By Linda Emley
This is the story of two young boys who were born in Ray County many years ago. Allen B. Moyer was born Sept. 18, 1895, the fifth child of John and Sarah Moyer. William Reed Schooler was born Dec. 6, 1896 and he was the first born child of William Alfred and Nellie Jane Schooler.
Both of these young men left home and went off to “The Great War,” but Allen Moyer did something that none of us have ever done, he died serving his country. Ninety-four years ago he died on July 25, 1918 and now his name is on a tombstone and a few pieces of paper.
I doubt that there is anyone in Ray County who remembers what he looked like or anything about the 23 years that he spent on this earth. On the other hand, William Reed Schooler was 97 years old when he died in 1993 and many people around here remember him well as “Reed Schooler”.
Reed was my great uncle and I have many fond memories of him. He was a rural mail carrier and a very kind, gentle, God-fearing man.
I remember going to visit him when he was a old man with my grandmother, who was his sister-in-law. I took my two young boys because I wanted them to know their great-great Uuncle Reed.
We were talking to him and my boys asked him about his war days. He told them that he did not see any combat because he joined the Army when the war was about over and he never went overseas. He then told them how much he didn’t like war and he did not like to read the Old Testament in the Bible because it was all about war.
Our visit with him was over 20 years ago, but I can still see that look on his face when he talked about war. You could tell he still remembered his friends that went off and never came back. Reed married Kate and had a daughter named Josephine who had two sons, Gary and Dennis. Those two sons married and had children so there are many people that remember the life of William Reed Schooler.
One of my favorite stories about my Uncle Reed was from the 1960s. His mother was my great grandmother and she lived with us. He was our mail carrier. He would personally stop and bring in our mail and visit with his mother for a few minutes. I don’t think he did it everyday, but for us country kids, it was always fun when someone would come to visit. I remember that he always had a smile.
Everyone wants to be remembered, so when I ran across the following newspaper article, I wanted to see if I could find out more about the life of Allen Moyer. This is from the Richmond Missourian of April 29, 1920: “According to Mr. A. W. Mansur Undertaking Company, Mr. John W. Moyer of the Millville section has been notified by the War Department at Washington D.C., that the body of his son, Allen, whose death, occurred in England during the war, would arrive in the United States on April 29th, and would be sent to Richmond for burial. The death of Allen Moyer occurred in July 1918, at a hospital in England. He was formerly a member of Company G. “
The Hardin News gave a few more details: “John W. Moyer, of the Millville country, received a telegram the last of the week from the war department in Washington, stating that the body of his son, Allen B. Moyer, who died in England while a member of the American Expeditionary Forces in 1918, would be returned to this county and is scheduled to arrive at Hoboken, New Jersey Thursday, April 29th. Mr. Moyer instructed the war department over a year ago to return the body of his deceased son to its native land.
“The remains will be brought to Lexington Junction and taken to the Kincaid cemetery near Knoxville for interment, probably under the auspices of the local post of the American Legion. It is not known what date the body will arrive here. Mr. Moyer was a member of Company G. having enlisted at Richmond on July 16, 1917. He went overseas with the Ray county company and became ill while the thirty-fifth division was in England. He was confined to a Red Cross hospital at Netley Hauts, England, and his death occurred, on July 25, 1918, the family having been notified of his death August 16th, following. He was the second Ray countian who died overseas, Harold A. Sampson, also a member of Company G., having succumbed to spinal meningitis May 27, 1918.”
When I ran across the rest of Allen’s story in the newspaper, I realized he was loved by those who knew him. This was in the Richmond Missourian on May 13, 1920: “First Ray County Man Who Made Supreme Sacrifice in Foreign Lands to be Returned. The funeral services of Allen B. Moyer, a former member of Company G, whose death occurred in July 1918, while in a hospital in England, were held Friday afternoon at the Kincaid cemetery by the members of the Griffith Post of the American Legion and the former service men of the county.
“The body arrived in the United States early last week and reached Richmond Thursday evening. It was met at Lexington Junction by a military escort made up of the former comrades of the deceased solider. The body was taken to the Mansur Undertaking rooms where it was guarded until the day of the funeral. Friday afternoon the body was taken to the Kincaid Cemetery where the services were conducted by Rev. Joseph Helm of Knoxville.
“A short address made at the grave by Capt. Cecil M. Farris touched the hearts of all who attended the services. Attorney M. J. Henderson of Kansas City and an intimate friend of the deceased also spoke at the grave. While the body was lowered to its last resting place, military honors were accorded the deceased soldier by the firing of three volleys and the sounding of taps. The firing squad was composed of Harry Roark, Edward Ward, Clayt Baker, Hubert Henderson, Mike Carter, Ralph Thompson, Ray Pifer and Gerald Brown. Myrel Cook, a former musician, sounded taps. The pall bearers were Sanford Gorham, Floyd Henderson, Ivan Weber, Ward Dickey, Charles Dennis, Leonard Swearingin, Flem Ward and Ray Hughes.”
Twenty-two months after he died on foreign soil, Allen B. Moyer was finally buried in his native soil of Ray County. When the World War I doughboy status was dedicated on May 30, 1930, Allen’s was listed as one of the Ray Countians who gave their lives for our country. Allen did not leave a family legacy, but he will be remembered.
After reading the following story written by Alvah Renfro, we know why Capt. Cecil Farris was able to touch the hearts of those who attended Allen’s funeral. He remembered because he was there. “During ‘The Great War’ – World War I, 904 men from Ray County volunteered or were conscripted for military service. Largely through the efforts of State Senator John F. Morton, a company was recruited as “G” Company of the 140th infantry regiment. Captain J.L. “Tuck” Milligan, later representative in Congress from the 3rd District, served as captain of that company. Other Ray County men who commanded companies during the World War were Captain Cecil M. Farris and Captain R.K. Brady. “
There is still one known veteran from World War I. Florence Beatrice Green was a member of the Women’s Royal Air Force. She will be 111 on Feb. 19, 2012. Happy birthday, Florence!