Category Archives: Veteran Snapshot

WWI Snapshot: John Stevenson Moses 1899-1924

Several years after WWI, John Stevenson Moses was killed by gas leaking from a fixture at his residence.

NC WWI Service Card
John Stevenson Moses was born on September 29, 1899, in Morganton, NC.

On January 17, 1918, when John was 18, he enlisted at Fort Caswell. He served until December 24, 1918.

At age 25, John was killed in a tragic accident. A leaky gas fixture in his rooming house caused his death. The following accounts were published in The Washington Post.

Leaky Gas Fixtures Criticized by Coroner
Leaky gas fixtures in hotels and lodging houses, said to have caused the death of John Moses, 35 [25] years old, of Morgantown N.C., yesterday, will probably be condemned at the inquest to be held tomorrow morning, Coroner Nevitt said yesterday.

The defective gas fixture has been removed by police and will be produced as evidence at the inquest. Dr. Nevitt criticized hotel proprietors who risk the lives of their guests. The law requires gas jets to be of a safe pattern, but Coroner Nevitt wants additional law to have them regularly inspected.
Source: The Washington Post, 15 Dec 1924, p2.

More Gas-Fixture Inspectors Urged
Recommendation of the coroner’s jury that all gas fixtures in rooming houses be regularly inspected by the District may result in a request for additional inspectors, District officials said yesterday. The jury’s recommendation was made as a result of the accidental death from illuminating gas of John Moses, of Morgantown, N.C., in a room at 207 Pennsylvania avenue northwest. The gas fixture in the room was defective, although Carl Smith, the dead man’s roommate, testified the gas had been blown out.

Inspection of gas fixtures is made now, Plumbing Inspector McGonegal said yesterday.
Source: The Washington Post, 18 Dec 1924, p24.

John Stevenson Moses’ death likely saved many lives. His gravesite has not been located.


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 Stevenson Moses or another Brunswick County WWI veteran, please use the following links:

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Announcement: Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran
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WWI Snapshot: Alonzo Lee Murrell 1894-1955

Alonzo Lee Murrell’s son was a World War II Prisoner of War.

NC WWI Service Card
Alonzo Lee Murrell was born on June 20, 1894, in Brunswick County, NC.

While living in Navassa, he was called to duty and inducted into the US Army in Southport on April 2, 1918. PFC Murrell served in the Medical Department, serving overseas from October 13, 1918 until June 10, 1919. He was honorably discharged on June 27, 1919.

Alonzo married Emma E. Allen in Wilmington on April 11, 1921. A son, Jack Allen, was born in Wilmington. In 1925 they relocated to the Cumberland, MD, area, where a daughter was born.

His son, Jack Allen Murrell, served in WWII and was reported missing for six months, from September 18, 1944 until March 16, 1945. Records indicate he was a POW. The following article describes his experience.

Lt. Jack Murrell Reported To Be Safe in England
Lt. Jack Allen Murrell, pilot of a C-47 transport plane is, “free and back in England,” according to a cablegram he sent his wife, Mrs. Mary Weakley Murrell, 42 Potomac Street, Ridgeley, yesterday. He was reported missing in Groesbeek, Holland September 18, the day his baby daughter was one month old.

Serving overseas since February 14, 1944, Lt. Murrell for seven months flew a regular run from England to France carrying paratroopers. At the time he was reported missing he was towing gliders over Holland.

The last word Mrs. Murrell had from her husband was October 3; recently she received a small note, she said, from an English paratrooper, stating that he hoped her husband would reach his base some day soon; on March 15 she received a letter from an English pilot who wrote he had been with Lt. Murrell eight weeks having left him on February 10, when the English pilot made his way back to England. In concluding, he wrote, “Lt. Murrell should be following any moment now.” Mrs. Murrell said she had reason to believe her husband and the English pilot were assisted by the underground in their escape of the Nazis and their return to England.

The son of Mr. and Mrs. A.L. Murrell, Ridgeley, Lt. Murrell entered the service April 25, 1941, and was commissioned and received his wings at Columbus, Miss., leaving from Fort Benning, Ga., in February 1944, for England. He was awarded the Air Medal for his part in the D-day invasion.
Source: Cumberland News (Cumberland, MD), 17 March 1945, p14.

