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 .

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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.

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Honoring Wayne County’s WWI Dead: King David Simmons

King D. Simmons, News & Observer, October 18, 1918
Only known photo of Simmons, from the October 18, 1919 News & Observer.

Missing in Action October 3, 1918

King David Simmons was born April 8, 1893 in the Dudley area to William Frank (1857–1940) & Sarah C. (1864–1930).

He had ten siblings- Mallie (b 1885), Charles Thomas (b 1887), Ida Eliza Simmons Brewington (1890-1981), Lola (b 1894), Fannie (b 1895), Henry Garner (1896-1918), Iva (b 1898), Archie (b 1899), Tinie M. (b 1900) & Odessa Simmons Brock (b 1906).

Draft

Simmons registered for the draft on June 5, 1917. His draft registration card states that he and his family were tenant farmers one mile southeast of Dudley on the land of Brantley Smith of Mount Olive.

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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.

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Railroad Survey for Wayne County, 1853

Wayne County railroad map, 1900
1900 map showing the three railroad lines intersecting at Goldsboro.

The railroad is the single most important development in the history of both Wayne County and North Carolina. With no natural deep ports and a string of barrier islands, our state was commonly regarded as a rural backwater for much of its early history.

The railroad created Goldsboro and Mt. Olive while bringing about the end of Waynesborough, the original county seat. As William Sherman made his way north from Georgia in late 1864, his main objective was Goldsboro and its intersection of major rail lines.

Within a fifteen year span, three lines ran through Goldsboro: the Wilmington & Weldon (completed 1840) running north and south, the North Carolina Railroad (completed 1856) running to Charlotte and the Atlantic & NC Railroad (finished 1858) to Beaufort.

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Neuse River Map, 1888

Corps of Engineers logo
           US Army Corps of Engineers logo

Waterways have been the primary highways for humans for thousands of years, long before the arrival of airplanes, cars, and trains.

Two of the largest and richest areas of Colonial America were Charleston, SC and the Tidewater region of Virginia, both blessed with natural deep water ports. North Carolina, with its string of barrier islands, was not so lucky.

The Neuse River was one of the few waterways of importance to early European settlers in North Carolina. Despite the emergence of the railroad in the mid-19th century, the Neuse continued as an effective highway for people and goods.

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Wayne County History in Maps: Early America through the Civil War

This is part 2 of a three part series. Click here for part 1.

With the defeat of the British and formation of the United States, the North Carolina General Assembly created Wayne County in 1787 from the former Dobbs County. With a new nation came new demand for surveys of everything from national borders all the way down to private property.

While surveyors combed the nation though, the first maps differed little from the maps of the Colonial Era.

Map of North and South Carolina, 1796, by J. Denison
Click for an enlarged version.                                 North Carolina State Archives

Above: Map of North and South Carolina, by J. Denison, published in 1796.

This map does feature counties but does not show any boundary lines, owing to the fact that comprehensive surveys had not yet been completed across the state.

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Wayne County History in Maps: Colonial Era

Wayne County’s history began in 1787 with its formation from the break-up of Dobbs County. The history of this region stretches back much further however. The following maps highlight the development of North Carolina and also show the slow pace of information hundreds of years ago.

The maps below are from the North Carolina Maps project website. It is a collaboration between the State Archives and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

This is the first of three posts covering Wayne County’s history in maps.

  • The New World
Verrazzano marker, Pine Knoll Shores
NC historical marker, Pine Knoll Shores near the entrance to NC Aquarium.

After the European discovery of North America in the late 1400s, explorers came in droves to chart this new land. The first to lay eyes on what would become North Carolina was the Florentine Giovanni da Verrazzano, who sailed up the Atlantic coast from Florida to New Brunswick in 1524.

In 1585, the same year English settlers arrived at Roanoke Island (the “Lost Colony”), the Americae pars, Nunc Virginia (Americas now part of Virginia) map was published by Theodor de Bry in Germany.

Americae pars, Nunc Virginia map, 1585
Americae pars, Nunc Virginia, 1585                                    UNC, North Carolina Collection

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