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In Memory: Wagoner Lawrence S. Peacock World War I Casualty

Lawrence Peacock headstone

Lawrence S. Peacock came from a humble background. Born on July 5, 1891 in Spring Garden to parents Samuel D. and Martha (Daugharty) Peacock. Samuel was a farmer and the family lived in Precinct Four according to the 1900 United States Census. Lawrence was the fourth of five children; John, Thomas, Margaret, and Violet. The 1910 United States Census placed the Peacock family at 46 E. New York Avenue.

Young Lawrence appears to have been an industrious young man, not afraid of hard work. He was the owner of a vulcanizing company located in the downtown DeLand area. He regularly advertised in the local newspaper, “Tires and Tubes, All Work Guaranteed”.

Vulcanization is the process of using heat to help harden rubber, thus increasing its lifespan and strength. For more information on vulcanization check the Wikipedia page.

To learn more about the race to unlock the power and secrets of vulcanized rubber, read Noble Obsession: Charles Goodyear, Thomas Hancock, and the Race to Unlock the Greatest Industrial Secret of the 19th Century.

 

 

 

A prime bachelor, Lawrence attracted the attentions of young Edith Baguley, “a talented musician and a popular young woman…” The two eligible DeLandites eloped on July 5, 1917. The service was performed by Reverend H. S. Rightmire at the Baptist church in Daytona Beach with only the reverend’s wife and Mrs. M. N. Baguley, Edith’s mother, in attendance.

The newly wed couple briefly honeymooned in St. Augustine, Jacksonville, and Pablo Beach, before returning to DeLand.

World events were closing in on young men around the world and Lawrence S. Peacock was no exception. In mid-1918 Peacock received notice that he had been drafted and would be called to active duty.

In preparation for leaving DeLand for an unknown period, Lawrence sold his business to Mr. A. C. Clark, a young man from Miami.

Lawrence was transported to Camp Greenleaf at Fort Oglethorpe, GA for two months of training. His skills and abilities earned him a promotion from Private to Wagoner in Evacuation Ambulance Company No. 19 during his training.

USS George Washington
USS George Washington (ID#3018) underway at sea, 10 May 1918. Photographed from USS Whipple (Destroyer # 15), which was then operating off western France.
US Navy photo # NH 53885 from the collections of the US Navy Historical Center.

On September 22, 1918, he was sent to Camp Upton on Long Island, NY before being transferred to the Transport S.S. George Washington in preparation for transport to France.

It was during this transport that Peacock contracted pneumonia and passed away onboard. His death on October 9, 1918 was one of only thousands caused as a result of the 1918 influenza outbreak. It is believed the pneumonia was the largest cause of death during the pandemic. 

 

 

 

 

The 1918 influenza outbreak is estimated to have contributed to the deaths of nearly 100 million people. Historian John M. Barry has written what may be the definitive look at this pandemic. The book is accessible and readable for those of us without a scientific background.

 

 

 

The remains of Wagoner Lawrence S. Peacock were buried temporarily in Brest, France, a port city in Brittany, before being returned to DeLand in 1920.

After conclusion of hostilities, the Army returned the remains of Peacock, through New York City, where they were placed aboard a southbound train, with a single soldier accompanying.

Members of the DeLand American Legion Post met the train and carried the remains to an awaiting hearse that secured the body to Allen’s Undertaking Parlors in preparation for the funeral on July 15, 1920.

The funeral was a somber affair. At 2:00 p.m. the parade left Allen’s on their way to Oakdale Cemetery. A squad of uniformed men, followed by the pall bearers, a group of Legionnaires, the family, and finally friends of the deceased made their way through the streets of DeLand.

Once the procession arrived at the cemetery, the flag draped coffin was carried to the burial site with uniformed men at parade rest. Dr. C. L. Collins talked about the war and its impact and provided a biographical sketch of the young soldier. Reverend C. E. Wyatt offered prayer. The service ended with a three-round volley over the grave and the blowing of taps by bugler Feasel.

Lawrence Peacock headstone
The headstone for Wagoner Lawrence Peacock as seen in Oakdale Cemetery, DeLand, FL

In the years following the burial of her husband, Edith was to remarry. On February 11, 1922, she married Pharris M. Stribling, a newspaper printer who worked for the local paper. The 1930 United States Census shows her to already have divorced Stribling and working as a stenographer in North Carolina where she lived with her mother.

A brief search shows that Edith does not appear to have married again. When she passed away on March 4, 1982, Edith was living in San Bernadino, CA.

Edith Irene Baguley Stribling was buried in Henry Cemetery, in Henry, Illinois, the same cemetery as her parents.