Alonzo Lee Murrell passed away suddenly at work on March 18, 1955, at age 60. He was laid to rest in Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, NC. The following obituary was published.

Alonzo L. Murrell, 60, of Ridgeley, pipefitter for the Western Railway Company at Maryland Junction, died suddenly yesterday afternoon while at work.

A native of Wilmington, N.C., he was a son of the late John and Julia Murrell and had resided in Ridgeley for the past 30 years.

A veteran of World War I, Mr. Murrell was a member of the First Presbyterian Church here. Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Emma Murrell; a daughter, Miss Faye Murrell, Wilmington, a son, Jack A. Murrell, city; and a granddaughter, Mary Elizabeth Murrell, city; two sisters and two brothers, Leland, N.C.

The body is at the Kight Funeral Home where a service will be conducted today at 7:30 p.m. with Rev. W. Randolph Keefe Jr., pastor of Grace Baptist Church, officiating.

Tomorrow the body will be taken to Wilmington for burial in the Oakdale Cemetery. The family requests that flowers be omitted.
Source: Cumberland News (Cumberland, MD), 19 March 1955, p6.


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 Alonzo Lee Murrell or another Brunswick County WWI veteran, please use the following links:

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Announcement: Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran
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WWI Snapshot: Doctor Pearson Murphy 1894-1967

Doctor Pearson Murphy’s son gained fame as one of the founders of the Black Voters League in Red Bank, NJ. His daughter-in-law was also a leader in the community. In addition, his son served in WWII.

NC WWI Service Card
Doctor Pearson Murphy was a resident of Bolivia, Brunswick County, when he was called to duty in WWI. He had recently married Maggie Galloway on May 20, 1918. The photo below was found in Ancestry.

Corporal Murphy served from August 2, 1918 until December 19, 1918, in the 349th Labor Battalion.

After the war, he returned home to Brunswick County. At least two sons were born there. The family eventually moved to Kings, New York City.

His son, Curtis, achieved fame as one of the founders of the Black Voters League of Red Bank, NJ, among other accomplishments. Curtis’ wife, Ernestine Elois Norris Murphy, was also a community leader. Their obituaries are shown below. Burial information and the obituaries were copied into findagrave: Curtis and Ernestine.

Doctor Pearson Murphy passed away on January 4, 1967. He was buried in Long Island National Cemetery, presumably with military honors. No photo of his grave site is available.

Source: Asbury Park Press (Asbury, NJ), 11 July 1995, p16.
Curtis Murphy, led Black Voters League

Curtis Q. Murphy, 75, a resident here and former Red Back resident, died Saturday at Riverview Medical Center, Red Bank. Mr. Murphy was a senior electronics engineer at Fort Monmouth until his retirement, and he was an Army veteran of World War II. He was a graduate of Stuyvesant High School, Brooklyn, and received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from City College of New York, and his master’s degree in electrical engineering from Rutger’s University.

Mr. Murphy was one of several founders of the Black Voters League, Red Bank. The league’s goals were to acquaint local politicians with the needs of the black community and to elect favorable candidates, he said in a 1983 interview in Asbury Park Press. The league conducts door-to-door voter registration campaigns and uses the churches as forums for voter education, he said.

Mr. Murphy was a member of the Red Bank Board of Education for 14 years, the Red Bank Parks and Recreation Commission, the Greater Red Bank National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Tinton Falls Board of Adjustment, the Eatontown Parents Teachers Association, and the Bates Lodge 220 of the Improved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World. Mr. Murphy was born in Bolivia, N.C., lived in Red Bank for more than 30 years, and came to Tinton Falls in 1979.

Surviving are his wife of 54 years, Ernestine; two daughters, Rita Johnson, New York, and Marsha Longino, Ohio; and three grandsons. Childs Funeral Home, Red Bank, is in charge of arrangements.

