Anderson ran with a news story identifying him as a former Gainesville school superintendent, who had resigned his post, made no claim for exemption and volunteered ahead of his turn to enter training.  A follow up article identified him as having been married to the daughter of a Texas Christian University trustee.
            In early January of 1919, the local auxiliary of the Christian Woman's Board of Missions offered a four part resolution to the public upon the death, in part extending their sympathy to his widow and family and in part asking for heavenly intervention in comforting the survivors.  In part two of the resolution, the ladies outlined the loss to the church, to the city's schools and the citizenship of the entire community, and penned of the loss;


"No coward soul is mine,

No trembler in the world's storm troubled sphere,

I see Heaven's glories shine

and faith shines equal, Arming me from fear."

                

            The resolution drew to a close, describing Anderson as unselfish and fearless in his deep devotion to his country, a man who gave of himself so that the whole of the world would be better.
            The Dixon Street Christian church was filled to capacity Sunday morning January 20, as not even standing room was available for a memorial service presented to lift up those saddened by the loss of Sgt. O.R. Anderson.  The reporter penned, "Few men have received more eloquent eulogies than those paid to the memory of Prof. O. R. Anderson, and never were more sincere tributes of love and esteem laid upon the altar of friendship."  He further noted, "Those who had the privilege of speaking to his memory told of the many admirable and lovable traits of the heroic dead as a citizen, as a man, and as a friend."  Though arguably the standard bill of fare in the obituary of the noted, the author, observed this man, this former superintendent, was also a war hero lost on the battlefields, who took the risk when several exits were offered from the scene of battle.
            Judge C. R. Pearman, a good friend of the young man he called Andy, was the first of the orators to appear on the program, addressing the crowd on "O.R. Anderson's life as a schoolman." Following a musical presentation by Mrs. Grady Howeth, Mrs. Underwood and Mrs. Joe Coursey, Miss Pauline Davenport spoke on the topic, "O.R. Anderson as A Teacher." 
Jack Mahan spoke on "O.R. Anderson as a Friend and Leader in Athletics."  Mahan was a wise choice to cover this area since Anderson had coached the future All Southwest Conference fullback when he was a student at Gainesville High School.  Mahan would become a member of legendary Texas A&M coach D.X. Bible’s 1919 football team which was unscored on, untied and undefeated.  
The memorial service concluded after E.H. Holmes speaking on the topic of "O.R. Anderson as a Man."  Other musical interludes were handled by Mrs. Newsome Dougherty, Mrs. C.F. Rice, Mrs. Jack Underwood, Grady Howeth and Will Rue.  
            Where families bury their dead is predictable in most cases. If the departed is not a long time member of the community and there are no other members of the family buried nearby, there is a tendency for the loved one to be laid to rest in an area where other family members are interred.  If the person being interred is a child or without close relatives buried nearby, there is a tendency to return them to where other members of the family, perhaps grandparents are buried.  When Ora R. Anderson finally made it home in 1921 for burial, home had changed locations.  The Gainesville superintendent was after all not a local man and had resided in town only a few years before being called into the service.  The brief marriage had produced no children, and thus, at least in the minds of the Anderson family, there were no reasons to bury him in Gainesville.
            On September 25, 1921, the young Gainesville superintendent, who had been killed just days short of his 30th birthday was laid to rest in Springfield National Cemetery in Springfield, Missouri, the family having selected the location because of its proximity to Ora's hometown of Billings, Missouri, plus the family acknowledged it was a better facility than those in Billings and would be perpetually maintained by the federal government.
            In a service at the Springfield First Christian Church, Reverend Ernest C. Mobley, who had been Mr. Anderson's former pastor when he resided in Gainesville, spoke of the personality of the deceased and the inspiration he had been to young people.  The Reverend spoke passionately about how his own son, who was killed in an accident only a few months earlier, had been influenced by the young teacher.
            The issue of patriotism and valor fell to the pastor of the Springfield church who handled the graveside services.  It was a popular topic in a city that not only had itself been hit hard by the war, but also, as the home of a national cemetery, local churches, as in the case of Ora Anderson, were called upon to recall the patriotic bill that was paid by the dead service man.  The day Ora was laid to rest another service was being conducted, not thirty feet away, for another fallen soldier and the American Legion conducted the two legion services simultaneously and the same rifle salute was used to honor both men.
            Springfield it was noted was a city that appreciated its soldiers and hundreds of people were on hand as two more on the nation’s finest were buried.  W.H. Stark, the late soldier's father in law, was joined by Ballard Watts, who had entered the service in the first consignment of draftees with Anderson, and Will Hinton another Gainesville service man.  The trio returned together, the evening of September 26, from the funeral to Gainesville.
            Anderson's father, Ora William, who had been unable to attend his son's wedding in Gainesville, was at the funeral.  The retired blacksmith passed away in 1931 and is buried in the Rose Hill cemetery in Billings.  At his son's funeral, he was joined by his wife, Martha, and their other son, Rev. L.D. Anderson and a daughter from Billings.  Ora Anderson's young widow, Una, was not mentioned in a Gainesville article regarding the Missouri funeral of the professor.
            Today, in the well maintained grounds of Springfield National Cemetery, in Section 27 site 1466 A, Ora R. Anderson lay at rest beneath the epitaph;

 

Ora R. Anderson

Sgt. U.S. Army

World War I

11-03-1918

                       The Gainesville American Legion chose Ora Anderson to be one of its namesakes in 1920, when he, along with Samuel Dennis, was chosen for the Dennis-Anderson Post of the Gainesville chapter of the American Legion.  The name remained in use until the closing of the post in the late 20th cemetery.
When the name was placed on the Leonard Park Monument, transcribers inadvertently listed his name as Ora A. Anderson rather than Ora Ralph Anderson.  It is the first name listed on the monument to all Cooke County losses in the major wars of the 20th century. 

 

©Carson Communications


 

 


 VICTIM OF A MARRIAGE

 

            Marriage was to play an interesting side line to the stories of several of Cooke County’s men who gave of their lives during the Great War.  To some, such as Ora R. Anderson and Dr. John Riley Lewis, it was a matrimonial union upheld for only a few months before death claimed the young grooms.  For others, such as Albert Waddell, of Valley View, the war was to end a marriage that had stood for a longer period of time. In the case of McKinley Brisco, a native of Kansas, it was a marriage, other than his own, that would lead to his landing a job in Gainesville, Texas and ultimately his ending up as a Cooke County casualty.
            A native of Allen, Kansas, McKinley was the third oldest of the six children of Richard and Emma Brisco, born November 5, 1894. In 1905, now residing in Agnes City, Kansas, the state census listed him as ten years of age, with sisters May 15, Zoe 13 and Lillie at 7 years of age and brothers Hobert 8 and Sampson 3 years old.  Five years later, in 1910, the Kansas census indicated that by now only McKinley and Hobert resided in Agnes City with their 65 year old father. 
            At age 17, driven to make a name for himself, McKinley left his parents’ home and secured a position with the Fred Harvey people in Topeka as a truck boy.  Within a few years he had caught the eye of those training managers for the many Harvey House restaurants scattered over the United States and the impending marriage of a manager in Texas provided the upstart with a chance to prove himself.
            In Gainesville, Texas, the Harvey House, located inside the commodious Sante Fe Depot, was noted for quality food, and the "Harvey girls" the very proper young ladies, clad in starched uniforms, who served weary travelers and locals alike generous dishes such as steak and potatoes and even oysters when in season.
            Brisco's chance to move up the ladder came in May of 1917, when it was announced that the manager of the Gainesville Harvey House, Omar D. Dooms, would be taking a leave of absence to wed Miss Elizabeth Brennan of Springfield, Missouri, where Dooms had lived earlier.  The happy couple would marry in Springfield, Missouri, June the fourth and then honeymoon in St Louis and Kansas City prior to returning to Gainesville by around the 25th of June.
            The happy event brought forth an opportunity for young McKinley Brisco to ply his chosen trade as manager of the Harvey House in O.D. Dooms absence.  His arrival in Gainesville was just before the national draft registration date for all men between the ages of 21 and 30 and hence in military reports his fate is forever tied to the city and the county.  Thus on June 5th, 1917, the first day he was to be on the job at the Harvey House in Gainesville, Brisco was instead at the Cooke County courthouse signing up for the draft.
            Come the numbering of the draft registrants following the June registration, McKinley Brisco appeared as number 49 in the renumbered draft.  A July renumbering process substituted the original draft registration card numbers, which were dropped, with "normal" numbers from one to the highest, in Cooke County’s case, 2345.  The individual number and the name now associated with it appeared in print in Cooke County and likewise in other draft jurisdictions across the nation. 
            On the designated day an immense transparent jar in Washington, D.C., served as housing for the individual capsules which each held a single serial number running from one to the highest number necessary.  As each random number was drawn, it meant that everyone in the approximately 4,000 towns and precincts across the country with the assigned serial number just drawn was now subject to being drafted in the order drawn.
            Based on the number of men projected to be needed in arms, it was determined that Cooke County’s share of men to be accepted into the new national army would be 215 men including volunteers and members of the Gainesville Machine Gun Company.  Hence when Kansas boy, McKinley Brisco's assigned serial number, 49, appeared in the early going in Washington, everyone in the selective draft with the number 49 was called before their local boards.
            Following Mr. Dooms return the Gainesville following his marriage, Omar D. resumed his position at the Harvey House while Mr. Brisco was then ordered on to the Harvey House in Silsbee, Texas to take over there, but, the move was to be a short lived one.  Once registered in Gainesville, Mr. Brisco was now connected to Gainesville by his draft registration.
            On his June 5, 1917 draft registration card, Brisco was described as being tall with a medium frame, with grey eyes and black hair.  He cited his employment as being manager of the Harvey House in Gainesville, Texas.  Under dependents he listed a wife, but she is not mentioned on his death certificate or in the hometown obituary following his death and the official death certificate lists Brisco as single. 
            On August 21, 1917, he along with 49 other men was ordered to appear before the local exemption board to determine their status with the selective service.  On Sunday, September 16 came word that the next departure to Camp Travis in San Antonio, Texas, would include McKinley Brisco.  On September 19, 1917, Brisco was inducted into the army in Gainesville and headed via train to Camp Travis, San Antonio, Texas. 
            Life in the army seemed to agree with him and by November 8, 1917 he had already obtained the rank of corporal in Company B of the 359th Infantry.  His military career was headed to an unexpected conclusion, however, when he was hospitalized at the base hospital March 18, 1918 with pneumonia.  The disease spread into the right, middle, and lower lobes and at 11:35 am on March 27th, 1st Lieutenant J.W. Roger M.D., pronounced McKinley Brisco dead.  The camp bulletin noted the passing of the popular man due to pneumonia and noted his next of kin as his mother Emmie Dalyrimple of Kansas.
            On Thursday, April 4, 1918, The Northern Lyon County Journal in Allen, Kansas, reported that a crowd of friends and schoolmates, assisted in removing the body from train No. 45 to the M.P. Church where that afternoon, Rev. Lane, in a setting decorated with National colors, paid last respects and as the songs of a select choir echoed,  Allen, Kansas, paid its last farewell to its first casualty of the war.  His mother, Mrs. Emma Dalyrimple of Eskridge, Kansas along with two of his three sisters, Mrs. Lillie Bourlanger of Oklahoma and Mrs. May Haughn of Elgin, Kansas, were in attendance at the funeral.

            McKinley Brisco was laid to rest at age 23 years, 4 months and 11 days, in the Allen Cemetery beneath a gray granite stone bearing the legend;



 
CORP.

McKINLEY BRISCO

Co. B 359 INF

Born Nov.  5, 1894

Died Mar. 27, 1918

 
            McKinley Brisco is listed as a Cooke county casualty in the Staniforth paper and is on the Cooke County register compiled by the 1928 Texas Adjutant General Report.  His serial number in the A.G. report, issued May 26, 1928 is 2,224,506.  His death is listed as O.C.D.-Died of other Causes, Domestic Death.  It is probable that since no relatives resided in Gainesville at the time the names were gathered for the courthouse plaque list in 1920, that his name was overlooked.
            As of early 2010, the name of McKinley Brisco, still had not been added to any memorial in Cooke County.

 

​​A CAVALRY CONNECTION

             In Cooke County in 1917 it was impossible to overlook the influence of the war which had taken place a little more than 50 years before the Spartans of the Great War departed to battle the Huns.  The cavalier remembrances of grandfathers and fathers were easily retrieved in chance encounters and the scores of living veterans of the civil conflict residing in Gainesville was impressive.
            Perhaps no branch of the service ever conjured up glamour as did the cavalry.  Gallant men riding hard with weapons drawn, bravely dashing aside their vanquished enemies had been depicted in drawings since before the pharaohs.  The tales of the mounted elite were still fresh in the ears of the young Cooke Countians in 1917 and why not?  In a 1920 tally of surviving veterans of the Civil War former cavalrymen were everywhere.  Among those, now in their seventies and older but still active in organizations like the United Confederate Veterans in the county were representatives of the 1st and 4th Alabama cavalry, the 5th, 6th, 9th, 11th, 17th, 19th, 29th, 30th and 31st Texas cavalries, the 8th, 9th, 11th and 16th Tennessee battalion cavalry, the 6th Kentucky cavalry, Nathan Bedford Forrest's brigade cavalry and 3rd cavalry, the 5th South Carolina cavalry, the 3rd and 28th Mississippi cavalry, the 2nd Missouri cavalry, the 3rd and 37th North Carolina cavalry, Steven's Texas Cavalry, Ross' Texas cavalry, the 4th Georgia cavalry, and others.
            Cooke County’s romance with the cavalry had continued in the 19th century during the Spanish-American War with the creation of the Bailey Cavalry, named after Congressman Joseph Weldon Bailey a native of Gainesville.  Along with the Gainesville Light Infantry the contingent of Cooke County horsemen had made it as far as Florida before Teddy Roosevelt and his rough riders on the land and a twentieth century armada of metal warships on the ocean overwhelmed their technologically overmatched opponents.
            The reciprocating machine gun quickly neutralized the effectiveness of cavalry charges in the Great War in Europe though there were occasionally reported successes such as those of the Cossacks in the northern conflicts and those with the Australian Light Horse versus the Turks.  Despite the inability of horse flesh to deal with machine gun bullets there was still a need for horses as draft animals and the possession them by a unit was a luxury that often brought about a bit of larceny.
            When the Gainesville Machine Gun Company held it's reunion in August of 1927 the story of the "borrowing" of seven fine horses from a French camp came forward.  As the tale went the Gainesville Machine Company had lost two horses and the supply company associated with them five horses to heavy shelling in their sector resulting in the necessity for replacements.  These replacements came one night from a nearby French camp.  The appropriation was justified by the perpetrators who pointed out that this was the only time that "this was the only time the American army ever got the best of the French in any kind of trade."  One of the horses even later captured third prize in a horse show in Tonnere.
            Hanging on to the stolen heard was no easy task.  First the horses had to be hidden until the French regiment pulled out and then proper connections with persons in the headquarters came in handy when search parties from the General Headquarters of the American Expeditionary Forces were sent out to locate the missing horses for their French allies.  By the time that one of the horses in question had been located it had been branded with a "C" on its shoulder and an American number had been added to its hoof.  Additionally two of the other horses in question had been temporarily rotated out with horses from another unit but, the pair was rotated back as soon as the inspection was over.    
            It wasn't long after the announcements were made for the creation of the new Texas Guard Cavalry in the spring of 1918 than the officers corps was put into place.  In early May, Captain Jake B. Feltz and Lieutenants Charles Hemphill and Fred Wankan traveled to Dallas to pass their physical examinations and thus become the first officers to be accepted for service in the new Gainesville Cavalry detachment.  Others quickly rallied round the cavalry flag and by the end of the month a full complement of more than 100 men were ready to be mustered into the Gainesville Cavalry.  While the full roster strength of the Gainesville Machine Gun Company was never achieved locally requiring the unit of 76 Cooke County volunteers to be supplemented with volunteers from Johnson and Wichita Counties, the roster of 105 cavalry positions quickly filled up in the summer of 1918 and drilling was soon underway.
            Much as they had with the Gainesville Machine Gun company the local population rallied together to support the cavalry unit.  A group of businessmen met at the Chamber of Commerce July 4, 1918 to organize a "Feed a Soldier a Day" drive to provide for the new cavalrymen who did not have homes in Gainesville.  The ambition of the drive was to raise $2,000 for the mess fund to feed the men who had come to Gainesville from all over the county.  Gainesville had raised $2,500 for the mess fund of the machine gun company a year earlier on their but this time around the entire county was to be called upon since the majority of the volunteers had come from outside Gainesville.  With sleeping quarters having already been donated the mess fund now became the priority of the community.

