Monthly Archives: March 2020

WWI Profile: Harry Churchhill Corlette, Jr 1898-1947

NC WWI Service Card
Harry Churchhill Corlette, Jr was born in Southport, son of Harry Churchhill Corlette, Sr, and Louise White Grissom. The 1900 Census, and 1910 Census shows the family remained in Southport. In 1910, they lived on Bay St. His father was a pilot of a fishing boat.

A previous post introduced the Students’ Army Training Corps.

Harry did not become eligible for the draft until the registration of September 12, 1918. His draft registration shows he was a junior drug clerk at Watson Pharmacy Co. in Southport. He and his family resided in Southport, Brunswick County.

Harry Churchhill Corlette’s signature on his draft registration:

When the SATC became active in October 1918, Harry, along with Andrew Jackson Robbins, Jr, met the physical and educational admission requirements and volunteered. Both were accepted and ordered to report for duty on October 2, 1918, at Davidson College, a Collegiate Section from NC. Click image at right to enlarge.

The inauguration ceremony was held on October 1, 1918. On October 9, the front page of The Davidsonian included a photo of the SATC, along with the story below.

Memorable Ceremony Is Held at Formal Inauguration of the S.A.T.C. at Davidson

Messages From the President, Secretary of War and Others are Read.

A most impressive gathering was held at noon on the first day of October. It was indeed a historic ceremony and one that will long be remembered by its participants and those from the town who were present. It marked the formal inauguration of the Students’ Army Training Corps at Davidson College. The battalion was formed in the shape of a square around the foot of the flagpole and messages from the President and many other prominent men were read by the officers present.

The ceremony was begun with a prayer by Dr. C.M. Richards. Lieut. R.G. Dennard stated that at that very hour over one hundred and fifty thousand students in more than five hundred colleges were standing at attention in a ceremony similar to that one.

Messages from President Woodrow Wilson, Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, Col. R.I. Rees and others were read by Lieutenants Candler, Dwyer and Doverspike.

The following message from the President was read: “The step you have taken is a most significant one. By it you have ceased to be merely individuals, each seeking to perfect himself to win his own place in the world, and have become comrades in the common cause of making the world a better place to live in. You have joined yourselves with the entire manhood of the country and pledged, as did your forefathers, ‘your lives, your fortunes, and your sacred honor’ to the freedom of humanity.

“The enterprise upon which you have embarked is a hazardous and difficult one. This is not a war of words; this is not a scholastic struggle. It is a war of ideals, yet fought with all the devices of science and with all the power of machines. To succeed, you must not only be inspired by the ideals for which this country stands but you must also be masters of the technique with which the battle is fought. You must not only be thrilled with zeal for the common welfare, but you must also be masters of the weapons of today.

“There can be no doubt of the issue. The spirit that is revealed and the manner in which America has responded to the call is indomitable. I have no doubt that you too will use your utmost strength to maintain that spirit and to carry it forward to the final victory that will certainly be ours.
“Woodrow Wilson.”

The flag was raised and the oath of allegiance was taken by the members of the S.A.T.C. Dr. Martin spoke on behalf of the college and stirred all present. The picture shown on page 1 was then made.

A yearbook for the 1918-1919 school year at Davidson College is not available. However, the Davidson Historical Society shares the following photos of the Davidson College SATC on their website.

Harry and Andrew Jackson Robbins were initiated into the fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha, according to The Davidsonian, October 23, 1918, p.4.

The November 11 Armistice ended their training and the SATC was demobilized. Pvt Corlette was honorably discharged on December 10, 1918. It appears he did not return to college, as the 1940 Census shows his education was 4 years of high school.

In 1920, Harry was home, living with his parents in Southport. He had resumed working as a clerk for a drugstore.

The 1930 Census shows he and his wife, daughters, and parents living on Water St in Southport. Harry was a manager of a dry cleaning shop.

The 1940 Census shows his mother continued to live with him after the death of his father in 1930. He was working as a salesman for a retail grocery. His wife was working as an assistant cashier at a bank. His three daughters were living at home – his oldest in high school.

Harry Churchhill Corlette passed away from meningitis on June 27, 1947 at age 48. He was laid to rest in Old Smithville Cemetery in Southport. The following obituary was published on the front page of The State Port Pilot on July 2, 1947.

