altThe Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are by Libby Copeland (Abrams Press, 2020)

I been working seriously on genealogical research for almost two decades—the library-and-paper kind, supplemented by the steadily-increasing availability of records online. Then at the end of 2017 we dipped our toes into genetic genealogy, submitting saliva samples first to AncestryDNA, then to 23andMe. There have been a few small surprises, but nothing monumental.

However, my genealogical connections—primarily Ancestry.com and the New England Historic Genealogical Society—frequently send me other people's "DNA reveal" stories: the kind where Holocaust survivors from the same family find each other 60 years later, or adoptees find their birth parents, or people discover that the man they've always called "Dad" has no genetic relationship with them. Mystery, tragedy, triumph—it's all there.

Thus my eagerness to read this book as soon as I heard about it. Our library had already seen the wisdom of having The Lost Family on its shelves; when I looked for it, it was already on order. As soon as it came in, I grabbed it. What with other things to do, it took me three days to devour it.

The Lost Family is actually three books:

  1. The stories. This is why I wanted to read the book in the first place. Unfortunately, there aren't that many, for all it's nearly a 300-page book. And I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that the biggest story of all, the framework for the whole book, was one I already knew. That was okay; I learned many details that I hadn't known. But I wish more of the book had been dedicated to the real-life stories.
  2. A good deal of teaching on the science behind genetic testing and DNA analysis. Most of this was old news to me, but it's complicated and a review is not a bad thing. If you're new to the field, it's definitely a good thing.
  3. A lot of most-unwelcome preaching, filled with identity politics; and how interest in genealogy is racist if you're white though apparently not if you are black; and a confusing section in which the author uses "they" to refer to both a single, transgender person who requested that personal pronoun and to multiple-person groups; and how "race" is a racist concept and "ethnicity" doesn't really exist (and is probably a racist idea, anyway); and how history is fluid and there's no such thing as truth but only your truth and my truth and their truth.

Reading the book was much like eating a meal in which I was repeatedlly given a bite of chocolate cake, then a bite of chicken, then a bite of okra. I know, some people actually like okra. They may even like the political sections of the book. I did not.

In addition, there's a lot of angst and questioning: "Who am I, really?" "What is a family?" "Can I love Irish music if I discover that my heritage is not Irish, as I thought, but Russian?" "What makes me the person I am, my genes or my experiences?"

I'm certain I'd feel more empathetic if I were the adoptee seeking birth parents, or the daughter who discovered her father wasn't the man she thought he was. The personal angle does make all things new. But the nature vs. nurture question has been around as long as we have realized they were separate influences. To me, the obvious answer is "both." End of story. I never imagined anyone would take seriously the AncestryDNA commercial in which a man gets the results of his DNA test and "turns in his lederhosen for a kilt." I never did have patience for the idea that you can only enjoy a culture if you were born into it.

Nor did I imagine that anyone would expect a DNA test to reveal exact genetic origins. Although it's getting better all the time, and is considerably more accurate now than in the early days, it's still part science, part art, and part guesswork. That's made pretty clear if you look into it at all, though I admit the commercials—like most commercials—give a simplified and thus somewhat false impression.

Besides, I hate stories about angst. Romances, coming-of-age-stories—not my thing at all.

Am I glad I read the book? Yes. Am I glad I didn't buy it? Definitely yes. Would I recommend reading it? Well, if you're thinking about taking a DNA test, it's a decent introduction to the art-and-science, and a fair warning that your world could be turned upside down. And the stories are interesting. Overall, yes, I would recommend it.

Some people, after all, even like okra.


There were only six sticky notes marking quotations this time. (At least the book was easier to review!) Bolded emphasis is mine.

At times, the sense of mission among members [of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints] has gotten out of hand, as when members have submitted the names of Jews, including Holocaust victims, for posthumous baptism. (p. 30)

This is typical of an attitude I find puzzling throughout the book. A Catholic who discovers that her biological father was Jewish wonders if she should become Jewish herself, as if one's faith is something inherited rather than a statement of beliefs. I guess this goes along with the "your truth and my truth but nothing is really true" idea. I suppose it's also a sign of someone who hasn't delved too deeply into his ancestry, which would hardly reveal a unanimity of faith.

If you believe, as the Mormons do, that they can save the souls of their dead ancestors through a present-day ceremony, and some of their ancestors happen to have been Jewish, why exclude them from the eternal family? If the Mormons are right, they will be doing those Jewish ancestors the greatest possible favor. If they are wrong, then they are certainly not doing them any harm.

[Describing researchers at a genealogical library] They may be hobbyists or pros; they may travel as groups of genealogical societies, the better to swap stories and resources. They may come from far away—Canada, France, England, New Zealand, all over the United States—and park at the library every day for a full week. Sometimes, people planning to do just a little research stay far longer than they meant to, as if they fall into some kind of wormhole that alters time. This place can do that to you. (p. 31)

So true. She wasn't describing the NEHGS library in Boston, but she might have been.

We're such believers in genes that a recent Stanford University study found that informing people of their genetic predispositions for certain traits—rather, misinforming them, by telling them whether they had certain gene variants associated with exercise capacity and obesity, regardless of their actual results—influenced their actual physiology. Those told they had low-endurance versions of a gene variant did worse on a treadmill test, with poorer endurance and worse lung function (even if they didn't actually have that gene variant). Those told they had a variant that made them feel easily sated felt fuller on average after being given a meal, and tests revealed their bodies had produced more of a hormone that indicates feelings of fullness. By believing they were genetically destined for something, these subjects appear to have made it true. (p. 57)

I love stories of that kind, too.

Europe's market [for DNA testing] is seen as several years behind the US market because of a complex tapestry of policy, pragmatism, and culture. In general, says David Nicholson of UK-based Living DNA, Europeans are more concerned than Americans with matters of privacy and security. (p. 135)

This is a common belief, but I find it to be not so simple. In my limited experience, Europeans are indeed more concerned than Americans about giving their data to businesses, but I think most Americans would be shocked at how much information European governments have on their people, and especially how widespread and well-coordinated that information is. The post office, the train station, the police, the schools, the motor vehicle departments—what one knows, the others know. In the early days of homeschooling, many families were able to "fly under the radar" by never registering their children for school. In Switzerland, the schools know about your children from the day they are born. All that shared knowledge turns out to be convenient at times, but, being an American, I trust knowledge in private hands more than in the hands of the government, because governments have more power. I may hate that Google is so powerful and knows so much about me, but it wasn't Google that with one fell swoop shut down the American economy and separated us from our children and grandchildren.

Roth found that testers who identified as black or African American were far less inclined to incorporate new ancestral knowledge into their identities. In part, that's because they tended to identify strongly and positively with their existing identities; unlike white respondents, they did not describe their race as boring and plain. (p. 167)

Finally, acknowledgement in print of what I experienced in my childhood—at least from fourth grade onward. The worst thing you could be was a WASP: I distinctly remember announcing that since I couldn't help being white and of Anglo-Saxon heritage, I'd have to become Catholic. Even in my tiny, nearly-all-white village in Upstate New York, being white, at least in the dominant school narrative, was associated with being dull, stupid, ignorant, rude, and klutzy. I often wonder why this isn't more universally acknowledged; surely I can't have been the only one to have noticed it.

Alice verified which of the Collins siblings' genetic segments came from their father by matching them against known paternal cousins, and, by putting it all together, she could approximate a good portion of what Jim's chromosomes looked like, effectively raising him from the dead. (p. 272)

Hmmm. Whatever the author's religion is, count me out. I think Christianity offers a far more appealing view of what it means to be raised from the dead. :)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 at 7:58 am | Edit
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In a comment to my post, Sometimes Old Family Stories Are True, Heather asked, "Speaking of old family stories, what do you know about the truth of the My grandfather saved Einstein from drowning one?

You can see how these legends grow over time, for the story as I know it was not that Bill Wightman saved Albert Einstein from drowning, but that the deed was done by a local "village idiot" named Johnny Dingle.

Here's what I was able to find out with some quick research.

In addition to the stories Porter and I remember hearing from Bill and other Old Saybrook natives, I discovered this in "Charles Griswold Bartlett: Mapping Old Lyme's Waterways," (Old Lyme Historical Society: River and Sound, Issue 12, Winter 2013, p. 5).

A hermit named Johnny Dingle lived on Great Island until September 1938.

Whether or not Dingle was also a bit mentally incapacitated is another issue, though Bill and others certainly described him that way. If nothing else, it provides great contrast in the story about Einstein.

This Patch article, "Sailing the Connecticut Coast with Albert Einstein," shows that an encounter between Dingle and Einstein was not only possible, but likely.

[Albert Einstein] learned to sail in Switzerland as a young man and continued to do so for more than 50 years. ... He rented a home called the "White House" in Old Lyme during the summer of 1935 and took his 17-foot sailboat named Tinef with him.

Despite sailing for over half a century, Einstein was not a very accomplished sailor. According to his biographers, he would lose his direction, his mast would often fall down, and he frequently ran aground and had near collisions with other vessels.

Often sailing near the mouth of the Connecticut River at Old Saybrook, Einstein ran aground on a sand bar once. The New York Times took note, running the following headline in the summer of 1935: "Relative Tide And Sand Bars Trap Einstein." Another newspaper put it this way: "Einstein's Miscalculation Leaves Him Stuck On Bar Of Lower Connecticut River."

Interestingly, Einstein seemed to be indifferent to the dangers of sailing, and the perils were particularly acute since he didn't know how to swim! It is rather amazing that he didn't drown.

Did Johnny Dingle really save Einstein from drowning? It's quite possible that story is true. What's near certain is that Dingle did help out the brilliant scientist one way or another, given the hapless sailor's predilection for getting into trouble, and that Dingle, however challenged he might have been in the rest of life, was constantly on and around the water where Albert Einstein was sailing, and knew well all the shoals, sandbars, and other hazards of his demesne.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, January 13, 2020 at 6:43 am | Edit
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I grew up in a family as wonderful and loving as anyone could want. As close as we were, however, we lacked one thing: a sense of family beyond the here-and-now, including any knowledge of our ancestry. In a world where most of my friends knew "where they came from"—their families having emigrated relatively recently from Poland, Italy, England, Canada, South Africa, and more—my parents insisted that we all were Americans and nothing else mattered. We not only embraced America, we spanned it: my father came from Washington in the west, my mother from Florida in the south, and they met in Schenectady, New York. Our cousins were spread all over the map, and back then keeping in touch was not the easy thing it is today.

Not till much later did I realize how rootless this perspective had left me, but it was well-intentioned and possibly a good thing—a vaccination against the anti-immigrant feelings that occasionally troubled the times. Sadly, though, it was half a century later before I developed an appreciation of the importance of learning history.

Porter's family was different. On his father's side, he had two great-grandparents who came from Sweden, and a great-great-grandmother from England, but the rest of his family was well established in Connecticut long before the United States existed. He grew up hearing "old family stories" of the kind that genealogists tend to debunk: We came over on the Mayflower (turns out to be true), our ancestors fought in the American Revolution (also true), I'm part Native American (a very common belief and almost certainly untrue), and the one of importance today: one of your relatives was a friend of Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin.

The last was just one of many lesser family stories I'd heard upon marrying into the family, and I'd filed it away in the back of my mind, along with Superman mowed my uncle's lawn. (That one's also true: Christopher Reeve was a neighbor.) But after reading Eric B. Schultz's chapter on Eli Whitney in Innovation on Tap (review to come), I decided some further research was called for.

The name Whitney appears several times in Porter's recent family history, all close relatives of Hezekiah Scovil (1788-1849) of Haddam, Connecticut, and his wife, Hannah Burr (1794-1859):

  1. Son Whitney Scovil 1813-1837
  2. Grandson Whitney Tyler Scovil 1837-1840
  3. Grandnephew Whitney Scovil 1847-1940
  4. Grandson Whitney Daniel Scovil 1861-1867
  5. Great-grandson Whitney Scovil Porter 1886-1958 (Porter's grandfather)
  6. 4th great-grandson Spencer Whitney Sloane

By itself this is no indication of a relationship with Eli Whitney, but it is suggestive that the name was nowhere in the family before this.

Hezekiah Scovil, Porter's 3rd great-grandfather, was a blacksmith in the small town of Higganum, Connecticut, and he is the connection to Eli Whitney. He apprenticed to Whitney in New Haven, and later manufactured gun barrels for him in his own shop in Higganum. The following story is taken from the Commemorative Biographical Record of Middlesex County, Connecticut:

[Hezekiah Scovil] became acquainted with Eli Whitney, who came to see him at his home, and spent one night with Mr. Scovil. Mr. Whitney was a very tall man, and the following morning Mr. Scovil inquired of his guest how he had rested. Hesitating some little, Mr. Whitney answered the question of his host by saying: "Well, pretty well if the bed had been longer." As the result of this visit Mr. Scovil turned his skill to the making of gun-barrels by hand, power being substituted later on. He went to New Haven, engaged in this work, and then returned to Candlewood Hill, where he made the gun barrels for Mr. Whitney.

Hezekiah had 10 children, the oldest of which was named Fanny. She married John Porter. Their youngest son, Wallace, was the father of Whitney Scovil Porter (#5 above), who was Porter's grandfather and the great-grandfather of Spencer Whitney Sloane (#6).

Those of you who have followed the story of Phoebe's Quilt may be interested to know that the quilt connects here more than once: Fanny was first cousin to the recipient, Phoebe L. Scovil, and it is through Fanny that the quilt came into Porter's family. Phoebe's father was Hezekiah's brother, Sylvester; Phoebe's brother William was the father of the Whitney Scovil who is #3 above.

The first Hezekiah's firstborn son, Whitney (#1 above), was the father of #2, Whitney Tyler Scovil. It is a sad story: Whitney married in January of 1837, and his son was born in November of that year. He himself died the next month, and his son followed in 1840 at the age of two.

Of the original Hezekiah's other children, I will note three. Many of the others died quite young and/or unmarried. 

His daughter Josephine died at the age of 48, unmarried—but she is notable because we have her portrait hanging on our living room wall.

Having explained the truth of the old family story connecting Porter's family with Eli Whitney, I'll spend the rest of this post on two of Hezekiah's other sons, Daniel and Hezekiah. Hezekiah was the father of Whitney Daniel Scovil, #4 in the Whitney list above.

Daniel and Hezekiah are the famous names in Higganum, and part of the Eli Whitney legacy, having carried on their father's blacksmithing tradition by creating the D & H Scovil Manufacturing Company in 1844. In addition to manufacturing gun barrels, and lovely things like the two iron candelabra that stand in our house, D & H Scovil made hoes. The "Scovil hoe" is what they are famous for.

Daniel made a trip into the plantations of the South, where he discovered that the English hoes being used there were of terrible quality. Family lore suggests that Daniel might have had a travelling companion, Eli Whitney, Jr.—but I haven't found documentation for that. Daniel put his mind to the problem of building a better hoe, and he did. He designed and manufactured what he called a "planter's hoe," which gripped more tightly on the handle and sharpened itself as it was being used.

Every inventor needs a partner with good business sense, and for Daniel that was his brother, Hezekiah. The hoe was a hit, and a success.

The first four minutes of this video show a Scovil hoe and some of its history and features. The narrator gets a few things (and pronunciations) not quite right, but it's mostly true to what I've learned elsewhere.

Here are some references that might be of interest if you want to dig further:

Finally, if you really want to know the D & H Scovil history, I just found these three presentations given at the Haddam Historical Society, and I'm sure they will be fascinating. I admit I haven't watched them, and I sure hope they don't contradict what I've written. I'm looking forward to seeing them with Porter—maybe I'll make popcorn for the occasion—but it's nearly four hours' worth of material, so that's not going to happen for a while.

A Year in the Life of D and H Scovil – Part 1

A Year in the Life of D and H Scovil – Part 2

A Year in the Life of D and H Scovil – Part 3


There is an interesting postscript to this story. Although Porter's family worked with and was inspired by Eli Whitney, they are not related in any way I could find. My family, however, is! Mr. Whitney and I are second cousins, six times removed.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, January 4, 2020 at 9:03 am | Edit
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Who was Stephen Hopkins, the Mayflower passenger who is Porter's 10th great-grandfather?

To me he was just one name out of 15,000 in my family tree database. But having proved his significant relationship to my husband, children, and grandchildren, I thought it best to learn a bit more about him.

Turns out he's quite a character.

It has long been known that he was a passenger on the Mayflower, but only recently has there been good evidence that this was not his first trip to the New World.

Stephen was born in Hampshire, England, in 1581. He married a woman named Mary, and by her he had three children: Elizabeth, Constance, and Giles. Constance is Porter's 9th great-grandmother.

In 1609, Stephen signed onto a ship called the Sea Venture, as a minister's clerk, for a voyage to Jamestown, Virginia. You may recall that the English had settled Jamestown in 1607; this ship was part of a fleet intended to bring settlers and much-needed supplies to the colony. However, the Sea Venture became separated from the fleet in a storm, and was wrecked on Bermuda. Food and fresh water were plentiful and the former passengers survived, led by Thomas Gates, who had been commissioned to become the new governor of Jamestown.

During his life as a castaway, Stephen Hopkins demonstrated the temper for which he was remembered in Porter's family, where outbursts of anger were met with the admonition, "You're behaving like Stephen Hopkins." Or perhaps it was less temper and more independent spirit. In any case, Stephen was vocal about his dissatisfaction with the leadership of Governor Gates, and questioned his authority, leading others to do the same. There's a name for that at sea: mutiny. He was arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Thanks to his eloquent pleading and that of others, he was pardoned, and was wise enough in the future to keep his opinions about Governor Gates to himself.

