Uncle Edwin’s Story, Part 3…Moving with the Army

At the end of April of 1944, Pauline Boone, Edwin’s wife, sent a letter home from Colorado, where Edwin was finishing training as a Dental Technician. She said, “I feel like we are awaiting a sentence of some kind, which can be good or bad. He won’t know where he is going to be sent for a few more days yet, and I can tell you that the suspense is almost unbearable. If I only knew he would be allowed to serve his country here in the United States…but that is the Question!” Edwin had the highest average in his class and had completed his training, so they were waiting to see where the Army would send him next. She also wrote, “I frankly hope Edwin won’t get a furlough right now, unless it is a delayed routing, because that would indicate that he might be going over-seas. So I have hoped that he would be assigned someplace & then get a furlough later on.”

Mid-May, 1944, Edwin wrote that he was on a train headed to California. “We crossed the Divide about 5 o’clock after going through 31 or 32 tunnels!” He said he was in a “troop sleeper” car attached to a regular train. The car held 30 men with 3 tiers of bunks. He lists his new address as ASF-PRD, 1st Bn. Co E-1, Camp Beale, California.

Camp Beale was located about 40 miles north of Sacramento, near Maryville, CA. It was a large camp with training for several divisions. In May of 1944, it opened a German Prisoner of War base camp. Edwin was assigned to ASF-PRD which was the code for Army Service Forces Personnel Replacement Depot. It essentially was a temporary duty station for soldiers waiting new assignments.

Edwin’s letters from Camp Beale tell of a waiting game. He was expecting to work temporarily in the Dental clinic—can’t say that he actually did that. Otherwise, he had KP duty, went on hikes—up to 8 miles at a time, and loafed. He said in June that he started going to a ranch to help “thin out the peach crop, ” for which he got $5/day and his meals. He said that about 150 men from Camp went out each day with 10 to 20 going to each ranch, working for about 9 hours a day. He wrote about this in a letter postmarked June 8, 1944. One of the last sentences was, “It looks like the war is just a little nearer being over. At least we can hope and pray that it is soon.” Of course, on June 6, the US forces had landed on the beaches of Normandy. Perhaps this is what Edwin was referring to.

On June 20, he wrote that he had gone to a nearby Baptist Church on Sunday and was treated to Sunday dinner from one of the families. He then said he went on a 10 1/2 mile hike on Monday, drilled & then had Judo training. He was called off the field in the afternoon to prepare to ship out to Ft. Sam Houston, TX. He traveled by train to Los Angeles and then across country to Texas. He drew a picture of a yucca plant that he saw along the way.

edwinyucca

Edwin stopped in Ft. Sam Houston for a few days, sending only one letter from there. Then he was back in Camp Barkeley, Texas. He was assigned to the 415 Medical Collecting Company. He was expecting to be on KP duty, but said “KP isn’t very hard here for we eat out of mess kits, consequently there will be no dishes to wash.” So I guess they changed things a little since he was first stationed there. Eating out of mess kits was the norm now instead of a punishment for not passing inspection. He also began to wonder what the next move would be. “They keep shipping me around this way, I’ll begin to think there isn’t any place for me in the Army.” Pauline moved out to Texas again in July.

By the end of July, Edwin had moved again. This time he was stationed at Camp Bowie at Brownwood, TX. He was still assigned to the 415 Medical Collecting Company. Camp Bowie was another large training camp. Edwin said the camp could hold 80,000 soldiers. He started painting signs again but didn’t do much else. Pauline followed him to Brownwood. However, with such a small town near the large Army base, Pauline mentioned that prices were “double or triple for everything.”

Edwin didn’t have much news to report home. He spent time in the field practicing carrying litters or riding in the ambulance. He indicated toward the end of August that the unit has been “alerted” and is to prepare to go overseas. Edwin didn’t think he would be going with the group. As he was nearing 38 years old, he was showing his frustration with the system & was hoping that he would get out of the Army. He also indicated he wished he could be home to help his aging parents with the farm.

