Tag Archives: William Thomas Graham

Tidying Up The Gray Home

Merry Christmas from Graham Ancestry!

The following entries have been recently updated:

Jesse & Sarah Graham

  • Complete re-write of article
  • Added two new photographs of their grave markers
  • Added two images from the census
  • Expanded the Sources so that you can easily check my work!

Who Is Buried In William’s Grave?

  • Added a new detail derived from the 1900 census.
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87th Division’s WWI History

I’ve been browsing the Internet to find a more in-depth picture of what the 87th Division was doing during their time in France during the First World War.  While there are a plethora of sites that recount the division’s Second World War history, in which they participated in various combat campaigns, there is little in the way of their First World War history, which saw the division used as laborers, something not quite as exciting or as historically significant as a battle.  So, I was quite excited to come across this detailed account of the division’s First World War history written by the Historical Branch, War Plans Division, General Staff, United States Army.


THE EIGHTY-SEVENTH DIVISION

(National Army.  Insignia:  Brown acorn on a green circle.)

—–o—–

The Eighty-seventh Division was organized at Camp Pike, Arkansas, in August, 1917, from drafted men of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi,  and Alabama.  After providing detachments for replacements abroad the division  was reorganized with recruits from other camps, and upon transfer to Camp Dix, New Jersey, in June, 1917[1], approximately 20,000 drafted men from New York and New Jersey were assigned.  The organization was as follows:

  • 173d Infantry Brigade:
    • 345th and 346th Infantry;  335th Machine Gun Battalion.
  • 174th Infantry Brigade:
    • 347th and 348th Infantry[2];  336th Machine Gun Bn.
  • 162d Field Artillery Brigade:
    • 334th and 335th (light),  336th (heavy) Field Artillery;  312th Trench Mortar Battery.
  • 334th Machine Gun Battalion.
  • 312th Engineers.
  • 312th Field Signal Battalion.
  • Trains.

The first element of the division arrived in France August 28, 1918;  the last September 16, 1918.

The division was reported to the Commanding General, S.O.S.[3], for duty the latter part of September.  Headquarters were established at Pons (Charente Inférieure) on September 12th.  The organizations were distributed through the base and intermediate sections, S.O.S.,  but the division did not lose its identity as a combat unit, and when the armistice was signed, it was under orders for service at the front and the headquarters and headquarters troops were actually in movement on November 11th.

Division headquarters sailed from St. Nazaire January 10, 1919,  and arrived at New York January 22, 1919.

The division had three commanding generals as follows:

Maj. Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis (assigned), Aug. 26, 1917 – Nov. 18,  1918;  Brig. Gen. Robert C. Van Vliet (temporary), Nov. 27, 1917 – March 10, 1918; Brig. Gen. W. F. Martin (temporary), Dec. 11, 1918 – January 9, 1919.

Revised to 3-16-21

RPL–egm


Notes

1.  This date appears to be a typo.  The unit could not have transferred to Camp Dix in June 1917 before it was organized at Camp Pike in August 1917.  A date of June 1918 is more likely for the move to Camp Dix, as this would’ve been directly before the division’s movement to France in August of that year.

2.  My grand uncle William Thomas Graham served in Company F of the 348th Infantry.

3. Services of Supply.

Sources

Brief History of Divisions, U.S. Army, 1917-1918”, Historical Branch, War Plans Division, General Staff, United States Army, June 1921.


William T. Graham Grave Marker Slideshow

A series of photographs by Ashli B. Graham of William Thomas Graham’s grave marker at Shady Grove Cemetery, Searcy County, Arkansas on Saturday, 4 June 2011.

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Obituary: Erman Graham

Originally published in the Marshall Mountain Wave on 3 May 1957.  Erman was the son of William Thomas Graham and Virgie Copeland.

ERMON GRAHAM DIED IN CALIFORNIA

Ermon1 Z. Graham, 39, died April 15, at Reedly, Calif., it was learned here this week.

Mr. Graham was born at Watts, Ark in 1918, and lived here with his family for some time.  He moved to California a few years ago, where he had made his home.

He is survived by his wife and three children, his mother, Mrs. Virgil Conley2, and one sister, Pernie.

He was converted some time ago. Memorial services were held at Cairn’s Funeral Home, April 18, 1957, 10 a.m. with Rev. J. E. Bridges officiating. Concluding services were held at the Reedley cemetery under direction of the American Legion.

