World War I October 1918 through 1919

Pier 18, Balboa CZ, October 1, 1918
Dear Father,
Your letter from Monticello received today. I was very glad to hear from you. I saw your name on the jury list, so was not surprised. Did they try many interesting cases this session?

I have been on the rifle range or gallery twice. The first record I made was 13 scores out of 75 possible points. There was only one fellow who was as low as I was. The second time at 75 yards, I shot 30 points, a trifle above the average. The rifle we use for target practice weights 8 pounds and shoots .22 shot cartridges.

I didn’t get the papers yet, but probably will before long. Mother said she was going to send me a package. I would advise her to send things to eat for any perishable things will sure “perish” before they get here. However, I could use towels, handkerchiefs, soap, three in one oil, shoe polish, etc. very well and it would leave me nearly all of my $7.00 each month. I would also like my razor.

Have you heard from Mac lately? I suppose he has had a hand in the fighting by this time. I wish I could be with him now.

I think Bulgaria’s surrender is the very first sign that the balance is beginning to swing in our favor. Turkey again cut off from German aid will soon quit. Germany and Austria, Hungaria may fight on indefinitely and we will probably meet with bloody Chechs before Metz, Strasburg, Ai La leofapp C and the other Rhine fortresses fall. I hope next year will end it.

PS Am enclosing some pictures, and Chinese, Japanese, and Austrian money. Your son, Raymond

Wednesday noon, Mountain Grove House, Eldred, October 2, 1918
To: Mr. C M Austin
c/o Mrs. Fowler, Monticello, New York
My dear Mortimer,
Just received your letter and was glad to hear you were well. We all feel fine, but this damp weather I keep the children in the house. Verna told me she heard there were a lot of cases of diphtheria in Barryville, but I doubt it. Our phone don’t work right, so I can not find out, but I am careful here.

I got a letter from Ray. I will send it to you. Tonight I am going to get Mac’s letters and the pictures together and send to him.

If Willie don’t feel well any morning, I won’t let him go to work. Mr. Scheuneman is home sick today and beside, he got a sliver in his eye putting on the roof of his building.

I will be glad when you get though “courting” for it is certainly lonesome without anyone to scold.
Well, Elizabeth is ready to go back to school so I must close with love from all, Jennie
X Arthur’s kiss, X Elizabeth’s kiss X Robbie’s kiss, X mine, X Willie’s

Pier 18, Balboa CZ, October 3, 1918
Dear Mother,
…I am in the best of health and spirits and am enjoying life as well as it is possible to in Panama.

I got a letter last night from Uncle Ell which I will answer directly as soon as we come off lock guard. Will also write Grandfather a letter then.

I hear that there’s a song going in the states that runs,” Take down your service flag, your boy’s in Panama” Is that true?

Have you heard from Mac lately? I have been thinking a lot about him recently. To say I am worried would be unsoldier like and to say uneasy or anxious is altogether too mild an adjective for this case.

Take it from me, I’ll be glad to see snow again. I want no more of this “continual summer districts.”

Give me apples and peaches any time here after against bananas and oranges and I’ll match the pine tree against the palm any day. New York may not be the best state in the union, but the United States is the best place in the world.

I have given up all hopes of seeing France as a soldier. I’ll not feel very proud when I get home. Your loving son, Raymond

Eldred, NY, October 7, 1918
Dear McKinley,
I see by the papers that the soldiers are going to be allowed to have Christmas presents, and that the Christmas labels are being distributed to the soldiers. It will see so good to be allowed to send you a little something again.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the war ended before Christmas, but it isn’t likely that things will be settled enough so that many of the soldiers will get back much before spring.

I got Robbie Croft’s picture a few days ago and am sending you some. The one in the field where the cattle are, was taken across the road from the house. He was not quite near enough to the camera when I took it for you, to tell who it is, but the one near the silo looks just like him. I haven’t heard yet whether he has gone across, but he expected to go soon, when he was home.

Quite a number will be in the next draft from Eldred. I don’t know just who. I suppose Raymond Myers will be one of them. But there isn’t much possibility of any of them getting to France. Jim Parker, being on the railroad, will escape being called.

We are having some beautiful weather, but I suppose the winter will soon set in now.

I had a letter from Mrs. Carlin last week. They were all well, but dreading the winter. I can stand the winter better than I can the hot weather.

Lon had a letter from Dr. Austin a few days ago. Miss Hall had been quite sick, but was getting better.

We are all well and hoping that you are. If there is anything special you want, let me know so that I can send it when I send your Christmas. With love, Aunt Aida

Eldred, October 12, 1918
My dear Mac,
Just a few lines while I have time. I see in the papers in order to send a package to the soldiers that the soldier one sends the package to must first get a label and send it to the one he expects to receive ia package form. I hope you have sent yours before this as they claim no packages will be accepted without the labels in it, if you don’t get a Christmas package, it will be because we have received no label.

The Spanish Influenza is sweeping the country here, even our school is closed for awhile. No cases being nearer than Shohola, as we know of. We often wonder how you are and if you have escaped it; You must be careful and it is a worry to know at times.

You must be in places where you can not be careful. We have a joke on Dad coming home from Monticello. He met a soldier who had been wounded in France and for a month had been in the hospital of Otisville. He was on his way home and Dad fell in with him at Port Jervis and became so interested that he was carried on beyond Shohola. The conductor was kind enough to slow the train down and let him off at Lackawaxen.

I am afraid my pencil is so dim by the time this reaches you, you will not be able to read it. But Elizabeth is learning to write with pen and ink. It is impossible to find a decent pen in the house.

Willie is still working at Procters. Dad expects to work for John Lovee as some as he gathers his garden.

Well I must close as Dad is going to the office. It has been over a month since we heard from you, so we are looking for a letter every day.
Love from all, Mother.
This letter was returned.