Harry Corlette Dies Suddenly

Popular Southport Citizen Died Early Friday Following Illness of Only A Few Hours Duration

Harry C. Corlette, former Southport City Alderman and business man, died here at Dosher Memorial hospital Friday morning after an illness of only eight hours.

Mr. Corlette, who was 48-years of age, was a lifelong resident of Southport and was in good health up until the time he was stricken at 8 o’clock Thursday night. Attending physicians prescribed the cause of his death to spinal meningitis.

The deceased, a highly esteemed resident of Southport, is survived by his widow, Mrs. Rachel Todd Corlette, assistant-cashier at the local branch of the Waccamaw Bank and Trust company, and by three daughters, Miss Doris Corlette, Miss Betty Todd Corlette and Miss Harriett Corlette, all of Southport.


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 Harry Churchhill Corlette, Jr 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
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How to Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran

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WWI Profile: William Asbury Rourk, Jr 1898-1948

Many records and photos were found for William Asbury Rourk and his family, along with unique details. As a result, this snapshot became lengthy. We hope that readers will also appreciate becoming acquainted with them and honoring their sacrifices and commitment to their communities.

NC WWI Service Card
William Asbury Rourk, Jr was born in Wilmington, son of William Asbury Rourk, Sr, and Sarah Helen Stone. The 1900 Census and 1910 Census shows the family remained in Wilmington. His father was described as a merchant of groceries.

According to The Wilmington Dispatch (1917, June 1; p. 6), William graduated from Wilmington High School on May 31, 1917. He was a freshman in the 1917-1918 year at North Carolina University at Chapel Hill (now known as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), according to the 1918 yearbook, Yackety-Yack, p. 112. His residence was Wilmington and his area of study was science. A later yearbook referred to him as “Bill.”

During military training at Chapel Hill, Bill served in Company D, which is documented in the 1918 yearbook beginning on page 180. The photo below shows the university battalion. Recall that military training was offered at Chapel Hill before the Students’ Army Training Corps was created. See the previous post for more photos and information.

Previous posts introduced the Students’ Army Training Corps and his fellow corps member from Brunswick County, Commodore Clarence Chinnis.

Like Commodore, Bill did not become eligible for the draft until the registration of September 12, 1918. His draft registration shows he was a student at North Carolina University at Chapel Hill. He and his family resided in Shallotte, Brunswick County.

William Asbury Rourk’s signature on his draft registration:

When the SATC became active in October 1918, William and Commodore met the physical and educational admission requirements and volunteered. Both were accepted and ordered to report for duty on October 5, 1918, at the University of North Carolina, a Collegiate Section from NC. Read the previous posts linked above for details.

Photos of the SATC in Chapel Hill can be found in the 1919 yearbook. Pvt Rourk served in Company D.

The November 11 Armistice ended their training and the SATC was demobilized. Pvt Rourk was honorably discharged on December 10, 1918. Unlike Commodore Chinnis, Bill did remain in college.

In the 1919 yearbook for the school year of 1918-1919, Wilmington was listed as his residence. Presumably, this was his residence when he re-enrolled at Chapel Hill in the spring of 1918. But recall that when he registered for the draft in September 1918, his address was Shallotte.

He was a junior during the 1919-1920 school year. The yearbook shows his residence as Shallotte.

He played basketball his first three years of college. He was a starting guard at 5′ 8.5″. These photos were taken during his junior year. In the team photo from 1920, he is seated at the far right in the front row.

Bill entered Medical School his senior year, graduating a year later in 1922. He can be seen standing second from the left in the front line.


The description under his senior photo, shown here, includes his residence as Shallotte, followed by mention of Mecklenburg County, which is the county of Charlotte. Confusing these two cities is a common mistake found in historical records at the time, as mentioned in Harvey T. Chadwick’s WWI Profile.

At right, his photo is displayed in the 1922 yearbook when he graduated from Medical School. Below his photo, the following words are printed.

“He had the reputation of being the scrappiest basketball player on the floor last year, and we were disappointed when medicine intrigued his interest this year. There is nothing of the artificial about him, for his friendships and work are both genuine. Carolina is proud to own him whether on the courts, in the classroom, or in life.”

The 1930 Census shows he was married to Getrude, a woman from Pennsylvania. They had a son, William Jr, age 1. His wife’s mother was living with them. She had remarried and was widowed once more.

