Looking through my photographs taken at the Frankfort Cemetery in Franklin County, I came across a small cluster of stones – three for the Ragland family. The largest and most decorative is for Miles B. Ragland who was killed by machine gun fire in the advance of July 26, 1918 at Chateau Thierry, France.
Miles Ragland’s story begins in Clark County, Kentucky. He was born there September 26, 1896, the fourth child, and second son, of Colby Banks Ragland and Maybelle Owen Ragland. Colby and Maybelle were married about 1889. In the 1900 census they are 38 and 35, with children Sarah A, 10; Mary E., 8; son Ashley J., 6; and Miles B., 3.
By 1910 the family moved to Franklin County. Two daughters were born to the family between 1900 and 1910 – Narcissa is 7 and Ollie B., 4.
World War I disrupted family life throughout the globe, and it was no different in Franklin County. Ashley Ragland enlisted in the war in 1917 and survived to come home in 1919. His draft registration card gives his age as 25 in 1918. He was born February 2, 1893, in Clark County; his present address was Frankfort, Kentucky. He worked for the Frankfort Ice Company, had a wife and child. He was of medium height, stout, grey eyes and light brown hair.
Miles Banks Ragland was not so fortunate. In a list of soldiers going to France, he is listed as a private. Notification of any event should go to his mother Mary, with an address of Frankfort, Kentucky. He was part of the Seventh Company Camp Shelby Automatic Replacement Draft, sailing on the steamer Anchises, June 12, 1918, from Hoboken, New Jersey. Miles and his company arrived just in time for the Battle of Chateau-Thierry, one of the fist actions of the American Expeditionary Forces under General John J. ‘Black Jack’ Pershing. If it took 14 days to sail the Atlantic Ocean to France, with an approximate arrival date of June 26, travel time to the battlefield, Miles Banks Ragland arrived just in time to give his life for his country and world peace. He wasn’t alone, approximately 1,908 Americans gave their lives during this battle. His Captain, G. C. Haynes said of him, ‘He was an excellent soldier and at all times did his full duty.’ Nothing more could be expected of him.
On the same form three years later, Co. D, 168th Infantry sailed on the transport U.S.A.T. Wheaton, from Antwerp, Belgium, June 19, 1921 – including the bodies of fallen heroes, one of them Miles Ragland. They arrived at Hoboken, New Jersey, July 2, 1921. His parents and siblings must have been devastated, but also very proud.
In the 1920 census for Franklin County, Colby and Maybelle Ragland have the two youngest daughters living with them. Ashley and wife Lillie have two sons – Hardin, 2, and Miles B., less than a year old. A namesake for the war hero.
Maybelle Ragland died October 4, 1934, at the age of 70 years. Her death certificate lists her parents, Tommy Owen and Sally Gordon. Colby Banks Ragland lived another nine years. His parents are listed as William Ragland and Joanna Evans. With this information they were found in the 1880 census for Clark County – William, 49; Joana, 44; Colby, 17; Bobby J., 15 (F), William P., 12; George L., 9; and Nathaniel, 7. In the same county was the Owens family – R. T., 51; Sarah A., 1; Mary A., 21; Thomas B., 20; Mattie M., 16; Maxwell G., 13; Frank M., 10; Pearl W., 8; Alice J., 6; and John G., 2. From this list we can surmise that Miles’ mother’s full name was Martha Maybelle – as she is listed in the 1900 census. Through Frankfort newspaper article I found Colby Ragland was an elder of his church.
Miles B. Ragland, CO D 168th Infantry, Rainbow Division, U.S. Army. Killed by machine gun fire in the advance of July 26, 1918, at Chateau Thierry, France. ‘He was an excellent soldier and at all times did his full duty.’ G. C. Haynes, Captain. Ashley J. Ragland, Battery C 70th Field Artillery, 11th Division, U.S. Army. Enlisted in the World War 1917-1919.
Categories: Family Stories