Notes

1.  So far this is the only source I’ve seen for “Ermon”.  All the other records I’ve seen have spelled it “Erman”, and that is how I’ve spelled it in my own tree.

2.  “Virgil Conley” appears to be a misspelling of Virgie’s own name.  To be especially clear, her second husband was not named Virgil, but rather Grover Morley Condley.


Wartime Dispatches: Departure & Arrival of the Chicago

This Associated Press article appeared in the Daily Herald on 27 February 1919.  William Thomas Graham was a soldier in Company F, mentioned herein.

SOUTHERN TROOPS SAIL FROM FRANCE

Units of Eighty Seventh Division Composed of Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi Men.

Washington, Feb 27.—Forty-six officers and 100 men comprising headquarters of 1st and 3rd Battalions of 348th Infantry, headquarters company, supply company, sanitary detachment, Companies A, B, C, D, E, F and I have sailed from Bordeaux and will arrived at New York about March 8th, the War Department announced today.

The troops are of the 87th Division, composed of Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi troops.  The name of the vessel is not decipherable.  The men may be sent to Camp Dix from New York.

Machine gun battalions of the 87th Division are aboard the transport Magnolia due at New York on March 7.

This Associated Press article appeared in the Trenton Evening Times of Trenton, New Jersey on 8 March 1919.

PORTION OF 87TH REACHES NEW YORK

Part of 348th Infantry Arrived on Chicago, Which Docked This Morning

NEW YORK, March 8.—The transports Plattsburg and Chicago arrived here today.  The Plattsburg carried 2, 325 men, including a number of casual companies, 49th Aero Squadron, detachment of the 5th Machine Gun Battalion and three convalescent detachments.

On the Chicago were 1,060 soldiers, including men of the 348th Infantry and staff, headquarters and supply companies, headquarters First and Third Battalions, Sanitary detachment, Companies A, B, C, D, E, F and T.

The 348th Infantry, portions of which arrived on the Chicago, was attached to the 87th Division, composed of men from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Southern Alabama.

This United Press article appeared in the Bridgeton Evening News on 8 March 1919.

JUST ABLE TO WEAR THE OVERSEAS CHEVRON

NEW YORK.  March 8.—If the transport Chicago had been just a little bit speedier the men of the 348th Infantry would not have been entitled to wear the overseas chevron.  Their six months of foreign service was up last night.  As the steamer came up the bay this morning they were busy sewing single gold stripes on their left sleeves.


A Doughboy in the Golden Acorn Division

During my recent trip to Marshall, Arkansas I visited the grave of my grand uncle William Thomas Graham.  As I mentioned previously, his grave marker listed the unit with which he served during the first World War: the 348th Infantry, 87th Division.  I hit the Internet and ran several searches on the unit to see what I could learn.

The U.S. Army Center of Military History has online the entire lineage and honors of the 348th Regiment, which is the successor of the 348th Infantry.  Here is the portion that pertains to the unit’s World War I service:

Constituted 5 August 1917 in the National Army as the 348th Infantry and assigned to the 87th Division

Organized in September 1917 at Camp Pike, Arkansas

Demobilized in March 1919 at Camp Dix, New Jersey

CAMPAIGN PARTICIPATION CREDIT

World War I
Streamer without inscription

The streamer without inscription is noteworthy.  The U.S Army Institute of Heraldry states on the topic that “war service streamers without inscriptions were awarded during or prior to World War II to units located in the theater but did not participate in designated campaigns nor specified battles/locations.”  That means that the 348th Infantry served overseas in the war theater, but did not see combat.  A unit that did see combat would have the relevant campaign inscribed upon the streamer.

Searching on the 87th Division, the 348th Infantry’s parent organization, I found an article at WikiPedia (not the best of sources, but it’ll suit the purpose Golden Acornof this article) that states the 87th “was a National Army division allocated to Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi” and that it was “utilized as a pool of laborers” when it went overseas.  That seems consistent with being in the war theater but not seeing any combat.

As to the reason the 87th was nicknamed the Golden Acorn Division, well, take a look at its patch.  This patch was worn by all Soldiers in the 348th Infantry.