 

 

 

 

 

Wagoner Lawrence S. Peacock is memorialized today at the DeLand Memorial Hospital and Veterans Museum. This project was trumpeted in the local newspaper by DeLand Mayor S. A. Wood on February 19, 1919 and opened in 1920. DeLand Memorial Hospital would serve as the primary medical facility in DeLand until the opening of Fish Memorial Hospital in 1952. Today the building is home to City of DeLand offices and museum exhibits.

DeLand Memorial Hospital and Veterans Museum
A full exterior view of the circa 1920 DeLand Memorial Hospital and Veterans Museum building
World War I plaque at DeLand Memorial Hospital and Veterans Museum
A dedication plaque to West Volusia County soldiers who perished during World War I.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Original plaque on exterior of Hospital building
An originally placed plaque dedicating the hospital as a Memorial to our boys for service rendered and sacrifice supreme

 

To view other posts related to Oakdale Cemetery, many of them military related, please click here.

Sources:

Multiple issues of the DeLand News were used to compile this article.

www.floridamemory.com

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products.

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In Memory: Amzi Harmon Civil War Medal of Honor Recipient

Amzi Harmon Headstone
Amzi Harmon Headstone
Original Union headstone and modern Medal of Honor bronze marker for Amzi D. Harmon.

A couple of years ago while wandering Mt. Peace Cemetery in Kissimmee, Florida, searching for the graves of my grandmother and grandfather; I came across the final resting spot of Amzi D. Harmon. The burial itself was rather unremarkable. In fact, I might not have even noticed it if not for the traditional Union soldier shape of the headstone.

It turns out Amzi D. Harmon received the Medal of Honor for actions during the Civil War. Granted, Medals of Honor for actions during the Civil War were awarded on a much less stringent basis than they have since. In fact, a total of 1,523 Medals of Honor were issued for service during the Civil War. In total, less than 3,500 Medals of Honor have been awarded in total.

Harmon received his Medal of Honor for actions in April 1865, while serving as a
Corporal in Company K of the 211th Pennsylvania at the Battle of Petersburg in
Virginia. His citation reads simply “Capture of Flag.”

The 211th PA was a regiment raised late in the war out of western Pennsylvania. Many of those enlisting had already served prior enlistments. Company K was raised primarily from Westmoreland County.In late 1864, the 211th were transferred to the 3rd Division of the IX Corps, serving under Brigadier General John F. Hartranft.

Those wishing to learn more about General Hartranft are directed to this biography.

The regiment later saw action during the breakthrough at Petersburg under the
command of Lieutenant Colonel Levi A. Dodd. During the fighting, the regiment
was to suffer 135 casualties including 21 men killed. Harmon was singled out in an
after action report by General Hartranft for his efforts and having secured the flag
of the 45th North Carolina during battle. (1) General Hartranft submitted Harmon’s
name for Medal of Honor consideration. (2)

Corporal Harmon was born April 18, 1845 in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
After the war, he and dozens of other former Union soldiers moved to the
developing community of St. Cloud. Harmon arrived in Florida sometime between 1910 and 1920. In 1921, Harmon was named an honorary pall-bearer at the burial of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. (4) Harmon lived in Florida until his death on October 9, 1927.

The story of Harmon’s headstone becomes a bit convoluted using Orlando Sentinel
newspaper articles. In 1995, Geoff Clark wrote that a man from New York brought
a marker noting Harmon’s honor (I assume this to be the bronze marker now on the
grave). The article goes on to state the New Yorker left town with the stone marker which ended up in a private museum in Tennessee. In 1996, Sentinel writer Jovida Fletcher states that the marker had been stolen, but was recovered from this again unnamed Tennessee private museum. (3)

No matter stolen or given, the returned headstone was rededicated in a ceremony held in
1995. I attempted to contact City of St. Cloud employees regarding participation of
the city Historic Preservation Board in this rededication but did not receive a reply.
Mt. Peace Cemetery in St. Cloud was founded in 1911 on a ten-acre tract deeded
by the Seminole Land and Investment Company. A Women’s Auxiliary was
formed with a stated goal “to aid in the work of improving and beautifying the
cemetery.” (5)

Today, Mt. Peace Cemetery is cared for by the City of St. Cloud. It is the final
resting place for more than 6,500 persons.

Notes
1) Geoff Clark. “Civil War Hero to be Honored.” Orlando Sentinel. August 2,
1995.
2) United States Government Printing Office. The War of the Rebellioin: A
Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies
Series I, Volume XLVI Part I Section II. Washington D.C. 1894. Page 1064.
3) Geoff Clark. “Ceremony for Hero Will Note 1865 Feat.” Orlando Sentinel.
July 16, 1995.
Jovida Fletcher. “Johnson Hopes to Preserve Heritage of Union Soldiers.”
Orlando Sentinel. June 23, 1996.
4) Florida Master Site File OS02790.
5) Ibid.