Source: Asbury Park Press (Asbury, NJ), 19 April 2007, p22.
Ernestine Elois Norris Murphy,

of Tinton Falls, died Friday, April 13. She was the daughter of Eva and Riddick Norris and grew up and attended school in Brooklyn, N.Y. Ernestine was married to Curtis Q. Murphy. To this union, two daughters were born. In the 1950s, Ernestine moved to Eatontown and later to Red Bank. At an early age, Ernestine was baptized at the Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn, N.Y. When she moved to New Jersey, she became a Watch Care member of the Shrewsbury Avenue A.M.E. Zion Church under the ministry of the Rev. Charles Bourne. She sang with the A.M.E. Choir and served as a Girl Scout leader, sponsored by the church. Ernestine helped to organize and served with the Asbury Park Cotillion for many years. She worked as a volunteer librarian on a book mobile that served migrant workers. Dr. King, Superintendent of the Red Bank School System, appointed her as a social worker for the Red Bank schools. Ernestine also served as a Head Start assistant in the Red Bank school, a nurse’s aide at the Red Bank Convalescent Nursing Home, and was a member of the PTA and the Greater Red Bank NAACP.

She is survived by her two daughters, Rita and Marsha; her brother, William Norris; three grandchildren, Julian, John, and Quentin; a great-grandchild, Erin; and a host of relatives and friends.

Her viewing will be from 10 a.m. Saturday until her service at noon at Shrewsbury A.M.E. Zion Church, 285 Shrewsbury Ave., Red Bank. Interment will be at Monmouth Memorial Park, Tinton Falls. Childs Funeral Home, Red Bank, is in charge of arrangements.


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 Doctor Pearson Murphy 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 Snapshot: Jackson Brown 1890-1940

Jackson Brown’s WWI service resulted in 100% disability. He and his wife never had children, leaving no direct descendants to ensure that his sacrifice is not forgotten.

NC WWI Service Card
Jackson Brown was born in Town Creek, Brunswick County, NC, on July 23, 1890.

Jackson was called to duty on July 15, 1918. He served in the 12th Labor Battalion, serving overseas from August 27, 1918, until March 12, 1919.

When he returned home, he was suffering from empyema: infected fluid between the lung and chest wall.

[Source: Ancestry.com. U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.]

Pvt Brown was not discharged until July 28, 1920, which shows he required an incredibly long period of medical care by the US Army. He was designated 100% disabled, which indicates the Army considered his disability a result of his service.

It’s possible that he was exposed to poisonous gas, which can result in many issues as detailed in a previous profile, and could be responsible for the kidney failure which eventually caused his death. Gas exposure has also been blamed for sterility, contributing to the many WWI veterans who could have no children and thus, had no surviving generations to ensure their lives and sacrifices are not forgotten.

On May 6, 1940, Jackson died as a result of chronic nephritis.

His wife applied for a military headstone, which was installed at Saint James AME Zion Church Cemetery in Leland. She died the following year.

Source of headstone photo: Findagrave


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 Jackson Brown 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 Snapshot: Samuel Benjamin “Bunn” Frink 1899-1989

Samuel Benjamin “Bunn” Frink attempted to serve in WWI while underage and was honorably discharged. He later became a lawyer and was known as “The Perry Mason of Brunswick County.” Throughout his life he served his country by holding many political offices and positions, as well as serving in WWII.

NC WWI Service Card
Samuel Benjamin “Bunn” Frink was born on October 2, 1899, in Shallotte, Brunswick County, NC.

On May 1, 1917, Bunn enlisted in the US Navy in Wilmington, NC. He served for over a month until June 15, 1917, when he was declared underage and honorably discharged.

Records show another Brunswick County WWI veteran, John Newton of Bessemer City, NC, attempted to enlist at Fort Caswell and was discovered to be underage. This notation was found on Pvt Newton’s NC WWI Service Card:

“Under the provisions of the Act of Congress, approved March 2, 1929, (Public #950 – 70th Congress) in the administration of any laws conferring rights, privileges, or benefits, upon honorably discharged soldiers, their widows and dependent children, the above named soldier shall hereafter be held and considered to have been honorably discharged”

Photo source: The State Port Pilot (Southport, NC), 8 May 1935, p. 1.

Bunn was a family friend of Kathryn Kalmanson, daughter of Susie Carson, the late historian and founder of the Southport Historical Society. Susie Carson was also employed at one time by Bunn’s law firm. Kathryn shared the following memories of Bunn:

“Samuel Benjamin Frink was always known as Bunn. His legal signature and name on the letterhead of his law office was “S. Bunn Frink.” No one will recognize him by his real name. But mention the name Bunn Frink in Brunswick County and you’ll get lots of responses even now. He really had a big impact on the county in many ways. He was a man of integrity, and always a gentleman. Please check my info on this, but I believe he did not actually serve in WWI. He said, if I remember correctly, that he lied about his age in order to enlist and was caught before he went overseas. By the time he turned 18, the war had ended. He did serve in WWII, but I think it was in Coast Guard because he was too old for regular enlistment.

