Monday, July 9, 2018

Military Monday: WWI Veteran Frank Amos

The Amos family. Frank Amos is the young man on the left.

In her typescript, Aunt Elsie remembered that her uncle Frank Amos was “killed while he was in the infantry, World War No I.” This was one of the instances in which Elsie was less accurate. Frank Amos did, indeed, serve in World War I, but he was not killed in the war.

The service records of the millions of English soldiers who served the WWI were stored in the War Office, which sustained bomb damage during WWII, destroying about two-thirds of the records. But some of the records were salvaged. These are known as the “Burnt Records.” Frank Amos’ record was among these fortunate ones. And it is very lucky for me, indeed, because I owe much of what I know about Frank and his family to these Burnt Records. And, also due to these records, I can trace his service with more completeness than any of my other WWI veterans.

Firefighters putting out a blaze in London after an air raid during The Blitz in 1941.
By New York Times Paris Bureau Collection [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Frank Amos was called up for service on 2 Mar 1917, and his physical fitness was approved the following day. He reported his age as 30 years and 4 months, and he was 5 feet and 6 ¾ inches tall. His profession in civilian life was “barman,” which is no great surprise. He had been born and raised at a pub, after all. (See my posts on the Creeksea Ferry.) He was married to a woman named Frances Daisy Appleby, whom he had married on the 19th of some month in 1912 (there is a hole burnt through the month; there is a reason these are known as the “Burnt Records”), and they had a son, William George, born 19 Oct 1913.

Frank was posted on 3 Mar 1917 to the 4th Battalion of the Essex Regiment. He is again recorded as being posted to the 4th Essex on 9 Mar 1917. I am uncertain why both dates are recorded, but at this time I still have little experience in deciphering these service records. At any rate, the 4th Essex was crossing the Sinai Desert to participate in the Palestine campaign at the time. It proceeded to engage in all three battles of Gaza. But Frank would have been with them for only the first two, because on 23 May 1917 he was transferred to the 301st Depot of the 5th Labour Battalion.

Egyptian Labour Corps landing stores near Gaza during World War I
By C. Guy Powles (1872–1951) [1][2] [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Labour Corps was manned in part by soldiers who had been wounded or otherwise rated below the “A1” condition required for front line fighting. Therefore, I have to wonder if Frank had been injured in battle. His Medical History in his service record is difficult to read, much of it apparently having been written in pencil. However, there are a few clues. Under “Slight defects but not sufficient to cause rejection,” which would seem to have been recorded at the time of his enlistment, is written “states trouble with left ankle.” Perhaps the trouble with his ankle had increased and disqualified him. There is also an entry indicating that he had been examined on 4 May 1917. This is a few weeks after the second Battle of Gaza, which would seem to indicate that he was probably not injured in that battle, as he would presumably been examined much sooner. (This is just me making assumptions, though. As stated before, I am no expert on these service records, nor am I particularly knowledgeable about military procedure.) But it is only a few weeks before his transfer to the Labour Corps, so it would seem quite possible that the transfer was a result of the examination. The full entry reads
Examined by No 1. TMG. + placed
in Cat B II.
Strangely, the first line is dark and clear, as though written in pen, but the second line is faded and appears to be in pencil, or at least a lighter shade of ink. Together, though, they would seem to say that he is no longer considered to be in A1 condition, but in B2. In that case, his transfer to the Labour Corps makes sense. But the two different writing materials still confuse me. (I am pondering the effects of the heat of fire on ink, and wondering if that may explain the difficulty in reading some portions of this record.)

I have not been able to locate details on the relevant companies of the Labour Corps, so cannot trace with any precision Frank’s movements up to the end of the war. It seems that little research has been done on the companies made up of Englishmen. The Labour Corps also made use of hundreds of soldiers of other ethnicities, in segregated companies, which are beginning to be examined for their historical significance, especially in regard to British colonialism. Without dismissing this important research, I can’t help but selfishly hope that more information on the English units soon appears. All I can currently manage is to list the companies (or as much as could be read of the companies—some of their names were partially burnt) in which Frank served:
Employ Coy, 363
H. S. Emp Coy, 246, 363, 586, 587
Agric Coy, 435
E. C. L. C.
H. S. E. Coy, 583
Although I could not verify this supposition, I think that “Coy” is an abbreviation for “Company.”

While Frank was with the 586th or 587th Employment Corps, on 11 Aug 1918, his wife Daisy passed away at the Union Infirmary in Rochford, Essex. Her cause of death was certified as “phthisis,” which is a type of tuberculosis. Frank evidently acquired leave in order to be at her side, as he is the recorded informant on her death certificate. Their son William George would have been a few months shy of five years old. But Frank did not get to stay with his son. The war was not yet over, and Frank had to return to his duty. 

