Let’s All Be Americans Now: The Great War and the Soldiers of Jacinto, Dallas County, Arkansas

DCM WWI slideshow for Mt. Carmel Jacinto

The following is the full text of the program at the Mt. Carmel Homecoming on September 10, 2017, presented by Sandra Parham Turner and Melrose Smith Bagwell. They have close ties to Jacinto and are both on the board of directors at the Dallas County Museum in Fordyce, Arkansas, where Melrose is the assistant director, and Sandra is over public and media relations. Earlier this year, the museum received a grant from the Department of Arkansas Heritage to upgrade its World War I exhibit. As a result of this and through much research, a program was developed that can be tailored for the audience to whom it is presented. This particular one was designed for Jacinto in Dallas County, Arkansas. A pdf of the slideshow is included in this post (click on the link above), as well as the full text of the presentation.

(Sandra Parham Turner) [PHOTO OF LET’S ALL BE AMERICANS NOW] This year marks the 100th anniversary of the United States’ involvement in World War I. Today, Melrose and I are here to tell you about the men from Jacinto who served in “the war to end all wars.”

[NAMES OF THOSE WHOSE REGISTRATION CARDS I FOUND] I did some research on the internet and was able to find several men from Jacinto, some young and a few who were a little older, who were registered for the war. I am sure this is not all of them, but these were the ones I found online. I only listed the ones who were living in Jacinto at the time of registration (with the exception of Claude Bradley), but there were several more who listed Jacinto as their birthplace who were living elsewhere when they registered for the war. I’m going to show you some of the registrants who ended up staying on the home front, to my knowledge, for various reasons. So, on these cards, the information asked would vary depending on which round the registration occurred. For instance, they either had boxes to put the height and weight or boxes to check whether the registrant was slender, medium, or stout. [PHOTO OF CHAMPIE] It is on record that George Champion “Mr. Champie” Ennis was 43 years old when he registered! He was 5’7” and it was noted at 160 pounds, he was in the “stout” category. They also would have a place to note the eye color and hair color and a yes or no to whether the registrant was bald! Nearly everyone had brown hair except for Arthur Edwin Mann. [PHOTO OF ARTHUR] Guess what color it was? (Red!) You could claim an exemption for not being able to serve in the war, but whether or not it would be granted would be up to the board. [PHOTO OF HILLMON] John Hillmon Taylor claimed exemption because he had weak eyes – and a wife! The registration also listed the person’s occupation. Every one I found was listed as a farmer; either working for themselves or their fathers. The only exception was for John Lemuel Dedman. [PHOTO OF LEM] At 26 years old, he was of medium height, his build was “stout,” he had blue eyes, dark hair, he was married, and he was a minister for the Little Rock Methodist Conference. My granddaddy, Ray Smith, enlisted in the third and final round on September 12, 1918. [PHOTO OF RAY] He was listed as being 5’10” and on that day, he weighed 170 pounds, making him three inches taller and ten pounds heavier than Mr. Champie, but he was listed as being of medium height and build. I guess the heaviness was in the eye of the registrar and no two of them judged a person the same. A month after Ray registered, evidently he had gained 5 pounds already. His mother wrote a letter to his brother Jesse who was serving as a camp cook at Camp Pike. “Here’s Ray, he’s been feasting since he got in. Says he eats too much. Weighs 175 pounds and looks to weigh 200 by the time they get through vaccinating him. I told it wrong he said by the time he got through eating Uncle Sam’s grub.” He never made it – we all thought he didn’t serve because he had flat feet, but the real reason was simple….the war ended before he got called up to serve.

One person who did go on to serve was Claudius, better known as Claude, Bradley. [PHOTO OF CLAUDE] The American Legion post in Fordyce was named in his memory, as he was the first Dallas County resident to die in World War I. His registration card stated he was born in Jacinto and located his residence at Swaty, just outside of Jacinto. Claude was 26 years old when he died at sea on February 5, 1918. Of course, he was buried at sea, but he has a marker at Tanyard Cemetery.