He explained the workings of a Medical Collecting Company to his folks. “Contrary to what the name makes you think of, it has nothing to do with finance! Casualties are picked up at the stations near the front lines and are carried back to the Collecting station and sent by ambulance back to a “Clearing station” (serving several Coll Co’s), from where the “Clearing” evacuates them on to a field hospital. As I am a litter bearer in this Co. you know that they aren’t going to take me when there are younger men in the Army they can use.” Again he expected to get out of the Army. “Under Army Regulations they cannot change my classification (as a dental lab technician), so eventually they will either find a place for me or let me out of this Army.”

Still at Camp Bowie in September, soon after his 38th birthday, Edwin wrote of his job of “putting the men’s serial numbers in their shoes and helmets.” Two days before this the company had their physical fitness test, so he was glad to be able to sit and work on a task! The fitness test included the following exercises as well as “creeping and crawling in the mud” & a 4 mile forced march which they did in 44 minutes.

edwinexercises

He still talks of the company moving out soon and expects he will transfer to a hospital where he can “begin to do some good for the Army.”

On Sunday, September 24, 1944, Pauline sent a letter home. Edwin had been restricted to Camp for the week before, but he managed to slip out & meet Pauline Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday evenings. He didn’t show on Friday night or Saturday. Pauline didn’t hear from him. She went to the Camp Sunday morning and was informed that “several hundred men left at 2 o’clock Friday nite and the 415th was among them. They shipped out under concealed orders, destination unknown. Of course, I know he is going to the Port of Embarkation.”

The standard War Department change of address postcard was also sent to his parents.It had an APO New York address instead of a camp name.

So Edwin was on his way to a new duty station with the Army…

© MJM 2016

Uncle Edwin’s Story, Part 2…In the Army

Richard Edwin Boone was called up for service in the US Army July 21, 1943. He was 36 years old. Being a Quaker, he entered as a Conscientious Objector. My Grandmother, Margaret McKinley, gave me a shoe box one day and when I asked what was in it, she said, “It’s Uncle Edwin’s letters from the Army.” So most of my knowledge about his service is from these letters. They were from Edwin to his parents. There were also some letters from his wife, Pauline to his parents. Incidentally, the word “free” was written in place of a stamp on the envelope for each of the letters sent while he was in the U.S.

campbarkeleyletterheadEdwin started at the Reception Center at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, IN. Then on September 8, 1943, he sent his first letter from his training station. He settled in Camp Barkeley, near Abeline, TX. His return address is Company A 63rd Medical Training Battalion. Edwin expected he might be there for 21 weeks & since this was a medical training center, he presumed he was now in the Medical Corps. The men he transferred to TX with started calling him “Pop.” He wrote “I don’t know why unless it’s because I’m the eldest.” In later letters, he calls himself “Old Pappy.” He described his barracks as a one story “hut” that held 16 men, had no wallpaper or rugs but did have a “good soft mattress.” He did complain later that he missed a good shade tree. The trees in TX weren’t very tall so he couldn’t “lay in the shade.”

He began training September 21, 1943. He mentioned in a letter on the 26th that he had been painting signs & doing class room work. He said they hiked 5 1/2 miles one day and also did the obstacle course. He was part of the Battalion choir. In October he talked about field exercise in which they all pitched their “pup” tents on the parade ground and displayed their field equipment for inspection. His Division didn’t pass the inspection so they were made to eat from their metal mess kits for a week instead of using the china in the mess hall.edwinobstaclecourse

In November, he ended up in the hospital with an “attack of the good old-fashioned shingles.” Then on November 23, he wrote that his wife, Pauline, had moved down to Abeline. Later that month, Pauline joined him at the camp for Thanksgiving dinner.

December 7, 1943, a War Department postcard was sent out that listed Pvt Richard E. Boone’s new address: Dental Techns Sch. Fitzsimons Gen Hosp, c/o Postmaster Bunell, Colo. His next letter showed he was a part of Company D SMDET (School for Medical Department Enlisted Technicians). So he had moved on to Dental Technical School to train to be a dentist’s assistant. He expected to be in school for 3 months. Pauline moved out to Denver later in December. Edwin is learning how to make false teeth & other dental appliances. He’s in a more relaxed atmosphere, able to go off post at night and for the weekend. So he & Pauline are able to spend time together.