Rochford, Essex, England
By Terryjoyce [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], from Wikimedia Commons

He was posted to the 435th Agricultural Coy on 24 Aug 1918, and was apparently serving with them when the armistice was signed. He remained in the Labour Corps, however, moving through two more companies, until 23 Mar 1919, when he was transferred to the East Kent Regiment, the “Buffs.” There appears to be a detailed comment in regard to this transfer, but the ink is so faded I was unable to make out any of it. He was transferred to Class “Z” Army, a reserve contingent of discharged soldiers authorized in case of violations of the armistice, on Christmas Eve of 1919, hopefully just in time to celebrate Christmas with his son.


Elsie Crocker, "Elsie Crocker" (typescript, 1990s); copy in possession of Amber Brosius.

England, "Soldiers’ Documents, First World War ‘Burnt Documents’," Frank Amos' enrolment papers, et al; digital images, Operations Inc, Ancestry ( : accessed 25 Mar 2011).

Monday, July 2, 2018

Military Monday: WWI Veteran Albert Hoyt

Thank you to my cousin who sent me these wonderful pictures of Albert Hoyt in his Army uniform.
In this one, Albert is on the left. The other people are unidentified.

This week I will discuss (albeit briefly) the service of the only World War I veteran in my direct line: my great-grandfather Francis Albert Hoyt, Sr. He enlisted in the United States Army on 22 Oct 1918. Of course, the war ended on 11 Nov 1918, less than a month later, so he never saw any action. He was discharged on 29 Apr 1919, having served his six months. I have thus far been unsuccessful in identifying his unit or where he was stationed. However, I do know that he had enlisted in Missouri.
Albert Hoyt at attention in camp.


1925 Iowa state census, Pottawattamie, Iowa, population schedule, Council Bluffs Ward 5, dwelling 3510 5th Ave, line 106-107, household of F. A. Hoyt; digital images, Operations Inc, Ancestry ( : accessed 19 Feb 2010); citing Microfilm of Iowa State Censuses, 1856, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925 as well various special censuses from 1836-1897 obtained from the State Historical Society of Iowa via Heritage Quest.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, "U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS [Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem] Death File, 1850-2010," database, Ancestry ( : accessed 11 Jun 2016), entry for Francis Hoyt; citing Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) Death File. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Military Monday: WWI Veteran Lee Brosius

Lee Brosius, with his wife Hazel, obviously some time after the Great War.

Since I have been featuring the World War I veterans of the Brosius family, I may as well write about the last one before I move on to another branch of the family. This is my grandfather and Uncle Ormond’s brother, and Harry’s half-brother, Lee Brosius. Unfortunately, all I know about Lee’s service is encapsulated in one terse sentence of Lewis W. Brosius’s Genealogy of Henry and Mary Brosius: 
Was in a balloon company in World War, did not go across.
No, it is not true that I know nothing else. I know also that he enlisted on 13 July 1918 and was discharged on 28 Dec 1918. Now we have truly reached the extent of my knowledge. Thus far I have been unable to locate any records which indicate in which company he served or where he was stationed. Perhaps someday I will learn more.
Real-photo postcard of a military balloon being raised for take-off during World War I. A group of unidentified soldiers is seen holding the balloon ropes (Undated) [Photograph by: Shaffer].
From Thomas C. Alston Papers, WWI 66, WWI Papers, Military Collection, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, N.C.


Lewis W. Brosius, Genealogy of Henry and Mary Brosius and Their Descendants with Other Historical Matters Connected Therewith Also Some Short Accounts of Other Families Bearing the Brosius Name. (N.p.: n.p., 1928), 398.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS [Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem] Death File, 1850-2010,” database, Ancestry ( : accessed 13 Apr 2015), entry for Lee Brosius; citing Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) Death File. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Military Monday: WWI Veteran Harry Brosius

The only photograph I have ever seen of Harry Brosius; he is the elder boy.
The baby is his oldest half-brother Marshall.

This week I shall highlight the World War I service of my grandfather’s half-brother, Harry Brosius. He had previously enlisted in the Spanish-American War, but seems to have served only about a month before he was discharged for being “unsuited to the service.” His hometown newspaper elaborated slightly more, by saying that he “was honorably discharged for disability, having a foot that had been hurt once, or something of the kind.” 

