Riveters pilots in dress uniforms Mule Rearing doughboys with mules The pilots African American Officers gas masks African American Soldiers 1

Alabama Centennial Blog

Private Owen Fowler

November 9, 2018

Q0000002942Image: Alabama Department of Archives and HistoryOwen Fowler (standing at right in this photo) was born on March 30, 1894, in Hartselle, Morgan County. His father, Robert, was a former slave who briefly served in the Union Army near the end of the Civil War. Twelve members of the Fowler family lived together on their Morgan County farm.

Fowler worked the land with his parents and siblings and was employed at a local cotton gin. He signed his draft registration card with an “X” in June 1917 and indicated that he was employed as a laborer with the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company in nearby Albany, Alabama.

Inducted into the U.S. Army at Decatur on October 28, 1917, Fowler was assigned as a bugler to Company E of the 366th Infantry Regiment, part of the fabled 92nd Division Buffalo Soldiers. He sailed for France in June 1918.

Nearly 3,500 soldiers in the American Expeditionary Forces died on the morning of November 11, 1918, before the cease-fire that would end the Great War at eleven o’clock. As his regiment advanced upon the town of Bouxieres in the Marbache Sector of France, Fowler was mortally wounded by shrapnel from a mortar shell. He died in a field hospital the following day, among the last of almost 2,500 Alabamians killed in France during the war.

Casualty reports published in the state’s newspapers shortly before Christmas erroneously reported that Private Fowler was wounded but alive. Official confirmation of his death arrived in Hartselle two months later. Fowler’s remains were returned to his family in May 1921. His older brother, Mordechai, later requested a government-issued headstone honoring Owen Fowler’s service to his country.

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Alabama Eagle Scouts Commemorate World War I 

November 8, 2018 

wwi 622x350(Image: The Wetumpka Herald)This Sunday, on the centennial of the conclusion of the Great War, officials will dedicate a new monument on the grounds of the Elmore County Courthouse in Wetumpka listing the names of the men from the central Alabama county killed during the conflict. This project was undertaken by seventeen-year-old Owen S. Tilley, a member of local Boy Scout Troop 13. “I wanted to do something that would enhance my home county and be worthwhile for the entire community,” Tilley said. 

Tilley used the Alabama Gold Star Database, compiled from the files of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, to create the list of forty-three soldiers and sailors from the county who died during the war. Among the historians he consulted in writing brief biographical statements on the individuals were Elmore County Archivist Linda Blankenship, Nancy Dupree of the Alabama Archives, Air Force Historian Matt Scales, and Ken Tilley, his father, who works at Fort Rucker’s U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence, and who previously worked at the Alabama Archives for many years.

Owen Tilley raised money to complete the granite monument, which stands five feet tall and features the names on two columns below an etching of a WWI soldier.  The piece was produced by Farmer Memorial, a local company. It will join similar monuments on the courthouse grounds honoring the sacrifice of soldiers and sailors in other conflicts. “They came from all corners of our county,” Tilley told the Elmore County Commission when he appeared before them requesting permission to erect the monument. “During this centennial year, I feel it is appropriate to recognize them.”

The Elmore County World War I memorial will be dedicated at 2:00 pm on Sunday, November 11, 2018.  



cannon crop 622x350(Image: The Wetumpka Herald)Thanks to Eagle Scout Noah Hudson, a familiar attraction at Wetumpka’s Memorial Park has recently received a much-needed facelift. Hudson refurbished the World War I cannon that formerly stood on blacktop in the park and moved it to a new spot near the Coosa River. “The cannon had been sitting there on what used to be a basketball court for some time,” Hudson said. “I thought that it would be a good idea for a project because it’s unique.”

 Because of the blacktop's dilapidated condition, Hudson said the cannon deserved to be in a better location." We couldn't just put it right back there. Right here, it's overlooking the river and lot more pleasing to the eye," he said. In the future, Hudson hopes the area around the cannon will be landscaped and the cannon will be designated as a historic monument. 

At noon on November 11, the public is invited to gather at the cannon to pay their respects to the forty-three soldiers from Elmore County who died during World War I. 



