Brunswick County in the Great War arrives this week.

The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range is excited to announce the arrival of their book
Brunswick County in the Great War
Preserving the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range and the Legacies of the Men and Women Who Served.

Book signings and semi-drive-thru purchase

Book signings and semi-drive-thru purchase will be available during the next couple of Saturdays beginning
October 24, 2020, at the Caswell Beach Town Building, outside from noon-3:00 pm.

Masks and Social Distancing are the plan.

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A sneak peek: Brunswick County in the Great War

The past several months have been busy ones as we prepared our tribute to Brunswick County WWI veterans.

This photograph shows the hard copy proof of our book, Brunswick County in the Great War: Preserving the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range and the Legacies of the Men and Woman Who Served.

The book measures 8 1/2″ x 11″ and features 584 pages of large print, images, and photographs for easier reading.

A view of the pages with the US Army insignia and Table of Contents

The paperback price is $50 plus $6 shipping.

A hardcover version may be printed, based on demand.

Anyone interested in purchasing a copy of the book, contact
Norma Eckard at normaron@mindspring.com

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Our tribute to Brunswick County WWI veterans is available for pre-order.

Brunswick County in the Great War

WWI altered our nation and completely transformed our corner of North Carolina forever. Fort Caswell, an integral part of the national effort to become battle ready, served men and women as they became soldiers and nurses and began their journey to war.

This book is the culmination of more than 9 years of research by Dr. Norma Eckard, her daughter Amy and husband Ronald. These stories were collected and curated from local families and individuals who still carry the memories of war. Their project began as an effort to preserve the history of the recently recognized 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range, but it grew to also serve as a tribute to the soldiers and nurses who each had a connection to Fort Cawell. This book documents the sacrifices and triumphs that occur while serving their country during a time of war. Many of these stories have never been in print.

Brunswick County in the Great War is an important resource for anyone who loves local history. It is an accurate and colorful presentation of unbridled heroism, patriotism, and a deep love of family and nation. The spirit of these men and women still inspires us today.

Anyone interested in purchasing a copy of the book (584 pages), contact
Norma Eckard at normaron@mindspring.com

State Port Pilot news story published
July 8, 2020.

The paperback price is $50 plus $6 shipping.

A hardcover version may be printed, based on demand.

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All Brunswick County WWI veterans have been honored

Our last Brunswick County WWI veterans have been honored.

We thank the community for the amazing support!

To see the veteran list with donors, go to the Donor page.

This list will appear in the book, Brunswick County in the Great War: Preserving the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range and the Legacies of the Men and Women Who Served. If your name is listed and you would like to add your relationship to the veteran or just need to make a correction, please contact us soon, before the book is printed.

Thank you!

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William Wylie and Ledrew Sellers: a Wartime Friendship

The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range continues to prepare Brunswick County in the Great War: Preserving the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range and the Legacies of the Men and Women Who Served for publishing.

Kathryn Kalmanson, granddaughter of Brunswick County WWI veteran Craven Ledrew Sellers, graciously agreed to share her recent research. Thank you, Kathryn!

“Going through boxes of family papers, I discovered a little WWI gem among my grandfather’s papers. Being curious to identify the writer, I started searching.” The result is shared below. Kathryn was particularly amused at Mr. Wylie calling her grandfather a “splendid boy,” given that Wylie was several years younger.

Brion-S-Ource, France
May 2nd, 1919

Dear Dad:-
This will introduce to you Mechanic Sellers of Co I. 324 Inf who leaves for the States today, having received a discharge.

Sellers is a splendid boy and anything you can do to make his stay in Wilmington a pleasant one will be greatly appreciated by me.

Mech. Sellers is from close to Southport.

Sgt. W A Wylie

Insights into the letter of introduction written by Wylie
by Kathryn Kalmanson, granddaughter of Ledrew Sellers

The writer of the letter has been identified as William Abraham Wylie of Wilmington, NC, son of Robert John Knox Wiley, the intended recipient of the letter. Robert, who had come to Wilmington, NC, from Ohio, and his wife Mary lived at 14 Wrightsville Avenue (“at Carolina Place”) where he operated Wilmington Cooperage Company. His two sons, Dwight and William, also lived there and worked in the company. According to a 1908 newspaper article, Robert owned half of the shares in the company which manufactured “staves, headings, barrels, casks, etc.”