His injured foot did not seem to affect his service in the Great War, however. He enlisted from Tucumcari, New Mexico on 26 Mar 1918, at the age of 36. Beginning as a private in Company F of the 30th Engineers, he departed Hoboken, New Jersey, for Europe aboard the President Grant on 30 June 1918. A letter to his father shortly after his arrival in Europe was printed in the Sedan Times-Star:

From Harry Brosius.
          Somewhere in France.

Dear Dad:

At last I will try and write you a few lines to let you know that I am still alive and not far from the front but we can't hear the boom of the guns yet and don't know when that will happen.

I had quite a trip coming over. We were about twelve days making the trip and the weather was fine with the exception of one day when it rained and we also had a little excitement as a sub put in its appearance and disappeared very quick when the cruiser and a destroyer fired about a dozen shots. We could see the periscope from the ship I was on. Some of the men seem to think there was nothing to it, but I saw it so believe it.

This is a pretty country and the crops look fine. You see lots of wheat, oats, barley and potatoes, but not very much corn; a little alfalfa and quite a bit of clover. The stock looks fine. What cattle I saw were fat and look as though they were well fed and the horses the same. They work them differently than we do. Instead of working two abreast they string them out and don't use wagons, but two wheeled carts and can haul a fair sized load. They are away behind the U. S. in harvesting as they cradle their crops and I have only seen two binders so far, but they don't have large fields like we do. I presume that is why.

We were two days and three nights traveling on one of the most uncomfortable railroad trains I ever rode upon. You had to enter into the side of the car and you couldn't lay down or get up and walk around when the train was in motion and the seats were very straight backs and no toilets on the trains and every time they would stop it would be anywhere from fifteen minutes to four hours. It took us two days and three nights to go about 5000 miles and I was worn out when I did get off and haven't had any rest to speak of. I guess I can't stand to hit the ball like I used to.

I have been trying to locate Ormond but that is impossible as they don't allow us to divulge any names of towns and places and such being the case, one hardly knows what to write about but presume that when we get into action for awhile will have some interesting things to tell you in the line of experiences and may possibly bring back a few souvenirs. We can send home such as helmets, buttons and medals we take from the Germans, but they are very particular about other articles such as postcards, handkerchiefs and other small articles.

Well, Dad, I hope you are holding your own and everybody else the same. Will close this time. As ever,--Harry. F. Co. 30th Engineers, American Expeditionary Forces. via New York.

The Ormond he had been trying to locate was his half-brother, and the subject of last week’s post. (I would also like to thank the WikiTree user Natalie Trott, who shared this article, among others, with me.)

Harry was in the action soon enough. He later related to Lewis Brosius, author of Genealogy of Henry and Mary Brosius and Their Descendants, that he “was sergeant in Gas Guard of Chemical Warfare Service in 89th Division and was in St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne drives and with the army of occupation on the Rhine.” Ormond seems to have also been in these drives, but it is unknown whether they managed to find one another while overseas. Ormond was in an artillery unit.

World War I: American troops pouring into the St. Mihiel salient, toward Mont Sec, on the morning of September 12, 1918
By Committee on Public Information [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By the end of the war, Harry had advanced to the rank of corporal in the 6th Casual Company Chemical Warfare Service. He departed Le Havre aboard the S.S. La Lorraine on 23 Mar 1919, and was discharged on 18 Apr 1919. He brought home a very significant souvenir, as described in the Sedan Times-Star:
In reading the war news you perhaps remember the term "shell splinters" in connection with various ways in which the men were wounded. Harry Brosius who is recently back is carrying a "shell splinter" but fortunately in his pocket and not in his anatomy. This particular "splinter" has a special interest for Harry because he was ducked down on account of a suspicion that something was due to come along and that was what came. It buried in the planking above him and when he straightened up he determined that his forehead would have been right in the way of it had he been standing erect. An exploding shell is shattered into fragments of many sizes and shapes. This particular "splinter" is a jagged edged chunk almost as large as two fingers and weighs several ounces and looks capable of tearing off a leg or an arm or even very much worse if it struck right and with full force.
(Thank you again to WikiTree user Natalie Trott.) 



General News, Sedan Times-Star, 8 May 1919, p. 4, col. 1-2; digital images, ( : accessed 5 Jun 2018).

Harry Brosius, enlisted 17 June 1899, discharged 20 July 1899; Register of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914; Records of the Adjutant General’s Office; digital images, Ancestry, “U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914,” Ancestry ( : accessed 10 Feb 2014). 
Harry Brosius in El Paso Enlistments: U.S.N.A.--Jan. 1, 1918, to April __; Mixed Lists of Enlistees; New Mexico Adjutant General Records; digital images, Operations, Inc., “New Mexico, World War I Records, 1917-1919,” Ancestry ( : accessed 29 May 2018). 
Harry Brosius; U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963; Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General; digital images, Ancestry, "U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963," Ancestry ( : accessed 16 Feb 2014). 
Letters From the Soldier Boys,” Sedan Times-Star, 29 Aug 1918, p. 1, col. 4; digital images, ( : accessed 4 Jun 2018).

