*His father froze to death in
Alaska during the gold rush that was occurring around 1900.
There is no record of where he is buried or when he died.
The Headlight stated last week that so far as
known, Vance Moore was the only Eagle Lake boy in France, but Mrs.
Ellen Cherry of Bay City, formerly of Eagle Lake, writes the
Headlight that her son, Will, left on the twentieth of October for
France. He is with the marine corps, a member of the 97th Company,
6th Regiment, U.S.M.C., American Expeditionary Forces in France.
Mrs. Cherry says: “All the son I have, I give to my country.” Will
writes that he likes marine life and that he has met many fine boys,
all of whom, he says, are anxious to get to France.—Eagle Lake
Mrs. A. E. Stinnett has received a very interesting letter from Will Cherry, her brother, who is “somewhere in France.” Will thinks that every able-bodied man should be in the trenches somewhere and does not mince words in telling what he thinks of any man who will hide himself behind woman’s skirts.
The letter follows:
Somewhere in France, March 10.
Dear Sister: Your welcome and interesting letter received sometime ago. Would have answered sooner but my opportunities to write are not many. Am sorry to learn that a matrimonial epidemic is raging in the old town, because I am afraid that peace negotiations is the only thing that will stop it. Any man that is able-bodied and foot loose and does not offer his service to his country to avenge the crimes these military criminals are committing day in and day out should be sent to Old Mexico—the States are too good for him; and when they go so far as to hide behind a woman—well, had better not tell you what I think of a man of that kind, because it would hardly go through the mail. I only wish they could hear some of the other fellows express their opinion of that kind.
It has been very wet and muddy here but we are having pretty weather at present. How is the war affecting Allen’s business? Am not at liberty to answer any of your questions. Write soon and kiss dear old mother’s cheeks for me. Your loving bud,
Wm. R. Cherry. 97th Co. 6, Reg. U.S.M.C., Am. Ex. Force.
The Matagorda County Tribune, May 3, 1918
Will Cherry, former telegraph operator at local B. and M. railway station and popular young man of Bay City, advised his sister, Mrs. Allen Stinnett, of the wonderful scenes that were made with the assistance of the U. S. government in the making of “The Unbeliever,” in which the U.S. marines appeared. Will is with this division, and wrote that he was in the picture, and that it is the biggest thing he had ever heard of. This play ran three weeks at Dallas at $1 prices, and will be the attraction here at the Grand next week, Wednesday and Thursday.
The Daily Tribune, July 20, 1918
The following letter has been received from Will
Cherry, a former Eagle Lake boy, who is in France with the Marines,
by his sister, Mrs. A. E. Stinnett, of Bay City.
Will has been in all of the recent hard fighting:
Somewhere in France, July 26, 1918.
This is my first opportunity to write since our fighting in which you have no doubt read about in the papers, since which time my unit has taken part in some of the hard fighting you have been reading about lately, and succeeded in driving the enemy back about six miles, taking one strong position after another, including several villages and capturing a number of their huge guns, morars[sic], machine guns and supplies of all kinds with many prisoners.
We spent the night before the attack in a forest very close behind the lines, using mother earth for a bed, the only bed we had slep[sic] on for several weeks until last night. At daybreak the order was passed to make combat packs which we did and started out for the firing.
Every man knew what was before him but not a man weakened. They marked along with a determined look on their faces, whistling or humming some familiar tune. As we advanced out of the forest into an open wheat field one could see wave after wave of O. D. with fixed bayonets glittering in the sun, tanks working back and forth in advance riding down machine guns and airplanes sweeping back and forth overhead. It was a bright and beautiful day; not a cloud in the sky, but small puffs of smoke from bursting shells could be seen rising heavenward and one knew that with those puffs of smoke that some of his comrades were making a supreme sacrifice for the country we all love. Occasionally we would see a tank go up in smoke when a boche shell would hit true or some boche plane come up only to be challenged for a fight by our planes. They would maneuver around for a while with machine guns working very rapidly and a plane would catch on fire and plunge to the earth. Sometimes it would be a boche and sometimes it would be one of ours.
It was a sight, but a sight that one does not care to see often.
We were opposed by the crown prince’s troops which is considered as some of Germany’s best, but had not advaced[sic] far before they could be seen going to the rear “double time,” and most of them managed to keep plenty distance between themselves and those glittering bayonets of ours.
Every Yankee that has been in battle against the boche knows that they are overrated as a brave fighter and as soon as Uncle Sam gets enough of his boys over here we will make them hard to catch.