William and Ledrew had very different beginnings. William was born April 9, 1893, in Ohio. In 1915, when he was 20 years old, he is listed as foreman at the cooperage, with his father as vice president and his brother Dwight as a cooper. The Wilmington City Directory for 1917 lists William and Dwight as clerks and Robert as Vice President and Treasurer.

Ledrew was born at Supply, NC, on August 7, 1889, the second oldest of ten children born to Elisha and Theodosia Sellers. At that time Elisha was a farmer, and the children all helped with the running of the family farm which was located in the Lockwood’s Folly area of Brunswick County.

1918 was an eventful year for both William and Ledrew. On February first William married Charlotte Fennell and shortly after that the young couple established their own residence at 804 Market Street. A few months later, William received orders to report for military duty.

Mechanic Ledrew Sellers

Ledrew also married shortly before going into service. On May 20, 1918, he and his cousin Lelia Sellers were married at Supply, NC. Exactly one week later Ledrew was inducted, leaving his bride with his family as he went off to war.

It was the war that brought these two young men together. They were inducted on the same day, May 27, 1918, assigned to the same unit, Company I 324th Infantry, and sent to Camp Jackson for training. The unit departed from New York on August 5, 1918, bound for France.

Both men received promotions while serving in France, Private Ledrew becoming Mechanic and Private William becoming a sergeant. It may be that William became Ledrew’s commanding officer and in that context wrote the enthusiastic letter of introduction. Or perhaps they simply became friends while serving together or while waiting in St. Nazaire for departure to the states.

Discharge papers for Mechanic Craven Ledrew Sellers

Ledrew left on May 17, 1919, nearly two weeks after the letter of introduction was written, sailing from St. Nazaire aboard the Antigone, bound for Newport News, VA. Home at last, Ledrew was honorably discharged from service on the first of June 1919. One week later, on June 7, 1919, William sailed from St. Nazaire aboard the Martha Washington to begin the long trip home.

The Wylie House, ca. 1914, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
William and Ledrew’s lives took very different paths after the war, each following in his father’s footsteps. William returned to his father’s home after the war and worked at the cooperage. The 1920 Census shows William and his brother working out of the Wrightsville Avenue address with their father, aged 51, listed as Manager. William was 26 and Dwight 24. In the 1922 Wilmington City Directory, William is listed as clerk and John as manager.

It was not a small company for that time. Information from the NC Corporation Commission and the US Engineers reports on the port of Wilmington shows that the cooperage had $15,000 in capital stock. Their wharf was located “south of the foot of Wright Street.” The company also had operations at several other locations, including Charleston, SC.

While William was away at war, tragedy had struck at home: His wife Charlotte died on December 27, 1918, one of the many victims of the great influenza epidemic. In April 1922 he married Sadie McCallum, and they had a daughter, Sarah Elizabeth, born June 19, 1923. She appears to have been their only child. The 1940 Census shows them living at 1403 Rankin Street in Wilmington. William was a lumber salesman and Sadie a “trained nurse.” William’s final occupation, as shown on his death certificate, was “clerk of the federal court.”

The letter of introduction that William wrote for Ledrew may have been a hint for his father to offer Ledrew employment at the cooperage or perhaps it was simply a friendly gesture. In any event Ledrew never presented the letter to Mr. Wylie because it was found still among his papers after his death.

After discharge from the Army, Ledrew returned to his family home where his wife was waiting for him. He continued farming and also worked at a saw mill. Then soon after the birth of their first child, Susan Evelyn, on May 25, 1920, he and Lelia moved to Southport where he became a merchant. They had two more children, Thelma Vashti, born April 11, 1922, and William Rydell, born June 2, 1923. William’s middle name was given to honor a sergeant who served in the war with Ledrew. Did the name William reflect Ledrew’s friendship with William Wylie?

William Wylie died December 27, 1943, at age 50 and was buried in his family plot at Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington. Ledrew Sellers died June 16, 1960, at age 71 and was buried in the family plot at Northwood Cemetery in Southport. Although William and Ledrew spent the post-war years only about twenty-five miles apart, it appears that they never saw each other again after the day that William penned the note to his father and Ledrew sailed home from France with the note in his pocket.

