July 1918

Art, Elizabeth, Bob Austin, and a friend, holding flags. Photo courtesy of MA.
“Aunt Aida sent me a couple of pictures of the children saluting. They certainly looked comical, especially Robbie.” On left: a friend, Elizabeth, Bob (Robbie) and Art Austin.
Art Austin holding a flag.
McKinley’s brother Art Austin holding a flag.

McKinley Austin, 11th U.S. Inf., France, to Jennie Austin, Eldred
July 7, 1918
Dear Mother,
I got your letters all right. And I got one from Raymond at Camp Merritt.

It must be hard for you to see us go, but you have been very brave. If all the mothers in America were like you, there would not have been a need for a draft. I think the reason we boys, who are no braver than the average, were so quick to go, was that we have always been taught that we have a duty to our country. Some seem to think that their country should protect them, but shouldn’t call on them to help.

I am getting along well. We have been lucky so far. This is a fine place for a summer home, but we have some bad neighbors. Give my regards to all. Hoping to hear from you soon, I am your loving son, McKinley

Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, France
By July 14, 1918, the 11th Infantry was at Saint Dié, France, near the Vosges Mountains, at least 400 kilometers (249 miles) east and a bit south of Paris.

Battle of Château-Thierry
On July 18, 1918, General John J. (Black Jack) Pershing led the American Expeditionary Force at the Battle of Château-Thierry, northeast of Paris.

St. Mihiel Offensive Planned
In July the Allied commanders agreed on a strategic offensive plan which included an attack at St. Mihiel, France. The 11th Infantry would be part of this operation which was to start on September 12.

McKinley Austin, 11th U.S. Inf., France, to Aida Austin
July 27, 1918
Dear Aunt Aida,
I have been so busy, or so lazy that I have not written lately. But I thought you might worry. I got the pictures all right. They were good.

You wanted to know about this country. There are some of the prettiest places here I have ever seen, but I prefer Sullivan County. I have seen pictures home that look just like the country here.

How is everything in Eldred? I suppose nearly everyone of the boys have either gone or expect to go soon. I can’t think of anything much to write, so I will close. Your loving nephew, McKinley

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France, June 1918

My grandfather Irwin Briggs on the March in France, 1918.
My grandfather Irwin Briggs on the March in France, 1918.
When Raymond Austin enlisted in May, Mort and Jennie Austin had two sons to be concerned about.

In mid-June, Raymond was recuperating at the Base Hospital at Camp Merritt, NJ. McKinley was with the 11th Infantry in the Vosges Mountains, France.

Vosges Mountains, France
From mid-June to mid-July, the 11th Infantry Mortimer McKinley Austin was with, worked their way from Moosch, Alsace, in the Vosges Mountains to the Saint Dié Sector—66 kilometers (41 miles) west. McKinley was in the Machine Gun Company. His outfit took part in the Vosges Mountains, St. Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne offensives in northeastern France.

Hindenburg Line
Germany had built a major defensive fortification system in northeastern France. Known as the Hindenburg Line, it included concrete bunkers, heavy belts of barbed wire, tunnels for moving troops, deep trenches, dug-outs, command posts, and machine gun emplacements—excellent protection for German machine gunners.—From wikipedia.org.

Le Collett, France, June 26, 1918
Early on the morning of June 26, the Germans attempted to raid the positions held by Companies I and L. The raid was repulsed with losses to the enemy.—Sergeant John G. Popp, 11th Infantry History.

Pvt. M.M. McKinley, 11 U.S. Inf., France, to Jennie Austin
June 27, 1918
Dear Mother,

Just a few lines to let you know I am all right. I have been to the trenches and like them better than drilling. It was bad when it rained, but on good days, I like it.

The Germans shelled us once or twice but the more I see of artillery bombardment, the less I am afraid of it.

The trench rats scared me a couple of times when I was on guard. When they run around, they make a lot of noise and I thought once that it was a German in the next bay when it was only a rat. [They reportedly grew to the size of cats!]

Did Raymond ever join? I think it will do him good. I wish you would send me the address of the Eldred boys who are in the Army.

I will close hoping you 
are well. I am Your loving son,

Machine Gun Co.

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Showing in June 1918

Ad in the Republican Watchman, June 1918.
Ad in the Republican Watchman, June 1918.
Highland Cottage owned by Edith Kalbfus in 1917. Postcard courtesy of Town of Highland.
Highland Cottage owned by Edith Kalbfus in 1917. Postcard courtesy of Town of Highland.
 Side Hill Farm House owned by Henri Darrieusecq in1918. Postcard courtesy of Town of Highland.

Side Hill Farm House owned by Henri Darrieusecq in1918. Postcard courtesy of Town of Highland.

