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Cole County's Grace Hershey remembered as World War I heroine 

By Michelle Brooks, Historic City of Jefferson
via the Jefferson City, MO News Tribune (newspaper) web site

gracehersheypassport9430580362 Grace HersheyOne woman is named on the Cole County World War I Memorial at the courthouse. Grace Hershey was a stenographer with the American Red Cross.

Highly praised for her clerical skills in contests and courtrooms, the 31-year-old took a significant pay cut when she left her job with the state insurance department to go overseas.

Her fiancé, Thorpe Gordon, had deployed to France in August 1918. Her departure only a month later was "her patriotic duty to do what she can to help win the war," the Abilene Weekly Reflector said.

After visiting her family in Abilene, Kansas, she boarded a ship bound for France only a month before the war's end. She died of pneumonia aboard the transport ship and was buried at sea.

Her family received two false communications before learning of her death. The first reported her safe arrival and the second that a "Winifred Heath" had been buried at sea. They had to telegraph Washington, D.C., for an explanation to learn it was their daughter and sister.

The American Red Cross still was a small organization, growing and developing its identity when Europe was thrown into conflict in 1914. Aid workers began serving immediately, though the U.S. did not declare war on Germany until April 1917. And their work continued for three years after the war ended in November 1918.

During that seven-year period, Hershey was one of 400 American Red Cross workers who died, including 296 women.

Nationally, Hershey is among 161 women on the Women's Overseas Service League's Gold Star Women list, compiled for Armistice Day 1922 to recognize "American girls who gave their lives in the world war." Most were buried in France, but others were in Siberia, Armenia, China, Manila and England. Four other women from Missouri are remembered — Katherine Hoffman, of Queen City; Catherine Cecil, of St. Louis; Margaret Keirn, of Schlater; and Ina Klinfelter, of Diamond.

In her hometown of Abilene, Kansas, the Ladies of the Presbyterian Church equipped a patient room in the local hospital where her name is among 51 gold stars of those lost from Dickinson County, Kansas, in the first world war.

Read the entire article on the News Examiner web site here:

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