Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Last Vet of the Great War

Frank Woodruff Buckles, the last surviving veteran of the First World War, died on February 28 at 110. I thought this was an appropriate moment to briefly talk about Bovina's veterans from the Great War. I haven't created a definitive list of these soldiers (I'm still plugging away on such a list for the Civil War) but there are 21 men buried in the Bovina Cemetery who served in the War. Two of the men died in the war. Clark G. Miller died in May 1918, killed in the defense of Paris. James Calhoun was killed in action October 1918 (see my blog entry of November 11, 2010 about James). Both men were originally buried in France but their bodies were shipped home in 1921 for burial in Bovina.

The 19 other soldiers in Bovina's cemetery survived the war, but two of them died in the 1920s. Frank Munson was drafted in the war and started basic training. He was friends with James Calhoun and is mentioned often in the letters he wrote home to his wife, Anna Bell (who was my grandmother). Some health related issue kept Frank from actually going overseas, much to James' relief. Munson was married in 1918 but he died two years later when a tree fell on him. Clarence C. Lee died in Mount Vision, NY in 1922. He was only 29 years old.

Bovina's last surviving World War I veteran appears to have been one of my predecessors as Town Historian, Fletcher Davidson. Fletcher died in 1987, age 92. See my blog entry of August 23, 2009 for more about Fletcher.

The idea for this blog entry came from a friend and former colleague at the State Archives from her blog at She ends the entry thusly: "As an archivist, I would be the first to argue that the documentary record constitutes an essential, inextricable, vivid tie to the past. It is nonetheless sad and sobering to see the documentary record become the only thing that connects us to a given point in the past." Couldn't have said it better myself.

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