In the Taylor Cemetery is a grave marker that always has fascinated me. It has the names of two brothers on it, John Hunter and Robbert Sidney Walker. They were the sons of Joseph Thomas and Bettie Sue Walker, who I believe sent four of their sons off to this war. Only two would return. [PHOTO OF GRAVE MARKER] I’ve been to that cemetery many, many times in my life, and I always was drawn to that marker because it was for two brothers who died close together, both during World War I. Even more fascinating to me was that the marker said Hunter died at sea. Let me tell you more about these brothers.

[PHOTO OF HUNTER] John Thomas Hunter Walker was a member of the U. S. Army. His World War I draft card listed his occupation as farming and that he was employed by John Mays in Jacinto. It also described him as being of medium height and build and having blue eyes and brown hair. Hunter wrote this letter home on September 19, 1918:

“Dear Marther [Mother?] Will write you a few lines to let you hear from me. I am doing fine and hope you all are well. We leave here tomorrow Sept. 20 1918. We got orders last Friday to get ready to leave here and we are Still here now. But I guess we will go now. They have just drilled the fool out of us this week. I can act like a Soldier now – I know a little about army life I think by this time. I don’t know where we will go for sure. One of the Lt. died aboard ship en route to France.” In a letter home written less than two weeks later, on October 2, Melrose’s father, Jesse Smith, mentioned that Hunter was at Camp Merritt in New Jersey. Camp Merritt was a military base activated during World War I, from which nearly one million troops marched to board ferryboats that took them to Hoboken, New Jersey, where they boarded troop transports bound for Europe and the war. It would be interesting to know just how many of our Dallas County men passed through that camp.

The Chaplain on board the ship Hunter sailed on wrote the following letter to his parents:

At Sea. Oct 11-1918

Mr. & Mrs. J.T. Walker

Parents of John Walker

Prvt in 19th Co.

As one who was with your son during his last illness and death, and called on to perform the last rites at his funeral. I write you more fully than the official announcement would carry the circumstances surrounding his last days. He came aboard the ship with a slight cold as it seemed, but was too plucky to report sick. After a few days out from land, it developed into an attack of measles, He was taken to Hospital where most sufficient and kindly doctors did all they could for him, but pneumonia developed, and he became very sick. He sent for me after I had left him about 2 hrs. before and said “I don’t want you to just come and cheer me up But I feel I am a pretty sick man and may not get well. And if I do not, wish you to write home. Gave his Father’s address. He said “I am not afraid to die. Jesus Christ is my Savior and whatever he thinks best for me. That is the best. Say a prayer for me, and I will pray with you. I tried to do my best, and I am going to do all I can to get well, and go on with the boys, and help finish up this job. But let’s face things as they are. Do what we can, and leave the rest to God.” I prayed with & for him and called frequently after that. But he kept getting worse and Early this morning passed away. I held a service with his company and then his body was committed to the great deep, while his spirit had already gone on to the Father of us all. His body was wrapped in the flag of his country. He was a brave, noble and heroic a soldier as if he had died on the field of battle in the cause of Liberty.

(Rev) Lee M. Brothe [r?] Sec. of Y.M.C.A.

Hunter was 13 days’ shy of his 26th birthday when he died on October 11. His body was committed to the Atlantic Ocean, but he shares a marker with his brother in the community where they were born and raised, and where they called home.

[PHOTO OF SIDNEY] Robbert Sidney Walker was four and a half years younger than his brother Hunter. He, too, was a member of the U. S. Army, and his draft card showed that he worked for W. A. Green in Jacinto.  It stated that he was of medium build and height, that he had blue eyes and light-colored hair. He was stationed at Camp Pike in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he died at the age of 21 of a respiratory illness on November 6, 1918, just five days before the war ended.