Boarding Houses Ads, 1918
Highland Cottage

Splendidly situated on Washington Lake. Accommodates 125; fine roads, dancing, bathing fishing, tennis, garage; $12 to $14. E.V. Kalbfus.—Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 25, 1918.

Side Hill Farm House
Own farm produce; $12 to $14 per week. Henri Darrieusecq, Proprietor, Barryville.—Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 25, 1918.

Washington Beach
Two 6-room cottages on easy terms; also Washington Beach Hotel; bathing beach and dance hall; all part furnished. For full details write W. T. Tether, owner.—Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 25, 1918.

Bodine Cottages on Lake Bodine
Accommodates 30; cuisine Francaise. Bathing, fishing, and boats free; $12 up. H. Bodine.—Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 25, 1918.

Sunset View House
Accommodates 75. Boating, bathing, fishing; own farm produce. J. Loerch Stewart, Highland Lake.—Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 25, 1918.

Bradley House, Eldred
Large airy rooms; excellent table; everything fresh from our farm. Circular. E.D. Avery.—Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 25, 1918.

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Rockefeller’s Visit to Eldred

Spring House (left); Barryville-Shohola Suspension Bridge (right), courtesy of Kevin M.

Article from Monticello Republican Watchman from fultonhistory.com
Article from Monticello Republican Watchman from fultonhistory.com

Rockefeller’s Visit to Eldred
Mr. John D. Rockefeller who recently visited Barryville and enjoyed the hospitality of Layman’s Spring House, examined carefully the excellent boarding house of Deacon A.S. Myers at Eldred.

He expressed himself as highly pleased with Orchard Terrace and its appointments, and Mr. Myers expects to entertain Mr. Rockefeller and others in May.

Those who met Mr. Rockefeller were pleased with his unassuming manner and one incident of his visit gives a clue to a portion of his business success.

He was introduced by Dr. Austin to Mr. Parker, the surveyor at Eldred, and Mr. Rockefeller immediately called to mind the excellent service rendered by Mr. Parker as a witness fort the Standard Oil Company years ago. No doubt this faculty has been a great help in building up his massive fortune.

Mr. Rockefeller, in conversing about the canal and the new railroad expressed an opinion that the Delaware Valley and Kingston RR would be built.—PJ Gazette.

The above article was sent to me by Halfway Brook friend Alice A. She clipped the article from the Monticello Republican Watchman which is on the fultonhistory.com web site.

I thought my Halfway Brook readers would enjoy the article as it mentions Able S. Myers owner of Orchard Terrace; George Layman’s Spring House, Mr. Parker, the Eldred surveyor, Dr. Austin, and Mr. Rockefeller.

Dr. Alonzo E. Austin was a great-grandson of Ralph and Fanny Knapp Austin; a grandson of Augustus and Phoebe Maria Eldred Austin. Dr. Austin seems to have purchased the property of his great-uncle Henry Austin on Proctor Road. My great-aunt Aida Austin and her brother Lon Austin rented the home they grew up in from Dr. Austin.

Other Spring House Posts

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On the way to France, 1918

Map of France. Brest is where McKinley's outfit Map of France. Brest is where McKinley’s outfit landed. Château-Thierry, Saint Dié, St. Mihiel, Verdun, Cambrai, Sedan, and the Meuse-Argone Offensive are mentioned in Chapter 11. Map: Gary Smith.
McKinley’s outfit landed in Brest, France. Château-Thierry, Saint Dié, St. Mihiel, Verdun, Cambrai, Sedan, and the Meuse-Argone are mentioned in Chapter 11. Map: Gary Smith.

McKinley Sails to France
On April 24, 1918, McKinley Austin (11th Infantry) left Hoboken, New Jersey, on the U.S.S. Leviathan. They arrived on May 2, in Brest, France.

May 8 they arrived at Bar-sur-Aube, southeast of Paris. They were trained there until June first. Six days later, the 11th Infantry moved east to Alsace (German territory at the beginning of the war) in the Vosges Mountains. There the regiment was attached to a French Division.

Irwin Briggs Leaves for France

On May 10, 1918, Irwin Briggs left with the advanced party from 89th Infantry Division which was assigned to the IV Corps, American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.).

He most likely sailed from Camp Upton on Long Island, New York, to England and onto France, where we will next meet him at the St. Mihiel offensive in September in the Medical Corps taking the wounded from the field to the hospitals.

Some Highland Servicemen
Way too many sad good byes would be said to the servicemen from the Town of Highland or those who would one day live in Highland—whether they had volunteered or been inducted.

