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

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