Lewis W. Brosius, Genealogy of Henry and Mary Brosius and Their Descendants with Other Historical Matters Connected Therewith Also Some Short Accounts of Other Families Bearing the Brosius Name. (N.p.: n.p., 1928), 398. 
Sedan Lance, 3 Aug 1899, p. 5, col. 3; digital images, America’s GenealogyBank ( : accessed 19 Nov 2011), Historical Newspapers. 
U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939,” online images, Ancestry ( : accessed 29 May 2018), manifest, President Grant, 30 June 1918, entry no. 21, for Harry Brosius, service no. 1199178. 
“U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939,” online images, Ancestry ( : accessed 29 May 2018), manifest, S.S. La Lorraine, 23 Mar 1919, entry no. 27, for Harry Brosius, service no. 1199178.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

WWII: Japanese Anti-American Propaganda in New Guinea

Mister Doughboy, Mister Doughboy,
Gee, what a guy! You sure look pie to me.
–Jack Davey

This may seem like a tangent before the post has really even started, but I am a big fan of the old TV show M*A*S*H, and watch the reruns broadcast on MeTV almost every weeknight. Several weeks ago an episode aired in which the characters of Hawkeye and Trapper John had to defuse an unexploded bomb that had fallen into the compound. There were some tense minutes, followed by the revelation that it was a propaganda bomb, and it showered the camp with leaflets advising surrender.

Although this television show depicts a different war than the one I am thinking of, the scene reminded me I needed to finish a blog post that I began long ago.

During the course of WWII, almost a million U.S. service personnel passed through Australia and New Zealand. Initially, the American allies were welcomed almost as saviors. The British, Australia’s traditional allies, had announced their intention to focus on protecting England, leaving Australians feeling defenseless against what seemed at the time a real possibility of Japanese invasion. The arrival of the American troops, therefore, promised much needed support for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). In addition to this, they represented an idea of glamour as epitomized by Hollywood.

“In some ways, these soldiers matched the Hollywood image: their manners impressed Australian women (calling women ‘Ma’am’ and men ‘sir’) and their uniforms were better looking than the baggy uniforms of the Australian soldiers.” (“Americans”)
In addition to impressing women with their manners and uniforms, the American soldiers were also better paid than their ANZAC counterparts, and had little to spend it on besides a search for a good time. Many of the Australian and Kiwi women began to prefer Americans socially for these reasons. It was not long before the sense of relief felt by the ANZAC soldiers changed into jealousy.

This was of great concern to the ANZAC troops stationed in New Guinea, far away from their wives and sweethearts. And this concern was seized upon by the enemy, who hoped to use it to destroy morale in the ANZAC camps. Now, as far as I have discovered, none of my near relatives served in the South Pacific; they all seem to have been in the European Theater, and certainly none of them were ANZAC; but soldiers in both theaters had a tendency to pick up souvenirs to take home. These souvenirs were often traded around. So, through some channel or another, my great-uncle Lowell Brosius ended up with a stack of gloriously illustrated and colored anti-American leaflets.

This first one portrays a languorous embrace leaning in to a kiss, worthy of a turn-of-the-century romantic picture postcard. The man in the picture is obviously an American soldier, with superfluous American flags scattered over his uniform. The dreamy colors and style of the main image are juxtaposed against a gory rendition of dead ANZAC soldiers under a ragged and broken flag. The words are equally jarring:
Hey! You diggers!
He came, he saw, he conquered!
Thinking you “diggers” will never come back
alive, tha BLACKS and tha YANKS are
raping your wives, your daughters, your
sweethearts—they’re helpless without your
protection. Your future happiness is at stake!
One less Aussie simply means one more Yank
“safely” in the home. Surely you’ll not give up
your lives to make this possible.

It is an unsubtle appeal to the fears and prejudices of soldiers far from home.

The second flyer is in an entirely different style, with bright colors and a sequential layout.