33rd US Infantry, Camp at Culebra, October 17, 1918
Dear Brother Bill,
I am back at Culebra again. Our company has done its shift at Lock Gave and is back to its headquarters again.

I have had a couple letters from Father and mother and I will answer them soon.

There is not much to write about here. This climate takes a person’s ? and it is really hard work even to write a letter…

If I was you, I would go to school this winter. You have passed your regents in the subjects you tried. In January, you may get some more of them and by June you could go over the top.

“Hang good Jobs and big pay” (underlined twice) when you are so young and so near high school. Remember I was much older than you before I got any of my regents. I got tired of living on Father’s money alone. That’s why I got my first job at Proctor’s.

You have worked all summer and I know you have earned a winter’s schooling. Father and Mother are both anxious I am sure that you will. Don’t be afraid that you will run short of money for I will help you and I think Mac will too.

I have learned since I came to this army, that it’s the educated men who are the officers and the rest are like me, more or less. I am your brother, Raymond

October 21, 1918
Pvt. Mortimer McKinley Austin
MG Gun co., 11th Inf, Eldred, Ny
Killed in action October 21 [I also have 14th]
Isolated in the community of Romague Sous-Mont Fancon

Map coordinates: Verdun 35 NE; North 285 and East 08.8
Identified by Tag on cross and 3 tags on body. Removed June 10, 1919 to grave 69 Section 43 Plot 2, Romagne Sous Mont Faucon.

33rd US Infantry, Camp at Culebra, Nov 3, 1918
Dear Father,
I received your welcome letter several days ago, but we have had a hike and a field meet since, so have not had much time to write.

We hiked seven or eight miles, only two fell out of our company. Several others fell out from the rest of the companies. It was quite hot and I had a headache for a couple of hours after we got back.

In the field meet yesterday, M company made a good start. But company L had the ranking officer, so what he said went. They disqualified us twice. Once they disqualified both of our runners for one man’s error.

We took first prize in the walking contest. also in the squad competition. Altogether we won about 25 points. We have a pretty good ball team and I hope we will keep on building up.

Have you heard from Mac lately? I have written him several letters from Panama and as yet I have heard nothing from him. It lookes to me like the war is going through its last stages…

I am feeling fine except the heat and I don’t get along very good. There are few cases of influenza here. But no such thing gets me. All I wish is that I was in the states. But I don’t worry about that for I expect to come back soon, so don’t be worrying about me. With love to you all, Son Raymond

Graves Registration Service, November 4, 1918
envelope from War Department
Letter inside says that Private Mortimer M. Austin M G Co. 11th Infantry is buried in Commune of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon (Meuse) France.

Camp Gaillard CZ, Nov. 17, 1918
…It would be worse than useless to try to express my thanks (on paper) for the box you sent me. The razor is a good one. Luckily fo me it’s a safety for now that there is no chance of a German bullet getting me, I’d hate to die by a razor.

Well, Mac will soon be home now. Probably next spring or next summer. Some fine day you will see the top of a military hat coming over the steps and it will be me you see next….

I am getting somesomewhat used to the climate and the last hike didn’t tire me much. We made the last mile mostly up hill at quick time. Possibly a dozen fell out. They are using us fine, as always well fed and quartered…

Did I ever tell you that our present quarters are in full view of Culebra—cut also part of the Perdio Miguel (English Peter Mc Gill) Locks.

…I wrote a letter to grandfather sometime ago. Did he get it? With love to all, Raymond

NYC, Nov 19, 1918
Dear Mortimer and Jennie, Raymond, Willie, Elizabeth, Lawrence and Robert,
To you all we send our sympathy with you in the sorrow this sad news brings. I have telephoned to several parties and have written (in Eugene’s name) to Sec’y of War, Baker, Washington and to the American Red Cross here for any information in regard to McKinley.

It is possible that the information is in error. We can only trust to God…We are all sharing this sorrow and this suspense with you…McKinley was noble and loyal to the highest things of life. He was brave and gentle. He was a young man of high principles…

Mr. Walter Styles letter came at once to us with your message. Everyone must sympathize with you all for McKinley was universally respected. Affectionately and with sympathy. Eugene, Sally and Charlotte (Eugene was an Austin relative)

Camp Gailard, Culebua, CZ, November 23, 1918
Dear Mother,
I received your letter a few days ago. Many thanks for the money order. I was surprised and terribly sorry to hear of our neighbors awful misfortune. I sincerely hope that they are all well again.

I am thankful that none of you have been sick. Don’t worry about me for influenza is very rare here abouts.

I was very glad to read Mac’s letter. I have written him several…

We had a hike the other day, but it didn’t tire me much. Several dropped out though. We also had about half a miles double time. I started about third from the east and finished with only six men and an officer ahead of me. Only about ten ran all the way around. I have a notion to try for the football team for lack of better excitement.

The climate doesn’t bother me much now although I could stand old Sullivan county much better. I wonder who will be the gladest Mac or myself when we get back. I hope he gets home first and I think he will.

You can hardly imagine how lazy and listless a person grows down here. I used to like to write letters, but now I can hardly keep my mind on one thing for a minute. This is H––L on earth so far as the climate and looks of the place goes.

But they feed us fine. We have exceptionally good officers and as we won’t be here much longer, I can amuse myself some way or another for a few months. We may come back in January. But far more likely, it will be May or June.

Very shortly we will go on the rifle range and probably in January, we will go through the war maneuvers at Cluerra so that time will go fast.

Could you send me an arithmetic? I’m going to some school when I come back so I may as well improve my time here. I think I shall go to work at a factory and then go to school nights. I could save money that way to go on up.

Did you get those books I wrote for? Also can you find my Esperanto books? If so, I wish you would please send them to me.