The World Remembers

October 24, 2018

WorldRemembers edited

Several years ago, during the early planning stages for the centennial, the Alabama Department of Archives and History joined with almost one hundred global partner organizations in an effort to display the names of the nine million soldiers killed during the Great War. This collaborative international project, which launched in 2014, is entitled The World Remembers. The Archives provided the list of Alabamians who died during the war, based upon a research project overseen in the 1920s by Marie Bankhead Owen, the department’s second director.

The display of the honor roll of soldiers killed in 1918 began in mid-September and will conclude on Armistice Day, November 11. During this time, the names of more than one million fallen soldiers from sixteen countries will be displayed simultaneously for more than eleven hours each day at museums, interpretive sites, and memorials, as well as online. Before the project ends, The World Remembers will also list official war deaths which occurred through 1922, representing the many thousands who died of their war wounds or disease long after the conflict had ended.

As Alabama’s official memorial to the Great War, it is altogether fitting that the Archives display the names of these fallen soldiers as part of its centennial commemoration. The names of a number of Alabamians will be included in the display. The stories of some of these men will be featured on this blog in the coming weeks. 

To view The World Remembers, visit the “Alabamians in the Great War,” exhibit, located on the second floor of the Alabama Archives, or visit the project website at https://www.theworldremembers.org/.


Remembering the Great War in Kansas City 

October 5, 2018 


Last week, several members of the Alabama Department of Archives and History staff visited Kansas City to participate in the annual meeting of the American Association for State and Local History. While there, they visited the National World War I Museum and Memorial. When it opened in 1926, President Calvin Coolidge said that it had “not been raised to commemorate war and victory, but rather the results of war and victory which are embodied in peace and liberty….”  In 2004, after Congress designated it as America’s official museum of the Great War, the museum and grounds underwent an extensive renovation, including the addition of an 80,000-sqaure foot building which houses the museum’s permanent exhibits.   

A field of than 9,000 poppies can be seen from a glass bridge at the entrance of the main exhibit.  For the Archives’ staff, the stunning site brought to mind John McCrae’s poem, “In Flanders Fields:”


In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.



Remembering the Great War at the Alabama National Fair

September 26, 2018

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Visitors to this year’s Alabama National Fair in Montgomery will have a chance to learn more about the contributions of the state and its citizens to World War I.  In partnership with the Fair and Auburn University’s Caroline Marshall  Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities, the Alabama Department of Archives and History will feature Remembering the Great War in the main expo hall on the fairgrounds. 

This special exhibit combines elements from a 2015 exhibit of WWI posters taken from the Archives’ collections entitled Art of the Great War, and portions of Auburn’s award-winning traveling World War I exhibit. Eight previous blog posts from this site, including the stories of Private Daniel Robinson, Sergeant Leon Ragsdale McGavock, Alabama nurses, and the Montgomery Motor Corps, complete this special exhibit.

The Alabama National Fair opens on Friday, September 28, and closes on Monday, October 8. Learn more about the Fair here.     

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Stories from the Great War: Private Zebedee Haywood


In late September 1918, Talladega’s newspaper, Our Mountain Home, issued a somber notice on the death of Private Zebedee Haywood. Born on September 21, 1898, in Coosa County, he was the firstborn son of Phillip and  Loula Haywood. His young parents were sharecroppers who married the previous year.  By 1910, the Haywoods were living in Clay County. Phillip Haywood worked in a sawmill and Loula took care of Zebedee and his three younger siblings. To help support his family, twelve-year old Zebedee “hired out” as a farm laborer.

By the time he enlisted in the U.S. Army in May 1917, Zebedee Haywood’s family had relocated to a rural section of Talladega County, where his father had resumed farming. Haywood was assigned to Company B of the 167th Infantry, the fabled Rainbow Division. He departed for France from New York in November 1917. 

On July 26, 1918, in the midst of the Rainbow Division’s fierce fighting during the Battle of Croix Rouge Farm, Zebedee Haywood was killed. The regiment succeeded in forcing a German retreat, allowing the Allies to cross the Ourcq River, who thereafter routed the German troops from their entrenched positions in France. But it was a costly battle; over 150 Alabamians died that day alongside Haywood. 

