Consanguinity: (kŏn'săng-gwĭn'ĭtē) , relationship by blood, whether linear or collateral.

Primarily concentrating on my Browning family from Harrison County, Ohio (and their subsequent move to Crawford County, Illinois) but I've got Plymell, Crago, Eagleton, Garrard, McConnell, Nichols, Swan, Nevitt, Huls, Markee, Depperman, Papstein/Popstein and Hamilton in there too. And that's just the beginning......

Sunday, March 8, 2009

World War I Letters -- Arthur B. Creswell

As I mentioned in a post early last week (see March 2) I've taken the time to read through the letters my grandmother Beulah received from servicemen in World War I. I was surprised to find that instead of writing to one serviceman, my grandmother had written to two! So, first things first -- in this installment, we explore the first set of letters.

The first set, consisting of three letters, was written by a man named Arthur B. Creswell, a Private in Battery F, 311th Field Artillery of the American Expeditionary Forces. The first is dated 29 Jan 1919 and was sent from Benoite Vaux, France. The second is postdated 31 Mar 1919 and was sent from Pont sur Meuse, France. The third is dated 10 May 1919 and was sent from the port of St. Nazaire, France. He says he is stationed at a camp that looks like it is spelled Camp Guehrie? (If anyone can help me with the name of the camp that'd be great. I've tried to locate a camp with similar name online with no luck so far.)

Arthur was the friend of my grandmother's brother that I mentioned in a previous post. He and my great-uncle Raymond Orlond Garrard (Grandma's brother) were in the same unit and the two of them were two of what came to be known as "Doughboys." The letter of 29 Jan 1919 mentions that the unit had been heading up to Germany with a convoy of horses and mules and that my great-uncle Raymond got sick in Luxembourg and had to go to the hospital. Arthur says that it was his understanding that Raymond had been transferred to another outfit. The next letter (31 March 1919) mentions that Raymond had rejoined the 311th a few days prior. Arthur also says that a week before they'd moved to Pont sur Meuse and are near a city named Comeroy and that in the next week they would be moving back to the place they'd been in January (though he is not more specific about this.) In the last letter (10 May 1919) Arthur says he expects to be called back to the USA any day now and that of all the time he'd spent in France, St. Nazaire was the most beautiful place he'd seen.

Enclosed in the last letter (the one dated in May) was a photo negative. I scanned it and did a negative reversal on it and ended up with the picture you see on the right. The man to the left in the picture is my great-uncle Raymond. I'm not sure, but since the negative was tucked into the envelope, perhaps the man standing next to Raymond is Arthur? Perhaps this picture was taken of the two before they headed off to France in the war. Then again, it might have been taken in France before they headed home. I'll never know.

I discovered a wonderful short book written about the 311th by William Elmer Bachman called "The Delta of the Triple Elevens." You can download it for free here. Bachman says that the 311th left France on 14 May 1919 (Arthur had been right in his guess after all!) on the USS Edward Luckenbach and finally sighted land in the harbor in New York on 27 May at 5 pm in the evening.

There had to be no sweeter sight in the world to those homesick boys than the Statue!

Arthur's draft registration papers are on Ancestry.com. He signed them on 17 Jun 1917. He describes himself as an oil well driller, age 28, tall, with a medium build and black hair and black eyes. Black eyes? He must mean brown, surely?

Anyway, Arthur was born in Palestine, Crawford County, Illinois, on 4 Sept 1888. He was the son of James Wilson (Wilson J.) Creswell and his wife Rilla B., maiden name unknown at this time. After the war Arthur went back home to Crawford County and by the 1920 census he is found living in LaMotte Township, married to a girl named Annie. He sure didn't waste any time, did he? The couple have no children at that time but by 1930 Arthur and Annie have moved to Honey Creek Township and have a 4 year old son named Harold.

I went to the social security death index and found that Arthur had received his last social security benefits in Eddy County, NM. I looked in Find-A-Grave and found both he and his wife Millie Anna buried in the Twin Oaks Memorial Park in Artesia in Eddy County. Annie was born in 1893 and died 31 Jan 1964. Arthur died on 29 May 1970. I've included the pictures of their tombstones and I thank Delma Ingram at Find-A-Grave for posting them. Arthur's is a World War I memorial grave and I like knowing that I have what is written on his tombstone, written in his own hand.

(By the way, Find-A-Grave is a great resource and a fabulous service and I've made it a point to volunteer my time for them before. I need to make an effort to post all my relatives' stones there and I encourage everyone else to do so as well! If Delma hadn't done what she did I might still be wondering where Arthur rested.)

I still don't know Millie Anna's maiden name since I haven't had much luck finding it in the IL State Marriage Index database on the ISA website. I also wonder if Arthur and Annie's son Harold had any children. Now that I know that Arthur and Annie went to New Mexico, I also wonder, when did they move there? Did Harold go with them or was he old enough to have stayed in the Crawford County area? Always questions.

I'd sure like Arthur's letters to go home.

The next installment will be about the second set of letters my grandmother received from a serviceman. This set has presented much more of a challenge to me. My grandmother didn't know this boy.

UPDATE (9 Mar 2009): I have located Harold, Arthur's son. I will be sending his father's letters to him sometime this week. I hope he enjoys them!

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