To read more about Ledrew’s wartime experiences, see his WWI profile here.

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144 Brunswick County WWI veterans have not yet been honored

We have been hard at work with Daniel Norris from Slapdash Publishing on the book we plan to publish this year, Brunswick County in the Great War: Preserving the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range and the Legacies of the Men and Women Who Served

The book covers the history and preservation of the rifle range, and includes profiles and snapshots of the courageous men and women from Brunswick County who served in WWI and have been featured on this website for nearly three years.

Please help.

Included in the book is the list of Brunswick County WWI veterans. Alongside each name is the name of the generous supporter who honored that veteran with a donation. As the thermometer on the right side of the website shows, 574 veterans have been honored, which leaves 144 with no recognition. Please consider donating any amount to honor the remaining 144 Brunswick County WWI veterans.

Click here to donate.

Note: All of the members of Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range are volunteers and receive no compensation. After publishing and printing costs, any remaining funds will be used to continue the mission to preserve the Fort Caswell Rifle Range.

Snapshots will continue soon. Meanwhile, enjoy reading about a recent rescue at the rifle range. Also read the State Port Pilot article here. Thank you, Emma!

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WWI Profile: David Bertram Frink 1894-1973

To view this or an earlier profile at any time, click on the veteran’s name on the WWI Brunswick County Veteran list, which is also accessible by the blue button on the top right of the webpage.

Photos courtesy of Doris Frink Redwine, daughter
David Bertram Frink
Shallotte, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private

Served:
May 27, 1918 – July 18, 1919
Overseas:
July 31, 1918 – May 22, 1919

David Bertram “Bert” Frink was born and raised in Shallotte, NC. A family tree is located in FamilySearch. Bert’s brother, Samuel Joseph Frink also served in WWI.

Bert’s WWI Draft Registration shows he was single, a farmer, and living in Shallotte.

Bert was ordered to report for duty on May 27, 1918, along with 35 other men from Brunswick County as detailed in John Hillary Caison’s WWI Profile. They were sent to Camp Jackson, SC, to train with the 81st Division, but upon arrival in France in August, were transferred to the 42nd “Rainbow” Division. Pvt Frink became a replacement for Company K, 166th Infantry.

The profiles of Wagoners Jackson Berry Potter and Dorman Lowell Mercer describe the formation and training of the 42nd Rainbow Division, along with the months in France up to August 17, 1918, when the Rainbow Division, victorious in many battles, was finally given a chance to rest and resupply. Replacements such as Pvts Brown, Caison, Frink, Inman, and Williams arrived to serve with the battle hardened troops. Those drafted at a late date such as these men were typically not trained and never even held a rifle before boarding ships to France. They were given uniforms and sent overseas quickly, which earned them the gruesome nickname “Cannon fodder.”

At this point in WWI the 42nd Division was a shock division, now considered elite troops, and full of pride over their accomplishments. The WWI Profiles of Pvts Caison and Inman describe the battles that followed. After the Armistice, the division was chosen for the Army of Occupation, remaining until May 1919, when the 42nd Division began leaving for home.

The photo at top clearly shows the insignia of the Third Army, or Army of Occupation. His six month overseas chevron can be seen on his left sleeve in the photo here with an unidentified soldier. (Pvt Frink, sitting)

The US Army Transport passenger list shows Pvt Frink’s name crossed out. He did not return with his division, but remained until May 6, 1919, when he embarked at Brest, France, on Yale, arriving in the New York harbor on May 22. He was not discharged for two more months, indicating he required time for recovery. Details of his illness are unknown.

Pvt Frink’s WWI military medals, shown here, include the WWI Victory Medal with Army Battle Clasps awarded for the battles of St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne, along with the Defensive Sector Battle Clasp. On the right is the Army of Occupation of Germany Medal and service ribbon which were awarded to those who served in the European Occupation at the close of the war.

Pvt Frink also returned home with these German and American helmets, which his family has saved for over 100 years.

His daughter, Doris Frink Redwine, shared the following stories.

When we were growing up, we did not have electricity until 1939. Many nights after supper, we would sit around the table and listen to my father tell us of his experiences during his service in WWI. I wrote many essays in school about some of those and received A’s.

