Tag Archives: Genealogy

No Wheels? Go By Horse, Of Course.

I’m sitting here at the computer, trying to decide if I should get up and go outside for a little rain dancing.  It’s either that or break out the garden hose and start watering.  We do have an 80% chance of rain this afternoon, and while the sky is overcast – in an on-again/off-again way – I’m thinking that maybe our local meteorologist declared the Happy Hour open just a little bit early today. His prediction doesn’t seem to be based on hard science.

Speaking of happy, my inbox has been a very happy place to be this week.  Cousins have been sharing some very cool family photos, and I’m finally getting around to posting some of them.  (I know what you’re thinking and it’s nothing that I haven’t said to myself… slacker.)

Louise Saucier O’Donnell

First up is a photo from a Thomas cousin.  The photo is labeled, “Bernard, Don, and myself in front of our house in East St. Louis”.  On the back of the photograph, “Aunt Lulu” is written.

Aunt Louise Bernard and Don

Bernard and Don Saucier were Aunt Lulu’s nephews, sons of a younger brother, Eugene Field Saucier.  Bernard was born 17 December, 1915 and Donald was born 23 September, 1917.  Best guess on a date for the photo would be the early 1920s, which would have made Aunt Lulu forty-something – some twenty years or so after the Saucier Family photo was taken.

The information I have on Louise “Lulu” Saucier, is a little hazy: born 25 November, 1880, died 19 March, 1956 in an automobile accident at Times Beach, Missouri.  Aunt Lulu married Thomas O’Donnell, had a large family, and was a long time resident of East St. Louis, Illinois.

I’ve compared this photo of Aunt Lulu to the Saucier Family photo, and I do have a couple of likely looking suspects picked out, with a strong first choice.  That straight nose and determined jawline are very distinctive.  Anyone else care to make a guess?  Leave a comment, or drop me an email.

Eugene Field Saucier

The next two photos came courtesy of a Cardwell cousin, both are photos of Eugene Field Saucier.  Please note that in the first photo, there is equipment hanging on the saddle horn, so Uncle Gene wasn’t out for a leisurely ride in the country.

Uncle Gene Saucier on horseMy dad used to tell stories about his uncles, the Saucier Boys, and how crazy they were for the game of baseball.  I’m pleased to say that I can move the stories from the family legend column, to the fact column.  The next photo shows Uncle Gene, again on horseback, on his way to or from a baseball game, and in uniform.

unclegeneinbaseballuniformCan anyone identify that second man?  He has the deep-set eyes, and a certain look about him suggests, to me anyway, that he is family.  But who?

Francis Field Saucier

If baseball is mentioned at one of our family gatherings, the conversation will soon turn to Frank Saucier, Uncle Stumy’s (Alexander’s) youngest son… but I’ll save that cousin for a future post.

Frank Saucier[Edit.: The rain is pouring down!  Mea culpa for those earlier bad thoughts I directed towards our terrifically smart weatherman – he’s an absolute genius.]

A Promise Is A Promise Is A Promise

June has blown right by with little thought on my part for anything in the way of regular posts.  The only excuse I can provide for the chirping of electronic crickets at this end was the unusual weather we’ve been enjoying here in SW Oklahoma.  We have certainly seen the mercury rise, eleven days over 100° so far (37.7° Celsius for my metric using friends), but other than those few days, when all I wanted to do was to hunker down and ride out the heat, it really has been a balmy spring.  Now my definition of balmy may differ somewhat from yours, but trust me on this one, it’s been a season worth remembering.

Weeks ago I mentioned the existence of a key to the much celebrated Saucier Family photograph.  Both photo and key were generously contributed by Glen Cowan, but time has unfortunately gone into overdrive since I made that promise.  At last, today is the day for the unveiling.

Here’s the photo once again, this time accompanied by the key that was provided by Aunt Mabel’s daughter, Mary Virginia “Ginny” Cowan Wahl (b. 17 June, 1922 – d. 12 September, 2011).  Aunt Mabel is seated in the bottom row, third from the left.

saucier_familysaucier_family_photo_keyGo ahead and click on the image for a larger view – as you will see, there are question marks and omissions in the key.  One glaring error is the line, “Grandfather Saucier… died two years after picture”.  It is known that Eugene F. Saucier died in 1913, so the supposition that this photo was taken in 1911 is, I think, slightly off-base due to the ages of the identified children.