Letters would be anxiously awaited. Some of the Austin letters mentioned several of the town’s soldiers. Walter Toaspern served in the U.S. Army Hospital Corps as a chauffeur; Fridolin (Fred) Straub Jr. served overseas with the U.S. Army, 303rd Engineers, Co. E.

Some families, including the Austins (McKinley and Raymond) had more than one serviceman. Anne Stanton Horton had two sons, John (who fought in France) and Ernest Horton, and a son-in-law, Herman Bosch.

Herman Bosch was the son of Wilhelm Bosch had three sons: Ed, Ralph, and Herman involved in the war effort. Ed Bosch quickly rose to the rank of sergeant.

Ed Grotecloss Jr., future husband of Belle Greig, also fought in WWI. Belle was the daughter of Robert and Kate Greig who owned the huge boarding house near Stege’s Pond.

Ed Grotecloss Jr., Herman Bosch, Irwin Briggs, and McKinley Austin would all be at the battles of St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne in France, though it is unknown if it was realized in later years.—Echo Hill and Mountain Grove, p. 360.

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Chattanooga, March 1918

Postcard to Mr. M.M. Austin, Co. F. 11 US Inf., Chattanooga, Tenn., from Burl Nation February 26, 1918, 4 p.m.

McKinley Austin in Eldred
In March, McKinley had a leave to go home before his outfit left for France, as the next letter indicates.

McKinley, Chattanooga, Tenn., to Mort Austin

March 14, 1918
Dear father, I got here all right. The train was late into Jersey City and I missed my train. I was 14 hours late, but as I got the conductor to sign a paper telling the reason, I think it will be all O.K.

Well I will write soon. Tell Aunt Aida that I am here all right. With love to all the family. Your son, McKinley

McKinley Austin, Chattanooga, Tenn., to Aida Austin
March 31, 1918
Dear Aunt, I was very glad to get those pictures. They were real good. We are having fine weather here now. I did not send anymore this month because I owed some and there are some things that I want to buy to take across with me. But I expect to have a good deal to send back next month.

My corporal is attending sniper’s school and I have had to lead the squad. I don’t like it very much.

I am expecting to be transferred to the Machine Gun Company. I would rather stay with F Company, but I have noticed that a good many things that have happened to me lately, really unimportant themselves, have resulted in advantage to me. And while I am not superstitious, I think it best not to try to change that everything is coming for the best.

Perhaps you understand what I mean? I suppose I could get another man sent in my place, but I think whatever happens is for the best.

Your nephew, McKinley

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March 9, 1884

William Henry Austin, Raymond's grandfather. Photo in the Austin family.
William Henry Austin, Aidas father. Photo in the Austin family.

In March 1884 Aida Austin was in New York City and received the following letter from her father. The Stidd Family mentioned was probably William and Mary Hickok Stidd, relatives of Mary Ann Eldred Austin, Aida’s mother.

William Hickok, also mentioned, was Mary Stidd’s brother. The Siblings were children of Justus and Mary Wells Hickok. Justus was the brother of Hannah Hickok Eldred, Mary Ann’s mother.

W.H. (Henry) Austin, Eldred, to Aida Austin, N.Y.C.
March 9, 1884
Dear Daughter,

Your Mother wants me to write to you to let you know we received your kind letter. We was vary glad you was not detained in Port Jervis for it would have been vary disagreeable for you to have had to wait for the 4 o’clock train after being up all night.

I was into Stidds to dinner that day and they was very much pleased with our visit. They talk a great deal about the piece you spoke that night and praised it vary much.

I expect we will have to go up to Irv’s some night this week. I wish you could be along to William Hickock’s next week. I think I shall quit surprising folks then.

Lon had a letter from Mort Saturday. He has been sick with the mumps, but is getting better. He said Eldred [Ell] would start for Sullivan, Monday, March 10th. Some around here think Mort went some ways to get the mumps.

I don’t suppose you care much about politics, but I shall have to tell you how it went in this Town. There was 203 votes polled. Oliver Calkin got 103; T. Gray, 42 votes; C. Frace, 58 votes. Oliver got 3 votes more than both other candidates. So you see, A. Myers don’t run this town yet.

Mother says she will wait until Eldred comes home before she sends you the sack and handkerchief.

Let’s hear from you soon. Hoping this will find you well as it leaves us.

I will close with much Love from your loving Father, W.H. Austin

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1930s Yulan, Washington Lake and Crandall Hotel

Yulan Sheriff. Photo courtesy of C. Doyle.
Yulan Sheriff. Is this Joseph Tether? Photo courtesy of C. Doyle.

Hello Halfway Brook Friends.
We have been having freezing temps at night for two weeks here in Arizona, and it has been a pretty hard winter back east, though sometimes the temps have fluctuated to something more reasonable.