Tell Elizabeth I was glad to hear from her and will send her some postcards. Am returning Mac’s letter. Please send me more if you have them. With love to all, Raymond

Port Jervis, NY, November 24, 1918
My dear Mrs. Austin,
There has been nothing connected with the war, or any other sad experience for years that brought such a shock to us as when we learned last Monday of the tidings that reached you the day before. It seemed as if I could not have it so,m that your big splendid boy had given all.

I wish I could say something comforting. You see, next to my very own, McKinley came closest to my heart for George often said and repeatedly has written when he was in Panama…that “Mack” was his only friend. Of course there are boys he cares for, but your boy was the only one he ever had in the intimate inner circle of his heart.

The Indian tribe they had formed as boys they took along with the years—the language, the signs, their calendar and names. Only last Sunday, I found “Ahmek’s” Christmas message to “Humn” in one of laddie’s pockets. There were their vows one of which was the clean white life they were to lead. Things I came across accidentally, and as intimate and holy. I mention it to you only to show the clean white thought and life of your boy.

These past few years have tried us as by fire, and we mothers have tried to watch our boys with a faith and courage equal to their own. It has not been easy, this giving up, but we have been so proud of our soldier boys, proud that they volunteered.

And now in my thought of you, I bow my head in humility. Yours is a glory that you and many other mothers have these days with the Mary of old when her Son gave up his life for others.

Believe me, you and yours have our deepest sympathy—more than this we are sharing your grief for it is ourts too.

May you feel that the Eternal God is your refuge and the comforting touch of the Everlasting Arms in these days of your grief. Yours most sincerely, Marion Sidwell

Albany New York, Thanksgiving Day, 1918
newspaper clipping: Private Mortimer McK. Austin, Eldred
My Dear Friend Lon, [This is Lon, the brother of Grandpa Mort Austin.]
My thoughts were turned to you by this little slip in the casualty list and I began wondering if it was your brother Mort or his boy, but which ever it was, it proves you were loyal and the boy was not afraid to pay the price for liberty.

What a wonderful Thanksgiving Day for America, but sad for the families of the boys that will not come back. But what a wonderful victory and so much sooner than we had hoped for. We had prayed for victory and while we were yet praying, the powers of darkness were falling.

Well brother, 20 years go I worked with you on Proctor Hill, so time lies on a pace and a great task is ahead of the American people to reconst.

…Well Lon, write me how you are and give my sympathy to the family of the Hero. They had something real to give while I had only money, but glad to be alive to help in the great struggle. I have expected to see you in Albany, but have not. I am with the Albany Hdware and Iron Co.
Very truly yours, Arthur E. Howlett

Avon Methodist Episcopal Church, New York, November 26, 1918
Dear brother Austin,
I read in yesterday’s paper of the death of Mortimer McKinley Austin of Eldred, NY and can have no doubt that it is my dear friend, your son McKinley. Is it possible that this is so? It was a great shock to me when I read the name. I haven’t seen the names of any others from out there if there have been others wounded or killed. Has this great privilege come to McKinley alone out there, to make the supreme sacrifice for liberty and the rights of humanity? I know what a terrible blow this has been for you all, but also feel sure that you realize the great honor and glory that has come to him in giving his life and to you in giving a son in the greatest conflict for the truth and honor that the world has ever known.

God bless you in this hour of need and your wife and children. What a blessing to know that Jesus gave His life and understands our hearts and needs and sympathizes with us.

It is surely a great comfort to you to know that McKinley was a Christian. His ideals were high and I feel sure that in enlisting (for he must have enlisted being too young for the draft), he did it with a noble purpose to serve God and his fellow man and make his life count for the most. This he has done. He lived more in those months of service probably than many of the rest of us ife we reach fourscore years.

My prayer is that God may comfort your hearts and grant the fulfillment of the ideal world order and freedom for which dear McKinley laid down his life. Yours in sympathy and love, Charles W. Taylor, Pastor

War Department, Washington, November 29, 1918
The Adjutant General’s Office
To A. Eugene Austin, MD, New York City, NY
I regret to advise that this office has received no further information concerning the death of Private Mortimer McK. Austin, Machine Gun Company, 11th Infantry, than that he was killed in action October 21st, 1918.
For further information and details concerning his death you should write to his Commanding Officer.
Commanding Officer
Machine Gun Company, 11th Infantry
American Expeditionary Force
Respectfully, M F. Lerovin?
Adjutant General

November 30, 1918
Dear Mortimer and Jennie and all dear to McKinley,
With this a letter goes to France to the Commanding Officer of Madline Gen. Company 11th Infantry asking for further information and details concerning McKinley. I wrote him how McKinley was the oldest of his family, universally beloved and respected, the first man to enlist from Eldred. As soon as the answer comes, it shall go to you as this does, at once.

We trust One whose love and wisdom and comfort is infinite. He is with McKinley and McKinley is with Him where the dear boy is, and we shall surely meet again. Lovingly from us all, Charlotte C. Hall

December 3, 1918
A letter to Dr. Austin on American Red Cross paper saying “with deep sympathy for your loss that we inform you from the official report that Private Mortimer McKinley Austin was killed in action. For further particulars concerning his death, we have asked our Paris office to get all possible details from his comrades or anyone who can give any information. We regret very much we can not expect this report for at least six weeks because of the overcrowded mails, but shall communicate again with you just as soon as we hear,” and express sympathy eloquently.

Culebra, CZ, Dec 6, 1918
Dear Brother Bill,
I believe I owe you a letter so will write you a few lines tonight. I celebrated my birthday by doing a day’s kitchen police. Not a happy celebration either, believe me.

We are trying out on the rifle range now. I believe I can do good enough in the preliminaries to be allowed to shoot for record. i hope to make sharp shooter if all goes well. I feel pretty sure I can make marksman without any trouble.