Readers of Our Mountain Home read of Haywood’s death on September 25, four days after what would have been his twentieth birthday (it erroneously lists his death as July 31.) In noting Haywood’s sacrifice, the paper quoted from a letter that Sergeant Edward R. Wren wrote about his friend in the weeks before he died: “In case you or father have the opportunity, please tell Zebedee Haywood’s people that he is well and happy, and just as good a soldier as ever wore the khaki. We are all proud of him in the company, and all Talladega should be proud of him.  He always wears a smile and cheers up all who see him, regardless of the number of shells and how close.” 

Talladega County was proud indeed of Private Haywood and the nine other local men who were killed in the Great War.  In February 1920, the local American Legion post hosted a ceremony presenting the Gold Star families with memorials supplied by the French government. Sergeant Wren served as master of ceremonies. In 1923, civic clubs in the county created a memorial garden in honor of the men.          


New Exhibition Highlights Alabama Aviator

September 12, 2018

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The Museum of Alabama, located inside the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH), has debuted a new temporary exhibit, Penrose Stout’s Illustrated War. The exhibit features large-scale reproductions of sketches, photographs, letters, and diary entries by Alabamian Penrose Vass Stout. Stout left a richly illustrated history of his service as a World War I aviator through his sketchbook and letters home.

Born in Montgomery in 1887, Stout completed engineering and architecture degrees at Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) in 1907 and 1909. A member of the 1st Pursuit Group, 27th Aero Squadron, Stout was shot down near Charny during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in September 1918. He received the Distinguished Service Cross for attacking a German artillery installation and battling numerous enemy pilots. After the war, Stout returned to practicing architecture in New York and became well known for his designs of country homes.

In 2014, Nathaniel Stout donated his grandfather’s sketchbook, letters, and wartime diary to the ADAH. Stout’s writings were meant only for himself and his family. But a century later, his collection offers the public an unvarnished view of the often-romanticized life of a World War I aviator. Combining artistic talent and comedic wit, Stout describes the monotony of camp life, the thrill of combat, and the joy of flight.

To mark the conclusion of the World War I Centennial, the Archives presents reproductions from this unparalleled collection, providing an honest, deeply personal glimpse of war through Penrose Stout’s unique, artistic perspective. The exhibit is on display through the end of 2018 in the ADAH’s Milo B. Howard Auditorium and the corridor just outside, located on the first floor. For additional information, call (334) 353-3312 or visit www.archives.alabama.gov.


“True and Faithful to His Calling”: Private Homer T. Clements

July 25, 2018

Q0000002928In October 1921, Marie Bankhead Owen, director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, received a small package from Robert A. Clements. The Enterprise, Alabama, merchant was responding to Owen's request for information about his son, Homer T. Clements, who died during the Great War. Written in pencil in a steady, beautiful hand, the four-page “biographical memoranda” returned to the Archives offers a heartfelt remembrance of a fallen soldier.

Homer Treadwell Clements was born on July 22, 1899, in Geneva County to Robert and Katherine (Gunter) Clements. Before his first birthday, the family relocated to Enterprise in neighboring Coffee County. At twelve years old, Homer left public school to work in his father’s store. At fifteen, he took a position as a clerk in an Enterprise drug store. Homer was an active member in the local Missionary Baptist Church. His father noted that he was a member of the choir and a leader in the Baptist Youth assembly, “often leading prayer and conducting services.” Like his father, he was a member of the Woodsmen of the World.

“He entered the fight as a private, and was true and faithful to his calling,” his father remembered. Assigned to Company A of the 167th Regiment, 42nd Division, Clements was part of fierce fighting in the Aisne-Marne Offensive. On July 30, 1918, Clements and a group of four soldiers were hit by shrapnel from an exploding mortar shell. The others were instantly killed; Clements, mortally wounded, died within the hour. Robert Clements, who had spoken with several of his son’s comrades, related Homer’s final moments to Marie Owen: “When discovered by some [soldiers], they stopped and asked him if they could be of assistance to him. He replied ‘No boys, don’t bother with me. I’m alright, go ahead.’ He continued to fire at the enemy until he got so weak that his gun slipped from his hands.” They found in his breast pocket a small bundle of letters from his parents and an image of a young unnamed, dark-haired sweetheart.