One night, after fighting all day against the Germans, they were trudging back to camp. It was first dark. It had been raining and they were wet, hungry, cold and near exhaustion. They were so tired they could hardly put one foot in front of the other when someone started whistling- very wistfully:

[Sketch taken from 1919 UNC yearbook, Yackety-Yack, SATC Section, p. 176]
“K-K-K-Katy, beautiful Katy. You’re the only g-g-girl that I adore. When the m-m-m-oon shines over the cow shed, I’ ll be waiting at the k-k-k-kitchen door.” [lyrics]

This little whistle lifted their spirits so much they were back at camp before they knew it. The irony of this is at times, my Father stuttered.

One night, he and his buddy stormed the door of a house in the edge of the woods where all the shades were pulled. The lady who answered the door and her children were so frightened she could hardly speak! It was difficult for them to show her that all they wanted were some eggs.

When the war was over and on their way home, their ship was in a tremendous storm that knocked a hole in the bow. So much stuff had to be thrown overboard to lift the bow of the ship as they limped into the Azores Islands for repair. What surprised my father so much were the sailors! They were so scared they could barely function while the veterans from the war were calm as cucumbers!

Later in life, Bert Frink served as a Brunswick County Commissioner.

David Bertram Frink passed away on February 15, 1973, as a result of a car accident. He was laid to rest alongside his wife in Mintz Cemetery in Ocean Isle Beach. His daughter Doris Frink Redwine and grandson Edward Davis Redwine are shown here honoring him at his gravesite.

If you would like to help us honor David Bertram Frink or another Brunswick County WWI veteran, please use the following links:

Click here for the announcement: Announcement: Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran
Click here for directions to donate and honor a veteran: How to Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran

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WWI Snapshot: John Hilton Pigott 1895-1941

NC WWI Service Card

John Hilton Pigott was born in Shallotte, NC, on November 12, 1895.

He was called to duty and inducted into the US Army on July 22, 1918, and trained at Camp Hancock, GA, according to the local board military records.

This is one of the photos displayed in Findagrave, and described as taken at Camp Hancock during his training.

Pvt Pigott served with the 45th Machine Gun Battalion of the 15th Division. The men were undergoing intensive training at Camp Logan, TX, when the war ended. He was honorably discharged on January 29, 1919.

This photo is also displayed in Findagrave. No date or description is given.

John’s life came to a tragic end when he was involved in an automobile accident near Fort Bragg. His death certificate shows that several complications caused his death. On December 19, 1940, he had open reduction surgery on his fractured left leg. Ten days before his death, he suffered from influenza, then ultimately lost his life from a coronary occlusion. His obituary is shown below.

John H. Pigott
Funeral rites for John H. Pigott, 46, who died Thursday afternoon in the Fayetteville Veterans’ hospital of injuries received in an automobile accident two months ago, will be held from the home in the Guide section of the county Saturday afternoon at 1:30 o’clock.

The Rev. Phillip Parker will conduct the services. Burial will follow in the Old Zion cemetery.

Surviving are his widow, the former Miss Mollie Andrews, one son, Woodis Pigott, one daughter, Miss Pearline Pigott, all of Guide; two brothers, Lewis Pigott of Tabor City, and Lee Pigott of Shallotte.

The accident is said to have happened near Fort Bragg.
The Wilmington Morning Star [Wilmington, NC], 1 February 1941, p.2

He was laid to rest in Old Zion Cemetery in Columbus County, NC. No request for a military headstone was found and no military honors are shown.


To view this or an earlier profile or snapshot at any time, click on the veteran’s name on the WWI Brunswick County Veteran list, which is also accessible by the blue button on the top right of the webpage.

If you would like to help us honor John Hilton Pigott or another Brunswick County WWI veteran, please use the following links:

Click here for the announcement:
Announcement: Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran
Click here for directions to donate and honor a veteran:
How to Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran

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Memorial Day 2020

We will not forget.