If the name of the ship is familiar to you, you may be a fan of Shakespeare's plays. The fate of the Sea Venture was one of the inspirations for The Tempest, and some think the character Stephano in the play was modeled on Stephen Hopkins.

In May of 1610, having built themselves some new boats, the castaways finally arrived in Jamestown. There they found the colonists starving and dispirited, and determined to depart. Before they left, however, a ship arrived from England with supplies, more colonists, and a new governor. Stephen Hopkins stayed in Jamestown until recalled to England sometime after the death in 1613 of his wife, Mary. He married Elizabeth Fisher in 1617, and they had a daughter, Damaris.

In 1620, Stephen, Elizabeth, Damaris, Giles, and Constance boarded the Mayflower. (Stephen and Mary's other daughter, Elizabeth, had probably died or possibly was married by that time.) They were not Pilgrims, but what the Pilgrims called Strangers, having been recruited in London to assist with a new venture in Virginia. A son, Oceanus, was born to them on the voyage.  

As we all know, the Mayflower never made it to the sunny shores of Virginia. Stephen made the best of the situation, signed the Mayflower Compact,  and threw himself into the work of the Plymouth Colony, making himself particularly useful by virtue of his previous experience with Native Americans, exploring, and living off the land. When Samoset, an Abenaki Native, startled the colonists by walking into their settlement and speaking to them in English, he spent the night in the Hopkins home.

Stephen and Elizabeth had five more children, born in the Plymouth Colony: Caleb, Deborah, Damaris, Ruth, and Elizabeth. The repetition of names (Damaris, Elizabeth) is usually a good indication that the previous children of those names had died young. 

The courts were busy in those days with offenses major and minor, and genealogists are thankful for ancestors who got into a little bit of trouble, because they left records. Stephen Hopkins ran a tavern, and his name appears several times in the court records: for fighting (there's that temper again), for allowing drinking and game playing on Sunday, for allowing people to "drink excessively," and for selling goods for more than the customary price. Also, one of his servants was found to be pregnant by a man who subsequently was executed for having murdered a Native American. The court ruled that Stephen was financially responsible for her and the baby until her term of service was up; instead, he threw her out of the house. Another colonist saved the day by buying out her remaining two years of service and accepting responsibility for her and the child.

Adventuresome, resourceful, independent, competent, fractious, and of fiery temper—that's our Stephen Hopkins. If you wish to read more about him, here are some interesting links:

American Ancestors - Stephen Hopkins

MayflowerHistory.com - Stephen Hopkins

Jamestowne Society - Who Was Stephan Hopkins?

Wikipedia - Stephen Hopkins

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 7:42 am | Edit
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It has been a long time coming.

In our family, it began in 1911, with this letter written to Porter's grandmother, Mabel Davis, by William C. Knowles, a member of the Connecticut State House of Representatives. He was her representative, and also a distant relative, but who the friend was who put them in contact we will probably never know. (Click images to enlarge.)

     

Note his final line: Many are proud of their connection with the Pilgrims. I think they were a cantankerous set. Apparently Stephen Hopkins was cantankerous, at any rate: when Porter was a teenager and let his temper get the best of him, his mother would tell him to stop acting like Stephen Hopkins.

Mabel Davis was 21 years old when she received this letter. As far as we know, she did not apply to the Mayflower or any other hereditary society. She married the following year, and probably found much else that commanded her attention. (Such as bringing the Maggie P. into the family. How much of her personality came from Stephen Hopkins no one knows, but she was a Force to be Reckoned With.)

Many years later, sometime after we first moved to Florida, Porter took up the letter and the genealogical work. However, he also became too busy, and again it languished.

Then came 2002, the year of my father's death, which had followed close on the heels of the death of Porter's mother. I was stunned to realize that most of the people of whom I might ask questions were now out of reach, and the few remaining were well along in years. What's more, it occurred to me that, as the oldest in my family by quite a number of years, I had memories of bygone times that my siblings did not. I had never been interested in history of any sort, but it began to look as if I needed to take action to stem the rapid disappearance of family knowledge.

So I took up the genealogical baton, helped considerably by three significant factors.

  • On both sides of the family there had been people of earlier generations who had shown some interest in family history, so I had a few good books and some painstakingly-gathered notes to begin from.
  • We were at the time living just outside of Boston, with the tremendous resources of the New England Historic Genealogical Society library just a short train ride away. I can't emphasize enough how important this was to the progress I made. Alas, this season of my research was short, as we moved back to Florida in early 2003, but I made the most of it. In those days before Internet genealogy took off, the books, manuscripts, and human resources of the library were essential; even now, whenever we visit Boston my goal is to spend as much time as possible at the NEHGS. The same is true of New York City: You can have your Broadway shows—give me the New York Public Library's Milstein room.
  • While "There's never enough time!" is my constant and continuous refrain, I can't deny that with our youngest child in college, and not being constrained by the demands of employment, the time was finally right for some serious and sustained research.

I took up the baton, it is true, but I ran in my own direction. I grew up with zero interest in family history, and negative interest in heritage societies. My sole desire at that point was to gather data (like Google—data, data, and more data) and to enjoy solving genealogical puzzles. With the help of many people and resources, my family tree grew to nearly 15,000 people. (I hasten to add that this was without tacking on branches from other people's Ancestry.com or Family Search trees, which is how unsourced and incorrect data is spreading like a California wildfire.) I'm still embroiled in the massive challenge of organizing that data and making sure the tree is as accurate and well-documented as possible—as well as continuing to learn more, of course.

Knowing that he had a Mayflower ancestor—actually, at least three different branches that I know of now—Porter expressed an interest in joining the Mayflower Society, because of the upcoming (2020) 400th anniversary of the Landing of the Pilgrims. With all the data I have collected, you'd think that would be an easy job for me to do, so in 2017 I looked into the process and recklessly promised it to Porter as a Christmas present.

But even well-sourced data about a line of descent is not proof, and the Mayflower Society turns out to be particularly rigorous in its requirements. Of Porter's three possible Mayflower lines, I chose Stephen Hopkins because it looked to be the easiest to prove. Maybe it was, but easy it was not.

Now that I've done it once and know the procedures and requirements, it shouldn't take me as long to do another one—assuming the proof is available. (I can't believe I just wrote that; for months I had been intoning, "Never again. Never again. I am never going through this again." I guess it's like childbirth.) This was the gift that kept on giving: Christmas 2017, birthday 2018, Christmas 2018, birthday 2019. We submitted the final application in May of this year, and in October the certificate at the top of this post finally arrived in the mail.

Stephen Hopkins is Porter's 10th great-grandfather.  The line is as follows:

Stephen Hopkins—Constance Hopkins—Sarah Snow—William Walker—Mehitabel Walker—Richard Knowles—Mary Knowles—Joseph Burr—Sarah Burr—Julius Davis—Mabel Davis—Alice Porter—Porter Wightman.

As patriarch of the family Stephen naturally gets all the press, but note that in this line Porter actually has two Mayflower ancestors.  Stephen's daughter Constance was also a passenger on that ship.

I had figured to use my work once more as a Christmas gift, with the framed certificate wrapped and waiting under the tree. But I soon discovered that I couldn't wait myself—the road had been so long.

And anyway, it's a really appropriate Thanksgiving present.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, November 3, 2019 at 6:04 am | Edit
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Hey, Eric!  Look what I found in the Summer 2019 issue of American Ancestors!

I haven't had a cartoon published since my Dip City days.  Not that this is entirely my cartoon, but it is my caption.

On Facebook, American Ancestors (The New England Historic Genealogical Society) occasionally runs a contest in which readers suggest captions for a cartoon that they plan to publish in their magazine.  I had no idea that mine had been chosen till I reached the final page of the most recent issue.

That was a fun surprise!

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 12, 2019 at 11:17 am | Edit
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Porter is now the patriarch of our family.  His father died last week, at the good age of 92.  We are thankful that he did not linger in a nursing home, and that his mind was still his own even as his body deteriorated.  His obituary was published in the Hartford Courant of August 22, 2019.  Because the Courant charges a shocking price, I'm publishing the longer (and more genealogically satisfying) version here.

William Stoddard Wightman of Old Saybrook, Connecticut died August 15, 2019 at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown.  Born February 21, 1927 in Bristol, Connecticut, Bill was the son of Stoddard Elsworth Wightman and Hilma Louise (Lulu) Faulk. He is survived by a son, William Porter Wightman (Linda) of Altamonte Springs, Florida, and a daughter, Prudence Wightman Sloane (Jay) of Salem, Connecticut, as well as three grandchildren,  Heather (Jon) Daley, Janet (Stephan) Stücklin, and Spencer Sloane, and ten great-grandchildren, Jonathan, Noah, Faith, Joy, Jeremiah, and Nathaniel Daley, and Joseph, Vivienne, Daniel, and Eleonora Stücklin. He was predeceased by two wives, Alice Davis Porter of Higganum (1952-2001) and Arline Johnson McCahan (2002-2012), one sister, Elinor (Wightman) (Fredrickson) Fisher, and one great-grandson, Isaac Daley.

Bill enlisted in the Navy the day after he turned seventeen and was trained as a medic for the invasion of Japan, but was “saved by the bomb.” After the service he worked as a shad fisherman and helped Ernie Hull build the marina at Saybrook Point. He then went to Mitchell College and the Rhode Island School of Design, getting a degree in textile engineering. He worked thirty years for Albany International designing paper machine clothing. This gave him the opportunity to work abroad in France, Sweden, Holland, Brazil, and South Africa. He retired in South Carolina in 1982, living there until his second marriage in 2002 when he moved to Old Saybrook. He was an avid sailor and proud owner of the Fenwick cottage, the “Maggie P.”  In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington.

As our new rector has taught us, we are bold to say,

May he rest in peace and rise in glory!

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, August 23, 2019 at 12:37 pm | Edit
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I read it in the Orlando Sentinel, on page 10 of the front section of today's paper, part of an article entitled, "Will census show Latino boom?"

And people wonder why I don't trust the mainstream media. Part of me still retains a small hope that professional news organizations—like our local newspaper—have more of a chance of getting the news right than the average Internet source, but they keep taxing my credulity. Here's the latest.

[E]xperts say the typical hurdles for an accurate census have been aggravated by a controversial question proposed by the Trump administration—"Is this person a citizen of the United States?"—that some fear will dissuade non-citizens from participating.

"The biggest barrier is one that the Trump administration has created," [attorney Tom] Wolf said. "This would mark the first time in American history that the census would try to ascertain the citizenship status of the entire country."

The emphasis is mine. Tom Wolf is "an attorney who specializes in the census and redistricting at the Brennan Center for Justice in New York." Specializes in the census? I suppose I could give him the benefit of the doubt and allow that perhaps he was wildly misquoted—but I'm skeptical.

From my genealogical work, I knew he was wrong: citizenship questions had been asked before. What I didn't know until I looked it up again was just how wrong he was. Check out the following census years:

1870

  • Is the person a male citizen of the United States of 21 years or upwards?

 1890

  • Is the person naturalized?
  • Has the person taken naturalization papers out?

 1900

  • What year did the person immigrate to the United States?
  • How many years has the person been in the United States?
  • Is the person naturalized?

1910

  • Year of immigration to the United States
  • Is the person naturalized or an alien?

1920

  • Year of immigration to the United States
  • Is the person naturalized or alien?
  • If naturalized, what was the year of naturalization?

1930

  • Year of immigration into the United States
  • Is the person naturalized or an alien?

1940

  • If foreign born, is the person a citizen?

1950

  • If foreign born, is the person naturalized?

1970

From 1970 on, the census stopped asking all the questions of everyone—only a small percentage of households received the long form with the interesting questions. Speaking as a genealogist, that was a very big mistake.

  • For persons born in a foreign country—Is the person naturalized?
  • When did the person come to the United States to stay?

1980

  • Is this person a naturalized citizen of the United States?
  • When did this person come the United States to stay?

1990

  • Is this person a citizen of the United States?
  • If this person was not born in the United States, when did this person come to the United States to stay?

2000

  • Is this person a citizen of the United States?

2010

In 2010 the short census form had a mere 10 questions, and the long form was replaced by the annual American Community Survey. The ACS asked questions about citizenship.

So, Mr. Wolf is correct if he only considers the censuses taken from 1960 onward. But he ignores eight censuses in which the country did, indeed, "try to ascertain the citizenship status of the entire country." The proposed question is hardly something new.

The U. S. Federal Census has often asked nosy and sometimes peculiar questions, such as

  • Is the person deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic?
  • Can the person read?
  • Was, on the day of the enumerator's visit, the person sick or disabled so as to be unable to attend to ordinary business or duties? If so, what was the sickness or disability?
  • For mothers, how many children has the person had? and How many of those children are living?
  • Is the person's home owned or rented? If it is owned, is the person's home owned free or mortgaged?
  • Is the person a survivor of the Union or Confederate Army or Navy?
  • Person's father's mother tongue
  • Is the person an employer, a salary or wage worker, or working on his own account?
  • Does the household own a radio?
  • Number of weeks worked in the year
  • What is the highest grade this person has attended in school?
  • How did this person get to work last week?

There was a time in my life when I was disgusted with the census for asking such personal questions. But now I see them as an invaluable glimpse into the world of my ancestors—and our country's history. I grieve that the names of all household members don't show up until 1850, and that most of the country has been excluded from the interesting questions since 1970.

I don't see how the Sentinel has a leg to stand on with its statement that the census has never before asked the citizenship of all the country's inhabitants. Why I continue to believe so much of what I read boggles my mind.  Maybe for the same reason I agree to all those End User License Agreements.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, April 15, 2019 at 12:14 pm | Edit
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It took a long time for me to dip my toes into the DNA testing waters, being both an avid genealogist and a very private person. But just as giving birth changed my relationship to modesty, starting a blog changed my relationship to privacy. I'm still both modest and private, but not in the same way. The biggest obstacle to DNA testing was knowing I was dragging my family along. As recent events have shown, criminal behavior (and other indiscretions) can be found out by DNA through relatives' information available on genealogy websites.

But I discovered long ago that privacy as we knew it is dead. I remember working with a family researcher who was writing a book on one side of our family. At one time, I would have refused to contribute any information, but had since been helped so much in my research by a book on the Wightman Family that I wanted to help others the same way. The Wightman book, incidentally, has information on me and our family that was contributed without my knowledge or consent. At the time I was not happy, but I got over that and now appreciate it. Except for where the data is wrong....

The point, however, is that while such direct contributions help researchers, they're not all that necessary. When one of my family members declined to contribute his family's information to the project I was helping with, the researcher understood his reluctance—but he added, "Let me show you the information I've already obtained from public sources." He already had just about everything he could use. As Illya Kuryakin Dr. Mallard said on NCIS last night, The Internet will be the death of us. Or at least of privacy.

In light of all this, Porter and I each decided to submit a sample to AncestryDNA.com, and eagerly awaited the results. Later we uploaded the DNA data to MyHeritage.com, and eventually gave another sample to 23andMe.com—the latter for both the ancestry and the health screening.

This post is not for a detailed analysis of the results, but an overall impression of the value of the DNA testing. First, from the point of view of genealogy.

For us, the Ancestry.com screening was the most useful. This is for two reasons.

  • They have the largest database from which to work, and that is what makes the testing useful—comparing your DNA to that of other populations. For this reason it is also most useful for those of European background, because of the large numbers of that population who have participated. The testing services are working to improve the experience for under-represented populations, but for now the data is not so robust.
  • I have uploaded our family tree, with its nearly 15,000 individuals, to Ancestry.com, and that's largely what makes their DNA service helpful for genealogy. This gives context to our DNA matches, and I've already confirmed known relatives while learning of several more. My tree is at the moment private on Ancestry, which means people have to ask me about the information, which is a good way to get to meet them. Someday I will make it, or at least a version of it, public, but the tree itself isn't ready for that exposure yet.

No doubt MyHeritage would be more useful if I put a tree up there as well, but that's on the "Someday/Maybe" list. I only uploaded our data because at the time they gave free access to their resources if you did. So far they've only found us "third-to-fifth cousins"—tons of them—which is not of much use without trees to compare, and most people seem to have no trees or very small ones. Third cousins share a great-great-grandfather, so it requires a significant amount of family history knowledge to make the connection.

23andMe is in the same situation as far as genealogy goes. So far nothing found even as close as second cousin (sharing a great-grandfather).

How has this helped my genealogy research? Well, through Ancestry.com I've connected with a few previously unknown cousins, a couple close enough to be useful in sharing information. Even the ones that are more distant have been useful in providing some confirmation of my research. Overall I'm glad I took the plunge, if only for this reason. It also has a lot of potential for more and better information as time goes on. One important caveat: There is a lot of error in online family trees. Even with DNA support, this information is best taken as inspiration for further research, and for mutual sharing of data sources.

Now for what most people want out of DNA testing: heritage and ethnicity information. This is an estimate only, and each company has its own data and algorithm for making its "best guess." Sometime after we had our samples analyzed, Ancestry.com upgraded their system and re-analyzed our data. The results were not terribly much different from the first attempt, though probably more accurate.

The analysis from MyHeritage was closer to Ancestry's original analysis. That from 23andMe was different from any of the others, though quite similar overall.

My impression? The DNA analysis is very good as an overall picture, not so good on the details. For example, Porter's great-grandparents came to the United States from Sweden, and it is well known where they lived before emigrating. In fact, when his dad visited Sweden, he was told he looks just like people who live in that area. Thus when his father's AncestryDNA analysis came back showing his largest ethnicity to be Norwegian, we were taken aback. However, the area he's from may be called Sweden, but it's right on the border with Norway. One can definitely say from his DNA that he is of Scandinavian origin, but that he is specifically Swedish comes from genealogy. One must also remember that the smaller percentages are suspect: of the three analyses, 23andMe was the only one that gave me "broadly East Asian and Native American" ancestry, and that was at just 0.1%, so highly doubtful.

