yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee
History of Henderson Co.

From Auburn Powers, History of Henderson County, Tennessee, 1930. Reproduced with permission for personal use only. No further reproduction can be made without written consent of Andy E. Powers and Sherode B. Powers.


Chapter XI

Just as Henderson County and the other sections of the South had rebuilt the Country torn to pieces during the Civil War and were enjoying an age of prosperity and plenty, the people were again aroused by the spirit of warfare. This time the conflict started in Europe.

The causes of this war date back several years. Germany had been growing in military power and was the strongest nation in Europe. Industrially and commercially she was second only to Great Britain.

Germany, Austria, and Hungary were closely related and were advancing rapidly in almost every line of endeavor and making good every opportunity that came their way.

France had held a grudge against Germany for some time. She allied herself with Russia and England for the protection of one another in time of war. Since the war it has been the belief of many that the allied countries had become jealous of Germany's power and progress and had planned to subdue her when the time was ripe. Germany must have believed the same thing before the war, for she did not wait for the time to ripen for the Allies. She found her chance to strike and accepted it. The Allies then sided against her. Within a few days more countries in Europe were at war than had ever been at any one time before. So many countries were involved in it that it came to be known as the World War.

The United States was largely in sympathy with the Allies, but remained neutral for the first few years of the war.

England forbade the United States to trade with Germany or her allies or even Denmark, who was then a neutral country. Germany then forbade us to trade with the Allies. She sank one of England's ships, the Lusitania, which had American citizens on it. This, together with newspaper exaggerations, made the people of our country feel very bad towards the Germans. However, Germany was not the sole cause of the war.

On April 6, 1917 Congress declared war on Germany. On June 5 she called upon all male citizens from twenty-one to thirty-one years of age to register. 1,431 Henderson Countians registered at this time, 182 in June and August 1918, and 1986 on September 12, 1918 making a total registration of 3,599. Of this number 448 were accepted at camp. 380 qualified for general service. Ten were remediables, nineteen were held for limited service, and 163 were disqualified. There were 884 dependencies.

Just how many boys from Henderson County that crossed the waters is not known. Sixteen gave their lives in service.

Sidney S. Ayers, son of W. T. and Mrs. H. E. Ayers, was born in the old nineteenth civil district of Henderson County June 16, 1892. He was reared a farmer, was a faithful and dutiful son, and an honored and esteemed citizen among his large circle of associates.

Sidney entered the United States army service October 14, 1917. He went to Camp Gordon, Georgia for his training and became a first class private in Company D. 11th U. S. Infantry. He crossed the waters and took an active p art in the worst of the war. He won three distinctive medals for bravery and honor in the battles of St. Mihel, Meuse, and Argonne. One of these medals is considered the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a soldier.

Sidney was the first of the boys who gave their lives on the field of battle to be brought back home. His casket was of high quality better than anything the undertaker could furnish. He lived and died a worthy and honorable man.

Jesse Deere of Warrens Bluff, Tennessee gave his life for his country in an honorable way. Although he was not killed in action, he was at hand ready to do and to die when called upon. He died of influenza. And his grave, along with thousands of others, is marked by a white cross bearing the date October 8,1918.

Riley Jefferson Climer, son of L. R. and Melvina Climer of Reagan, Tennessee enlisted July 12, 1918 and died of measles and pneumonia October 8, 1918. He was brought home for burial and laid to rest in the Center Hill Cemetery. He was in the 17th infantry, Company D. of Camp Mead Maryland.

"Jeff," as he was commonly called, professed a hope in Christ a few years before entering the service, and joined the United Baptist Church at Center Hill, of which he remained a faithful member.

Jesse C. Powers, son of E. E. and Mrs. Kizzie E. Powers, was born near Scotts Hill, Tennessee February 14, 1899. He joined the army June 14, 1918 at St. Louis, Missouri, and was made corporal a few months later. He joined the veterinarian branch of the service and went over seas with some horses. He was in service over thirteen months, seven of which were over seas.

Soon after his discharge from the army he joined the navy and served at Great Lakes, Illinois until his health failed. He then spent some time in the hospital, and was finally discharged, his health being bad.

He started home but never reached there. He got as far as Lexington and died at the Hotel Lexington. He was twenty-two years old when he died, February 18, 1921.

Others who gave their lives in the war, but whose record are not at hand, are W. T. Hamlett, Dr. Bell, Malone Waller, Ulis E. Phillips, Lynn McNatt, Elbert Bivens, Jet Smith, Geane M. Smith, Willie Campbell, Gilbert Powers, Webb Johnson, Elbert Greener, Eff Lovell, Homer Buck, Jim Lockhart, and others.

ArvIe Ayers, brother of Sidney Ayers, was born July 14, 1895, entered the service October 14, 1917, and was honorably discharged November 9, 1917 for physical disability. He is yet under government treatment.