Homer T. Clements died one week after his nineteenth birthday. His photograph is included in the Archives’ permanent exhibit of Gold Star soldiers displayed on the second floor.

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War News: “A Country Worth Saving For”

June 27, 2018

Readers of the June 27, 1918, edition of the Pickens County Herald would have had a difficult time forgetting the upcoming “National War Savings Day.” Scheduled for Friday, June 28, it was the latest in a long line of savings stamp drives throughout the country.


A U.S. Treasury Department publication referred to War Savings Stamps as “little baby bonds.” Purchased for $4.17 (about $69 today), the stamps would steadily increase in value and would mature on January 1, 1923 with a five-dollar profit. The program’s popular slogan was “A county worth fighting for is a country worth saving for.” 

The editors of the Pickens County Herald agreed. Foregoing their usual advertisements for banks and mercantile stores, the paper filled the pages of its June 27 edition with more than a dozen broadsides promoting the stamp program. Among the most inventive was an ad encouraging Pickens Countians to “Line Up and Sign Up” for the stamp program. It showed a long cortege of individuals young and old waiting to purchase their stamp books, new recruits in “the army that stays at home.” Alongside a pencil sketch of a doughboy, another ad asked, “Are we keeping the faith? Are we scrimping and saving and giving to help out boys do the thing that humanity has asked of them, and to help them come back to us sane and whole?”



“Come Across or the Kaiser Will,” read a more ominous call for support. “We must back up our military forces now or suffer much of what Europe has suffered….  The Government needs money to carry on the war.” Another advertisement, this one paid for by the Pickens County Automobile Company, showed an image of the Kaiser with a stamp over his left eye. “Paste him in the eye with a War Savings Stamp,” it read, “then paste him again and again.  Don’t think you have already done your duty. Pershing’s men ‘over there’ don’t go home after their first battle … they keep on pasting the Kaiser.” 



The following week, the Herald noted that residents had responded enthusiastically to the calls to purchase stamps on June 28 and announced another drive set for late July.



Do You Parley Voo?: WWI French Phrasebooks

June 20, 2018

By: Haley Aaron, Manuscripts Archivist, Alabama Department of Archives and History 

Alabamians who had never spoken French faced a steep learning curve as they prepared for overseas service. However, with pocket-sized phrasebooks and a little ingenuity, they found a way to communicate with French civilians.   

The Alabama Department of Archives and History has examples of two popular phrasebooks carried by Alabamians during the war.

In 1918, The Kolynos Toothpaste Company published the “Kolynos Parley Voo Booklet,” which included a list of French and German phrases (along with advertisements for their toothpaste). A pronunciation guide included a phonetic spelling for each unfamiliar word. The common greeting Bonjour became “bong-joor,” while Adieu was spelled “ard-yeo.” One can only imagine the mispronunciations that the pronunciation guide inspired!




The Soldiers’ French Phrase Book,” published by the Felt and Tarrange Company, was similar, although the guide included different phrases and used more traditional phonetic spellings than the “Parley Voo Booklet.” 

Just like tourists, soldiers who had never spoken French used phrasebooks to ask for directions, order lunch in a local café, and buy souvenirs for their loved ones back home. Soldiers could even kindle romance with a little help from the books, which included ice breakers (“Do you dance?”), compliments (“You are very kind.”), and parting lines (“Don’t forget me!”).    



The wartime phrasebooks also featured a variety of somber phrases that would never appear in a civilian pocket guide. The “Parley Voo Booklet” included an extensive list of phrases that allowed soldiers to describe how they had been wounded to ambulance drivers, doctors, and nurses. Soldiers could indicate if they had been wounded “by a shell splinter,” “by shrapnel,” or “by a bayonet.” “The Soldiers’ French Phrase Book” included the sentences, “He has been wounded in the chest,” and “A bullet pierced his lips.”


