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War Activities of Robertson County 1917-1919

Submitted By Seldon Bain Graham Jr. whose father wrote, War Activities of Robertson County, Texas 1917 - 1919, in June 1933 as his Master's thesis in history at the University of Texas.


These electronic pages may not be reproduced in any format by other organizations or individuals. Persons or organizations desiring to use this material must obtain the written consent of Seldon Bain Graham Jr.

Volunteer Jo Ella Snider Parker re-typed this work for online display.



Letter from Reagan Grant to The Central Texan as it appeared in the issue of May 18, 1917:

Great Lakes, IL
To the Texan: 

Very little I have heard from Franklin but guess she is on a boom, and the navy is too.  Fine, boys, come in while it is warm. 

News came here that boys from there, and other places, stood the exam and couldn’t pass.  That is all punk.  They think they can get by with that, but boys, your name is on record just the same, and what are you to your country and Uncle Sam?  Nothing.  Your name is on the black list and your day is coming yet, but little you are thought of by your country and government.  Uncle Sam has a government to protect you, and has now called for your services to help him. I would not be a tenderfoot and be a drawback to the world, because that does not help you one bit. 

I am here and will be until the war is over; I expect to get back home, while I may not.  We don’t hear war news at all, don’t know there is such a thing. 

Reagan Grant 




Letter from G. O. Autrey to The Central Texan, printed in the issue of July 27, 1917: 

Fort Ringgold, TX
Rio Grande City 

Dear Old Texan: 

As everything is quiet after a 20 miles hike, I will write a few lines to the dear old paper.  I enlisted in the Texas National Guard June 5th, and am well pleased.  Every young man should be in some branch of the service to help defend the stars and stripes. 

We are now stationed at Fort Ringgold about 200 yds. from the border.  All the boys are in high spirit for they blew pay call this morning. 

Wishing all prosperity and happiness, I am 

Private G. O. Autrey
Co. B, 2nd Tex. Infantry 




Letter from Howard Smith and Carl Willis to The Central Texan, printed in the issue of August 3, 1917: 

Great Lakes, IL
July 23, 1917 

Editor Texan: 

After having finished perusing the contents of last week’s Texan, thought I would let you know how much real enjoyment I get out of same.

We are still at Great Lakes, situated about 38 miles from Chicago on Lake Michigan.  We are having a fine time, getting all the bountiful supply of ‘chow’ that we can masticate, and are delighted with our military training.  We think that every man ought to have at least six months or a year of it to make him an all round man.  For myself, I think it was the biggest day’s work I ever did when I joined the navy. 

We are, in every sense of the word, masters of our own household, or might say--tents.  We do all our own washing and scrubbing our tent floors. 

The weather here is fine--always a cool breeze from the lake.  Of course it gets hot in the middle of the day, but is cool enough nights to sleep beneath a couple of blankets. 

A big draft is leaving this week for the east coast and probably France, but we are not in it as the company we are in does not leave the station at all.  Of course awe are likely to be transferred anytime. 

Here is a song us boys sing: 

We don’t know where we’re going, but we’re on our way;
We’re out to make a showing for the U.S.A.
There’s going to be a hot time for us some fine day;
We don’t know where we’re going, but we’re on our way.

Tell everybody hello, and hope our folks keep on sending the Texan. 


Howard Smith
Carl Willis 




Letter from J. R. McWilliams to his father, J. R. McWilliams of Hearne, TX, as printed in the August 10, 1917 issue of The Central Texan

First Letter from France On Active Service with the British Expeditionary Force.
22 Apr. 1917 

J. R. McWilliams
Hearne, TX 

Just a few lines to let you know where I am ’somewhere’ in France and doing well; do not worry about me, I shall be back home in a matter of time. 

Let me know if any of the boys are going to enlist.  If they do, give them my address and have them look me up.  They can easily find me by writing to headquarters, giving my name, number and unit.  If you have a small photo of the family please send it to me as I would like to have one.  I suppose Hearne is some city by now.  Answer soon.  I remain your son. 

468 Pvt. J. R. McWilliams
2nd M.G.C.

Editor’s Note:  The above young man was a pupil of Prof. Scott at Blackjack last year, and left school and went to Canada and enlisted. 




Letter from Marsh Watson to Mr. Estes, as printed in The Central Texan of August 16, 1918: 

Dear Mr. Estes: 

Harry Gilland, Henry Herndon and I arrived safely overseas.  We are now in a beautiful country.  All are enjoying splendid health. 

Best wishes to all. 

Marsh Watson 




Letter from Corbet Elidge to his cousin, Mrs. Irene Elidge, as printed in the August 30, 1918 issue of The Central Texan

Dear Cousin: 

I will drop you a line to let you know that I am alive, and hope that you are all enjoying life in the best way possible. 