At the same time there are a few tasty tidbits included that give us a glimpse of the people we came from:  great grandfather Eugene F. played the violin, his father played the organ at the Old Cathedral in St. Louis, Missouri.  Stumy lived for nearly 100 years – a jaw-dropping 98 years to be exact – and may have played the fiddle as well.  Charles was killed in World War I (in the first days of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive); and two of the Saucier boys, Stumy and Wayne, together with a third man by the name of Dan, bought the Old Mill Farm (aka the Twin Springs Farm) and paid it off in a year.  So here’s yet another mystery – who in the world was Dan?

I had hoped, by some incredible stroke of luck, that the mysteries of the Saucier Family photograph would be unraveled by now.  That hasn’t happened, but perhaps the key will kick-start someone’s memories, or simply spur somebody to step forward to help set the record straight.  Stranger things have happened, and the eternal optimist (yours truly) refuses to give up on this particular little pipe dream.

One of the side benefits of this discussion has been the surfacing of family photographs.  I’ll wrap up today’s post with a few of my favorites:

Nana on horseback sidesaddleHere is a photograph of my grandmother, Ida Louise Hoffmann Saucier (b. 23 June, 1888 – d. 14 September, 1963).  Ida married James Garfield Saucier on 16 February, 1909 at Union, Missouri.  James is located top row, far right in the Saucier Family photograph.  And yes, you have my permission to giggle or chortle over the hat that she’s wearing – I do, every single time I see it!

josephinesauciercowanJosephine Saucier who married Eugene Cowan, Sr.,  photographed at her home in Columbia, Missouri (which, by the way, is still standing at 406 Conley Avenue).  Aunt Jo was one of the eight daughters of Eugene F. and Louise A. Saucier.  Unfortunately, Jo does not appear in the Saucier Family photograph.

Lastly, from another of Josephine’s grandchildren, a photograph said to be of a much younger Jo Saucier with an unidentified man.  The photo captures the final moments of a profitable day spent hunting – I spy pheasant, rabbit, possibly raccoon or maybe just a tangle of squirrels, in addition to some unidentified bits and pieces.

Josephine (JoJo) SaucierI’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – thank you, each and every one of you, who’ve made these wonderful photographs of our family available.

Roussin Roundup Bulletin – 1943

Antique Typewriter

In a recent email from a Cowan cousin, the subject of Pelagie Roussin was raised.  While musing on the subject of the black-eyed French girl who caught my great-great grandfather’s fancy, I remembered a bit of buried treasure that I’d tucked away years ago, a Roussin Roundup Bulletin from 1943.

The Roundup was an annual event with the exception of the war years, when gasoline rationing made travel difficult.  The following bulletin was sent out in 1943 by Madelyne Roussin (later Warnhoff), who for many years served as the secretary of the Roussin Family association.  Madelyne faithfully recorded and reported all of the newsy events of the large clan.

This particular bulletin was found in the papers of my aunt, Gladys Saucier Barron, and given to me by one of her daughters some fifty-odd years after its mailing.  Contained within the bulletin are all sorts of interesting snippets of family doings – names, dates and family connections, births, weddings and deaths.  There’s something here for just about everyone… dive in, the water’s fine.

Roussin RoundupRoussin RoundupRoussin Roundup

GREETINGS TO ALL

Another year slips by and no ROUSSIN ROUNDUP.  It is the regret of all concerned, but war imposes many setbacks and disappointments.  As true ROUSSINS, dating back to the original strain, we will take it all in the same stride and hope for better times ahead.  Perhaps another second Sunday in August will see us together again having the happy time known to those who have gathered in the past under the banner of the ROUNDUP.

In the absence of that pleasant occasion we must rely on the annual bulletin to keep us in touch with the clan and its most notable events.  I sent out a memorandum requesting information for this year’s issue and in general the response was good.  But I realize the coverage of news is not complete.  There are, perhaps, as many items missing as there are included in this bulletin for all of which I am very sorry but I’ve done the best I could considering handicaps.