Finally, there's the analysis of genetic health data. This comes primarily from 23andMe, though we also paid an extra $10 post facto for Ancestry's "Traits" screening. I've written about the latter experience before. 23andMe analyzes many more traits than Ancestry's small sample, from "Leigh Syndrome, French Canadian Type" carrier status, to estimated risk for late-onset Alzheimer's Disease, to Lactose Intolerance, to Asparagus Odor Detection.

My thoughts? Interesting, but not quite ready for prime time. Where I have independent data it sometimes confirms, sometimes contradicts the DNA reports. Ancestry says I likely have a "unibrow" but 23andMe says the opposite. Both of them say I probably hate cilantro, and I love it. And so on. So I'm taking the rest of what they say with a few grains of salt. I'm sure there's something to it, and that the data will get better with time, but for now it is more entertainment than useful information. Actually, I take that back: Just as DNA ancestry data is useful as a starting point for further research, the discovery of certain traits might be useful for suggesting further, medical, genetic testing.

There's a lot more to DNA analysis for the serious genealogy researcher to investigate, such as sites that will take your data and give you tools to learn much more about which particular genes you and a DNA match share. I'm not there yet; I have too much to do with my regular research to explore that path further. But it, and my data, are there when I'm ready.

Am I glad I decided to "spit in the tube"? Absolutely; I'd do it again and may later go further with it. I'm very grateful to family members who have taken the plunge as well, because that provides a look at the puzzle from more angles. But it's always important not to expect too much. It's never as simple as trading your kilt for lederhosen, as the Ancestry.com ad blithely shows. Plus there's a risk of finding out things you don't want to know—about family or about health. It's a very personal decision and I understand those who are reluctant to take the risk.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 at 7:05 pm | Edit
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Not long ago, Ancestry.com added a new feature to their DNA services, where for an additional $10 they will analyze your existing DNA sample for certain genetic traits. It's not nearly as extensive as that offered by 23andMe, but for $10 I thought it worth checking out.

The verdict? Interesting, of questionable use, somewhat confusing, and mildly amusing. I'm posting our results for the few family members who might be interested, and for anyone else who wonders what the $10 will get you.

Bear in mind that having the gene for a trait does not mean that you actually have that trait, since genetics is complicated! Many different genes may influence the trait, and environment is often a factor as well. As I understand it, current DNA tests can give you a good general picture, but not the whole story. As the site says,

Sometimes your trait doesn't match what your genes say—that's totally normal. Genes don't always tell the whole story.

What the Ancestry.com Traits testing told me I can often confirm—but not always. They hedge their conclusions with "probably" in most cases. I've listed what Ancestry says, followed by my commentary. In some cases this may be more information than you want to know; you have been warned.

  • Cleft Chin Yes. I see no evidence thereof. Maybe too small to notice.
  • Finger Length Index finger longer than ring finger. Maybe. It's hard to measure, and harder still when fingers are affected by arthritis.
  • Earlobe Type Attached. I can confirm that.
  • Earwax Type Wet. This one is more complicated than they make out, I'm certain. The two types are "Wet and sticky, yellowish to brown in color)" and "Dry and flaky (gray to tan in color)." Ancestry says, "Dry earwax is common in Asian and Native American populations. Just about everybody else has the wet variety. But in practice, I—with no measurable Asian or Native American ancestry—have primarily what they describe as "dry." But not exclusively: occasionally it's more like the wet, though not sticky, and nothing like that of others I know whose earwax is clearly of the wet-and-sticky variety. So there's a lot more going on here than a single genetic marker.
  • Eye Color Light eyes. No surprise there—blue.
  • Freckles No freckles. They got this right, too.
  • Hair Color Lighter hair. Yep. Not now, but I was blonde as kid. My optometrist confirmed that: I have a blonde fundus. Even Miss Clairol can't fool an eye doctor.
  • Hair Type Naturally wavy hair. Where did that come from? My hair is straight as can be. I remember my sister having somewhat wavy hair until her first haircut, so maybe I did then, too. But after that the only waves in my hair came from the painful overnight application of curlers—until my mother gave up on making me into someone who thought it reasonable to endure pain just to conform to society's standards of beauty. :)
  • Hair Strand Thickness Average. I suppose so. Never thought about this one much. The gene variant for "thick hair" is "almost nonexistent in people of African and European descent," so when the hairdressers tell me (as they frequently do), "You sure have thick hair!" they must be talking about something else.
  • Iris Patterns I should have furrows, crypts, and rings in my irises.  I'll take their word for it; I find it hard to tell, though my irises are certainly more complex than I thought.
  • Male Hair Loss Low chance of hair loss. Too bad we didn't have sons; I hope our daughters inherited the gene (which their father has, too) and passed it on to their sons.
  • Skin Pigmentation Light to medium skin tone. No surprise here.
  • Unibrow Yes. Oops, they got that one wrong.
  • Asparagus Metabolite Detection No. Well, half right As with the Earwax Type, it's more complicated than it seems. What they say, exactly, is this: your DNA suggests you might not notice a distinctive smell when you pee after eating asparagus. This is correct; I do not. However, they also say the following:

When your body digests asparagus, it produces a chemical called asparagusic acid, which breaks down into compounds that contain sulfur, which is notoriously stinky (think rotten eggs). Some people can smell this in their urine after eating asparagus; others can’t.

Scientists used to think that asparagus caused some people to produce bad-smelling urine, but it turns out that it’s probably not the stench but the ability to smell it that varies. The inability to smell is called “asparagus anosmia.”

I'm inclined to think that the new theory is wrong, since I cannot smell the distinctive odor in my own urine after eating asparagus, and neither can Porter. You might think that the quantities of asparagus eaten make a difference, but even when I eat a lot, we don't notice the smell, and when Porter eats the tiniest amount of asparagus, we both know it! So we can both smell it, but as far as we can tell, only he produces detectable "asparagus pee."

  • Bitter Sensitivity No. This is a test for the ability to taste the bitterness in glucosinolates, which are common in vegetables like brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale. This may explain why I don't understand people who have an averson to kale....
  • Cilantro Aversion Yes. Boy did they get this one wrong. I love, love, love cilantro! But my grandson may have received this gene, since he says cilantro tastes like stinkbugs. (Don't ask me how he knows the taste of stinkbugs.)
  • Sweet Sensitivity More sensitive to sweets. If this is true, I taste sweet flavors more intensely than people without this variant. Maybe. I do find that baked goods like cakes and cookies can do with a lot less sugar than the recipe calls for. But that doesn't change the fact that I love sweetness!
  • Savory (Umami) Sensitivity Less sensitive to umami, or savory flavors. Maybe this is why I never get "Chinese restaurant syndrome." I love the "umami" flavor in foods, but am not noticeably sensitive to monosodium glutamate (MSG).

I'll give an abbreviated version of Porter's results. For some reason, he has one more trait (Birth Weight), added recently, which I don't see in my results yet.

  • Birth Weight average-sized newborn. His birth certificate doesn't have birth weight information, so we'll probably never know.
  • Cleft Chin Yes. Wrong—as far as we can tell.
  • Finger Length Index finger longer than ring finger. As far as he can tell, they are the same length.
  • Earlobe Type Unattached. Wrong—Attached.
  • Earwax Type Wet. Right.
  • Eye Color Light eyes. Right—hazel.
  • Freckles No freckles. Right.
  • Hair Color Darker hair. Right.
  • Hair Type Naturally wavy hair. Wrong.
  • Hair Strand Thickness Average. Probably right.
  • Iris Patterns He should have furrows and rings in his irises.  Who knows?
  • Male Hair Loss Low chance of hair loss. Looks right so far. :)
  • Skin Pigmentation Light to medium skin tone. Right.
  • Unibrow No. Right.
  • Asparagus Metabolite Detection Yes. Right.
  • Bitter Sensitivity No. Probably right.
  • Cilantro Aversion No.
  • Sweet Sensitivity More sensitive to sweets.
  • Savory (Umami) Sensitivity Less sensitive to umami, or savory flavors.

Verdict? I don't see any use for it, but it was a fair $10 (each) worth of entertainment, to have done once. Coming up? We grabbed a set of 23andMe tests on a Black Friday special, and finally sent them in recently. We'll see if they're any more enlightening.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, March 3, 2019 at 5:09 pm | Edit
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For the past several months we have been posting, day by day, Porter's transcription of the World War I diary kept by Hezekiah Scovil Porter of the United States Army's 101st Machine Gun Battalion, chronicling his days from October 9, 1917 until his death at Chateau Thierry on July 22, 1918. In this post I've collected the entire diary transcription in order, with page numbers and occasional explanatory comments. You can see images of the pages themselves here: Hezekiah Scovil Porter's WWI Diary.

Introduction

Hezekiah Scovil Porter was the youngest of Wallace and Florence Gesner (Wells) Porter's seven children, born into the tiny town of Higganum, Connecticut on June 4, 1896. He attended The Choate School in Wallingford, Connecticut. Choate is now known as the school that "has educated generations of the upper-class New England establishment and the American political elite," but at the time it was only as old as Hezekiah himself. Twenty years later, John F. Kennedy would graduate from Choate, having been chosen by his class as the person "most likely to succeed." About Hezekiah, the Headmaster wrote:

Hezzie was always a man of deeds rather than of words. And his influence either on the field, or in the classroom, or about School in general, was of the kind that very definitely made us a better School for his being part of it. In his Sixth Form year Hezzie was President of his class, and in the vote which was taken toward the close of the year, he was almost unanimously chosen as the member of his Form who had "done most for Choate." He was also voted—and there were no near competitors— the "most popular," as well as the man in his class "most to be admired."

But Hez never had his chance to become President. As with many of his generation, his service ended on the battlefields of France. After graduating from Choate, Hezekiah attended Yale University. But he left during the fall of his sophomore year to join the Army. After four months he was at the front, and five months later he was killed in action near Chatêau-Thierry.

The following quote, and the one above, are taken from Yale in the World War, by George Henry Nettleton (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1925). You can read a somewhat fuzzy but still legible copy of the article on Hezekiah Scovil Porter by clicking on the images in the middle of my Memorial Day, 2009 post.

On the morning of July 22, 1918, in the course of an American attack on Epieds, north of Château-Thierry, Hezekiah Scovil Porter, Private in the 101st Machine Gun Battalion, was killed in action. His diary closes abruptly with an entry recorded the night before while his company was awaiting the dawn which was to bring the expected advance. Next morning in the midst of the attack he met instant death in the open field as he was hurrying forward with ammunition for a machine gun.

Hezekiah Scovil Porter is my husband's granduncle. That diary the article mentions? Porter has it. He labored much to photograph and transcribe the pages of the diary, in honor of the 100th anniversary this year of Hez's death. The images can be viewed here; the transcription follows. (The original is in black; annotations are in red.)

Family note: In the pages below, you will see references to mail Hez received from family members. Conspicuously absent are communications from his father, mother, and one of his brothers, who had all predeceased him: his mother in 1910, his father in 1912, and his oldest brother, Ralph Wallace Porter, in 1915.

Hez's Diary
October 9, 1917 - July 21, 1918

Page 1

H. S. Porter
101st Machine G. Bat. (Machine Gun Battalion)
U.S.A.

(places he went)

Niantic Conn.
Montreal, Canada
Halifax "
Liverpool, England
Borden "
Southampton "
Le Havre, France
Mont les Neufchateaux "
Lifol le Grand "
Vrigny "
Pinon "
Soissons "
Brienne le Chateau
Bar sur Aube

Page 2

Fontaine Fr. (This seems out of place as it is in southwest France, near Grenoble; could it be Hontaine?)
Colomby "
Vignory "
St. Blin "
St. Agnan "
Liouville " (It exists on Google, after you scroll down some from the famous person of the same name.)
Jouy " (Jouy is a commune in the Eure-et-Loir department in northern France)
Menil la Tour "
Bois de Hazelle
near Fleury (During the Battle of Verdun in 1916 Fleury was captured and recaptured by the Germans and French sixteen times. Since then, it has been unoccupied. During the war, the town was completely destroyed and the land was made uninhabitable to such an extent that a decision was made not to rebuild it. The area around the municipality was contaminated by corpses, explosives and poisonous gas, so no farmers could take up their work. The site of the commune is maintained as a testimony to war and is officially designated as a "village that died for France." It is managed by a municipal council of three members appointed by the prefect of the Meuse department.)
Foug "
Void "
Vitrey le François " (Vitry-le-François is a commune in the Marne department.)
Coulommes "
La Ferte " (La Ferté-sous-Jouarre is a commune in the Seine-et-Marne département in the Île-de-France region in north-central France. It is located at a crossing point over the River Marne between Meaux and Château-Thierry.)
Montreul ? (Could not find in Google)
Bejou ?
Belleau Woods (Actually spelled Belleau Wood)

Page 3

(first entry)

Oct. 9th 1917
(Leaving Connecticut for Canada)

Left camp at Niantic at about 8 A.M. Train late at station. Started about 10 A.M. Went north via Saybrook Junction. Through Hig. (Higganum, Connecticut) Lyndonville Vt. last town went through while awake. Good reception there.

Oct. 10th Wednesday
(Canada)

Arrived at Montreal about 6 A.M. at docks. Boarded boat by 7:00 A.M. got 3rd class quarters – Rotten -. Set sail about 10 o’clock. Up St. Lawrence R. Pretty scenery. Poor grub. Arrived in Quebec about 8 P.M. Took on some Servians. (Servian is an archaic word for Serbian.) Saw rats around bunks when went to bed.

Oct. 11th Thursday
(Canada, on the St. Lawrence River)

Still going up river.

Page 4

No excitement. Have to wear life belts at all times now. Felt as though had wash board around neck. Lots of snow on hills. Cold, getting rough to-night.

Friday Oct 12th
(Canada, at sea)

Rough & rocking.

Everybody sea sick. Stayed up on deck nearly all day & tried to sleep when not sick. Didn’t eat all day.

Saturday Oct 13th
(Canada, at sea)

Felt fine this A.M. Pulled into Halifax about 9:30 A.M. Other transports besides ours loaded with American troops. Took on some Canadians. Loaded on provisions this P.M. Nothing doing this evening.

Page 5

Sunday Oct. 14th
(At sea)

Fine day. Set sail this P.M. at 3:30. Nine ships with us. All going together.

Monday Oct. 15th

Fine day. On guard this A.M. No excitement.

Tuesday, Oct. 16th

Very foggy. Boats going straight ahead today. No excitement.

Wednesday Oct. 17

Foggy this A.M. Clear this P.M. Concert by fellows this evening.

Thursday Oct 18

Cold this A.M. Hail storm in morning. Cloudy all day. Nothing doing.

Page 6

Friday Oct. 19th

Colder. Same sort of weather. Sighted a ship this P.M. which proved to be a freighter.

Saturday Oct. 20th

Cold to-day. Have got a cold. Nothing doing all day. Rather rough this evening.

Sunday Oct 21st

Raining, rather windy. Met our convoys this P.M.

Monday Oct. 22st

Raining. Very stormy & rough.

Tuesday Oct 23rd
(At sea, then England)

Saw land for first time since left this A.M.

Page 7

Left two or three freighters at Glascow (sic) I guess. Going around northern coast of Ireland. Can see Irish coast very plainly this P.M. Going faster. Arrived in Liverpool about 6 P.M. Off the boat & right onto the train. On train all night. Queer trains. Small, jerky. Didn’t sleep much. 8 of us in one (24th Oct.) compartment. Arrived at Borden about 5:30 A.M. About 2 mile hike to camp with packs. Got straightened out this A.M. Pretty cold. Fine country. Large encampments here. Lots of other Americans. Rain & blowing. Mud.

Page 8

Oct. 25th Thursday
(October 24 is part of previous entry.)
(England)

On Kitchen. Up at 4 A.M. Still lots of mud. Broke camp after breakfast + to station + boarded. Arrived in Southampton about 11 A.M. 3 mile walk to camp. Fine country. Mud. Lots of Americans downtown tonight + had a good feed.

Oct. 26th Friday

Fine day. Nothing doing in particular. Quite cold. Downtown this evening and had a feed.

Oct. 27th Saturday

On detail to unload provisions at freight yards. Downtown tonight . Feed + bath.

Oct. 28th Sunday

Wrote letters this A.M. Went on a short hike this P.M. Downtown this evening and had a feed.

Page 9

Monday Oct. 29th
(crossing the English Channel; France)

Up early this A.M. Rolled packs to go away. Left about 1 P.M. Down to boat + waited till about 5 before off. Left Southampton + went across to Havre (sic) France. Awful trip across. Very rough + no place to sleep. Oct. 30th Arrived about 10 A.M. long hike to camp. All up hill. In tents again on board floors. Raining + muddy. Lots of Canadians here. 7/8 of them are Americans. Good night’s sleep.

Wed Oct 31st
(October 30 is part of previous entry.)
(France)

Rolled packs this A.M. Late mess. Left this P.M. for R.R. station. Long and hard hike. 2 hrs. About 7 miles. Had to wait 6 hrs. for train. Boarded train about

Page 10

12:15 this evening. Rotten sleep. 8 in small compartment. Like Eng. Trains.

Thurs Nov 1st

Rode all day. Slowly. Broke coupling. No other excitement. Bully beef + hard tack for grub. Another night of bum sleep.

