WWI Films in Wayne County

Goldsboro Daily Argus June 4, 1921, Flashes of Action promoMount Olive Tribune, February 27, 1919, To Hell with the Kaiser advertisementWar propaganda films are as old as the medium itself. Dozens, if not hundreds, were made in the US during World War I. Charlie Chaplin produced and starred in multiple propaganda films, including The Bond, a series of short clips promoting the sale of Liberty Bonds. In one clip he literally beats the Kaiser with a war bond.

Two films appeared in theaters in Wayne County; the documentary Flashes of Action in Goldsboro and the comedy To Hell with the Kaiser in Mount Olive.

Goldsboro Daily Argus June 4, 1921, Flashes of Action article
Goldsboro Daily Argus – June 4, 1921 click to enlarge

Flashes of Action came to the Acme Theatre on Center Street on June 6 & 7, 1921 and ran about forty-five minutes long. The US Army Signal Corps filmed American troops from training in the US to combat on the front lines of Europe.

To Hell with the Kaiser lobby posterThe silent comedy film To Hell with the Kaiser, came to the Victoria Theatre in Mount Olive in February 1919. The plot centers on Kaiser Wilhelm and a German actor hired to be his body double. Wilhelm makes a pact with the Devil but is captured by American forces and commits suicide in a POW camp. In hell, the devil hands his throne over to the Kaiser, whom he claims is far more evil than he (Satan) could ever hope to be.

Unfortunately, To Hell with the Kaiser is a lost film. There are no known existing copies. Copies of Flashes of Action do exist and the National Archives has digitized the film and made available to the public. It can be viewed below.

To Hell with the Kaiser poster

Honoring Wayne County’s WWI Dead: Fred Reid

Fred Reid 371st InfantryFred Reid was born October 1, 1892 in the Fork Township area. His parents were Charles (1864-1922) & Louvenia Howell (1863-1901).

Fred joined the 371st Infantry, part of the 93rd Division, in early 1918 after several months of training at Camp Jackson, SC.

Aboard the USS Madawaska, his unit arrived in France in April 1918.

93rd division patch
93rd Division logo. The Adrian helmet was worn by French troops and signified the 93rd’s connection to French forces in the war.

The 93rd Division was composed of black troops, including the famous Harlem Hellfighters. The division was put under the command of the French.

Beginning September 26, Fred’s unit attacked heavily entrenched German troops as part of the Meuse-Argonne offensive. With 1.2 million troops engaged, it is the largest American military operation in history. By the armistice of November 11, 1918, 26,000 American troops had died in the offensive.

On September 26 Fred was killed in action just south of the French village of Monthois. He is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, alongside 14,000 other Americans killed in WWI, including Foster Stevens and Elam Summerlin of Wayne County.

Previous Wayne County WWI posts:

Gaston Dortch
King David Simmons
Andrew Best
Miles Faison Harris
Charles Rom Hardesty
Ezra Alphonso Mayo
Grover Summerlin
Camp Royster, Wayne County Fairground
John Burt Exum
Boys Battalion, 1905
Remembering the Forgotten Dead of a Forgotten War
North Carolina National Guard on the Border
World War I & North Carolina: 30th Division, 119th Infantry

Men of Wayne County in World War I

Goldsboro NC Wayne County Memorial Community Building campaign posterOver 1800 young men from Wayne County served in World War I.

More than 50 lost their lives.

The following are three lists:

1) names and basic information on the men that served in the war with a connection to Wayne County
2) names and information for the men that lost their lives
3) a list of men whose letters to home were collected just after the war by Gertrude Weil and the local Red Cross. After the death of Ms. Weil,  these letters were given to the State Archives.

The Wayne County Public Library  will be presenting public programs this fall on the war and its effect on the soldiers and families of the county.

If you recognize a relative or anyone else on the lists and you have information on them (photos, documents, family info, etc…) please contact Marty Tschetter, local history librarian, at (919)735-1824 or Marty.Tschetter@waynegov.com .

Read moreMen of Wayne County in World War I

WWI and Goldsboro’s War on Pool Rooms

Places of Idling

In May 1918 the Goldsboro Board of Aldermen voted to temporarily revoke the licenses of all pool rooms within city limits for the duration of World War I.

Representatives from many of the largest churches, and the Jewish temple Oheb Shalom, signed the petition and presented it to the alderman on May 6. They stated that their request was a “war measure” and that the

energy, time and money spent by our men and youth in the pool rooms is practically a waste, and should be diverted into productive channels.

The petitioners claimed that such action was not meant to “injure any man’s legalized business”, although how they could rationalize this as anything other than financial injury is suspect.

Local attorney J. Langhorne Barham represented the interests of the local pool room operators but his best efforts were not successful. The board agreed to the ban in a 5-3 vote at a special session on May 13.

Read moreWWI and Goldsboro’s War on Pool Rooms

Wayne County History in Maps: Post-Civil War to Present

This is the final post in a three part series. Check out Part I & Part II.