*********************

In the beginning, let me tell you about the very serious illness and operation which our esteemed treasurer, Mrs. Floyd D. Roussin, underwent last November.  She is well and strong again now and, like the rest of us, looking forward to seeing everybody at the next ROUNDUP.  Sickness seems to strike the officers of our organization.  Mrs. Hattie Saucier Pace, our first president, has been physically incapacitated for many months and at this writing is under medical treatment at Mt. St. Rose Sanitorium in St. Louis where Bee Casey, sister of Danny and the late Lawrence Casey, is a nurse.  The two get together often and reminisce about ROUSSIN doings.  On my visit back to Missouri in May I enjoyed seeing our president, Miss Anne Waldbart, who seems in very good health.  And your secretary hasn’t been stricken with anything except Washington, D.C.’s insufferably hot weather.

MARRIAGES

Three weddings have been reported to me, two from the same family.  Mary Louise Whitmire married Robert Earney last year and on Jan. 30, 1943, her sister, Eva Whitmire, and Junior Otten of Union, Mo., were wed.  Both are daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Whitmire of St. Clair, Mo.  Mrs. Whitmire is a daughter of the late Ferninand Roussin whose death was reported in last year’s bulletin.  She will be remembered as the one who baked the ROUNDUP’S third birthday cake.

Chas. T. Roussin, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Grant Roussin of Fletcher, Mo., married Betty Leach of St. Louis, Mo., the 5th of last March.  It’s certain that Cupid was more active than this in a year’s time, but no more weddings were reported to me so that’s that.  I might add that a wedding to be in September is that of Miss June Roussin who will wed a soldier at that time.  Many will recall her pleasant personality at the 1941 ROUNDUP when she with others came from Michigan to attend.

BIRTHS

There are four births to announce, two of them in the same family.  To Capt. and Mrs. Thomas F. Nelson a son, christened Thomas F. II, was born on June 26, 1942, at Jacksonville, Fla.  On July 26, 1943, a little girl was born to this same couple at Tampa, Fla.  Captain Nelson is the oldest child of Mrs. Blanch A. Nelson who is a niece of Henry Roussin, our beloved member from Durand, Michigan.

Maxine Sue made her appearance to take up residence in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Roussin.  This Floyd Roussin is the son of Ben Roussin of De Soto, Mo., and is not to be confused with the Floyd Roussin on whose premises the second ROUNDUP was held.

A son was born in July this year to Mr. and Mrs. Ben Saucier.  Ben is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Stuma [sic] Saucier of Washington, Mo., and carries the name of his uncle, the Ben Saucier who distinguished himself in the first World War.

DEATHS

Five deaths were reported to me, two of them in the same family.  Richard and David Roussin, twin sons of Mr. and Mrs. Cecil Roussin, died Sept. 8, 1942.  Their father is the son of Ben Roussin of De Soto, Mo.

Our Michigan relatives had sorrow in the passing of Mina Blouin (Cossett) at Traverse City, Mich.  She was Rose Roussin Cossett’s oldest girl who spent all her life with Mina Roussin Blouin in Ludington, Mich.

On Jan. 5, 1943, Ben Roussin lost the wife who had been a faithful companion for many years and the mother of a large family.  Her maiden name was Anna May Maness.  She enjoyed our 1941 ROUNDUP so much and had looked forward to the next one.  Great tribute was paid her with striking simplicity when her son, Amos Roussin, wrote thus to me about her passing, “Dear Mom, we miss her so much.”

Death came May 8, 1943, for Mrs. Cyrus Curtis of Fletcher, Mo., who with her daughter, Mrs. I.H. Asplin, made the ROUNDUP’S acquaintance in 1941.  She was born June 14, 1864, near Richwoods and was the daughter of Etienne and Agatha Thedeau and the granddaughter of Wash Roussin.

THE BOYS UNDER THE COLORS

Hats off to those of our clan serving their country both here and abroad.  Their number is many and their records all splendid.  I wish a copy of this bulletin might be sent to each one of them.  I am retaining some extra copies and if the parents or other relatives of these boys share my wish, they have only to write me and I will see that everyone is furnished with a copy.

Where addresses were supplied me I have given them herein and again I urge readers of the bulletin to select a name or names of boys in the service to write to.  Make your motto “Get Better Acquainted With My Relatives by Writing to the Boys in Service”.  You’ll be killing two birds with one stone since it will not only promote good will among the clan but also help boost the morale of our fighters at the front.