Friday Nov. 2nd

Arrived In Neuf Chateau (sic) about 9 A.M. Hiked over to Mont Neuf Chateau this A.M. Other American troops. Saw lots of them on way today. Put in small new Barracks with headquarters. Pretty good quarters.

Sat. Nov. 3rd

Up late. Had good sleep. Breakfast at 9. Nothing doing all day.

Page 11

Sunday Nov. 4th

Went for short hike this A.M. Filled beds with straw. Nothing much doing.

Monday Nov. 5th

Up early. Went on about 6 mile hike this A.M. Sitting up exercises afterward then double time back to camp. Drill this P.M. then another hike mostly up hill. Letter from Polly this evening. (Polly was his sister, Florence Adeline Porter.)

Tuesday Nov 6th.

Walked to town this A.M. All got steel helmets. Back late. Dinner late. Hungry. Little talk by Hartford pastor this P.M. then hiked to woods for firewood. Tired + sore feet tonight.

Wednesday Nov 7th

Laid up today with bum feet. Didn’t

Page 12

do anything much.

Thursday Nov. 8th

Raining. Went after wood up in woods after wood this A.M. Went again this P.M. Tried to clean off some of mud on mess strut this P.M. Stoves installed in our barracks this P.M.

Friday Nov. 9th

Hiked over to a town this. Raining + got soaked. Raining too hard for doing anything this P.M.

Saturday Nov. 10th

Rain hard this A.M. No calls. Went on guard this P.M. at 1:30. On 1st relief 1:30 to 5:30. Quite comfortable in guard house by fire. Got feet warm + dry for 1st time in about a week. One fellow came down with measles tonight + all in our barracks

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are quarantined.

Sunday Nov. 11th

Cold. Nothing doing. Can’t go out around anywhere. Turned in early tonight.

Monday Nov 12th

Saw sun for 1st time since we’ve been here this A.M. Played cards. hike after wood.

Tuesday Nov 13th

Cards this A.M. hike after wood this P.M.

Thursday Nov 14th (sic; this may be Wednesday, Nov. 14 or Thursday, Nov. 15 - the next entry is Friday, Nov. 16)

Cards this A.M. hike + wood this P.M. Fine day.

Friday Nov. 16th

Cards this A.M. Wood + drill (cal) (calisthenics) this P.M. Mail this evening (Choate News).

Saturday Nov. 17th

Cards this A.M. Examined practice trenches + bombs this P.M. + got wood. Mail this evening. Letter from Louise (his oldest sister, Harriet Louise (Porter) Walker).

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Sunday Nov. 18th

Played cards + wrote letters. Went for walk this P.M.

Monday Nov. 19th

Lecture this A.M. Wood, hike.

Tuesday Nov. 20th

Lecture this A.M. Wood this P.M.

Wednesday. Nov. 21st

Lecture this A.M. M.G. (machine gun) instruction. Hike + calisthenics this P.M.

Thursday Nov. 22nd

Lecture this A.M. Wood this P.M. Mail tonight. Testament from Polly (his sister).

Friday Nov. 23rd

Lecture this A.M. Long hike this P.M. to + around Neuf Chateau.

Saturday Nov. 24th

Wood this A.M + Lecture. M.G. instruction this P.M.

Sunday Nov. 25th

Nothing doing today.

Monday Nov. 26th

Out of quarantine today. After wood.

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Tuesday Nov. 27th

Wood this A.M. Took down guns today + cleaned them up. Hike this P.M. to Neuf Chateau.

Wednesday Nov. 28th

Wood this A.M. On guard at 1:30. Rest of bunch get ½ holiday.

Thursday Nov. 29th

Off guard at 1:30. Big Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, cranberry sauce, apple sauce, crullers. After dinner walked to Neuf Chateau with Rogers + Day. Came back with Tracy + Dennis, stopped at Café Menager.

Friday Nov. 30th

Hiked over to range beyond Pargny. Firing in A.M. D. Co. with us. Dinner from field kitchen. Cleaned guns after dinner + came back without a halt. Mustered for pay when back. Big “red dog” game this P.M.

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Saturday Dec. 1st

Signed the pay roll this A.M. After a load of wood. Headquarters went after wood this P.M. Wasted all P.M. trying to find wood. Walked all over hell + brought back a small load just before supper. Worked down at Y.M.C.A. after supper.

Sunday Dec 2nd

Cold. Snow squalls. Church + communion at Y.M.C.A. this A.M. Dr. Miel. Lecture this A.M. there by William Irwin on Italian situation. Very good. Worked at Y.M.C.A. after supper.

Monday Dec 3rd

Drill all day long with guns out in lots. Wet feet, pretty cold. Down at Y.M.C.A. this evening.

Tuesday Dec. 4th

On K.P. today. Lots of work. Took out insurance of 6,000 today.

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Wednesday Dec. 5th

After 2 loads of wood this A.M. M.G. practice this P.M. Down to Y.M.C.A. this evening. Mail – letter from Phil (his brother, Philip Wells Porter, who was also serving overseas).

Thursday Dec. 6th

Over to range all day long. Mail tonight – letter from Louise (his sister).

Friday Dec. 7th

Drill with M. Guns all day out in fields. Down at YMCA tonight.

Saturday Dec 8th

After wood this A.M. Nothing much doing this P.M. Mail tonight Package from Louise (his sister).

Sunday Dec 9th

Wrote letters this A.M. Down to Neuf Chateau this P.M. Cabled to Whit (Whitney Scovil Porter, his oldest living brother and Porter's grandfather).

Monday Dec. 10th

Over to range today. Mail tonight – letter from Louise (his sister).

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Tuesday Dec 11th

Paid this A.M. – first time since enlisted. Wood this A.M. M.G. drill this P.M. Down to Y.M.C.A. this evening.

Wednesday Dec. 12th

Over to range all day. General Edwards came around.

Thursday Dec 13th

After wood this A.M. Went on guard at 1:20 P.M. Good bunch on. Mail – Bill (his brother Phil’s wife; her given name was Orvilla), Polly (his sister)

Friday Dec. 14th

Off guard at 1:20 P.M. Down town for supper with Tracy Goodwin, Matthews.

Saturday Dec 15th

Cleaned up the town this A.M. On detail this P.M. to fix up new orderly room. Y.M.C.A. this evening.

Sunday Dec 16th

Fooled around all A.M. Wrote letters this P.M. Down to Y.M.C.A. this evening.

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Monday Dec. 17th

Snowing. On detail to unload lumber. All day.

Tuesday Dec. 18th

Over to range all day. Y.M.C.A. this evening.

Wednesday Dec. 19th

Over to range again today. Y.M.C.A. this evening.

Thursday Dec. 20th

On building detail all day. Y.M.C.A. this evening.

Friday Dec. 21st

On building detail this A.M. Gas masks issued today. Lots of 1st class mail. – Polly (his middle sister) 2 – Bill (his brother Phil's wife) – Esther (his youngest sister, Esther Caroline Porter) – Louise (his oldest sister) – Mabel (Mabel (Davis) Porter, his brother Whitney’s wife and Porter's grandmother).

Saturday Dec. 22nd

Gas mask drill this A.M. Fooled around this P.M.

Sunday Dec. 23rd

Day Beach + I walked to Domremy (Domrémy-la-Pucelle). Visited home of Joan of Arc, Church where baptized, place where saw vision basilique (basilica). Great place.

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Dec. 24th Monday

Fine day. On special detail this A.M. Went to Neufchateau this P.M. Little celebration at mess hall. Young show, present to officers, feed, giving out of packages. I was S.O.L. Big time the old shack tonight.

Dec. 25th Tuesday

Xmas tree + combined young festival with people of town. Presents for kids. Package from Mabel + Whit (his sister-in-law and his brother)Down at Y.M.C.A. this evening. Favors, free sandwiches, cocoa. Talk by Mr. Kearney (Kenney? Kerney? Kinney?) ambulance driver.

Dec. 26th Wednesday

On special carpenters’ detail all day. Y.M.C.A. this eve.

Dec 27th Thursday

Detail with carpenters again this A.M. + P.M.

Dec 28th Friday

Snowing hard. Nothing doing this A.M. On

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guard at 1:10 P.M. Cold night.

Dec. 29th Saturday

Cold. Off guard this P.M. Wrote letters.

Sunday Dec. 30th

Great day. Fooled around.

Monday Dec. 31st

Went to range – lot of snow d- cold. Big time this eve in the shack.

Tuesday Jan 1st 1918

Holiday. Fooled around all day. Down to Mlle. Alice this eve for tea. Another big time in the shack this evening.

Wednesday Jan. 2nd

Pistol practice this A.M. 

Afternoon off.

Thursday Jan 3rd

Change of company. Cold. Nothing doing.

Friday Jan 4th

On K.P. all day

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(There's a large space left before the next entry, as if he meant to go back and add something later, but did not.)

Saturday Jan 5th

Inspection this A.M. This P.M. off. Mail tonight.

Sunday Jan 6th

Fooled around all day.

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Monday Jan 7th

M.G. drill this A.M. + P.M. Also this P.M.

Tuesday Jan 8th

Sighting practice this A.M. Dentist this P.M.

Wednesday Jan 9th

Snowing. Target practice this A.M. M.G. instruction this P.M.

Thursday Jan 10th

Snow. No drill. Target practice this P.M. Box from Polly (his sister).

Friday Jan 11th

On special detail this A.M. Sighting practice this P.M.

Saturday Jan 12th

Target practice this A.M. On guard at 1:30. Punk night.

Sunday 13th

Rain + snow. Off guard at 1:30. Y.M.C.A. this eve.

Monday Jan 14th

Drill this A.M. Target practice this P.M.

Tuesday Jan 15th

Pistol instruction. Rain M.G. instruction.

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Wednesday Jan 16th

Pistol instruction. M.G. also. Rain + warm.

Thursday Jan 17th

Gas drill this A.M. Falling snow + stayed in quarters this P.M.

Friday Jan 18th

Warm. In quarters all day.

Saturday Jan 19th

In infirmary today another fellow with me.

Sunday Jan 20th

Still in (the infirmary)

Monday Jan 21st

Still in

Tuesday Jan 22nd

Still in – Bill Famely was let out today. Mail tonight – box from Polly (his sister).

Wednesday Jan 23rd

Out (of the infirmary) this A.M. but in quarters.

Thursday Jan 24th

Were paid this A.M. On 500 range this P.M. Was in

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target trenches under fire.

Friday Jan 25th

M. G. drill this A.M and P.M. too. Warm + fine day.

Saturday Jan 26th

On kitchen all day.

Sunday Jan 27th

Over to range at Concourt all day. All M. guns in 26th div. on one range. Great sight. Home late. Talk by Col. Parker

Monday Jan 28th

Same thing today. Home a little earlier

Tuesday Jan 29th

Same thing again.

Wednesday Jan 30th

Pistol practice this A.M. Drill this P.M.

Thursday Jan 31st

On our range all day with M. Gs.

Friday Feb 1st

Drill this A.M. On range this P.M. digging

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implacements (sic) for guns.

Saturday Feb. 2nd

Co. went to range. Was supernumerary of guard so stayed home. Fire this evening about 1 A.M. Called to go on guard at 3:30 A.M.

Sunday Feb. 3rd

Great day. Off guard at 8 A.M. Wrote letters + read all day. Letter from Bill (Orvilla, his brother Phil's wife) this eve.

Monday Feb. 4th

Inspection + cleaning up this A.M. Cleaning and lecture this P.M.

Tuesday Feb. 5th

More cleaning and inspection this A.M. Went to Neufchateau this P.M. + brought up Fords for Co. Supper at Mlle. Alice’s this evening.

Wednesday Feb. 6th

Another trip to Neufchateau for Fords this A.M. Worked on cars this P.M.

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Thursday Feb. 7th

More cleaning up. Worked on cars all rest of day. Mine is fine shape now. Supper at Mlle. Alice’s this P.M.

Friday Feb 8th

On K.P. Up at 4 A.M. Company left for Lifol le Grand at 3 P.M. Went with the kitchen. Arrived there at about 6:30. Had to get supper, pack stuff on cars. Off at 9:30 – some day. Tried to sleep in barracks with no blankets, etc.

Saturday Feb. 9th

Up at 3:30 A.M. Marched to station with junk & loaded it on cars. Were off after breakfast at 6:30 A.M. On box cars – 37 in ours. Some crowd. Rode all day. Slept but little

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Sunday Feb. 10th

Detrained at about 4 A.M. at Braisne. Unloaded our Fords etc. Had breakfast + started out in Flivers. Ate dinner at a town all shot to pieces. Continued in afternoon thru wrecked towns + landed at CheVregny. Town completely wrecked – not a house left. I Live in barracks – some in dugouts. Got a better sleep.

Monday Feb. 11th

Fine Day. Went around town exploring trenches + dugouts.

Tuesday Feb. 12th

Fine day. Drill this A.M. Moved into different barracks this P.M. Saw a Boch (a slang term, of various spellings, for German) airplane bring down an observation balloon.

Wednesday Feb. 13th

Drill for gas this A.M. + with guns. Drill + short hike this P.M.

Thursday Feb. 14th

Gas drill + short hike this A.M. Drill with guns

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This P.M.

Friday Feb. 15th

Gas drill + gun drill this A.M. Went on guard at 4:30 P.M. Cold tonight

Saturday Feb. 16th

Cold. Off guard at 4:30 this P.M. Appointed a driver again. The Company went to trenches tonight. Bob Skinner drove my car up.

Sunday Feb. 17th

Fine day. Took an all day walk + went nearly to 3rd lines. Saw a German plane brought down this A.M.

Monday Feb. 18th

Worked on cars all day. Fooled around.

Tuesday Feb. 19th

Fussed with Flivers all day. Nothing much doing for us.

Wednesday Feb. 20th

On K.P. all day. Mail tonight – 3 letters.

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Thursday Feb. 21st

Worked on cars this A.M.

Worked in kitchen grinding coffee this P.M.

Friday Feb. 22nd

Fussed on cars. Nothing much doing.

Saturday Feb 23rd

Same old stunt. No excitement.

Sunday Feb. 24th

Worked on cars this A.M.

On guard this P.M.

Monday Feb. 25th

Off guard at 5 P.M.

Tuesday Feb. 26th

Worked on cars all day. The Bosch (slang for Germans, same as "Boch" above) shot down a balloon that was up over our heads here this P.M. Some noise.

Wednesday Feb 27th

On K.P. all day. Drove up to front this eve – took some “C” men up + brought back some of our fellows – they returned tonight. Awful night. Dark as pitch – raining hard.

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Thursday Feb. 28th

Nothing much doing today. Worked on cars some this P.M. Got orders tonight to be ready to go to Front tomorrow.

Friday March 1st

Spent most of day getting ready + packing up to go. Order came about 6 P.M. that they didn’t need me. Heard Dr. Shankin of Wesleyan speak this eve over in dug out. Snowing + cold – not so sorry I’m not going.

Saturday March 2nd

Snowing + blowing + cold. Short drill this A.M. Nothing doing this P.M.

Sunday March 3rd

Punk day – nothing doing.

Monday Mar. 4th

Drill this A.M. Snow. Short hike this P.M.

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Tuesday Mar. 5th

Drill this A.M. On guard at 1:30.

Wednesday Mar. 6th

Fine day – warm

Off guard at 1:30

Thursday Mar 7th

Fine day. Drill this A.M. Hike this P.M.

Friday Mar. 8th

Warm + like spring. Drill this A.M. Played ball + quakes this P.M. (Quakes may be a form of craps.)

Saturday Mar 9th.

Calisthenics this A.M. General clean up. Inspection this P.M.

Sunday Mar. 10th

Packing + cleaning up. Getting ready to go to trenches again. Company left this P.M. Drove up one car, came back with some “C” men. Was driven back again. Meantime guns set up. On gun guard soon as back. Quietly off at 12:30 A.M. Up again at 4:45 A.M. to

Page 33

Monday Mar. 11th

stand to. Breakfast + to bed. Gun guard + digging at 11:30 A.M. Relieved at 4:30 P.M. Not much excitement.

Tuesday Mar. 12th

Gun guards at 1:30 A.M. off at 7:00 A.M. Gas guard at (12 overwritten 4 or 4 overwritten 12) 30 A.M.

Wednesday Mar. 13th

Some gas + a few shells this A.M. Off guard at 4:30 P.M. Out at 7:00 – find (sic) until 9:30. On gun guard at 1:30 – off at 7:00 A.M.

Thursday Mar. 14th

Guard again at 4:30 off at 8 P.M. On again at 1:30 A.M. off at 7 A.M.

Friday Mar. 15th

On guard from 12:30 – 4:30 and from 8 – 1:30 P.M.

Mar. 16th 1918

On again from 12:30 P.M. to 4:30 P.M. heavy gas shelling. Packed up + left for Vregny

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Sunday Mar. 17th

On K.P. all day. Worked hard.

Monday Mar. 18th

Rolled packs – in cars + off at 9 A.M. Drove to one station beyond Soissons – dinner – loaded cars + luggage on train. Off at about 4:30 P.M. In box cars – no sleep.

Tuesday Mar. 19th

Up at 7 A.M. Unloaded cars + luggage – breakfast – off again overland at 9 A.M. Brienne le Chateau to Fontaine. Nice little town. On guard + drew “orderly.” Couple of luxurious chateaus – officers quarters. Whole bunch of us quartered in a big old mill.

Wednesday Mar. 20th

Off guard at 1:00 P.M. Went to Bar sur Aube – great town. Good feed etc.

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Thursday Mar. 21st

Inspection this A.M.

Hike up a mountain here this P.M. Went to town – had a good feed and went to “movies”

Friday Mar. 22nd

Short drill this A.M. Played ball. Spent rest of day packing up. Swim.