Even with the help of a phrasebook, miscommunication was common. In his sketchbook, aviator Penrose Vass Stout recorded this encounter between a doughboy and a befuddled French waiter. “This is not a Hula-Hula dance,” Stout wrote. “It is a picture of an American soldier ordering two-three minute soft boiled eggs by imitating a rooster.”




Memorial Day Weekend World War I Commemorative Events across Alabama

May 21, 2018 

During the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, events throughout Alabama will commemorate the centennial of World War I. If you have an upcoming event that you would like listed on the Alabama World War One Centennial Committee site, please contact Amy Williamson at (334) 353-4689 or amy.williamson@archives.alabama.gov

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Memorial Day Tribute 2018 at Fort Morgan

May 26th, 9:00am to 3:00pm

110 Hwy 180 Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Uniformed interpreters will bring the fort to life through demonstrations of period drills on the fort's parade ground, as well as artillery demonstrations at the water battery. Special talks given by the site historians will provide insight into the military history of Mobile Point from the War of 1812, Civil War, and both world wars. Living history staff will remember those who gave their lives in service at Fort Morgan.

More info:

Phone: (251) 540-7127

Website: http://www.fort-morgan.org/


West Point Collage(Image: Huntsville Museum of Art)

Duty. Honor. Country. Highlights from the West Point Museum at the Huntsville Museum of Art

Saturday, May 26th, 11:00am to 5:00pm
Sunday, May 27th, Noon to 5:00pm
 Closed Mondays

300 Church Street Huntsville, AL 35801

Through nearly 100 objects including works of art, military uniforms, weapons, and historical artifacts, this exhibition tells the compelling story of this fabled military academy and its important contributions to our nation’s history. Highlights include stunning 19th century landscape panoramas of the West Point area and portraits of prominent West Point graduates; various cadet rifles and swords representing different eras in the Academy’s history; war trophies including a British howitzer captured during the Revolutionary War and a Confederate torpedo from the Civil War; and historical artifacts associated with West Point, including a commission letter signed by Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee’s sketch of a cadet cap, Ulysses S. Grant’s Academy diploma, and General Patton’s cadet dress coat.

More info:

Phone: (256) 535-4350

Website: https://hsvmuseum.org/


AmVillage 1(Image: AlabamaLiving.com)

Memorial Day at American Village

May 28th, 10:00am – 3:00pm

3727 Hwy 119 Montevallo, AL 35115

Join us for a day of remembrance, including tributes to America’s veterans and active military. Family-friendly activities include: drilling with the Continental Army; meeting Patrick Henry, Martha Washington, and other patriots of the past; visiting the President’s Oval Office and Concord Bridge; and experiencing the National Veterans Shrine.

More info:

Phone: (205) 665-3535

Website: http://www.americanvillage.org/site/PageNavigator/homepage.html


CEM2279623 133588598810(Image: FindAGrave.com)

Flag Placement Ceremony at Alabama National Cemetery

May 26th, 9:00 am 

Memorial Day Observance at Alabama National Cemetery

May 28th, 9:00 am

3133 Hwy 119 Montevallo, AL 35115

The general public is encouraged to attend both of these moving events. The Tenth Annual Memorial Day Ceremony program will include remarks from Governor Kay Ivey, a flyover, and a special presentation by Major General James W. Darden, US Army Reserve (Retired).

Contact Information:

Phone: (205) 665-9039

Website: http://www.scalnc.org/programs-alabama-national-cemetery.html


"These Sons of Eufaula Also Died": Amending An Alabama Doughboy Memorial

May 16, 2018

Eufaula’s Doughboy Memorial has stood at the downtown intersection of Orange Avenue and East Broad Street for more than ninety years. Erected in 1925 by the Porter R. Doughtie Chapter of the Service Star Legion, the imposing monument honors Eufaula men who “made the supreme sacrifice” during the Great War. Five names occupy the monument’s façade: James Ashbury Boswell, Robert W. Brannon, Hinton W. Holleman, Porter R. Doughtie, and Daniel T. Tully. Beneath these names is carved the common, prayerful command, “Lest We Forget.”

