Military, Paternal Kin

Dr. Ward in World War I.

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Fisher and Buckley’s African American Doctors of World War I finally hit print late last year, and I flipped through Wilson County Public Library’s copy when I was home last week. That’s cousin Joseph H. Ward at upper right. The entry on his life and accomplishments is lengthy and detailed, and I am pleased to have provided the authors with information about his early life. (Even if uncredited. *side eye*)

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Maternal Kin, Military

Cousin Charles joins up.

C James

My cousin P.J. recently shared this photo of her father Charles Worth James, Jr. (1917-2002), who was the son of Charles and Mattie Colvert James (and thus my grandmother’s nephew). Here’s what Wikipedia says about the Great Lakes Naval Training Center:

“On 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan and around 6,000 sailors were training at Great Lakes. This grew to 68,000 in six months and by September 1942 over 100,000 sailors were training at Great Lakes. The base grew to 1,600 acres in the next 10 months. By mid-1943 there were over 700 instructors at the Class A service schools.

“The Navy selected Great Lakes to be the site of the first African American trainees. On 5 June 1942, Doreston Luke Carmen of Galveston, Texas was the first recruit to enter the segregated training facility at Camp Robert Smalls. In September 1942, segregated “Negro Service Schools” were opened. The policy of segregation led to small service school classes with only four or five students in a class. By 1944 Great Lakes began to integrate training and all training was integrated by mid-1945. The Golden Thirteen were commissioned in March 1944 after training at Great Lakes.”

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Military, Newspaper Articles, Other Documents, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Cpl. Adam Artis, 366th Infantry.

I recently received an email from James Pratt, whose father, Charles A. Pratt, was in the Army’s 366th Infantry from the time it was organized at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, in 1941 until it disbanded in Italy in 1945. Pratt is retired and has devoted considerable time to researching the 366th.

“I had the opportunity to spend two days in Tuscany,” he wrote, “where the 366th is still remembered fondly by the citizens. In Sommocolonia, the townspeople have started a small museum about the ŒBuffalo soldiers. I went to the American cemeteries in Florence and Nettuno and took photos of all the grave markers for the nearly 120 men of the 366th who are buried in Italy.”  Pratt is trying to match the markers with photos of the soldiers and wants to do the same for the more than 130 soldiers of the 366th who were buried across the United States.

Gibbs-Ithaca Journal-reduced

Ithaca Journal, 19 December 2015.

One of the 366th soldiers was Adam Artis, who enlisted in New Jersey, but was born in North Carolina. “Adam … lost his life while training in the U.S. He died on January 1, 1943.” Pratt is trying to find additional information about Adam Artis. He believes he had a son, Adam Artis Jr., who graduated from High School in East Orange, New Jersey, but has not been able to locate him.

The Artis branch of my family tree holds at least seven Adam Artises, including our patriarch Adam Toussaint Artis (1831-1919). If 366th Adam is one of ours, he is likely Adam, son of Adam T.’s son Robert E. Artis and his wife, Christana Simmons Artis. That Adam was born in 1913 near Black Creek, Wilson County. He appears in his parents’ household in the 1920 and 1930 censuses of Wilson County, but not thereafter. On 16 April 1941, Adam Artis, born in 1913 in North Carolina, enlisted in the Army in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey. (His brother Robert Arzell Artis, born 1908, appears in the 1940 census of Newark as an unmarried restaurant cook.) That Adam is buried in Glendale cemetery in Bloomfield, Essex County.

AArtis grave

If this Adam had a son Adam Artis Jr., he may be the one born in 1942 whose senior portrait appears in the 1960 East Orange High School yearbook.

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He is listed as a student in the 1961 Boston, Massachusetts, city directory and in later directories as a teacher in Cambridge and Boston city schools. Here he is in a booklet titled “The Boston Plan for Excellence in the Public Schools,” published in 1989.

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This blog about William Monroe Trotter Elementary School mentions that it was the second magnet school in the U.S., and a comment enthuses about the plays Adam Artis produced. His impact also shines through in a testimonial posted by a former student on the blog, http://www.myblackteacher.net. Adam Artis Jr. is surely retired by now, but it is not clear to me whether he is still living. If he is, perhaps Scuffalong will reach him.