            The executive committee for the drive was made up of;

                          Chairman - J.O. Patterson

 

                        Secretary-Treasurer  F. Morris, Jr.

 
                        Members

            L.J. Greer                      A. Teague        

            F.J. Shad                      Mm. Simpson

            W.B. Kinne                    William McKemie

            H.R. Shine                    S.M. King

            W.H. Dougherty

             Others volunteered their time to the canvassing of homes and businesses for donations.  Lou Greer would take California Street from the square to two blocks east.  William Simpson would pick it up there and continue east to the railroad tracks. Arthur Teague would cover the east, west and south sides of the square and the busy area along North Dixon would be handled by W. H. Dougherty and H.R. Shine.  The north side of the square would be covered by Otto Touchton who would also canvass west California Street.  Along North Commerce the businesses would be contacted by Frank Morris and W.B. Kinne would challenge the area from Broadway north on Commerce. J.O. Patterson would cover California and Broadway streets east of the railroad tracks.
            Major Gainesville businesses were assigned teams to approach tem.  Luther Turner and William McKemie were to contact the ice plant, the cotton compress, Whaley Mill, and the Lyon-Gray Lumber Company.  Rafe Piper and Frank Schad volunteered to approach the city hall, the electric power plant, the fire station and White Produce Co.  Joe Leonard and Clyde Matherly approached the roundhouse and the railroad yards, while Billie Standiforth volunteered for the brickyard.  H.H. Todd was recruited to approach the Oil Refinery.
            Elsewhere the county was divided into sectors with a quota assigned to each sector and a chairman for the campaign drive assigned in each sector;

 

            Burns City         Pete Powers                             25.

            Callisburg         W.R. Findley                             25.

            Dexter              Dr. Cunningham                        50.

            Downard           Ance Wheeler                            25.

            Dye School       D. Farr                                      15.                   

            Era                   D.W. Brumbaugh                       75.

            Hayes               Nat Piott                                   25.

            Hemming          J. Riley                                     25.

            Hood                O.S. Locke                                25.

            Leo                   J.B. Cogburn                             25.

            Lindsay             Joe Gieb                                   50.

            Muenster           Dr. Crawford                              100.

            Myra                 Dr. Maxwell                               75.

            Marysville         R.A. McElrath                            25.

            O'Brien School  John O'Brien                             25.

            Praire Point       P.F. Ford                                  25.

            Rosston            Rueal Weaver                            25.

            Sivels Bend       Dr. Greever                               25.

            Valley View       George Dayton                          125.

            Van Slyke         Wesley Roberson                      25.

            Whaley Chapel  J.W. Thurman                            25.

            Whaley No. 53  M.C. Clopton                            15.

            Woodbine         R.A.. Ware                                50.

      

            A myth may have prevailed then as it did fifty years later that if one joined up in a local guard unit rather than waiting to be drafted the likelihood of serving overseas would be diminished.  The cavalry units ordered by the state tried to make it perfectly clear in 1918 that this was not the case.  When the Gainesville Cavalry was mustered in June 1, 1918 Colonel George W. Winters told the men that if they were joining the cavalry under the assumption that they would be avoiding foreign service that they had best leave before they were sworn into the unit.  The colonel offered that the new cavalry units that would be trained in Texas would probably guard the border if necessary but when they were federalized they would be brought into the army of the nation and would serve where ever needed and that could mean service in the trenches of Europe.  None-the-less every man answered that they understood and the Gainesville Cavalry was sworn into action.
            The swearing in action occurred only a day after the notices ran in local papers that all men who had become 21 since June 5, 1917 were required to register with their local exemption board.  Under the revised standards of the draft non-residents of the county could register with the local boards but the registration needed to be done in time for the draft registration to reach the person's home station by June 5.
            Before the week was out the new recruits were out for their first real hike, a long march to Sacra's ferry on the Red River where the original plans had called for a community fish fry, but an overnight rise of ten feet in the river caused for a substitution of menu by the supportive citizens of Cooke County.  A caravan of cars transported a variety of baskets laden with an abundance of suitable treats to the horseless cavalry who were covered with not only perspiration but the adoration of the local citizenry.
            Most of the members of the local cavalry came from farm backgrounds and already had plenty of experience in working around horses so when the horses finally arrived the training was basic to the majority.  Grooming the horses, folding the blankets and what side of the horse to mount on were all part of the dealing with horses, but as it frequently was there was a way of doing it and there was an army way of doing it.  Recruits had to learn the proper way to sit in the saddle, the proper way to hold ones feet and army way of holding the reins and the text book style of riding and dismounting.
            When the brigade adjutant of the cavalry in the U.S. Army, Major A.H. Wilson and Major H.W. Peck of the Texas National Guard arrived in Gainesville to inspect the Gainesville Cavalry in mid-July of 1918 they found a unit fit for service.  Major Wilson commented to local reporter that he would like to command the Gainesville men in combat.  He said that regardless of their formal training, he found them physically fit and added that they compared favorably with the regular troops of the regular army.  Captain Feltz and Lieutenants Wankan and Feltz with other officers drew particular praise.  The drill inspection promised to be a prelude to mobilization to San Antonio where it was expected that the unit would then travel to the border to conduct patrol while it awaited transfer to Europe.
            There were some good times in the early months of the unit, one being when the cavalrymen chose their mascot in early July of 1918.  An announcement ushering in the new mascot explained that every efficient military organization be it the navy or the cavalry was in need on a mascot to feel complete.  While these mascots might run from a tiny bird to a lion or bear this pet of the unit became a critter worth fighting for.  In the case of the Gainesville Cavalry the mascot became a civet cat which readily ate from a bottle and was as gentle as a cat.  The civet, like the skunk, is in the same family tree as the cat, but shares with the skunk the ability to spray an odious mixture when provoked.  The reporter breaking the mascot story forecast “that some of these days the cat will turn and then there will be at least one hasty retreat of American troops."
            Another afternoon in mid-July three of the cavalrymen took to the sky with Lieutenant Gish from Barron Field near Fort Worth as he flew over the city.  Dave Anderson, J.T. Bills and Charles Gandillon joined the airman in flights at 1,000 feet above the city.  It had been scarcely a week earlier that the lieutenant had flown away from Ardmore, Oklahoma just minutes ahead of the crash of a second plane being flown by Gainesville native Lieutenant Edward Sullivan.  Both men aboard Sullivan's aircraft had been killed in the fiery crash.     
            As headlines of battlefield gains and personnel losses filtered back home the Gainesville Cavalry waited.  First they waited for uniforms and accommodations, then for food allowances, then for advanced training, then they waited for pay and most stressful they waited for word as to what awaited them.  As they waited the excitement that the locals had first registered in supporting the cavalry unit now was turning to disinterest and in some cases perhaps even disgust in some households where sons had been drafted into the service.  After all hundreds of Cooke County men had already been sent overseas courtesy of the draft and now due to a few minor brushes with the local lawmen the local cavalrymen were being regarded in less than the most favorable of light.
            A confrontation at the local train passenger station in October of 1918 prompted an open letter from some members of the Gainesville Cavalry Troop declaring their allegiance to their country and fellowman and directly calling the actions of the local city police officers into question.  The letter printed in The Gainesville Register charged that when members of the unit had been called dogs and thieves by a pro-German stranger.  Members of the Gainesville Cavalry said they had reported it to the locals only to be told to stay away from the station or face imprisonment.  The letter emphasized that it was not the fault of every cavalryman that a few had been involved in alleged acts of questionable judgment the letter extolled "If those that committed a crime are guilty, let the law take its course.  But please do not condemn the rest of us who are loyal and true blue and who will fight for you."
            The letter may have won over local sentiment in some circles but to others parts of the statement may have seemed unthankful.  "We have been here for four months with pay and with very little to eat.  We thank the good people for helping to feed us while here --that is for the money they gave.  It went for our meals.  But it was very poor meals."  The prepared statement later struck a conciliatory note saying "we do trust and hope that the people will look upon us as loyal soldiers to our country and flag and not as the dogs and thieves like we have been called here on your streets."
            The day after the first letter was printed a statement came response from several officers of the Gainesville Cavalry declaring that the letter of complaint had been sent without the authority of any officers and that the meals prepared for the unit had been all in all good.  As evidence they pointed out that Mess Sgt. Dave Anderson had been in the hotel business for many years and that he stated that the meals were as good as could be expected during a wartime period and were within the guidelines set out by the government.  The letter was signed by Captain Feltz, 1st sergeant William Harrison Rison and Mess Sergeant Dave Anderson.
            Sgt. Anderson would make headlines again with the cavalry when he was turned down by the army after reaching Camp Stanley near San Antonio.  A broken arm that the sergeant had sustained a few years earlier had never properly healed leading to his failure of his physical for entry into the regular army. Although himself dejected, the sergeant was praised for his spirit of patriotism and was commended for offering himself up in service to his country.  Upon his return to Gainesville he reported that several of the troops had been battling influenza but that none of them had been dangerously ill.
             It was late September by the time the officers and non-commissioned officers of the Gainesville Cavalry had made it to Camp Stanley which was at Leon Springs about twenty five miles from San Antonio.  As Captain Feltz and Lieutenants Wankan and Hemphill left for camp First Sergeant Ben R. Witt and Sgt. Clyde Bell were left to take charge of the troop in their absence.  The plan was that special training would take place at Camp Stanley to prepare the officers and non-commissioned officers for their duties and that the rest of the Gainesville Cavalry would be called into service within a matter of days to take their place somewhere on the Mexican border. 
            That was the plan, but when Sergeants Ayers, Brewer, Perdue and Sarles arrived in Gainesville in the company of the officers, Captain J.B. Feltz and Lieutenants Hemphill and Shelbey on December 9, 1918 the war was over and it was announced that the local unit would not be nationalized into the federal army as originally planned but would rather be maintained as a home guard unit under the supervision of the federal government with the men receiving one-fourth pay.  It was expected that the group would be furnished full equipment and a corral of thirty two horses to maintain.
            For those who might have sought glamour or excitement the Gainesville Cavalry had provided little, if there were those who had thought it might provide a path to avoid overseas commitment they were proven out due to the fortunes of war and timing.  At any rate the unit would have the distinction of being the last war time assemblage to carry the title of the Gainesville Cavalry. Like Gainesville's Bailey Cavalry of the Spanish American War in 1898, the volunteers of 1918 would never see combat.
            A roster of the group published in THE GAINESVILLE REGISTER June 3, 1918 revealed the following make up of Gainesville's Cavalry including one man whose name appears among the war dead from Cooke County, Sherman Frank Brockman.  The released roster included;

 
                        Captain                                                             Privates

                        Jake B. Feltz                                                     Grady Atkins                

                                                                                                George Andrew

                        1st Lieutenant                                                    Alvy J. Ballard

                        Fred E. Wankan                                                 William Bean

                                                                                                John T. Bills Jr.

                        2nd Lieutenant                                                   Edwin Boeskin

                        Charles F. Hemphill                                           Elzy Brown

                                                                                                James R. Brown            

                        Supply Sergeant                                                William Calloway

                        E.D. Ayers                                                        John D. Carlton

                                                                                                George M. Cain

                        Mess Sergeant                                                  Ira Claybrook

                        Dave Anderson                                                 John D. Claybrook

                                                                                                Robert C. Welch

                                                                                                Bert A. Clevenger

                        Stable Sergeant                                                 G.B. Clifton

                        John R. Johnson                                               George Dawson

                                                                                                Leland B. Davis

                        Duty Sergeants                                                 Bowen Daughetee

                        Charley J. Gandillon                                          Roy M. Elliott

                        Will Russell                                                       Archie Ford

                        Ogden Dayton                                                  Adie E. Gage

                        Clifford W. Moorehead                                       Barney M. Gibbs

                        James Gamble                                                  Milton Gibson

                                                                                                Homer Gibson

                                                                                                Earl R. Yates

                        Corporals                                                          Dean Gilliland

                        Dave Lowe                                                        James C. Griffin

                        Arthur A. Beck                                                   Jess Griffith

                        Park Brewer                                                      Roy Harvey

                        McKinley Perdue                                               Dewey Hester

                        Lesley Coomer                                                  Joe L. Hoskins

                        Raymond C. Murrell                                           Tom Jetton

                        Luther B. Barkham                                             Lee Elwin

                        Ben R. Witt                                                       William C. Lemons

                                                                                                Robert D. Logan

                                                                                                Edgar Phillips

                        Cooks                                                              Earnest Loyd

                        Ike Keller                                                          Mitchell Calvin

                        Joe W. Gibson                                                  Will Moore

                                                                                                L.E. Robison

                                                                                                Roy Morse

                        Horseshoer                                                       Roy McCandless

                        Joe C. Musgraves                                             John McDearman

                        George Griffiths                                                Lawrence R. Nislar

                                                                                                Amen Reiter

                                                                                                Ben Parton

                        Saddler                                                             Willie Penny

                        Carl J. Schmitz                                                  Edgar Phillips

                                                                                                Earl Rodgers    

                                                                                                Rex Snelling

                        Buglers                                                             Ben Stoffle

                        Sherman F. Brockman                                     Bart Terry

                                                                                                Joe M. Thompson

                        First class privates                                            Charles H. Thipps

                        Charley Bearden                                               George J. Ward

                        Clyde L. Bell                                                     Doffard M. Webb

                        Joe B. Briscoe                                                  Robert C. Welch                                   

                        Charley Corcoran                                              William B. Williams

                        Charley Davis                                                   Earl R. Yates

                        Raymond Hall                                                   Ardie Scoggin

                        Hugh Hogan                                                     Fred Ernest

                        Lidney Ivy

                        Ira McAteer

                        Alfred G. McDonald

                        Warren L. Nall

                        Edgar Naughton

                        Leon O'Neal

                        William W. Pike

                        Longden J. Savage

                        David H. Sarles

                        David H. Sarels

                        James Woodruff

                        Colin Wilder

                        William B. Wiley

 

 

 

            How long Sherman F. Brockman remained in the Gainesville Cavalry is unclear.  His draft registration card indicates that he registered for the draft June 5, 1917 in Love County, Oklahoma.  His draft number was not among those called up for consideration in the first draft conducted in 1917 and his association with the cavalry unit does not appear to be associated with the June 1918 draft call either.  Information on the card indicates that he was born April 12, 1893 in Greenville, Texas and at the time of the first draft registration he was residing in Thackerville, Oklahoma where he was self-employed in farming.

            Described as of medium height and medium build, Brockman was a brown eyed, black haired single man with no military experience when he signed his registration card that June day in Oklahoma.  He was the son of J.T. and Katie Brockman of Gainesville and was the only boy among the Brockman's six children.  J.T. had been born in Georgia but spent the majority of his life in Texas including the last twenty-five of it in Gainesville while in the employment of the North Texas Cotton Compress.  The father would outlive his only son by six years dying following a brief illness on April 1st, 1924.  