Doughboy Memorial PhotoDoughboy Memorial, courtesy of Doug Purcell

Eufaula Doughboy Memorial 2 Doughboy Memorial, courtesy of Doug Purcell    

Still, there were others who were forgotten. Many World War I memorials erected in the 1920s often did not include the names of African Americans who served. Monuments paid for by subscription, such as the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial in Mobile, often excluded the names of servicemen, black and white, whose families were unable to pay to have them included. 

Later this month, in a special ceremony, the names of six soldiers from Eufaula, one white and five African American, will take their place as part of the city’s World War I memorial.   

The City of Eufaula will dedicate a granite addition to the Doughboy Memorial on May 28, 2018, Memorial Day, at 10AM Central Time. The event is being held in cooperation with the Barbour County Chapter of the NAACP, Eufaula Heritage Association, Eufaula-Barbour County Chamber of Commerce, Lewis Chapter DAR, Historic Chattahoochee Commission, American Legion, VFW, Ozark Chapter of the DAV, Buffalo Soldiers, and the Alabama National Guard. 

Extending along the bottom of the original monument, the addition reads: “These Sons of Eufaula also died in the service of their country during World War I,” followed by the names of Pat Lenard Brown, William Loach, Zachariah Lewis, John H. Thompson, Howard Hill, and Ulysses Persons. 

Eufaula Doughboy Sketch by Kathy Hamrick editedRendering by artist Kathy Hamrick of the Doughboy Memorial with its addition, courtesy of Doug Purcell

The addition was funded by an anonymous donor in honor of Private James F. Lamar, who survived the war. It was manufactured by Jaxon Monument Company. 

The Honorable Jack Tibbs, Mayor of Eufaula, will serve as master of ceremonies. Doug Purcell, Executive Director Emeritus, Historic Chattahoochee Commission, will give the keynote address featuring biographical sketches of the soldiers listed on the memorial.  Records on World War I servicemen kept by the Alabama Department of Archives and History aided in the identification of the six additional soldiers.  “The centennial of World War I is a fitting time for communities to revisit the contributions made by individuals who served in uniform and their families,” said Archives director Steve Murray. “Future residents and visitors to Eufaula will know that in 2018, the city felt it important to recognize the sacrifices of all who gave their lives one hundred years ago.”

Records of the men added to the memorial (courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives and History):

BrownPat Lenard Brown's Gold Star Card

HillHoward Hill’s service card

LoachWilliam Loach’s service card

Q0000002444Zachariah Lewis, a private in the 159th Depot Brigade, died of pneumonia at Camp Taylor, Kentucky, on September 12, 1918. He was twenty-six years old. His body was returned to his mother, Mary Lewis, in Eufaula.

PersonsUlysses Persons’ Gold Star card

ThompsonJohn Henry Thompson’s service card

ClaytonRecord Aug16 1918Clayton Recordclipping of August 1918 shows two of these men, Zacariah Lewis and William Loach bound for Camp Zachary Taylor, Louisville, KY, with forty other men. Both Lewis and Loach would die of pneumonia in mid-September

The ceremony is open to the public. Limited seating will be available. For more information, contact Doug Purcell at 334.687.9787 or dcpurcell@gmail.com.       


War News: “Where Are They?” Alabama Newspapers and the USS Cyclops

May 11, 2018

Last week, Laura Newland Hill discussed the twelve Alabamians who were among the men lost aboard the ill-fated USS Cyclops in the spring of 1918Newspapers in the Yellowhammer State published more than 100 stories about the ship’s disappearance that year. As the likelihood faded that the ship would be found, the initial curiosity turned into a mournful anxiety. “There is of course the faint hope that the vessel may still be afloat,” wrote the editor of the Albany-Decatur Daily, “but her silence indicates that she has gone to the bottom.” 

004Albany-Decatur Daily

“Where are they? What Happened?” asked the Troy Messenger on April 24, 1918, a month after the Cyclops was reported missing. “Many a ship has sunk or burned at sea, but only a few were swept from the water by a fate unguessed – by a power unknown.”