Since I got that letter, I have had hard work to do anything. Say why don’t you get the “Official bulletin” Oct. 21st up and look over the casualties. You can get them at any Post Office. Miss Kelly would be glad to let you look over them. I have found more Austins on the lists, but not Mac. I also found two George Dunlaps, one from Oswego, NY. Many of the “killed in action” often turn up to be wounded or to have been isolated during the battle and returned later. How does the dispatch read? Does it say “was killed” or “was reported killed in action? These are very improbable hopes. but some how I can’t believe it. I am praying I am right.

Mac probably wrote you a letter before he went into the battle if it comes, I wish you would send it to me. Raymond

Culebra, Dec 8, 1918
Dear Father,
You doubtless have received my other letter which I wrote immediately upon the receipt of you letter of Nov. 17…

Although I scarce dare think Mac is still alive, I think there is a possible chance of the report being a mistake. I have gone over the causualties down to October 16. A fellow by the name of J M Austin of NY state was killed or died around October 20 the list was made out about Nov 15th. There are also many other Austins listed, mostly all killed. There is a little hope of confusion of the names…

I wish you would send me a copy of the words used by the telegram. Also, compare the serial number given by the telegram and the one on Mac’s insurance policy…

These are surely sad days for me and I can tell how you all must feel. Do not think I am all alone with this sorrow confined to myself, we are all brothers to a great extent and we feel and sympathize for each other…

You have all been bery brave. Pray for fresh strength and trust that the message is false. Trusting you are all well…Love to all, your son Raymond

Culebra CZ, Dec 8, 1918
Dear Folks,
Just a few lines to let you know I have found McKinleys name on the casuality list of Nov. 25…

As soon as you receive any word, hope you will send it to me as it worries me day and night. I am doing my best to stand up to it like a soldier and I hope you all will remember that this is a soldier’s family and will act accordingly.

They are examining our equipment and I hear the war maneuvers are coming off sooner than expected after them our time here will in all probability be short.

The weather is very hot now, the dry season is here and drilling is pretty warm work.

December 12, 1918
Dear Jennie,
Ever since I’ve been out, I’ve intended to write to you from day to day. I can’t write much at night without waking myself up for all night and it gets dark so soon after school is out that I don’t get much writing done at the school house. There has been a great deal of sickness and death here. Three deaths in family of Miller’s just below school house. The father, infant son and the best child they had in family, a big boy about 14. My school was very small for about 2 weeks, but now I have about 22.

I wonder very much how things are going home. Christina said she would send me announcement soon as they were married. I expected it Tuesday night, but when it didn’t come last night, I began to feel worried. They say, “No news is good news”, but it is hard to believe it so far away. I am willing to come back if any of them are sick and they know it.

I guess I’m getting rheumatism, my knees ache every day, but I get up free from it in the mornings. At first, I thought I was getting influenza, but guess it is something that will last longer.

I hope you have kept well as well as the rest of your family and I would like to know how Raymond is getting along. Will stop as it is really quite dark in room now and I must leave. Glad it is coming moonlight. Lovingly, Anna (Grandma Jennie Austin’s sister)

Barre, Massachusetts, December 18, 1918
Dear brother Mort,
Your letter dated Dec 17 at hand. I was very sorry to hear that McKinley was killed and feel his untimely death with you all. There is a great comfort in knowing he died in action in a good cause. It is with pride I think of your boys, not only of those that got in the army, but of Will for the ? and grit in the willingness he showed when I was at your house to get in the fight.

I am sorry to hear Jennie and the children were sick and hope they are well now.

I received a letter from Lillie last week. She said they are all well. John Parmenter’s youngest daughter died in Chicago a short time ago from influenza. Is Tom and Emma Collins in Eldred this winter or did they go to the city? I don’t know of anything here that would interest you so will close with love to all. Eldred

Hoboken NJ, Dec 19th 1918
Dear Friend Austin,
The news about poor McKinley has just reached me and it goes without saying that I was grieved at his sad fate.

I shall not attempt anything by way of consolation for, alas, in such cases, there is no consolation, but time.

I had just begun to settle myself in the belief that as no news was good news, we could all meet together again under more changed and happier circumstances, than last season, shake hands and congratulate all around. That God may help you to bear up under it and that you will accept this expression of my sincere sympathy in your trouble I am most sincerely your friend, Wm. A. Lozier
As you no doubt have received many such tokens of condolence, I will not burden you with the necessity of replying until we next meet.

Quarry Heights CZ, December 23, 1918
Dear Mother,
I came down here to Quarry Heights Friday. I started a letter to you but was called on guard before I could finish it. I received yours and Bill’s letters and the package. Many thanks for it. Everything came in handy.

Don’t worry about me being sick for if I am sent to the hospital, I’ll drop you a line before I go so you will know.

I heard that our batallion will sail for Camp Meritt on January 22, 1919. I hope so, but hardly believe it. they say that a few have already gone.

I suppose by now you have had some news from the Red Cross investigation. Perhaps they may have some of Mc Kinley’s personal belongings, letters, watch, etc. I have found out that the 11tth Infantry is in the 5th division (not corps) and is in the army of occupation.

I believe the last letter of Macs I saw was dated September 19. He must have written a letter between then and October 21st.

I guess the US has lost terrible for the number engaged 700,000 men (US) were engaged and 262,000 fell…

I really believe our next war is only a few years off and I think President Wilson sees it…I hope he can carry out his war program for 1926. Lord Raldon says that “Wilson’s ideas are almost damnable” and I guess Japan seconds the motion.

We are doing guard duty now. I was on guard on Pier 18 night before last. Raymond
P. S. My letters must have been held up as I write once or twice every week. Send my mail to Culebra.