Curiosity about how he came to marry a woman from Pennsylvania led to some interesting information about her and her mother.

Gertrude Berg McDonell was born in York, Pennsylvania, on March 5, 1903, to Emory Clair McDonell and Gertrude Neal Fitzgerald McDonell. [Source: Baptism Record from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records in Ancestry; Marriage License]

In 1910, her father was a salesman for an electric vacuum cleaner company. He passed away in 1912 at age 40. [Source: Death Certificate in Ancestry; obituary: The York Dispatch, August 16, 1912, p.2]

According to The York Daily, October 6, 1915, p.3, her mother, Mrs. Gertrude McDonnell was appointed the new superintendent of the Christian Home and the House of Detention by a unanimous decision of the board of directors of the York Society to Protect Children and the Aged Persons. She would hold this position until April 1, 1921, as noted in The York Dispatch, March 2, 1921, p.10.

Daughter Gertrude (Bill’s future wife) is listed as a resident of the home with her mother Gertrude the Superintendent in the 1920 Census. Daughter Gertrude was 16 years old.

On August 30-31, 1921, according to The York Dispatch, p.13; and The Daily Record, p.5, a farewell party was held for Miss Gertrude McDonell, who was leaving for Philadelphia where she would enter training at the Philadelphia General Hospital to become a public health nurse.

Interestingly, Mr. William Asbury Rourk, Jr arrived in Philadelphia in 1922 to become an intern at Philadelphia General Hospital, according to his AMA Physician File records. Presumably, medical intern Bill met nurse trainee Gertrude and fell in love.

According to The Charlotte Observer, July 25, 1924, p.7, William Asbury Rourk, Jr, from Shallotte, was awarded a license to practice medicine in the state of North Carolina following examination.

On September 27, 1926, Gertrude McDonell and William Asbury Rourk, Jr, married, according to her flat marker in findagrave. Bill’s AMA files indicate that they remained in Shallotte for a time, then settled in Myrtle Beach, SC, where they remained until their deaths. He was reportedly the first physician to practice in Myrtle Beach, according to the articles shown below that were published near his death.

The 1940 Census is much like the 1930 Census, with the addition of another son, James Rodman Rourk.

On December 22, 1944, Dr. Rourk’s son, William Asbury Rourk, passed away from bilateral pulmonitis. He was 16 years old.

On May 3, 1948, Dr. Rourk suffered a heart attack. As a long time friend of the Myrtle Beach Air Base, which had since closed, the Air Force responded to an emergency call by flying in an oxygen tent and Air Force physician. They were unable to save him.

On May 19, 1948, Dr. William Asbury Rourk, age 50, passed away. He was laid to rest in Ocean Woods Memorial Cemetery in Myrtle Beach.

On March 6, 1964, his wife, who had since remarried, passed away.

Their only surviving son, James “Roddy” Rodman Rourk, was reportedly a teacher at Myrtle Beach High School from 1958 to 1966. He passed away at age 54 on December 24, 1984. Some amazing tributes can be read on this Myrtle Beach High School alumni page. According to comments, he was a math teacher, Scoutmaster, award winning coach, a leader in his community, and “a principled man providing positive leadership to everyone with whom he had contact.”

 


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 William Asbury Rourk, Jr 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
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How to Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran

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WWI Profile: Commodore Clarence Chinnis 1899-1960

NC WWI Service Card
Commodore Clarence Chinnis was born in Northwest, Brunswick County, the son of Augustus Marion Chinnis and Nellie Brew.

A previous post introduced the multiple draft registrations which occurred in 1917 and 1918, and the Students’ Army Training Corps.

Commodore did not become eligible for the draft until the registration of September 12, 1918. His draft registration was actually dated September 7, 1918, and shows he had already started his SATC training at Plattsburgh Barracks, NY. But the SATC program did not officially begin until October 1, 1918.

To determine the reason behind this discrepancy, college yearbooks were used. The North Carolina University at Chapel Hill (now known as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) yearbook Yackety-Yack provides the sequence of events.

The UNC Department of Military Science training and the Students’ Army Training Corps at UNC were two different programs. Commodore participated in the military training in 1917 when it first became available, then volunteered for the SATC in 1918 when it became available. The following shows Commodore’s activities in chronological order.

