Tag Archives: World War I

Letter From Son Harlan Just After the Armistice of 1918

Elmer E. Tinsley and wife Fidelia Ward Tinsley were so happy to receive a letter from their son talking about the day prior to, and Armistice Day, when all firing of World War I stopped.  It was the end of the war and everyone was gloriously happy.  The family lived in Ohio County, in western Kentucky.

The Hartford Republic, Ohio County, Kentucky

Friday, January 24, 1919

Harlan Tinsley Now In Germany

Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Tinsley, of Route 5, recently received a letter from their son, Harlan E., written from Layn, Germany, near Coblenz.  He is much impressed with the country there, which is made up of big hills, valleys and small rivers.  All of the Ohio County boys in his regiment, the 322, Division 32, with the exception of Carl Wilson, or Rockport, who was in the hospital from slight effects of gas, were well and doing fine.  The 322nd crossed the German and Luxemburg line December 1st, having marched through from near Verdun, France, which point they left November 17, crossing the Rhine December 13.  He says, ‘the hardest work I ever did was the night before the armistice was signed, we were running a telephone line up to the front and the shells and bullets were whistling all around us.  I was in an old barn the next morning trying to take a nap when the Sergeant called me and said the firing would cease at 11 o’clock.  I could hardly believe it, but at the end of the last minute all firing ceased.  I had been under shell fire so long I felt like a bird out of a cage and count myself lucky to get out at all.’

Gilbert Ratcliff – WWI Soldier Killed Day Before Armistice

All casualties of war are sad, not only for the parents and family, but the rest of the country.  No one wants to lose a child, spouse, sibling, relative or friend.  But to be killed the day before the armistice took effect must have been an extra blow to the loved ones of Gilbert Ratcliff.  Since his parents were not informed until December 6, I’m sure they were ready to welcome their hero home from the war, sure that he had made it through. 

My uncle, Robert Carrico, was killed in Sicily in September of 1943.  My mother, her parents and siblings, never got over his death.  Even in her last years she would tear up talking about Robert.  I’m sure Gilbert Ratcliff’s photograph was hung on the wall, in prominent view, for all to see and remember – I know Uncle Robert’s was.

Gilbert Ratcliff, Co. L, 11th US Infantry, born August 22, 1890, killed November 10, 1918, in Argonne Forest, France.  Grove Hill Cemetery, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Kentucky

The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Saturday, December 7, 1918

Six Gold Stars on Shelby’s Honor Roll

Gilbert Ratcliff’s Death Makes Total of 26 Casualties From the County

Shelbyville, Kentucky, December 6th.  Shelby County has given its sixth life to the cause of liberty and freedom.

Mr. and Mrs. Logan Ratcliff were notified by the War Department today that their son, Gilbert, who was in his twenty-seventh year, was killed in battle in France, November 10, the day before the armistice was signed.

Ratcliff went to Camp Zachary Taylor May 28 and sailed overseas the following August.  He was attached to a machine gun company.

Shelby’s other hero sons are:

Corporal Jesse N. Martin, who died April 7.  Private Luther Stevens, whose death occurred some time in July; Sergeant Frank Jesse, death reported July 23; Corporal Aaron Devine, who died in August, and Noah Wilmott who died October 14.

In addition to these six fatalities, four Shelby boys have died in France from disease, fifteen in training camps here and one in an airplane accident, making the county’s honor roll, unofficially, twenty-six.

Gilbert Ratcliff Buried in Grove Hill Cemetery

Gilbert Ratcliff, Co. L, 11th U.S. Infantry, born August 22, 1890, killed November 10, 1918, in Argonne Forest, France.  Hill Grove Cemetery, Shelby County, Kentucky.

Gilbert Ratcliff was the youngest son of John Logan Ratcliff and Lucinda A. Sleadd, born August 22, 1890.  His parents were married in 1867.  Gilbert’s grandparents were William Sleadd and Sophie Vannatta.

In the 1900 census for Shelby County, Logan Ratcliff was 56, married for 33 years, and a farmer.  Lucinda was 52, a mother of 14 children, with 11 living.  The following children lived in the household – William, 28; Jessie, 21; Homer, 20; Newel, 17; Virginia, 15; and Gilbert, 9.

Gilbert’s draft registration card for World War I lists his home address as R.F.D. #3, Waddy, in Shelby County, Kentucky.  He was a natural born citizen, a farmer and worked for his father.  He was single.  Gilbert was medium tall, stout, with blue eyes and light hair.

How tragic that Gilbert died the day before the Armistice was signed.  How many lives were lost in that last day before the World War I ended?

World War I Soldier in La Rochelle France

scan198-1This handsome gent was photographed in La Rochelle, France, during World War I.  He looks very debonair with his dark hair and mustache!  This is a ‘carte postale’ or postcard and there is a stamp on back – Photographie D’art, Mestres 66 Fujol, 29 Rue Dupety, La Rochelle.  I sincerely hope this soldier made it home to his family!  Was this mailed in a letter to his loved ones?  Have a great genealogy day!

Lyman Metcalfe Bass – at 3 Years and 3 Months!

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Lyman Metcalfe Bass – 3 Years and 3 Months Old

When I found this photo I thought the hair on this little boy just adorable – the curls and length – along with his chubby cheeks and white lace collar!  Written on back was his name, hold old he as in the picture and the date of the photo – October 1879!  It was taken by A. Simpson, 456 Main Street, Buffalo, New York.  Isn’t it hard to imagine how someone could part with this photo?