Well Irene I got wounded, but only a slight one.  I am in a hospital and getting along fine.  What are you all doing?  Working as usual I suppose.  Sure would like to see you all and hope to soon. 

You can guess how bad I have the blues as I have not heard from home in two months.  Guess you have all forgotten me.  I can’t even hear from Pearl any more. 

Well I guess Eugene is about grown now.  Is Ed still with you? 

I have not found any of the home boys yet.  Do you know where Tom is?  I heard that Byron March was here, near me. 

Answer real soon, to your cousin. 

Corbet Elidge
Co. H. 39th Inf. A.E.F. 




Letter from John W. Barnes to his family, as printed in the September 20, 1918 issue of The Central Texan

Somewhere in France
August 11, 1918 

Dear Homefolks: 

Well how are you all this beautiful day?  Fine I hope, I am fine and dandy.  I went to preaching this morning and heard a good talk. 

I guess Robert is at the training camp by now.  I sent him a letter.  I have not seen anyone from home yet. 

Is it very hot and dry this summer?  We are sure having some pretty weather here.  You ask me if I got sea-sick coming over?  No, I stood the trip fine.  You ought to see me trying to talk French. 

Mady, what did you have done to your eyes?  I hope they are all right by now,.  Did you get a school? 

Tell Ethel Heath I said hello and that I would try to be a good boy.  Tell little Minnie and Robert Henry hello. 

Mother, you and father take care of yourselves and don’t worry about me, for I am getting along all right. 

Well, give my love to all and write soon and tell me all the news. 

Your loving son and brother, 

John W. Barnes 




Another letter from Marsh S. Watson to Mr. Estes, as printed in the September 27, 1918 issue of The Central Texan

Somewhere in France
August 30, 1918 

Dear Mr. Estes: 

This has been a long quiet day on the front but that does not mean everything is still.  The roar of the cannon and the humming of the “Boche plane” does not attract one’s attention very much after being at the front for a while.  Fritz comes over most every night, but is always in a big hurry going back (if he is lucky enough to get back). 

I saw the boys from home in the 360th Infantry, Co. ‘G’ a few days ago, but did not have an opportunity to howdy with them.  They all seemed to be in good spirits.  I am near them now, but you can imagine our opportunities for visiting. 

We are in the fight until it is over ’Over here’.  With best wishes. 


Marsh S. Watson
Ambulance Co. 358
315th Sanitary Train, A.E.F. 




Letter from Charles A. Corn to his mother, as printed in the September 27, 1918 issue of The Central Texan

Dear Mother: 

I will write you a few lines this morning.  How are you all by this time?  I wrote you several days ago, guess you have gotten it by this time.  How are papa and sister?  Tell sister to write to me.  Has Lewis ever been drafted yet?  I know it will nearly kill sister if he is.  But there is no use worrying, for I think it won’t be long before we can come back home, happier than when we left.  We are all enjoying life now so don’t worry about me.  I suppose you have got the Liberty Bond I had made to you.  If you have not, let me know in the next letter and I will see about it.  I saw Wallace Young the other day, and John Wood from Boone Prairie, but never got to talk to them.  Is Clyde Martin still in Waco?  We certainly have a nice lot of officers, and they sure do treat us good.  Well, Mama, I could tell you lots if I were there, but haven’t much to write.  Tell papa to take care of himself, as he is getting too old to work.  Tell him he can do as he please with my calves.  Guess they are large by this time.  Well Mama I will close for this time.  Give my love to all of you. 

From your son, 

Charles A. Corn
Battery E., 131st F.A.
A.E.F. via New York 




Letter from James H. Carter to his mother, as printed in The Central Texan, October 4, 1918: 

France, Aug. 18, 1918 

Dear Mama: 

How are you?  I am well and doing fine.  That’s about all I can say.  We are having an easy time now.  You ought to see my pet; it is a Belgium kitten and it is sure a dandy.  It is just a big white soft snowball.  The Trench Artillery got him in Belgium and gave him to me.  If I get to come home I am going to bring him with me. 

How are Nell and Nina by this time?  I am now where the Americans fought their biggest battles.  I have seen quite a lot of war the last few weeks.  I sure wish I could come home but I want to stay till the war is over.  I hope and pray that I can come home to you some day in the near future.  I am lonesome tonight.  I would give anything to talk to you for a while.  I know it would help me to talk to you and tell you all I think.  Mother, I do hope you are feeling well and please don’t worry about me; it doesn’t do any good.  Look on the bright side all the time.  I am doing my best so don’t worry.  Give sis, kids and Chas. my best regards.  Tell Chas. to write me a long letter of foolishness for I am glad to get any kind of letter. 