Those wishing to learn more about the Siege of Petersburg are directed to In the Trenches at Petersburg by noted Civil War historian Earl J. Hess.  I also highly recommend The Siege of Petersburg Online. Brett has created a massive archive of materials related to all aspects of the Petersburg campaign.

To the best of my knowledge there is no regimental history of the 211th Pennsylvania.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may
receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views
and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors
providing products.

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In Memory: Lieutenant Jerry Doyle Blinded During Korean War

Any person who walks cemeteries for any length of time can tell you about
interesting finds. These finds do not always occur in the old sections or in
cemeteries deemed “historic.” The headstone of Jerry Doyle is certainly one of
those that demanded a look into the man’s life.

Jerry Doyle headstone located in Oakdale Cemetery, DeLand, FL

 

Jerry Doyle was born on September 17, 1928 to parents James V. and Nora C.
Doyle in the town of DeLand, Florida. He was the fourth of what would be ten
children. At the time, DeLand was home to around 5,000 residents.

Doyle attended local schools and graduated from DeLand High School in 1946, the
same year he registered for the draft. His 1946 draft card states he stood 5’ 8” and
weighed 135 pounds with brown hair, blue eyes, and a ruddy complexion.

Young Doyle was to attend classes at the University of Florida before receiving his
call to active duty with the rank of First Lieutenant, serving in the 40th Infantry
Division.

Major General Joseph P. Cleland led the 40th Infantry Division, often called the

Courtesy: U.S. National Guard. “The Sunshine Division in Korea.”
https://www.nationalguard.mil/Resources/Image-Gallery/HistoricalPaintings/Heritage-Series/Sunshine-Division-in-Korea/.

Sunshine Division, for much of the Korean War. The troops of the 40th were deployed to Japan in the spring of 1951 for training. In January 1952, the 40th relieved the men of the 24th Infantry Division. They were to serve during the hard fighting at Heartbreak Ridge and at the “Punchbowl” as the war came to an armistice in 1953.

Doyle served faithfully during the war. He was wounded severely in January 1953, during action around the “Punchbowl” when the jeep he was riding in was struck by enemy fire. Lt. Doyle lost his right eye, received a penetrating wound of the brain and a compound fracture of the skull because of the attack. A newspaper report of the time stated that in his present condition, Doyle was satisfactory. It was uncertain how long he would need to remain hospitalized and that he would be removed from his Tokyo hospital room to a facility in the United States as soon as practicable.

Doyle received the Purple Hear in recognition of his injuries.

The seriousness of his injuries led to a prolonged period of recovery. In mid February 1953, the army transferred Doyle back to the United States and he received further treatment at the Travis Air Base Hospital in Fairfield, CA. Later that year he was still hospitalized, receiving a short-term release from the VA Hospital in Hines, IL in order to visit his parents over the holidays.

In what must have been a proud moment, On June 1, 1954, James V. Doyle was
able to initiate his son Jerry into the Veterans of Foreign War, in a meeting held at
the Knights of Pythias Hall.

Jerry Doyle obituary photo

Despite his injuries, Jerry Doyle was to live a long and productive life. His
obituary touted his work with the American Legion, his love of family, and the joy he took in listening to University of Florida football games. In his obituary, Jerry is remembered as expressing no regret over his service or resulting blindness. Military service was what he had to do at the time.

He passed away on December 23, 2016 at the age of 88. Lt. Jerry Eugene Doyle is buried in Oakdale Cemetery, in DeLand, FL.

 

 

 

Sources:

DeLand Sun News. January 20, 1953; February 15, 1953; September 13, 1953;
November 23, 1953; May 31, 1954.

Historical Marker Database. 40th Infantry Division Korean War Memorial.

Orlando Sentinel/Legacy obituary.

U.S. Census 1930 and 1940.

U.S. Korean War Casualties Listing 1950-1957.

U.S. National Guard. “The Sunshine Division in Korea.”

U.S. World War II Draft Cards 1940-1947.

To learn more about the Korean War I recommend The Korean War written by Max Hastings or The Coldest Winter written by Douglas Brinkley. Both are a solid starting point for learning about the Korean conflict.




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In Memory: Staff Sgt. William Lee Owen Brown

William Lee Owen Brown headstone, Oakdale Cemetery, DeLand, FL

Staff Sergeant William Lee Owen Brown was killed on February 10, 1968 when the C-130 aircraft he was a passenger on was hit by enemy fire as they approached the Khe Sanh airfield. The damaged plane was able to land but did not stop safely, running off the end of the runway, exploding in flames. Five of the ten passengers escaped the burning wreckage and received treatment at the US Army hospital.