(Melrose Smith Bagwell) My father was Jesse B. Smith.  He enlisted in the Great War in July of 1918 and was discharged in December of 1918. Due to the war ending on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, he never did leave Camp Pike.  [PHOTO OF JESSE] I never saw a photo of him in uniform.  He was a cook and attended the School for Bakers and Cooks. He knew about cooking because he was the oldest of 6 children and had helped his mamma cook at home.  We have several letters from him to the family back home as well as some that he received from the family. I found a letter last week that I found very interesting.  He wrote home and told his family to:

Please Ans. my. Questions

how Sid is and what his address is Will Hunter be brought back home. Have you ever heard from Horace Mann. Hope it will soon all be over what was Hunter’s trouble wish I could hear from you all more often. Oh Papa dear Papa it look’s like you would write your dear son more often. Oh why not. Ray it may be you would have to go if you do when do you think you will go.

Well Papa place that check in the bank in my name or your’s if it is easier or you put in your name and give Ray check for $32.00 for carrying it is that correct and also pay him for the fodder he pulled do this at once make mamma a check at once for $7.00 Mamma is that correct.

(4) Papa pay for all cotton picking at your prices and figures and send me a statement of it push my cotton picking and corn pulling with this money. Did you sell my suit of clothes did you want my horse.

I just Red a letter for Clarance Rigg he can’t Read nor write his name. Mamma thank you for that chicken I have not got it yet but oh I wish I had it is Ruined by now I can’t help but think of poor Hunter. Wish I knew how Sid was also glad to hear from Geo. Bradley. You know you wrote me he was so low. Sorry to hear of Miss Callis death also Mrs. Holmes. You know Reace carried me home. I expect to be home a bout Xmas for good. We will know by Monday morning. I guess it is not worying me much I am very well satisfied lifing a easy life. Must stop so by by Jesse B. Smith Mamma I am living a joly [jolly] life and will be home some day by and by I am taking the very best care I can of my self)

Dear Family about 7:30 A.M. Nov. 9 over my light lunch only 2 slices of bread little mush few spoon’s of milk and a poor cup of coffee. We all stay hungry well I have got my bed made. I hear the rifle range

4 out of our 19 have got sick a gain and gone to bed. I am making it fine getting a little weak with nothing to eat much and not much money to buy from the canteen. I will be out of here in a few day’s I think. Last thing last night and first thing this morning was Poor Hunter that has passed on from this vail of tears. Prepared or unprepared ok it makes me feel so snug and sweet to Know I am Prepared to meet my God in the judgement day I am resting in my savior’s precious love. Ah it makes me hapy to know I have a home on high where there will be no war no death no pain no lonelyness no parting no weeping no hunger no thirst and no night there a sweet rest for ever and ever this heaven my home on high where I will go some sweet day. Don’t get the (idea) I am home sick for I am not so by by Jesse B Smith

The Sid that he wanted to know about was the Robbert Sidney Walker that Sandra just told you about. Daddy didn’t know that Sid was dead. He asked if they would bring Hunter’s body back.  That was the Hunter Walker that died at sea..  He was sad all through the letter about Hunter.  He kept wondering if Hunter was prepared to die, and he went on to tell the family that he was prepared to die. I noticed in the chaplain’s letter that he said Hunter told him that he was prepared to die. Then he asked if they had heard from Horace Mann [PHOTO OF MR. MANN] who was another one of the Jacinto boys in the War … and was Sandra’s step-grandfather.  Mr. Horace was one of daddy’s best friends.  He told about so many of the soldiers having the flu and dying, and at one time, he talked about how hungry he was because they didn’t have any food. In his letters, Daddy talks about his crops and what his brothers needed to do about harvesting them so apparently he had already planted his crops before he enlisted. One of his brothers that he mentioned was Ray Smith, who was Sandra’s grandfather.