Don’t you ever say anything about watermelons to me again.  If I were to see a melon I would tip my hat to it.  Answer soon and a long letter.  Love to you, sis, and kids.  I love you. 


Pvt. Jas. H. Carter
U.S. No.270454
Co. F. 117 Sup. Train
A.E.F., France 




Letter to Mrs. L. C. Dryman from her son, Thos. H. Dryman, as printed in The Central Texan for October 4, 1918: 

Somewhere in France

Dear Mother: 

Your most appreciated letter received yesterday and was certainly glad to hear from you all again.  I am well and have been having a real good time.  Don’t know where we are going to from here.  Haven’t done any fighting yet; in fact, we haven’t gone on the firing line but don’t know how soon we will be in real battle.  This is an awful beautiful country.  It is hills all covered with green bushes.  No, mother, you may keep the picture.  Was it made at Camp Travis and was there a truck in the picture? 

Mother, some buildings over here are several hundred years old.  One place is said to have been put up before the birth of Christ.  I haven’t seen it but many buildings are over two and three hundred years old.  The people over here live under the same roof with their stock.  I mean many of them do. 

Some of the girls are real pretty but I can’t say they are one tenth as good looking as some of our American girls.  The Americans never lose a fight.  They are pushing forward every day and capturing many thousand Germans and guns.  Well I haven’t much time to write but will write soon and tell you more.  Answer at once. 

Your son, 

Cpl. Thos. H. Dryman
Co. G. 360 Inf.
American E.F.



Letter from Aubrey McNeel to his parents, as printed in The Central Texan, issue of October 11, 1918: 

Somewhere in France
August 23, 1918 

My dear Parents: 

I have promised to write often and as I don’t how often mine leaves here, I will play safe and write at least once a week.  I know you will always be looking for mail, even if you don’t get it, and I know how anxious you will always be to hear from me. 

I can’t write a decent letter.  The things I would like to write about most is not allowed.  I am o.k. and am being well treated.  We are not having any hard training, in fact we don’t do anything but attend school all day.  We are now getting the book learning upon this war.  When we left Camp Bowie we were supposed to have had our full training.  We don’t know when we will advance to the line.  Even if we did know I could not tell anyone; in France we are not allowed to tell anything. 

I am still in love with France; am sure if we were have the opportunity to visit the larger cities we will still like it better.  We have seen quiet a bit of it already, and as I have said, it is a grand country to have been in war for such a long period.  It is almost a puzzle to see how well the general surroundings are. 

One strange thing about France is we never see a farm house; all the houses are in the villages.  Seems that all the farmers live here in the village and go to and from their farm each day.  You no doubt know that they have no real farms here; a man cultivating a few acres here is considered a farmer.  They don’t grow anything much except grain of all kinds.  Some of the finest grain is grown here that I have ever seen.  We see no men doing this work, it is most all done by the women.  All the men are in the trenches.  Of course all the old men are still to be seen. 

Another thing, all the stock in France are of the very finest breed and are all fat.  They have a law here that requires them to keep them in good condition.  Wish you could see some of these large horses.  They are something immense, the largest I have ever seen.  I guess it is a good thing they are of the large type for they do have some awful loads to pull.  Never see horses placed two together as we Americans do; they put them in single file, sometimes as many as five horses.  Most all their wagons have only two wheels. 

One thing I will assure you, I will never get into this so-called bad company.  I promise you I’ll associate with only the very best and sober boys.  I have absolutely no desire to be the any other kind.  You need not have the least fear of my doing otherwise.  Even if I do steer clear of these so-called bad fellows I appreciate your calling my attention to it as often as you like.  A little friendly warning is often helpful to a fellow.  It’s easy for me to retain my manhood.  I know I have had perfect training, then why would I deliberately turn upon my boyhood training.  Not a chance.  I expect to walk the straight and narrow path while here above all other places. 

Your loving son, 

Aubrey McNeel 

P.S. Albert, I am making good use of the pipe in France; it has been lots of company to me.  I  have managed for some Prince Albert and I can make an awful cloud with it. 




Letter from Collie Bishop to his parents, as printed in The Central Texan for November 8, 1918: 

In France, Sept. 18, 1918 

My dear Parents: 

I suppose you know by this time that I have landed safely on this side of the Atlantic, as several of the boys from home have written their folks to tell you I was here. 

I sincerely hope you feel that I am all o.k. for in all sincerity I can say “so far, so good”.  Kiss Florence for me.  Florence, we are in “billets” in a village here, the same of which I cannot divulge to you, but when I get back home again I will tell you all about it. 