I feel like a veteran now, having been several months in the trenches with large bomb-proof and gas-proof dugouts and several months in what is nothing more than open warfare with only the little hole we dig with our trenching tools to protect us from artillery fire.
You are no doubt wondering why I have not written you of some of my experiences on the line sooner. The reason is I did not want to cause you and mother any unnecessary worry, but since the papers have given an account of the marines fighting there is no use of me not writing about it.
Will try and write often now, as it will probably be a long time before we go up again.
Kiss dear old mother and the kids for me. With lots of love, your bud.
Pvt. Wm. R. Cherry,
97th Co. 6 Reg. U. S. M. C.,
Am. Ex. Force.
Eagle Lake Headlight, August 31, 1918, page 8
Courtesy of Dorothy Albrecht
A telegram was received in this city today by Mrs. A. E. Stinnett apprising her of the death of her brother, Will Cherry, in Germany, from pneumonia. Will was with the American army of occupation. He entered the service early in the war, joining the marines and had gone through some hard fighting, only to lie down and die just at the dawn of peace.
His death occurred on the 13th day of January [February].
The Daily Tribune, Bay City,
Texas, Tuesday, March 4, 1919
Deepest regret and sympathy have been expressed by the many friends of Mrs. Ellen Cherry and Mrs. Allen Stinnett, who have recently received the tragic news of the untimely death of their son and brother, William R. Cherry.
He was born in Eagle Lake, Texas, March 5, 1895, where he spent his boyhood days, until his mother came to make her home in Bay City with Mrs. Allen Stinnett, since which time he called this place home.
After spending two years in New Mexico for his health, he came home for a few days before registration day and volunteered for military service. His enlistment in Houston only showed his deep consideration for those who held him closest.
After training at Paris Island, South Carolina, for two months, he was sent to Quantico, Va., and while there was among the 100 boys selected on account of personal merit, to fill a unit for overseas service, which sailed October 31, 1917.
The following is taken from a printed Xmas
program used by his company (97th, 6th Reg.), giving an accurate
account of the battles in which he saw active service:
Verdun Sector, March 15 to May 15, 1918; Chateau-Thierry, June 1 to July 16, 1918; Soissons, July 17 to July 23, 1918; St. Miheil, September 11 - September 25, 1918; Champagne, October 1 - October 10, 1918; Argonne, November 1 - November 11, 1918; march to the Rhine, November 17 - December 11, 1918.
Through all of these battles he received only one wound and wrote often of his desire to come home, after having done his part.
His death occurred on February 13 from broncho-pneumonia. He would have been 24 years old on March 5 of this year.
There seems to remain some consolation in the words,
"Lay down sweet one, and take thy rest,
God called thee home; He thought it best!"
Matagorda County Tribune, March 5, 1919
Eagle Lake Headlight.
News was received here Tuesday of the death in Germany of William Cherry, a former Eagle Lake boy, whose mother, Mrs. Ellen Cherry, and sister, Mrs. A. E. Stinnett, live at Bay City.
A cablegram from the war department was received by Mrs. Cherry at Bay City Tuesday announcing the death. The message stated that he died in Germany on the thirteenth of February.
Will Cherry was a splendid young man and possessed a great many friends. For a number of years past he has been living in New Mexico, having gone to the western country on account of failing health. While in New Mexico he took up some government land and was living on this land. While in the west he fully recovered his health, and having learned that he could enlist in the service and still retain possession of his land, he enlisted with the marines. Prior to his enlistment, Will came to Eagle Lake and spent several days here, his mother being in Eagle Lake at that time. From here he went to Houston and enlisted in the marines, and was with that branch of the army in Germany when he contracted his fatal illness.
Friends of the family here join the Headlight in extending sincerest sympathy to the mother at Bay City who has given her only son to her country.
The Daily Tribune, Bay City,
Texas, Monday, March 10, 1919
Evacuation Hospital No. 9, A. P. O. 927, Third Army, Amer. Forces, Coblenz, Germany, February 22, 1919
Dear Mrs. Cherry,
As I was one of the nurses who helped care for your son, who recently died of pneumonia at this hospital, I am taking the liberty of writing you a few details of his illness.
It is very hard, indeed, to see our boys die over here, alone, and away from their families, and when they do I do all I can that will make up in a very small measure for the absence of their mother or sister. Yours especially appealed to me for he resembled very strongly my oldest brother at his age, and strange, as the coincidence is, Cherry is a family name--my mother being an Elizabeth Cherry of Columbus, Ohio.