According to The Wilmington Dispatch (1916, May 27; p. 5), Commodore graduated from Wilmington High School on May 26, 1916.

He was a freshman in the 1916-1917 year at UNC Chapel Hill, according to the 1917 yearbook, Yackety-Yack, p. 147.

The 1918 yearbook, page 262, indicates that Commodore was in the Class of 1920. He is included in the list of sophomores on page 92.

Page 168 begins with the description of the formation of the Department of Military Science at the school and the enthusiasm in which the students responded. Several excerpts are shown below.

“It is not the nature of the North Carolinian to remain neutral when a ‘first-class scrap’ is in progress nearby. …his blood seethes with a desire to take part in the conflict.”

 

“When the suggestion was made, in the fall of nineteen-fifteen, that a course in military training be introduced in the University of North Carolina, it met with little favor among either Faculty or students. War was not regarded as imminent, and in our ignorance we failed to realize the importance of making ready for its coming.”

 

“…the sudden severance of diplomatic relations with Germany swept away all remaining opposition.”

 

“The total number of students registered in the University for the [1917] fall term was 820. Of these, 565 have been taking the course, devoting twelve hours a week to the work.”

Photos of the military training in Chapel Hill are located in the 1918 yearbook. Pvt Commodore served in Company B, which begins on page 176.

A diagram of the trenches that were created on campus is shown here.

The following summer (1918), 125 students, including Commodore, trained at the camp at Plattsburgh Barracks, NY. This explains why Commodore registered for the draft on September 7, 1918, from Plattsburgh Barracks.

Commodore Clarence Chinnis’ signature on his draft registration:

Photos from the summer of 1918 at Plattsburgh are shown in the 1919 Yearbook. This section of the yearbook is also located online at https://docsouth.unc.edu/wwi/yack1919/yack1919.html. Commodore has not been identified in the photo below, but he was described as a “likeable giant” in the local newspaper and stood at 6’1″, according to his WWI Draft Registration.

When the SATC became active in October 1918, Commodore, along with William Asbury Rourk, Jr, met the physical and educational admission requirements and volunteered. Both were accepted and ordered to report for duty on October 5, 1918, at the University of North Carolina, a Collegiate Section from NC. Click image at right to enlarge.

Source: Ancestry.com. U.S., Lists of Men Ordered to Report to Local Board for Military Duty, 1917–1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.

ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS: Registrants who are graduates of standard four-year secondary schools or have equivalent educational qualifications are eligible for Collegiate Sections and will be inducted at the institutions to which they secure admission. The admission requirements into the colleges, and hence into the Students Army Training Corps, have been left substantially as they were. Young men seeking information as to how to join a Collegiate Unit of the Corps should apply not to the War Department, but to the Dean or Registrar of the college of their choice.

Members of both sections will attend courses on the Issues of the War.

These excerpts are taken from the description of the Students’ Army Training Corps at Carolina on page 183.

From the first days in October, when the system was started, it seemed that fate was against a speedy organization of the units into efficient, spirited bodies. Equipment was hard to secure, personnel of the staffs were slow in assembling, and upon everything that scourge of scourges, the “flu” descended. The men were compelled to keep a strict quarantine, pleasures and freedoms were cut off. Sickness is a breeder of slow inertia and lack of spirit. Morale was hard to maintain, on the campus, when the atmosphere was full of dread.

Just as the training went into full swing, the November 11, 1918, Armistice ended it.

In the days of disappointment that followed the signing of the armistice, when the urge of the desire for service overseas was suddenly removed, every student soldier felt that the Students’ Army Training Corps was of no value.

The SATC was demobilized. Pvt Chinnis was honorably discharged on December 9, 1918.

The government did a very wise thing when it created this Students’ Army Training Corps, and could the experiment have been carried out its benefits would by now have been too obvious to point out.

Commodore did not complete his junior year in college. He is not listed among the juniors in the 1919 yearbook. This is confirmed by the 1940 Census which shows he had completed two years of college education.

The 1920 Census shows that he was living at home in Northwest. He and his sister Lila were clerks at a bank. His father was a merchant of groceries. The family home was on Wilmington and Charlotte Road, near Leland Road.

Commodore married and was the father of two sons who served in WWII, Carter Cabell Chinnis, whose findagrave entry includes an impressive obituary, and Hobson D Chinnis.