The first panel reads, “We were the happiest of couples,” and shows a well-dressed man and woman arm-in-arm and smiling at each other. The background is a bright, sunny yellow. The second panel reads, “Until our tearful parting, Oh! how she wept!” It shows what is apparently meant to be the same couple, but the man is now wearing an Army uniform. The woman is crying and they are tenderly embracing. Her fur stole, which she had been wearing in the first pane, is hanging on the man’s arm, and the background is a somber bluish green, with the edge of a curtain indicating that they are now indoors. The third and final panel reads, “But, no sooner had I left, my wife was told that I’d never come back.” The woman, whose bust size seems to have increased exponentially, is now dressed in a tight tank top and short, shiny skirt. She is smiling lasciviously as a man, obviously a different man than in the first two panels, sets her onto a very soft-looking bed. A death’s head in an Army helmet and the suggestion of a uniform watches grimly from the head of the bed. The implication is, of course, that as soon as she thought her man was not returning, she went right out and found herself someone new. This time there is no hint in the picture (or none that I can recognize) that the other man is an American. But the fear of cuckoldry remains.

The third flyer, headlined “Australia Screams,” sneaks in some titillation for its recipients. It is also my personal favorite (but not for that reason).

On the left, somewhat to the background, an Australian soldier stands, bandaged and with bent bayonet, on a blood-soaked New Guinea. The words above him read:
The Aussie: “What was that scream. Something up?”
He is looking toward Australia, whereon an American soldier has planted the Stars and Stripes and is holding a woman in his arms. The woman, quite unlike the women in the first two flyers, is trying to fight him off, and is (perhaps as a result of the struggle?) in a state of dishabille. Her skirt is draped down, exposing her undergarment, and her blouse is unbuttoned, exposing her... lack of an undergarment. One of her hands is pushing against her captor’s smirking face, and the other one is drawn back in a fist. The words above read:
The Yank: “ Quiet, girlie. Calm yourself He’ll be on the next casualty list. No worry”
The finial from the American flag’s pole is sharper than the bayonet’s blade and pointed directly at the Australian soldier’s heart.

The fourth flyer again visits the idea of Americans as the assailants of Australia, but this time without the violation of women. Instead, it is more of a deathly violation of Australia itself.

“The Spectre Commands,” proclaims the title in red letters reminiscent of those used in the titles of eerie horror movies. The titular Spectre appears as a waxy greenish-faced President Roosevelt in the robes of the Grim Reaper. The text reads:
Thou shalt go, Americans,
and eat the Australians
out of their homes
if necessary......
   The Americans
will fight to the last
This Grim Reaper/Roosevelt towers over a gruesome Australian soldier, blue with death, eyes unclosed and bulging. He has been stabbed in the abdomen by the staff of an American flag, and his blood has poured out profusely, dripping off the edges of the continent of Australia. His hand lifelessly dangles into the ocean, the butt of his rifle floating up enough to show that he still holds it, useless as it now is. In my opinion, this image is the most disturbing of all the flyers. The earlier ones, despite the racist and/or misogynistic overtones, at least provided some cheesecake or romance for the men to enjoy. But this one is downright repulsive, though oddly compelling.

Not all of the flyers attacked the relationship between the Australians and the Americans. Some worked instead on the frustration of soldiers with their current situation.

This one represents New Guinea as an “Island of Deceit.” It is a bit harder for me to describe, as so many uniforms are depicted, and I am not sure if I accurately recognize them all. But perhaps specificity is not vital in this case. The three cartoonish, frightened figures in the middle are certainly representative of the soldiers intended to receive this propaganda, shown to be surrounded by large, imposing enemies. The enemies are wearing Japanese uniforms and carrying what appear to be Samurai swords. There is no escape for the Allied soldiers, as their retreat is cut off in front and back by the giant Japanese soldiers, and to the sides by the ends of the minuscule island. The text reads:
They were a “pushover”--were they?
Supplies were coming--did they?
Enforcement were on the way--are they?
NOW, where are you?
You stand between horrible DEATH--
and--reasonable surrender!
Obviously, the only option for the unfortunate tiny soldiers in the picture is to surrender to the giant enemies. Or die.

The final flyer, although still grim in intention, is much lighter in tone. It is entitled “Jilted, Re-Jilted.” I presume the first jilting must have been by his sweetheart for some interloping American, since I cannot identify any double jilting within the strip. The re-jilting seems to have been by the Army, which marooned him on a miniature island in the Pacific.

The first panel is labeled “Elation,” where the soldier dances in delight at the sight of an American ship on the horizon, which could be his salvation. This is quickly followed by “Deflation” in panel two. The soldier reels in shock as the ship is hit by either a bomb or a torpedo and sinks. But hope has returned in panel three with “Anticipation.” The soldier shades his eyes to make out the identity of the four ships now on the horizon. Panel four is titled “Perdition.” The soldier flings back his entire body in dismay, losing his rifle in the process, as he sees that the four ships bear Japanese flags. Finally, he reaches “Exasperation” in panel five, as three Japanese cannons aim at him. In his exasperation, he raises his fists Popeye-fashion at some distant power, disregarding the cannons at his back. “That blankety-blank President and his two-cent Promises---” he rages.