Corporal Glennon Oscar Thedeau, son of Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Thedeau, is an airplane mechanic with the U.S. Army Air Forces and was stationed a year in Newfoundland.  He is now at Micthel [sic] Field, N.Y. with the 20th Anti-Sub Squadron.

Norman Roussin, son of Clyde Roussin and the grandson of Ben Roussin of De Soto, Mo., is in the Navy.  No further details supplied me.

Robert Earney, husband of Mary Louise Whitmire Earney, since last year has been a private in the Army, 376 Infantry, APO 94, Company F, Camp Phillips, Kansas.

Another “in-law” in the service is Patsy Cowan’s husband whose name I do not know.  He is from California and is the son-in-law of Jo Saucier Cowan of Columbia, Missouri.

Pvt. Chas. T. Roussin, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Grant Roussin of Fletcher, Mo., is stationed at Camp Hulen, Texas, where he drives a truck convoy.  He is with Battery C-555, A.A.A. Bn. The Grant Roussin’s also have a grandson in the forces, fighting in North Africa and the Sicilian campaign, but name and address I do not know.

Pvt. Clement Bourisaw, brother of L.A. Bourisaw, 1469 Graham Str., St. Louis, Mo., is with the 127th Infantry, Company “D” somewhere in Australia.  Mail addressed to the brother will reach him.  This also goes for the following two boys.

Pvt. Clement Coleman with an infantry regiment somewhere in Alaska (having seen two years in service) and Pvt. Linnus Coleman who, at only seventeen, enlisted in some branch of the air service and has already made a trip overseas.  Their father is the son of Sarah Roussin Coleman of Richwoods, Mo.

Lt. Chas. B. Pace, son of the ROUNDUP’S ex-president, Mrs. Hattie Saucier Pace, is now serving somewhere in England with the Corps of Engineers.  His brother, Lt. (J.G.) Jack T. Pace, is an instructor in aviation at the Hutchinson, Ks., Naval Air Base.

Mrs. Lawrence Casey has one boy a “blue jacket” and the other in khaki.  Theodore, in Panama, has been promoted to a captain while Frank (Francis) is a Pharmacist first class in the Navy.  He has served his country three years in service and at present is in Australian waters.

Pvt. Stewart Roussin Fischer, son of Mr. and Mrs. C.H. Fischer and nephew of June Roussin, is stationed at Camp Barkeley, Texas, where he is not only a member of the band and orchestrates some of its numbers but has also completed the cooking course at Cadre School.  What that kind of combination turns out to be is beyond my guessing.  His address is 30-454-756 M.N.T.C. [partially obscured] Band, Camp Barkeley, Texas.

Pvt. John T. Reinhold is the son of John Reinhold and the grandson of Lucy Roussin Reinhold.  Many will recall her gracious presence at the 1941 ROUNDUP when she made her first acquaintance with the annual get-together.  Playing the clarinet and winning for himself many medals for his musical ability during school days, it is no wonder Pvt. Reinhold is now a member of the 343 Infantry Band.  APO 450, Camp Howzie [sic], Texas.

Chas. J. Reinhold, son of Charles Reinhold and another grandson of Lucy Roussin Reinhold, has been in the Coast Guard 2 1/2 years and has seen considerable active duty.  His home was at Mobile, Alabama, but address him now U.S.C.G., CPO USP Docks, Algiers, Louisiana.

Edwin Roussin, the grandson of James Monroe Roussin (brother to Lucy Reinhold), is in the Army but his address is not known to me.  His father, Edwin Roussin, died many years ago.

Jack Steffen is somewhere in the Aleutians, caught as he says “in the world’s worst hole in which troops are stationed”.  He doesn’t expect a furlough until the war is over and he’s been in service 4 years next October, three of which have been spent in the Alaska country.  I think here is a lad who would truly appreciate “fan mail”.  Write him in care of his mother, Mrs. Zoe (La Beaume) Steffen, De Soto, Mo.  His brother Paul has more recently entered the armed forces, March 16, 1943, and is stationed at Camp Butner N.C., where he has been promoted to corporal in the Corps of Engineers.