            It is unclear as how young Brockman came to the army from the cavalry but as of June 23, 1918 he was no longer a bugler with the Gainesville Cavalry detachment.  It was on that date that he traveled to Marietta, Oklahoma and was inducted into Outpost Company 109 F Signal Battalion where he would remain until his death scarcely ninety days later.

            In late September of 1918 Brockman was preparing to cross over with his unit from Camp Dix in Hoboken, New Jersey when he was stricken with what appeared to be pneumonia.  A cable to the family indicated that as of Sept. 29th the young serviceman was in critical condition at the army hospital at the base.  Three days later the war department delivered the sad news that Sherman had succumbed to disease and that his remains would be arriving in Gainesville the following week over the railways.  In the city the remains were taken to the home of his parents at 515 North Dixon Street in Gainesville prior to the burial in a family plot in Gainesville's Fairview Cemetery where the large family stone bearing the family surname stands sentinel over the graves of family members marked with low profile gray markers. 

            Sherman's marker in section 17 of Fairview cemetery facing the last north to south lane lies near the east fence.  Buried near his mother and father, Brockman's plot is almost adjacent that of another Cooke county casualty, Lee Cobble who rests with his family nearby in section 17.  The low profile bears the legacy;

 

 

                                                                        S.F. BROCKMAN

 

                                                                        APRIL 12 1892

 

                                                                        OCT    02  1918

 

                                                               OUTPOST CO 109  F.S.B.N.

 

                                                                   CAMP DIX,  N. JERSEY


 
            Sherman F. Brockman was survived by his sisters Mrs. Annie Yelverton (sic) of Wichita Falls; Mrs. Emma Enoch (sic) of White Deer, Texas; Miss Myrtle Brockman of Clovis, New Mexico; Mrs. Margaret Radabaugh of Bochita, Oklahoma; and Mrs. Elsie Turney of Oklahoma.
            The October 2, 1918 death was is listed as O.C.D - Died of other Causes, Domestic Death, by the 1928 Adjutant General report in the holdings of the Texas State Archives in Austin.  The private's serial number is listed as 3,654,072.

 

 

 Cooke County History

                                                    

C.Thomas Carson

©Carson Communications
Used with permission


​       Each day for more than ninety years the sun has crept over the tar mopped roofs on the east side of the courthouse in Cooke County and cast its early morning rays on the bronze plaque mounted outside the first floor entryway.  As the limestone edifices have aged with time, a dull patina has tarnished the once bright finish of the memorial to thirty-six young warriors who lay down their lives while in service to their country in World War I.   Once, in countless ceremonies, the names of the men were called, but as those who knew them aged and joined them in eternity, the celebrations slackened and then ceased. In advance of the centennial of the First World War we are reminded of those boys on the wall, the effort to memorialize them and of five men forgotten.
            On and off for almost a hundred years the resonate metallic voice of the bell inside the cupola atop the Cooke County Courthouse has cautioned the locals of the inevitable passage of time.  The clocks, just as the bronze memorial plaque, were not original fixtures to the building housing some of the most important legal documents in the county.  The clocks and the plaque were the result of the wishes of a local group of matrons who felt it appropriate that the lost centurions of the young twentieth century, mostly single draftees, should be remembered for having given up so much to support a fight so far away. The clocks and the plaque are tributes to the fallen and to those who orchestrated the project.
            From time to time over the decades the soft yellow light of the clock faces have illuminated the flight of nocturnal birds and have warmed the passing three and one-half foot hands of the four-sided clock as they rotate dizzyingly onward marking the passage of time and dictating the activities of the participants in the theatre taking place below.  Virtually every resident of the county has passed into the courthouse at some time or another in their lives and almost all have gazed upwards when the clock’s hammer has tolled the passing of another hour downtown. 
            Weddings and corpse viewings, shootings and celebrations have taken place on the historic square in Gainesville and the march of tax payers to register cars, complain about taxes, attend court cases, file for marriage licenses and later divorce decrees has continued none stop in the recently restored courthouse since it opened for business replacing an earlier hall of records destroyed by fire in 1910.  Since 1921 the mundane civic parade has included those reflecting on the names on the wall and the boys who didn’t make it home alive from a war long ago.

            In early July of 1919, shortly after the signing of the treaty which officially ended World War I librarian Lillian Gunter entered an appeal in the Gainesville Register for every soldier and sailor, volunteer and draftee alike, to provide information about them for a book to be published by the Texas War Records Bureau of the University of Texas.  The purpose of the effort, she explained, would be to insure the perpetuation of valuable information in records which "though they may not be seen as important right now, the time will come when they will be of great historical and perhaps of personal value." 
            The local information concerning war losses was to be gathered by each county and was then to be forwarded on to the Texas War Records Bureau for further distribution. The importance of recalling the county's role in the war was not lost to the XLI club, an important women's club of the day made up of 41 prominent women, and the Chamber of Commerce, which each agreed to take part in the project.  Miss Gunter was selected to serve as the Chairman of the Cooke County Historical Committee, which would coordinate the activities of the civic project.
            The first official activity sponsored by the newly formed group was to man a booth at the city park during the Fourth of July picnic hours to gather information from every soldier, sailor, merchant marine, member of the motor transports corps and student corps from Cooke County.  It was noted that anyone who considered themselves a "Cooke County boy, though enlisted from elsewhere," should spend a few minutes to get their information into the war record of Cooke County.
            The generous guidelines were further extended by the assertion that a friend or family member could take the questionnaire and see that it was filled out and returned.  The guidelines proposed allowed for former county residents who at one time lived in Cooke County to be counted in the local records as
 Cooke Countians.  Hence the names of Emory Hobbs and Roger  Bird of Oklahoma; Jasper Gardner of Arizona; John S. Rosenberger of Pennsylvania and McKinley Brisco of Kansas all appear on the courthouse memorial as well as memorial lists in their home states.
A few residents of other counties also appear on the Cooke County memorial.  Richard Bland Cunningham is recognized on the courthouse plaque but also appears on the list of casualties from Denton County.  Edward Sullivan who appears as a casualty of Bexar County is listed on the plaque and is buried in Gainesville’s Fairview Cemetery, as is James Manahan who is also listed as a Wichita County loss.  William H. Keele of Grayson County is also among those listed on the wall in Gainesville, he is buried in the Mt. Zion Cemetery in eastern Cooke County.
            By the beginning of 1920 the drive for information to turn over to the state had turned into a drive to create a suitable memorial to honor those lost in the conflict.  In a report to the public the XLI Club announced it had, after much discussion, decided on a clock to be placed in the tower of the county courthouse which would be of service to anyone who saw it.  They noted that the courthouse would be the idea location since every citizen of the county visited the courthouse a number of times a year.  The citizens of the county owned the courthouse and by the reasoning of the XLI Club every woman in the county should join in the effort to place the time piece in the courthouse dome.
            The first step of the fund raising drive was to announce a plan to draw the schools and students into the effort.  At a meeting attended by Chairman Mrs. Newsome Dougherty and committee members Mrs. J. H. Midkiff, Mrs. E.N.Blackburn, and Miss Lillian Gunter, it was announced that a patriotic fund drive involving every child in the county was preferred to only involving a few wealthy individuals.  The ladies of the club considered the participation of the students to be a lesson in civics in which the participants would foster an interest in the defenders of the country as well as a lesson in the history of their country and their county's participation in the war.
            Representatives from nearly every town in the county, from a number of school districts and from the majority of women's organizations in the county all endorsed a plan calling for each school child in Cooke County to donate five cents towards the memorial clock.  Adults it was announced, would be ask after the children's fund drive, to do their part to see that the boys of the great war were remembered.  With each tolling of the hour the clock would remind the population of those called to the colors who made the great sacrifice for their country.
            With the memorial clock fund raising now planned out, it was additionally noted that a bronze tablet would be placed in the wall of the building dedicating the clock to the sailors and soldiers of Cooke County.  Behind the tablet, in the wall of the courthouse it was intended to place a lead receptacle holding a scroll bearing the name of every soldier and sailor from Cooke County who was called to the colors. An earlier proposal had called for a record of every contributor to the project be recorded and placed inside a receptacle behind the plaque.  It is unknown if either proposal was acted upon.   
          Within a few days of the kickoff of the project, one third of the three thousand dollar cost for the clock was reached, mostly gathered in small amounts of ten and twenty-five dollars.  It was hopefully announced on February 6, 1920 that it was expected that the clock could be purchased and delivered by the Fourth of July.
            By the end of the month more than $2,000 had been raised with additional amounts tallied at the area schools;  High School, $10.65; McMurray School, $46.30; South School, $24.29; East School, $25.51; North School, $25.00; Colored school $8.67 and the Catholic school, $7.00.  An additional $119.31 had been raised in the 24 rural schools and plans were being outlined for a door to door campaign to reach the final amount needed.
            To prompt additional funds, a few weeks later a list of schools that had not turned in any contributions was published in the daily newspaper perhaps in hopes of stimulating additional contributions.  The schools called out were Delaware Bend, Liberty Hill, Walnut Bend, Mineral, Callisburg, Fairview, Praire Grove, Elliot, Marysville, Brushy Mound, Mount Hope, Hayes, Valley Creek, Hemming, Hickory, Salem, Oak Dale, Walling, Valley Creek, West View, Oak Hill, Red River, Bloomfield, Leo, Elm Grove, Rosston, Linn,Tyler Bluff, and Center.
            On March 16, 1920 the Memorial Committee announced the first of several subsequent lists attempting to gather the names of the Cooke County men who died while in the service or were killed in the war. The first list of the committee included; O.R. Anderson, Travis Anderson, Frank Brockman, Lee Cobble, James H. Curk (sic), Hugh Downard, Sam R. Dennis, Ernest W. Ellerton, Andy Gentry, Bert Hall, Frank B. Keel, Dr. John R. Lewis, Doc Morris, James A. Manahan, Albert S. Morris, Warren P. Murchison, Otis Strickland, Edward Sullivan, Sam W. Tune, Thomas F. Witt, and John Stevenson.
The early list missed several servicemen whose names would appear on later listings and several other names were eventually removed as mistakes, such was the case with Dorris "Doc" Morris, who was a case of mistaken identity with Albert S. Morris.  Dorris "Doc" Morris was one of the original cooks for the Gainesville Machine Company and is referred to by the name "Doc" in numerous pieces of correspond-ence from members of the unit.  James Curk would be later correctly identified as James Curb.  Frank B. Keel, the nephew of Mayor J.Z. Keel would correctly appear on the list, but would later, inexplicably be omitted from the county bronze tablet, though a space, as though awaiting a future name appears on the tablet where Keel's name would have been etched.
            In mid-April it was announced that a contract from the Cooke County Commissioners Court had been let for four clock faces to be installed in the courthouse tower cupola for the price of $2,800.  The clocks were to be illuminated by electric lights and with a striking power of one thousand pounds its voice was expected to be heard for a great distance.  As the long hands of clock swept across the clock faces they were expected to point out the time to all those looking on from a considerable distance from the courthouse square.  The contract was awarded to the E. Howard Clock Company.  A second contract was to be awarded later for the bronze tablet which was to bear the names of those lost in the conflict.
            The committee suffered a setback at the end of May when it was reluctantly proclaimed that in order to have the specifications of the clock absolutely precise, the installation of the memorial by July 4th, which the committee had thought to be the perfect time for unveiling, would be necessarily put off until a later date.
            The memorial committee announced the day prior to the July Fourth activities that the clock company had stated that they expected the clock to be ready for delivery to Cooke County by late  August.  At the same time, the committee announced that a final push was being launched to identify any Cooke County soldier or sailor who lost his life while in service to his country.
            After numerous delays, the clock mechanism and faces to be placed in the courthouse tower finally reached Gainesville, Texas, on Monday December 6, 1920.  Within a matter of weeks, an erector from the clock factory had overseen the installation of the clock and locals gazed in awe at the illuminated face of the massive clock as it chimed in the new year of 1921.
            An article heralding the final installation of the clock appeared in The Gainesville Daily Register January 4, 1921 proclaiming, ‘The clock can be seen at night from practically all over the city, and the time is easily ascertained at a distance of several blocks from the court house.  The dials look like a full brown mellow moon, like unto that which shone so often over the battle fields of Europe and gave illumination to the heroic lads who crawled across No Man's Land in an effort to silence that greatest enemy of mankind - the bloodthirsty Hun.’
            The story went on to explain that contributions had come in for the memorial from practically every school district in the county in amounts of $25.00 down to one penny and that the names of every contributor had been recorded and would be placed at the courthouse with the memorial tablet naming the fallen of Cooke County.  Again, it is unknown if a list of contributors was ever placed at the courthouse in any type of device associated with the tablet.
            The clock memorial became a reality thanks to the efforts of the XLI Club assisted by the Daughters of the American Revolution, the schools, missionary societies of churches, area fraternities, city and county residents and the local newspapers.  The four faced clock itself and a bronze tablet bearing the names of those who had fallen were paid for completely with the donations of the citizens of Cooke County.
             The courthouse plaque bears the names of Ora R. Anderson, Travis Williams Anderson, Edgar Albert Baker, Larkin Barnard, Roger D. (sic) Bird , Joseph H. Block, Sherman Frank Brockman, Martin Luther Brown, William Charles Cobb, Lee Cobble, Richard Bland Cunningham, James Madison Curb, Sam Dennis, Lewis Golden Dixon (sic), Hugh Downard, William (sic) Haskell Edwards, Ernest W. Ellerton, Jasper Gardner, Audie Franklin Gentry, Jacob Wayne Gentry, Emory Hobbs, Thomas Urban Hughes, Leon Jirasek, William H. Keele, John R. Lewis, Joe Lockhart, James A. Manahan, Albert Sidney Morris, Warren P. Murchison, William Archie Norman, John S. Rosenberger, Otis Strickland, Edward Sullivan, Sam Tune, Thomas Fountain Witt and John Steveson (sic). 
            The names of several men on the plaque are incorrect as presented on the wall.  With no local relatives to present their corrections, the names have stood flawed for almost a century.  The corrected names would appear as; Roger Harrison Bird, Louis Golden Dickson, Wilburn Haskell Edwards, and perhaps John Stevenson.  John’s name appears in different sources as Steveson, Steverson or Stephenson and on military forms as Stevenson.
            In addition to the names of the men on the wall there were five Cooke County men who lost their lives during the Great War who were overlooked when the plaque was cast in 1920.  After nearly a century their names have never been recognized as Cooke County losses. 
McKinley Brisco was the manager of the Harvey House in Gainesville.  Although a native of Kansas, Brisco registered for the draft in Gainesville, was drafted from Gainesville in 1917 and boarded a Sante Fe troop train in Gainesville and traveled to San Antonio with other Gainesville draftees.  He was serving as a Corporal with a predominately Cooke County unit, Company B of the 359th Infantry, when he died of pneumonia at Camp Travis.  Brisco is buried in Kansas, his home state.
            George Washington Caldwell registered for the draft in Gainesville and was drafted from Valley View in 1917.  He died of respiratory infection, possibly influenza, January 12, 1918 while training at Camp Travis becoming the first drafted man from Cooke County to lose his life while in the service to his country. He is buried in the Pendergrass Cemetery near Sidney, Texas in Comanche County.  His father Charlie Caldwell is buried beside him.
            Albert Waddell like George Caldwell was working as a farm laborer near Valley View when he registered for the draft in Gainesville in 1917.  He was among the first Cooke County draft registrants called up in 1917, but since he was black he was passed over until the spring of 1918.  During the First World War, segregation was rampant and Camp Travis was not prepared to house black draftees in 1917. In the spring of 1918 Waddell was again called up and this time he left for training camp from Gainesville and arrived in France where he served until he died of respiratory complications in early1919.  He is believed to be buried in Louisiana.  Waddell was one of the two black men from Cooke County to perish during the conflict.
            Frank B. Keel, the nephew of Gainesville Mayor J.Z. Keel, was killed in combat in France in 1918.  Originally listed as missing in action, the corporal was eventually declared as a combat casualty after a lengthy search that carried on after the armistice.  He is buried in the St. Mihiel Cemetery in France in the American maintained facility.
            Oscar J. Spraggins who resided in Cooke County near the Hemming Community was a bugler with Co. B of the 359th Infantry and was killed in action in the closing days of the war.  He is buried in the Era Cemetery near his mother, father and several siblings.  He is listed as a Denton County casualty since he was drafted while residing in Pilot Point.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1920 is considering adding the names of the five men to their monument to the war dead located at Leonard Park in Gainesville.  The Gainesville VFW post is named the Hughes-Tune Post in honor of two of the World War I casualties listed on the courthouse bronze plaque.  Thomas Urban Hughes who was killed in France remains buried there and Sam Tune, a member of the Gainesville Machine Gun Company who died of wounds received in combat is buried in the Valley View Cemetery.
             If the name of a fallen soldier from another county is placed in error on our monument it matters not.  A fallen soldier of our nation has been remembered.  If we forget to honor one of our lost sons on our own community monument, then we have an obligation to the fallen and his or her family, to see that the error is corrected.  These lost heroes need to eternally rest in assurance that their family, their neighbors and their communities have not forgotten their youth and futures sacrificed for freedom.