On account of his gentle and courteous manner, your son quite won the hearts of us all and we so hoped to see him pull through.
When he came to the hospital, February 4, nine days before he passed away, he seemed to have a simple case of influenza, though he was very quite most of the time and seemed quite sick. After a few days he developed pneumonia, and we moved him from a ward to a room where we had several very sick patients and where we could give him better care. He was delirious most of the time--but always easy to manage and handle. He seemed in very good condition and holding his own nicely when about two days before the end, a re-infection of his lungs set in, and he began to give up the brave fight. Two very good doctors, a Lt. Dingman and a Major Jewett, looked after him, so you may rest assured that everything was done that could be done here in far off Germany.
The American cemetery is not far from here on a hill top, and I am sure it is a very beautiful place, for it overlooks the town of Coblenz, as well as the Rhine and Moselle Rivers. I am on night duty now, but when I have time, I expect to go up to the cemetery and find his grave.
I had my heart so set on your boy's recovery and made up my mind if he did get well I would be an older sister to him over here, where the boys have so little personal interest taken in them.
Offering you my heartfelt sympathy in the loss of such a lovely son, I am your sincerely,
Katherine P. Haire, A. N. C.
421 E. 46th Place
P. S.--I had the priest with him before the end came. K. P. H.
The Daily Tribune, Bay City, Texas, Wednesday, March 12, 1919
Leutesdorf, Germany, Feb. 16, 1919.
Mrs. Helen Cherry
Bay City, Texas
My dear Mrs. Cherry:
It is my sad duty to inform you that your son, William A. Cherry, of this company, died at base hospital No. 9, on February 13.
Your son was evacuated on February 3 with influenza and today we received the notification of his death.
He will be badly missed by the many friends he has made in the Sixth Regiment, all of whom think of this friend and his relatives at the present moment.
Funeral services were held at 2 p.m., February 14, at the place of his death.
Accept, if you will, the sympathy of one who knew and had the greatest admiration for your son.
May the Lord, Father of all, be with you in the dark hour of your bereavement.
With kindest regards, I remain, yours sincerely,
Douglas P. Wingo,
1st Lt. U. S. M. C. Comdg 97th Co.
The Daily Tribune, Bay City,
Texas, Wednesday, March 12, 1919
My dear Mrs.
I have visited the grave of your dear son, and my life-long friend and comrad in arms, Will. As I did tears came to my eyes, thinking of the great sacrifice you had made, and the noble and great deeds that Will had done for the country—and so willingly—a volunteer, a thing that you may will cherish. And it seems so hard that he should rest so far away from his homeland, that he loved so well.
Though his resting place is not forgotten for he has many friends. As I took the picture to send you, two flags were on his grave, and since then flowers have been placed by kind and loving friends.
I am sincerely,
Mrs. Cherry Receives Interesting Letters
Dear Mrs. Cherry:
On this appropriate day, while the graves of Americans are being remembered with beautiful flowers both at home and on European soil, I am pleased to do my little bit by writing you a letter telling you of my acquaintance with your dear son, William R., who did so much for our country’s cause and of whom I know you are very proud.
It was my good fortune to have been associated with Cherry (the name we knew him by) for about 18 months, having met him at Quantico, Va., when the 97th Company was organized. We were in the same platoon (1st) and therefore became to know each other quite intimately within a short time. The longer I knew Cherry the more I realized that he was a “man.” By the time we landed in France we had formed a very close friendship with each other. Many nights have we dug holes (on the front) just big enough for both of us to squeeze into. He was a real buddie and I liked him for a partner.
No one out of our outfit saw any more actual service at the front than did Cherry. He was on the Verdun Sector; he was at Belleau Woods, our first great fight; he was at Soissons,―here he had a very narrow escape. A machine gun bullet penetrated his clothes and almost buried itself in his breast over his heart. Lucky the force of the bullet was almost spent before it found him; he was at St. Mihiel; he was at Champagne, and he was in the last big drive, the Meuse-Argonne. He was in the fray first, last and all the time. He seemed to bear a charmed life. When the announcement of the armistice came to us on November 11, I was in a little dugout with Cherry. When we heard it we grasped each other’s hand and I know that we both thanked God from the bottom of our hearts; for we had just been talking about how we should like to be back home and it seemed that now we knew we would get to go home. Several times I remember having heard Cherry say, “If I ever get back home I will be mother’s boy ever after,” and I knew he meant it. Little did I dream that his wishes would never be realized.
