Remembrance Poppies

Has it really been three years?

I got an email from Word Press stating that it has been three years I have been blogging.  I know now that the goal I set for myself was unrealistic.  What really happens when I decide to write a blog, is I have to go research the missing pieces.  This in itself is a great exercise because it focuses my attention on the subject at hand.  However, what it also does is slow things way down.  It takes a lot of time to explore backwards.  I want to have some facts but I also wish for some character sketches as well.  But please know if I am not blogging I am still doing the research that I love and uncovering the mysteries of our families past.

 

Today is Memorial Day, as I sit here and type, I am thinking of all my ancestors that fought in the wars of our country.  I also think of all the men and women who have served.  Whatever you do today, take a minute of quiet reflection and think about all the soldiers we have lost during our wars.  Then take a minute to think of the multitude of family members they left behind.  There have been great poems and memorials written and constructed to remember the fallen.

Below is the poem, In Flanders Fields, by Major John McCrae, a Canadian Doctor and Artillery Commander.  It is believed he wrote this poem after giving a burial service for his friend during a battle of WWI.

by John McCrae, May 1915

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

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

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

Found on http://www.greatwar.co.uk/poems/john-mccrae-in-flanders-fields.htm

 

Moina Belle Michael, an American teacher, wrote a poem in response to In Flanders Field.

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

http://www.usmemorialday.org/?page_id=2

She then conceived of the idea of wearing poppy flowers as a way to remember and commemorate the fallen soldiers and also to benefit them with the sale of poppies.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

If you see a Veteran today asking for a donation, offering you a plastic poppy flower, you will know the true reason for this gesture.

Who are the fallen heroes in your life?  Take a moment today to remember them, I know I will.

 

What is a Quartermaster?

What is a Quartermaster? That is what I wanted to know. My great-grandfather Walter Everett Whitehead was a Quartermaster. I have written about him many times. However, I continue to find new things about him. As you know, Walter Everett Whitehead was a very patriotic man. He was involved in three wars, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II.

After I read that, I wondered how that was even possible for him to be involved in three wars. According to a snippet from newspaper, The Constitution, it mentioned that Walter served in the Spanish-American War. Walter would have been 29 years old when President McKinley asks Congress to go to War on April 11, 1898 (Spanish-American War Chronology). I do not have any genealogical proof of his participation, but I am still looking.

During World War I, even though he was too old to enlist (approximately 50 years old); he found other ways to get involved. He was a Quartermaster at Camp Joseph E. Johnson in Florida in 1918.

I have not read volumes about the military, nor have I ever been a military buff. However, as you delve into genealogy, you begin to read about the life and times of your ancestors. Here is a bit, of what I learned.

Quartermaster officers are responsible for making sure equipment, materials and systems are available and functioning for missions. More specifically, the quartermaster officer provides supply support for Soldiers and units in field services, aerial delivery, and material and distribution management (Quartermaster Officer, 2015).

You can read more about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartermaster_Corps_%28United_States_Army%29

Essentially the Quartermaster services are like a large mail order house, whereby different supplies are requested and distributed.

While visiting the Carlton home, I found some treasures of his military service. There was a little ledger that he used to take notes. It was dated October 1918. My great-grandfather took some notes in this little ledger. One of the things that he wrote was a lecture he attended on 18 October 1918, about Influenza in Horses. He would attend the interval camps in connection with Remount Service. I had to learn what Remount Service meant as well. Walter’s assignment meant that he oversaw the procurement and training of horses for the US Army.

You can read more about it here: http://www.qmfound.com/remount1.htm

 

During my genealogical visit to Walter’s home, I scanned a few important military papers. I did not have enough time to scan everything that I wanted to but I have a few.  That just means I will have to go back!

There was a correspondence dated 19 September 1928, which reappointed Walter as captain in the Army of the United States. He was 60 years old at this time. He was still serving his country as a Quartermaster Reserve Captain. The next year on 17 May 1929, he was promoted to Major.

While he was serving his Country, Walter continued to serve his home state of Georgia. I have a letter dated January 11, 1932, announcing that Walter was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, Aide de Camp for Governor Richard B. Russell. He was 64 years old.

Another correspondence that I was able to scan was from the Governor’s office appointing Walter to the Madison County Selective Service Board on 17 October 1940. He eventually became the Draft Board Chairman.

Walter attempted to join the service during World War II, but was denied after physical examination. He was 76 years old!

Whitehead Honored

Whitehead Honored

In 1946, Walter was invited to Washington DC to represent Georgia’s Draft Board Chairman for their contributions to the war effort. He was 78 years old. Walter and his son Joe attended. President Truman pinned the Selective Service Medal during this ceremony. What a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his life to serving his state and country.

Harry Truman & Walter Whitehead

Harry Truman & Walter Whitehead

Mr. Whitehead goes to Washington

Mr. Whitehead goes to Washington

In addition to all of this, he also served as a Georgia State Senator on two occasions. I will discuss those terms at a future time.