The weather has been a bit unpleasant but our “quarters” are dry and we are pretty comfortable; of course we get a fairly stiff workout, in preparation for the time when we will get into the “game” but that puts a keen edge on our appetites and we never have had to suffer from hunger. 

My health is exceptionally good, and there is always something taking place that breaks the monotony and makes the going easier.  So don’t you worry one bit about me; I know if you were here and could see for yourself just how I am situated your mind would be untroubled on that score.  The boys on the front line are surely breaking up the German’s playhouse according to all accounts and if they keep it up the whole thing is going to end before we think.  I surely wish you could see this country; it is beautiful and interesting.  The customs, the dress, and the manners of the people are so different in many respects to ours back home, that one feels almost as if he were living in another age. 

You see old women clattering over the cobblestones in wooden shoes, pushing loaded wheelbarrows before them or carrying bundles that in the States would be considered a load for an able-bodied man, or you may meet them on the road, driving herds of milk cows or sheep out of town to graze on the pastures.  The horses are the finest I have ever seen; big, strong draft animals that look able to pull most anything.  But I might write all night and not be able to tell you all the interesting things we see every day and I know my working acquaintance with the American language is too limited to do it justice. 

How about all of you?  Are you all well and happy and are you getting every bit of joy and contentment out of life?  Do so by all means; I’ll be happier to know that you are, and you’ll be in better health and spirits by doing so. 

How is the cotton crop and is most of it gathered by now?  How are Leonard and his two “Jennies” getting along?  Write me as often as possible and your letters will reach me sometime.  Must close now, with love and best wishes to all of you, I am your son. 





Letter to Mrs. S. L. Locklier from her son, Billie, as printed in The Central Texan, December 6, 1918: 

On Active Service
Oct. 24. 

Dear mother: 

I am feeling fine; just came in from the front.  Well, mother, we are winning this war as fast as any soldiers in the world could, so don’t worry for your old boy is coming home some sweet day. 

I feel that I am going to be spared.  Last night the Germans shelled the place where I was but thanks to our God, I wasn’t touched.  I never will forget the first trip to the front.  Will tell you all about it when the war is over.  I will write as often as possible.  Well, dinner is ready. 

With love, 





Letter from Albert E. Holloman to his father,
as it appeared in The Central Texan of January 3, 1919: 

La Valbonne Ain, France
Nov. 23, 1918 

Dear Dad: 

Haven’t heard from you in a long time, but tomorrow has been set aside as Father’s Day and all of the boys here are going to write what is called “Dad’s Christmas Victory Letter”, which I suppose you will get about Christmas time.  I have been getting along fine in both health and in my work here at school.  The work has been pretty hard but I have stood it so far and am going to try and stick it out. 

Believe me I sure would like to have been there when you all heard about the signing of the armistice.  There sure was some rejoicing in this country.  The boys celebrated all night long and we were given a holiday next day.  Everybody was looking forward to the signing of the armistice and now that it is signed, we are all waiting the command to board a transport that is destined to land on the shores of the good old U.S.  Believe me that will be some happy day for us boys over here.  We all feel that our job in France has been finished and finishing touches here have been put on in great style.  Now we are ready to begin life anew as a civilian among our friends and loved ones. 

I sent you a paper, “The Stars and Stripes”, a few days ago.  It tells how the big fight ended on all the fronts and how our boys acted.  I only wish I could have been there. 

Well, I hope this reaches you o.k. for it contains my best wishes and love to all.  May this be the happiest Christmas of your lives.  I only hope I will be there to enjoy it with you.  Then it would be the happiest Christmas of my life, I believe, altho I hardly think it possible to be there. 

Kiss all the children and Miss Susie for me.  Tell everybody hello and write me soon.  It seems so long between letters, it being over a month since I received a letter from anyone. 

Will close with love, best wishes and a merry Christmas to all. 

Your loving son,





Letter from Milton A. Healey to his family, as printed in The Central Texan of January 10, 1919: 

Paris, France
Dec. 15

Dear Ones All: 

Am in Paris now, am President Wilson’s “Honor Guard“, so you may see your son is having his foot in it all. 

Was with the 7th until I got wounded on Oct. 9.  Now I am with Co. H. 158th Inf., 40th Division.  Don’t know how long I will be with this company. 

Have not had any mail since I left the 7th.  Hope to get some from the States before long, if I can stay in one place long enough.  Tell Mrs. Morris that Jack is still with me. 

There was an “honor guard” picked out the 158th Infantry for President Wilson and I was one of the lucky ones.  The men are all over six feet.  Believe me we are “some” guards, all one size. 

Hope I can get some letters from you all some time.  Will wring off for now. 

With love, 




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