 

 

THE FIRST TO FALL IN COMBAT

             There is an incorrect assumption that having spent the majority of our lives in a particular area we are familiar with it.  In northwest Cooke County, in the areas of Bulcher and Illinois Bend there are roads that the majority of county natives have never been on and places that even people who live inside the county a life time have never visited. One such place is Bulcher, Texas, an out of the way point, known to some as a place to ride dirt bikes along the Red River separating Texas and Oklahoma, to others, it is simply unknown.
            In 1918, Bulcher was the home of Samuel Richard Dennis, who would become Cooke County’s first soldier to fall in the Great War.  The locale was honored with the interment of Dennis after the war, and the naming of the Gainesville American Legion Post, in part for their native son. When the Dennis-Anderson Post of the American Legion was closed at the end of the twentieth century, the light of Samuel Richard Dennis, who is buried in the Bulcher Cemetery, began to diminish from memory.
            Born in Bulcher, Texas in May of 1891, the son of A.D. Dennis, Sam Dennis was brought into the family business of farming as soon as possible and in June of 1917; the 26 year old farmer was still working with his family, 4 miles northwest of Bulcher.  A man of medium height and medium build, Sam was possessed of blue eyes and light colored hair.  He told the registrar on the June 5, mandatory draft registration date, that he was in good health with the exception of being hard of hearing in one ear.
            Though he lived in Cooke County, the mail to northwestern part of the county where he resided had a star route, listed as Saint Jo, Texas. The city of Saint Jo itself was in nearby Montague County.  This listing of the mail address sometimes created confusion as to what county persons near Bulcher, Pilot Point and other spots across the county lived in.
            When Roy Tidwell of the Illinois Bend, died during the war, his death was at first listed as a Cooke county loss, but was later changed to Montague County.  The name today, is one of those listed on the War Memorial at the Nocona American Legion.  Oscar Sprigging family resided east of Gainesville on a Pilot Point address at the time Oscar was killed in France.  Today, though buried in the Era Cemetery with his family, Oscar Spraggins is listed as a Denton County casualty.  The case was strengthened when his photo appeared as part of a special end of the war edition that ran in The Denton Record Chronicle, November 11, 1918.  The same edition also ran a photograph of R. B. Cunningham, which landed him as a Denton County casualty, though having been raised in Cooke County.  Both Spraggins and Cunningham are listed as Denton county casualties.
            Samuel Richard Dennis was undeniably a Cooke countian, registered and drafted from there. His name appears in the Cooke county census in Cooke County in 1900 and again in 1910 and he rests in the Bulcher cemetery near other members of his family.  By some miscue, he is misidentified in the Standiforth graduate work in 1931, as James M.  Dennis, but all other information regarding Dennis in the entry is correct.
            With the assigned draft serial number of 1716, Samuel Richard Dennis, of St Jo was in the first group of 200 to be ordered to appear before the local exemption board in Gainesville for consideration for the new draft.  Appearing before the board with a grouping of 17 other men at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, August 8, 1917, Samuel became one of two men of the group selected as eligible for the national draft.  Later that day, in the 3 p.m. examination period they would be joined by 926 George W. Colwell (sic) of Valley View, and an hour later, 1205 Wayne Gentry of Muenster would be added to the list.
            On September 18, 1917, the local exemption board received a certified list from Tyler, Texas announcing the names of those certified by the eastern district of Texas to appear at Camp Travis to undergo training for the new national army.  Among the 82 names of men headed for Camp Travis, San Antonio, were those of Samuel Richard Dennis of Saint Jo, Travis Williams Anderson and Frank B. Keel of Gainesville, Wayne Gentry of Muenster, George Washington Caldwell of Valley View, and James Madison Curb of Myra, each of the six would lose their lives while in the service.
            After eight days in Camp, Dennis as assigned to Co B of the 359th Infantry where on December 1, 1917 he would he promoted to Pvt 1st Class.  On March 12, 1918 Dennis was transferred into Co L of the 59th Infantry as a replacement and was soon promoted to corporal on April 2, 1918.
            Going with his assigned unit on May 5, Dennis was soon involved in the battle of the Marne and it was there that he received the wound July 28, 1918, that would make him the first soldier from Cooke County to die of a combat wound.  In early reports from the French front, Dennis’ injury was first noted as a serious wound.  The casualty report also told of the wounding of Louis Penton of Gainesville and the loss of an arm by Earl Cochran who was from near Marysville.  The report arrived August 6th.  The family would later discover that by the time the report of the wounding arrived, their son Samuel R. Dennis was already dead.
            It would not be until October 2, 1918, when the war department casualty report would be published that those back home would know of the death of Sam, who was listed under the category of; Died from Wounds. The report, issued by the Commanding General of the American Expeditionary Force, listed 94 men as killed in action; 34 missing in action; 316 wounded severely; 38 as died from wounds; one death due an airplane crash; 7 as having died from other accidents; 12 having died from disease; one wounded, degree unknown; and 4 as prisoners for a total of 534. A second report with another 534 names was attached to the first along with a listing of more than a hundred marine casualties.
          It would be until the end of the war before anyone heard of the details of Sam's death, when a visiting veteran from Saint Jo, identified as D. Franklin, a member of the Thirty-second Division, related the story to a reporter for the local newspaper.  In a story which ran Saturday, April 5, 1919, in The Gainesville Daily Register, Franklin said that during the fighting, his division, made up of men mostly from Wisconsin and Minnesota, were flanked by the 90th Division and were near the scene of the fighting involving Sam Dennis.  The 32nd had trained at Waco, Texas, and some of the men knew soldiers from the 90th who were all Texas and Oklahoma men. 
            As the battle raged, Dennis was in charge of a squad of men when an order came to fall back.  Being in an isolated position, Dennis was among those who refused to give ground when the fighting became hand to hand.  According to Franklin’s account, the only man from the squad to escape the German onslaught killed the German who bayonetted Sam Dennis. The wounded corporal was recovered but died soon afterwards of his wounds.  Franklin, himself, wore a wound stripe and suffered a crippled hand in the battle at the Marne.
            It would take a long while for the first combat death of Cooke County to make it home.  It was on Thursday afternoon, June 2, 1921 that the remains of Samuel Richard Dennis were spoken over at the Bulcher Cemetery.  Owing to the uncertainty as to the date of the arrival of the body in Saint Jo, the Dennis-Anderson Post of the American Legion, which bore his name, was unable to make positive arrangements to attend the funeral.  A detachment of legionnaires from Gainesville, including Ballard Watts, Jack Shelton, Henry Lynch, John Cox, Joe Pettit, and  Overton Clack attended the service with members and friends of the Dennis family.  Those in attendance were ask to remember the man who spilled the first blood from Cooke County on foreign soil.  The man who would become the first to die in combat from the county, July 28, 1918.
            Sam Dennis, military serial number 2,224,520 is buried in the Bulcher Cemetery in northwest Cooke County.  His headstone reads;

                                             

            February of 1920 in the district court room of the court house in Gainesville, forty ex-service men met to organize a post of the American Legion for Cooke County.  The former servicemen in attendance at the meeting or who had expressed an intent to become charter members of the newly created branch of the nationally recognized program included: C.J. Burch, R.A. Garret, Travis King, William E. Henderson, Jake Bracken, C.J. Robb, Paul Huggins, Frank Stanford, H.B. Horn, Joe W. Purcell, R.M. Strong, C.S. Strong, Ben T. Rogers, Joe Petit, W.R. Block, F.B. Smith, Henry Lynch, B.P. Grundy, L.F. Bruns, C.L. Carthen, Richard Wesson, Richard Dresser, Charles Richter, Frank Bracken, L.B. Bruns, C.L. Carthen, Roy Carthen, Stewart R. Camp, Carl Cook, B.N. Watts, C.F. Frasher, Jim Ferguson, J.T. Bain, C.P. Oliver, L.M. Wyatt, W.H. Sims, Fred Daum, Gilbert Holman, C.L. Strong, C.C. Snelling, Frank Orsburn, Charles Ruwauldt, Lacey Fleenor, Felix Johnson, C.J. Jagelky, Ed Merzbacher, O.H. Jagelky, L.S. Gould, George Russell, John E. Orme, Charles Merzbacher, W.B. Hinton, Weldon Hinton,William Tyler and Frank B. Smith.
             Following a reading of the national charter by Charles Richter who had called the meeting to order, the motives of the legion were discussed and a dues schedule was established.  It was determined each member of the group would pay $1.25 per year with a dollar of that sum going to the national organization.  In turn members would receive a weekly paper entitled "The American Legion."
            Next on the agenda was the naming of the post at which time it was decided after several minutes of consideration and discussion to call the post "The Dennis-Anderson" American Legion in memory of two of the organizations "buddies" who did not make it home.  In a news release following the meeting, Frank B. Smith related, "Soldier Dennis is said to be the first Cooke county boy to lose his life, while Soldier Anderson is none other than O.R. Anderson, well and favorably known here."  The story went on saying "thousands of the comrades of these members throughout the entire army and navy lay beneath the sod of numerous parts of Europe. Some wearing the insignia of honor for heroic deeds in action; some have no decorations to commemorate their heroism, but each played a part and there is no doubt but what the just and loving Eternal Father kept their "service records" and that He, even He, bestowed upon them awards for distinguished service in the day of His Grand Review."  Smith concluded saying that it was one of the principles of the local post as well as every post throughout the country to preserve the memory of the fallen and honor those who lost their lives while in service to their country. 

            Following a series of discussions an election of officers took place determining those who would be ask to serve one year terms;

 

            Charles Richter             Post Commander

            Ballard Watts                First Vice Commander

            Frank Bracken               Second Vice Commander

            Richard B. Wesson        Post Adjutant

            L.W. Wyatt                    Finance

            William Block                Post Chaplain

            Frank B. Smith              Historian

            In March the Dennis-Anderson Post held its first memorial service at the First Presbyterian Church to honor the memory of “the brave and valorous Cooke county lads who made the supreme sacrifice in the world war for their country and for world liberty."
In the filled to capacity auditorium the members of the legion were seated in a place of honor and were themselves honored for their desire to perpetuate the memory of their fallen comrades.
            Before the internet, before the assembling of the later reports compiled by the states adjutant general's report, and before even the publishing of most unit histories, the post had itself compiled a list of twenty-one Cooke county men who had lost their lives through disease or on the battle front while in service.
            O.R. Anderson, Travis Anderson, Frank Brockman, Lee Cobble, James H. Curb, Hugh Downard, Sam R. Dennis, Ernest W. Ellerton, Andy Gentry, Bert Hall, Frank B. Keel, Dr. John R. Lewis, Doc Morris, James A. Manahan, Albert S. Morris, Warren Murchison, Otis Strickland, Edward Sullivan, Sam W. Tune, Thomas W. Witt, John Stevens (sic).
            The program for the evening was presided over by Charles E. Richter with music by the Southern Presbyterian orchestra.  Special recognition was given to those playing key roles in the memorial service;

 

 

            Invocation                                             Father Keely

            Scripture reading                                   Reverend Pierce

            Prayer                                                   Dr. Joiner

            Offering Music                                      Southern Presbyterian Orchestra

            Xylophone Solo                                    The Stars and Stripes Forever by Mr. Hickman

            Our Roll of Honor                                  J.O. Patterson

            Cooke County's Tribute to Her Men        Fred Wankan

            Solo-Soldiers Dirge                               Edwin McNeely

            Memorial Address                                 Reverend Lockett Adair

            Solo-"The Americans Come"                  William H. Rue

            Hymn                                                    Star Spangled Banner

            Benediction                                           Reverend R.L. Powell

 
            Like with earlier lists containing the names of the county's losses during the war the list presented that night in 1920 would be changed with corrections, deletions and additions eventually being made.  The Dennis-Anderson Post closed before the awakening of the new millennium.  Their promise to preserve the memory of the fallen continues today through the history of their work during the twentieth century. 

 

​​THE LAST DRAFTED MAN TO DIE

 

            About a mile south of Burns City of the west side of state highway 372 lay the New Hope Cemetery.  Near the center of the plat lies a memorial monument to a Civil War veteran who is buried elsewhere.  It reads;
 
GRANDPA

IN MEMORY OF

WILLIAM H. "DOC"  COBB
 
BURIED IN BOGGY DEPOT CEM.
 
WAPANUCKA, OKLA.
 
