Monday, February 05, 2018

World War I begins to take its toll

More than 50 years had dulled memories of Civil War horrors --- although plenty of old soldiers still were around --- when the United States entered World War I late and not especially well prepared a century ago.

During this time of cold transition from January to February back in 1918, some months after war had been declared, the cost began to become evident in Lucas County.

Combat deaths would come later; disease struck first --- and of the 26 young men from Lucas County claimed by that war, disease --- especially the Spanish flu --- would claim 18; wounds, only eight.

The first to die was a young man from English Township, Raymond S. Cain, age 23. son of Arthur L. and Martha Cain. Death came on the morning Jan. 28 at Fort Logan, Colorado, after a two-week illness with "blood poisoning."

His parents had been summoned to Colorado when it became evident that the illness would prove fatal, so they accompanied his remains back to Chariton and funeral services with military honors were held at Cain Presbyterian Church in English township on Friday, Feb. 1. Burial followed in the nearby cemetery --- we call it Spring Hill today; most called it Cain back then.

As funeral services were under way in Lucas County, Raymond's childhood friend Walter West, who had just celebrated his 23rd birthday, died at Camp Pike, Arkansas, of pneumonia --- scarlet fever also was a factor.

Walter, a considerably older first-cousin of my mother, was a son of Eva (Prentiss) West and her late husband, John Rush West. His younger brother, Charlie --- who I remember well --- had traveled to Arkansas to be with Walter and accompanied his body home.

The following Tuesday, funeral services for Walter also were held at Cain Church and burial followed in the nearby cemetery, not far from Raymond's fresh grave.

You won't find these graves at Spring Hill today. Raymond's family had his body and that of his more recently deceased mother moved from English Township into the Chariton Cemetery during September of 1930. Eight years later, during October of 1938, Walter's family brought his remains as well as those of his late father into Chariton, too.

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