009Troy Messenger

On April 26, 1918, Clay County’s Ashland Progress published a photograph of its native son Francis Olney Strong on the front page. In a short caption beneath Strong’s piercing stare, the paper noted the probability of his death at sea.  A few weeks later, the Montgomery Times published a short wire report that J.P. Beggs, father of Hamilton Beggs, an electrician, second class aboard the Cyclops, had appeared before a Birmingham draft board and requested assignment. “I want to do something for my country,” the aging, bespectacled mechanic told them. The board placed him at a shipyard. 

010Ashland Progress

The Andalusia Star took particular note of the fate of the Cyclops. Seaman Lee Otis Battle’s father, Henry, was a well-known local physician. On April 14, 1918, the newspaper published on its front page a telegram the Battles received from the Navy. The ship’s disappearance “cannot be logically accounted for in any way, as no bad weather conditions or activities of enemy raiders have been reported in the vicinity of her route,” it read.

006Andalusia Star

In an adjacent editorial, the Star noted that “the anxiety and uncertainty of it all, with the faint hope that news may yet come that all are safe, and yet with the still more probable likelihood that all went down with the ship, makes the situation all the more trying on the grief-stricken father and mother of this young hero…” 

007Andalusia Star

The newspaper’s final words about Lee Otis Battle bear quoting in full:

"We think of Otis as the bright, happy, and companionable boy – a favorite among his associates.  We hope that news may yet come that he and all who are on board are still safe.  But if what we fear shall prove to be true and it proves to be that Andalusia’s first victim was our own jolly Lee Otis, we feel assured that since we know he met duty like a true American we also know that he met death, if death has come, like a hero."




Alabama WWI Commission Logo


Georgia Ann Hudson
(334) 353-3312


  • Steve Murray, Director, Alabama Department of Archives and History
  • Maj. Gen. Sheryl E. Gordon, Adjutant General, Alabama National Guard

Honorary Chairman

  • Nimrod T. Frazer, Montgomery 

U.S. Commission Liaison

  • Monique Seefried, Atlanta

Committee Members

  • Greg Akers, Montgomery

  • Leah Rawls Atkins, Birmingham

  • Jim Baggett, Birmingham

  • Mike Bailey, Gulf Shores

  • Donna Baker, Tuscaloosa

  • Randy Bartlett, Auburn

  • Ken Bedsole, Abbeville

  • David Black, Florence

  • Berta Blackwell, Ozark 

  • Young Boozer, Montgomery

  • Borden Burr, Birmingham

  • Lt. Gen. Charles G. Cleveland, Montgomery 

  • Patrice Donnelly, Birmingham

  • Lydia R. Ellington-Joffray, Tuscaloosa

  • Stuart Foss, Birmingham

  • Gary Fuller, Opelika

  • Gen. Walter Givhan, Troy

  • Col. Joe Greene, Montgomery

  • Jan Gunter, Opelika

  • Laura Newland Hill, Auburn

  • Jeff Jakeman, Auburn

  • Gerald Johnson, Butler County

  • Tina Jones, Livingston

  • Mary Jones-Fitts, Faunsdale

  • Mortimer Jordan, Tuscaloosa

  • Jay Lamar, Montgomery

  • Ashley D. Ledbetter, Montgomery

  • Sebastian Lukasik, Montgomery

  • Clark Lundell, Auburn

  • Jo Screws McGowin, Montgomery

  • Shea McClean, Mobile

  • T.C. McLemore, Birmingham

  • Joel Mize, Tuscumbia

  • Darryn Moten, Montgomery

  • Graham Neeley, Montgomery

  • Glenn Nivens, Harpersville

  • Lt. Col. Larry Norred, Bessemer

  • Marty Olliff, Dothan

  • Michael Panhorst, Montgomery

  • Melvina Phillips, New Hope

  • Rob Riser, Livingston

  • John A. Screws, Birmingham

  • Betsy Simmons, Birmingham

  • Steve Trout, Mobile

  • Ruth Truss, Montevallo

  • David Tuck, Rockford

  • Ted Urquhart, Mary Esther, FL

  • Tom Walker, Montevallo

  • Johnny Waller, Montgomery

  • Mike Watson, Montgomery

  • Phil Williams, Gadsden

  • Mark Wilson, Auburn

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