It was not long after the long and wearisome hike into Germany to the Rhine that the influenza broke out all over the Army of Occupation. Many were dying every day. Cherry contracted it and was sent to a hospital in Colence. Pneumonia soon developed and our entire company was shocked to hear of his death on February 13.
All the members of our company join me in sending you sympathy and remember that we as well as you will never forget what a noble, true-heart-and splendid fellow Cherry was. Thank God that I knew him as a buddie. Sympathetically yours,
Cpl. R. L. Sutherland. 97th Co., 6th Reg., U. S. Marines. Home Address, Tiny, Va.
Hundsagren, Germany, June 10, 1919.
My dear Mrs. Cherry,
Bay City, Texas, U. S.A.
I have visited the grave of your dear and son, and my life-long friend and comrade in arms, Will. As I did tears came to my eyes, thinking of the great sacrifice you have made, and the noble and great deeds that Will had done for his country―and so willingly―a volunteer, a thing that you may well cherish. And it seems so hard that he should rest so far away from his homeland, that he loved so well.
Though his resting place is not forgotten for he
has many friends. As I took the picture to send you two flags were
on his grave, and since then flowers have been placed by kind and
loving friends. I am sincerely, Hub
Eagle Lake, Texas, Feb. 17.--Mrs. William Cherry of Bay City has received notice that the body of her son, William Cherry, who died in Germany from the effects of being gassed, is en route to Eagle Lake, for burial.
Young Cherry died just a year ago and was buried in Germany.
Matagorda County Tribune, Friday, February 19, 1920
The body of Will Cherry, who died in France of pneumonia, and which was shipped from New York last Thursday, had not reached here at the time this article is written, Thursday.
The remains will be interred here with military honors by the American Legion, but until the body reaches here full arrangements for the funeral cannot be made.
The body is overdue here now, but it is learned by the American Legion Post that all bodies for this section of the state are bring shipped from New York to Camp Pike and reshipped from that camp to their destinations for burial. Owing to the shortage of men at Camp Pike it may possibly be several days before the casket reaches here.
funeral will be held under the auspices of the American Legion and
full announcement will be made by that order on the bulletin board
at the postoffice as soon as the casket
Interment will be made in the Masonic cemetery in which the family
has a burying lot. Should the remains reach here in time, the
funeral will be held Sunday and all American Legion men and
ex-service men are requested to watch the postoffice bulletin board
closely for funeral arrangements.--Eagle Lake Headlight
Matagorda County Tribune, Friday, August 13, 1920
The body of Will Cherry, an Eagle Lake boy, who died overseas while serving with the army of occupation in Germany, reached Eagle Lake on the early Southern Pacific train Tuesday morning. The casket, covered with a large American flag, is now at the Eagle Lake Undertaking Company’s parlors.
The funeral will be held at 3 o’clock on Sunday afternoon from the Catholic Church in this city under the auspices of the local post of the American Legion. Rev. George Berberich of Mentz will conduct the funeral services at the church.
All members of the American Legion and all ex-service men are requested to be present at the funeral, and all the people of Eagle Lake and community are invited to be present and pay a last respect to one of our boys who gave his life for his country’s sake.
Mrs. Ellen Cherry and Mrs. Allen Stinnett, mother and sister, who are now residents of Bay City, will be here for the funeral.
Will was born and raised in Eagle Lake and was an exemplary young man, and a handsome, manly young fellow. He enlisted in the marines shortly after war was declared and saw much active service after going overseas.―Eagle Lake Headlight.
The Matagorda County Tribune, August 20, 1920
Eagle Lake, Texas. August 18.--The funeral of Will Cherry, an Eagle Lake boy who enlisted in the marines early in the war and who died while serving with the army of occupation in Germany, was held here under the auspices of the American Legion. Three volleys were fired over the grave and the legion's bugler sounded taps. Services were conducted at the Catholic Church and at the grave. Father George Berberich of Mentz conducting the services at the church and Father Ludwig of Flatonia preaching the funeral sermon at the grave. Eagle Lake Cor. Galveston News.
Matagorda County Tribune, Friday, August 20, 1920
(Eagle Lake Headlight)
The funeral of Will Cherry, son of Mrs. Ellen Cherry of Bay City, who died overseas while serving with the army of occupation in Germany, was held here last Sunday afternoon at three o'clock under the auspices of the local post of the American Legion.