Saturday Mar. 23rd

Fine day. Up at 5:15 rolled packs and off at 8 A.M. Rode about 10 miles. Beautiful country. Stopped at Colombey (Colomby) – slept in a regular bed with “Bob” + “Dock”. Great sleep.

Sunday Mar 24th

Moved out at about 10 A.M. Stopped at Vignory – all put up in a big barn. Downtown in evening. Took a walk – Old

Page 36

Castle on hill. Slept in hay.

Monday Mar. 25th

Up early and off at 7 A.M. Stopped at St. Blin. Expect to stay here a while. Spent day in straightening out.

Tuesday Mar. 26th

Cleaned up this A.M. for inspection. Took a bath this P.M.

Wednesday Mar. 27th

Cleaned up billets + guns + pistols for inspection. Dental inspection this P.M.

Thursday Mar. 28th

General show down inspection lasting all day. Ball game with 104th this P.M. Went over to see Ken Page at Manois this evening. Also saw Hersey from Kent. Had a good time.

Friday Mar. 29th

Rain. Did some packing this A.M.

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Nothing much doing.

Saturday Mar. 30th

Rain. Nothing much doing. Got day off. Went over to Manois but 104th had gone.

Sunday Mar. 31st Easter.

Rain. Went to services at Y.M.C.A. Read this P.M. Went to Y.M. this eve.

Monday April 1st

Rain. Up at 3:45 A.M. Packed + ready to start at 5:50 A.M. 1st platoon off in Fr. Trucks. Rode all day through Neuf-Chateau + Toul. Hiked about 2 ½ miles to camp at Menil la Tour. Mud a foot deep all around. On guard worst luck. Punk night. Borden was a picnic side of this place.

Tuesday April 2nd

Rain but clearing at noon. Off guard at 11:30 A.M. American Sector here. Regulars. Balloon. Menil la Tour

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Wednesday April 3rd

Cloudy. Nothing much doing. Down to Menil this P.M. with Bill Hart + had supper – eggs + wine.

Thursday Apr. 4th

Cloudy + rain. Played cards all day.

Friday Apr. 5th

Fine day. Played cards.

Cleaned guns + pistols.

Saturday April 6th

Cloudy Nothing much doing.

Sunday Apr. 7th

Rain + cloudy. On K.P. all day.

Monday Apr. 8th

Rain hard. Played cards + read all day.

Tuesday Apr. 9th

Rain. Cards this A.M. Worked this P.M. on road.

Wednesday Apr. 10th

On guard at 1:00 P.M.

Thursday Apr. 11th

Off guard at

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At 1 P.M. Gas scare last night. Slept + took bath this afternoon. Went to “movies” at Y.M. in evening.

Friday Apr. 12th

Orderly today. Nothing much doing. Bunch off on hurry call.

Saturday Apr. 13th

Worked on incinerator today. Short drill this P.M. Cards.

Sunday Apr. 14th

On K.P. all day

Monday Apr. 15th

Rainy. Cleaned guns. Cards. Read. Report that boys got two guns from Bosch (Germans).

Tuesday Apr. 16th

Rain. Gas drill. Read Cards Wrote.

Wednesday Apr. 17th

Cards + read this A.M. On guard at 1 P.M. Bunch came back this evening. Were in a hot place

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lots of exciting stories. Brought back all sorts of German souvenirs.

Thursday Apr. 18th

Off guard at 1 P.M. Took bath this P.M. Read + wrote.

Friday Apr. 19th

Rainy. Orderly today. Nothing much doing. Inspection.

Saturday Apr. 20th

Quite noisy. Gas this A.M. at 5 o’clock. All prepared to go at any minute. Cleaned ammunition this P.M. Slept alert this evening.

Sunday Apr. 21st

Rainy. Church this A.M. Read. Mail from home.

Monday Apr. 22nd

Big attack on this front 102 + 104 lost lot of men. All packed + ready any time to move. Expected a call last night. Have to sleep with clothes

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on now. Rainy.

Tuesday Ap. 23rd

Sun for short time now rain. Short drill this A.M. Nothing much doing. Couple fellows from 102nd told of experiences this P.M.

Wednesday Apr. 24th

Rain. Short drill this A.M. Nothing doing.

Thursday Apr. 25th

Sun. Short drill. Hard rain this P.M.

Friday Apr. 26th

Nothing doing this A.M. Short drill this P.M.

Ball game. Hurry call about 6 P.M. Off in a short time + had long ride. Landed at a place near St. Agnan + after walk of about 3 miles with equipment Set up guns in woods. Went back to P. C. on ration detail. Early morning when

Page 42

back to Positions.

Saturday Apr. 27th

Slept little last night. Have to stay in open trenches – no shelter or dugouts. Sun shone all day + we slept.

Sunday Apr. 28th

On guard and at 3 A.M. we got S. O. S. signal. We fired a 11 minute barrage and they say it was good. Cloudy and started to rain this P.M. Raining hard, all soaked, mud. Awful night. Another S.O.S. at 11 P.M. and we fired another barrage – short one. Lot of artillery action.

Monday Apr 29th

All look like drowned rats this A.M. Rain still. Wet, hungry, cold. Sneaked down to infantry dugout this A.M. + got warm. Cleared off. Half of crowd went to dugouts in

Page 43

rear. We were relieved at 8 P.M. Went on food detail this P.M. Awful long + rough walk. 2 miles. Dugout pretty good. Fire in it. Turned in about 12 o’clock – dead tired.

Tuesday Apr. 30th

Pretty good sleep. Up to guns at 8 A.M. Weather clear. Slept a little this P.M. All pulled out of this hole at 9 P.M. Left six guns in new posts with four men on each. Rest of us went on to Liouville. Quarters good – good supplies. Staying in old wine cellar underground. One + ½ mi. to lines. Town not hurt much – some people here – pro-Germans. On guard to 11 P.M. Our bunch carry food to men on outposts.

Wednesday May 1st

Rain. Nothing much doing. Off guard

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at 11 P.M.

Thursday May 2

Fine day. Sunshine – quite warm. On food detail this A.M. Went in old church here. Very pretty for little town. Rolled packs this P.M. 102nd relieved us this evening. Left here about 12 o’clock and went to (left blank).

Friday May 3rd

Got up late. Feeling punk. Nothing doing all day. Moved into private billet this evening. 6 of us in one room good beds.

Saturday May 4th

Weather still good. Pretty town. Paid today. On guard at 1 P.M. Feed tonight.

Sunday May 5th

Off guard this A.M. Went over to Aulnois to Yale Mobile Hosp. Unit this P.M. Saw Len Beadle +

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Jes Willard. Bud Clark wasn’t in. Rained this P.M. Had supper with Pete Sargent.

Monday May 6th

Fine day. On fatigue. Nothing much doing. Feed this evening.

Tuesday May 7th

On K.P. all day. Letter from Irene Plige from Merrifield. Co. B played ball with 103rd Eng. after supper, beat them 5-0.

Wednesday May 8th

Rain. Wrote letters + played cards. Feed tonight.

Thursday May 9th

Inspected this A.M. Lot of fellows had to go to hospital + get a scrub + a rub.

Friday Mar 10th (May 10)

Pretty good day. Nothing much doing. Ike had to leave us today. Ben Baum

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is up with us now. Feed tonight.

Saturday Mar. 11th (May 11)

Warm day. Nothing much doing. In P.M. went to Yale Unit, saw Bud Clark, Ken + Jess. Storm came up + I stayed to supper.

Sunday Mar. 12th (May 12)

Went to communion service held by Dr. Miel + later to mass meeting. Ball game this P.M. Tie score in 7th + had to call game because of rain. Band of 103 + YMCA girls there

Monday May 13th

Wrote letters. Walk this P.M. Played cards all evening.

Tuesday May 14th

Nothing much doing this A.M. Cleaned guns this P.M. Practice game of ball.

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Wednesday. May 15

Wrote letters. Went in gas house this A.M. Bath this P.M.

Thursday May 16th

Warm day. Walked up on hill this A.M. Played ball this afternoon with 102nd. Ball game this evening with Yale Mobile Unit score 6-2 our favor. Rode over in cars.

Friday May 17th

Nothing doing this A.M. Warm day.

Saturday May 18th

Fine day. Ball game this P.M. with 103rd. Won again. 101st Band.

Sunday May 19th

On K.P. all day. Ball game with 101st eng. got trimmed. Rain.

Monday May 20th

Warm day. Ball game 2nd team U.S. 103rd. Won again. Good game.

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Tuesday May 21st

Fine day. News of moving. On guard Pack up this P.M. Farewell supper at Rose’s. Out at 7 P.M. Beautiful ride thru woods. Warm, still, moonlight. Off at Ausonville. Part of Co. took up positions. Rest of us back to the old swamp again. Slept in car.

Wednesday May 22nd

Beautiful weather. Pitched pup tents in woods. Went over to see Elsie Janis in outdoor entertainment by Y. M. She sure did give us all a great time. Northy and Stan went up to front this evening.

Thursday May23rd

On K.P. all day. Hard day – lots of work.

Friday May 24th

Colder. Rainy. On guard at 1:00 P.M. Corp. (corporal) of guard. Nothing much doing.

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Saturday May 25th

Nothing doing this P.M. Off guard at 1.0 P.M. Took bath. Walk to Sanzy.

Sunday May 26th

Down to Menil la Tour this P.M. Ball game with 101st Eng. Boxing, band. On guard this evening.

Monday May 27th

Off guard at 1:00 P.M. Nothing doing.

Tuesday May 28th

Saw Wood – Olive Wood’s brother from E. City. On guard at 1. P.M.

Wednesday May 29th

Off guard at 1. P.M. Down to Menil la Tour after supper. Minstrel show, band. Dixie + I went to Royaumix to see couple Lieutenants. Fine time.

Thursday May. 30th

Went to Bouque this P.M. in Trucks. Punk

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ball game and punk boxing bouts.

May 31st Friday

On K.P. all day.

June 1st Saturday

Nothing much doing all day. Ball game this evening with engineers.

June 2nd Sunday

Paid this A.M. Took walk this P.M. Saw ball game. Went to concert this evening. Miss Kerne – Metropolitan soprano. 101st band.

June 3rd Monday

Played cards this P.M. Down to Menil la Tour + Rayoumix. Over to Lieut. Kramer’s place.

June 4th Tuesday

On K.P. all day. Feel pretty punk.

June 5th Wednesday

Down to Y.M. this A.M. Played cards this afternoon.

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Ball game + show this evening at camp Snelling.

June 6th Thursday

Sick. In bed all day.

Friday June 7th

In bed this A.M. Up a short time this afternoon. Back to bed early.

Saturday June 8th

Loafed around most of day. Ball game this P.M. with old Co. A.

Sunday June 9th

Hung around. Walked to Royaumix this A.M. Ball game this P.M. concert band + speaker after supper.

Monday June 10th

Came up to front tonight + took Morril’s place. In big woods.

Tuesday June 11th

Played cards. Pretty good place up here.

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mail tonight.

Wednesday June 12th

All had to “stand to” from 2 A.M. on. Some big shells dropped very close. Slept all morning. Came home this evening. Shelled road while we were walking down to Bernicourt. One darn close call.

Thursday June 13th

Up rather late. Took baths this P.M. + got clothes. Down to show this evening.

Friday June 14th

To Y.M.C.A. this A.M. Had pictures taken this P.M.

Saturday June 15th

3rd platoon came back last night. Band concert at 51st brigade hdq (headquarters).

Sunday June 16th

Shelled Royaumix this A.M. Church service

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Y.M. this P.M.

Monday June 17th

Rain. On working detail beyond Mandrais. Nothing doing this P.M.

Tuesday June 18th

On K.P. all day. S.A. this evening Pie + coffee.

Wednesday June 19th

Shelled Royaumix again this A.M. Short order drill.

Thursday June 20th

Rainy. Short drill. Got pictures this eve. Stopped at S.A. and got pie and coffee.

Friday June 21st

Cleaned guns. Short drill. Inspection of guns + exercises this P.M.

Saturday June 22nd

Rainy. On working detail near Mandrais this A.M. Took

Page 54

baths over near Bouque this P.M.

Sunday June 23rd

Church this A.M.

On guard at 1 P.M.

Monday June 24th

Off guard at 1 P.M. Short drill. On working detail all afternoon. Ball game

Tuesday June 25th

Packed up and cleaned up whole camp this A.M. Left this P.M. for Foug. Nice town – quite large. In good barracks.

Wednesday June 26th

Went to Toul (Dommartin-les-Toul) – walked in. Great dinner – nice town – wonderful feed at Y.M.C.A. for supper. Stopped on way back to see 82nd Div. 5 miles over. Pretty tired but had great time. Good bath here in morning. Went thru ammunition factory here.

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Thursday June 27

Took walk this A.M. + P.M. Thru factories. K. Page came over this evening.

Friday June 28

Walked around all day – beaucoup de bus.

Saturday June 29th

Packed up this A.M. + rode short dist. to Void. Large town but nothing doing. Had swim. Prommenade (sic) ce soir.

Sunday June 30th

Up early for breakfast. Started on journey at 6:30 stopped at Vitrey le François. Good ride was lot of country. Large town – pretty – good time ce soir.

Monday July 1

Up early + early start – long ride to Coulommes. Saw lot of country – farming

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aviation – camps. In late. Good supper at one of houses. Pup tent camp.

Tuesday July 2nd

Walk this A.M. After wood with truck. Great dusty ride. 18 miles from Paris.

Wednesday July 3rd

Moved tents. Nothing much doing all day.

Thursday July 4th

On K.P. no rations till 3 P.M. Only coffee for dinner. Paid at 5:30. Great feed at house with couple fellows. Everybody happy ce soir.

Friday July 5th

Nothing doing all day. Had a wonderful feed this eve at 5:30 P.M. at farmhouse. Broke camp + loaded on cars at 8 P.M. On trucks. Rode till 10:30 P.M. Held up in La Ferte until 5:30 A.M. Met 59th going in.

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Saturday July 6th

Slept in Fr. taxis parked in square. Started off at 5:30 + went about 2 mi. to next town. Stayed here all day. Slept – only cup of coffee to eat. Pulled out at 5 P.M. Stayed up in patch of wood till dark – then came up here to woods on road to Chateau Thierry. Supper at 12 o’clock. Slept in shallow pits in ground.

Sunday July 7th

Spent morning improving our holes to sleep in. Dr Hesselgrave came up this P.M.

Monday July 8th

Nothing much doing all day. Played cards.

Tuesday July 9th

Made our dugout bomb-proof. Played cards.

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Wednesday July 10th

Nothing doing in particular. Played cards. Rainy.

Thursday June (sic) 11th

Rainy. Nothing doing.

Friday July 12th

No excitement. Rainy, muddy.

Saturday July 13th

Rainy. Went into Montreul this A.M. to infirmary. Saw kitchen. Packed up this eve and moved about mile farther toward line in another woods. Hiked. Had to “stand to” all night with rest of division in expectation of attack. Nothing doing. Cold.

Sunday July 14th

Got settled in new place this A.M. Pup tents in wood. Slept most all day

Monday July 15th

Cleaned up the place.

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Gas mask inspection and drill this P.M. Went after straw after supper. Hell broke loose soon after in bed. All up + had to roll rolls in the dark. Hell of a time. Stand to all night + then nothing doing.

Tuesday July 16th

Slept most of day. Rain. Pistol inspection + drill. M.G. inspection.

Wednesday July 17th

Rain. Nothing much doing all day. Most of crowd left for front tonight. Corporal + 3 men from each squad. Thunder showers most of night. Say they had a tough night of it.

Thursday July 18th

Nothing doing all day. Rest of us got orders to move up to-night. Carried grub from cars to bunch with full

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pack. Hell of a racket. Laying around in woods.

Friday July 19th

Sat around all day in same place. Moved out tonight. Back in trucks to same old place. Late supper.

Saturday July 20th

Pitched shelter halfs this A.M. Nothing doing all day. Good reports from front. All got baths this P.M. We needed them.

Sunday July 21st

Up + rolled packs before breakfast.

 


And that is the end. There is no more to Hezekiah Scovil Porter's diary, save some brief notes on where he served, in someone else's handwriting.

On Monday, July 22, 1918, his unit went into battle, and Hez was killed.

From Yale in the World War (George Henry Nettleton, Yale University Press, 1925; pages 324-325), quoting a letter written shortly afterwards by a "Yale classmate and comrade-in-arms," comes this description of his death:

Two guns had been placed in a wood, and ammunition was needed. "Hez" was one of the detail to take it up. They had to cross a wheat field, and a splinter [shrapnel] caught him square in the chest.

History of the 101st Machine Gun Battalion has a longer description of the action from the "War Diary of a Machine Gunner," compiled from the field diaries of several of the soldiers by the Rev. Charles E. Hesselgrave, a Congregational minister serving overseas with the YMCA.