Brown was born January 20, 1934 in DeLand, FL where he attended public schools. Brown  joined the Marine Corps in June 1953. He attended military photography schools at Fort Monmouth, NJ and Tokyo, Japan. His many USMC roles included that of recruiter, a drill instructor at Parris Island, NC, and at the time of his death, he served as a non-commissioned officer in charge of the First Marine Air Wing Photo Lab.

During his career Sergeant Brown was awarded multiple decorations including the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Ribbon, was a six-time recipient of Expert Rifleman awards, the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat (V), Air Medal and Combat Aircrew Insignia with three stars.

 

At the time of his death, his wife Pauline (Kerr), son Hugh William, and daughter Karen Denise,

Military headstone for William Lee Owen Brown, killed in action during the Vietnam War.

Sergeant Brown was survived by his wife Pauline (Kerr), son Hugh William, and daughter Karen Denise, all of whom lived in Albany, New York. His mother Emma Lee Brown lived in DeLand. He was predeceased by his father, Robert Owen Brown.

Sergeant Brown is buried in Oakdale Cemetery, in DeLand, FL.

Sources:

DeLand Sun News

If you are interested in war time death, military burials located in Oakdale Cemetery, I invite you to read my blog post about Sergeant Adam Quinn, who perished while serving in Afghanistan.

To learn more about the C-130 Hercules, the plane that Sergeant Brown was flying in, I recommend Martin W. Bowman‘s book, C-130 Hercules: A History. To learn more about the siege of Khe Sanh, I recommend Khe Sanh: Siege in the Clouds written by Eric Hammel.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small
commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided
are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products.

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Moses Harshaw–Died and Gone to Hell

Moses Harshaw
1794-1858
Died and Gone to Hell

Moses Harshaw–The Meanest Man Alive
Died and Gone to Hell

The stories and legends surrounding Moses Harshaw are plentiful. One thing we know is that if you visit Old Clarkesville Cemetery in Clarkesville, Georgia, you can see a headstone the likes of which you have probably not seen before. It is both funny and sad at the same time. Funny in that somebody appears to have had the last laugh on Harshaw. Sad in the fact that this person was so evil that family chose to remember him in this way.

Moses Harshaw was born in 1794 in North Carolina. He wed Nancy England on June 9, 1814 in Burke County, North Carolina. By 1820, it appears that the Harshaw family was gaining wealth, as they owned seven male slaves, all under the age of 44.

At some point in the early to mid-1820s, Moses led the Harshaw family from their home in North Carolina to new lands in the Nacoochee Valley of Georgia. In 1825, Moses purchased 250 acres from W. B. Wofford for the sum of $1,500. It was on this property that around 1837 Moses would build what is now known as the Harshaw-Stovall House, a property that in 1984 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Harshaw was successful in a financial manner. In addition to his farming and gold mining
operation, he supported his family by working as an attorney in Clarkesville. By 1840, the US
Census shows him owning 18 slaves, 11 females and 7 males. The 1850 US Census lists
Harshaw as owning real estate with a value of $20,000. The Slave Census for the same year
show him having increased his human ownership to 20.

Despite his apparent business acumen, Moses was person few people liked. His antics had earned
him the moniker, “the meanest man alive.” The period of 1829-1844 saw him charged with
assault on seven occasions, being found guilty six times. His cruelty to slaves became legendary.
When he would hitch his wagon to go to town, he would require the services of a slave on the
trip. He would not allow the slave to ride in the wagon however but would instead tie him to the
back of the wagon and make him run to keep up.

Perhaps cementing his legacy as vile person is the story of when a young slave girl passed away,
Moses wife Nancy purchased a dress for the child to be buried in. When Moses discovered the
expense he demanded the child be dug up, the dress be removed and returned to the store.

Unable to live with Moses and his erratic behavior, Nancy filed for legal separation, which the
courts granted in 1857 (some date this separation as being in 1850). She received several slaves,
farm equipment, and lands in Clarkesville. A portion of the separation agreement reads

from an incompatibility of taste and uncongeniality of temper and disagreement of
pursuits, bickering, heartburnings and strife have discovered that it is impossible they
should longer live together in peace and harmony and have therefore agreed to separate
from bed and board and absolve, release and forever discharge each other from all
conjugal rights, privileges, duties and liabilities, further agreeing to live separate and
apart and abstain in all and every way from interfering with or molesting each other in all
and every way their pursuit of present and eternal happiness.

Moses was to live only a short while longer, passing away in 1859. Despite being a successful
attorney, Moses passed without a will. The courts appointed Moses son Alonzo and E.P.
Williams as estate administrators. His holdings included 11 slaves, farming equipment, produce,
livestock and feed, household furnishings, a lot and house in the town of Clarkesville, and
considerable acreage and a home in Clarkesville and White Counties.

It is possible that Nancy had the last word on their marriage and the life of Moses Harshaw. The
long rotted original wooden marker was carved with the words “Died and Gone to Hell.” A
replica of the marker stands today, reminding us that our worldly actions may not be forgiven
even in death.