These six examples of Japanese propaganda aimed at Allied soldiers during WWII provide a vivid glimpse of what sorts of concerns soldiers stationed in the South Pacific might have suffered, and how their enemies tried to exploit them. The brilliant artwork and occasionally awkward language was engaging enough for some soldier to save, and to catch the eye of Uncle Lowell. I would be curious to learn what item he had collected in Europe to trade for these gems.


State Library of Victoria / Ergo, Ergo ( : accessed 15 Jun 2018), “Americans in Australia.”

Australian Government Department of Veterans' Affairs, Anzac Portal ( : accessed 15 Jun 2018), Australia and the Second World War: “Yanks down under - ‘Over-sexed, over-paid and over here.’

Monday, June 11, 2018

Military Monday: WWI Veteran Ormond Brosius

By US government related, H.R. Hopps 1917 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Halfway through the year, it finally dawns on me that this year is the one hundredth anniversary of the end of World War I. And so, rather belatedly, but fortunately not too late, I have decided to do a series of short posts on members of my family who served in that war. Some posts will be much shorter than others due to lack of information, but I feel I ought to share what I can.

This week I thought I would start with my great-uncle Ormond Brosius, because he seems the least distant from me, being the only WWI veteran in my family who I actually met. Granted, I don’t recall the meetings, having been a newborn at the time, and then again when I was about a year old, but I do recall his cabin up in the Grand Tetons. We visited there when I was seven or eight years old, years after his death. And my whole life my dad has delighted in sharing the wild second- and third-hand stories he remembered about his uncle. But today the focus is on his service in WWI.

In April of 1917, just a couple weeks after the United States declared war on Germany, Ormond enlisted in the U.S. Army. In 1979, he recounted the experience in a conversation with his brother Lowell. Oh, and I better warn you that there is some profanity in this transcription.


Ormond: Yes. I had to lie.

Lowell: Stay young, that’s the way.

Ormond: There was three of us. When war was declared there was three of us.

Lowell: Yeah, I know. Ma told me.

Ormond: Frank Geller and myself and Burt Sheridan. We got on the Missouri-Pacific and went up to Wichita to enlist. Well, they told their right age. I was 16, see, and they was 18. So we got in this line. They didn’t ask…

Lowell: That’s where the old bullshit started flying, huh?

Ormond: These boys was in the league of the [infantry?]. Ol’ Burt says, “I’m 18.” This old boy wrote it down. “Go on.” And Frank Geller was a-next. And they told him—

Lowell: Was this Mrs. Geller’s—

Ormond: Yes, Mrs. Geller that you was reading about. She just lived across the street. When they come to me, I told the truth. I said, “16.” And he said, “Young man, you come back in a couple of years.” So, the next morning I got right in this line, and when I got there I told them, “18.” “Go right ahead.” See? That’s how that happened. See. Boy, it pays to be a liar sometimes.

Lowell: Yeah, sometimes it does.

Ormond, in his mother's handwriting, "the day he inlisted."

His enlistment date was 24 Apr 1917. Presumably, the most part of the following year was spent in training. He was initially assigned to the 18th Field Artillery, and was already a sergeant by the time he sailed aboard the Aeolus from the port of Hoboken, New Jersey on 23 Apr 1918. He is said to have served in five major campaigns. Based on the units in which he is known to have served, these campaigns seem to have been the Second Battle of the Marne (15 July-6 Aug 1918), for which the 18th Field Artillery received the Croix de Guerre. This battle seems to have been broken up into three separate campaigns in which Ormond might have been engaged: the Champagne-Marne Offensive (15-18 July 1918), the Battle of Champagne (15 July 1918), and the Aisne-Marne Offensive (18 July-6 Aug 1918). He was also likely at the Battle of St. Mihiel (12-15 Sept 1918) and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive (26 Sept-11 Nov 1918).

The war ended on 11 Nov 1918. Ormond recalled his experiences following the armistice in his continuing 1979 conversation with his brother Lowell. My mom, Sugar, also got in on this part of the conversation a little.

Ormond: They put us, you know, we was regular army. And after November the eleventh, they quit fighting, you know. And they took us, we went in there, and all them little towns, Bulge, Kottenheim, [Main?] and all of them. They were only about three or four kilometers from one town to the other, see. And I was a sergeant. And I had twenty-six men. And they told me to put one man in a village, you know, a house, and I stayed in a house. And if I told you how many children or kids that old lady had, you wouldn’t believe me, so I won’t tell you. But I lived with them. And I didn’t know no more German than that horse that’s over there.