In January he wrote of being on “litter detail—that is the squads of stretcher bearers who are picked out for each evening, theoretically to carry wounded from the hospital trains that come in. As none come in, there’s nothing to do, & all it amounts to is being restricted to camp for the evening.” Pauline got a job in the library. They also found time to do some sight seeing.

edwingoldenco

Golden, Colorado with Castle Rock in the background

In February, Edwin ended up in the hospital again. This time for hemorrhoids. He had one procedure & was expecting to have surgery. He comments on the fact that his bed has built-in radio earphones on which he has a choice of 3 radio stations. He had surgery for his “piles” mid-February & was back in school a month later.fitzsimonshosppostcard

Pauline sent a postcard home just after Edwin’s surgery. The X toward the left wing of the building marks the area of the hospital where Edwin was. The hospital had 608 beds.

In May, 1944, Edwin was on the train headed to California…

© MJM 2016

Uncle Edwin’s Story

maryedwin

Mary & Edwin Boone

Richard Edwin Boone was born August 28, 1906. He was the son of Alva and “Allie” Erp Boone. He was 15 years younger than his big brother, Chester and 9 years younger than his sister, Mary (my Great Grandmother). He was 11 years old when his niece, Margaret Millikan, my Grandmother, was born. So in essence, Uncle Edwin bridged the gap between the two generations. Edwin grew up on the Boone farm near Sheridan, Indiana.

On April 30, 1920, when he was 13 years old, Edwin placed a want ad in the Sheridan News for a “second hand bicycle, must be in good condition.” I don’t know if he ever got it. In April of 1922, he shows up in the Sheridan News as a member of the “Sheridan Jersey Calf Club.” Also in that newspaper was the announcement that Edwin “won the first prize of $10 offered by Elliott’s drug store for the best painting of the Jonteel bird trade mark.” Jonteel was a line of cosmetics and the trade mark symbol was a stylized colorful bird of paradise. Edwin also worked on the Sheridan High School Newspaper. In November of 1922, he is listed as the associate editor of the Black & White. In 1923, Edwin is a reporter for the paper.

Then in June of 1925, there was an article on page 1 of the Sheridan News about how Edwin “drew the cover page design for the special Outing Edition of the Indianapolis Star.” The special section was the “Vacation and Travel Guide” & Edwin’s illustration included outdoor and travel scenes. The article said that Edwin had “been engaged in drawing and sign painting” since graduating High School in 1924 & “he seems to have exceptional ability & will probably figure in commercial art circles.”

Edwin also did illustrations for the Sheridan News. When I have looked through 1926 and 1927 editions of the paper, I recognize his drawings. He was pretty good.

Grandma showed me a copy of the 1927 Sheridan High School yearbook. The illustrations in the book were also done by Edwin. I think she gave the book to the Sheridan Historical Society.

edwinsign

So Edwin found a career as an illustrator and sign painter. He advertised on the jalopy he drove. Grandma had a couple of pictures of him with his vehicle. Edwin is sitting on the car. I’m not sure who the other man is.

edwinpauline1934

Edwin & Pauline Boone 1934

On August 3, 1934, Edwin married Mary Pauline Barker. She was the daughter of Arthur and Jennie Boxley Barker. Edwin & Pauline were both members of Sheridan Friends Meeting. I’m not sure how long they were an item before they got married, but was it a coincidence that the 1927 yearbook he illustrated was Pauline’s Senior yearbook? The caption for this picture is “the bride and groom.” It was taken soon after they got married.

Census records have Edwin, age 22, in 1930, living with his folks in Hamilton County IN. He worked as a sign painter. In 1940, Edwin and Pauline have moved to Indianapolis, living at 2706 Olney St. They owned their home, valued at $2100. They were living at the same place in 1935. Edwin was working as a Decorator for a Contracting Co. and earned $1200 in 1939. The Indianapolis City directory for 1943 has Edwin listed as a painter for CWC. Most likely CWC is Curtiss-Wright Corporation, a propeller manufacturing company.