Harshay-Stovall House
Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Today, visitors to Sautee Nacoochee, GA can stay in the beautifully restored Stovall House. Owners Jeff Sidwell and Erin Fight opened the bed & breakfast in 2019. They offer six rooms (the Terra Cotta Room is pet friendly room) including king-sized beds, private bathrooms, Wi-Fi throughout the house, and more. Water comes from the 350 foot deep well on property. Environmental concerns are taken seriously with kitchen leftovers being composted; leftover soaps, etc. are recycled through Clean the World, the 27-acre property is pesticide free, and cleaning products are eco-friendly. If you are looking for a wedding or event venue, Jeff and Erin are eager to accommodate your needs.

 

References:
Old Clarkesville Cemetery website

United States Census Reports
1820
1840
1850
1850 Slave Schedule

United States Department of the Interior National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form.
Harshaw-Stovall House. June 28, 1984.

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Charles George: Korean War Native American Medal of Honor Recipient

Charles George Monument

Tsali “Charles” George was born August 23, 1932 in Cherokee, North Carolina as a member of
the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Tribe. Charlie, as he was known, attended the Indian School
on the Qualla Boundary of Western North Carolina and spent much of his early life near the
Oconaluftee River.

Charles George
Charles George
Image Courtesy North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

At age 18, with the Korean War in full force, Charlie joined the United States Army in  Whittier, North Carolina, attaining the rank of Private First Class. He served in Company C of the 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division.

In November 1952, PFC George gave his life in order to protect that of fellow soldiers, Armando Ruiz and Marion Santo, who along with George were helping lead an assault to try to capture a prisoner for interrogation, just north of Seoul during the Battle of Songnae-dong. Having succeeded in their mission George, Ruiz, and Santo were ordered to provide cover as the Company retired.

The Chinese were continuing to fight and a grenade landed near the three young men. George pushed Santo away before falling on the live grenade in order to prevent injury and possible death to others. Despite his life threatening injuries George did not utter a sound. To do so would have betrayed their location to the Chinese.

Ruiz and Santo bravely carried the dying George to the nearest aid station but the wounds were too severe and the heroic young Cherokee passed. Both Armando Ruiz and Marion Santo survived the war, returning to the States and leading as normal a life as possible having witnessed the ultimate horror of war.

The body of Charles George was returned to Cherokee County where he was interred in Yellow
Hill Cemetery. You may view an online memorial to PFC George here.

PFC George’s heroics were recognized quickly and in March 1954, George’s parents were
invited to Washington D.C. in order to receive the Medal of Honor being awarded posthumously
to their son. In the following years, Charlies father, Jacob, was known to carry the Medal with
him, keeping this piece of his son close to him at all times.

In recent years, further honors have been bestowed upon the memory of PFC Charlie George.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Asheville, NC was renamed the Charles
George Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 2017 after approval by both the
United States House of Representatives and the Senate.

The bridge crossing the Oconaluftee River in the Yellowhill Community was dedicated as the
Charles George Bridge on January 23, 2014.

Charles George Monument
The Charles George Monument located in the Cherokee Veterans Park. An identical monument sits at the VA Center named in his honor.

On September 24, 2016, a life-sized statue of George, sculpted by artists James Spratt, was unveiled at the Charles George VA Medical Center. Center Director Cynthia Breyfogle stated, “The legacy of Charles George was, and still is, an inspiration and influence beyond his local community. His courage and example join those of other brave men and women, past and present, who have answered the call when their country needed them.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Spratt did not live to see the unveiling. He passed away the day of the unveiling while under hospice care. Warren Dupree of the American Legion Post 143 said a few words on behalf of Spratt, “…he wanted to thank the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Charles George Memorial Project Committee for their kindness in helping him make his dream come true.”

On November 11, 2016, an identical sculpture to the one located at the VA Center was unveiled in a moving ceremony at the refurbished Cherokee Veterans Park.

The Museum of the Cherokee Indian opened an exhibit in George’s honor on Memorial Day, May 28, 2018. The impressive displays included a bronze bust of George, the flag that draped his coffin, his numerous military medals including his Medal of Honor, and a copy of the text of his Medal of Honor citation. You may read this citation below.

