Honoring Wayne County’s WWI Dead: Alphonso Mayo

Ezra Alphonso Mayo made the ultimate sacrifice on September 12, 1918

Ezra Alphonzo Mayo photograph
Alphonso Mayo , 1917
courtesy Ray Mayo

Alphonso was born January 16, 1888 near Eureka to Jesse (1848-1901) & Nancy (1849-1911) Mayo. The 1900 census lists a large household: Jesse (52), Nancy (54), Sarah (28), Jesse (28), Celia (23), Alison (21), Lena (19), Bertie (17), Hugh (14) Ezra Alphonso (12), & Ellen P. Smith (47).

He registered for the draft on June 5, 1917 and was inducted into the US Army in Goldsboro on September 24. His first assignment was to the 81st Division at Camp Jackson, near Columbia, SC. In a letter to his sister, he wrote that he was “getting along well as I can expect” but that he was not getting enough to eat, and what he was fed was “not cooked very good”.

Ezra Alphonzo Mayo service card
Mayo’s WWI service card

On February 6, 1918 he was reassigned to Company L of the 11th Infantry Regiment, 5th Division. In April he and his unit left by train for the port of Hoboken, NJ where they boarded the SS Leviathan on the 24th bound for France. The ship had originally been the German liner Vaterland, but had been seized by the US in 1917 and re-purposed as a troop transport.

The 5th was sent to northeast France into the heart of the action around the village of Thiacourt, not far from the border with the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Germany. On September 12, Alphonso fell in battle. The exact cause of his death is not known, his service card simply states that he was killed in action.

St. Mihiel American Cemetery
St. Mihiel American Cemetery

Ezra Alphonso Mayo is buried at St. Mihiel American Cemetery in Thiacourt, France along with three other Wayne County men killed in the war- Nathaniel K. Thornton, Frederick L. Casey, & James Grover Summerlin (featured in a previous post). The notice of his death was sent to his brother, Alison, in Selma.

Click on any of the images below (or above) for a larger view.

  • Ezra Alphonzo Mayo Red Cross temporary grave
    A photograph of his temporary grave. The Red Cross produced these and sent them to the family of the serviceman killed. Alphonso's remains were later moved to St. Mihiel American Cemetery. courtesy Ray Mayo

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