April 29, 1944 William Shepard to parents…

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2413 Elgin Ave
Muskogee, Okla.
29 april, 1944

Dear Mother and Dad:

Ill dash you off a letter and eat. I awoke late this morning and have written a ream of letters.

It is still cool here. The wind is always blowing. I wont know how to fly in calm weather when it comes, if it does.

The flying is coming along O.K. I have 5 hours 40 min. now. I will probably solo when I get about 10 hours. It is so strict now that Ill be lucky to get through. If I should happen to wash out, Ill call Lois and have her come down for a short visit, as I will

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probably go overseas right away. If I don’t, then you folks can come down and bring K W and Susie. Do you think that would be okay? If everything goes as planned, you all will be coming out about July 1st.

No news of any importance so I’ll close.
All my love
Bill

Early 1944 William Shepard to parents…

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Dear Mother and Dad:

Well the waiting is over and I have passed the tests. I start training Monday March 13, 1944. I should finish training in November or December. I will probably get test-pilot work, but if I dont, Ill get fighter aviation. Its what I want.

I miss you all. It was sure nice being home. Ill get another leave when I finish training. (I hope) Ill be in Texas until I finish. If you all can why dont you come down this summer? About a week

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or two before I graduate I want Lois to come down. We can talk about that later.

I dieted for five days when I came down. Then I just got in under the limits.

All my buddies passed the exams, but most the other fellows in the bunch washed out twelve out of twenty five failed. Only six out of twenty five made pilot. Bob Orr, Cleveland, Bill Stewart, Texas, Maness, S. Caroline, Pick-?, and Steve Butler, Youngstown made navigator.

We all buddy around together

Well folks, Ill sign off for a while

Love
Bill

~1943[?] William Shepard to parents…

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Hello Mother:

Here is that oft promised letter. About finished here. I think Ill go to Enid Okla. in about two weeks. I have 58 hours now. I will have my acobatic check ride soon. It will be easy as acrobatics are easy for me: I seem to fly better upside down. I always was crazy. Ill be glad to get to a larger ship. Lately Ive wanted some more power on the nose. The new trainer has about 500 H.P.

We have a 39 Oldsmobile coupe or did you know? It sure is a nice car. I bought it from a boy in the Rainbow Division here at Camp Gruber.

It is a club coupe so we have plenty of room.

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I wish I could go to Canada with you but it will wait.

Well Ill close for now.

Your Son
Bill

P.S. Send Carls address

December 24, 1943 William Shepard to parents…

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470 Base Hq &A B Sq.
Pendleton AAF, Oregon
December 24, 1943

Dear Mother and Father,

I always like to like to get a letter from you. It brings me back home if only for a little while.

I guess that dad about worn out by now, working so hard. Here I am laying in bed two thirds the time. However I hope to be completely ready for duty in a few more weeks. To tell the truth I havent been feeling very good, but that is only natural.

The weather has been foggy for a month here. Today is one of the few clear days. I can see the snow– covered Rockies from here. This country

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is beautiful. It makes me so mad, when I think that you and Lois went home, then I came back to Pendleton. I almost tear my hair out. You cant make any plans at all in the army. Every time you think you have it straightened out it up and slaps you down. Suppose that my flight training will get screwed up somehow and Ill end up as a pencil pusher somewhere. As long as I can be busy I wont mind anything too much.

I hope that Louis can find a nice apartment there in Westerville. I dont want her to move away from there. It is handy, and you folks and Herman can give her some help if she needs it.

I expect to leave here in a

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month or so. If I get in good physical shape it cant be too soon.

I received a basket full of cards from everywhere. Letters from everyone too. While I was in the hospital I wrote a lot of people, now the answers are coming in. It looks as if I would have to keep up my correspondence now.

Dont worry about me, mother. If I get sick Ill let you know. There is a lot of men who would trade me places Ill bet. They are having their tails shot off while the surgeon just nipped off a tiny piece of mine.

Wishing you and dad a happy new year, I will be

Your son
Bill

Salt Lake City 2017

Well I did it again, I went to Salt Lake City and buried my head in microfilm and books for a week of genealogy research. Although I also took time out to enjoy the excellent Pride Parade (see my short video on the highlights) on June 4. Thankfully it was only 2 blocks from our hotel as the weather was a might bit warm (90s – but it was a dry heat).