MAR.  8,  1843        JULY 31,  1908

HUSBAND OF MARTHA E. COBB
 
CIVIL       WAR       VET

             The marker may have been placed in later years, or it may have been placed by Martha, the afore mentioned wife referenced on the stone.  Martha is buried nearby; having passed away in 1913 at age 65 if the aged headstone is correct.  A few spaces away lay the grave of another veteran, but there is no mention of his war time service or death while in the service.  He is the grandson of the Civil War veteran "Doc" Cobb and he was one of the last drafted men from Cooke County to die while in service to his country.  His name was William Charles Cobb.
            Born January 30 of 1892 to Susan A. and Charles B. Cobb in Van Alstyne, Texas, William was one of the few married men from Cooke County to be drafted into the new army, but by 1918 local draft exemption boards were being asked to more carefully scrutinize all applicants of the draft to determine if the spouse could fend for themselves in the absence of a missing husband.  In the cases of Cobb and of Albert Waddell, who was sworn into the army in March of 1918, both were married, but already a million Americans had been sent to Europe to battle the forces of Germany and the strains on draft eligible single men were beginning to be felt.  Married men were going to have to make up the difference and Cobb and Waddell were part of that difference.
            Registering for the draft on June 5, 1917, Cobb listed himself as a 25 year old self-employed farmer residing in Cooke County with his dependent wife.  The registrar's report located on the back of the registration card described him as a man of medium height and medium build with light blue eyes and dark brown hair.  There were no physical defects listed which might cause exemption from the service.
            Shortly after appearing before the local draft board 606 William C. Cobb filed a legitimate claim for exemption under the proposed guidelines of the exemption board and on September 24, 1917 his name appeared on a long list of Cooke County men who had been granted exemptions based on dependency claims.  A second man who on the same listing was granted an exemption because he was responsible for a widowed mother was Hugh Ed Downard, who like Cobb would later have his exemption reversed and would die while in the army.
            In January of 1918 local draft boards were instructed by Provost Marshal General Crowder to "use common sense and sympathy in each individual case in determining what would be adequate support for dependents of a man regarded for war service."  Crowder had gone on to say, "reasonable adequate support cannot be determined by a rule of thumb, but must be determined by common sense and sympathy in the facts of each individual case.  What would be adequate support in one location or one set of circumstances might not be in another.  The question of adequate support must be determined by the boards after careful consideration of the interests of the dependents on one hand and the government on the other, and with the thought always in mind that the present classification scheme is designed to raise our armies with a minimum of hardship and suffering to those who are to be left at home." 
            Downard was reclassified into Class 1 in mid-January of 1918 and would be inducted into the service in late February, while it would be until June of the same year before Cobb would be reclassified into Class 1 and on July 26 came word that 41 men had been reclassified out of classes 2, 3, and 4 and placed them into class 1, meaning soon they would be in the army.  Those notified of their reclassification that day were;

            William C. Cobb            Pilot Point

            Thomas M. Adams        Gainesville

            Jess Ainsworth (col.)     Gainesville

            Willie E. Akin                 Dexter             

            Jno. S. Arendt               Lindsay

            Geney Baker                 Dexter

            Dock Bentley                Valley View

            Ennis Brown (col.)         Gainesville

            Albert A. Burch              Gainesville

            Joe F. Compton            Gainesville

            Hugh Ed Cox                Collinsville

            Willie L. Curry                Gainesville

            Willie Crutchfield (col.)   Gainesville

            A.D. Derryberry             Dexter

            Tom A. Dobson            Gainesville

            Garnett Fears                Gainesville

            Carl H. Forrester            Pilot Point

            Amos Ferguson             Gainesville

            George G. Gilpin           Sivells Bend

            Louis V. Gorge              Ardmore

            Henry Grotte                 Saint Jo

            Curtis L. Haywood         Gainesville

            Charles R. House          Gainesville

            Alfred H. Ingle               Lindsay

            Julius J. Jackson (col)   Gainesville

            Norris K. Johnson         Gainesville

            J. Jude                         Sivells Bend

            Jno. C. Nichols              Gainesville

            Fred T. Little                 Gainesville

            C.E. Mayall                   Gainesville

            Jno. C. Nichols              Gainesville

            Allen T. McKinley          Era

            Jno. P. McKay               Gainesville

            Otto Porter                    Paris

            Frank Rogers                Gainesville

            James Y. Teague           Gainesville       

            Mack Thomas (col)        Gainesville                   

            Mack H. White               Tahoka, Texas

            Jos. H. Wilde                 Muenster

            William W. Wrather        Gainesville

            Willie C. Wright             Valley View

            Iva W.H. Young             Gainesville


            Sworn into the army at the Gainesville Depot before departing for Camp Travis, Cobb would enter the service as a Private upon arrival at camp and would be placed in the 45 Company 12 Tng. Bn. 165 Depot Brigade where he would remain until his death.  A group of 40 Cooke County draftees including Cobb and Edgar Albert Baker of Muenster arrived at Camp Travis during the height of the influenza epidemic and in little more than six weeks, Cobb and Baker were dead of what at the time was term by the military doctors as bronchial pneumonia.  Both deaths were referred to in newspaper accounts as influenza.

 

​THE ONLY MAN FROM LINDSAY TO DIE

 
 
           One of three Cooke County soldiers to die while fighting in the 140th Infantry, Joseph H. Block was the only man from the community of Lindsay to fall during the Great War and probably the first of the Cooke County contingent of troops to be transferred to train in the 140th at Camp Donaphin, Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
            Born in Floyd, Iowa in June of 1895, Joseph was one of twelve children and the second youngest son behind John who was nine years his senior.  His oldest sister, according to the 1900 United States Census, was Mary, who was 7 years older, followed by Josephine and Annie, both 5 years older, and Katie (listed as Hattie in the 1900 census),  2 years his senior.  In the census at the turn of the twentieth century, Joseph was followed by Fritz, one year younger than he, and Peter, three years his junior.  A decade later when the census was again conducted, Mary, Annie and Fritz were no longer listed with the mother and father, but four more children had come along to join the household, Elisabeth (sic) was five years younger than Joseph, Magdelena six years his junior, Margaret 9 years behind him and Nick trailed Joseph by 11 years.
            The father of the family, Joseph, had been born in Luxemburg around 1857 and as a young boy had roamed the Argonne woods where his son would fall forty years later during the war. In the 1880's, the elder Block seized the opportunity to migrate to America with his Luxemburg born wife, Maria (Marie in the 1920 census), eventually settling in the German communities of Floyd and Hospers Village in Sioux County, Iowa.  Shortly after the arrival of Joseph H. in 1896, the family moved to the relatively new German Community of Lindsay west of Gainesville, Texas.  Here Joseph and his family would prosper and become  one of the more hard working and prominent families in the Lindsay colony, made up of mostly German heritage families.
            When registering for the draft, Block was described by the registering officer as tall with a stout build, gray eyes and dark hair.  Listed as a single farmer, with no dependents, and in the employment of his father, Block was a suitable candidate for the new army. 
            It would become the duty of Joseph H. Block, the namesake of his father, to return to Europe to fight in the land of his family when he was called up in the 1917 draft.  With a draft serial number of 1407, Block appeared before the examination board on Friday, August 24, 1917, and was one of seven men chosen during the day from the 50 examined to serve in the new National Army.  Fourteen of the group was disqualified as physically unfit and twenty-nine of the men filed claims of exemption.
            Joseph H. Block, along with 880 Jim Johnson of Tioga, 1108 Michael L. Brumbaugh of Era, 1201 Charles Frazier of Myra, 875 Joe Hardy of Tioga, and 1556 H.S. Woolridge and 2212 Frank Bracken of Gainesville, were all selected that day, bringing to 108 the number of men selected through August 8, from Cooke County as men accepted for the service.
            Initially ordered to Camp Travis to train with the 359th Infantry, Block was eventually transferred to Camp Doniphan, at Fort Sill, Oklahoma to train with the 140th infantry, part of the 35th Division.  Block was part of the replacements being swapped to Oklahoma to fill up the 35th Division before it was being shipped overseas in April of 1918, in advance of the 359th infantry, that would now, have to receive and train more draftees before the 90th Division could ship out.
            In France, where he had now been promoted to corporal, Block wrote home in late September after a break from the trenches.  "I am feeling somewhat better since we came out of the trenches and had all my clothes washed out and got rid of the cooties and fleas.  The rats don't bother us anymore.  We used to have a lot of rats in the barn at home, but that don't compare with what we have here, but all the same we sleep good while they run over us," the corporal wrote.  He closed writing that he thought they (the Americans) would make it to Berlin soon.  The letter concluded, “With love your son, Joe."
            The corporal would never make it to Berlin.  By the time the letter reached his Cooke County family, Joseph Block had already been killed in action.  In November, a telegram would be received from the War Department at Washington stating that Corporal Joseph Block had been reported missing in action since September 27, 1918.  The telegram itself did not arrive until several weeks after the November 11 armistice.  Later his death would be confirmed.
            In the summer of 1919, Joe Block and his wife traveled to France to see the spot where their son was buried.  As a boy Joe Block had been over the very ground his son would be killed on forty years later.  The bereaved father told others that he was also familiar with the spot where O.R. Anderson was killed by a shell blast in a November battle.  The Anderson site was about fifteen miles from where Block would be killed.
            Block would be stunned at the devastation wrought in the Argonne forest where he had once played as a boy.  Where vast stands of timber had once stood, heavy artillery had razed parts of the forbidding forests creating desolate fields.  Where lush timber had once swallowed a wandering boy with its drooping arms, now a lunar landscape of unforgiving trenches scarred the horizon. Now the major objective was not finding a father's way home from the woods, it was finding his son's way home from his burial site in the Argonne.
            From the end of the war the issue of returning the American dead had been an issue.  The French were opposed to the repatriation of the dead to America, arguing that they should be allowed to rest where they had fallen.  The American public, however, had been promised that their dead sons would be returned to their families at the end of the war.
            It would be September of 1921 before the remains of Corporal Joseph H. Block would make it home to Lindsay.  On the evening of the sixth, a Tuesday, the family received a telegram from Little Rock, Arkansas, saying that the remains of Corporal Block were on board an M.K.T. train and would be expected to arrive in Lindsay within a day.  The following night, the remains of the Lindsay man passed through Gainesville in route to Lindsay and by Friday afternoon, September 9, the young soldier's body was again at home at his father's house.  It was announced that the services for the fallen Cooke County man would be held on Sunday the eleventh at 2 p.m. 
            A military funeral was something new for Lindsay, virtually everyone in the rural community turned out to witness the flag draped coffin bearing the remains of the young man who had gone so far away, come home.  Two large red draft horses owned by George Pittner made up the front pair of the four horse team, two white horses belonging to Clem Hermes Sr., were closest to the caisson which carried the corporal's body from the Block home to St. Peter's church for the burial. 
            A uniformed honor guard, shouldering rifles and flying the American flag, made up members of the Dennis-Anderson Post of the American Legion, followed a uniformed boy carrying a cross on the slow march to the church.  Rev. Bernard Zell, pastor of St. Peter's, was officiate at the Requiem Mass and conducted the burial rites, assisted by local veterans who acted as pall bears and took part in the military honors at the gravesite adjacent to the church. The helmet wearing doughboys stood at attention as the corporal was lowered into the ground at the St. Peter's Cemetery south of the church.
            In 1946 a Veterans Memorial Monument was dedicated in special services near were Corporal Block lie.  Though perhaps focusing at the time on the five Lindsay losses in the Second World War, it today, none-the-less, stands vigilant near the final resting place of Joseph H. Block, Lindsay's only loss in the first war to end all wars.
            Today near the east boundary, a few lots away from the south boundary, a white cross bearing the name CPL JOSEPH H. BLOCK, readily identifies the location of the grave of Joseph H. Block.  Additionally, a pale upright stone reads;

 In Memory of

 

Cpl.   JOSEPH H.

 

BLOCK

 

Killed in Action

 

Argonne Forest

 

France

 

Sept.   27, 1918

 
            In early January 2010, an American flag and a bronze marker from the Veterans Administration also marked the well-attended grave site.  There is little trouble in finding graves in the St Peter's Cemetery in Lindsay.  A key glossary is posted on the north side of the cemetery facing the chapel.  The lots are lined up to perfection and the key easily guides people to loved ones final resting places. 
            The corporal's military serial number was 2,224,538.  He is one of eight men from Cooke County who did not make it home after the war alive, whose serial number was in the same numeric sequence.
                                              

Ora Ralph Anderson                2,224,485          Wilburn Haskell Edwards         2,224,562

Thomas Urban Hughes            2,224,575          McKinley Brisco                       2,224,506

Wayne Jacob Gentry                2,224,577          Samuel Richard Dennis           2,224,520

Frank Burneville Keel              2,224,581          Joseph H. Block                       2,224,538

  ​

AT REST IN THE MEUSE - ARGONNE CEMETERY

             James Madison Curb was one of two Cooke County casualties who was the name sake of an American president, the other being George Washington Caldwell who rests in Comanche County, Texas.  He too registered for the draft in Cooke County June 5, 1917 and was drafted into the service.  As opposed to the other presidential namesake, Curb made it to France only to die abroad and he remains buried there today.
            There are gaps in every man's life, as there are in James M. Curb's and the census reports of 1900 and 1910 make that picture no clearer.  In 1900 the name James Curb appears in Ellis County, Texas, as the six year old adopted son of a family by the name of Wise who resided in Precinct #6 in Midlothian.  The father and mother had two children of their own, a 28 year old listed as W.S., a school teacher and a 13 year old daughter reported only as M.V.  The boy does not appear to be the offspring of an earlier marriage since the information calling for the birth place of the mother and father are both listed as unknown.  It is also listed that it is undetermined if the young boy can read or write In 1910 the Wise family appears again, but without James M. Curb.
            In 1917, when the draft registration was held,  Curb appears as 22 year old man, of medium height and build, with blue eyes and dark hair.  The date of birth is listed as May 3, 1894 and the place of birth is listed as Snider, Texas on the draft registration card.  Mr. Curb was listed as a single man with no dependents and with no previous military experience.  His residence at the time of the draft was Myra, Texas, in western Cooke County. The signature on the registration card appears practically the same as the form of the name at the top of the registration card, causing speculation that either the card was filled out entirely by James Curb, or his name was signed by someone other than himself.
            On Monday, August 6, 1917, registered men from Cooke County joined others like them in appearing in batches before the local exemption board. 143 men were in that first call up for consideration for the new army.  Of the 143 examined that first day, only 17 were accepted for army service with 24 being discharged for physical unfitness and the remainder claiming exemptions.

            The original 17 included;

                        1748     Leroy Norris                  Rt. 3     Saint Jo

                        1913     Robert L. Trew               Rt. 1     Myra

                         784      Robt. L. Taylor               Pilot Point

                         107      Dorrine A. Drotts           622 E. Broadway

                        1266     Walter Rogers Linn        Muenster

                         309      Chester J. Robb            Rt. 2     Gainesville

                         437      J. Weldon Hinton           Box 103

                         604      John A. Boydston         Pilot Point

                          43       Louis Benn Bruns          812 Morris

                        1705     Rube Bellar                   Rt. 1     Marysville

                         797      Elvin Lee Brady             Rt. 1     Muenster

                         182      Lee Arthur Hayes          Rt. 1     Gainesville

                         390      Clarence O. Varner        East California street

                         117      Edward Vining Egbert    Gainesville

                         223      Buck Younger Lewis      Gainesville

                        1986     P. Stubblefield              Rt 1      Whitesboro

                        1188     James M. Curb              Myra

            None of the first group called to duty were to die while in the service.  65,126, stands out among the early call ups as the subject of a reported career. 
            The following day only 15 men were accepted into the service with 16 of the 129 examined being discharged for physical disabilities, and the remainder claiming exemptions.  Among the second batch were educator 1016 Hubert H. Moss, who would later teach at Gainesville Junior College and 5 Travis W. Anderson who would later succumb to disease while at training camp at Camp Travis, Bexar County near San Antonio.
            On August 20, 1917, fifty more men were called before the local exemption board, with 5 of the lot being selected for military service, including 1188 James M. Curb along with;

                        1517     Thos. Tillman Hodges   Gainesville

                         657      Jim Langford                 Sivells Bend

                         753      Christopher Koerner      Pilot Point

                         191      Aaron Jewett                 616 E. Main G.ville

             The following day, Tuesday, August 21, 1917, four Cooke County men who would eventually lose their lives while in uniform, serial number 8 Ora Ralph Anderson, 49 McKinley Briscoe, 557 Thomas Urban Hughes, and 1059 Albert Waddell, would be among the 50 men summoned before the board for consideration. Only a total of nine men that day would be deemed suitable for service
            On September 13, 1917, the Cooke county selective service draft exemption board issued an order calling 113 men who had been examined for duty and accepted for the army, to report to for duty at the office of the local board on September 19.
            Among those ordered to report were Travis Williams Anderson, Frank Burneville Keel, Samuel Richard Dennis, George Washington Caldwell, Wayne Gentry, McKinley Briscoe, Thomas Urban Hughes, and James Madison Curb.  All eight of whom would not make it home alive from the service.
            Among those summoned to report on the 19th of September were;

Otto Herbert Jagelky                Gainesville                                Frank Streng                 Muenster

Arty Small Holcomb                   Marysville                                 Elvin Lee Braddy           Muenster

Abner Charles Enderby             Era                                           George W. Branch         Marysville

Clifford Pauldin Saye                 Gainesville                                John Gardner Brooks    Gainesville

LeRoy Norris                             Saint Jo                                    Ernest Walker Perkins   Illinois Bend

M.P. Trammell                           Sivells Bend                              Lee Arthur Hayes          Gainesville

Robert Lafayette Trew                Myra                                         George A. Birdwell        Gainesville

Cecil Guy Bosley                       Gainesville                                Dan Zacharias               Gainesville