At the Dallas County Museum, we have photos on the wall of our new World War I exhibit of the men from Dallas County who served, as well as relics in display cases from a few of those men. If you have an ancestor from Dallas County you would like to include, we would love to add to our display. We have a number of letters written during WWI, including a binder of letters written by Joseph Edward Smith to his mother back in Sparkman as he traveled from there to Missouri, Georgia, in France, and back to New York. We also have Jesse Rothwell’s journal of his journey to and in France. To me these letters and this journal give us a better idea as to what these soldiers went through and the sacrifices they made and how many of them lost that lives in order for us to enjoy the freedoms that we have today … which reminds me [PHOTO OF FLAG ON FIELD IMAGE]

All Gave Some, Some Gave All

Some stood through for the red, white and blue

And some had to fall

And if you ever think of me

Think of all your liberties and recall

Some Gave All


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New Books

Turtlehull Publishing has made available the latest books to be published. They are both fascinating histories; one is about a small Dallas County, Arkansas, community, the other about a young boy who became a man through his years of service in the United States Army.


First is The History of Jacinto, a revised edition of a book compiled by my mother Clora Smith Parham and her cousin, Melrose Smith Bagwell. The updates to it include new formatting, additional photographs from the 1800’s to the 1970’s, new information and stories on various families, and the addition of one of my favorite columns of any newspaper, the “dots.” If you have read in small town newspapers the columns dedicated to the news of the various communities, then you have read a “dot.” I did research at the Dallas County Library in Fordyce and used that wonderful invention, the microfilm reader, to go through area newspapers from the 1920’s and the 1940’s. I could have sat there for days reading through those old newspapers. They were fascinating not just for the dots but for the grocery store and clothing store advertisements and front page headlines. What an excellent source of history contained on those rolls of microfilm! The original version of the book was stories and photographs copied onto sheets of paper and placed in page protectors inserted into 3-ring binder notebooks. This release will be an 8×10 paperback book, with a full-color cover and 175 pages of black and white photographs, family histories, and stories of the community of Jacinto, Arkansas. This book will be available September 9. It will retail for $20 with proceeds from the book to be divided equally between the Mt. Carmel Methodist Church Homecoming and Preservation Association and the Macedonia Baptist Church, both located in Jacinto.




The second book is entitled Memories of a Colonel, a first-person account of a young boy born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1927 who would eventually become a leader of men. It is a life told with much detail, sometimes humorous, often sobering, always enthralling. There are football games, youthful exploits, gripping details of battles and the grim aftermath, friendships, love, family, travel, and making a home wherever he was in the world. This book, written over 30 years ago by the man who lived it, was set aside and forgotten about until this past spring when he and his wife rediscovered it. I have been working on it since April 1 with the transcribing it into a digital copy, researching, editing, and formatting it into a 6×9, 363-page paperback book, divided into sections illustrated with photographs of the Colonel and also of his wife and family. This book will be available November 11 on Veterans Day. The book will retail for $20 with proceeds from the book to benefit the Dallas County Museum.


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What is Turtlehull Publishing up to now?

Currently, I am editing a memoir written over 30 years ago by a retired Army Colonel. He and his wife rediscovered this manuscript not long ago and promptly asked if I would help them publish it privately for their family. The book is fascinating, a “coming of age” book, military-style. It spans a period of over 50 years, beginning in Little Rock in the late 1920’s and ending in Little Rock in the early 1980’s, with a full circle of the globe in between those years. The Colonel and his wife will decide later whether or not they want to make it available publicly. Stay tuned!

Also, I had someone inquire about the possibility of us having mutual family members and if I could help her find some information on them. I referred her to the book my mother, Clora Smith Parham, and her cousin, Melrose Smith Bagwell, compiled of family histories called The History of Jacinto 1849-2007. It was printed on copy paper and placed in binders. Since she will be purchasing one of the last available copies, I decided it was time for another project. I am planning to work with Melrose to update the book and publish it in a soft cover, with the proceeds donated to a worthy cause in Dallas County. If you have connections to Jacinto, contact me if you want to include your family’s history in the book.

I am going to move my personal blog, The Turtlehull, to this blog over the upcoming month of July. I hope you will take a look at it – either come back in a month, or go to http://theturtlehull.com/. Since I haven’t posted on it in over a year, I believe it’s time to merge the two and by doing that I hope to keep up with it better!

For now, follow me at one of the links at the bottom of this post, and click on the contact link above to let me know if Turtlehull Publishing can help you with your book!

Thanks for stopping by to see me –


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