I decided to chill on my trip this year. No mad rush to cram as many research hours in a day as I could. Even at a slower pace, I finished 99% of my two lists of things to do. And didn’t feel nearly as exhausted when I got home.

I had no expectation of finding anything extraordinary, and I didn’t. But I did grab up documents that I didn’t have and researched some known lines a little more. It looks like a majority of my research is starting to mean trips to Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, New York and even Vermont. Yep retirement is going to mean a lot of traveling. Guess I better start saving!

Some tidbits of interest were found during my research last week on various lines: CLEGG, ANKROM, DUCKETT, JACOBS and WELLS, all surnames through Rachel GEORGE who married Ezra HAYS. We have much more history in Pennsylvania and Maryland than I ever thought we would. And our roots in Virginia/West Virginia go pretty far back too.

These tidbits indicate: we might have Dunkard ancestors; probably more Quakers; there’s a kidnapping by Indigenous folk with a ransomed rescue; another possible slaver relative (who dealt in runaway slaves and who even had a ‘breeding cabin’ ICK!!); and a land deal with a church in Tyler County, West Virginia.

I haven’t read through very much of the material I collected, so who knows what other stories will pop up.

December 13, 1943 William Shepard to parents…

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470 Base Hq & A B Squadron
Pendleton AAF, Oregon
December 13, 1943

Dear Mother:

As I am in hospital I can’t send the deposit slip. If they wont to business pay the extra five and get a receipt. When I get out I’ll mail you the deposit slip. Wrap the present and then put it in a large box, then wrapped the large box. Give it to her as soon as you can and let her guess.

I’m getting along fine and may be out soon if I don’t need another operation. If I do it will be a very minor one. It is good to know the situation is corrected. It wasn’t so pleasant but the longer one lets it go the worse it gets. The surgeon says I may never be troubled again.

I’ve been in bed about 10 days now and I’m fed up with it. Sleep eat read & then repeat. I do have time to write now and I’ve written everyone imaginable including Jack Hays. If I had Ruth and Johns address I would have written them.

I’ll be back in work soon and my call for flight training will come in the near future. I’m glad that it didn’t

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come before now in a way because I would have had to have the operation at my flight training base and it would have put me behind in my work, so everything worked out O.K.

I never knew I had hemorrhoids until the flight surgeon examined me. He said as soon as I had the situation corrected I would be in perfect health and that would be no bar to my flying.

Well Pendleton is getting colder now. The leaves on the trees are falling and the mornings are getting crisp. Just like September in Ohio. It’s strange that the climate is so mild here.

Ill close mother and wish you all
Love.
Bill

December 9, 1943 William Shepard to parents…

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470 Base Hq. & AB Sq.
Pendleton AAF, Ore
December 9, 1943

Dear Mohter

This is a letter of consolation to you. The war department regrets to inform you that your son
1st Lt. William A. Shepard Jr. 0570214
Was injured in the service of his country observers state that in a frenzy of patriotism, when the General yelled “shit on the jap”, he nobly pulled down his jeans and spread fourth and filth upon the yellow race untill he wore out his muzzle bore.

Seriously mother, dont worry a minute about my operation. Was one of those things. I had my choice of having it done now when there is less danger or later some 10 or 15 years. I choose now. I like to clean it up. The doctor is OK and

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I’ll probably be out before Xmas and so don’t worry.

Dont let Lois worry either. After all we have a lot of these operations any more. I didnt know it till I came in. They are nearly all successful, even the bad cases. And it pays to have it taken care of.

Ill close now. Write please
Your son
Bill

P.S. I dont have a damn thing to do but read letters so that’s the extra reason for writing.

P.P.S. I think they changed my caliber I’m not sure.

Milton Cain in the “War To End All Wars”

Thankfully, for my readers, I recently came across the information in the following post just in time for this Memorial Day. Although Milton did not died during a war, he did serve and was injured, so I am telling his story in that respect.