WWI Roster DetailI also came across a photograph of a framed unit roster for Company F, 348th Infantry.  This was an incredibly lucky find because this was the exact unit in which William served, and his name can be seen on the roster in the middle row, sixth down.

I hit the newspaper archives at Google and GenealogyBank and came across several articles about the return of the 348th Infantry from a six month overseas tour in France, landing in New York City on 8 March 1919.  Company F arrived in New York on the Chicago, a steamship operated by the French Line.  I’ll be posting some of those articles separately, but here is a postcard that shows what the Chicago looked like.

SS Chicago


How I Spent My Arkansas Vacation

A couple of weeks ago I took a week’s vacation from work so that I could attend the North Arkansas Ancestor Fair and the Graham family reunion, both in Marshall, Arkansas.  This will be a recap of the highlights.

Travellin’ Down

Left Chicagoland and drove south.  Our goal the first day was simply to travel to East Saint Louis, Illinois for an overnight hotel stay, and then visit the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis before continuing on.  That didn’t work out so well.  As we were packing up the car at the hotel the following morning I noticed that the rear left tire seemed low.  “That’s why, right there,” said my wife Ashli as she pointed to a nail embedded in the tire.  So instead of going to the Gateway Arch we went to Walmart to get the tire patched.  With the morning gone, we then travelled on to Marshall, promising to visit the Arch on the way back.

Arrived in Marshall in the early evening and got a room at the Sunset Hotel.  Dinner at the nearby Sunset Restaurant. Everyone stopped what they were doing to look at us when we entered. “Who are these strangers?” they must’ve been thinking.

A (Half) Day at the Fair

Following breakfast at the Sunset Restaurant (“Didn’t I see y’all last night?” the waitress asked us. “Yes,” I said, “and you’ll see us again tonight!”), we spent the morning at the first sessions of the North Arkansas Ancestor Fair, which was held at the still-under-construction Veterans Memorial Hall.  While I was at the sessions on finding Civil War ancestors, Ashli and the kids wandered over to a nearby flea market. Yeah, this vacation was really all for me, they were just along for the ride.

The Searcy County Memorial Association is accepting donations to complete the hall’s construction, and a $100 donation will get donors a plaque with the name of a veteran that they wish to honor.  I thought about getting a plaque to honor William Thomas Graham, my grand uncle that served in the Army during World War I.

Lunch at Sonic, then we ditched the second half of the fair to visit the Searcy County Library.  The library has a very good genealogy wing with numerous books and records on the county and its citizens.  I spent the afternoon going through the various volumes of obituaries from the local papers, furiously typing some into the my iPad because I didn’t have any change for the copier.  As the afternoon went on, more and more people from the fair began to show up at the library, and I heard how the afternoon session had become so hot as to be unbearable.

Dinner at the Sunset Restaurant (leaving just before the fair’s mixer dinner commenced), then met up with mom and dad, who had come over from Alabama for the Graham family reunion.  We followed dad out to East Lawn Cemetery to lay flowers upon the graves of Uncle Leroy and Aunt Lorice, then Ashli and I wandered around the cemetery taking photos of any name that rang any bell in the family tree.  Then we all drove over to Sulphur Springs Cemetery to visit the graves of Uncle Millard and Aunt Ermadean Kelley and for more pictures.

Saturday Cemetery Tour

Breakfast at the Sunset with mom and dad.  Then they went to visit dad’s cousin Doyle Graham while we went to the Genealogy Swap Meet at the “civic center”.  I put that in quotes because that’s what the building was called in the fair’s promotional material, but there was no such sign at the actual building, which led us to drive way past our destination in search of this place before we turned around, decided that brown brick building we passed must have been it, and finally arrived.  Went from table to table looking over stuff and chatting with folks.  Had a nice conversation with Barbara Van Camp, who runs the Watts Family site at MyFamily.com and organizes the annual Watts family reunion in Marshall. I’m sure she won’t mind if I plug it, so plan now to attend the Watts reunion in October!

Met with mom and dad at Kelley’s Restaurant (I wondered if the owner was related to uncle Millard, but we didn’t learn the answer (but it’s probably “probably”)), then went in search of Shady Grove Cemetery, where most of the Searcy County Grahams are buried.  We drove down Arkansas Highway 254 for so long that dad became unsure of the direction and pulled over.  As I was pulling in behind him, I noticed that he’d pulled over right at the cemetery!  I parked the car and got out, then the realization dawned on dad that we were there and he parked, too.  Ashli took a lot of photographs here, and I noted that someone had placed newer stones for Jesse and Sarah Graham – their original stones were so weather-worn that they were altogether unreadable.  Took several photographs of the marker for William Thomas Graham, which named the Army unit that he served with in the war, which I hadn’t previously known.