Lt. Nicholas C. Nelson is a regular Navy man on board the U.S.S. Card (aircraft carrier).  He is the youngest child of Mrs. Blanch Roussin Nelson of Gulfport, Fla.  Her other son, Capt. Thomas F. Nelson is in the Medical Corps and operates five days a week in the Station Hospital at Ft. Benning, Georgia.  She also has a son-in-law in the service, Lt. Leslie Haverland,  Commanding Officer of the St. Petersburg Coast Guard – Aides to Navigation Department.  Six years in the Coast Guard, Lt. Haverland takes care of deep water navigation all along Florida’s west coast.  He married Maxine Nelson.

As far as I can ascertain, the ranks of ROUSSIN have only one feminine member in the service.  She is Miss Rosalie Roussin, oldest daughter of Victor Roussin of Grand Junction, Colo.  That makes her my own niece.  Rosalie is a WAC and the last I heard about her she had been selected as one of seven to attend Radio Instruction School at Kansas City.

Others of the clan reported in last year’s bulletin (but about which I received no information for this year’s issue) I jot down here to remind you of their services given to our country and let us remember them all in our prayers that they may return safely to home and loved ones:  Paul Nicholson (Navy); Joe Roussin (Cavalry); Ester Cotoon’s son (Navy); Ernest Wall’s boy; Rhodell Sherk; Wm. E. and Chas. J. Saucier; Richard and Alex Waldbart; Alvin D. Saucier; the Pratt boys; M.M. Saucier; and Bernard Saucier.

It is with deepest regret that the death of Arthur Sanford (Jerry) Higginbotham is announced.  He died July 16, 1943, as a result of multiple burns following enemy action while in the performance of his duties and in the service of his country.  Jerry, Motor Machinist Mate, second class, U.S. Naval Reserve, enlisted last Labor Day and was serving on a minesweeper in the Atlantic when his number “came up”.  The son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Higginbotham of Potosi, Mo., he was 38 years old and though not long in the service covered himself with glory while therein and was buried an honored hero in the waters of the Atlantic.  A faithful attendant of the ROUNDUPS, Jerry will meet with us no more.  But in memory we will pay him homage and remember how great our debt of gratitude to all who lose their lives fighting this war for us.

*********************

In closing I want to voice the hope that another year will find us clear of the present conflict, free to Enjoy another get-together of the ROUSSIN clan.  In saying this I am echoing the wishes of all who communicated with me in helping fix up this bulletin.  Their regret at the war stopping the ROUNDUP is superseded only by their hope that the war itself will soon stop.

Memories of past ROUNDUPS live pleasantly on as witness this report recently written to me by Mrs. Henry Roussin of Durand, Michigan, “We never tire talking about the wonderful reunion and the wonderful people we met while there.  I only wish we could be with you all longer —– to know you better and you to know us.”  In anticipation of the next ROUNDUP she continues, “And believe me, the next ROUSSIN ROUNDUP will find not one but two car loads on their way to be with you.  Surely hope and pray that will be in 1944 with the war all over!”

I’m sure we have many delightful prospects in store for us at the next get-together.  With more of those Michigan cousins attending, we are certain of added interest.  And I’ve scared up a brand new batch of Roussins in Maine.  That shouldn’t be surprising, however, because all Roussins on this side of the Atlantic came from Quebec so that any descendants living in nearby Maine aren’t near as far from the original stomping grounds as those in Missouri where the tribe seems to have thrived in greatest profusion.

As for Roussins across the Atlantic, history records the fact that Joan of Arc stayed with a woman named “Roussin”.  And lately here in Washington I met a French lady recently from Paris who says she knew several Roussins there.  So we are well represented on two continents.  I have heard it frequently expressed among members of our clan that they wish there was some kind of family history compiled so that they could tell who they are kin to and to what extent.  I have been working on something of this order and any family history you may care to send in will be much appreciated and used to good advantage.

Our organization is running low on funds.  No dues were asked last year, so that while we had enough in the treasury left from the 1941 ROUNDUP to meet 1942 expenses, your secretary is advancing the money to cover postage, paper, and printing costs for 1943’s bulletin.  No set dues have ever been prescribed, but as a matter of policy it is generally agreed that at least ten cents per person be looked upon as nominal dues with anybody giving more that wants to.  Dues should be sent to our capable treasurer, Mrs. Floyd D. Roussin, St. Clair, Mo.  She carefully records all receipts and sees that all bills are paid.