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Milton Cain on the left with an unknown fellow soldier. This picture was probably taken in France and sent home to family1

Milton Cain was one of two of the youngest children of John Cain and Carrie Rosa, as he was a twin, along with his sister Mildred. Both were born in Oconto, Oconto County, Wisconsin in November of 1894.

When the United States officially joined with Europe in efforts to defeat the Kaiser during WWI, Milton had already been in the Wisconsin State Guard for a year and a half.  He was 22 years old when he was assigned to Company B, 150th Machine Gun Battalion, 42nd Division. Otherwise known as the ‘Rainbow Division’2, (because it consisted of National Guard units from 26 different states, along with the District of Columbia).

Milton, and his fellow soldiers, were all shipped to Camp Mills in Mineola, Long Island on September 3rd of 1917, where they waited for orders to sail to Europe. And on October 18 they boarded the Covington in Hoboken, New Jersey to begin their trip to France.

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Here is the ship’s passenger list with No. 21 being Milton.

The local papers in Oconto County did their best to keep their readers informed about the goings on during the war, as in this article which started the efforts to track the boys route during the war.1917_11_23TheFarmerHerladp1c5

The 42nd went overseas to the Western Front of Belgium and France in November 1917, one of the first divisions of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) to do so. The AEF was commanded by General John Joseph Pershing. Upon arrival there the 42nd Division began intensive training with the British and French armies in learning the basics of trench warfare which had, for the past three years, dominated strategy on the Western Front, with neither side advancing much further than they had in 1914. The following year, the division took part in four major operations: the Champagne-Marne, the Aisne-Marne, the Battle of Saint-Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. In total, it saw 264 days of combat. While in France, the division was placed under French control for a time. [from Wikipedia entry for Rainbow Division.]

According to published accounts of the 42nd, the 150th specifically was involved in the following battles:

Luneville sector, Lorraine, France, 21 February-23 March, 1918
Baccarat sector, Lorraine, France, 31 March-21 June, 1918
Esperance-Souain sector, Champagne, France, 4 July-14 July, 1918
Champagne-Marne defensive, France, 15 July-17 July, 1918
Aisne-Marne offensive, France, 25 July-3 August, 1918
St. Mihiel offensive, France, 12 September-16 September, 1918
Essey and Pannes sector, Woevre, France, 17 September-30 September 1918
Meuse-Argonne offensive, France, 12 October-31 October, 1918.
Meuse-Argonne offensive, France, 5 November-10 November, 1918

When Milton was seriously injured on July 29, 1918, it is possible this happened during the Aisne-Marne offensive. But his injury did not keep him from continuing on with his company. The last battle that the 150th was involved in was the one most known to me, and probably others, that is the Battle of the Argonne Forest. It was the first  part of the final offensive of the Allied forces along the Western Front. This battle lasted 47 days and ended with Armistice on November 11, 1918.3

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Here is a cool map that shows the route of the 42nd during the war. Just follow the rainbow.

American Soldiers Returning Home on the Agamemnon, Hoboken, New Jersey

American soldiers heading back home after the war.

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Milton came home in 1919, unlike many of his fellow comrades in arms. He married and even became Mayor of Oconto, twice, in the 1950s. He died November 8, 1972 still living in Oconto.

Ex-Mayor Cain Died At Age 78
       Former Mayor Milton J. Cain of Oconto died Wednesday at Oconto Memorial hospital following an extensive illness.
       Mr. Cain, a popular votegetter in both Oconto and Oconto county, served as mayor for two separate terms, from 1952-1954 and from 1958-1960.
He also was an alderman (city councilman) and a supervisor on the Oconto County Board.
He was a tavern owner for many years and a member of the VFW.
Mr. Cain was born November 24, 1894 in Oconto, the son of Mr. and Mrs. John P. Cain, He attended Oconto schools and was a lifelong resident of Oconto. He married the former Eva Bitters on October 18, 1927. A veteran of World War I, he served with the 42nd Rainbow Division.
Survivors include his wife; one daughter, Mrs. Jan (Helen) Hansen of Appleton; one son, William of Oconto; one brother, Harry of Waukesha, 7 grandsons and one great-grandchild. Three brothers and three sisters preceeded him in death.