U.S. School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

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Military, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Pvt. Aldrich.

On 28 May 1917, James Thomas Aldridge appeared before a registrar in Brooklyn, New York. I imagine Tom dragging his feet, and his reluctance to serve shows through his diaphanous response to Question 9 — “Have no father (dead) Mother and three sisters to help to support” — and the basis for his claim for an exemption — “Dependents and poor health.” Tom described himself as a “student (medical),” and evidence demonstrates that he had entered Meharry Medical College in the fall of 1917. (What was he doing in Brooklyn? He wasn’t a resident, as demonstrated by the home address and precinct listed on the card.) Tom also gave his birth date as 14 May 1895. His age, however, is listed as 27. Neither is correct. He was born in 1886, but always fudged heavily on his age, possibly to disguise the long years that passed between finishing eighth grade in Dudley’s local school and entering high school at Shaw. Either way, he was called up.

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Until a couple of days ago, my knowledge of my great-grandfather’s World War I service was limited to brief mentions in his obits that he had been in the Medical Corps. While looking for something else, though, I ran across an Ancestry.com database, “New York Abstracts of World War I Military Service 1917-1919.” And there, under his preferred spelling — more about that later — was James T. Aldrich.

Serial number 2,546,996. White.

Huh? How ever did Tom pull that off?

In any case, there it is — his World War I record. Service did not take him far from his home in East Harlem. (Maybe his health was poorish, after all?) Enlistment in the Medical Reserve Corps on Broadway in January 1918. Then about nine months at the Army base that Governors Island once was. (On 8 October 1918, just before leaving Governors Island, he married Athalia Freeman.) Then on to Camp Alexander in Newport News, Virginia, for six months until his discharge in May 1919. Camp Alexander, established in 1918, served as an embarkation and debarkation camp for African-American troops.

40808_1120704930_0015-01040 copy

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Maternal Kin, Military, Other Documents

Draft card revelations: McNeely.

Most of my grandmother’s male McNeely first cousins were too old to have served in World War II. They were required to register nonetheless, and the draft cards I’ve found offer interesting little snapshots of their lives:                                  RHMcNeely WW1

RHMcNeely reverse

The scars on Robert Henry “Jinx” McNeely‘s head were external evidence of the skull fracture he received when his bicycle collided with an automobile in 1937. His aunt, Mary Bell Woods McNeely Frink, was his mother Margaret Woods McNeely’s sister, but she was also his stepmother, having married (and divorced) his father Luther McNeely after Margaret’s death. She is an interesting choice for “person who will always know your address,” as, as far as I know, Jinx’ wife Katie Woodsides McNeely was living at the time. Jinx started working as a drugstore porter, making customer deliveries and running errands on a bicycle, in his teens.

QE McNeely

QE McNeely reverse

Though he was close to her age, my grandmother never knew her uncle Edward McNeely‘s son Quincy. Ed and his wife, Lucille Tomlin McNeely, divorced early, and by 1920 she and their son had moved 100 miles west to Asheville, North Carolina. Quincy married Addie Sims in 1930, then Elizabeth [last name unknown] by 1935. He does not appear to have fathered children, and he died in Detroit in 1966.

JG McNeely

JG McNeely rev

I’ve written of James “Red” McNeely alias Smith here. He was the cousin closest in age to my grandmother, but I heard her mention him only once. After their mother Addie McNeely Smith‘s death, aunt Minnie McNeely reared James and his older sister Ardeanur. He moved to High Point, perhaps in his early 20s, and may have been briefly married to a woman named Mildred.  (They appear together in the 1930 census of High Point, but I haven’t found a license or anything else about her.) It did not last, and he had no children. Red was a pool room operator and died in 1960.

CGTaylor

CG Taylor rev

This really wrecks my notions about when the Columbus, Ohio, branch of my McNeely family really put down roots in that city. The card shows that in 1942, 19 year-old Carl Taylor was living in Statesville — in the household of his first cousin, Louise Colvert Renwick — but his mother Janie McNeely (not Taylor?) was living in Columbus and working at a Children’s Home.  My inability to find Janie’s family in the 1940 census makes it difficult to pinpoint when she migrated north. In any case, she apparently moved back and forth between North Carolina and Ohio during the 1930s before settling permanently in Columbus, perhaps during the War.

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