Then in July of 1943, Uncle Sam called Edwin into the US Army….

© MJM 2016

Friends in the Family

Friends—that is the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, were prevalent in my Father’s ancestry. First, some background on the group: The Friends religion was started by George Fox in England in the 1650’s. The term “Friend” comes from the verse “I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you,” John 15:15. The name “Quaker” was used as a nickname because they “trembled (or quaked) in the power of God.” In the late 1600’s, Quakers were settling in the New World. William Penn established the Quaker settlement that would become known as Pennsylvania.

Friends meetings were set up in the community, such that people could get there easily by horse or on foot. They held weekly religious services and early on these were “quiet Meetings” in which people would meet in silence, with members rising to speak as they felt led by God. “Thee” and “Thou” were familiar words in the household. Monthly business meetings were also held, with men and women holding separate meetings. Quakers kept records from these business meetings & on member births, marriages & deaths and those records that have survived through the years offer a wealth of information for the family historian.

When I first started researching the family tree, I knew that some of my ancestors were Quakers. I was surprised to find in my local library a resource that gave information on the Quakers in other states. It was a collection of volumes: William Wade Hinshaw’s Encyclopedia of Quaker Genealogy, originally published in 1936. (It is now available on Ancestry.com) Mr. Hinshaw extracted basic information from meetings in several states, including North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Looking in these books, I found some of the Millikan, Hinshaw, Boon and other Quaker names from Dad’s side of the family. Most of his ancestors came from North Carolina Meetings. But I didn’t quite understand the terminology in the book. Hinshaw had placed a key in the front of the book indicating what abbreviations he used. Some of the abbreviations are: gct=granted certificate to, rocf=received on certificate from, rqct=requested certificate to, dis=disowned & mou=married out of unity. The combination of “dis mou” was seen quite frequently in the records.

So looking at this collection, it was easy to see in the Springfield Monthly Meeting records of Guilford County, NC, that John Boon married Sarah Pierson in 1816; that Sarah was originally listed with her parents, William and Elizabeth; that John & family got a certificate to a meeting in Indiana in 1819. That gave me quite a bit of information to work with. John & Sarah Boon are my 4thG-Grandparents.

The Hinshaw, Barker and Allen ancestors were found in records from Holly Springs Monthly Meeting in Randolph County, NC. There were also notations in some early records that some of the Hinshaws came from County Tyrone and Grange, Ireland.

The Millikans show up in the records of Marlborough Monthly Meeting in Randlolph County, NC. Just a couple of lines had me wondering exactly what they were up to. Clark & Lydia (Hinshaw) Millikan (my GGG Grandparents) were married in 1855, but Lydia was “dis mou,” disowned for marriage out of unity. I didn’t quite understand this because all that I knew about Clark at the time was that he was a “birthright” Quaker. So why was he not listed as a member & why was Lydia disowned?

Just a couple of years ago, on a visit to North Carolina, I found information that may have answered the questions. Clark married Nancy Adams in 1851. She was not a Quaker. She also had a daughter at the time they were married. Clark and Nancy had a daughter together, Nancy Angeline, and Clark’s wife, Nancy died. So, my assumption is that Clark may have been a member of a Meeting in the past, was “dis” for marriage to Nancy. Then Lydia was “dis mou” for marriage to Clark. Clark was received into the Meeting on request in 1864 and Lydia with their 3 daughters in 1865. Then, in 1867, the entire family gct Greenwood Monthly Meeting in Hamilton County, IN. Clark and Lydia stayed in Indiana for the rest of their lives. They remained members of the Society of Friends as well; as did some of their descendants.

So, in all, the Quaker connections in the family have made some of the research easier. Now, many of the actual Meeting records have been digitized into Ancestry.com’s collection. Who knows what other tidbits may be found there.