“Mr. Frink was an interesting person. Through his work as a lawyer with some newsworthy cases, he became known as “The Perry Mason of Brunswick County.” He was once written up in some lurid but popular crime magazine, True Detective or something like that. He also served many years in the NC State Senate. He had a son and a daughter, both long gone, and no other surviving family that I’ve ever heard of.”

Kathryn shared the following photos.

Bunn lived over 89 years. His accomplishments are displayed at his gravesite, as shown.

Source of headstone photo: Findagrave


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 Samuel Benjamin “Bunn” 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
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How to Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran

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WWI Snapshot: Robert Leroy Stratmon 1900-1944

Robert Leroy Stratmon served in both WWI and WWII. He lost his life while serving in World War II.

NC WWI Service Card
Robert Leroy Stratmon was born on June 12, 1900, in Southport, Brunswick County, NC.

On October 27, 1917, Robert, listed as 18 years old, joined the US Navy. At the time, African American men were assigned only menial positions in the Navy, so he began as a Mess Attendant, 3rd Class. By the end of his service, he had risen to Wardroom Cook.

The 1920 census shows that he had returned to his home in Southport. His family relocated some time later to Boston and NYC.

Robert served in the US Naval Reserves in WWII. He died in service to his country on August 16, 1944. In the excerpt below, his name appears at the bottom right. [Source: The New York Age, June 4, 1946]

His name does not appear on WWII casualty lists, so it is assumed that he died of disease.

His remains were returned four years later from the American military cemetery in New Guinea, (USAF Cemetery, Fischaffen #2) and buried in Long Island National Cemetery.
[Source: Ancestry.com. U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.]

Source of headstone photo: Findagrave


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 Robert Leroy Stratmon 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 Snapshot: George Washington Rappleyea 1894-1966

George Washington Rappleyea is famous as the instigator of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial. He lived in many locations throughout the country, but his residence at the time of his WWI service was Southport, NC. He also remained in Southport for several years in the 1950s.

NC WWI Service Card
George Washington Rappleyea was born on July 4, 1894, in NYC. He was called into active service for WWI on May 26, 1917. After serving three months, he was honorably discharged at the convenience of the government. Perhaps the government determined that his talents were needed in science and engineering rather than the army.

Mr. Rappleyea was a family friend of Kathryn Kalmanson, daughter of Susie Carson, the late historian and founder of the Southport Historical Society. Kathryn shared the following memories:

“Mr. Rappleyea was a fascinating man. He was a mining engineer working in Tennessee when he became friends with John Scopes, a local science teacher who, like Mr. Rappleyea, deplored efforts to suppress modern science in the classroom. After the two of them cooked up a plan to make a test case, Mr. Rappleyea contacted the ACLU and persuaded them to take the case. Then he swore out a complaint against Scopes to start the famous ‘Monkey Trial.’

“When Mr. Rappleyea came to Southport he was retired from engineering. He and his mother, who lived with them, owned the electric company for the town. I’ve always wondered how they discovered Southport, but he liked it because of its beauty and history.

“Here he developed Plasmofalt, a building material made of molasses and cardboard. His idea was to use it to make inexpensive housing in impoverished areas in Latin America and the Carribean. In his travels he had seen some of the miserable conditions and wanted to help. I have a small sample of the stuff made into the handle of a letter opener. In Southport he made Plasmofalt experimentally in his back yard.

“Eventually he needed room for large-scale production so he reluctantly moved operations to Florida. His dream of building houses with Plasmofalt was later put aside when the US Air Force acquired his patent, thinking that the material might be used to pour instant runways at sea in times of crises.

“He was a man of science and also a man of compassion. I was just a child at the time but I adored him. He used to send me wonderful things, like a jar of live sea horses.

“I don’t believe he has any family left. They had no children, and I never heard of any other relatives.”

Read a brief newspaper clipping on his use of Plasmofalt in Southport, available through the Southport Historical Society here.

Source of photos: findagrave
George Washington Rappleyea passed away in 1966 at age 72, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


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 George Washington Rappleyea 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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