Robert Lee Taylor                      Pilot Point                                 Edward Vining Egbert    Gainesville

Dorine Augusta Drotts               Gainesville                                John Henry Kelley         Era

Harbert Cardwell Penny             Muenster                                   Combest B. Sills            Gainesville

Walter Rogers Linn                    Muenster                                   James Menard Woods  Gainesville

Pearl Stubblefield                     Whitesboro                               Samuel Garrett Vintine   Dexter

Bert Finley                                Muenster                                   Wade Feely                  Dexter

John Weldon Hinton                  Gainesville                                Pat Smith                      Era

John Anderson Boydston          Pilot Point                                 Leonard R. Downard     Gainesville

Louis Benn Bruns                      Gainesville                                Herb Henry Smith          Myra

Robert Aaron Garrett                 Gainesville                                James Calvin Cochran   Valley View

Rube Beller                               Marysville                                 Joseph A. Wallenstein    Muenster

Marion J. Dills                           Rosston                                    Willie Lank Hodges       Saint Jo           

Simeon Trammell                       Sivells Bend                              Rufus Orien Locke        Era

Phinas Brown                            Whitesboro                               John R. Koelzer             Muenster

John Phillip Mosser                   Lindsay                                     Fred Simpson               Rosston

Roy Melbourne Stacks              Gainesville                                James Homer Tanner     Gainesville

Mack David Byles                     Myra                                         Walter Charley Garner   Woodbine

Kalo Ranzo Bridges                  Marysville                                 Richmond F. Spires       Gainesville

Frank Bass Smith                      Gainesville                                Charlie D. Thompson     Mossville

William Henson                         Gainesville                                William Smith                Muenster

Wm. Carter Arnold                    Gainesville                                Luther Elmer Holbrook  Muenster

Ernest Herin                              Myra                                         Fred Clarence Daum     Gainesville

Frank Meise                              Gainesville                                Arthur N. Thompson      Valley View

Ferdinand John Kuhn                 Lindsay                                     William Edward Spruce  Gainesville

Thomas Nugent Hodges            Illinois Bend                              Henry Troop                  Gainesville       

Willie Beck                                Tioga                                        Arthur McCracken          Dexter

Jessie O. Eckles                       Valley View                               Leonadus Aldon Harris   Marysville

Richard Jackson Bounds           Saint Jo                                    Johnnie Duke                Saint Jo

Louis J. Temple                         Muenster                                   Ferdinand Albers           Muenster

James Davis                             Myra                                         Paul Kelley                    Whitesboro

Walter Ellis                               Gainesville                                Carl Cook                     Myra

Ulas Grant Bentley                    Era                                           John White                    Leo

William Homer Medearis            Muenster                                   Philip Rigsby                Gainesville

Alphons Schumacher                 Muenster                                   Christopher Koerner      Pilot Point

Ira Edgar Crouch                       Pilot Point                                 Jim Langford                 Sivells Bend

Richard Dresser                        Gainesville                                Walter Lee Jackson       Muenster

Thomas Tillman Hodges            Gainesville                                William G.  Looper         Whitesboro

Elic Richard Case                      Callisburg                                 Maxie Minter Jackson    Muenster

Horace Evans Duggan               Myra                                         Jess Bradford Hayes     Gainesville

Virgil Robert Piott                      Muenster                                   Frank Joseph Geray      Lindsay       

August Walterscheid                  Muenster                                   John Effie Goff             Marysville

Joseph Hessee                         Muenster                                   Russell Wm. Simms      Gainesville       

Jim Johnson                             Tioga                                        Andrew B. Hutson         Saint Jo

Michael Lewin Brumbaugh         Era                                           Joseph B,  Townsley      Myra

             On September 19, James Madison Curb was inducted into the new army and was placed in the Company B of the 359th Infantry at Camp Travis until October 16, 1917, being listed as a private. Curb was promoted to Private 1st class shortly after joining the Headquarters Company of the 359th where he remained through March 5, 1918.  After a reshuffling of the unit in mid-March, Curb was assigned as a replacement with Company G 163 Infantry and shipped overseas April 7, 1918.
            The 163 Infantry was part of the 41st Division commonly known as the Sunset Division which was built around National Guard units from Washington State, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.  The division included the 161st, 162nd, 163rd and 164th infantry regiments along with the 146th, 147th, and 148th Field Artillery regiments and the 146th, 147th, and 148th machine guns battalions.  The division was used as a depot organization providing thousands of replacements for units at the front.  One of those front line units was the 125th Infantry where Curb was attached to Co L on May the first.
            The 125th Infantry was part of the 32nd Division identified by its distinctive red arrow insignia.  Originally made up of Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard units, the division trained in Texas at Camp MacArthur in Waco.  The Division was made up of the 125th, 126th, 127th and 128th Infantry regiments and the 119th, 120th, and 121st machine gun battalions and the 107th engineers.  Loaded with replacement troops at the front, the division fought its way through some of the toughest fighting with impressive actions at the second battle of the Marne, at Fisnes in the Argonne forest and in other battles in France.  After the war the division served with the army of occupation in Germany. 
            Curb fought with the regiment at Fisnes, Cierges, Genes, Reddy Farm, and Jurgny before falling in combat October 9, 1918. He was buried near where he fell as was the necessity of the day, and later was buried where he rests today in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, Plot H, Row 31, Grave 17 near Romagne, France.
            The date was the deadly day for Cooke County soldiers.  James M. Curb and Charles O. Strickland were both killed in fighting October 9, 1918 and fellow Cooke countian Louis G. Dickson would fall to disease the same day.

 

​“Only God and the Sea know where the great ship has gone”…….

                                                                         President Woodrow Wilson         

Among fans of the unexplained, the loss of the United States Ship Cyclops is well known, although the concept of the Bermuda Triangle, the legendary area of mysterious disappearances had not been conceived when the ship went missing in 1918.  Phenomenon theorists, after the movement gained steam in the 1940's through today, point out the disappearance of the large ship as one of the more spectacular losses in the making of their case for the "triangle."
            Designated a navy collier, the Cyclops was one of the largest fuel ships afloat possessing a displacement of 19,000 tons.  The crew, when the ship was last seen, numbered 15 officers and 221 men, with an additional 57 men, many of them navy personnel on their way to other places as passengers.
            Launched on May 07, 1910 and commissioned on November 7 of that year, the Cyclops was a similar ship to the Hector, Jupiter, Vulcan and Mars.  At 542 feet in length and 65 feet in breadth, the Cyclops, in trials had recorded 14.61 knots loaded.  Commanded by Lieut. Commander G.W. Worley, of Norfolk, who later investigators after the war would claim to be a German sympathizer, the ship was bound for the United States from Brazil, when it vanished after a stop in the West Indies.  Only one officer on board, Burt Asper, an Assistant Surgeon was regular navy, the remaining officers including Worley, were all navy reserve. 
            Loaded with manganese, the ship made port in the West Indies, taking on supplies before launching for their trip to the states.  Somewhere along the way, the ship vanished, without radio message or debris in the water.  The disappearance of the ship and crew, without a clue as to her fate, made popular speculation for the theorists of the day, as well as for Bermuda triangle promoters a generation later.
            At the time, it was speculated that Germany had submarines capable of making such a trip and that German raiders had sunk the ship.  Research by the American naval authorities in charge of solving the issue reported that the Germans indeed were known to visit the waters.  Runs from Germany to the coast of Brazil and back had been confirmed by the navy, but no intercepted messages from the Germans indicated any involvement in the loss of the Cyclops.
Even after the war had ended, German records were poured through and interviews conducted with German naval personnel, to try to clear up the riddle of the missing ship.  Ship records and extensive German ship orders were poured through looking for an answer that never came.
            The weather along the route the collier was traveling was not believed to be bad enough to have scuttled the ship and even if it had been, the ship was well equipped with radio equipment and should have been able to get off a radio distress call.  No signal was received by any ship in the area.
            Another theory had been that perhaps the ship had been sunk by espionage as a result of bombs placed on board or an explosion of some nature had occurred in the manganese hold.  Manganese was a material necessary for the production of war grade steel. The explosion theory was discarded because no debris from the ship was ever found.  Following the war, the navy followed up questioning fisherman along the route as to whether they had ever picked up or seen anything floating that appeared to be from the missing collier.
            Theories that sprang up after the war included accusations of mutiny, defection to Germany, theories about the arrest on board of saboteurs, accusations of onboard executions taking place and charges of alleged arrests on the trip having been made. Almost 30 years later, a popular theory surfaced that the ship had simply vanished due to unknown factors in the mysterious area that years later would be dubbed the Bermuda Triangle.  To this day, the loss of the Cyclops rates as the largest loss of naval personnel in a mishap that is not combat connected.
            On board that fateful trip was a former Woodbine man, Jesse Larkin Barnard, the son of Aleck F. Barnard of Willis, Oklahoma and Mrs. Kate Miller of Gainesville.  At the time of his disappearance he was listed by the navy as 24 years of age.
            Enlisting in the navy in Dallas, on September 4, 1915, after training, Barnard was first assigned to the U.S.S. Pittsburgh where he plied his trade as blacksmith, until being assigned to the U.S.S. Cyclops, February 3, 1918.  Larkin along with his shipmates was last seen on March 3, 1918.  After first being listed as overdue, The Cyclops was officially listed as lost at sea, June 14, 1918 taking with it its entire crew including Cooke County’s own Jesse Larkin Barnard.
            After his stint as apprentice seaman, Barnard had served as Fireman 2nd class for 301 days, before becoming a Blacksmith 2nd class for 133 days.  At the time of his death he was listed by some accounts as a serviceman on board in route home, in others as an active member of the crew. Following the war, the department of the navy continued to research the German files for a clue as to the disappearance of the ship, but no intelligence files or memos betrayed any involvement into the mysterious loss of the large vessel.  As for the Cyclops, perhaps President Woodrow Wilson best summed it up, saying "Only God and the sea know where the great ship has gone."
            Jesse L. Barnard's service number was 110-50-11.  His name was initially overlooked by the committee preparing the names for the courthouse monument, but when cast, the bronze included the name of the missing man, Larkin Barnard.
            Barnard's death was the first loss at sea of a Cooke County military man in the Great War.  Josiah Lockhart, also of Gainesville had died in a Navy hospital in 1917 and Albert Sidney Morris another naval fatality from Cooke County would drown near Key West in September of 1918.  Although not all were military men, there were other close calls involving Cooke County men and the sea.
            On March 15, 1917 just weeks before the United States entry into the war a page wide banner headline across the front page of the Gainesville Daily Register declared GAINESVILLE BOY ON TORPEDOED BRITISH SHIP.  The Associated Press story went on to tell of the sinking of the British steamer Mennondaker (sic) without warning on March 12 by a German submarine.  Six members of the crew were reported killed by a boiler explosion after the ship was hit and sunk within ten minutes.  The ship's manifest listed Matthew Hill of Gainesville, Texas as one of three Americans who were on the ship when it was attacked.  A footnote to the story indicted that there was a probability that Hill resided somewhere in the county and that he had given Gainesville as his post office.  There was no indication that he was associated with the military.  British naval records today list the ship as the Memnon which was in route from Dakar to Hull.  The merchant steamer went down after being torpedoed 20 miles southwest of Porland  Bill, in the English Channel by German submarine UC-66.
            An odd note.  Twenty four years later another British merchant vessel also named the Memnon was torpedoed and sunk by a German sub U-106.  Three crew members and 2 Royal Air Force personnel who were on board were killed in the attack, The date of the 1941 attack was March 11, one day short of 24 years since the submarine sinking of the other Memnon.
            A month after Hill made the news America was at war and the rush to join the navy was on among Cooke County men.  In her 1931 master’s thesis Cora Staniforth, the wife of Great War veteran Sneed "Booster" Staniforth documented 90 Cooke County men by rank who had left their civilian lives at home to join the navy in its wartime efforts.  By rank and numbers they were as follows;
         
 

            OFFICERS

            Lieutenant                     1

            Chief Yeoman               1

 

            PETTY OFFICERS

            Petty Officer-gunner      1

 

            MEN IN THE NAVY

            Apprentice Seaman       1                      Landsman's Electrician General  1

            Apprentice 2 Class        1                      Machinist 2 Class                      1

            Bakers 1st Class           1                      Machinist's Mate 1st Class         2

            Blacksmith 1st Class     1                      Machinist's Mate 2 Class           1

            Boatswain's Mate          1                      Naval Aviation                           1

            Chief Electrician            3                      Pharmacist's Mate 2 Class         1

            Chief Gunner's Mate      1                      Pharmacist's Mate 3rd Class      1

            Chief Pharmacist Mate  1                       Plumber and Fitter                     1

            Chief Yeoman               2                      Quartermaster 2 Class               2

            Electrician                     1                      Quartermaster 3rd Class            1

            Electrician 2 Class         3                      Seamen                                   18

            Electrician 3rd Class      2                      Seamen 2 Class                       12

            Engineman 1st Class     1                      Ship's Cook 2 Class                   1

            Engineman 2 Class       1                      Ship's Cook 3rd Class                1

            Fireman 1 Class            7                      Ship's Cook 4 Class                   2

            Fireman 2 Class            1                      Ship's Fitter 1st Class                1

            Fireman 3rd Class         2                      Storekeeper 2 Class                  1

            Gunner's Class              1                      Storekeeper 3rd Class               1

            Gunner Mate 3rd Class  1                      Water Tenders                          5

            Yeoman 1st Class         1

            Yeoman 2 Class            1

           