Mount Hermon, Mass., Mount Hermon School, December 26, 1918
Mr. C. M. Austin, Eldred, NY
Dear Mr. Austin:
I am sorry to hear that your boy has been taken from you. He, with others of our Mount Hermon boys, has made the supreme sacrifice, and of these we are proud, but we miss them from our list. I appreciate your kindness in giving me the information, and wish to express to you our sympathy with you in the great loss which has come to you.
Yours sincerely, FF Cutler, Office of the Principal

Quarry Heights CZ, December 31, 1918
…I am very glad you are all well and hope you will continue. So you were lucky to have all pulled safely through the influenza.

What kind of a wedding did Aunt Christina have? I hope she is well now. I hear the influenza has started up again….

I got a $2 money order at Culebra some time ago…But I think I told you about it. Many thanks for it. also, the lot of things you sent me.

It sure puts heart in a fellow to know that the folks are still thinking of him. I expect I’ll be home sometime in May or June. Don’t worry about me for I feel fine.

January 3, 1919 Quarry Heights, CZ
Dear brother Bill,
Many thanks for the box of candy that arrived today. another fellow in our tent also got a box of sweetcakes, etc., and the tent had quite a feast. We put guards at the tent door to keep out the rest of the company.

I guess we leave here on January 15 for Culebra and a few days later I believe we will “March on Sheraear”? for war maneuvers.

We may be there for a month. There are sixty men going to a place called David, two hundred and fifty miles up the coast. I hope that I am on the list. Lately, I have almost hoped for a revolution some where. Since Mac was killed, time hangs heavy on my hands.

It’s hard to tell just when we will come home. Probably about mid May at the longest.

Have you any further particulars of Mac? The 11th Inf is in the first army corps and fought under General Hunter Liggett. I seen where a fellow in the 11th company E, I believe, was wounded in the Argonne fighting.

If the letters he wrote to Rosie and Lena are dated after September, I would almost believe he had made a mistake in the month or if they were dated between Sept. 1st and 11th, it could be mistaken for November. Did he say anything about being in a hospital? Many men were there when their regiments left for the fighting and being unaccounted for in the confusion were erroneously reported killed or missing in action. Also, did he speak of any particular event…

I suppose the states are going wild over the homecoming soldiers. …

I suppose Elizabeth is still going to school. I will write a few lines soon.

Tell Arthur and Bob that every man should be a soldier when there is a war. There is no better time to begin than now. Make them proud of poor Mac and as anxious to be willing to be willing to serve our country as he was.

…I’ll say it’s pretty hot here, but as at present, we don’t drill any and only walk post five hours out of seventy-two. I consider this to be a snap.

The winter is well along up there now and pretty cold too, I expect. I want you all to be careful and not get sick for I believe to loose another one of you would just about do me up.

I am returning the telegram with this letter…Praying you all are well as I am and will write soon. With much love to all. Your Brother, Raymond

Quarry Heights, CZ, Jan 14, 1919
Dear Brother,
Your letter of December 29 just received. Needless to say, I was very glad to hear from you. I suppose by now you have had more details about Mac from the Red Cross. Don’t fail to send me any details you may get immediately. …

I am glad you are having a mild winter and I hope it keeps up. Although, I am afraid you will have a late spring and they won’t send us home during bad weather.

When the 29th Infantry went back, many soldiers died from diseases caused from the change of climate. We have only been here a few months however and most of them had from four to ten year’s service here. I’ll take my chances any day.

I never got Fred Morgan’s letter. What company and regiment does he belong to? Also, what camp is he at?

According to reports, twenty men from M company who have dependants are booked for a discharge. Also we hear that men are coming from the states in February to relieve the 33rd. They will be in quarantine for thirty days so we may possibly leave here in April. Then we would be held in detention for a month in the states.

Some how I feel that I will be discharged and come home next July. If things keep up in South America, we may have to go down there and cool things off…

January 11, 1919
Two rough drafts of Aida (spelled her name Ida) asking for more information on names of some of the members of McKinley’s company and saying that the last letter received was September 28, 1918.
envelope addressed to Rev. WM. J. Mc Veigh, Chaplain, 11 US Infantry, A E F, France.

MG CO. APO 745, 11th Inf, 19 January 1919
Dr. A Eugene Austin, New York, NY
Same letter sent to Mort Austin March 1919
Mr. C. M. Austin, Eldred, NY
Dear Sir:
As commanding officer of the MG CO 11th Inf., I answer your letter of inquiry regarding the death of your son Mortimer McKinley Austin. I was in a different division at the time of the death of your son, but by questioning men in the Company who were present during that engagement, I am enabled to give you the following information—most of which was given by Sergeant Popp who was in command of the section.

At Madelaine Farm after this company had gained its first objective, your son was put in command of the 6th squad (acting as corporal). In order to consolidate the position and to prevent a successful German counter-attack, your son took his machine gun and his squad of men forward to a shell hole. It was a dangerous mission for artillery and machine gun fire was heavy. Finding the hole not deep enough to provide cover for the gun and all the men, he returned to the trench and obtained a shovel.

Most any other man in his position would have sent one of the men of the squad back for the shovel, but your son chose to run the danger himself. On the return trip to the shell hole he was struck in the breast by a machine gun bullet and although thus badly wounded, he continued forward and gave the shovel to his squad, who then dug in and held their position.

During a lull in the fighting, he was brought back to the trenches for Medical Aid and all efforts were in vain however and about an hour later, he passed away. He realized that his wound was fatal and took the knowledge like a man and like a soldier, never once complaining and only regretting that he would be unable to fight on.