Wayne County map 1881
Click to enlarge. Courtesy North Carolina State Archives.

With the end of the Civil War, investment in the shattered state railroad infrastructure began again. Work also resumed on dirt roads across the county, many of which survive today, although paved over.

The map to the right dates to 1881 and exhibits dozens of roads, in red pencil, along with the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad line running north and south.

Curiously absent are the North Carolina and Atlantic & NC Railroad lines running east and west. Both lines had been in existence for over twenty years when this map was drawn.

Read moreWayne County History in Maps: Post-Civil War to Present

Honoring Wayne County’s WWI Dead: Gaston Dortch

Gaston Dortch portraitGaston Lewis Dortch was born February 18, 1893 in Goldsboro to William and Elizabeth. He had two brothers, Hugh & Redmond, and four sisters, Elizabeth, Mary, Anna & Helen. The family lived at 212 N. William St., near where the post office downtown now stands.

His father was a United States Marshal and his grandfather was William Theophilus Dortch, a well respected lawyer. Gaston attended both UNC and NC State and after graduation followed in his father’s footsteps as a marshal. He was assigned to the Raleigh district, led by his father.

Read moreHonoring Wayne County’s WWI Dead: Gaston Dortch

Wayne County Veterans’ Spotlight: Edgar Bain

Edgar Hope BainEdgar Hope Bain was born in Goldsboro on January 20, 1884 to Theodore Howard (1855–1906) & Susan Elizabeth (1854–1925). His father was an insurance salesman and chief of the Goldsboro Fire Department. He married Agnes Louise Hobbs (1894–1978) and they had one child, George Edgar (1913–2000).

In World War I Bain was assigned to the 119th Infantry, part of the 30th Division. For his bravery in combat on October 9, 1918 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in 1919.

BAIN, EDGAR H.
Captain, U.S. Army
119th Infantry Regiment, 30th Division, A.E.F.
Date of Action: October 9, 1918
Citation:
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Edgar Bain, Captain, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Busigny, France, October 9, 1918. Advancing under heavy fire with orders to pass through the front line company, Captain Bain found the troops he was to relieve 1,000 yards from their position, falling back. Rallying them, he personally led the troops in advance, under terrific fire, assaulting and capturing the assigned objective.
General Orders 81, W.D., 1919
Home Town: Goldsboro, NC

Read moreWayne County Veterans’ Spotlight: Edgar Bain

Wayne County’s Oldest Civil War Veteran

WJ Merritt portrait
Photograph taken at A.O. Clement’s studio in Goldsboro, June 1935.  Courtesy Wayne County Public Library

William J. “Uncle Billy” Merritt died in Mt. Olive on October 1, 1940 at the age of 102. He was the oldest living Civil War veteran in Wayne County for many years.

He was born September 29, 1838 in Duplin County. His enlistment date in the Confederate Army is either October 1861 or February 1862; two pension applications (1907 & 1917) list different dates.

Merritt was assigned to the 51st North Carolina Infantry, under the command of General Thomas Clingman. The 51st first saw action in December 1862 at the Battle of Goldsboro Bridge and later fought at Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and Bentonville.

His obituary from the Mt. Olive Tribune states that he participated in the firing on Ft. Sumter in April 1861 but this is not accurate. The 51st did fight at Charleston but it was in defense of the harbor in July 1863 at Fort Wagner.

After the war he returned home and spent the remainder of his long life farming in the Mt. Olive area.

The following is his request in 1917 for an increase in his veterans’ pension from the state. Click on either for a larger version.

 

WJ Merritt Civil War pension              WJ Merritt Civil War pension letter

 

Below is his obituary from the Mt. Olive Tribune and grave at Maplewood Cemetery.

WJ Merritt obituary, Mt. Olive Tribune, October 18, 1940               WJ Merritt grave Maplewood Cemetery Mt. Olive

Photograph – W. Walnut St. 1920

West Walnut St, Goldsboro, 1920s

 

From the collection of the Wayne County Public Library is this photo, taken about 1920, showing Walnut St. looking East towards Center St.

On the left is the Wayne National Bank. It was torn down in 1922 to make way for a skyscraper that still stands today.

To the right where the woman is window shopping is the Borden Building, completed in 1914, meaning the photo was taken sometime between 1914 and 1922.

Read morePhotograph – W. Walnut St. 1920

NC Railroad Survey of Wayne County, 1851

1851 NCRR survey distanceThe North Carolina Railroad was chartered in 1849 and completed in 1856. It ran from Charlotte to Goldsboro, where it ended at the Wilmington & Weldon line.

In 1851 the company compiled a book of maps showing the right of way for the entire line, including property owned adjacent to the track.

The entire survey can be viewed online at the North Carolina Maps project.

Wayne County had nine miles of track, beginning at the Johnston County line and running in line with modern Highway 70 into town.

Read moreNC Railroad Survey of Wayne County, 1851

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