*********************

Added notes:  Though not reported to me by the families involved, I have heard through other channels of the marriage last summer of Virgil Nicholson, twin brother of Velma Robinson and both children of Mrs. Laura Roussin Nicholson of Potosi, Missouri, and also of the death of Fred Collins last June.  He was the husband of Myrtle Roussin Collins and was widely known throughout the ranks of the clan for his friendliness and the hospitality extended to all within his home.

A late item on our WAC member, Miss Rosalie Roussin, discloses the fact that she has been assigned a secret code number and presumably has been sent to England or elsewhere outside the continental limits of the United States to handle the radio work for which she was trained at Kansas City.

And now until another year, God bless and keep you all.

Miss Madelyne Roussin, Sec’y,
1320 Valley Place, S.E.,
Washington, D.C.
 

The Great War, A Biplane, & Damson Plums

Ben Saucier Ree Heights South Dakota 1920

The following is the transcription of a letter written by my granduncle, Benjamin Harrison Saucier – that’s Ben in the photograph above – addressed to his younger sister, Josephine (Saucier) Cowan.  The letter came to me through a Howell cousin, who was also the source of the bios written by Henrietta (Saucier) Pace.

Dear Jo,

Yes, I hear from you from time to time but not as often as I’d like, so get on the job and show your class – Am writing this in a greenhouse that is attached to a chateau that’s surrounded by the most beautiful grounds you ever saw.  We are in a small village 6 or 8 miles from Nancy and about the same distance from St. Nicolas – both good towns.  

With the possible exception of the day I was born, yesterday was possibly the biggest day of my life.  Two of my corporals & myself were strolling around a little and wandered over to the aviation field – going down I remarked that all I needed was to take a fly over Nancy.  They ran out a light bombing plane and one of the assistants asked – Who’s going along.  I said – “I am” first, so we soared for awhile — He started straight for Nancy and reached it at an elevation of 5000 feet.  The view was something that I shall not soon forget.  

We circled over the city rising to 8000 feet in doing it, then went out in the country.  It seemed more like a dream than anything I’ve ever experienced – We went to 11,000 feet high and came back over Nancy at that height at a speed of 96 per.  Could only see the earth then in spots for the sky was cloudy & the clouds were all below us.  

The only thing I regret is that I did not enlist in that branch.  It’s too late now to think of transferring.  We were up for about an hour and I wouldn’t exchange it for any other hour I ever spent.  It sure was great – The clouds as seen from above with patches of mother earth here and the mountains in the distance etc. etc. is the most wonderful picture I’ve ever seen.

We came back from the front lines again a few days ago and will most likely be back for a month or 6 wks.  We are altogether yet and feeling fine. – We are out of the mountains – in a beautiful rolling country almost level and for a change it looks pretty good.

There are worlds of damson plums in this vicinity.  I wish you might see this country – Pass this on to some of the rest for I’ve neither time nor stationery to write to all – been writing to Mother at Stanton today — Haven’t seen anything of Eugene’s bro. yet.  Would like to run across him.  Write – Good luck & lots of it to both of you —

Ben — Cack is right with me & is ok.

Sleuthing: It’s Not Just For Hard-Boiled Detectives

Many happy hours I’ve spent daydreaming while reading this letter.  Besides the letter being a cherished piece of family history, I’ve often wondered what kind of impact it may have had on my father, who later became a pilot.  Dad would have been eight years old at the time this was written, and it’s easy for me to imagine the family gathered to hear Uncle Ben’s letter from France being read.

What’s hard for me to believe is that this letter has been on my ‘to-do’ list for well over a decade – funny how time gets away from you.  My goal was to date it as closely as I could with something other than “Sometime during WWI: April 1917-November 1918”.

I was recently provided with a new clue from a Cowan cousin that rekindled my interest in the letter.  That one item, along with the clues supplied in the body of the letter itself have allowed me to narrow down the date considerably.

the clue

For a dove of long standing, I find it just a little embarrassing to admit to an interest in military history, but it helps that I’m aided and abetted by a husband who shares that interest.  Sifting through source material is an engaging pastime for us – so here’s hoping that you don’t find the journey a dry one.