Citation:

Pfc. George, a member of Company C, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and
outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy on the night
of 30 November 1952. He was a member of a raiding party committed to engage the enemy and
capture a prisoner for interrogation. Forging up the rugged slope of the key terrain feature, the
group was subjected to intense mortar and machine-gun fire and suffered several casualties.
Throughout the advance, he fought valiantly and, upon reaching the crest of the hill, leaped into
the trenches and closed with the enemy in hand-to-hand combat. When friendly troops were
ordered to move back upon completion of the assignment, he and two comrades remained to
cover the withdrawal. While in the process of leaving the trenches a hostile soldier hurled a
grenade into their midst. Pfc. George shouted a warning to one comrade, pushed the other
soldier out of danger, and, with full knowledge of the consequences, unhesitatingly threw himself
upon the grenade, absorbing the full blast of the explosion. Although seriously wounded in this
display of valor, he refrained from any outcry which would divulge the position of his
companions. The two soldiers evacuated him to the forward aid station and shortly thereafter he
succumbed to his wound. Pfc. George’s indomitable courage, consummate devotion to duty, and
willing self-sacrifice reflect the highest credit upon himself and uphold the finest traditions of the
military service.

Sources:

https://asheville.va.gov/
https://www.cmohs.org/recipients/charles-george                                                                 https://www.ncdcr.gov/blog/2014/11/30/cherokee-charles-george-korean-war-medal-of-honor-recipient  https://www.theonefeather.com

To learn more about the Medal of Honor I recommend Medal of Honor, Revised & Updated Third Edition: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty  

 

 

 

 

 

To learn more about the Cherokee Indian Nation I recommend Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation.

 

 

 

 

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The Unforgettable Headstone of Roy L. Cook in Oakdale Cemetery, DeLand, FL

Roy L. Cook flat headstone

For me, one of the joys of walking through a cemetery is that you never know what you will find. It may
be an interesting inscription, the burial of the famous or infamous, or in the case of Roy L. Cook, well,
you will see shortly. I have never seen anything like this before.

For those easily offended, please consider this your warning. Text and images below may be offensive to readers. This post is not an endorsement of any beliefs that may have been held or espoused by Mr. Cook but rather putting forth historical fact. 

In May 1931, Roy Lewis Cook and his wife, Louise B. had been visiting Atlanta, Georgia. On May 10, they
were on the trip home when Roy began complaining of stomach pains. They stopped in Vienna, Georgia
at the office of Dr. F. E. Williams. Within an hour, Cook was dead from what his death certificate listed as
“probably cardiac failure. Possibly angina pectoris. Was pulseless and in collapse when I saw him and
remained so until death 20 or 30 minutes later.”

Only 43 years old, Cook left behind a widow, Louise, and children Gertrude and Roy, Jr., who went by
the name Louis. According to local newspaper reports, the Cook family were not mourning alone as
estimates between 1,000 and 2,500 people were reported at his funeral in the small town of DeLand,
Florida.

Roy L. Cook was born in DeLeon Springs, FL, October 2, 1888 to Lewis P. and Alice Cook. His father was a
farmer and it appears that the family was highly mobile. In the 1900 census, the Cook family, including
twelve-year-old Roy, were living in Wittich Township, Arkansas.

By 1910, Roy and his young bride Louise were living in Florida with extended family. Roy was working as an automobile mechanic. In 1917 the Cooks were living in Orlando, FL. where Roy worked for himself in the firm of Cook Automobile, Co. His World War I draft registration card states he was tall and slender, with gray eyes and black hair.

The young Cook appears to have been an enterprising person because by 1920, he and Louise, along
with their two children, were living in DeLand and Roy, Sr. owned his own garage. Still living in DeLand in
1930, Roy, Sr. was a partner in the automobile dealership Cook and Rowland. Cook and Rowland was
located at 133-135 S. Woodland Avene. The business was an authorized sales and service dealer for Buick
automobiles. They were also a Vesta Battery Service Station.

Cook was still young, appears to have been financially successful, and it turns out he was a highly
influential individual as we will see.

News of the elder Cook’s demise quickly reached DeLand. His partner L. L. Rowland and an employee
only listed as Mr. Miller left immediately for Georgia to help the stricken widow. They helped arrange
for transport of the body back to DeLand where funeral director J. M. Stith was in charge of
arrangements. Stith worked in the employ of the Griffith-Stith Funeral Parlor, that at one time was
located in the building known as the Dutton House.

The funeral services were held on May 13, 1931 at First Baptist Church with Dr. I. E. Phillips of
Jacksonville in charge. Reports state the church was filled to overflowing with hundreds standing
outside. The same report estimated more than 500 cars from across Florida, Georgia, and Alabama were
at the church grounds. Newspaper reports posted a long listing of pallbearers and honorary pallbearers
including local judges.

Roy L. Cook flat headstone
Roy L. Cook headstone depicting his membership as a Mason.

You may be asking why more than 1,000 people would attend a small town funeral for a small town car dealer. The town had a population only slightly higher than 5,000 in 1930. Yes, it was true that Cook was a member of the DeLand Masonic Lodge, was a member of the Royal Arch Masons, and the Order of the Eastern Star. This would hardly account for this type turn out however. Cook had a much more sinister side in his life and his funeral brought to the public what many might not have openly known.