We then went up the mountain to visit Rambo Cemetery, where my grandparents (dad’s parents) are buried.  Saturday was Decoration Day at Rambo so mom brought flowers, and with my daughter’s help they placed them on the graves of grandma and grandpa and Uncle Charles and Aunt Ruby.  Just after the flowers were placed, dad’s sister Aunt Jan showed up with one of her daughters, Marie, and her family, so there was a little impromptu reunion as we all wandered around the cemetery.

As we were leaving the cemetery I asked dad if he could remember the way to the Rambo School.  He did, and so we followed him there.  I was surprised to see that it was abandoned and weathered, as I had heard that it had been refurbished and was being used as a community center.  That had been true, but that was also some time ago, and now the school stands unused.  Dad tried the door and it was unlocked, so we stepped inside for a moment. There were still rows of chairs and tables inside, and it looked like it had been used for church services. Dad told us how it looked when he went to school there.  Back outside the school, it occurred to me to ask dad exactly where he had been born.  “In a cabin right up the road” he said, “I could probably find the land but I bet the cabin is gone.”  He offered to take us but I declined.  It was getting late, the kids were getting tired and so was mom.  They all stayed in the car here – only Ashli, dad and me explored the school.

Dinner that evening was just Ashli and me at Pizza Hut while the kids stayed at the hotel. We were getting tired of the Sunset Restaurant.

Graham Reunion

Didn’t meet mom and dad for breakfast – skipped it altogether.  They went to visit dad’s niece while we continued our cemetery tour at the little Marshall Cemetery there in town.  Didn’t recognize any names from my research, but we snapped a few photographs of whatever interested us.

I decided I wanted to visit Bear Creek Cemetery, so we went out driving down Arkansas Highway 27 to find it.  Never did find it, but we ended up at Canaan Cemetery where we snapped a few photos of the possibly related.

Long about that time mom called on the cell phone to ask where we were since they were about to serve lunch at the reunion, so we hightailed it up the mountain and to the fire department.  Ate lunch and reminisced with some cousins I hadn’t seen in nearly two decades.  Ashli and the kids sat at the table behind me, mostly keeping to themselves and probably wishing we’d go to the Buffalo River for a swim.

Travellin’ Up

Left the reunion and hit the wide open road.  Stopped briefly at the Buffalo River to try for that swim, but it was so crowded we decided against it, so we went on.  Got a hotel room in Sullivan, Missouri, then ate dinner at a Jack in the Box, which I hadn’t been to since the late 1970s, when all the ones in Illinois closed.

Breakfast at Cracker Barrel, then on to Saint Louis and the Gateway Arch!  It was confusing to find the entrance to the arch’s parking lot.  Ended up accidently taking a turn that put me on the Eads Bridge over the swollen Mississippi River.  There was a traffic signal at the Illinois end of the bridge, and at Ashli’s insistence I did a u-turn to head back across.  In mid-u-turn, I spotted an East Saint Louis police car pulling up to the traffic light (the East Saint Louis Police Department is right there!).  I swore and kept on going back across the bridge, checking the rear-view mirror the entire time to see if the police was following, but he didn’t.  I guess he didn’t want the hassle of following me into another state jurisdiction for a traffic violation.

The Gateway Arch has a tram system to take visitors to the top.  The cars of the tram seat five people, but they are small and cramped, and the doors are tiny.  It looks and feels a bit like entering a pod from some 1960s time travel movie.  As I was purchasing the tickets, the salesperson asked if any of us were “claustrophobic, afraid of heights or prone to motion sickness”.  I replied, “Not yet.”

The sky was clear and sunny, so the view from the observation area was great.  To the east we could see Illinois and the flooding it had endured from the Mississippi River, and to the west was the city of Saint Louis.  I could feel the arch swaying, and it would vibrate as the trams arrived at the top.

After we left the arch, the rest of the trip was unremarkable.  We got home safely, unloaded the car, and went to bed.


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