Members of the American Legion marched with the hearse from the undertaking parlor to the Catholic Church where Rev. George Berberich of Mentz conducted the services, paying a splendid tribute to the dead soldier boy after which the procession formed and marched to the Masonic Cemetery where Rev. Father Ludwig preached a beautiful funeral sermon after which the casket was lowered into the grave over which the firing sound of the local American Legion post fired a salute of three shots after which the post's bugler sounded taps.
Will Cherry was born and raised in Eagle Lake and spent practically all of his life here. A few years before the war started he went to Arizona for his health and lived there about three years. War having been declared against Germany, and he having fully regained his health while in Arizona, he returned to Eagle Lake and at once enlisted in the marines and after a short training course went overseas where he saw much active service. He contracted pneumonia and died of that disease while serving with the army of occupation in Germany.
The funeral ceremony was a beautiful and impressive one and was largely attended, both at the church and at the grave, the church being large enough to accommodate hardly more than half of the crowd.
Matagorda County Tribune, Friday, August 27, 1920
Eagle Lake Headlight---June 3, 1922
Flag Floats in Memory of Eagle Lake Soldier
On decoration day, last Tuesday, the
American flag floated at half mast from the American Legion flag
pole in the city park in memory of Will Cherry, one of the Eagle
Lake boys who died overseas. It is the custom of the local post to
alternate in floating the flag in memory of the two home boys, Will
Cherry and Martin Perry, who died while in the service, on occasions
of this nature. On Armistice Day the flag floated in memory of
Martin Perry. The two graves were decorated by members of the
American Legion post on Tuesday afternoon.
Father George F. Elmendorf
Funeral services were conducted at the Holy
Cross Catholic Church Monday morning at 8 o'clock, for Mrs. Ellen
Cherry who expired at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Allen E.
Stinnett, Saturday evening. Father George F. Elmendorf conducted the
services and interment was in Eagle Lake. Walker-Matchett were in
charge of arrangements.
Mrs. Cherry, who was 74 years, 1 month and 29
days old, was born in Albany, N. Y. Her parents, Albert Sidney and
Olive Wyman moved to Eagle Lake, Texas when she was a small child.
Then later she was married to Philip Highland, owner of the first
gin in Colorado County, and to them was born four children of which
Mrs. Stinnett of this city survives. Following the death of her
husband, several years later she was married to the late William
Richard Cherry [Stephen William Cherry] who was frozen to death in Alaska during the gold
rush. To them were born, one son, William Richard Cherry, Jr.
[William Richard Cherry] , who
was killed in France during the World War.
Moving to Bay City at the beginning of the War,
Mrs. Cherry has made her home with her daughter since that time. She
had not been well for the past five years and for the past year had
been confined almost entirely to her home. Wednesday she became ill,
growing weaker and weaker until Saturday evening when she passed
quietly away in her sleep.
Mrs. Ellen Cherry was a fine woman. In spite of
the tragedies of her life she remained cheerful and strong. She was
a devout Catholic, taking active part in the church work as long as
her health permitted. She was a Gold Star Mother, the Eagle Lake
Post being named after her. Her whole life was centered around her
home. She was devoted to her children and grandchildren.
She loved flowers and was so often seen working
in her yard. Her family and friends shall miss her devotion and to
the following survivors sincere sympathy is extended.
A daughter, Mrs. Allen Stinnett; four
grandchildren, Dr. Allen E. Stinnett, Parker Stinnett, Billy
Stinnett and Mrs. Roy Moore; three sisters, Mrs. Etta Kavanaugh of
Port Arthur, Mrs. H. L. Reese of Port Arthur, and Mrs. P. W. Goodman
of DeQuincey, La.
Among those who attended the burial services in
Eagle Lake were: A. E. Stinnett, Billy and Parker Stinnett, Mr.
and Mrs. Roy Moore, Mrs. J. I. Carson, Miss Florence Stinnett, Mrs.
W. H. Stinnett, Mrs. Mae Brunner, Mrs. E. E. Scott, Drs. A. E. and
Beatrice Stinnett of Brenham, Mr. John Reese of Lake Charles, La.,
Mrs. Pearl Baumgardner of Lake Charles, La., Mrs. Etta Kavanaugh of
Port Arthur, Mrs. H. L. Reese of Port Arthur and Mrs. P. W. Goodman
of DeQuincy, Louisiana.
Matagorda County Tribune, December 16,
Copyright 2006 -
Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
Jan. 30, 2006
Oct. 10, 2009