JULY 22. At daybreak both companies were sent out into some woods overlooking Trugny to assist the attack of Major Rau's battalion against the town. We could not locate any enemy to fire at, and the best we could do was to wait to protect Rau's left against possible counter-attack. We were shelled and M. G. bullets flew pretty thick. Bristol of C Co. was wounded. After a while the attack crumbled in spite of Rau's gallant efforts against impossible odds, and the troops were withdrawn to the old positions. A little later C Co. was sent over to the right to join Rau. There they found him with only a few of his men left. The guns were set up on the edge of the wood in a defensive position. B Co. got orders to support an attack of the 102d Inf. on the town of Epieds over on the left flank. The company formed a fourth wave behind the infantry, and spread out into a long skirmish line. The advance started over the open wheat field at a slow walk, with frequent halts during which each man flattened out so tliat no moving thing was visible in the field. M. G. bullets began to kick up little puffs of dust all around us, and the enemy artillery barrage came down fiercely just ahead. We knew we would have to go through this, and every nerve was tense. We soon found ourselves in the midst of it—direct fire at that, mostly from one pounders, and 105's and Austrian 88's which come with the shriek of a thousand devils. The fumes choked us and the concussions half stunned us. It was here that Hez Porter, following his platoon leader, was instantly killed. Corcoran, Dick and Wendt were wounded. An infantry captain just ahead called frantically to us to put an enemy M. G. out of business. He pointed out a pile of barrels where the gun was supposed to be hidden, and two guns of Lt. Sandberg's platoon, Sgt. Hart's section, went into action in the edge of some woods and peppered the spot for some time. It was here that the whole attack was checked, and we got word from the infantry that it was pulling back and that we should do the same on our own hook. The company was drawn to the left into cover of woods, reformed, and sent back, skirting around a rise for concealment. We assembled in a patch of wood a little way back and waited for possible counter-attack and to cover the withdrawal of the doughboys if necessary. They came filtering back, bringing their wounded with them, and soon we were also returned to our old place where the guns were set up to repel any attack that might come from the left. Dr. Hesselgrave appeared with cigarettes and chocolate which was indeed welcome, as we had nothing to eat. This was not a healthy place for the Doctor to be in, but we knew he would come to us when we needed him most. There was a dressing-station near us, and it was awful to see the wounded and shell-shocked fellows brought in. About 6 p. m. the Boche put down a fearful artillery barrage close in front of us, and we were pulled back a hundred yards to escape the effects of this fire. A detail had been digging a grave for Porter, but were unable to finish. A bit later, orders came from Division that we would go back into reserve for a time. We thought our troubles were about over for that day, but were mistaken. Down on the road near Champluisant Farm, just east of Sacerie, our machines were lined up, waiting to take us out, and as we were loading up there came the familiar shriek and two shell burst in the field close by. A moment later there came a deafening blast—all was confusion. Two more shell had exploded together right among our cars. Two of them were overturned. We got the wounded into cars as quickly as possible but, to make matters worse, a mule-cart had become wedged in the road ahead and blocked all traffic, so we could not move out. Finally the way was cleared and the cars with the wounded made for the first-aid station at Sacerie Farm. Harold Smith and Ralph Henry of B Co. died. Brackett, Weld, Olschefskie, Hampson, Haskins, Barber, Maun, Rogers, Burden, Fothergill, Mercer, Burnham, Sancyzk of B Co. and Fabryk of C Co. wounded. Robinson and Gunning of B Co. shell-shocked. Our cars had been doing fine service most all day in taking out wounded. Two of C Co's cars were hit and one wrecked. At last we found ourselves in bivouac in the woods.

JULY 25. ... A detail went back and buried Porter.

More details about his burial are from the Geni genealogical website entry for Hezekiah Scovil Porter, compiled, I believe, by Charles E. Rounds, Jr., grandson of Hezekiah's brother, Philip Wells Porter.

A photograph of the temporary gravesite is in the possession of Charles E. Rounds, Jr., 107 Mt. Vernon St., Boston, MA 02108 (2013). In the photograph are two of his comrades who had survived the battle. One is from Wethersfield, Connecticut (State Street) and one is from Waterbury, Vermont. The Vermonter is Wagoner Arthur A Barlow, a farmer, who was born Aug. 10, 1895. The Connecticut man is Sergeant Everett H. Hart, born July 10, 1894, who in civilian life had been a "member" of the Chas. C. Hart Seed Co. Bordering the field, just beyond the grave-site, is a thick forest of mostly birch saplings. The underbrush is heavy.

In a letter. dated July 27, 1918, more details of the initial "make-shift" interment of the remains of Hezekiah Scovil Porter are communicated in a letter from his commanding officer (Philip S. Wainwright) to Whitney Scovil Porter (one of Hezekiah's brothers): "...The grave is marked near the head by a cross-shaped blaze on a tree with "Hezekiah S. Porter--101st. M.G.B. U.S.A.--July 22d, 1918" carved into the wood. His helmet is also placed at the head on a bayonet with his name scratched on it. I removed his wallet which contained a small sum of French money and his diamond ring, which was all the personal property we could find." [The referenced wallet, which is bloodstained, is in the possession of William Porter Wightman, grandson of the said Whitney Scovil Porter (2017)].

Hez's remains were later retrieved and given a permanent resting place in the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery, Fere-en-Tardenois (Aisne), France: Plot A, Row 4, Grave 18.

Requiescat in pace, Hezekiah Scovil Porter.

This is the conclusion of the World War I Diary of Hezekiah Scovil Porter, begun in the previous post: The Complete World War I Diary of Hezekiah Scovil Porter - Part I, 1917. You can see images of the pages here: Hezekiah Scovil Porter's WWI Diary.

 

Hez's Diary
January 1, 1918 - July 22, 1918

Continuation of Page 21

Tuesday Jan 1st 1918
(in France)

Holiday. Fooled around all day. Down to Mlle. Alice this eve for tea. Another big time in the shack this evening.

Wednesday Jan. 2nd

Pistol practice this A.M. 

Afternoon off.

Thursday Jan 3rd

Change of company. Cold. Nothing doing.

Friday Jan 4th

On K.P. all day

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(There's a large space left before the next entry, as if he meant to go back and add something later, but did not.)

Saturday Jan 5th

Inspection this A.M. This P.M. off. Mail tonight.

Sunday Jan 6th

Fooled around all day.

Page 23

Monday Jan 7th

M.G. drill this A.M. + P.M. Also this P.M.

Tuesday Jan 8th

Sighting practice this A.M. Dentist this P.M.

Wednesday Jan 9th

Snowing. Target practice this A.M. M.G. instruction this P.M.

Thursday Jan 10th

Snow. No drill. Target practice this P.M. Box from Polly (his sister).

Friday Jan 11th

On special detail this A.M. Sighting practice this P.M.

Saturday Jan 12th

Target practice this A.M. On guard at 1:30. Punk night.

Sunday 13th

Rain + snow. Off guard at 1:30. Y.M.C.A. this eve.

Monday Jan 14th

Drill this A.M. Target practice this P.M.

Tuesday Jan 15th

Pistol instruction. Rain M.G. instruction.

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Wednesday Jan 16th

Pistol instruction. M.G. also. Rain + warm.

Thursday Jan 17th

Gas drill this A.M. Falling snow + stayed in quarters this P.M.

Friday Jan 18th

Warm. In quarters all day.

Saturday Jan 19th

In infirmary today another fellow with me.

Sunday Jan 20th

Still in (the infirmary)

Monday Jan 21st

Still in

Tuesday Jan 22nd

Still in – Bill Famely was let out today. Mail tonight – box from Polly (his sister).

Wednesday Jan 23rd

Out (of the infirmary) this A.M. but in quarters.

Thursday Jan 24th

Were paid this A.M. On 500 range this P.M. Was in

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target trenches under fire.

Friday Jan 25th

M. G. drill this A.M and P.M. too. Warm + fine day.

Saturday Jan 26th

On kitchen all day.

Sunday Jan 27th

Over to range at Concourt all day. All M. guns in 26th div. on one range. Great sight. Home late. Talk by Col. Parker

Monday Jan 28th

Same thing today. Home a little earlier

Tuesday Jan 29th

Same thing again.

Wednesday Jan 30th

Pistol practice this A.M. Drill this P.M.

Thursday Jan 31st

On our range all day with M. Gs.

Friday Feb 1st

Drill this A.M. On range this P.M. digging

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implacements (sic) for guns.

Saturday Feb. 2nd

Co. went to range. Was supernumerary of guard so stayed home. Fire this evening about 1 A.M. Called to go on guard at 3:30 A.M.

Sunday Feb. 3rd

Great day. Off guard at 8 A.M. Wrote letters + read all day. Letter from Bill (Orvilla, his brother Phil's wife) this eve.

Monday Feb. 4th

Inspection + cleaning up this A.M. Cleaning and lecture this P.M.

Tuesday Feb. 5th

More cleaning and inspection this A.M. Went to Neufchateau this P.M. + brought up Fords for Co. Supper at Mlle. Alice’s this evening.

Wednesday Feb. 6th

Another trip to Neufchateau for Fords this A.M. Worked on cars this P.M.

Page 27

Thursday Feb. 7th

More cleaning up. Worked on cars all rest of day. Mine is fine shape now. Supper at Mlle. Alice’s this P.M.

Friday Feb 8th

On K.P. Up at 4 A.M. Company left for Lifol le Grand at 3 P.M. Went with the kitchen. Arrived there at about 6:30. Had to get supper, pack stuff on cars. Off at 9:30 – some day. Tried to sleep in barracks with no blankets, etc.

Saturday Feb. 9th

Up at 3:30 A.M. Marched to station with junk & loaded it on cars. Were off after breakfast at 6:30 A.M. On box cars – 37 in ours. Some crowd. Rode all day. Slept but little

Page 28

Sunday Feb. 10th

Detrained at about 4 A.M. at Braisne. Unloaded our Fords etc. Had breakfast + started out in Flivers. Ate dinner at a town all shot to pieces. Continued in afternoon thru wrecked towns + landed at CheVregny. Town completely wrecked – not a house left. I Live in barracks – some in dugouts. Got a better sleep.

Monday Feb. 11th

Fine Day. Went around town exploring trenches + dugouts.

Tuesday Feb. 12th

Fine day. Drill this A.M. Moved into different barracks this P.M. Saw a Boch (a slang term, of various spellings, for German) airplane bring down an observation balloon.

Wednesday Feb. 13th

Drill for gas this A.M. + with guns. Drill + short hike this P.M.

Thursday Feb. 14th

Gas drill + short hike this A.M. Drill with guns

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This P.M.

Friday Feb. 15th

Gas drill + gun drill this A.M. Went on guard at 4:30 P.M. Cold tonight

Saturday Feb. 16th

Cold. Off guard at 4:30 this P.M. Appointed a driver again. The Company went to trenches tonight. Bob Skinner drove my car up.

Sunday Feb. 17th

Fine day. Took an all day walk + went nearly to 3rd lines. Saw a German plane brought down this A.M.

Monday Feb. 18th

Worked on cars all day. Fooled around.

Tuesday Feb. 19th

Fussed with Flivers all day. Nothing much doing for us.

Wednesday Feb. 20th

On K.P. all day. Mail tonight – 3 letters.

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Thursday Feb. 21st

Worked on cars this A.M.

Worked in kitchen grinding coffee this P.M.

Friday Feb. 22nd

Fussed on cars. Nothing much doing.

Saturday Feb 23rd

Same old stunt. No excitement.

Sunday Feb. 24th

Worked on cars this A.M.

On guard this P.M.

Monday Feb. 25th

Off guard at 5 P.M.

Tuesday Feb. 26th

Worked on cars all day. The Bosch (slang for Germans, same as "Boch" above) shot down a balloon that was up over our heads here this P.M. Some noise.

Wednesday Feb 27th

On K.P. all day. Drove up to front this eve – took some “C” men up + brought back some of our fellows – they returned tonight. Awful night. Dark as pitch – raining hard.

Page 31

Thursday Feb. 28th

Nothing much doing today. Worked on cars some this P.M. Got orders tonight to be ready to go to Front tomorrow.

Friday March 1st

Spent most of day getting ready + packing up to go. Order came about 6 P.M. that they didn’t need me. Heard Dr. Shankin of Wesleyan speak this eve over in dug out. Snowing + cold – not so sorry I’m not going.

Saturday March 2nd

Snowing + blowing + cold. Short drill this A.M. Nothing doing this P.M.

Sunday March 3rd

Punk day – nothing doing.

Monday Mar. 4th

Drill this A.M. Snow. Short hike this P.M.

Page 32:

Tuesday Mar. 5th

Drill this A.M. On guard at 1:30.

Wednesday Mar. 6th

Fine day – warm

Off guard at 1:30

Thursday Mar 7th

Fine day. Drill this A.M. Hike this P.M.

Friday Mar. 8th

Warm + like spring. Drill this A.M. Played ball + quakes this P.M. (Quakes may be a form of craps.)

Saturday Mar 9th.

Calisthenics this A.M. General clean up. Inspection this P.M.

Sunday Mar. 10th

Packing + cleaning up. Getting ready to go to trenches again. Company left this P.M. Drove up one car, came back with some “C” men. Was driven back again. Meantime guns set up. On gun guard soon as back. Quietly off at 12:30 A.M. Up again at 4:45 A.M. to

Page 33

Monday Mar. 11th

stand to. Breakfast + to bed. Gun guard + digging at 11:30 A.M. Relieved at 4:30 P.M. Not much excitement.

Tuesday Mar. 12th

Gun guards at 1:30 A.M. off at 7:00 A.M. Gas guard at (12 over 4 or 4 over 12) 30 A.M.

Wednesday Mar. 13th

Some gas + a few shells this A.M. Off guard at 4:30 P.M. Out at 7:00 – find (sic) until 9:30. On gun guard at 1:30 – off at 7:00 A.M.

Thursday Mar. 14th

Guard again at 4:30 off at 8 P.M. On again at 1:30 A.M. off at 7 A.M.

Friday Mar. 15th

On guard from 12:30 – 4:30 and from 8 – 1:30 P.M.

Mar. 16th 1918

On again from 12:30 P.M. to 4:30 P.M. heavy gas shelling. Packed up + left for Vregny

Page 34

Sunday Mar. 17th

On K.P. all day. Worked hard.

Monday Mar. 18th

Rolled packs – in cars + off at 9 A.M. Drove to one station beyond Soissons – dinner – loaded cars + luggage on train. Off at about 4:30 P.M. In box cars – no sleep.

Tuesday Mar. 19th

Up at 7 A.M. Unloaded cars + luggage – breakfast – off again overland at 9 A.M. Brienne le Chateau to Fontaine. Nice little town. On guard + drew “orderly.” Couple of luxurious chateaus – officers quarters. Whole bunch of us quartered in a big old mill.

Wednesday Mar. 20th

Off guard at 1:00 P.M. Went to Bar sur Aube – great town. Good feed etc.

Page 35

Thursday Mar. 21st

Inspection this A.M.

Hike up a mountain here this P.M. Went to town – had a good feed and went to “movies”

Friday Mar. 22nd

Short drill this A.M. Played ball. Spent rest of day packing up. Swim.

Saturday Mar. 23rd

Fine day. Up at 5:15 rolled packs and off at 8 A.M. Rode about 10 miles. Beautiful country. Stopped at Colombey (Colomby) – slept in a regular bed with “Bob” + “Dock”. Great sleep.

Sunday Mar 24th

Moved out at about 10 A.M. Stopped at Vignory – all put up in a big barn. Downtown in evening. Took a walk – Old

Page 36

Castle on hill. Slept in hay.

Monday Mar. 25th

Up early and off at 7 A.M. Stopped at St. Blin. Expect to stay here a while. Spent day in straightening out.

Tuesday Mar. 26th

Cleaned up this A.M. for inspection. Took a bath this P.M.

Wednesday Mar. 27th

Cleaned up billets + guns + pistols for inspection. Dental inspection this P.M.

Thursday Mar. 28th

General show down inspection lasting all day. Ball game with 104th this P.M. Went over to see Ken Page at Manois this evening. Also saw Hersey from Kent. Had a good time.

Friday Mar. 29th

Rain. Did some packing this A.M.

Page 37

Nothing much doing.

Saturday Mar. 30th

Rain. Nothing much doing. Got day off. Went over to Manois but 104th had gone.

Sunday Mar. 31st Easter.

Rain. Went to services at Y.M.C.A. Read this P.M. Went to Y.M. this eve.

Monday April 1st

Rain. Up at 3:45 A.M. Packed + ready to start at 5:50 A.M. 1st platoon off in Fr. Trucks. Rode all day through Neuf-Chateau + Toul. Hiked about 2 ½ miles to camp at Menil la Tour. Mud a foot deep all around. On guard worst luck. Punk night. Borden was a picnic side of this place.

Tuesday April 2nd

Rain but clearing at noon. Off guard at 11:30 A.M. American Sector here. Regulars. Balloon. Menil la Tour

Page 38

Wednesday April 3rd

Cloudy. Nothing much doing. Down to Menil this P.M. with Bill Hart + had supper – eggs + wine.

Thursday Apr. 4th

Cloudy + rain. Played cards all day.

Friday Apr. 5th

Fine day. Played cards.

Cleaned guns + pistols.

Saturday April 6th

Cloudy Nothing much doing.

Sunday Apr. 7th

Rain + cloudy. On K.P. all day.

Monday Apr. 8th

Rain hard. Played cards + read all day.

Tuesday Apr. 9th

Rain. Cards this A.M. Worked this P.M. on road.

Wednesday Apr. 10th

On guard at 1:00 P.M.

Thursday Apr. 11th

Off guard at

Page 39

At 1 P.M. Gas scare last night. Slept + took bath this afternoon. Went to “movies” at Y.M. in evening.

Friday Apr. 12th

Orderly today. Nothing much doing. Bunch off on hurry call.

Saturday Apr. 13th

Worked on incinerator today. Short drill this P.M. Cards.

Sunday Apr. 14th

On K.P. all day

Monday Apr. 15th

Rainy. Cleaned guns. Cards. Read. Report that boys got two guns from Bosch (Germans).

Tuesday Apr. 16th

Rain. Gas drill. Read Cards Wrote.

Wednesday Apr. 17th

Cards + read this A.M. On guard at 1 P.M. Bunch came back this evening. Were in a hot place

Page 40

lots of exciting stories. Brought back all sorts of German souvenirs.