Having the name and birth date – July, 1876 – I turned to ancestry – and the web – to see what I could find!  This cutie was the son of Lyman Kidder Bass and Frances E. Metcalfe, their only child.  Lyman Metcalfe was born July 5, 1876, in Buffalo, Erie County, New York, but the family soon moved to Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado.  Since his father died in 1889 of consumption, perhaps the move was due to his health.  There is a lovely description of this little one by his mother in 1932, “Laying of the corner stone of our new home, Edgeplain, was by my boy, aged three years, now a grandfather, in kilt and tam o’shanter, yellow curls blowing in the the wind.”  Isn’t that a vivid description?  And with this photo it’s not hard at all to see him!  And he wore a kilt!  What a great mental picture!

Lyman’s father, who was a politician and US Representative from New York, died in 1889.  The year before father, mother and son visited England – again, perhaps to bolster his father’s health?

Lyman Metcalfe Bass was in the Puerto Rican campaign during the Spanish American War, and served again in World War I, his draft card listing him as a lawyer, tall, medium build, with blue eyes and brown hair.

Lyman married Grace Holland.  They had three daughters, Susan, Frances and Grace.  He died in July of 1955.  But we will always remember him as the cute three-year-old with flowing hair, wearing a kilt and being the darling of his family!

Mill Springs National Cemetery


Mill Springs National Cemetery

Pulaski County, Kentucky

Quite by accident Ritchey and I found Mill Springs National Cemetery in Pulaski County.  We were following Highway 80 from Casey County, going towards US27 to take us to Lincoln County.  Our book of Kentucky county maps shows all cemeteries listed along the roads – whether they be dirt roads or highways – but doesn’t designate how large or small the cemeteries may be.


Alfurd Williams, Kentucky, Sergeant, Co. A, 7th Infantry, 3rd Division, World War I, October 18, 1895 – October 29, 1964.  Purple Heart.  Most gravestones are of this similar size and shape.


Leotis G. Weddle, Corporal, Company G, 2nd Regiment Infantry, Spanish American War, October 7, 1879 – November 1, 1955.


Michael Zachery, Private, Civil War, Kentucky Cavalry, January 22, 1862.  The Battle of Mill Springs, in which General Felix Zollicoffer was killed, was fought January 19, 1862.  Private Zachery must have been wounded during the battle and died two days later.


Ira B. Moore, Sergeant, US Army, World War II, November 8, 1916 – September 24, 1990.  North Africa, Sicily, Italy campaigns.  Reading this stone made me tear up – my uncle, Joseph Robert Montgomery, was killed in Sicily during WWII, and is buried there.


Dermont G. Webb, Cook Ho. Co., 107th F. A., December 17, 1894 – January 24, 1923.  A few gravestones had pictures of the fallen loved ones.


John W. Gover, Private, Co. L., 163rd Infantry, born December 28, 1894, died October 9, 1918.


And this gentleman in his uniform:


Fayette Mingey, Corporal, Company A, 136th Infantry, born February 1, 1897, died October 12, 1918.


There are a few larger stones in the cemetery.  2nd Lieutenant Achilles G. Weddle, 164th D. B., 1892-1926.

If you’ve never been to a national cemetery you should take time to go.  You stand and look at rows and rows of small white stones.  And each one of those stones represent a life that was given to protect our country.  Not all died in battle, many made it home to their loved ones, but all were willing to give their life to fight for our freedom, and that makes all the difference


John Warder Linton


Many times I have mentioned Captain John Linton, my 5th great-grandfather, captain of the Loudoun Militia during the Revolutionary War.  In 1818, at the age of 68 he moved from Virginia to Washington County, Kentucky.  All of his children moved to Kentucky, most stayed in Washington County, but one went a little further west.

Son Benjamin Franklin Linton – I suppose there is absolutely no doubt from whom the middle name came – the famous man of the revolution.  He was also named for his grandfather, Benjamin Mason, whose daughter, Ann (also called Nancy) married John Linton in 1771.  Benjamin Linton took his family to Logan County, Kentucky.  He and his wife Lucy Crewdson, who were married in Fluvanna County, Virginia, had twelve children!  About half the children stayed in Logan County, the other half moved on to such distant places as St. Louis, Garnavillo, Iowa, and California.


Today I want to talk about John Warder Linton, a great-grandson of Benjamin and Lucy, and a great-great grandson of the captain.  John Warder Linton was a son of John Wesley Linton, a Civil War veteran of the Confederate Army, and Emma Adelaide Proctor.  John Wesley was a young 18-year-old when he entered the war.  He married Emma in 1869 in Logan County.  It is said most of the men in his unit did not make it home.  He planted a line of trees on his property, in memory of his fallen comrades.  John Wesley and Emma had 5 children:  Benjamin Proctor, John Warder, James Thomas, Lucy N. and Hugh Walter Linton.  Daughter Lucy died at the young age of 23.  The four boys died in the early 40’s – with the younger three all dying in 1945.

John Warder Linton married Eugenia Bell Howard, a daughter of S. B. Howard and Martha Bell.  They had two daughters, Martha Elizabeth and Eugenia Howard Linton. Martha married Henry Dockins Hopson, Sr.  Eugenia never married.

John Warder was an attorney, as well as two of his brothers.  A copy of his World War I draft registration card gives his description as tall and slender, with gray eyes and brown hair.  He lived in the city of Russellville in Logan County.


Eugenia Linton died March 1, 1937.  The next year John Warder married Mary Stevenson.  They had no children.  John Warder was active in the community until his death, November 27, 1945.  He was buried in Maple Grove Cemetery, in Russellville, beside Eugenia.  Other members of the Linton are also buried there.