All the men of the Company state that your son was one of the most likable men in the company. None were braver and the reason he was killed was because he was too brave really. I shall not attempt to assuage your grief with mere words of sympathy. Perhaps the knowledge that he died as the bravest of the brave, facing toward the enemy, leading his men forward to a point in advance even of our own lines, may somewhat lessen your suffering. I sincerely hope so.
Believe me to be very truly yours, Allen B. Maxwell
Capt 11th Inf Comdg Co.

Barre, Mass January 19, 1919
Dear Brother Mort
Your letter received some time ago. I have been sick the last 2 weeks, so have not written many letters.

I received a letter from Raymond and answered that letter for I thought he was so far away from home and alone and waited yours until I was well. I am feeling quite well now and went to work last Thursday. There is quite a lot of sickness around here.

Last Friday it was 12 below zero, the coldest so far this winter. It is warm now and no sleighing. The ice is 8 inches to 12 inches thick now and it looks as if we are not going to have much snow or cold weather this winter. Still it is quite a while until spring and we may have all the winter we want.

I received a letter from Lillie a few days ago. She has been sick with the flu, but was around when she wrote.

Is Tom Collins in Eldred this winter or did they go to the city for the winter?
I hope you are all well now…Love to all, Eldred

Dear Jennie,
I come to you in this your hour of sorrow with sympathy from the depths of my heart while you mourn the loss of your boy, I feel we can all thank God that he gave his life in a noble cause. While your heart bleeds for your boy, we can feel grateful that God has given you other children to comfort you while many a mother has given her all in this cruel war. With love, Eldred

Quarry Heights, CZ, January 25, 1919
Dear Father,
Your more than welcome letter of Jan. 7 received a day or two ago. Would have answered sooner, but was on guard the 23rd and 24 and as there was inspection at 9 am this morning,until now there has been no convenient opportunity.

I am glad you are having Mac brought home. We cannot better use his insurance than in that way. It will be hard to come home without him. But it will be easier to have his grave where we can care for it.

…I got a letter from uncle Ell a few days ago. I am glad to see how he has changed his opinion of joining the army.

The weather up here while altogether too hot, is not so bad as at Culebra. There is no reveille or retreat to stand and we are only supposed to do five hours guard in the days although just now some men are in the hospital and I have to go on again at four o’clock. However on guard once in a while is easy enough.

There are some more rumors around about us going to the states in March. The Puerto Rican soldiers attached to the military police go back to their regiment on the 27th and I hear they sail for Puerto Rico on February 7. I don’t mind the army, but I hate Panama whole heartedly though.

Alonzo Eugene Austin MD, NYC, February 11th 1919
Dear Mortimer and Jennie, Raymond, William, Elizabeth, Lawrence, and Robert.
It is a great sorrow to enclose this letter which tells that our McKinley has paid the supreme sacrifice on the altar of our world’s freedom in France. In all your mourning, we mourn with you.
…His death is a great loss to you all. It was like him to ask that the insurance, should he give his life, be used for the education of his sister and brothers…

…We love McKinley. His going home is also a great loss to us. We had high hopes that sometime his home would be where his great great grandfather Austin lived…

As the letter of inquiry was written on paper like this, Capt. Maxwell evidently thought McKinley was Eugene’s son. I am writing him that he has not that honor, but that McKinley’s parents will recieve the letter and will want to reply…

Eugene and Sally write in messages of sincere sympathy with you all. These pages are from them as truly as from me. Our united prayers are for you all. In loving memory of McKinley…and full of sympathy with your sorrow. Charlotte C. Hall
PS …Please give our congratulations to his Grandfather Leavenworth, that he had so soldierly, so truly patriotic grandson. Please give him and his family our sympathy in their loss…

YMCA, Luxemburg, February 14, 1919
Dear Miss Austin,
Chaplain McVeigh gave me your letter concerning Mortimer Austin MG Co. 11th Inf. I regret to have to tell you that he was killed Oct 14th in the Argonne Forest Drive. He was killed near a small town called Cuvel. I was with him when he died. But was wounded later in the day and cannot say where he was buried. I don’t know anything about his personal belongings for I was taken to a hospital on the same day that he was killed. But am trying to learn something about it. When I do, I’ll be sure to let you know at once.

Chaplain McVeigh has gone to the States and he was in charge of the burying party.

My dear lady it grieves me to have to write this information. But I am the only officer with the company that was with them there.

However you will be glad to know that he died like a true American doing his duty. He was well liked by both officers and men of the company. and we are proud to have had such a man. If there is anything I can do for you in anyway, Please let me know. I’d be only too glad to do it.
Yours very respectfully, G L Edwards
1st Lt. 11th inf. NYC

Culebra CZ, Feb 16, 1919
Dear Folks, I was very glad to receive your three letters of Jan 23, 28th and 25th. It was nearly three weeks since I had heard from you and I had begun to feel uneasy.

I came back to Culebra Feb 6th to be examined for discharge on the grounds of my allotment. I have turned in my equipment and have been kept very busy.

There are a number of others who are waiting discharges and as we don’t drill, we do most of the work.

I would have written to you long ago, but I have had very little time…Just when I will get home is guess work., but unless the breaking off of the armistice holds, our discharges up. I expect to see you around March 10th to 20, maybe sooner. A few men have already gone back.

I am satisfied now that Mac is among the killed…according to one account I have seen, the 11th lost 399 men killed, 141 wounded and 226 missing and other account gives it as 339 men killed.

One of Macs friends in F Co., was Aloucious Delaney of Port Jervis. Maybe if you can locate his folks, he may know something about the details of Mac’s death.

At Quarry Hgts…I saw the names of two or three men who were wounded in the 11th inf, but they were all wounded in September, so would know nothing of the where abouts or casualities of October. Two officers were cited for bravery who belonged to the 11th. One was killed.
Clarence Wormuth is among the 10,000 missing. I am very much afraid that our losses will not stop there. This may yet turn out to be our bloodiest war…

I am glad you are having such an easy winter. You must all take care of yourselves as I want to see you all well when I come home…Tell Fred Morgan I got his letter and I would have answered it, but did not know whether to send it to Meade or his home being as he was getting out so soon.

