For the last few years, I’ve been doing a lot of adoptive family history. I already had a substantial amount of bio genealogy and historical facts, but due to distance and adoption, I’ll never know much outside of names, dates, and places. Bare facts. No stories or feeling of who those people were.
Adoptive family history is a different story. I grew up in an historically-minded family that kept cartons of documents, pictures, business records, and scrapbooks. The Greiners, Boones and Lees (my adad’s side) were industrialists, bankers, and lawyers They worked their way up. John Greiner, my great great great grandfather was a farmer, his son a banker and it went on from there The Boones and Lees go back to 17th century Quakers (meticulous record keepers) who left England for Olney Twn, Pennsylvania and then on to Columbiana County, Ohio. A great grand-uncle, Col TC, Boone, was involved in the capture of John Morgan and became an entrepreneur with his fingers in numerous businesses.and civic organizations. He was also a friend of Edwin Coppock, who went to Harper’s Ferry with John Brown and was later executed for insurrection against the US government. TC, and a few other local abolitionists recovered Coppock’s body and returned him to Salem where is he buried in Hope Cemetery across from the Greiner plot. A relative by marriage who lived to be nearly 100 started out as an abolitionist, published a workingman’s newspaper, organized the Knights of Labor, was investigated by the US Senate, and 1919, he co-founded the Communist Labor Party. Another relative by marriage was a Yale medievalist and friend of Henry Adams.
But I digress….
Because today is Veteran’s Day, I am writing about my biological and adoptive family members who died in the nothingness of World War I: Private Frank Lawrence, Private Charles Carey and Captain James Robertson Carey, Jr.
Today is the 99th anniversary of the Armistice. The Great War took the lives of three of my family members. These are their stories.
PRIVATE OLIVER FRANK LAWRENCE, 12th Gloustershire Regiment., 1899-1918
Private Frank Lawrence, 44384, died a German POW on October 21, 1918, less than one month before the armistice was signed. He was 19.
Frank was the son of my great grandmother’s brother Walter Lawrence and his wife Sarah.. His parents along with his sisters Beatrice and Winifred and brothers Hebert, Harry, and Walter survived, as did many cousins, including my biological grandfather, Courtnay Granecome who served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force as a pencil pusher in various military hospitals in England. I have no pictures of Frank, but he is memorialized in England and Belgium.
According to the Clevedon Civic Society World War 1 Casualty List (no longer online): Frank Lawrence, aged 19 of 9 Strode Road, went to France in April 1918. Three weeks later he was wounded and captured . He died in the German Hospital in Antwerp as a result of poor medical conditions when the Germans deserted the city. He was buried at the Schoonselhof Cemetery, Antwerp. Plot IIa, 47.
St. Andrews Church Honor Roll in Clevedon lists the following information: Frank Lawrence, 19.2th (Service) (Bristol) Battalion. Private 44384. Born Clevedon. Enlisted Taunton. Formerly 68185 Devonshire Regiment. Died 21st October 1918. Aged 19.
PRIVATE CHARLES HERBERT CAREY, USMC; 1898-1918
Charles Carey was my dad’s first cousin, and my first cousin twice removed. His father was Charles M Carey, son of abolitionist Dr. Abel Carey, a Civil War surgeon. His mother was Effie Inez Campbell Carey, the sister of my great grandmother, Adella Campbell Greiner.
Charles attended Salem High School.
I haven’t ordered his military record yet, but here’s what I know.
Charles joined the US Marine Corps in April 1917. Two months later, after training at Quantico, he was assigned to Co A 6th Machine Gun Battalion. On June 12, 1918 he was wounded in action during the Battle of Belleau Wood and died the following day. He was 20.
Bealleau Wood was the last major German offensive of the war. A wiki entry for June 11th day before Charles was wounded describes the battle and the 6th Machine Gun Battalion:
At 04:00 on 11 June, Wise’s men advanced through a thick morning mist towards Belleau Wood, supported by the 23rd and 77th Companies of the 6th Machine Gun Battalion, and were cut to pieces by heavy fire. Platoons were isolated and destroyed by interlocked machine gun fire. It was discovered that the battalion had advanced in the wrong direction. Rather than moving northeast, they had moved directly across the wood’s narrow waist. However, they smashed the German southern defensive lines. A German private, whose company had 30 men left out of 120, wrote “We have Americans opposite us who are terribly reckless fellows.”
The battle took a heavy toll: U.S. forces suffered 9,777 casualties, with 1,811 dead. It was at this battle the Marines were allegedly given the name, “Teufelshunde”–Devil Dogs
I am sure I am the only person in my circle that grew up hearing stories about World War 1. When we visited my great aunt the topic if Charles Carey nearly always came around. I have always felt a bond with him, and wish I’d paid more attention. My dad, turned 6 two before Charles died. He had a military jacket cut down to size supposedly from one of Charles’ uniforms. At least that’s the story. I can’t imagine the Careys letting their dead son’s uniform be cut up for a snotty kid (which by all accounts my dad was.). I eventually inherited the jacket and wore it until the seams burst and the sleeves were nearly up to my elbows I don’t know what happened to it, but I can guess.My mother hated the jacket. So un-girrly. Whatever she did with the jacket, she saved the buttons and various insignia from it, now in my possession.
Although killed in France, Charles is buried in Hope Cemetery in Salem, Ohio. The Salem American Legion Post #65 is named in his honor. Every time we drove past the building I would take a second to read the cornerstone with his name on it.
LT JAMES ROBERTSON CAREY, JR, 1893-1918
James Carey, Jr is, according to ancestry.com, the uncle of the husband of my great great aunt. (This doesn’t make sense). There was some intermarrying with sisters, and I think he’s actually more closely related, but I haven’t figured it out. I had never heard of James until I started family history research. For the time being he’s my cousin.
James was the son of James R Carey Sr, and Carrie Hampson Carey. James and Charles Carey were cousins.With Charles Carey, he shared a grandfather, Abel Carey.
James was born May 11, 1893 in Salem, Ohio. He graduated from Phillips Academy in 1911 and then attended the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale, graduating in 1914.
Shortly before US entry in the war, James left his position in the Treasurer’s Department of the Pennsylvania Railroad and enlisted in the Army Reserves as a private.. He was sent to the Officers’ Training School at Fort Niagara. On completion, he was assigned to the United States Army School of Military Aeronautics at Cornell, followed by additional training with the Signal Corps in Mineola, New York. In October 1917 he was ordered overseas to join HQ Det Flying Cadets 1. He flew first out of Issoudun, France, later out of Foggia Italy, and then back to Issoudun. In June 1918 he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and later a 1st Lieutenant.
On September 4, 1918, three months after Charles Carey died at Belleau Wood, James Carey was killed.while flying from his base to the front. His plane reportedly “collapsed” and he fell to his death in a park of Chatillon-sur-Seine. He was 25. James is buried in the French Cemetery there. A memorial stone, inscribed “US Aviation, WWI,” stands in his honor in Grandview Cemetery in Salem.
James brother, Hampson Carey, also a graduate of Phillips, was commissioned a Captain at Fort Dix, but I can find no reference to him serving in battle.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
Lt. Col. John McCrae, composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium
Requiescat in pace