Commodore Clarence Chinnis passed away on July 8, 1960. He was laid to rest in New Hope Baptist Church Cemetery in Leland. No military marker is 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 Commodore Clarence Chinnis 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
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How to Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran

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WWI Profile: John Rivers Smith 1898-1956

John Rivers Smith lies in an unmarked grave in Smith Cemetery in Southport, NC. Census records including him with his wife and children have not been located. As a result, more details and historical records than usual are presented below in order to link him to his descendants and preserve the details of his WWI service.

NC WWI Service Card
John Rivers Smith was born in Southport, son of Robert Calvin Smith and Eliza Jane Galloway. In the 1900 Census, his father is listed as a carpenter.

The 1910 Census shows that his family lived at 318 Rhett St. Another WWI veteran, Robert Leroy Stratmon, was his neighbor. Robert Leroy Stratmon died while serving in WWII.

John’s parents are listed as “baker” and “assistant baker.” Attempts to discover if they operated a bakery inside their home were unsuccessful.

Previous posts introduced the Students’ Army Training Corps and his fellow corps members from Southport, Oliver Banks and Elmer Davis.

Like Oliver and Elmer, John did not become eligible for the draft until the registration of September 12, 1918. His draft registration shows he was employed as a cook in Southport.

John Rivers Smith’s signature on his draft registration:

Oliver, Elmer, and John met the physical and educational requirements of the SATC, volunteered, and were accepted. All three served in the SATC at Negro Agricultural and Technical College (now NC A&T State University) in Greensboro. Read the previous posts linked above for details.

John was honorably discharged on December 12, 1918.

No additional census records could be located for John. However, his family’s 1930 Census record shows his sister Marion Jane Smith had married William L. Davis in Southport and was living in Chadbourn, Columbus County, NC. Their sister Katy Ruth and mother Eliza lived with them. William Davis worked as a fireman at a railroad and Marion ran a filling station. Marion was described as attending school. As the 1940 Census shows, she eventually completed four years of college.

William Lee Davis was also a WWI veteran. His service card from Georgia is shown at right. Click to enlarge. He was born in Tennessee and was a resident of Savannah, Georgia (at least one son from a previous marriage was born there). Corporal Davis served stateside in the 425 Labor Battalion.

The 1940 Census indicates that William continued working for the railroad as a fireman. As mentioned, Marion’s educational level is shown as 4 years of college. Marion’s and John’s mother Eliza was still living with them. Katy Ruth was not and efforts to find records for her were unsuccessful.

Nephew John Robert Smith, age 8, also lived with Marion and William. Quite a few records exist that indicate this is John Rivers’ son. These include not only John Robert’s records listed in the paragraph below, but John Rivers’ son Charles Fredrick Smith‘s records and his wife Bernice McBride Smith Gore‘s records.

John Robert Smith’s birth record lists his father as John Smith. His Social Security Application and Claims [Source: Ancestry] shows his father as “John R Smith” and mother “Bernice McBride” and birth date and place as August 23, 1931, and Chadbourn, NC.

[Note: The 1930 Census indicates William L Davis was born in Tennessee. The 1940 Census shows him born in North Carolina but shows that John Roberts Smith was born in Tennessee. John Roberts Smith’s birth record verifies that he was born in Chadbourn, NC. The assumption is a transcription error on the 1940 Census: William L Davis was born in Tennessee (see his WWI Service Card above) and John Roberts Smith was born in Chadbourn, NC (see his birth record above).]

John Rivers Smith’s WWII Draft Registration of February 16, 1942, shows he was living in Chadbourn, Columbus County, employed by Columbus Manufacturing Company. His wife Bernice Smith was listed as his nearest living relative.

He was described as 5’7″, 148 pounds, with a scar in front of his right ear.

On November 7, 1943, John’s and Bernice’s son, Charles Fredrick Smith, was born. His death certificate from 1993 lists his parents as John Rivers Smith and Bernice Smith Gore, which shows Bernice remarried after John’s death. Her obituary found on her findagrave page shows there were additional children with John Rivers Smith as well as stepchildren from her second marriage. A complete list is unavailable.

John’s and Marion’s mother Eliza passed away on July 30, 1943, and is buried in Smith Cemetery. The specific location of her gravesite is unknown.