The 23 Brunswick County men who gave their lives in World War I

Killed in Action: Died of Disease:
PFC Walter S Brock PVT William F Brooks
PVT Harvey T Chadwick PFC John W Carlisle
PVT Jimmie Griffin PVT Carl J Danford
PFC Erastus Iredell Nelson Cook David L Dosher
PVT Harry Langdon Pigott Seaman James C Edwards
CPL Herbert B Ward SGT Robert G Farmer
PVT Manning Hall
Died of Wounds: PVT Claudie Hall McCall
PVT William Cross Hewett PVT Elijah Milliken
PVT Benjamin B Smith PVT Kendrick W Outlaw
PVT Cecil Smith Pierce
PVT Samuel C Swain
PVT Guy Ellis Watson
PVT David Williams
PVT Fred Wilson

 

Soldiers on our WWI Wall of Honor who gave their lives

Killed in Action: Died of Accident:
CPL Russell Kellogg Bourne PVT James Hemphill
SGT Richard J. Dennis
PFC Louis “Lolly” B. Doerr Died of Wounds:
Mech Dona J. Dugal PVT Edward Clarkson Bonnell
PFC Wilmer H. Eicke
PVT Ben W. O. Hildebrandt Died of Disease:
PFC Robert Anthony Strzempek PFC Vito Copola
PVT Carl F. Greene

 

The Brunswick County World War I Monument

“Dedicated to the men and women from Brunswick County, NC
who served their country during World War I
with Honor, Courage, and Commitment”

Center photo courtesy of Christine Urick

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WWI Snapshot: Augustine Watchman Rieger 1885-1933

NC WWI Service Card

Augustine “Gus” Watchman Rieger was born in Southport, NC, on August 6, 1885. At the time of the 1900 Census, he and his family were living in Town Creek. His father was a lawyer and owned a rice farm.

Gus was appointed to the United States Naval Academy in 1905, graduating in 1909. This photo was printed in the 1909 yearbook Lucky Bag on page 188.

During WWI, he served as a Lieutenant commander at the Naval Academy.

His retirement was listed in the September 4, 1931, issue of the Evening Star of Washington D.C. on page 16.

Augustine Watchman Rieger died suddenly on April 23, 1933, as detailed below.

COMDR. RIEGER DIES IN PARKED AUTO

Heart Attack Fatal to Retired Naval Officer While in Machine

A heart attack suffered as he drove his automobile along Connecticut avenue late Saturday night was fatal to Comdr. Augustine W. Rieger, U.S.N., retired, 47, who was found dead in his automobile early yesterday.

Lights Still Burning
The car apparently had been hastily parked in a restricted zone just north of Taft Bridge, and the lights still were burning when the body was discovered by Sergt. W.P. Barnes of the eighth precinct, cruising in a police car. Dr. O.C. Foote, 5112 Connecticut avenue, the retired officer’s physician and close friend, said Comdr. Rieger had been under his care since his retirement because of heart trouble in 1931. He said he believed the officer had been dead at least six hours when found. A certificate of death from natural causes was issued by Acting Coroner A. Magruder MacDonald.

Comdr. Rieger was last seen Saturday night by relatives and an elevator boy at the Dupont Apartments, 1717 Twentieth street, where he lived.

Funeral services will be held at St. Alban’s Church at 2 p.m. tomorrow, with Rev. Charles T. Warner officiating. Burial, with full military honors, will be in Arlington National Cemetery.

Was Memphis Navigator
Comdr. Rieger’s last station was aboard the U.S.S. Memphis as navigator. Prior to that he had had an active sea career as well as of an executive ashore. During the World War he was stationed at the Naval Academy, from which he graduated in 1909. He was a North Carolina native.

He is survived by his mother, Mrs. Sarah T. Rieger; a sister, Miss Florence M. Rieger, both of the Twentieth street address, and another sister, Mrs. H.J. Stockum of Baltimore.
Source: Evening Star (Washington, D.C.) 24 April 1933, p. A-9

Source: Findagrave
Augustine Watchman Rieger was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. His headstone is shown here.

The family headstone may be found in Old Smithville Cemetery in Southport, where his parents and one sister were laid to rest.

His mother’s obituary in the Evening Star (Washington, D.C.) December 5, 1937, p. A-21, details the family’s history of military service. Click to enlarge.


To view this or an earlier profile or snapshot at any time, click on the veteran’s name on the WWI Brunswick County Veteran list, which is also accessible by the blue button on the top right of the webpage.

If you would like to help us honor Augustine Watchman Rieger or another Brunswick County WWI veteran, please use the following links:

Click here for the announcement:
Announcement: Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran
Click here for directions to donate and honor a veteran:
How to Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran

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