Sugar: Ha ha! What horse?

Ormond: So when I sit down to the table, all them kids. Now, she had [zweif swanson?]. Can you tell me what that was?

Lowell: I’ll tell you something, you know something. I can understand German now, and I can talk. I can eins, zwei, drei, vier, fünf, sechs, sieben. But to talk it anymore, I can’t… ’Cause I used to have to, you know, when I was young. Oh yeah, that’s Swiss, it’s the same thing. There’s high and low German.

Ormond: Well, that’s the way… And we’d sit down at this table, you know, with all these kids around. This is a big old lady. They didn’t have nothing to eat over there but kartoffeln, or potatoes, see.

Lowell: Rutabagas is another one that they...

Ormond: Yeah, and carrots, and stuff like that. And I’d point at something. We had a schoolteacher there, that stayed with them, old lady and them kids. And I’d point at something, and the kids would all tell me, you know. It didn’t take me long and I was talking—

Lowell: You can pick that up. It’s not that hard.

Sugar: If you wanted your food, you said it.

Ormond: Yeah. So one day they sent an orderly down from headquarters after me, for me to come to headquarters and I didn’t know that there was anybody there that understood English. And it made me mad, and I got to cussing and this schoolteacher, she was a German woman, but she’d been in Chicago one year teaching school. And she was there on a vacation. And they kept her, see. And she could talk English as good as I could. But I didn’t know it. And she could tell what I was saying. And she told me I ought to be ashamed of myself.

Eventually Ormond was sent back to the U.S. He traveled from Brest, France aboard the U.S.S. Madawaska to Brooklyn, New York, on 12 Aug 1919, arriving on 23 Aug 1919. His recorded release from service date is 22 Aug 1919, which seems curious given his date of arrival. I am not yet proficient enough in WWI research to know whether that is a regular procedure or a likely error.

Ormond, age 18, in Army uniform


Find A Grave, “Find A Grave,” database and images, Find A Grave ( : accessed 9 Nov 2009); Ormond John Brosius (Memorial #39305605); record added 10 July 2009 by Lovell Cemetery.

Ormond Brosius (Portland, Oregon), recording of conversation with family and friends by Sugar Brosius, Aug 1979; audio cassette, digitized to mp3 format privately held by Amber Brosius.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS [Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem] Death File, 1850-2010,” database, Ancestry ( : accessed 13 Apr 2015), entry for Ormond Brosius; citing Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) Death File. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939,” online images, Ancestry ( : accessed 9 Jun 2018), manifest, Aeolus, 23 Apr 1918, entry no. 40, for Ormond J. Brosius, service no. 1,042,684.

“U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939,” online images, Ancestry ( : accessed 9 Jun 2018), manifest, U.S.S. Madawaska, 12 Aug 1919, entry no. 1, for Ormond J. Brosius, service no. 1042684.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Isabella Cock’s parents

Now that I have explained my reasons for believing the parents of George Amos to be Abraham Amos and Isabella Cock, and have explored the paternal side, it is time to look to the maternal side. Against all odds, the maternal side has proved the easier to research in many respects.

Isabella Cock’s parents were Simon Cock and Mary Gurney. Their marriage was a bit tricky to prove without access to original records, but I am pretty satisfied with the conclusion. They were married on 24 Dec 1812 in Sturry, Kent, England. Mary’s birth location in later census records is given as Sturry, so the location, being the bride’s parish makes sense. The Tyler Index to Parish Records, one of my sources for the marriage, records that Simon is “of Tilmanstone.” Since Tilmanstone was where their family was raised, the groom also makes sense. 

Church of St. Nicholas, the parish church of Sturry, where Simon Cock and Mary Gurney were married.
pam fray [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Their first child, a son, William, was baptized on 13 Feb 1814 in Tilmanstone, Kent. My 3great-grandmother Isabella herself was next, baptized on 24 Apr 1815. Then came John on 17 June 1816, who must have died quite young, as another John was baptized the following year on 20 June 1817. (I have not, however, located a death or burial record for the first John.) Next came Simon on 27 Jan 1819, but he also passed away very young, and was buried on 3 June 1819.

There is a strange duplication of records for a baptism which took place on 26 Jan 1820; FamilySearch has records for both a Simon Edward and an Edward Simon on that date. It is possible that two sons were born twins and given identical names in reverse order, but I think it far more likely that it is an error introduced during transcription. Since I have not yet been able to examine the original records, I can state nothing with certainty. However, I am proceeding on the assumption that it is one child. 