Sources:

Quartermaster Duties. Retrieved from http://www.Goarmy.com on November 13, 2015

Spanish-American War Chronology retrieved on November 21 2015, at http://www.spanamwar.com/timeline.htm

 

Until later, I will be exploring backwards!

 

Memorial Day 2015

Memorial Day was not always Memorial Day. It started out as Decoration Day. A day dedicated to decorating the graves of the civil war dead.

“We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.”

– James A. Garfield, May 30, 1868 Arlington National Cemetery

(Source: http://www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert/memorial-day/history/)

At least three of my Great-Grandfathers fought in the Civil War, George Wiley Whitehead, Columbus Augustus Stevens and George Bland Sublett. Two other Great Grandfathers were German and not in the US at the time. I still have to do some research on the other three, but since they lived in Virginia during the Civil War, I am thinking maybe they did as well. However, I will try to refrain from searching for that now, and focus on this blog. I had several others fight in both the Great World Wars.

My Grand Uncle, George Stevens Whitehead, was a Rhodes Scholar, and left the United States in 1916 for Balliol College, in Oxford England. He and many others left school in 1917 in order to join cause. In fact, when we were visiting our Georgia relatives last week, we read a series of letters written to Papa (Walter Everett) by George. One of them included a message from King George V, about the great duty they had to their country.

While thinking about the great sacrifices my ancestors made so that we could live in a free and democratic society, I am engulfed in patriotism. I am deeply humbled by their acts of courage. I honor them by paying tribute to these brave individuals. Today, we raised our flag and bowed our heads for those brave soldiers and their families that made the ultimate sacrifice. I write this blog and think about the individuals in my family that have given so freely of themselves so that I can be free.

Therefore, whether you raised a flag, run in a Memorial Day run, or wear poppy red, we will remember the valor of the dead. 

Below are the men in my family that have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. 

Larry Whitehead

Larry Whitehead


Fred Whitehead

Fred Whitehead


Walter E. Whitehead

Walter E. Whitehead

 

 

George Stevens Whitehead (Part 2)

In honor of Veteran’s Day 2014.

George Stevens Whitehead, Part II

I have been pondering something for a while. I discussed in an earlier post that George Stevens was a recipient of the Rhodes scholarship. My second cousin, Joe, recently sent me an email about some research he had discovered about George’s time at Oxford. So, I thought I would look into it a bit further.

The Scholarship was formed in 1903 by the will of Cecil Rhodes for the education of “future leaders for the world who would be committed to service in the public good, and whose interactions in Oxford would promote international understanding.” Since its inception, there have only been 7,603 Rhodes scholarship recipients (Rhodeshouse, 2014). This low number makes this award one of the most prestigious collegiate award in history.

George Stevens Whitehead (passport picture)

George Stevens Whitehead (passport picture)

Essentially, George Stevens was admitted to Balliol College in Oxford, England in 1916. However, shortly after arriving, the United States of America joins the war (WWI). George sails home to join in the conflict. I found his name on the Baltic’s ship manifest. He departs Liverpool and arrives home to the United States at Ellis Island on July 1, 1917. George was making his passage alongside passengers that were immigrating to the United States. I wonder what was going through his young brilliant mind, as he traveled back to the United States to take up arms, like his father and his ancestors did. Was he angry that this conflict was interrupting his studies? Was he glad to have a chance to fight? Did he feel pressure from his father? (Walter Everett was such a patriotic man having fought in the Spanish-American War previously and also served his country in both World Wars.)

George returned home on the Baltic

George returned home on the Baltic

George joined the United States Army and became a 2nd Lieutenant in the 313rd Field Artillery with the 80th Division. His service card also indicates that he started with the 87th Division and 335th Machine Gun Artillery. He served overseas from 24 August 1918 to 13th July 1919.  He fought at Argonne and St. Mihiel to name a few.

 

When the war was over, he went back to Oxford to finish his studies. He took a special short degree in Literature and Humanities. After graduating he returned to the United States. He went to California for his health. Apparently he suffered from the same debilitating arthritis that claimed his mother. He was an associate professor at the University of California in the Public Speaking department from 1922-1926. He then became a lawyer and practiced law in San Mateo County California.

In 1942, George was treated at the US Veteran’s Facility in Whipple, Arizona. In fact, his World War II draft card indicates he was a patient at the facility. He was listed as 5’ 9” tall and only 108 pounds. According to the record, George was too ill to contact. The facility completed the document on 28 April 1942.

In July 1944 he moved to a military hospital in Bay Pines, Florida. He subsequently died on 24 January 1946. I wanted to know what he died of at such an early age. I sent away to the Florida Department of Vital Statistics. I was shocked to see that he spent 551 days at the Bay Pines Veteran’s Hospital.

The cause of death was listed as Myocardial degeneration with dilation, Arthritis deformans with secondary anemia (Florida Vital Records).

