13 November 2020

A Veteran's Day Remembrance

This is a picture, according to the handwritten note on the back, of the “Campbell house in Milesburg” (Pennsylvania). Also, on the back is written “Herbert had taken it to send to Lester”. Herbert would be my paternal grandfather, Herbert J. Campbell and Lester would have been his brother, Lester Lyman Campbell.

Campbell house
The Campbell house in Milesburg, PA

 Herbert never served.  He registered for the draft on 12 September 1918 but was either never drafted or died before he could be called up.  At the time he was working for the Postal Service as a “mail carrier”.  I don’t know if his being employed in a government position had any bearing on his draft status or not.  Interestingly, on his death certificate just some four months later, his wife lists his occupation as barber. 

Draft record
Herbert Campbell's draft record

Lester, on the other hand, did serve.  His veteran’s compensation application shows that he served from 1 April 1918 to 29 May 1919.  He was overseas for almost a year; 23 May 1919 to 5 May 1919.  His unit, "A" Battery, 321st Field Artillery, was involved in several campaigns as part of the storied 82nd Airborne.  


VA Application
Lester Campbell's VA Application

In the picture of the Campbell house you can see the service flag on the wall by the folks sitting in the porch swing.  This flag shows that a family member is on active duty during any period of war time or other hostilities.

The 1910 and 1920 census records have Lester at home with his parents on Pike Street in Milesburg.  That would mean that sitting on that swing might be my great grandparents, Samuel W. Campbell and Eleanor Adaline (Addie) Taylor.  The young girl might be my 1C1R, Adaline Campbell, daughter of Herbert and Lester’s sister Florence Taylor Campbell and her husband Oscar Campbell.  As far as I can tell Oscar was not related to our Campbell branch.  If that’s true then this is the only picture I have of Samuel and Addie.

Also in the picture, which has been colorized using the free service at My Heritage, is a flag hanging in the window close to Samuel & Addie.  It looks to me like a Red Cross flag, but I’m not sure.  The colorization process didn’t seem to give the service flag the correct colors as the border should be red, but the cross does have a bit of a red hue to my eye.  If anyone know the significance of this flag, please let me know.  Did it indicate the home was open for some kind of support?  Maybe a meeting house or refuge?  Lester’s VA application shows he was not injured during the war, so I don’t think it was specific to his service.

Campbell House Colorized
The Campbell house - colorized

 My grandmother, Josephine Bodle Campbell, Herbert’s wife, is who wrote the note on the back of the picture.  Sadly, she didn’t date the photograph.  I wonder if all the bunting in red, white, and blue was for the armistice, or if they just put it all up to honor Lester.  The WW1 version of a yellow ribbon.

The photo I have is actually a postcard. I have seen places that will take a photo and put it on any kind of device, from coffee mugs, t-shirts, and yes even print them!  Imagine printing a photograph and not just looking at them on your phone!  Of course there was no such thing as a digital photograph back then.  It would appear that this postcard was never sent.  Hopefully, Herbert had more than one copy printed and did send one to his brother during the war.

Lester is just one of many of my family to serve in the military.  I have found records for just about every conflict for cousins and direct line men and women.  And though this post may a day or two late for Veteran’s Day, Remembrance Day, or Armistice Day, however you may honor it, it is in no way due to lack of respect.  As an Army retiree and the father of a currently serving soldier, only Memorial Day holds a greater honor to my brothers and sisters who have served our country.


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