The interior of St. Andrew’s, the parish church of Tilmanstone, where the children of Simon Cock and Mary Gurney were baptized.
John Salmon [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The next baptism for a child of Simon and Mary Cock appearing in the Tilmanstone records is for Frederic, on 26 Oct 1827. Last is Elizabeth Dorothy on 30 June 1829. There is, of course, a gap of nearly eight years between Simon Edward and Frederic. That is enough time for a few more children to have been born, but no records have been found. Perhaps there were miscarriages; Mary was by this time nearing the age of forty, and perhaps childbearing was becoming increasingly difficult for her. Perhaps Simon and Mary were separated from one another for some reason—Simon traveling elsewhere for work, maybe—and they quite simply had no opportunity to conceive any children during this time. Perhaps they moved to another parish during that period and I simply haven’t discovered the records.

In 1841, census records begin. The family is still living in Tilmanstone, and the census finds Simon and Mary with their children Edward (Edward Simon or Simon Edward of 1820), Frederick, Eliza (Elizabeth Dorothy). Also in the household are two younger children: Mary, age 6, and William, age 1. William is the illegitimate son of Isabella, and thus Simon and Mary’s grandson. Mary is likely also a grandchild, but her exact relationship has yet to be determined.

They are still residing in Tilmanstone at the time of the 1851 census. This is one of the censuses which helped in deciding that the marriage record in Sturry was the correct one, as Mary’s birthplace is recorded as Sturry. Simon’s is Ringwould, Kent. This census also brings the somewhat startling news that Simon is a pauper. That is, he is probably receiving “outdoor relief,” or money, from the local poor law union. He is in his late 60s at this point, so quite possibly he was unable to work. Simon and Mary’s children Edward and Elizabeth are still living with them, as is a granddaughter named Mary Ann (who is ineligible to be the mystery Mary of the 1841 census, as she is only four months old). Edward is working as an agricultural laborer, so perhaps he helped supplement the family’s small income. 

The former Eastry Union Workhouse and its attendant chapel.
Nick Smith [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By 1861, times seem to have gotten even harder. Simon and Mary have relocated to the Eastry Union Workhouse. Their birth places are again recorded, and Simon’s occupation is listed as an agricultural laborer. Only two months after the census enumeration, on 15 June 1861, Simon passed away in the workhouse. His death certificate pdf arrived just yesterday. His cause of death was old age and bronchitis. Mary seems to have lived a while longer.

Death certificate of Simon Cock, who died in 1861.


“England Marriages, 1538–1973,” database, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, FamilySearch ( : accessed 3 Dec 2017), entry for Simon Cook and Mary Gurney’s 1812 marriage; citing Sturry, Kent, England, reference item 4 p 180, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 1,737,093.

St. Nicholas’ church (Sturry, Kent, England), Kent, England, Tyler Index to Parish Registers, 1538-1874, entry for Simon Cook and Mary Gurney’s 1812 marriage; digital images, Operations, Inc., Ancestry ( : accessed 3 Dec 2017).

“England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 8 Oct 2017), entries for William Cock’s 1814 baptism, Isabella Cock’s 1815 baptism, John Cock’s 1816 baptism, John Cock’s 1817 baptism, Simon Cock’s 1819 baptism, Edward Simon Cock’s 1820 baptism, Simon Edward Cock’s 1820 baptism, Frederic Cock’s 1827 baptism, and Elizabeth Dorothy Cock’s 1829 baptism; citing Tilmanstone, Kent, England, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 1,835,794.

“England Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991,” database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 Oct 2017), entry for Simon Cock’s 1819 burial; citing Tilmanstone, Kent, England, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 1,835,794.

1841 census of England, Kent, Tilmanstone parish, District 5, Eythorn, Thanington civil parish, folio 10, page 16-17, household of Simon Cock; digital images, Operations, Inc, Ancestry ( : accessed 9 Oct 2017); citing PRO HO 107/470/14.

1851 census of England, Kent, village and parish of Tilmanstone, folio 474, page 16, household of Simon Cock (No. 60 of householder's schedule); digital images, Operations Inc, Ancestry ( : accessed 11 Oct 2017); citing PRO HO 107/1631.

1861 census of England, Kent, Eastry Union Workhouse, Eastry civil parish, folio 113, page 8, Simon Cock; digital images, Operations Inc, Ancestry ( : accessed 11 Oct 2017); citing PRO RG 9/539.

England and Wales, death certificate for Simon Cock, died 15 June 1861; citing 2a/416/451, Apr/May/Jun quarter 1861, Eastry registration district, Sandwich sub-district; General Register Office, Southport.