C. W. Anderson is a native of Henderson County although has not lived in the County since the war. He went to the army from Lexington with a bunch of boys from said town and county, and was with the "30th Division, better known as 'Old Hickory'". He was in training over here at Camp Sevier, South Carolina with the 117th Infantry, Company E. but was transferred to 114th Machine Gun Batallion Company B. for overseas service, in which unit he served for the remainder of the war.

His service began September 19th 1918. He was discharged April 6th, 1919. He saw overseas service from May 11, 1918, to March 20, 1919. Serving in England, Belgium and France. He was engaged in battles and skirmishes in the following sectors: Ypres sector in Belgium July 12 to September 5, 1918, which included the battle of Kemmel Hill, August 30C31, and the Ypres-Lys Offensive August 31st to September 3rd., 1918; The Somme Offensive in France from September 24th, to October 20th. This offensive will be long remembered by the boys of the 30th Division as there were twenty-eight days of almost continuous going forward, and in which time the battle at the "Hindenburg Line" and several others were fought.

Mr. Anderson is now at Indianola, Mississippi.

Legionaire R. E. White entered the United States Army at Lexington, Tennessee, September 19, 1917 and was trained at Camp Gordon and at Camp Sevier. He went overseas with Company M. 117th Infantry, 30th Division, passing through England and landing in Calais, France May 24, 1918. After intensive training near Inglingham, his outfit entered Belgium July 4, 1918, being the first American troops to enter that country.

After two months in the shell torn Ypres he was sent to the gas school at Clemacy, France and on his return to his Division was in Paris during the last air raid by the Germans about the 20th of September. He rejoined his company in time for the Hindenburg Line smash at Bellicourt, September 29. He was with his company on October 7 when with a fighting strength of 77 men it attacked a strong German position, killing 114 of the enemy, wounding 23; and capturing 263 prisoners, 42 machine guns, 4 trench mortars, 2 "whizz bangs", and a large amount of equipment. All the officers became casualties and the company was reduced to 34 men. White got his "blighty" in this affair and was in the hospital for two months. He attended the A. E. F. University at Beaune, during its entire existance and came home on the Italian ship "America" from Marsailles via Gibraltar to New York.

Victor C. Halter volunteered into the Marine corps before the draft law and rated as sharpshooter. To be a marine means to be one of Americas best trained soldiers. To rate as a sharpshooter in that branch of service is to be one of the most skilled of the marines.

Dr. J. F. Goff, now a practicing physician in Lexington, volunteered into the service as a first Lieutenant in the medical corps and was commissioned in October of 1918. He reported to the 20th Sanitary Training in Camp Sevier, Greenville, South Carolina in January of 1919 and was transferred to Camp Jackson with the 156th Depot Brigade on the examining board for discharging soldiers from overseas.

Joseph Paul Parker, the late County Court Clerk, who mysteriously died August, 19, 1930, enlisted August 8, 1917 and served as a first class private at Camp Gordon until almost ready to go overseas. He was then removed to Camp Merit, New Jersey from which place he was sent to Cosne, France. He served there until December 1918, when he was moved to the Base Hospital at Paulillac, France where he served until he came back to the States. He was honorably discharged at Camp Mills, Long Island, New York.

Murray L. Austin served in the 323rd Field Hospital, 306th Sanitary Training, 8lth Division, known as the Wild Cat Division. He served with the American Expeditionary Force in France. His duration of service was one year and one month.

William A. McPeake entered service May 28, 1918, landed at Liverpool, England August 28, and spent twenty-six days there. He then moved on to La Havre, France and thence to Verdune Front. He was in the Battle of Argonne Forest, Battle of Oise, Battle of Aisne, and Battle of Baccarat. He left Brest, France April 6, 1919, landed in New York April 14, and was honorably discharged May 11th, at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.

There are many other soldier boys who are worthy of mention, but whose record I do not have. This will, however, give an idea of the service rendered in the World War by Henderson County.

Although the war never reached Henderson County it had its effects upon it. The war made prices unstable, lowered the morals of the County, and put over it a fever of discontentment, from which the County is just now beginning to recover. The hard times of 1930 may be necessary to bring back appreciation of comfortable, though plain, living.

  1. Where did the World War start, when did the United States enter it, and why was it called the World War?
  2. What seemed to have been the underlying cause of the war?
  3. Mention some countries on each side. Which side did we join?
  4. Why did we enter the war?
  5. How many men registered in Henderson County during the war? How many were accepted at camp? How many dependencies were there?
  6. Tell the service of Sidney Ayers, of Jesse Deere, of Riley Jefferson Climer, and of Jesse C. Powers.
  7. Give a sketch of C. W. Anderson, of R. E. White, of Victor C. Halter, and of William A. McPeake.
  8. What effects had the war upon Henderson County?

Return to Contents

top · home · yesterday's · families · schools · links · what's new · memorial · about

This site was created by David Donahue and Brenda Kirk Fiddler.
This site is currently maintained by Jerry L. Butler
Copyright © 2004 - 2010, All rights reserved