            Not all Cooke County men most closely associated with the sea were from the navy.  Sidney Robert Nall was among the young men signing up for the draft in June of 1917 and received the draft serial number of 284.  Involved in farming, the twenty-three year old single man soon found himself headed for training at Camp Travis near San Antonio October 7, 1917 courtesy of the draft.  There he was assigned to the 33 Company of the 165 Depot Brigade.  Nall would do well at camp being commended by superiors as a dutiful and capable soldier and in January of the following year he would find himself along with some 600 other Camp Travis trainees being transferred as replacements into the 9th infantry. On January 24, 1918 he was ordered overseas on the troop transport Tuscania.  It was on his maiden voyage that Nall would brush sleeves with a watery tomb.
            The Tuscania was constructed by the Cunard Steamship Line in 1914 as a passenger ship but was drafted into the service as a troop transport and in January of 1918 was bound for Liverpool, England with 2,156 American troops on board,
            February 8, 1918  German U boat  UB-77 spotted the heavily ladened ship loaded with almost 2,350 people on board off the coast of Ireland and slammed a torpedo into the hull of the lumbering ship  taking at least 170 American service men to their graves.  Nall would be one of the lucky ones.  His widowed mother Mrs. J.R. Nall would read on The Gainesville Register bulletin board the following day his name among those on a list who survived the sinking.  After a few weeks Mrs. Nall received a note from her son which was mailed shortly after his rescue in which he reassured her that he had survived the attack;
            "Dear Mother," he wrote, "I am well and got across the waters safe.  I am being taken good care of here so don't worry, for God will take care of me, and if I don't meet you any more here we will meet in heaven.  How are you all at home?  With love to you and all, as ever."  The letter was signed your son, Sidney R. Nall.
            Nall was apparently not the only Cooke County man on board the Tuscania.  In addition to Nall's name another Cooke County, Texas man was listed as a survivor, Robert Gray whose parents were believed to have resided in the Sivells Bend area. 
            After surviving the Tuscania disaster Nall was soon headed to the front attached to the Second Division taking part in the battles of Chateau Thierry, the Marne and Champagne.  At Chateau Thierry he was one of only 29 soldiers in his company of 250 men who made it through the engagement without being killed, wounded or otherwise forced from the battlefield.  At one point he spent thirty consecutive days on the firing line in the trenches of France. It was on his last trip over the top July 18, 1918 that Nall again eluded death when he was struck in the face by a machine gun bullet.  The gun shot tore away his lips, knocked out nine of his teeth and shot away part of his jaw.  At first it was thought by the military that he was missing in action but after several days the badly wounded soldier was identified in a hospital and a letter was forwarded to his mother in advance of his name appearing in the list of severely wounded.  The letter was not received by Mrs. Nall however until mid-September.
            Nall's mangled jaw was repaired with bone grafted from his collar bone in Europe and after returning home in April of 1918 he was equipped with a new set of teeth at Camp Bowie in Fort Worth.  Nall was honorably discharged from the service April 7, 1919.  As recounted in Ron Melugin's 2010 publication Heros, Scoundrels, and Angels, Nall would live out his days in Cooke County and is buried in Gainesville's Fairview Cemetery.
             Other survivors of the sinking included Milton Brown of Pilot Point, Troy W. Stone of Nocona, R.A. Davis of Frisco, Homer A. Perryman of Forestburg, James F. Sparkman of Frisco, Walter Whittington of Sherman, George Vaught of Denton, and Robert E. Gray of Gainesville.  The parents of Gray were thought to live in the Sivells Bend area.
            Many newspapers ran stories about local men in the service and in many instances they would run complete letters which had been sent home to anxious family members.  It is arguable that the newspaper writer at times took a certain amount of poetic license to the details of a story that a member of the military may have written home about.  Exploits that took place in the war were oft times embellished a bit to encourage the folks at home.  There is also a strong likelihood that at least some of the acts of daring do written home about were never intended to end up in the newspaper.  Like in every war some of the most heroic instances were never reported through the media while others were over reported in the headlines.
            When a letter home from young sailor Ralph Robb, whose parents lived northeast of Gainesville was passed on to the newspapers the story took a detour in details.   Assigned to a submarine chaser, with the rank of second engineer the young man told his family that his vessel had the distinction of sinking two submarines off the coast of Nova Scotia.  Robb had spotted the periscope of one of the U Boats just before the chaser had reached the spot it submerged which allowed the ship to drop depth charges in time to sink the undersea menace. 
            After the story was picked up by a Gainesville correspondent for the Fort Worth Gazette it took on an exaggerated life of its own.  Appearing on the front page of the cow town newspaper it appeared under a bold headline July 10, 1918 which declared Cooke County Lad Is First North Texan to Bag Submarine.  The short story went on to say that "One enemy sub escaped but two others succumbed to the unerring aim of the Cooke County gunner."  The article concluded saying the young Cooke County farmer had joined the navy the previous year and after preliminary training had been sent to Columbia University for further training.
            The day after the story ran in the Fort Worth Gazette it appeared the following day in the Dallas Morning News with a few variations.  Under the bold print headline COOKE COUNTY SAILOR SINKS TWO SUBMARINES, the story identified Robb as the gunner on a submarine chaser which was protecting a troop convoy sailing thirty miles off the coast of Nova Scotia about 4 o'clock in the afternoon when the convoy came under attack from a group of German submarines.  "One enemy diver escaped, but the other two succumbed to the unerring aim of the Cooke County gunner."  The same stringer was obviously feeding both publications.   At the end of the story was a line encouraging readers to buy war bonds.   Exact or not as to details the story was just the kind of heroic, inspirational story that the country was hungry for after more than a year at war. 

 

    

 ​

​A DEATH AT HOME

 
            Born August 5, of 1895, Lee Oral Cobble was the son of John and Mary Cobble who resided on Tennie Street in Gainesville in 1900.  He was one of four children born to the couple, who had moved to Texas from Tennessee and was the second born of two sons the couple would have.  Two other children had not made it out of infancy.
            At the time of the 1900 census, John Cobble was employed as a policeman in Gainesville, who in addition to a wife and four children, provided a home for his 71 year old father, a retired carpenter.  The oldest of the children Carrie, a daughter, was 8 years old and attending school.  The other children, Royal Frank age 6, Lee Oral, 4, and little Etta, age 3 were still enjoying the benefits of living at home before being enrolled in school.
            By the age of 21 when draft registration day came around, Oral was working hard in the newly emerging oil field industry earning a living in the employment of R. A. McPherson of Austin, Texas, as a gas clerk.  A young man of medium height and medium build with brown hair and brown eyes and no apparent physical defects, Oral was still single in 1917 when the information appeared on his draft registration card filed in the County of Cooke.
            In June of 1918, with Lee and R. Frank Cobble both eligible for the draft, the two men opted to volunteer for the school of mechanics which would offer them training for special mechanical work in the army in connection with motor trains and aero planes.  Conducted by the University of Texas school of mechanics at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, the training not only offered a young man the chance to learn mechanical skills adaptable to two important new industries that would be important after the war, but also might keep the boys out of the trenches of Europe.
            Seven Cooke county draft men who had volunteered for the training departed Gainesville, via the Sante Fe in late June 1918 for Camp Mabry.  The two Cobble boys, were accompanied by other volunteers, Stanley M. Duston of Gainesville, Robert L. Trew of Myra, Joseph H. Cochran of Marysville, Reece W. Trew of Era and John W. Henderson of Whitesboro.
            The young soldier would soon be transferred as an instructor in the auto mechanical department to Camp Sheridan, Alabama,  and in less than two months after arriving in training camp, Lee Oral Cobble, would find himself attached to Company A of the 25th Machine Gun Battalion.  The move to the combat battalion was a mute issue since a few months later, the Armistice would be announced.  Little more than a week after the halting of the fighting in France, on November 19, Lee Oral Cobble would be promoted to Private 1st class
            Cobble received a holiday furlough just before Christmas, and opted to take the train home to spend the time with his family.  It would be a fateful trip, as Lee Cobble would contract influenza and pneumonia on the trip from Alabama, and would come down with the diseases a few days after arriving in his hometown.
When Cobble arrived in Gainesville, the city was in the deadly clutches of the Spanish Influenza. Two funeral homes were servicing the city at the time.  The S. W. Gibson Funeral parlor was located on the south side of the courthouse square and the George J. Carroll Undertaking establishment, which was located on North Commerce Street in 1918 and still serves Cooke County today going into the 21st century.  Although the records of the Gibson establishment were lost over time, the records of the Carroll Funeral Home, still maintained today, show that the Carroll establishment handled 31 funerals during the month of December as a result of pneumonia and influenza.  Three persons died of the disease on December 6, another three on the 14th of the month, and four perished of the malady on December 20, 1918.
 One of the most frightening aspects of the disease, was that the young and apparently active, were apparently the most hard hit.  Along with infants being buried at the Fairview cemetery as a result of the disease were young adults in the prime of their lives.  The Gainesville deaths due pneumonia and Spanish influenza around Christmas in Gainesville included two women ages 37 and 20 and two men, aged 31 and 22.
            A news item carried locally, remarked that Cobble had arrived "a man of fine physique and was the picture of health on his arrival her from camp, but within a few days was stricken by influenza."  Regardless of where the infection had occurred the incubation period had begun and the disease reacted quickly.  
            The diseases had their effects and despite all that could be done by experienced doctors used to seeing influenza by now, Lee Cobble, passed away at 1:15 a.m., Friday, January 3, 1919 in the home of his parents.  Three other Gainesville residents died the same day as a result of the deadly pandemic.  Funeral services were held the following afternoon at 2:30 p.m. at the same address with the Rev. R.E. Joiner of the First Presbyterian Church presiding.
            An obituary presented in the Gainesville Daily Register recognized Lee Cobble as a "fine, manly young man," who was "clean, honorable and loyal to everyone who knew him."  In deference to his state side death, the article replied, "he served his country faithfully and is entitled to share honor with those who were called to go over the top, just as he would have gone with courage and valor if such call had come to him."
            Lee Oral Cobble is buried near the center of Gainesville's Fairview Cemetery in a section adjoining the east fence line at the back of the cemetery.  A large stone bearing the family name Cobble marks the family plot where Lee is buried.  The plot is to the south and just west of the Brockman family plot where Sherman Frank Brockman, another Cooke county loss of the Great War is buried.  The light gray granite stone, which matches the composition of the larger stone, is cut in a low profile manner,
            Lee Cobble's military serial number was 1,130,818.  His death is filed as OCD-Died of other causes, domestic death.

 

CLAIMED BY TWO COUNTIES

 
            Richard Bland Cunningham has the distinction of being honored as a hero of both Cooke county and Denton county, though the nature of the honor is not one anyone would desire to have.  In both counties he is listed as a casualty of war and in Gainesville his name appears on both the courthouse and the Leonard Park Memorials.
            Born April 4, 1896 to Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Cunningham of Celina, Richard spent the majority of his life residing in Cooke County before moving as a student at the state normal college in Denton, Texas.  On his 1917 draft registration card, Cunningham was listed as a student residing at 208 North Hickory in Denton, Texas.  Listed as a 21 year old man, of medium height and medium build, topped off with brown eyes and brown hair, the unmarried Caucasian was a prime candidate to be an excellent draft prospect, but his sense of duty beat the draft board to the draw.
            On September 5, 1917, 90 days after registering for the national draft, Richard Bland Cunningham, marched into a recruiters office in Denton and signed up for duty.  Within days he was off to Camp Travis for training and eventually ended up in Company B of the 359th infantry, part of the 90th Division.  The company and the division had many Cooke county members, including Sgt. Ora R. Anderson, Corporal McKinley Brisco, and Private George W. Caldwell, each who would die while in service to their country with Company B of the 359th Infantry.
            Seeing action in France, he was cited for bravery in the Argonne battle and his smiling photograph appeared, with other local soldiers from Denton County in a special edition of The Denton Record Chronicle, November 11, 1918.
            It seems ironic that men who had faced and survived reciprocating machine fire, aerial bombardment and even poison gas attacks would fall to disease but such was the case of Sgt. Richard B. Cunningham and many more like him.  While the armistice was agreed to with the Germans, there was no agreement to be made with the uncontrolled pestilence of pneumonia and influenza. On the 18th of February, 1919, after a short bout with pneumonia, Sgt. Richard Bland Cunningham died at Beres-Castle-Cues in Germany.
            A brief news item appeared in the local newspaper, saying that Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Cunningham of Era had been informed by the war department that their son, Dick had died in France.  The news story which appeared on Saturday, March 8, 1919 made mention that the man had enlisted in Denton.
            By the time Richard's body was sent back to the United States, more than a year had passed, during which the Cunningham's had moved to Denton.  Arriving first in New York, the remains were shipped from Neumagen, Germany not far from where the young sergeant had died.  Cunningham's funeral was held at the family home in Denton at 3 o'clock, October 17, 1920, before the burial at the IOOF Cemetery which is located only blocks from today's central campus of the University of North Texas.  The services were attended by Will Hinton, Ballard Watts, Joe Townsley, Carl Cook and William Henderson of the Gainesville chapter of the American Legion.  All were former members of Cunningham's outfit, the 359th Infantry.
            Richard Bland Cunningham rests in a family plot in the International Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery in Denton, Texas, in division S, Block 2, Space 5.  The large upright stone, near the markers of other family members, has an American flag embossed across the gray granite, bearing the legend;
 
SERGT RICHARD B
                                                                             

CUNNINGHAM
 
APR    4     1888
                                                                            

FEB   18     1919 

            While listed in Morton's THE FIRST 100 YEARS IN COOKE COUNTY as a Cooke County casualty, and listed on the courthouse bronze and the Leonard Park monument, Richard B. Cunningham is not listed on the Adjutant General report of 1928 as a Cooke County loss but rather a Denton County loss.   At the Denton County courthouse on the square in Denton, Cunningham is listed as a Denton loss of the Great War.  His serial number was 2,224,496.
            Cunningham would not be the only man Cooke County connection to be claimed by Denton County.  Bugler Oscar Jackson Spraggins, who is buried with his mother and father and other siblings at Era, is listed as a Denton County loss on the Denton County records.  In the 1900 census he is listed as a residence of Justice of the Peace Precinct 4 in Cooke County and was recorded as the fourth of William N. and Katie Spraggins five children, the others being 24 year old James T., 18 year old Emma, Rosa at 16 years of age, Willie E. at 11, and Lillie M. at 4 years of age.  Oscar J. was recorded as a 7 year old.  Ten years later in the 1910 census the family shows to have been residing at Justice of the Peace Precinct 5 in Denton County with an age reported as 10.  Such is the accuracy of census reports and enumerators of the day.
            In a November 11, 1918 special edition of The Denton Record Chronicle the haunting face of Oscar Spraggins gazes out from the pages as a Pilot Point casualty of the Great War.  It is the same edition that features a photograph of the then living Richard Bland Cunningham who was to die of disease in post war Germany. At the time of Bugler Spraggins death his mother and father were residing in Pilot Point in Denton County and when he was returned for burial in 1921 the address was cited as Pilot Point Rural Route just east of Gainesville.  Whatever the nomadic reasons it is known that the family did from time to time reside in Cooke County and that the body of the casualty was returned to Era for burial 
            According to the information found on the massive gray headstone, which in recent years has begun to lean precariously forward in the Era Cemetery the young soldier was killed in action November 2, 1918 while serving with Company B of the 359th Infantry.  Markings on the headstone indicate that Spraggins was a member of the Masonic Lodge and Woodmen of the Word.  A photo at one time was mounted between the two emblems but over the years either time or vandals robbed the headstone of the young bugler’s image.
            Nearby lay other family members; J.T. who died in 1906, Willie E. who passed away in 1911 and later the patriarch of the family William N. who was buried in Era in 1924 and Katie who joined him there in 1929.  Regardless of where they were living, the family was burying their dead in Cooke County.
             The Dallas Morning News announced on September 5, 1921 under a heading announcing BURIAL OF TEXAS SOLDIERS that the remains of Oscar Spraggins, a Cooke County soldier had  arrived in Hoboken and were to being forwarded to  Era, Texas for burial. Twenty three days later on Wednesday, September 28th the remains arrived via the railroad in Gainesville and arrangements were made with the American Legion post to participate in the burial at the Era Cemetery.  The one o'clock funeral service was held just a few hours ahead of the services conducted at 3:30 the same day in Rosston and also directed by the American Legion, for William Norman another member of Company B of the 359th Infantry who was killed in France a few days after Spraggins.
            Spraggins name is not included on Cooke County memorials as of 2010.  Perhaps it is because of the Denton County connection, or it may have been because by the time Spraggins body was returned to Texas for burial the bronze plaque at the Cooke County Courthouse had already been mounted. 
            At any rate the impressive headstone at the Era Cemetery reads;

 OSCAR J.

SPRAGGINS
                                   

Born November 12, 1894

Bugler Co. B 359 Infantry

Served With honor in the World War.

