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

Party time…

Birthday Party
A surprise party was tendered Mrs. John Cain Thursday evening in honor of her birthday anniversary [67 years old]. Bunco was played, the prize going to Mrs. Surprise and Mrs. William Trepanier.1

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Carrie Rosa Cain was born before the Civil War and married her first husband at the age of 13, John Cain was her second husband. She died in 1952 at the age of 94.

Carried probably had a very good time at her party, as long as there was music playing, because she loved to dance.

Oconto County Reporter Enterprise-Enquirer; v54issue28, 1925-04-23

 

Little girl dies of broken heart…

This was such a sad and touching story that I had to share it.

George Dennis Cain born in Oconto, Wisconsin in 1882, was the fourth child born to John and Carrie Cain. His middle name appears to be in honor of his great grandfather Dennis Connelly. Like the rest of his siblings he grew up in the City of Oconto. And when he was old enough he married a young women by the name of Estella ___ . Sometime about 1900 he moved his family to Forest County, Wisconsin (Leona / Soperton). Estella and George had at least three children together: Milton, Marion (Mae) and Pat, (This was apparently not Estella’s first marriage though, as she had an 8 year old son Thaddeus who lived with them in 1920.)

Unfortunately for George he inherited that CAIN family bad luck, which appeared when he developed stomach cancer in 1925 and by the end of the year it killed him. He was only 42 when he died, another young death for the CAIN line.

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His daughter Mae took his death very hard:

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NOTE: I don’t know if the above article has the surviving child incorrect, or if it his obituary that is wrong, but something is amiss regarding the matter. In the 1920 census a child Thaddeus is listed as a stepson and Milton is the only child listed as George and Stella’s, so Marion and Pat must have been infants, 4-1 years of age, in 1925. I don’t know who George, jr. is.

An August Wedding…

I recently found this wonderful newspaper article about my great grandparents wedding day on August 28, 1897. It would have been even better if they had provided a picture, but no such luck. And as my great grandfather was a railroad station agent and postmaster, the venue was quite appropriate to the occasion.

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Victor Hugo John and Gertrude Cain.

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Now that sounds like a very fun wedding.

Johanna wins the day…

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Johanna Deadrich John

In my research on my JOHN ancestors very little has been said about Johanna, which is not unusual, but certainly frustrating. Her being a woman automatically makes her of little interest when it comes to history, especially if she didn’t go out in the world and make a name for herself. But recent research in the Oconto newspapers, which are being thoroughly digitized, yielded this great story — told by F. W. of course:

ON THE SIDE.
F. W. John: Away back in the early days, Ernst Funke, Louis Pahl, O. W. Bloch, and William Klass used to come out to my place in the woods for a hunt. Upon one occasion we were shooting at a mark, for chickens, when Mr. Funke — who was the poorest shot in the crowd — asked if he would be allowed to furnish a substitute, which request was granted, when he placed his gun in the hands of my wife, and her unerring aim won him three chickens out of the lot.1

It is nice to know that Johanna was well known in the area for being a great shot, and was also well respected for it. She had probably honed this talent during the Civil War while F. W. was off fighting. Being the only parent around she had to be able to put food on the table for her and the children, Clara, Alfred, Henry and William (who ranged from about 10 to 4 years in age) and a fine job of it she did too. In fact, she was so good that she was able to provide meat for their neighbors too.

1 Friday, March 6, 1896; v25, issue 10; page ? col 4

Jury duty anecdotes…

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FW John out in the woods.

While perusing the newspapers of Oconto County, (by the way thanks for the heads up on this Ron), I came across an amusing little story regarding F.W. John I thought I would share:

When Postmaster Frederick William John of Gillett visited Oconto a few weeks ago he was greeted by a bunch of old residents gathered at the Beyer House with:

“Frederick William John, by J____s!”

Many who heard the expression were astonished, but those who were present and who had lived here when Mr. John was a young man knew the full meaning of the greeting.

Mr. John is one of the pioneers of Oconto county, and a great many years ago was prominent among the then young men of the vicinity. He scarcely failed to be drawn on the jury at every term of the circuit court, and one time, as usual, he was summoned to appear at the county seat as a juror. He entered the court room, dressed in the garb of a lumberman, wearing a red sash tied around his waist, which in those days was considered essential to the efficient vocation of a lumberjack. He was in his shirt sleeves and wore high boots, and being tall, broad shouldered and as straight as an arrow, he presented a find specimen of physical manhood. On entering the court room he took a seat at the rear, and soon Richard Hall, who was then clerk of the court, began calling the roll.

Soon the clerk called, “Bill John.”

There was no response. Again the clark called:

“Bill John.”

And again there was no response. For the third time the clerk called in a loud voice:

“Bill John!”

Still there was no response, and Judge Cotton, who at that time presided in this circuit, inquired of Clerk Hall whether Bill John was in the court room.

“Yes, your honor,” replied Mr. Hall, “there he sits in the rear of the hall–that big fellow wearing a red sash.”

“Is your name Bill John?’ thundered the judge, pointing straight at him with his finger.

“No, sir,” replied Mr. John indignantly, “my name is not Bill John. My name is Frederick William John, by J___s!”

“Well Mr. Frederick William John by J___s, you will take your seat in front with the rest of the jurors.” commanded the judge, suppressing a smile.

Some of the old residents were reminded of the incident when Mr. John entered the hotel.1

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A lumberjack in dress most similar to what FW John would have been wearing.

Now if only there were more stories about Johanna that were to be found.

1 The Lena Enterprise, volume1, issue 21, page 1 column 4, 1903-10-30.