In memory of those who gave their lives while serving their country.


Source:

  1. The Farmer Herald, vol. 21, Issue 12 1918-08-23 page 1. Milton Cain image regarding WWI soldiers. “Milton Cain, a son of Mrs. Carrie Cain with the Rainbow Division was severely wounded July 29th.” [1918]
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/42nd_Infantry_Division_(United_States)
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meuse-Argonne_Offensive

Hamm shenanigans…

I don’t know what was in the water where the Hamm family grew up, but it appears to have nurtured a bad gene, (and made for a lot of WTF moments).

Case in point. Do you remember Fred Hamm’s son Arthur Albert Hamm (also my grandmother’s half-brother)? He was the diva who faked his disappearance/death in Door County in 1949 then showed up dead in Montana in 1985.

Well it appears that Arthur was a busy man in the mean time, who had developed the bad habit of taking things that weren’t his.

The above pictures show: on the left Arthur with his wife Bernice, probably when they were married, about 1943; and on the right is Arthur’s 1953 mug shot, in Montana. It appears that between his disappearance and his death, Arthur spent a lot of time committing crimes to make a living instead of legitimately working for one.

On September 27, 1953 an article appeared in the Sunday morning issue of the Montana “Billings Gazette.” Arthur A. Hamm, aged 31, had been arrested on Friday, in connection with break-ins in the area. Arthur who when arrested had the money bag in his possession, admitted to breaking into a safe at the S&W Implement Company in Columbus.

In the October 3 issue of the same paper it was reported that Arthur had three felony warrants issued for him in regards to this arrest. One for the S&W burglary, one for the Nystul Lumber Company burglary, and also for the theft of a truck from S&W. Apparently through this arrest it was learned that there was also a warrant out by the U.S. Army, and another in different county in Montana, (for the theft of a saddle from a prevous employer). He was unable to raise the $1500 bond so was still in jail pending his hearing.

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At his hearing on the 20th of October he plead guilty, so there was no trial. The court sentenced Arthur to 10 years of hard labor at the Montana State Prison. (10 years for each burglary count, and 5 years for the theft of a vehicle. He was to serve each sentence concurrently.)

Interesting facts come to light in his prison record. The most interesting being his previous dealings with the law: In 1940 he spent 10 days in jail in Fargo, North Dakota for vagrancy; problems in 1942 with the War department, and in 1952 with the Army (in Spokane Washington), no reasons were named; lastly the Columbus, Montana burglary arrest.

From this one record we can also see that Arthur moved around quite a bit, probably committing other crimes that he got away with. He had been in Kansas previous to Montana, along with Fargo, North Dakota, and Spokane, Washington. After he was released from the Montana State Prison, he worked in Park County for a number of years as a logger and ranch hand. From 1974-1980, he worked on a seismograph crew in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He then went to Livingston, Montana in 1981 and died there a few years later, single.

His prison record, found at Ancestry.com, does not state when he was released. So I don’t know if he served his full term.  There is an interesting history regarding the prison, and if he served his full 10 years, then he was there during three riots in the late 1950s. You can read about them at Wikipedia. The prison is now known as the Old Prison Museum in Deer Lodge, Montana.

 

November 21, 1943 William Shepard to parents…

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470 Base H.Q. and Air Base Squadron
Pendleton Army Air Field, Oregon
November 21, 1943

Dear Mother & Father:

Arrived here safely, after much delay. Waited at Patterson Field for three days. Met some fliers I knew and had a ride home, but at the last minute the flight was cancelled and I had to come via airlines I was kicked off at Cheyenne and Boise and came in on the train, just making it.

As you have probably noticed, I have been transferred to another organization. You can address all mail to the above address until further notice.

It was nice to get home and probably will be the last time for a while at least. Although it will take me three monthes to pay  you and Lois back.

Ill send you the money for Lois’ ring in two weeks. Get it wrapped and give it to her on Xmas eve for me. Ill send a note to put in with it. I can pay you back Jan & Feb.

Same old place out here. The weather ifs foggy. Im just waiting now. Ill write later.

Your son
Bill