 

At the time of his death, Roy L. Cook, Sr. served as Grand Titan of the Ku Klux Klan of the State of Florida. It appears that local reporting had is title wrong, calling him the Grand Titian while he most likely served as Grand Titan.

Estimates place between 100 and 200 robed and hooded clansmen lining the Oakdale Cemetery driveway. They were
said to have held “drooping American flags, (and) bowed their heads as the funeral car passed.” At the
burial site, “the degree team of the Klan from Jacksonville conducted an honorary burial order.”
Clansmen from across Florida, Georgia, and Alabama attended the ceremony.

At the close of the ceremony, members from the Order of the Eastern Star placed more than 300 floral
assortments on the closed grave.

In the days immediately after the funeral Cook’s wife Louise was named executor of his estate and also
named beneficiary of all real and personal property.

Roy L. Cook Headstone
Roy L. Cook marker depicting his KKK membership

In May 1932, newspaper advertisements placed by the E.C. Tomoka Klan No. 17 Realm of Florida were appearing in the DeLand Sun News under the headline, “Klansmen Take Notice.” The announcement went on further to let the public know that a new monument was to be placed on the grave of Roy L. Cook, on Sunday, May 15 at 3:30 p.m. George P. Bryan, a monument dealer based in Daytona Beach, erected the monument.

The memory of Roy L. Cook continued to be strong in the years after his death. Members of the Volusia Chapter 186 of the Order of the Eastern Star were reported by the press to hold annual memorial services for former members. After the November 1933 service, members laid flowers on Cook’s grave.

This post is not a tribute to Roy L. Cook. While he is long gone, his memory and most likely his actions cannot be forgotten. We must fight against actions by hate groups such as the KKK. These groups have terrorized our country for too long and we must not allow them to keep doing so. The marker to Roy L. Cook, now in place for nearly 90 years, is a reminder that there is more work to be done, more justice to be fought for, more equality to be won.

To learn more about the terrible and violent history of the Klan in Florida I suggest reading The Invisible Empire: The Ku Klux Klan in Florida (Florida History and Culture) written by Michael Newton.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small
commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are
my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products.

Sources
Daytona Beach News Journal
DeLand, FL City Directories
DeLand Sun News
Georgia Certificate of Death
U.S. Census Bureau records
World War I Draft Registration Cards

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The Mysterious Hunter Pyramid of Murphy, North Carolina

Road trips can bring you to the most interesting locations at times. That can certainly be said for the
town of Murphy, located in Cherokee County, North Carolina. Murphy sits near the far western end of
North Carolina where the Hiawassee and Valley rivers meet. The town is approximately 350 miles from
Raleigh. Cherokee County is home to just under 29,000 residents according to Census estimates.

The Hunter Pyramid in Murphy, North Carolina

Sometime around 1930 Hitchcock Coit (also seen in some references as Colt) erected a 25-foot-tall pyramid in honor of her grandfather, A.R.S. Hunter. A.R.S. Hunter is said to have been the first white settler in the area. He served as the first postmaster in Murphy, operated a ferry system, and created a trading post allowing Cherokees to trade with local soldiers.

Inscribed on the pyramid are the names of three individuals many locals claim are buried there. Historians question whether there are any burials on site with most believing there are none on site.

 

The inscriptions read:

Sacred to the Memory
Archibald Russell Spence Hunter
Born February 24, 1783
Died June 23, 1844

Sacred to the Memory
Elizabeth Wyche Lucas Hunter
Died January 1843
Aged 59 Years

Sacred to the Memory
Elizabeth Wyche Hunter
Daughter of
George Russell Hunter
Died July 26, 1868
Aged 25 Years

The pyramid is on private property and when we visited, there was a locked gate on the property. The
pyramid is located on 5th Avenue. You are able to see and photograph the pyramid at a distance without
trespassing.

To learn more about Murphy, North Carolina please visit the city website

To plan a visit to Cherokee County, North Carolina I recommend starting with Visit Cherokee County.

Murphy's Chophouse
Murphy’s Chophouse in Murphy, North Carolina

Here you can learn about places to visit, find lodging, discover great places to eat (the outdoor dining at Murphy’s Chophouse was fantastic) and drink (I recommend Hoppy Trout Brewing Company), and view a calendar of events.

Hoppy Trout Logo
The Hoppy Trout Brewing Company logo
Image Courtesy The Hoppy Trout Brewing Company

 

 

 

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products.

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Pinson Cemetery in Rabun County Georgia: Home to a Revolutionary War Soldier

Joseph Pinson headstone

Part of the joys of road trips are the unexpected finds a traveler can make. This is the story of just
such a find. We have vacationed in Rabun County, Georgia on several occasions and have found
a wonderful short-term rental property we stay at whenever possible. It is not large but has a
larger fenced yard that our dogs love. The views are tremendous and the house has everything
we need for a few days away from home.