And was killed in action Nov. 2, 1918

Greater love hath no man than this

That he lay down his life for

his friends

SPRAGGINS

            The 1928 A.G. report compiling the list of Denton County dead listed Spraggins’ death as having occurred on November 5, 1918.  The same report on file in the Texas State Archives in Austin, in error, identified his unit as Co B 259th Infantry.  His serial number was 2,224,606

 

THE FIRST TO FALL IN COMBAT



            There is an incorrect assumption that having spent the majority of our lives in a particular area we are familiar with it.  In northwest Cooke County, in the areas of Bulcher and Illinois Bend there are roads that the majority of county natives have never been on and places that even people who live inside the county a life time have never visited. One such place is Bulcher, Texas, an out of the way point, known to some as a place to ride dirt bikes along the Red River separating Texas and Oklahoma, to others, it is simply unknown.
            In 1918, Bulcher was the home of Samuel Richard Dennis, who would become Cooke County’s first soldier to fall in the Great War.  The locale was honored with the interment of Dennis after the war, and the naming of the Gainesville American Legion Post, in part for their native son. When the Dennis-Anderson Post of the American Legion was closed at the end of the twentieth century, the light of Samuel Richard Dennis, who is buried in the Bulcher Cemetery, began to diminish from memory.
            Born in Bulcher, Texas in May of 1891, the son of A.D. Dennis, Sam Dennis was brought into the family business of farming as soon as possible and in June of 1917; the 26 year old farmer was still working with his family, 4 miles northwest of Bulcher.  A man of medium height and medium build, Sam was possessed of blue eyes and light colored hair.  He told the registrar on the June 5, mandatory draft registration date, that he was in good health with the exception of being hard of hearing in one ear.
            Though he lived in Cooke County, the mail to northwestern part of the county where he resided had a star route, listed as Saint Jo, Texas. The city of Saint Jo itself was in nearby Montague County.  This listing of the mail address sometimes created confusion as to what county persons near Bulcher, Pilot Point and other spots across the county lived in.
            When Roy Tidwell of the Illinois Bend, died during the war, his death was at first listed as a Cooke county loss, but was later changed to Montague County.  The name today, is one of those listed on the War Memorial at the Nocona American Legion.  Oscar Sprigging family resided east of Gainesville on a Pilot Point address at the time Oscar was killed in France.  Today, though buried in the Era Cemetery with his family, Oscar Spraggins is listed as a Denton County casualty.  The case was strengthened when his photo appeared as part of a special end of the war edition that ran in The Denton Record Chronicle, November 11, 1918.  The same edition also ran a photograph of R. B. Cunningham, which landed him as a Denton County casualty, though having been raised in Cooke County.  Both Spraggins and Cunningham are listed as Denton county casualties.
            Samuel Richard Dennis was undeniably a Cooke countian, registered and drafted from there. His name appears in the Cooke county census in Cooke County in 1900 and again in 1910 and he rests in the Bulcher cemetery near other members of his family.  By some miscue, he is misidentified in the Standiforth graduate work in 1931, as James M.  Dennis, but all other information regarding Dennis in the entry is correct.
            With the assigned draft serial number of 1716, Samuel Richard Dennis, of St Jo was in the first group of 200 to be ordered to appear before the local exemption board in Gainesville for consideration for the new draft.  Appearing before the board with a grouping of 17 other men at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, August 8, 1917, Samuel became one of two men of the group selected as eligible for the national draft.  Later that day, in the 3 p.m. examination period they would be joined by 926 George W. Colwell (sic) of Valley View, and an hour later, 1205 Wayne Gentry of Muenster would be added to the list.
            On September 18, 1917, the local exemption board received a certified list from Tyler, Texas announcing the names of those certified by the eastern district of Texas to appear at Camp Travis to undergo training for the new national army.  Among the 82 names of men headed for Camp Travis, San Antonio, were those of Samuel Richard Dennis of Saint Jo, Travis Williams Anderson and Frank B. Keel of Gainesville, Wayne Gentry of Muenster, George Washington Caldwell of Valley View, and James Madison Curb of Myra, each of the six would lose their lives while in the service.
            After eight days in Camp, Dennis as assigned to Co B of the 359th Infantry where on December 1, 1917 he would he promoted to Pvt 1st Class.  On March 12, 1918 Dennis was transferred into Co L of the 59th Infantry as a replacement and was soon promoted to corporal on April 2, 1918.
            Going with his assigned unit on May 5, Dennis was soon involved in the battle of the Marne and it was there that he received the wound July 28, 1918, that would make him the first soldier from Cooke County to die of a combat wound.  In early reports from the French front, Dennis’ injury was first noted as a serious wound.  The casualty report also told of the wounding of Louis Penton of Gainesville and the loss of an arm by Earl Cochran who was from near Marysville.  The report arrived August 6th.  The family would later discover that by the time the report of the wounding arrived, their son Samuel R. Dennis was already dead.
            It would not be until October 2, 1918, when the war department casualty report would be published that those back home would know of the death of Sam, who was listed under the category of; Died from Wounds. The report, issued by the Commanding General of the American Expeditionary Force, listed 94 men as killed in action; 34 missing in action; 316 wounded severely; 38 as died from wounds; one death due an airplane crash; 7 as having died from other accidents; 12 having died from disease; one wounded, degree unknown; and 4 as prisoners for a total of 534. A second report with another 534 names was attached to the first along with a listing of more than a hundred marine casualties.
            It would be until the end of the war before anyone heard of the details of Sam's death, when a visiting veteran from Saint Jo, identified as D. Franklin, a member of the Thirty-second Division, related the story to a reporter for the local newspaper.  In a story which ran Saturday, April 5, 1919, in The Gainesville Daily Register, Franklin said that during the fighting, his division, made up of men mostly from Wisconsin and Minnesota, were flanked by the 90th Division and were near the scene of the fighting involving Sam Dennis.  The 32nd had trained at Waco, Texas, and some of the men knew soldiers from the 90th who were all Texas and Oklahoma men. 
            As the battle raged, Dennis was in charge of a squad of men when an order came to fall back.  Being in an isolated position, Dennis was among those who refused to give ground when the fighting became hand to hand.  According to Franklin’s account, the only man from the squad to escape the German onslaught killed the German who bayonetted Sam Dennis. The wounded corporal was recovered but died soon afterwards of his wounds.  Franklin, himself, wore a wound stripe and suffered a crippled hand in the battle at the Marne.
            It would take a long while for the first combat death of Cooke County to make it home.  It was on Thursday afternoon, June 2, 1921 that the remains of Samuel Richard Dennis were spoken over at the Bulcher Cemetery.  Owing to the uncertainty as to the date of the arrival of the body in Saint Jo, the Dennis-Anderson Post of the American Legion, which bore his name, was unable to make positive arrangements to attend the funeral.  A detachment of legionnaires from Gainesville, including Ballard Watts, Jack Shelton, Henry Lynch, John Cox, Joe Pettit, and  Overton Clack attended the service with members and friends of the Dennis family.  Those in attendance were ask to remember the man who spilled the first blood from Cooke County on foreign soil.  The man who would become the first to die in combat from the county, July 28, 1918.
            Sam Dennis, military serial number 2,224,520 is buried in the Bulcher Cemetery in northwest Cooke County.  His headstone reads;
                             
 
            February of 1920 in the district court room of the court house in Gainesville, forty ex-service men met to organize a post of the American Legion for Cooke County.  The former servicemen in attendance at the meeting or who had expressed an intent to become charter members of the newly created branch of the nationally recognized program included: C.J. Burch, R.A. Garret, Travis King, William E. Henderson, Jake Bracken, C.J. Robb, Paul Huggins, Frank Stanford, H.B. Horn, Joe W. Purcell, R.M. Strong, C.S. Strong, Ben T. Rogers, Joe Petit, W.R. Block, F.B. Smith, Henry Lynch, B.P. Grundy, L.F. Bruns, C.L. Carthen, Richard Wesson, Richard Dresser, Charles Richter, Frank Bracken, L.B. Bruns, C.L. Carthen, Roy Carthen, Stewart R. Camp, Carl Cook, B.N. Watts, C.F. Frasher, Jim Ferguson, J.T. Bain, C.P. Oliver, L.M. Wyatt, W.H. Sims, Fred Daum, Gilbert Holman, C.L. Strong, C.C. Snelling, Frank Orsburn, Charles Ruwauldt, Lacey Fleenor, Felix Johnson, C.J. Jagelky, Ed Merzbacher, O.H. Jagelky, L.S. Gould, George Russell, John E. Orme, Charles Merzbacher, W.B. Hinton, Weldon Hinton,William Tyler and Frank B. Smith.
             Following a reading of the national charter by Charles Richter who had called the meeting to order, the motives of the legion were discussed and a dues schedule was established.  It was determined each member of the group would pay $1.25 per year with a dollar of that sum going to the national organization.  In turn members would receive a weekly paper entitled "The American Legion."
            Next on the agenda was the naming of the post at which time it was decided after several minutes of consideration and discussion to call the post "The Dennis-Anderson" American Legion in memory of two of the organizations "buddies" who did not make it home.  In a news release following the meeting, Frank B. Smith related, "Soldier Dennis is said to be the first Cooke county boy to lose his life, while Soldier Anderson is none other than O.R. Anderson, well and favorably known here."  The story went on saying "thousands of the comrades of these members throughout the entire army and navy lay beneath the sod of numerous parts of Europe. Some wearing the insignia of honor for heroic deeds in action; some have no decorations to commemorate their heroism, but each played a part and there is no doubt but what the just and loving Eternal Father kept their "service records" and that He, even He, bestowed upon them awards for distinguished service in the day of His Grand Review."  Smith concluded saying that it was one of the principles of the local post as well as every post throughout the country to preserve the memory of the fallen and honor those who lost their lives while in service to their country. 

            Following a series of discussions an election of officers took place determining those who would be ask to serve one year terms;

             Charles Richter             Post Commander

            Ballard Watts                First Vice Commander

            Frank Bracken               Second Vice Commander

            Richard B. Wesson        Post Adjutant

            L.W. Wyatt                    Finance

            William Block                Post Chaplain

            Frank B. Smith              Historian

           In March the Dennis-Anderson Post held its first memorial service at the First Presbyterian Church to honor the memory of “the brave and valorous Cooke county lads who made the supreme sacrifice in the world war for their country and for world liberty."
In the filled to capacity auditorium the members of the legion were seated in a place of honor and were themselves honored for their desire to perpetuate the memory of their fallen comrades.
            Before the internet, before the assembling of the later reports compiled by the states adjutant general's report, and before even the publishing of most unit histories, the post had itself compiled a list of twenty-one Cooke county men who had lost their lives through disease or on the battle front while in service.
            O.R. Anderson, Travis Anderson, Frank Brockman, Lee Cobble, James H. Curb, Hugh Downard, Sam R. Dennis, Ernest W. Ellerton, Andy Gentry, Bert Hall, Frank B. Keel, Dr. John R. Lewis, Doc Morris, James A. Manahan, Albert S. Morris, Warren Murchison, Otis Strickland, Edward Sullivan, Sam W. Tune, Thomas W. Witt, John Stevens (sic).
            The program for the evening was presided over by Charles E. Richter with music by the Southern Presbyterian orchestra.  Special recognition was given to those playing key roles in the memorial service;

             Invocation                                             Father Keely

            Scripture reading                                   Reverend Pierce

            Prayer                                                   Dr. Joiner

            Offering Music                                      Southern Presbyterian Orchestra

            Xylophone Solo                                    The Stars and Stripes Forever by Mr. Hickman

            Our Roll of Honor                                  J.O. Patterson

            Cooke County's Tribute to Her Men        Fred Wankan

            Solo-Soldiers Dirge                               Edwin McNeely

            Memorial Address                                 Reverend Lockett Adair

            Solo-"The Americans Come"                  William H. Rue

            Hymn                                                    Star Spangled Banner

            Benediction                                           Reverend R.L. Powell

          Like with earlier lists containing the names of the county's losses during the war the list presented that night in 1920 would be changed with corrections, deletions and additions eventually being made.  The Dennis-Anderson Post closed before the awakening of the new millennium.  Their promise to preserve the memory of the fallen continues today through the history of their work during the twentieth century. 

 

The Voice Of North Texas

​​TWO BOYS FROM OKLAHOMA

            Another soldier misidentified on the Cooke County Courthouse plaque is Roger Bird.  Recognized on the courthouse monument on the bronze tablet as Roger D. Bird, the correct name of this Oklahoma man who was born in Texas was Roger Harrison Bird.  He is one of two men who were born in Cooke County but spent virtually their entire lives in Oklahoma.
            Born the 15th of January, 1889, to John and Hattie Bird in Sivells Bend in northern Cooke County, Roger was eleven years of age when he appeared on the 1900 census as residing with his mother and father on a rented farm in Cooke County.  John had been born in Tennessee in October of 1849 and Hattie was a native of Missouri born in February of 1856, but Roger H. showed to be a native Texan.  In the census he was shown to be student rather than as was often listed, a farm laborer.
            By 1910 the family, along with their now 21 year old son, were residing in Harrison township, in Grady County, Oklahoma and were conducting farming as a means of living.  A revision on the 1910 census revealed that the couple had been married 21 years and that Roger had come along in their first year of marriage.
            Seven years later, when it came time to register for the draft in Grady County, Bird was listed as single, now living on his own in near Bailey, in Grady County engaged in farming. The registration card listed him as having gray eyes and black hair and being of medium height and a medium build.  The single man indicated that he was subject to kidney trouble but was otherwise in good physical shape.
            Entering the service courtesy of the draft, Roger Harrison Bird, became a private in the supply company of the 357th Infantry at Camp Travis and was just over 29 years of age when he was taken ill to the base hospital at Camp Travis, San Antonio.  The 357th was part of the 90th Division made up mostly of men from Texas and Oklahoma.  The division patch boasted a capitol "O" for Oklahoma stamped over with a capital "T" for Texas.  Nicknamed the "tough ombres," Bird may have known some of the men from Cooke County he may have encountered in the service.
            After some months at Camp Travis, illness came calling.  Being checked in on February 7, less than a month after is birthday, Roger Harrison Bird, began a struggle for his life that was to take a month.  After numerous upturns and subsequent setbacks, Bird gave up his 31 day struggle at 11:20 a.m., March 10, 1918,
            The camp MRC who recorded the death, 1st Lieutenant A. Johnson, attributed the death to pneumonic tuberculosis which had stricken the upper, middle and lower lobes on the right side and the lower lobe on the left side.
            Roger was listed on the Bureau of Vital Statics, Standard Certificate of Death, as a single man whose father’s and mother’s name was unknown.  The certificate indicates that the Shelley-Loring Undertaking Company in San Antonio handled the removal of the body to Rush Springs on the eleventh of March, 1918.  Current records available do not indicate the burial site in Grady County of Roger Harrison Bird, or the final resting place of his mother and father, Hattie and John Bird.
            The second Oklahoman listed on the Cooke County monuments was Emory Hobbs of Robberson, Oklahoma. Hobbs was another farmer who lived and resided in Oklahoma when it came time to register for the national draft.  Like Bird, his draft registration card indicated that he had been born in Cooke County, Texas, in Hobbs case, the place of birth was listed as Bulcher in the northwestern part of the county near Montague County.
            Described as 28 years of age at the time of his registration, Hobbs was born September 26, 1889.  The register listed him as a short, slender, white male with blue eyes and light colored hair.  Single, with no physical defects listed, Hobbs would soon find himself in the new national army.  In the book, THE SOLDIERS OF THE GREAT WAR, Emory Hobbs is listed as a death due to disease.  Assuming that this information is correct, his death occurred on November 2, 1918, just a matter of days before the armistice went into effect.  His information is listed among the losses from the state of Oklahoma. His hometown was listed in the publication as Foster, Oklahoma. 
            His was among the thousands of bodies returned to the United States for burial in the years following the war.  Eventually, the slight Oklahoma farmer made it back to Foster, Oklahoma, where he was buried in the old section of the Foster Cemetery.  According to cemetery records, he is buried in the west section of the old cemetery between the two south gates.  The section known as the old cemetery faces the county road on the east side of the site
            Notably, the dates on the headstone and the draft registration card do not match.  The card indicates the date of birth as September 26, 1889.  The stone in the Foster Cemetery reads September 26, 1887 as the date of birth.  The date of death is listed on the headstone as November 2, 1918.
            The name Emory Hobbs is listed on the Cooke County memorials and is listed in A. Morton Smith's THE FIRST 100 YEARS OF COOKE COUNTY but does not appear in the Adjutant General's 1928 report or the Staniforth work.  A single mention alluding to the Oklahoma soldier is handwritten across the top of the notes of the Memorial Committee at the Cooke County Library.  The name "Hobbs” is written in pencil at the top of one page.
            Emory Hobbs name was not mentioned when a special Veterans Day issue appeared in the Gainesville newspaper in 1920.  Additionally, the name did not appear among those mentioned in a spring time commemorative service held by the American Legion in 1920.