© MJM 2016

Remembering with Granny Boone, Part 2

As mentioned in the previous post, my Grandmother, Margaret Millikan, kept some notes of conversations with her Grandmother, Sarah Alzada Erp Boone, “Allie” or “Granny Boone.” Allie’s mother was Sarah Alexander Erp. Here are more of those memories.

Sarah Erp washed on a big rock by the stream. Water was heated in a big iron kettle over an open fire. A paddle was used to beat dirt out of clothes on a big flat rock. One of the sons made a paddle & bored holes in it as a gift to his mother to help with the washing. A big board with grooves cut in it made a scrub board. Clothes were spread on grass, bushes and fence to dry. They would “wash clothes on Saturday night for Sunday School.”

All clothes, dresses, overalls, men’s clothes were cut and sewed by hand. As mentioned before, Sarah wove cloth on her loom. Clothes were not plentiful. There were two outfits for each with “one on & one extra.” Allie had a little white dress with “saw teeth” (rickrack?) around the neck and sleeves and she was afraid it would cut her head! She remembered a little pink bonnet and a black and white dress. Her first high boots had red tops or “uppers” and copper toes. Their stockings were knit from wool they had spun. The wool came from sheep they helped to shear. Natural dyes made “butternut” pants and “hickory” shirts. Sarah Erp also wove “coverlets.” She sewed for neighbors too.

A baby would be placed in a horse collar on the floor with a pail of water with a rag in it in front of the baby to teach it to sit up. What child could resist playing in water!

Christmas was “slim.” They would shoot guns, had gun powder “fireworks” and used big boards to make “spring boards” to make noise.

There were few toys. Allie was seven or eight years old when she had a rag doll, “Dinah,” with shoe-button eyes.

Allie must have gone to school when 4 years old. It was a log house with no desks. Seats were split logs around the room and heat came from a long box stove. Spelling and ciphering were about all they did. They were called to a long bench in front to read in concert. There were “spelling schools” and “singing schools!”

There were no musical instruments in church.

Allie told of a trip to visit “Uncle Henry” (possibly an Alexander relative) who lived right on the Wabash River in a two room house or cabin. He could sit in front of his house and fish in the river. He built a 6 or 8 foot rock-lined pool where he kept fish to sell. Steam boats came up the river at night and the boat lights scared Allie. Uncle Henry had a big watermelon patch, would thump a big one, drop and burst it and “the kids ate out of it by the fist-fulls.” She told about dividers in a door made of dried corn stalks cut into different lengths & strung on twine.

Granny talked of “love apples;” tomatoes planted in the yard like flowers. They were afraid to eat the fruit. (Maybe she was talking about passion fruit.)

When she was 20 years old, Allie married 28 year old Alva Lorenzo Boon, November 28, 1889 in Clinton County, Indiana. (The “e” shows up at the end of Boon after their marriage.) They lived in the Dillard community of Clinton County, Indiana; then moved East of Sheridan, Hamilton County, Indiana around 1908. They stayed on this farm until just before Alva’s death in 1945. They are buried in Spencer Cemetery, Sheridan, Hamilton County, Indiana.

Allie and Alva had 6 children:

  • Nora Mabel, born in1891 and died less than one year later in 1892
  • Chester Emmett (1892-1954)
  • Rachel Gertrude (1896 or 1898-1969)
  • Mary Geneva (1897-1992) my Great Grandmother!
  • Chauncey, born in 1902 and lived 7 days
  • Richard Edwin (1906-1980)

Mary Geneva Boone reminisced with her daughter, Margaret: She told of few toys. Jimson weed blossoms were dipped in suds and used as bubble pipes. Balls were not from stores but “we raveled Papa’s heavy work socks and wrapped the string around a wad of cloth to make balls.” The only dolls were corn cob dolls.

The school house was just South of the house at Dillard and a store was South on the West side of the road. The church was North in the N.W. corner of the cross roads.

Granny (Allie) & Chester sold Larkin goods. (soap products & household goods. The company offered premiums that could be redeemed for other items.) He got a guitar through sales for Larkin. Granny Boone’s bookcase desk was a Larkin premium.