I have no intention of reenlisting…Keep your eyes open and if you see any good job. I’ll jump at it the next day after I land home. By all means stay in by the fire during the bad weather. I think I can fix anything that is liable to go wrong.

The cake and the nuts were surely great. We (about 14??) divided the cake and all said it was fine. I was very glad to get it. Many, many thanks for them…Love to all, Raymond

Dear little sister,
I was very glad to see that you are learning to write so nice. You must go to school every day and by and by you will learn enough to be a school teacher.

I am coming home soon and I will be glad to see you and Arthur and Robbie again.
ps. Don’t send any papers from the government or Red Cross to me as I will not be here when they come and they might get lost. With much love, your brother, Raymond

Mount Hermon School, Mount Hermon, Mass. February 17, 1919
Mr. C. M. Austin, Eldred, NY
My dear Mr. Austin:
I am very sorry to hear of the death of your son. He made an excellent record here at Mount Hermon. He was on the honor list of students both terms he was here and had an absolutely perfect record in attendance upon all his classes and appointments.

About 1300 of our boys have been in military service; 42 of them have made the supreme sacrifice. We have sorely missed the boys here at Mount Hermon, but have been glad that they have been able to help in the settlement of these great questions.

I sympathize with you in these days when you must feel so keenly the loss of your boy.
Yours sincerely, F F Cutler, Office of the Principal

Culebra CZ, February 23, 1919
Dear Folks,
Just received mother’s letter with the copy of Captain Maxwell? account of Mac’s death at the battle of Madeline Farm. I hardly know what to say. My pride in him overcomes much of my grief…

The object of God in taking one so dear to us is very hard on our frail minds to percieve, are all “tried by fire” also we are promised tha no “grief too heavy to bear” shall be imposed upon us. With implicit conficence…we can look into eternity unwavering calmness…
With love to all, Raymond

Culebra CZ, March 11th, 1919
Dear Folks,
I would have written long ago, but I found I had no more stamps so I had to wait to payday, which is today. I am very sorry, but I could not help it. I hope you haven’t worried about me for I have been well and on duty all the time. I got your letters also, the papers. I was awful glad to get them.

Say, can you get another paper with the account of “Macs” death? A chum of mine who had a brother blown to pieces at the battle of St. Mihiel would like to have the account of Mac that was published in the Democrat.

It’s just a year ago today Mac left us the last time and it is just about the same time that he left the house. I little thought then that it was the last time we would ever see him. It seems harder than ever to bear. But every time I remember that each name under the “killed in action” means another sorrowing family.

I feel convinced that all this suffering is the work of the Almighty and that He has his own deep motives for them and some day, each wound will be appeased and we will be made plain to us.
They issued us back our equipment again and we went on a thirteen mile hike and were out two days.

Evidently there has been a hitch in the demobilization down here for men are going out in small bunches and so far I have not been lucky most of those gone had loss allotments. Mine is class B which is nixt in line to class A . My discharge is approved of but they lack transport service as the transports are carrying Puerto Rican troops homeward. The US soldiers go back 1st class on passenger ships. The rainy season is near at hand and I hope to leave here before it arrives. I seen enough of it last summer and fall…

Well, I must go on fatigue now, hoping you are all well and will write soon, I am with love to all, Raymond

March 18, 1919
Letter to Chas. M. Austin, Eldred, Sullivan Co., NY saying that the effects of “your son the late Mortimer M. Austin, have not yet been received and that in numerous instances it was impossible to retrieve any effects. [hand written copy of same words sent to Dr. A Eugene Austin which I scanned. Letter to Dr. AE Austin, was on January 19, 1919]

Madison, NJ, March 25, 1919
My dear Mort,
I received a Tri-States paper confirming the report I saw in the NY Tribune last year that McKinley was killed in action.

The report is very well written and shows the interest the officers took in looking after their men. Their desire to afford all the information attainable under the circumstances most difficult and distress to their relations.

McKinley was your first born and the first of your little group to pass from your companionship, not by ordinary disease, but in the shock of battle, a struggle for home and country and God against the most uncalled for cruel diabolical of wars, the world has ever known…

I remember McKinley with pleasure. He was a bright and cheerful youth. We spent a good many pleasant hours at the checkerboard together. He could outplay me easily. His ready wit, keen and alert mind enabled him to see how he could move his checkers for my defeat. I was often overwhelmed as in certain moves he took man after man.

Had he lived, I have no doubt that he would have risen to a high position in his company. It was his ambition to do his best and so it was on that fatal day, with no fear for himself in the midst of the greatest danger, he jumped to the need of making the defense of his company more secure—he was determined to win…

My prayer is that the good Lord may bless and keep you all in his ways. Heaven is only a little way from the earth, and when the time comes for our removal, it will be but a step from this life to the better one on high.

With the wish that Raymond may soon be home and with best wishes for the dear old village of Eldred and its people, I am Yours truly, RB Collins

Culebra CZ, March 25, 1919
Dear Folks,
I left the hospital today. I was only in six days for a slight touch of malaria, but am ok now.
I got Bill’s letter. Many thanks for the money. It will come in very handy. Ten men left this company for home yesterday. We may leave April 3rd. I find that the allotment men have turned in their equipment again any how. I hope they are done fooling now and will get us off the zone shortly. I’ve had eight months of Panama and my stomachs full of it.

One of the letters I wrote to Mac Sept 12th at Balboa, came back to me marked:
“Returned to writer. Killed in action Oct. 23, 1918.” That’s just five months and two days ago…
Do you hear anymore about getting him home or about getting any of his personal effects? It will surely seem lonesome without him when I get home.

