WWI Fort Caswell Nurse Profile: Dora A. Bell 1892-1969

To view this or another nurse profile at any time, click the “WWI Profile” link beside the nurse’s name on Fort Caswell WWI Nurses, which is also accessible by the blue button on the top right of the webpage.

Source: Findagrave
Dora Alice Bell Harris
Cumberland, MD
Army Nurse Corps
2nd Lieutenant

March 22, 1918 – January 5, 1921
Fort Caswell, US Army Post Hospital:
March 22, 1918 – August 8, 1918
September 1, 1918 – November 25, 1919

Dora Alice “Dovie” Bell was born and raised in Pendleton County, WV, in the Appalachian Mountains near Western Maryland. There is a partial family tree in FamilySearch.

The 1900 Census shows the family having five children, all living. Dovie was the second oldest daughter, age 8. Her father was presumably a farmer, as listed on the 1910 Census.

Dora could not be found in the 1910 Census. However, the following articles from 1914 shows she was enrolled in the nursing training program at Western Maryland Hospital in Cumberland, MD, as well as Bellevue Hospital in NYC.

[Source for first clipping: Cumberland Evening Times, 30 June 1914, p. 9; Source for second clipping: Cumberland Evening Times, 31 Dec. 1914, p. 10.]

Nurse Bell is listed in the 1917 Cumberland City Directory.
[Source: Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA]

More news about Dora was found from June 30, 1918.

Another Nurse Leaves for Hospital Service

Tenth from Western Maryland Hospital to Enlist Since March 1 for Army Work
Miss Mildred Parsons, Kansas City, Kan., graduate nurse of the Western Maryland Hospital, leaves today to take up her duties at Base Hospital, No. A, Newport News. Miss Parsons is the tenth Western Maryland nurse to enlist since March 1. Those in service now are: Misses Matilda Duvall, Camp Dix, N.J.; Nola Lepley, Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas; Martha Mont, Corpus Christi, Texas; Ethel Matlick, Walter Reid Hospital, Washington D.C.; Dora Bell, Greenville Hospital, North Carolina; Pearl McFarland, Hospital No. 1, Aberdeen, Md.; Mary A. Boyle and Edith Head, unassigned.

The Government is so much in need of nurses that it is felt the public should do all it can to relieve private duty nurses.
“Another Nurse Leaves for Hospital Service.” Cumberland Evening Times, 30 June 1918, p. 2.

Details of her US Army service may be found on her WWI MD Service Card, which is located in bound volumes, Maryland in the World War 1917-1919; Military and Naval Service Records, Volumes I & II, and is shown below in table form for easier reading. Her military service is not detailed after December 1919, although she remained in the service until January 1921.

03/22/1918 – 08/08/1918 Fort Caswell, NC
08/08/1918 – 09/01/1918 Mobilization Station
09/01/1918 – 10/12/1918 Base Hospital No. 60 (France)
10/12/1918 – 10/17/1918 Base Hospital No. 81 (France)
10/17/1918 – 04/09/1919 Provisional Hospital No. 1
04/09/1919 – 05/09/1919 Evacuation Hospital
05/09/1919 – 07/29/1919 Camp Hospital No. 33 (Brest, France)
07/29/1919 – 11/25/1919 Demobilization Station
11/25/1919 – 12/06/1919 Base Hospital; Fort Sam Houston, TX

The Passenger List below is for Aquitania, leaving NY on September 2, 1918, containing 8 pages of nurses in the Army Nurse Corps, for a total of over 200. This excerpt shows her mother as her next of kin, with her mother’s address as Elkins, WV. As mentioned in the introductory Fort Caswell nurse post, nurses were not assigned overseas service against their will.

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

As her service card above shows, she moved assignments often while overseas. She was also the recipient of the Order of St. Sava (Serbian) Military Year: 1917-1919. No details were found regarding the award.

When she returned to the United State near the end of 1919, she continued service but as mentioned, details are unknown. Her final day of service was the date she was married, January 1, 1921.

On January 1, 1921, Dora A. Bell, graduate nurse from Elkins, WV, married Joseph M. Harris, US Army Officer currently living in Los Angeles.
Source of excerpt shown above: Ancestry.com. California, Marriage Records from Select Counties, 1850-1941 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.

Dora and Joseph remained in Los Angeles until their deaths. Joseph would eventually become a real estate broker, as shown in the 1930 Census. The 1940 Census includes three of Dora’s brother’s children. Curiously, the children are also listed that year in her brother Minor’s Census in WV. The reasons behind this are unknown.

No additional information or obituaries were found. Dora Alice Bell Harris passed away on June 29, 1969, in Los Angeles at age 76. She was laid to rest next to her husband at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA.

If you would like to help us honor Dora Alice Bell Harris 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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