Pinson Cemetery sign
Pinson Cemetery Sign

PINSON CEMETERY

On the drive to the house, we have noticed a road sign for Pinson Cemetery. The area is always overgrown and it looks difficult to find. There is no road or easy access point. With this in mind, we have never tried to stop. This past year I decided I had to investigate. My wife dropped me off and parked up the road at a community church while I headed into the brush.

I am glad I made that short hike. Here I found the headstone for Joseph Pinson. According to the headstone, Pinson was born January 30, 1754 and passed away on May 26, 1838. The stone states he was a sergeant in the North Carolina Militia during the Revolutionary War.

Joseph Pinson headstone
The front of the Joseph Pinson headstone

Revolutionary War headstones are not too common in Florida so this was an exciting discovery.

The reverse of the headstone provides some genealogical information. “Erected in memory of Joseph Pinson. Born at Pinson’s Mill on the Haw River in Old Orange County. N.C. Son of Rev. Aaron and Elizabeth Pinson who died in Laurens County, S.C. Husband of Margery Pinson who died in Walker County, GA.

The marker appears to have been installed by the Sons of the American Revolution, possibly in 2011.

SERVICE

According to a pension application filed on July 7, 1834 with the Judges of the Inferior or
County Court of Rabun, Pinson stated that he had served five tours of duty during the
Revolutionary War. Before getting too excited it should be noted that no reference is made to his having served as a sergeant and the total amount of his service time was only eight months and seven days.

Joseph Pinson volunteered for service July 15, 1776 and served under Colonel Isaac Shelby and

Joseph Pinson headstone reverse side
The reverse side of the Joseph Pinson headstone containing valuable genealogical information.

Captain Jacob Womack. During this tour, the only combat Pinson saw was with “a company of the Indians, who had been engaged in massacring the defenseless inhabitants of the Nolichucky River and the frontiers, this Battle was fought on the waters of the River they there killed one Indian the others fled.” Pinson was discharged at Womack’s Fort on the Holston River on October
12, 1776.

Pinson’s second tour began on March 19, 1777 under Captain Joseph Wilson and Colonel John Carter. His role was to help protect the “Frontiers of North Carolina against Indians and Tories. When he was discharged on July 23, 1777, he had seen no battle action.

His third tour was for only eight days but did produce some excitement. Serving under Colonel Benjamin Cleveland, he went on an expedition on the New River where they took one prisoner.
This prisoner was delivered to a Colonel Campbell who had the man executed by hanging.

During Pinson’s fourth tour of duty, he again served under Colonel Cleveland. This time he was
on guard duty, keeping watch over British and Tories captured during the Battle of Kings
Mountain.

Pinson’s fifth and final tour of duty was an uneventful four days served under Captain Benjamin
Herndon.

Joseph Pinson provided an impressive list of character references in his appeal. These included
Senator H. T. Moseley, Representative William Kelby, and Colonel Sam Beck.

FAMILY INFORMATION

Included in the pension application are later, additional family notices including notice that
Pinson’s widow, Margery, had filed for a widows pension on July 20, 1847. Here it was attested
that she and Joseph had married on September 15, 1775 and that Joseph had passed away on
May 26, 1838.

Further genealogical information included in the file is an 1853 affidavit from Jane Carter stating
she is the daughter of Joseph and Margery Pinson. She continues, stating her parents were
married in Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1773. Margery passed away on August 25, 1852
and that there are four living children from the Pinson marriage: Elizabeth, Mary, Milla, and
Jane.

Reference is made to the appearance in Cass County, Georgia of a Moses Pinson who claimed to
be the younger brother of Joseph.

Joseph Pinson was successful in his pension application. Beginning on March 4, 1831 Pinson
was awarded a yearly pension of $27.44, or roughly $2.30 per month. His widow Margery
received the same amount following her 1847 application.

DIRECTIONS

If you would like to visit the Pinson Cemetery, my first suggestion is to dress appropriately; long
pants and closed toed shoes are necessary. I visited during early winter but I would suggest
insect repellant if you are visiting during the warmer months. From Highway 441 heading north
in Clayton turn left on to John Beck Dockins Road. Travel about a mile and a half and turn left
on Wolffork Road. Follow Wollfolk for just over a mile and you will see the sign on the left
hand side.

You will need to find a place to safely park and the side of the road is not that place.
Return to the church you have just passed and walk back to the sign. Here you will have to make
your way into an overgrown area. Try to keep going straight as you enter the brush. When I
visited there was a bit of a clearing and the headstone was obvious.

Remember, take only photos and leave only footprints.

Sources

Revwarapps.org

 

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small
commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided
are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products.