Look Out… This May Be Your MEGO Moment

Shoulder Insignia of th 35th "Santa Fe" Division, WWIBenjamin and his brother Charles ended up in the 138th Infantry, Company E of the 35th “Santa Fe” Division made up of National Guardsmen and draftees from the states of Missouri and Kansas.  They trained for over seven months at Camp Doniphan near Fort Sill, Oklahoma (which by the way, is located less than fifty miles from my back door).

Those seven months must’ve been eye-openers for a couple of farm boys hailing from a green and ‘water fat’ state, finding themselves just a stone’s throw from the 100th Meridian, the onset of the great American desert (only about sixty miles from my front door).

As mind boggling as southwestern Oklahoma may have been to them, the pair probably had little time to gape – the infantrymen of the 35th were drilled intensively by British and French instructors in the use of bayonet, hand grenades, and gas masks.

I’ve provided a few online sources below that you may find interesting, but what it boils down to is this: the 35th division was mobilized, leaving Camp Doniphan in late winter, 1918.  They were moved to the east coast by train, embarking from New York Harbor arriving at LeHavre, France May 10, 1918.  The infantry received additional training in Amiens until June 6, 1918.  Then traveling by rail – 40 men and 8 horses per boxcar – the destination was the Wesserling sub-sector on the Western Front in the Vosges Mountains where they remained through mid-August.  On September 1st, the 35th moved forward to St. Mihiel where they fought their first battle.  Between September 12th-16th, the American Expeditionary Forces liberated the town of Nancy and the 35th bivouacked in the Foret de Haye just a few miles west of town.  The Meuse-Argonne Offensive began September 26, 1918 lasting until the Armistice, November 11, 1918.

The 35th Division collapsed after five days of fighting in the Battle of the Argonne, which has been described as the greatest battle in the history of the American military.  In little more than four months, the division casualty list totaled 7,296 (killed in action – 1,018; wounded in action – 6,278).

It saddens me when I think of Ben’s last line: Cack is right with me & is ok… less than two weeks later, Cack was killed in action.

Charles Clide (Cack) Saucier born April 6, 1895 in Sullivan, Franklin County, Missouri – died September 27, 1918, age 23, in the Argonne Forest during the second day of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

Chas_Saucier Headstone App

Sources:
United States, Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976 (p. 191-2)
The 35th Infantry Division in the Great War
The Diary of a Doughboy
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive
From Vauquois Hill to Exermont by Clair Kenamore

Froggy Went A-Courtin’

I’m in the mood this evening for old folk songs.

I like to say that I grew up in a car, and that’s really not very far from the truth.  My family crisscrossed the American southwest when I was young and we nearly always went by car.  My very first memory of a car was our family Nash Rambler.

Over the years, as both our family and the concept of American transportation changed, the family “beater” changed with us; we eventually graduated to a full-size Country Squire station wagon.  But before we acquired that behemoth, I can remember times when my sisters would stuff me up into the rear deck of the sedan so they could ride more comfortably in the back seat.  (Note: seat belts were not in common use at this time)

In those days AM radio was king.  This was long before the FM band came standard in a car, and the music and chatter would fade in and out as you traveled along the highways.  After sunset was the best.  It was then when many of the AM stations would boost their signals and you’d be able to hold a station far into the night.

SaucierOccasionally there would be times when we couldn’t find a station at all.  At these times my dad would chime in, keeping all of us kids quiet by singing old folk songs in a very acceptable baritone.  Froggy Went A-Courtin’ was definitely the front runner, with The Crawdad Song and Bill Grogan’s Goat finishing in the money.

Personally, I always favored the latter (nothing like a little blood and gore to get, and keep, a child’s attention).

I don’t know why I started thinking about those songs tonight.  All I really wanted to do here was to let you know that I’ve got the final part of Henrietta’s Story posted.  I won’t say that this is the last of Aunt Hattie’s stories, new items turn up from time to time, plus I’m constantly surprised by things that I’ve squirreled away and forgotten.  For now at least, you can find the latest segment here, Henrietta’s Story: Part Three.