I hope I get out of here before anything comes of our trouble with Japan and I am more than ready to fight, but the idea of scraping in these jungles don’t suit me. It’s no place for a white man to die anyway.

So Mrs. Tuzza and Nettie are with you now? I am glad mother has company for I know how she must have felt all alone during the day. I have been busy continually, yet it bothers me all the time. I am with love to all, Raymond

Culebra, CZ, March 28, 1919
Dear Folks,
I received your more than welcome letters yesterday at mail call and am taking the first opportunity to answer.

I think at last the time is near when we sail for the good old US. The men with allotments have turned in all their equipment and are supposed to sail for New Orleans between March 3rd and 7th. Our destination is Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where we will be at least a month in quarantine. In all probability I’ll see you between May and July. Probably about the middle May.
Of course, all kinds of delays, etc., are likely to occur so I set July as a late date. Anyhow, I’ll have two service chevrons which is more than a good many will have.

If things keep up, I’ll probably be back in uniform before I have been a civilian life long some how I feel that we are near another big war…

Mrs. Tuzza’s fortune telling will ultimately come true, but she is looking quite a few weeks into the future. Time must pass however and I’ll be there someday and see old Sullivan co., and home again…

It comes out now that we were not supposed to come here, but were to go “over there.” to be trained and used to fill up the losses made in the fighting regiments.

New Orleans is the embarkation point for Panama and it was through a mistaken order that any Merritt men came here…

I got a letter from Uncle Ell and he said cousin Lilly never received any answer to the letter she wrote me. I worte to her last December. I am writing to her now, but if you see any of them, explain to them how some of our mail has been mixed up.

Of course none of us would ever want to use the insurance…I believe he wanted it used for the children’s education so it would be no more than proper to use the balance that way when they are old enough. It will take well over $1000 probably to bring him home.

One of my friends is going home on a furlough of 30 days and I told him to stop off and see you all on the way back. His name is Clinton E. Fields, I think I mentioned him to you before. He will be able to tell you a good many things about what has happened since I was in camp Merritt with him and I’ll be glad to see some one who has seen you all should I be here when he gets back which probably I won’t be.

Well, I will close now hoping you are all well as I am and will write soon. I am with much love to all, Raymond

Jersey City Heights, NJ, June 1, 1919
Dear Friend Mort,
Some train. I had to stand up half the way home…We got home safe…
When I got home my Brother Joe and Mrs. Beltram was there. They wanted to know how Eldred was. I told them it is fine, that htere isn’t anything better than country life. Now Mort, if there is anything that I can do for you, don’t be a bit backwards in telling me what it is. I am always ready for you and yours. Am getting sleepy will close for the present trusting you are all enjoying good health. Love to all from my fleet. As ever, Your true friend, Chas. Dassori

Rushville, NY, July 20, 1919
Dear Brother Mort,
I received your letter sometime ago and was glad to hear that Raymond got home. I wrote to Raymond two weeks ago, but am not sure that he received my letter, for Lillie doesn’t seem to recieve all of my letters. Lillie writes me she was at Liberty July 4 and Raymond carried the colors. You and Jennie must have been very glad to have Raymond home again. I suppose Will and the other children were happy to see Raymond.

(something about) the Rochester paper that Eckstein’s boarding house at White Lake has burned. Eckalem burnt out about 6 years ago at White Lake, but then he waited until the branding season was over.

Jennie and you must be very busy now with boarders. Think the farmers here are about 2/3 done haying and have about 1/8 of their wheat cut… Write whenever you get time. Love to all, El

Chicago, Illinois, August 30, 1919
Mr. C. M. Austin, Eldred
Dear Sir,
Received your letter sometime ago and must apologize for not answering sooner.
I have enclosed a complete history of the 11th Inf during the war.

Not being able to see you personally, when I came through Camp Meills, I will try to explain in writing how he was killed.

The Corporal of his squad being a casualty, made Austin as I knew him Squad leader and when we reached the hill which was Madelaine Farm, the German’s made it so hot for us we could not advance further, so I directed him to put his gun into action on the west of the hill. Then I went on seeing the other gun put into action which was even more perilous and came back., seeing him on the side of the hill I asked him if he had the gun in action. He said no, he came back for a shovel.

I paid no more attention to him then and went on to report to Capt. Dashielll who was killed later.

Looking around, I seen your son fall forward into the hole he was placing the gun in. Running over to him, I asked him where he was hit. He said stomach.

So I pulled him back off the crest of the hill, bandaged him and placed him in a hole and covered him up with blankets where he died a few hours later.

He was well liked and very popular among the men and among those few who lived a clean life while over there.

He was the best gunner we had in the Company and his loss meant much to those who had to depend on him to keep the German’s head down.

I will enclose names of men in my section who came back and you can find their addresses by writing to the Society of the Fifth Division, United States Army
Veterans of the World War, Washington DC
Yours very truly, John G. Popp
108 S. La Salle St., Chicago, Illinois
Siemanski; Hutchison—witness to his death
Fraley; Wendling—Naperville, IL, who was wounded getting Austin’s 1st aid pouch; Covey HIlton; Chapman; John G. Popp

East Northfield, Massachusetts, November 12, 1919
The Northfield Schools
Letter to Mr. C. M. Austin from Ambert Moody regarding a a resolution passed by the trustees regarding the 63 Mount Hermon men who gave their lives for their country.

East Northfield, Massachusetts, December 1, 1919
The Northfield Schools
Note to C. M. Austin regarding the letter grandpa had written on November 22 in which he enclosed a newspaper account of McKinley’s death on the battle field, from Ambert Moody, who was going to give the newspaper clipping to the Alumni Associations to keep on file.

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