Thursday Apr. 18th

Off guard at 1 P.M. Took bath this P.M. Read + wrote.

Friday Apr. 19th

Rainy. Orderly today. Nothing much doing. Inspection.

Saturday Apr. 20th

Quite noisy. Gas this A.M. at 5 o’clock. All prepared to go at any minute. Cleaned ammunition this P.M. Slept alert this evening.

Sunday Apr. 21st

Rainy. Church this A.M. Read. Mail from home.

Monday Apr. 22nd

Big attack on this front 102 + 104 lost lot of men. All packed + ready any time to move. Expected a call last night. Have to sleep with clothes

Page 41

on now. Rainy.

Tuesday Ap. 23rd

Sun for short time now rain. Short drill this A.M. Nothing much doing. Couple fellows from 102nd told of experiences this P.M.

Wednesday Apr. 24th

Rain. Short drill this A.M. Nothing doing.

Thursday Apr. 25th

Sun. Short drill. Hard rain this P.M.

Friday Apr. 26th

Nothing doing this A.M. Short drill this P.M.

Ball game. Hurry call about 6 P.M. Off in a short time + had long ride. Landed at a place near St. Agnan + after walk of about 3 miles with equipment Set up guns in woods. Went back to P. C. on ration detail. Early morning when

Page 42

back to Positions.

Saturday Apr. 27th

Slept little last night. Have to stay in open trenches – no shelter or dugouts. Sun shone all day + we slept.

Sunday Apr. 28th

On guard and at 3 A.M. we got S. O. S. signal. We fired a 11 minute barrage and they say it was good. Cloudy and started to rain this P.M. Raining hard, all soaked , mud. Awful night. Another S.O.S. at 11 P.M. and we fired another barrage – short one. Lot of artillery action.

Monday Apr 29th

All look like drowned rats this A.M. Rain still. Wet, hungry, cold. Sneaked down to infantry dugout this A.M. + got warm. Cleared off. Half of crowd went to dugouts in

Page 43

rear. We were relieved at 8 P.M. Went on food detail this P.M. Awful long + rough walk. 2 miles. Dugout pretty good. Fire in it. Turned in about 12 o’clock – dead tired.

Tuesday Apr. 30th

Pretty good sleep. Up to guns at 8 A.M. Weather clear. Slept a little this P.M. All pulled out of this hole at 9 P.M. Left six guns in new posts with four men on each. Rest of us went on to Liouville. Quarters good – good supplies. Staying in old wine cellar underground. One + ½ mi. to lines. Town not hurt much – some people here – pro-Germans. On guard to 11 P.M. Our bunch carry food to men on outposts.

Wednesday May 1st

Rain. Nothing much doing. Off guard

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at 11 P.M.

Thursday May 2

Fine day. Sunshine – quite warm. On food detail this A.M. Went in old church here. Very pretty for little town. Rolled packs this P.M. 102nd relieved us this evening. Left here about 12 o’clock and went to (left blank).

Friday May 3rd

Got up late. Feeling punk. Nothing doing all day. Moved into private billet this evening. 6 of us in one room good beds.

Saturday May 4th

Weather still good. Pretty town. Paid today. On guard at 1 P.M. Feed tonight.

Sunday May 5th

Off guard this A.M. Went over to Aulnois to Yale Mobile Hosp. Unit this P.M. Saw Len Beadle +

Page 45

Jes Willard. Bud Clark wasn’t in. Rained this P.M. Had supper with Pete Sargent.

Monday May 6th

Fine day. On fatigue. Nothing much doing. Feed this evening.

Tuesday May 7th

On K.P. all day. Letter from Irene Plige from Merrifield. Co. B played ball with 103rd Eng. after supper, beat them 5-0.

Wednesday May 8th

Rain. Wrote letters + played cards. Feed tonight.

Thursday May 9th

Inspected this A.M. Lot of fellows had to go to hospital + get a scrub + a rub.

Friday Mar 10th (May 10)

Pretty good day. Nothing much doing. Ike had to leave us today. Ben Baum

Page 46

is up with us now. Feed tonight.

Saturday Mar. 11th (May 11)

Warm day. Nothing much doing. In P.M. went to Yale Unit, saw Bud Clark, Ken + Jess. Storm came up + I stayed to supper.

Sunday Mar. 12th (May 12)

Went to communion service held by Dr. Miel + later to mass meeting. Ball game this P.M. Tie score in 7th + had to call game because of rain. Band of 103 + YMCA girls there

Monday May 13th

Wrote letters. Walk this P.M. Played cards all evening.

Tuesday May 14th

Nothing much doing this A.M. Cleaned guns this P.M. Practice game of ball.

Page 47

Wednesday. May 15

Wrote letters. Went in gas house this A.M. Bath this P.M.

Thursday May 16th

Warm day. Walked up on hill this A.M. Played ball this afternoon with 102nd. Ball game this evening with Yale Mobile Unit score 6-2 our favor. Rode over in cars.

Friday May 17th

Nothing doing this A.M. Warm day.

Saturday May 18th

Fine day. Ball game this P.M. with 103rd. Won again. 101st Band.

Sunday May 19th

On K.P. all day. Ball game with 101st eng. got trimmed. Rain.

Monday May 20th

Warm day. Ball game 2nd team U.S. 103rd. Won again. Good game.

Page 48

Tuesday May 21st

Fine day. News of moving. On guard Pack up this P.M. Farewell supper at Rose’s. Out at 7 P.M. Beautiful ride thru woods. Warm, still, moonlight. Off at Ausonville. Part of Co. took up positions. Rest of us back to the old swamp again. Slept in car.

Wednesday May 22nd

Beautiful weather. Pitched pup tents in woods. Went over to see Elsie Janis in outdoor entertainment by Y. M. She sure did give us all a great time. Northy and Stan went up to front this evening.

Thursday May23rd

On K.P. all day. Hard day – lots of work.

Friday May 24th

Colder. Rainy. On guard at 1:00 P.M. Corp. (corporal) of guard. Nothing much doing.

Page 49

Saturday May 25th

Nothing doing this P.M. Off guard at 1.0 P.M. Took bath. Walk to Sanzy.

Sunday May 26th

Down to Menil la Tour this P.M. Ball game with 101st Eng. Boxing, band. On guard this evening.

Monday May 27th

Off guard at 1:00 P.M. Nothing doing.

Tuesday May 28th

Saw Wood – Olive Wood’s brother from E. City. On guard at 1. P.M.

Wednesday May 29th

Off guard at 1. P.M. Down to Menil la Tour after supper. Minstrel show, band. Dixie + I went to Royaumix to see couple Lieutenants. Fine time.

Thursday May. 30th

Went to Bouque this P.M. in Trucks. Punk

Page 50

ball game and punk boxing bouts.

May 31st Friday

On K.P. all day.

June 1st Saturday

Nothing much doing all day. Ball game this evening with engineers.

June 2nd Sunday

Paid this A.M. Took walk this P.M. Saw ball game. Went to concert this evening. Miss Kerne – Metropolitan soprano. 101st band.

June 3rd Monday

Played cards this P.M. Down to Menil la Tour + Rayoumix. Over to Lieut. Kramer’s place.

June 4th Tuesday

On K.P. all day. Feel pretty punk.

June 5th Wednesday

Down to Y.M. this A.M. Played cards this afternoon.

Page 51

Ball game + show this evening at camp Snelling.

June 6th Thursday

Sick. In bed all day.

Friday June 7th

In bed this A.M. Up a short time this afternoon. Back to bed early.

Saturday June 8th

Loafed around most of day. Ball game this P.M. with old Co. A.

Sunday June 9th

Hung around. Walked to Royaumix this A.M. Ball game this P.M. concert band + speaker after supper.

Monday June 10th

Came up to front tonight + took Morril’s place. In big woods.

Tuesday June 11th

Played cards. Pretty good place up here.

Page 52

mail tonight.

Wednesday June 12th

All had to “stand to” from 2 A.M. on. Some big shells dropped very close. Slept all morning. Came home this evening. Shelled road while we were walking down to Bernicourt. One darn close call.

Thursday June 13th

Up rather late. Took baths this P.M. + got cloths. Down to show this evening.

Friday June 14th

To Y.M.C.A. this A.M. Had pictures taken this P.M.

Saturday June 15th

3rd platoon came back last night. Band concert at 51st brigade hdq.

Sunday June 16th

Shelled Royaumix this A.M. Church service

Page 53

Y.M. this P.M.

Monday June 17th

Rain. On working detail beyond Mandrais. Nothing doing this P.M.

Tuesday June 18th

On K.P. all day. S.A. this evening Pie + coffee.

Wednesday June 19th

Shelled Royaumix again this A.M. Short order drill.

Thursday June 20th

Rainy. Short drill. Got pictures this eve. Stopped at S.A. and got pie and coffee.

Friday June 21st

Cleaned guns. Short drill. Inspection of guns + exercises this P.M.

Saturday June 22nd

Rainy. On working detail near Mandrais this A.M. Took

Page 54

baths over near Bouque this P.M.

Sunday June 23rd

Church this A.M.

On guard at 1 P.M.

Monday June 24th

Off guard at 1 P.M. Short drill. On working detail all afternoon. Ball game

Tuesday June 25th

Packed up and cleaned up whole camp this A.M. Left this P.M. for Foug. Nice town – quite large. In good barracks.

Wednesday June 26th

Went to Toul (Dommartin-les-Toul) – walked in. Great dinner – nice town – wonderful feed at Y.M.C.A. for supper. Stopped on way back to see 82nd Div. 5 miles over. Pretty tired but had great time. Good bath here in morning. Went thru ammunition factory here.

Page 55

Thursday June 27

Took walk this A.M. + P.M. Thru factories. K. Page came over this evening.

Friday June 28

Walked around all day – beaucoup de bus.

Saturday June 29th

Packed up this A.M. + rode short dist. to Void. Large town but nothing doing. Had swim. Prommenade (sic) ce soir.

Sunday June 30th

Up early for breakfast. Started on journey at 6:30 stopped at Vitrey le François. Good ride was lot of country. Large town – pretty – good time ce soir.

Monday July 1

Up early + early start – long ride to Coulommes. Saw lot of country – farming

Page 56

aviation – camps. In late. Good supper at one of houses. Pup tent camp.

Tuesday July 2nd

Walk this A.M. After wood with truck. Great dusty ride. 18 miles from Paris.

Wednesday July 3rd

Moved tents. Nothing much doing all day.

Thursday July 4th

On K.P. no rations till 3 P.M. Only coffee for dinner. Paid at 5:30. Great feed at house with couple fellows. Everybody happy ce soir.

Friday July 5th

Nothing doing all day. Had a wonderful feed this eve at 5:30 P.M. at farmhouse. Broke camp + loaded on cars at 8 P.M. On trucks. Rode till 10:30 P.M. Held up in La Ferte until 5:30 A.M. Met 59th going in.

Page 57

Saturday July 6th

Slept in Fr. taxis parked in square. Started off at 5:30 + went about 2 mi. to next town. Stayed here all day. Slept – only cup of coffee to eat. Pulled out at 5 P.M. Stayed up in patch of wood till dark – then came up here to woods on road to Chateau Thierry. Supper at 12 o’clock. Slept in shallow pits in ground.

Sunday July 7th

Spent morning improving our holes to sleep in. Dr Hesselgrave came up this P.M.

Monday July 8th

Nothing much doing all day. Played cards.

Tuesday July 9th

Made our dugout bomb-proof. Played cards.

Page 58

Wednesday July 10th

Nothing doing in particular. Played cards. Rainy.

Thursday June 11th

Rainy. Nothing doing.

Friday July 12th

No excitement. Rainy, muddy.

Saturday July 13th

Rainy. Went into Montreul this A.M. to infirmary. Saw kitchen. Packed up this eve and moved about mile farther toward line in another woods. Hiked. Had to “stand to” all night with rest of division in expectation of attack. Nothing doing. Cold.

Sunday July 14th

Got settled in new place this A.M. Pup tents in wood. Slept most all day

Monday July 15th

Cleaned up the place.

Page 59

Gas mask inspection and drill this P.M. Went after straw after supper. Hell broke loose soon after in bed. All up + had to roll rolls in the dark. Hell of a time. Stand to all night + then nothing doing.

Tuesday July 16th

Slept most of day. Rain. Pistol inspection + drill. M.G. inspection.

Wednesday July 17th

Rain. Nothing much doing all day. Most of crowd left for front tonight. Corporal + 3 men from each squad. Thunder showers most of night. Say they had a tough night of it.

Thursday July 18th

Nothing doing all day. Rest of us got orders to move up to-night. Carried grub from cars to bunch with full

Page 60

pack. Hell of a racket. Laying around in woods.

Friday July 19th

Sat around all day in same place. Moved out tonight. Back in trucks to same old place. Late supper.

Saturday July 20th

Pitched shelter halfs this A.M. Nothing doing all day. Good reports from front. All got baths this P.M. We needed them.

Sunday July 21st

Up + rolled packs before breakfast.

 


And that is the end. There is no more to Hezekiah Scovil Porter's diary, save some brief notes on where he served, in someone else's handwriting.

On Monday, July 22, 1918, his unit went into battle, and Hez was killed.

From Yale in the World War (George Henry Nettleton, Yale University Press, 1925; pages 324-325), quoting a letter written shortly afterwards by a "Yale classmate and comrade-in-arms," comes this description of his death:

Two guns had been placed in a wood, and ammunition was needed. "Hez" was one of the detail to take it up. They had to cross a wheat field, and a splinter [shrapnel] caught him square in the chest.

History of the 101st Machine Gun Battalion has a longer description of the action from the "War Diary of a Machine Gunner," compiled from the field diaries of several of the soldiers by the Rev. Charles E. Hesselgrave, a Congregational minister serving overseas with the YMCA.

JULY 22. At daybreak both companies were sent out into some woods overlooking Trugny to assist the attack of Major Rau's battalion against the town. We could not locate any enemy to fire at, and the best we could do was to wait to protect Rau's left against possible counter- attack. We were shelled and M. G. bullets flew pretty thick. Bristol of C Co. was wounded. After a while the attack crumbled in spite of Rau's gallant efforts against impossible odds, and the troops were withdrawn to the old positions. A little later C Co. was sent over to the right to join Rau. There they found him with only a few of his men left. The guns were set up on the edge of the wood in a defensive position. B Co. got orders to support an attack of the 102d Inf. on the town of Epieds over on the left flank. The company formed a fourth wave behind the infantry, and spread out into a long skirmish line. The advance started over the open wheat field at a slow walk, with frequent halts during which each man flattened out so tliat no moving thing was visible in the field. M. G. bullets began to kick u]) little puffs of dust all around us, and the enemy artillery barrage came down fiercely just ahead. We knew we would have to go through this, and every nerve was tense. We soon found ourselves in the midst of it—direct fire at that, mostly from one pounders, and 105's and Austrian 88's which come with the shriek of a thousand devils. The fumes choked us and the concussions half stunned us. It was here that Hez Porter, following his platoon leader, was instantly killed. Corcoran, Dick and Wendt were wounded. An infantry captain just ahead called frantically to us to put an enemy M. G. out of business. He pointed out a pile of barrels where the gun was supposed to be hidden, and two guns of Lt. Sandberg's platoon, Sgt. Hart's section, went into action in the edge of some woods and peppered the spot for some time. It was here that the whole attack was checked, and we got word from the infantry that it was pulling back and that we should do the same on our own hook. The company was drawn to the left into cover of woods, reformed, and sent back, skirting around a rise for concealment. We assembled in a patch of wood a little way back and waited for possible counter-attack and to cover the withdrawal of the doughboys if necessary. They came filtering back, bringing their wounded with them, and soon we were also returned to our old place where the guns were set up to repel any attack that might come from the left. Dr. Hesselgrave appeared with cigarettes and chocolate which was indeed welcome, as we had nothing to eat. This was not a healthy place for the Doctor to be in, but we knew he would come to us when we needed him most. There was a dressing-station near us, and it was awful to see the wounded and shell-shocked fellows brought in. About 6 p. m. the Boche put down a fearful artillery barrage close in front of us, and we were pulled back a hundred yards to escape the effects of this fire. A detail had been digging a grave for Porter, but were unable to finish. A bit later, orders came from Division that we would go back into reserve for a time. We thought our troubles were about over for that day, but were mistaken. Down on the road near Champluisant Farm, just east of Sacerie, our ma- chines were lined up, waiting to take us out, and as we were loading up there came the familiar shriek and two shell burst in the field close by. A moment later there came a deafening blast — all was confusion. Two more shell had exploded together right among our cars. Two of them were overturned. We got the wounded into cars as quickly as possible but, to make matters worse, a mule-cart had become wedged in the road ahead and blocked all traffic, so we could not move out. Finally the way was cleared and the cars with the wounded made for the first-aid station at Sacerie Farm. Harold Smith and Ralph Henry of B Co. died. Brackett, Weld, Olschefskie, Hampson, Haskins, Barber, Maun, Rogers, Burden, Fothergill, Mercer, Burnham, Sancyzk of B Co. and Fabryk of C Co. wounded. Robinson and Gunning of B Co. shell-shocked. Our cars had been doing fine service most all day in taking out wounded. Two of C Co's cars were hit and one wrecked. At last we found ourselves in bivouac in the woods.

JULY 25. ... A detail went back and buried Porter.

More details about his burial are from the Geni genealogical website entry for Hezekiah Scovil Porter, compiled, I believe, by Charles E. Rounds, Jr., grandson of Hezekiah's brother, Philip Wells Porter.

