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  Returning Home   


We arrived in Cherbourg at 3:08 PM and transferred to the tender, arriving alongside the SS Republic at 6:00 PM.  Shortly after arriving onboard,  the ship sailed.

S. S. Republic

Artwork by Maritime Artist Russell T. Parmerter .
Used with permission.





A portion of the deck plan for the S. S. Republic. Mrs. Kelley was on D Deck - Cabin 314A.

"You sit in this room looking out at the sea," you write; and so
you do, but amid all the appointments of a fine country club.

The spirit of the Colonial mansion is in this ship library--but its breadth of romance is centuries wide. You'll be scanning the titles for your favorites on your first day out.



Mrs. Emma Susan Harper, a 79-year-old widow from Eustace, Texas, was my traveling companion on the ship returning home. Her son, Willie, is also buried at Meuse-Argonne Cemetery with Leo.


Mrs. Emma Susan Harper, a native of South Carolina, passed away on November 16, 1940 at Eustace, Henderson County, TX and was buried there. Her son, Willie Wiley Harper was born on Mar 16, 1890 in Newton County, MS. He was a Private, U.S. Army, 38th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Division. He entered service from Mississippi and died October 9, 1918. He is buried in Plot C Row 27 Grave 9 at Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, Romagne, France.


Originally built in 1907 as the USS President Grant, an 18,072 gross ton passenger liner, at Belfast, Ireland, for the Hamburg-Amerika Linie. She shared a distinctive split-superstructure and six mast configuration with her sister ship, the President Lincoln.  After seven years of commercial operation, she took refuge at New York when the August 1914 outbreak of World War I made the high seas unsafe for German merchant ships, and remained inactive until the United States entered the conflict in April 1917.  Seized at that time, by the U.S. Government, she was turned over to the Navy and, in early August 1917, placed in commission as the transport President Grant (later given registry ID # 3014).  During the rest of the First World War, she made eight round-trips across the Atlantic, transporting nearly 40,000 passengers (mainly U.S. troops) to the European war zone. Following the 11 November 1918 Armistice, President Grant brought home over 37,000 war veterans and other persons in the course of another eight round-trip voyages.  She was decommissioned in October 1919 and transferred to the U.S. Army.


In 1920-1921 the ship served briefly as an Army transport, and in 1921 was returned to the U.S. Shipping Board and laid up.  She was renamed President Buchanan in 1922 or 1923, then renamed Republic and rebuilt with an enlarged superstructure and oil-fired boilers.


In 1924 she was then placed in commercial operation by the United States Lines.  In 1930 she was one of several American flag ships that participated in the Gold Star Mothers pilgrimage to France.


In August 1931 Republic was transferred to the War Department and resumed service as an Army transport.  For the next ten years she was mainly employed on the route from New York to Hawaii, by way of the Panama Canal and San Francisco, California, but on occasion steamed further west to deliver troops and other passengers to the Philippines, China and Japan.


The Navy took her over in July 1941, placing her in commission as USS Republic (AP-33).  Later in that year she made a voyage to Iceland, then went to the Pacific and Australia.  In January 1945 Republic was returned to the Army.  Converted to a hospital ship, with no change in name, her re-entry into service was delayed by major repairs to her machinery, and she did not begin her next trans-Pacific voyage until late 1945 or early 1946.  While at sea between Honolulu and Manila in February 1946, she was once again assigned to Army transport service.  With her hospital ship markings painted out, she brought war veterans home from the Philippines, arriving in San Francisco in March 1946.  USAT Republic was placed in the Olympia, Washington reserve fleet in May 1949 and sold for scrapping in March 1952.

USS Republic                    USS President Grant


We arrived in New York on August 22, 1930 and were again put up at the McAlpin Hotel.  Departed New York from Penn Station on August 24, 1930 at 1:45 P.M. enroute to Topeka, Kansas by way of Chicago.

Topeka, Kansas

After arriving in Topeka, went   over to the old home town of St. Marys to be
with my daughter Monica, and to visit with kinfolk for a while and to rest
for a bit before going back to Texas.


Michael and I lived and raised our children in St. Marys from the time we were
married in 1890 until we moved to Texas in 1908.

Michael and I were married in the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in
St. Marys on February 5, 1890.


After a two week stay at St. Marys, Mrs. Kelly then returned to Palacios arriving as best as can be determined on September 15, 1930.  


"We have been feted, feasted and flattered until we hardly know ourselves.  A most wonderful trip. Have enjoyed every moment of it. ...... Believe me, it was grand!"
--Mrs. Mary Everson, Joplin (MO) Globe, Tuesday, September 23, 1930
Mrs. Mary Everson, Gold Star Mother from Joplin, Missouri, whose son 1st Lt. Ludwig L. Everson, U.S. Army was with Leo's unit, the 129th Machine Gun Battalion, 35th Division, who was wounded in action on 26 September 1918, and died of his wounds on 30 September 1918, the day after Leo was Killed In Action.  Lt. Everson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. [Citation:  Everson, Ludwig L. First Lieutenant, Deceased, 129th Machine Gun Battalion.  For extraordinary heroism in action in the Argonne Forest, France, September 26, 1918.  Meeting with stubborn resistance from the enemy, he reorganized scattered personnel from other units, attached them to his platoon and continued to advance.  When mortally wounded, he refused all assistance, ordering his detachment forward.  Next of Kin, Mrs. Mabel Everson, Crestline, Kansas.]

The End of the Journey


For more information and further reading about the
Pilgrimages of the Gold Star Mothers and Widows


World War I Gold Star Mothers Pilgrimages, Part I

Mourning and the Making of a Nation: The Gold Star Mothers Pilgrimages, 1930 - 1933
Watch for the upcoming book by Dr. Lisa M. Budreau to be released in fall of 2009
Bodies of War: World War I and the Politics of Commemoration in America, 1919-1933

Gold Star Mothers--Their Voyages and Their Medals By George S. Cuhaj

Pilgrimage Documents of Mrs. Carrie Elizabeth Perry

Aunt Kass's Gold Star Mother Pilgrimage

Our Family's Gold Star Pilgrimage Part I: Journey to France

Our Family's Gold Star Pilgrimage Part II: Gold Star Visit


Copyright 2008 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

Dec. 1, 2008
Jun. 25, 2012