I received this group of photos from Chris Doyle this week, and thought I would remind us all that summer will be approaching soon. Well, unless it’s like the notorious cold summer of 1816.

1897 Crandall’s Cold Spring Farm

1895 Ad

1930s photo of Crandall’s Hotel in Yulan courtesy of C. Doyle.
1930s photo of Grandpa and dad Mulvihill and two children at Washington Beach. Photo courtesy of C. Doyle.
1936 photo of Grandpa and dad Mulvihill and two children at Washington Beach. Photo courtesy of C. Doyle.
Posted in Boarding Houses, Echo Hill and Mountain Grove, Farewell to Eldred, Then or now | 2 Comments

January 1918 Letters

World War I Tents in the Austin Collection.
World War I Tents in the Austin Collection.

In January of 1918 George Sidwell wrote to his friend Mortimer McKinley (Mac) Austin, stationed in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was Mac’s nineteenth birthday.

George Sidwell, CAC 7 Co., Fort Amador, Canal Zone
January 5, 1918
Dear Old Mack,
Well this is the date you get a little older and tomorrow I do the same. Did four hours’ guard this morning. It is pay day and I go on pass this p.m., so will have time to write no more.

Drew just $13 yesterday. That is all that is left after my four liberty bonds bills, $.25 wounded soldiers fund, collected from loans $1.65, which left me just $8.40. When I went to town, I spent $5.20 for little odds and ends.

While in the city, I made up my mind to see the place. You talk of slums in New York, London, Chicago, but believe me they cannot begin to compare with the city of Panama. Yours, George R. Sidwell

Sometime in December 1917, Raymond Austin sent his brother Mac Austin’s Chattanooga address to the Lone Scouts Magazine, asking Lone Scout readers to write to Mac. The letters from girls in rural America arrived in January and February 1918.

Marnie Henry, DeBeque, Colo.,
January 4, 1918
Dear Mortimer,
I have just read a letter your brother Raymond has written to “Lone Scout” telling about you, so I decided I would write to you.

There has been train load after train load of soldiers passed through our town here, some were going East and some West. They looked splendid in their Uniforms.

One boy, a friend of ours died at Camp Kearney, California, and the remains were sent back here for burial. It was very sad. He was just 18 years.

I think the war is sad, yet it is for such a just cause. We (everyone) are trying to do all we can to help out. I am going to school and this year they are having school on Saturday, so we do not have much time for any work.

I love all the soldiers and we are so proud of our U.S. boys. I should be glad to hear about your army life and about yourself.

Best wishes to you from your unknown friend, Marnie Henry

Jewell Hamilton, Vandervoort, Ark., to McKinley Austin
January 1918,
Kind friend,
Saw your address in “Lone Scout.” Thought I would write you a few lines. Hope this will find you OK. How do you like the Army?

I have several friends who have gone to the Army. Oh it is so lonesome and makes me so sad to see them go. Miss Jewell Hamilton

Ottie Godsey, Peerless, Ind., to McKinley Austin
January 4, 1918
Dear Soldier Boy,
I saw an article that your brother had published in the “Lone Scout” magazine in which your name and address was given.

Although I am only a school girl living in a small town, I would enjoy corresponding with you. And if you will write, I will prove to you that us country girls can write as interesting letters as our city cousins.

Sincerely yours, Ottie Godsey

Porterville, CA Jan 6 Cleo
Duraham, OK, Jan. 7 Ila White
Vandervoort, Arkansas, Jan. 8 Jewell Hamilton
Columbia College, January 23
Lone Scout Letters February 1–5
Red Cross Tireless Workers, WWI
S.S. Tuscania

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January 1934

The Briggs Family would arrive in Barryville, in the Spring of 1934. Mary Briggs would walk past the old grist mill on the way to the Barryville Schoolhouse. Aida Austin Collection.

1934 January at the Leavenworths
Monday, the first day of January 1934, Garfield started work on some roads for the TCWA and continued into February. Howard Stevens was in charge of the project. Garfield was paid “his first $15 for road work” a week later.

Two bad accidents happened in January. Ed Crail, a boarder at Lou Kelley’s, had a terrible gun accident while hunting. Clinton Leavenworth, Morgan Sergeant and his family, Lou Kelley, and Bill Meyers visited Ed Crail in the Port Jervis Hospital.

Alice Sergeant Hill (Ella’s aunt) smashed her new car into a tree on the road between the Leavenworth home and Eldred.

The last day of January, Mary Kyte Wormuth and Cleta Myers Horton called at the Leavenworth home. Austin Smith was there at some point for his lesson.

February and March 1934

Posted in Farewell to Eldred | 2 Comments