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Morris Henry Stadler

Submitted by: James P. Axtell {Grand nephew of his spouse}

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Morris Henry Stadler born around 1896. Morris Stadler served in World War 1 with the United States Army . The enlistment was in 1918 and the service was completed in 1919.

Story of Service


Morris Henry Stadler and Irene Derse

Morris Henry Stadler was born in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin 26 March 1896. He married Irene Genevieve Derse in Racine, Wisconsin 27 May 1925. My grand Aunt Irene Derse is one of the five sisters of my grandfather, Alexander Anthony Derse.

He was the son of Morris Christopher Stadler and Rosa Schantik. Morris and Rosa married in 1893 in Milwaukee. The elder Morris, a teamster, was born in Manitowoc, Wisconsin 3 Jan 1871 and died in Milwaukee 19 Aug 1904. Rosa, a native of Germany, died in Wauwatosa 8 April 1905. Both parents died of tuberculosis-type diseases, and their children were forced into orphanages.
Morris had an older sister, Alma, and a younger brother, William. (A brother, Edward, died at age two months in 1895.) After their mother’s death, Morris and William were placed in a Wauwatosa boys’ home.

At his June 1917 draft registration, Morris was living in Lake Forest, Illinois and worked as a brakeman on the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee (CNSM) Railroad. CNSM was an interurban railway operating between the south side of Chicago and downtown Milwaukee. It began service in 1895 in Waukegan, Illinois and extended gradually. Samuel Insull, organizer of Commonwealth Edison, purchased the line in 1916 and it was a financial success. After World War II, ridership fell off, and it ceased operations in 1963.

Uncle Morris was called to the draft in July 1917 and was assigned as a corporal of Company I, 55th Infantry Regiment. The regiment became part of the 13th Brigade, U.S. Seventh Division, Army regulars. Morris entered active duty 2 May 1918, and trained at Camp MacArthur in Waco, Texas, before transport to Camp Merritt, New Jersey. The 55th Regiment boarded the troopship SS Leviathan at Hoboken, departing 3 Aug 1918 and arriving at Brest eight days later.

Leviathan was built as the German luxury liner Vaterland, famous for its immensity and speed. The ship was in New York harbor when war broke out in 1914. The German captain, fearing interception by the Royal Navy, kept the vessel in New York, but it was seized by the U.S. Government in April 1917. Vaterland was renamed, gutted and fitted for transporting troops. A spartan, camouflaged accommodation, its Ritz-Carlton restaurant became a soldiers’ mess hall and its swimming pool was converted for baggage. Morris’ voyage was notable in that it was the largest single transport of soldiers up to that time -- over 13,000 aboard including 10,000 enlisted men, 2,000 crew and 1,000 Army and Navy officers. On a later sailing in September and October 1918, Leviathan endured the outbreak of the influenza pandemic, with thousands of soldiers, crew and medical personnel afflicted.

Upon arrival in France, Morris’ Company I camped at Villiers-le-Bois, about 130 miles southeast of Paris. By October, the regiment, part of the Second American Army, was at Vilcey-sur-Trey, on the battlefront south of Metz and Verdun. The Seventh Division fought in the offensives at St. Mihiel and Argonne-Meuse, the battles which finally compelled the German surrender.

In December, U.S. newspapers published casualty lists. The Rock Island Argus and Champaign Daily News reported Illinois casualties, including Corporal Morris H. Stadler of Lake Forest. We do not know the extent of his injury, or where it occurred, but he was listed as “wounded slightly.” His 1942 World War II draft registration noted a “shrapnel scar on lower left leg.” He did not return to his regiment but was in the military hospital at Blois until his departure 17 Dec 1918 on SS La France, arriving at New York on Christmas Eve. According to his Veterans Administration index, he was discharged 7 Jan 1919, but his regiment did not return to the States until June of that year. The 1920 U.S. Census shows that he had resumed his work as a railroad brakeman.

Wright’s Directory of Milwaukee for 1926 shows Morris as a conductor, and Morris and Irene living at 843 27th Street. Irene’s mother, Clarissa Rudolf Derse (the writer’s great grandmother) lived with her daughter and son-in-law. In 1927, the Stadlers moved to 629 54th Street, Clarissa’s address at her death 6 Nov 1927.

Irene Derse, my grandfather’s sister, was born 5 Nov 1904, the youngest of the five daughters and four sons of Eugene and Clarissa Derse. She was baptized four days later at St. Catherine of Alexandria Church in Mapleton. She was not quite seven years old when her father died. Irene was employed as a clerk at Gimbel’s Department Store before and after her marriage.

I was eight years old when we visited the Stadlers at their home in Menomonee Falls, about 1961. Irene and Morris had a kennel with a large black dog, Arturo, who impressed us with his playfulness. In his retirement, Morris was an usher at Milwaukee County Stadium. I remember receiving a box containing baseballs, with one autographed by the Milwaukee Braves, including Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews and Warren Spahn. My brothers and I naturally played with the ball, heedless of respect for its value.

Irene and Morris had no children. Aunt Irene died in Menomonee Falls 3 May 1968, and Morris died there 24 March 1984. They are buried at St. Jerome Cemetery in Oconomowoc.

(Sources for this story include Edgar Tremlett Fell’s History of the Seventh Division, United States Army, 1917-1919, Ancestry.com and Newspapers.com.)

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