A photograph of the temporary gravesite is in the possession of Charles E. Rounds, Jr., 107 Mt. Vernon St., Boston, MA 02108 (2013). In the photograph are two of his comrades who had survived the battle. One is from Wethersfield, Connecticut (State Street) and one is from Waterbury, Vermont. The Vermonter is Wagoner Arthur A Barlow, a farmer, who was born Aug. 10, 1895. The Connecticut man is Sergeant Everett H. Hart, born July 10, 1894, who in civilian life had been a "member" of the Chas. C. Hart Seed Co. Bordering the field, just beyond the grave-site, is a thick forest of mostly birch saplings. The underbrush is heavy.

In a letter. dated July 27, 1918, more details of the initial "make-shift" interment of the remains of Hezekiah Scovil Porter are communicated in a letter from his commanding officer (Philip S. Wainwright) to Whitney Scovil Porter (one of Hezekiah's brothers): "...The grave is marked near the head by a cross-shaped blaze on a tree with "Hezekiah S. Porter--101st. M.G.B. U.S.A.--July 22d, 1918" carved into the wood. His helmet is also placed at the head on a bayonet with his name scratched on it. I removed his wallet which contained a small sum of French money and his diamond ring, which was all the personal property we could find." [The referenced wallet, which is bloodstained, is in the possession of William Porter Wightman, grandson of the said Whitney Scovil Porter (2017)].

Hez's remains were later retrieved and given a permanent resting place in the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery, Fere-en-Tardenois (Aisne), France: Plot A, Row 4, Grave 18.

Requiescat in pace, Hezekiah Scovil Porter.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at 8:10 am | Edit
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Hezekiah Scovil Porter WW I Diary Transcription continued

There is no more to Hezekiah Scovil Porter's diary, save some brief notes on where he served, in someone else's handwriting.

On Monday, July 22, 1918, his unit went into battle, and Hez was killed.

From Yale in the World War (George Henry Nettleton, Yale University Press, 1925; pages 324-325), quoting a letter written shortly afterwards by a "Yale classmate and comrade-in-arms," comes this description of his death:

Two guns had been placed in a wood, and ammunition was needed. "Hez" was one of the detail to take it up. They had to cross a wheat field, and a splinter [shrapnel] caught him square in the chest.

History of the 101st Machine Gun Battalion has a longer description of the action from the "War Diary of a Machine Gunner," compiled from the field diaries of several of the soldiers by the Rev. Charles E. Hesselgrave, a Congregational minister serving overseas with the YMCA.

JULY 22. At daybreak both companies were sent out into some woods overlooking Trugny to assist the attack of Major Rau's battalion against the town. We could not locate any enemy to fire at, and the best we could do was to wait to protect Rau's left against possible counter-attack. We were shelled and M. G. bullets flew pretty thick. Bristol of C Co. was wounded. After a while the attack crumbled in spite of Rau's gallant efforts against impossible odds, and the troops were withdrawn to the old positions. A little later C Co. was sent over to the right to join Rau. There they found him with only a few of his men left. The guns were set up on the edge of the wood in a defensive position. B Co. got orders to support an attack of the 102d Inf. on the town of Epieds over on the left flank. The company formed a fourth wave behind the infantry, and spread out into a long skirmish line. The advance started over the open wheat field at a slow walk, with frequent halts during which each man flattened out so tliat no moving thing was visible in the field. M. G. bullets began to kick up little puffs of dust all around us, and the enemy artillery barrage came down fiercely just ahead. We knew we would have to go through this, and every nerve was tense. We soon found ourselves in the midst of it—direct fire at that, mostly from one pounders, and 105's and Austrian 88's which come with the shriek of a thousand devils. The fumes choked us and the concussions half stunned us. It was here that Hez Porter, following his platoon leader, was instantly killed. Corcoran, Dick and Wendt were wounded. An infantry captain just ahead called frantically to us to put an enemy M. G. out of business. He pointed out a pile of barrels where the gun was supposed to be hidden, and two guns of Lt. Sandberg's platoon, Sgt. Hart's section, went into action in the edge of some woods and peppered the spot for some time. It was here that the whole attack was checked, and we got word from the infantry that it was pulling back and that we should do the same on our own hook. The company was drawn to the left into cover of woods, reformed, and sent back, skirting around a rise for concealment. We assembled in a patch of wood a little way back and waited for possible counter-attack and to cover the withdrawal of the doughboys if necessary. They came filtering back, bringing their wounded with them, and soon we were also returned to our old place where the guns were set up to repel any attack that might come from the left. Dr. Hesselgrave appeared with cigarettes and chocolate which was indeed welcome, as we had nothing to eat. This was not a healthy place for the Doctor to be in, but we knew he would come to us when we needed him most. There was a dressing-station near us, and it was awful to see the wounded and shell-shocked fellows brought in. About 6 p. m. the Boche put down a fearful artillery barrage close in front of us, and we were pulled back a hundred yards to escape the effects of this fire. A detail had been digging a grave for Porter, but were unable to finish. A bit later, orders came from Division that we would go back into reserve for a time. We thought our troubles were about over for that day, but were mistaken. Down on the road near Champluisant Farm, just east of Sacerie, our machines were lined up, waiting to take us out, and as we were loading up there came the familiar shriek and two shell burst in the field close by. A moment later there came a deafening blast—all was confusion. Two more shell had exploded together right among our cars. Two of them were overturned. We got the wounded into cars as quickly as possible but, to make matters worse, a mule-cart had become wedged in the road ahead and blocked all traffic, so we could not move out. Finally the way was cleared and the cars with the wounded made for the first-aid station at Sacerie Farm. Harold Smith and Ralph Henry of B Co. died. Brackett, Weld, Olschefskie, Hampson, Haskins, Barber, Maun, Rogers, Burden, Fothergill, Mercer, Burnham, Sancyzk of B Co. and Fabryk of C Co. wounded. Robinson and Gunning of B Co. shell-shocked. Our cars had been doing fine service most all day in taking out wounded. Two of C Co's cars were hit and one wrecked. At last we found ourselves in bivouac in the woods.

July 25. ... A detail went back and buried Porter.

More details about his burial are from the Geni genealogical website entry for Hezekiah Scovil Porter, presumably compiled by Charles E. Rounds, Jr., grandson of Hezekiah's brother, Philip Wells Porter.

A photograph of the temporary gravesite is in the possession of Charles E. Rounds, Jr., 107 Mt. Vernon St., Boston, MA 02108 (2013). In the photograph are two of his comrades who had survived the battle. One is from Wethersfield, Connecticut (State Street) and one is from Waterbury, Vermont. The Vermonter is Wagoner Arthur A Barlow, a farmer, who was born Aug. 10, 1895. The Connecticut man is Sergeant Everett H. Hart, born July 10, 1894, who in civilian life had been a "member" of the Chas. C. Hart Seed Co. Bordering the field, just beyond the grave-site, is a thick forest of mostly birch saplings. The underbrush is heavy.

In a letter. dated July 27, 1918, more details of the initial "make-shift" interment of the remains of Hezekiah Scovil Porter are communicated in a letter from his commanding officer (Philip S. Wainwright) to Whitney Scovil Porter (one of Hezekiah's brothers): "...The grave is marked near the head by a cross-shaped blaze on a tree with "Hezekiah S. Porter--101st. M.G.B. U.S.A.--July 22d, 1918" carved into the wood. His helmet is also placed at the head on a bayonet with his name scratched on it. I removed his wallet which contained a small sum of French money and his diamond ring, which was all the personal property we could find." [The referenced wallet, which is bloodstained, is in the possession of William Porter Wightman, grandson of the said Whitney Scovil Porter (2017)].

Hez's remains were later retrieved and given a permanent resting place in the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery, Fere-en-Tardenois (Aisne), France: Plot A, Row 4, Grave 18.

Requiescat in pace, Hezekiah Scovil Porter.

Previous posts: IntroductionPart 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25, Part 26, Part 27, Part 28, Part 29, Part 30, Part 31, Part 32, Part 33, Part 34, Part 35, Part 36, Part 37, Part 38, Part 39, Part 40, Part 41, Part 42, Part 43, Part 44, Part 45, Part 46, Part 47, Part 48, Part 49, Part 50, Part 51, Part 52, Part 53, Part 54, Part 55, Part 56, Part 57, Part 58, Part 59, Part 61, Part 62, Part 63, Part 64, Part 65, Part 66, Part 67, Part 68, Part 69, Part 70, Part 71, Part 72, Part 73, Part 74, Part 75, Part 76, Part 77, Part 78, Part 79, Part 80, Part 81, Part 82, Part 83, Part 84, Part 85, Part 86, Part 87, Part 88, Part 89, Part 90, Part 91, Part 92, Part 93, Part 94, Part 95, Part 96, Part 97, Part 98, Part 99, Part 100, Part 101, Part 102, Part 103, Part 104, Part 105, Part 106, Part 108, Part 109, Part 110, Part 111, Part 112, Part 113, Part 114, Part 115, Part 116, Part 117, Part 118, Part 119, Part 120, Part 121, Part 122, Part 123, Part 124, Part 125, Part 126, Part 127, Part 128, Part 129, Part 130, Part 131, Part 132, Part 133, Part 134, Part 135, Part 136, Part 137, Part 138, Part 139, Part 140, Part 141, Part 142, Part 143, Part 144, Part 145, Part 146, Part 147, Part 148, Part 149, Part 150, Part 151, Part 152, Part 153, Part 154, Part 155, Part 156, Part 157, Part 158, Part 159, Part 160, Part 161, Part 162, Part 163

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, July 22, 2018 at 5:01 am | Edit
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As part of my research into some of the Davises in our family tree (related to David Wood, about whom I wrote before), I've been reading about early New Jersey churches. That line was primarily Baptist, and settled there to escape persecution.

Morgan Edwards' work, Materials Toward a History of the Baptists, provided amusement along with information. For example, these paragraphs about the Cohansey Baptist Church [Vol. 1, p. 89]:

In 1710 ... Rev. Timothy Brooks and his company united with this church: they had emigrated hither from Swanzey [Swansea] in Plymouth (now Massachusetts) government, about the year 1687; and had kept a separate society, for 23 years, on account of differences in opinion relative to predestination; singing psalms; laying on of hands, etc.: the uniter was Rev. Valentine Wightman, of Groton in Connecticut: the terms of union were, bearance and forbearance.

In 1714, eight Presbyterians joined this church: the occasion was a[s] follows: Mr. Wightman was invited to preach at Fairfield; but forgetting his situation, he talked away as if he had been in a baptist pulpit.

Clearly the name struck a bell, and indeed, that's our Valentine Wightman: Porter's 6th great-grandfather through his father's side; my 7th great-grandfather through my father's grandfather Willis Johnson Langdon, whose ancestors married into the Wightman line. Willis' wife, my great-grandmother, was Mary Lucy (Nellie) Wood. The Woods and the Davises of my family during that era were Baptists and Seventh-Day Baptists in that area of New Jersey, and it's likely that Mary Lucy Wood's ancestors heard Valentine Wightman preach on one of his visits. One hundred and thirty-four years after Valentine's death in 1747, their lines met when Willis and Nellie married. Ninety-four years after that, they met again when Porter and I were wed.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, May 31, 2018 at 9:39 am | Edit
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It's no secret that my husband and I bit the bullet and jumped into the genetic DNA testing arena, having finally decided that the information benefits outweighed privacy concerns. But of course, when we sumitted our samples, we were "speaking" not only for ourselves but for our blood relatives everywhere, since we share DNA, albeit in varying amounts.

So, family, this is your fair warning to keep your lives clean and stay on the right side of the law. As you can see from this New York Times article (or just Google for it if you can't get in to the NYT), police in California have apprehended a man who they believe is a notorious serial killer/rapist/burglar who commited his crimes in the 1970's and 80's. They cracked the case by matchng a sample from one of the crimes to DNA some of his ftamily members had submitted to a genealogical database.

Sure, it tweaks my privacy-concern buttons a bit, and even more so my Big-Brother-is-watching-you fears, but I sure am glad the guy was finally caught. But this is what concerns me most of all:

Mr. DeAngelo will not be charged for a series of rapes authorities believe he committed in the Sacramento area in the late 1970s because the statute of limitations has expired.

There's a statute of limitations for rape? How can that possibly be?

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 11:55 am | Edit
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Category Genealogy: [first] [previous] [next] [newest] Random Musings: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]

William W. Tedrow is not one of my direct ancestors, but my great-great-granduncle: my father's mother's father's mother's oldest brother. I wouldn't normally spend too much time on him, but I noticed that the death date I had for him had no associated source. I'm in the process of cleaning up my family tree, and unsourced facts—whether accidental or put in deliberately as part of ongoing research—must go. Generally, I'll spend a little time trying to find a source for the fact—more if the person is in my direct line, less if not—then either add the source or delete the fact.

Frankly, my gut reaction was to delete William W. Tedrow's death date and move on. Up until recently I was eager to learn as much as possible about anyone and everyone connected with my family—and even non-relatives if the puzzle was interesting enough. But I have just shy of 15,000 people in my database, and am no longer under the illusion that I can learn everything I want to about all of them.

Be that as it may, there was something about William's supposed death date that intrigued me.

I knew that he had served in the Union army, as a musician, from August 1861 until he was discharged in February 1863. Discharged alive and well, apparently. But the (unsourced) information I had was that he had died in 1863. He had survived his Civil War service but died soon thereafter? This warranted at least a quick look.

That's when it became interesting.

William W. Tedrow was born in Illinois, about 1840, the firstborn child of Asa W. and Sarah Elizabeth (Davis) Tedrow—my great-great-great-grandparents. I had already found his Civil War record, or so I thought. He had joined the Union army on August 1, 1861, served as a musician—an official rank between private and corporal in the Civil War army—in Company I, 33rd Illinois Infantry, with distinction, and was discharged February 7, 1863. But it turns out that a lot more data has become available online since I discovered that back in 2004. Here's the next thing I found:

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The name's right; the age is right; the birthplace is right. But now he's in Company B, 5th Regiment, U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery, which he joined as a 1st Sergeant on October 6, 1863, in Vicksburg, Mississippi. I've found no hint in census or other records that the family is of mixed race. I know that units of black soldiers were commanded by white officers, but as you can see from this list of officers of the 9th Louisiana Infantry, African Descent (the original name of this unit), Tedrow is not among them.  He was not a commissioned officer. According to the article, the enlisted men were black, and the rank of sergeant is an enlisted rank.

But there is no doubt that this is my great-great-granduncle.

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There he is, as described in this record from the Illinois State Archives; his description is exactly the same as in the previous image, except that his complexion is listed as "dark" instead of as "fair." And down at the bottom is the notation, "Discharged Feb 7, 1863 at St. Louis MO enlisted in Miss[issippi] Marine Brigade." That is the key.

Here's what the website for the current 33rd Illinois Volunteer Regiment Band has to say about its history:

Mustered at State Normal University August 15, 1861 Charles E. Hovey, President of State Normal University, became the first Colonel of the 33rd Illinois Volunteers when the unit was organized in McLean County, Illinois. The regiment at once became known as the "Normal" or Teachers' Regiment and attracted both teachers and students to its ranks. Because it was stated that the regiment would not obey orders unless they were absolutely correct in syntax and orthography, the regiment was at times called the "Brain Regiment." The 33rd fought throughout the Mississippi Valley and distinguished themselves at Vicksburg, having lost 11 of 32 men, all the rest wounded save one.

The Regimental Band, led by Augustus Woodward of Lexington, Illinois and C.S. Elder also of Lexington, Illinois was made up of 17 bandsmen. The band was mustered on August 15, 1861 and mustered out on August 16, 1862 "... by order as to musicians." Due to financial issues within the military, bandsmen were a financial liability and the government could no longer afford the higher wage paid to the musician. The band provided enjoyment to the regiment and many bands continued service without authorization and the officers and men of the unit paid the added expense.

The Regimental Band was a major part of the soldier's life while fighting against many odds. The band played music that reminded them of home, kept their spirits high, and added to their emotional well-being. The Regimental Band led soldiers into battle and to their death as well.

No doubt William Tedrow was one of those musicians who stayed on, since he was not officially mustered out of the unit till half a year after the band was mustered out. But there he was, having distinguished himself at Vicksburg, Mississippi, with the Army not wanting to pay musicians. So he joined the Mississippi Marine Brigade. According to Wikipedia,

The Mississippi Marine Brigade was a Union Army unit raised during the American Civil War as part of the United States Ram Fleet. These soldiers acted as marines aboard United States Army rams patrolling the Mississippi River. The unit was ... organized as part of the Regular Army instead of a State unit. [It] was an army command operating under the direction of the U.S. Navy consisting of artillery, cavalry and infantry and a fleet of boats for transportation and was commanded by Brig. Gen. Alfred W. Ellett. ... The unit was organized in early 1863 and consisted of about 350 officers and men, including boat crews which used nine small light-armored boats fitted as rams.

The Siege of Vicksburg ended in July 1863. What was next for William W. Tedrow? Clearly, his assignment on October 6, 1863 to Company B of the 5th U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery, as shown above. That he truly served in all these units is shown by the pension application below.

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Was my great-great-granduncle white, black, or in between? Given the rest of my family history, as well as my DNA results, I'd have to say he was white, although I don't actually know his ancestors on either his mother's or his father's side, so it's still an open question. But perhaps looking "fair" among black troops and "dark" among white troops was an asset for a young (23 years old) teacher-cum-army sergeant in the Civil War. Sadly, William W. Tedrow did not survive to leave a record of how he managed in his new role: He died on December 31, 1863, "by accidental shooting."

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, April 23, 2018 at 11:51 am | Edit
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