Essentially he died from a dilated weakened heart muscle. The hospital had performed a surgery on his sinuses but they were unable to control the bleeding afterwards. George also suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis like his mother, however back in the 1940’s they called it Arthritis Deformans.

His body was removed and sent home to Georgia to be buried with the family in the Stevens Family Cemetery at Sandy Cross, Oglethorpe County, Georgia.

Below is the obituary that was published:

Danielsville Monitor, 1 February 1946

SERVICES HELD LAST FRIDAY FOR GEORGE S. WHITEHEAD

 George Stevens Whitehead, 50, former resident of Carlton, died last Thursday

at the Veterans Facility in Bay Pines, Florida. Services were conducted from

the Carlton Baptist Church last Sunday afternoon at 2:00 o’clock.

 Mr. Whitehead is survived by his father, Walter E. Whitehead; two brothers,

Joe Whitehead, Chicago, IL; sister, Miss Martha Whitehead, Carlton; five

nieces and nephews.  (You notice that the obituary has errors.  His brother Fred was from Chicago, and his brother Walter Joe was from Carlton).

    He was born January 26, 1896 and attended Gordon Institute in Barnesville

before entering the University of Georgia in 1912, where he was such a

brilliant student it is doubtful if his scholastic achievements have ever been

equaled. He completed the Bachelor of Arts degree course in three years and

graduated in 1915. The next year he completed work for, and received his

Master of Arts degree.

  While at the University he was a leader, not only in scholastic attainments

but also in various campus and student activities, being especially

outstanding in public speaking.

    He was one of the most popular students in his class. Mr. Whitehead was a

member of Phi Beta Kappa national honorary scholastic fraternity, and went to

England as a Rhodes Scholar, studying at Balliol College, Oxford University.

    He also held a teachers diploma from the University of California and an

LLB from LaSalle Extension University.

    During 1917 – 1919 he served in the armed forces of the nation in the First

World War with distinction as a Second Lieutenant. Later he was an Associate

in the Department of Public Speaking at the University of California and in

1927 took up the practice of law in Burlingame California, where he resided at

the time he became ill (Usgwarchives).

 

 

George Stevens Whitehead (Stevens Cemetery at Sandy Cross)

George Stevens Whitehead (Stevens Cemetery at Sandy Cross)

 

Sources:

Rhodeshouse, 2014 retrieved on 10/25/14 at http://www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk

Florida Vital Records

US Archives, retrieved on 8/21/2009 at http://files.usgwarchives.net/ga/madison/obits/w/whitehea5570gob.txt

Walter Joe Whitehead

Walter Joe Whitehead

Walter Joe Whitehead was born 6 October 1898 in Oglethorpe County, Georgia. Walter went by the name Joe. His father’s name was Walter Everett. Joe is my Grand Uncle. He was the brother to the grandfather that I never met (Fred Whitehead).

I am fortunate to know so much about Joe, due to the genealogical book that his wife, Emma Chloe Adams Whitehead compiled prior to her death.

According to Aunt Chloe, “Joe attended grammar and high School in Carlton…He graduated from the High School division of Gordon Military College in June 1914 (Whitehead, 1983, p.285).”

His college life was interrupted by World War I. Joe was one of the Army’s six-month wonders. He rose to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant with the infantry. You can read more about this phenomenon here: http://blog.pressrepublican.com/archive/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=46960:%27plattsburgh_idea%27_helped_prepare_u.s._for_wwi&catid=34:news-articles

Joe eventually graduated from the University of Georgia following the war in June 1920.

University of Georgia Graduation

University of Georgia Graduation

Several pages in this book give the readers a close glimpse into the courtship of Joe and Chloe. My favorite is the where she describes sitting in the lobby of their hotel following their marriage. The bellhop walked through repeating several times that there was a call for Mrs. Whitehead. Not familiar to answering to that name, Joe had to tell her that she was wanted on the telephone (Whitehead, 1983).

Joe worked at as the bookkeeper for the Stevens-Martin Mercantile. This business owned five cotton gins, two in Carlton (Madison County) and three in Oglethorpe. The store was eventually closed in 1962, after farming of cotton and corn had diminished.

Stevens Martin Mercantile circa 1940

Stevens Martin Mercantile circa 1940

Joe was elected to the Madison County Board of Education in 1934. Although he was very civic-minded like his father, he never went into politics like his father. Joe had many friends that were into politics. Joe retired from the Madison County Board of education and became a member of the Georgia School Board Association in 1964. Joe was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of Governor Earnest Vandiver’s staff in 1959.

In his mid-sixties, Joe’s health deteriorated. He was initially diagnosed of having a paralyzed left vocal cord. He ultimately was diagnosed with lung cancer and he died 17 May 1965 at the age of 66. My father, Larry Whitehead was one of the pallbearers as was Joe Augustus Stevens, Junior, my dad’s cousin.

Walter Joe Whitehead

Walter Joe Whitehead

(Source: The Adams Family James Adams Line, 1795-1982, Emma Chloe Adams Whitehead, 1983.)

Join me next time as we continue to explore backwards.