©MJM 2016

Remembering with Granny Boone, Part 1

My Grandmother, Margaret (Millikan) McKinley, put together some notes of conversations she had with her grandmother, Sarah Boone. I figured I would include some of those notes here.

First, Sarah Alzada Erp Boone was born May 17, 1869 in Clinton County, IN & died September 8, 1955 in Sheridan, Hamilton County, IN. She had been living with her daughter, Mary Boone Millikan, for 10 years since the death of her husband, Alva Lorenzo Boone (1861-1945).

Sarah’s grandchildren called her “Granny” at her request. She was known as “Gee-Gee” to her great-grandchildren. She also went by “Allie” because her mother was also named Sarah. Her parents were Sarah Alexander Erp (1829-1912) and Allen Erp (1826-1885). Allen and Sarah were married at the home of her father, William P. Alexander, in Kentucky on October 17, 1844. Sarah Erp later rode horseback to central Indiana with one baby and “one on the way.”

Margaret did not remember talk of the Alexander relatives in Indiana, but many Erp relatives were there. Granny kept in touch with Kentucky “cousins” through letters for years. She even took a trip to visit them in her later years. The Erps settled in Sugar Creek Twp, Clinton County, Indiana.

Allie was the 8th of 9 children recorded in the Erp family Bible. The first son, William Singleton Erp, died before the age of 16. The second child, Hannah, died at age 3. Daughter, Mary, married and died childless six years later. The youngest, Norman Frank, married but died a year later without a child. Allie and four brothers, Andrew Jackson (1850-1909), Allen Jefferson (1852-1927), Joshua Kerry (1858-1912) and Aaron Union (1861-1937), lived to marry and raise families. Below is a picture of Allie and these siblings with their mother, Sarah Alexander Erp.saerpandchildren2

Back row: Aaron, Allie, Joshua. Front row: Allen, Sarah, Andrew

The Erp family lived in a one room log cabin with a door that was fastened with a bar, one window and a fireplace. It had a floor but no carpet. Later, a “lean-to” kitchen was added on. It was made of boards, not logs. Not only was it used as a kitchen but it had a bed. They kept a “boarder” who slept there. The “lean-to” also had an oblong “step stove” with two holes on one level and two more on a higher level.

The log cabin fireplace was a source of heat and light and was used for cooking. Sometimes they filled a pie pan with grease, soaked a wool rag in it, hung the rag over the edge of the pan and burned it for light. They had some tallow candles which they probably made and must have been treasured items used for special occasions.

Sarah Erp wove cloth to make their clothing and bedding and her loom filled one corner of the cabin. Three beds and a trundle bed were also in the cabin. As Allie grew up, walls were papered with pages of “The Police Gazette.” Once a snake worked behind the paper and someone grabbed it, thinking it was a mouse!!

In the Summer, they cooked over an open fire out of doors using a crane to hold big iron kettles. Allie spoke of four posts with morning glory and cucumber vines and a shed sheltering the open fire. The family raised 8-10 hogs and had chickens that provided meat & eggs. A cow provided milk and cream butter. They had to dry beef, cure meat and eat the rest. With refrigeration unheard of, they sometimes had to “sweeten” meat with soda. They fried some meat, put it down in jars and poured on lard to cover it and had it for later use.

They had potatoes, dry beans and dried green beans, which “weren’t good!” They also had dried apples, peaches and pumpkin. Pumpkin was cooked until done, cut into thin slabs on a bread board and stood up by the fire until dried. Later, it was soaked and used to make pies. Grapes and elderberries were gathered, put into jars and covered with sorghum molasses.

Fireplace cooking was done in big iron kettles hung over the fire on hooks on an iron bar. Bread was cooked on a board. They had biscuits once a week. Cornbread was made of corn they ground or grated on a “grater.” “Egg butter” was made in a big iron skillet: “Heat butter, pour in molasses, add beaten egg, spices or nutmeg.” Sounds good and rich!

More next time…

©MJM 2016