John Rivers Smith passed away on September 30, 1956, of stomach cancer in the VA Hospital in Fayetteville. His death certificate lists his father and mother as Robert C. Smith and Eliza Gallaway, and his wife as Bernice Smith. He was laid to rest in Smith Cemetery in Southport. The exact location of his gravesite is unknown.

His sister, Marion Jane Smith Davis, passed away in 1969 and was also buried in Smith Cemetery. Her death certificate lists her former occupation as teacher. The exact location of her gravesite is also unknown.

John’s sons and wife were laid to rest in Belvue Cemetery in Columbus County, NC. His son William David Smith passed away after 9 days in 1938. Charles Fredrick Smith passed away in 1993. His son 2nd Lt John Robert Smith served in the Korean War and passed away in 2001. His wife, Bernice McBride Smith Gore passed away in 2012 at age 96.


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 Rivers Smith 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 Profile: Elmer Davis 1898-1970

NC WWI Service Card
Elmer Davis was born in Southport, the son of Reverend John Richard Davis and Mary Swain.

Previous posts introduced the Students’ Army Training Corps and his fellow corps member from Southport, Oliver Banks.

Like Oliver Banks, Elmer did not become eligible for the draft until the registration of September 12, 1918. His draft registration shows he was living in Southport, employed as a fisherman for a fishery based in Jacksonville, FL.

Elmer Davis’ signature on his draft registration:

Elmer met the physical and educational requirements of the SATC, volunteered, and was accepted. Oliver, Elmer, and John Rivers Smith served in the SATC at Negro Agricultural and Technical College (now NC A&T State University) in Greensboro. Read the previous posts for details.

Elmer was honorably discharged on December 12, 1918.

The 1920 Census shows that he had returned to Southport to live with his parents and resume fishing.

In 1930, he was living in Fernadina Beach, FL, with his wife and children, again employed as a fisherman. His employer was a fertilizer plant.

This photo is from 1938, courtesy of the Southport Historical Society. “Menhaden workers playing checkers – Nehi Gore, Elmer Davis, Frank Jackson, Joe Reaves, Joseph Parker, Rapael Parker, Capt. John Erikson C. 1938”

John Eriksen is also a WWI veteran from Brunswick County.

Elmer had returned to Southport when the 1940 Census was taken, living on St. George Street with his family.

He passed away on July 17, 1970. He is described on his death certificate as a retired storekeeper. Details such as this allow more specific searches to be performed. Several references to him were found.

In a March 16, 2001 article on the online State Port Pilot, an Elmer Davis’ Cafe was mentioned, located at the corner of St. George and Caswell streets in Southport. This is apparently the cafe of Elmer Davis, WWI veteran. Excerpt shown below.

The [McKenzie’s] confectionery was the oldest venture in the heart of what once was Southport’s district of black-owned, black-operated businesses, around the intersection of Howe and St. George streets, in the early 1900s.

Twenty-five of them — grocery stores, cafés, dance halls, dry cleaners, a mortuary and more — thrived into the mid-20th century or later with as much success as their white counterparts.

Today, each is listed by name on a marker the Southport Historical Society installed outside LeClerc’s Ladies Boutique, whose building is the former site of McKenzie’s Confectionery. The building — and the ice shaver — remains in Adams’s possession.

The Southport Historical Society has a map available to locate the black businesses during that time period. A small section is shown here. Elmer Davis’ Cafe is marked as #14. To see the full map and description, click on the link.

On March 12, 1941, State Port Pilot included this sentence in the Not Exactly News section on page 4. “Elmer Davis, colored fisherman, has opened up a Cafe and we can bear witness that his wife’s cooking is swell.”

He was chosen as an air raid warden in Southport during WWI, according to this article in the December 17, 1941, edition of the State Port Pilot.

In February 10, 1943, the State Port Pilot article, “Raise Funds for New Sterilizer” lists Elmer and wife Maverick as donors for the new sterilizer at Dosher Memorial Hospital.

And finally, according to Liz Fuller from the Southport Historical Society, he served on the executive board of the Southport Colored Citizens League in the 1940s, working for justice and equality in the schools.

Elmer Davis was laid to rest in Smith Cemetery in Southport. A small flat marker is located there. However, there is no indication of his military service or his many contributions and leadership in the Southport community.


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 Elmer Davis 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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