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Monday, February 4, 2013

Military Monday - Leonard Lester Gregory


Leonard Lester Gregory was born 7 February 1896 in Amsterdam, Bates County, Missouri to Lewis Lafayette and Mary Belle Havens Gregory.  His mother died in Kansas City, MO on 8 May 1904 and Leonard was sent to live with his Uncle and Aunt, Orrin and Ida Havens Moore in Adair County, Iowa.  They later moved to Skowhegan, Maine.  The photo above was taken of Leonard when he was a private  in the Field Artillery, according to the WWI Draft Registration he filled out on 5 June 1917.  It doesn't state when he was discharged from the Army however, given that he had been in for five years prior to 1917, he would have joined the army after  1910, as the 1910 census shows he is enumerated in the household of his aunt and uncle in Skowhegan, Maine. In the photo above you can see his boyish face.  I tried to figure out the sign in rocks at his feet but could make out enough letters to solve the mystery.  Below are his two WWI Draft Registration Cards.  In 1917, he was living in Topeka, Kansas and worked for his brother, Lewis Orrin Gregory.  In 1918, he is living in Kansas City, Missouri and is a patrolman.  Leonard was married to Virginia Snoddy 18 September 1916 and later divorced.

On 8 August 1921, Leonard married Ethel Laverne Wilhite in Kansas City, Missouri.  They had 10 children.  With the assistance of my father-in-law, I wrote to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO to get a copy of Leonard's military records.  Sadly, a fire at the center caused many  records to be destroyed or damaged by water.  

Please Note: On July 12, 1973, a disastrous fire at the NPRC destroyed approximately 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files. The records affected:
BranchPersonnel and Period AffectedEstimated Loss
ArmyPersonnel discharged November 1, 1912 to January 1, 196080%
Air ForcePersonnel discharged September 25, 1947 to January 1, 1964
(with names alphabetically after Hubbard, James E.)
75%
See 1973 Fire for more information on the records affected and the alternate sources used to reconstruct basic service information.
They wrote back their regrets and requested information from my father-in-law, if he had any.  I decided to do some research on military in general for the time period 1911 - 1916 since Leonard married in 1916 I am assuming he had already been discharged from the army in 1916.   Leonard served during the Mexican Revolution.  You can tell from the photo that they were camped out in a barren area.  His hat is the  The Campaign Hat, M1911 called the "Montana Peak" style adopted from 1911 - 1916.  Although most did not flatten the brim in front.  My effort to determine the uniform and leggings style he is wearing, led me to a PDF document, Survey Of U.S. Army found on U. S. Army Center of Military History website.  It appears the uniform Leonard is wearing is the 1908 style.  There was an order issued that all old style uniforms would be used until stocks were depleted.  I researched further into Lineage Services.  No unit histories were kept prior to 1920.  However there have been some books written that are linked from their website.  This is an excerpt from one of the books, Maneuver and Firepower: The Evolution of Divisions and Separate Brigades  by John B. Wilson.
In March 1911, during disorders resulting from the Mexican Revolution, the War Department deployed many Regular Army units of the First Field Army to the southern border. Units assembled at San Antonio, Texas, constituted the Maneuver Division and the Independent Cavalry Brigade, while others, concentrated at Galveston, Texas, and San Diego, California, made up separate infantry brigades. The division, following the Field Service Regulations outline, consisted of three infantry brigades, a field artillery brigade, an engineer battalion, and medical and signal units, but no trains.  http://www.history.army.mil/books/Lineage/M-F/chapter2.htm#b2 
You can view this entire book online http://www.history.army.mil/html/forcestruc/als.html#tab_5
This would indicate that the photo was taken somewhere along the U.S./Mexico boarder. I still don't know when or where Leonard joined the Army's Field Artillery Division.   I hope to attend the next Gregory reunion and ask if anyone has Leonard's papers.  I feel certain one of the other children or grandchildren has it in their possession.  It is my prayer that his papers didn't end up in a garbage can.



7 comments:

  1. A great photo. Check out page 225 at this link:

    http://cdm.sos.mo.gov/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/wwiuh&CISOPTR=2034&REC=5

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  2. Heather, you are awesome! I never thought to look on Missouri Digital Heritage!! My husband will be thrilled! Thank you!!

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    1. You are very welcome! The Kansas Historical Society may also have more info on the unit since it was a state organization. The link I found was for the 35th division as a whole, but you may be able to search for his specific unit and find more. Good luck, I look forward to seeing what you find!

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  3. I read through the book, Heroes of the Argonne. The roster in this book states enlisted on 16 Aug 1917. The battle of Argonne Forest took place between Sept and Nov of 1918. Leonard signed the WWI draft registrations first on 5 June 1917 and then again on 12 Sept 1918. I have no records available to verify what is in the book, but the dates don't jive. The Truman Library in Abilene, Kansas has a 35th Division document that I would like to see. Harry S. Truman was a member of Battery D in WWI. I found some photos of Camp Doniphan located at Fort Sill, OK and the tents and landscape look a lot like the photo included in my post. Two websites have photos; kansasmemory.org and localhistory.kclibrary.org's Missouri Valley Special Collections.

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    1. The division may have been "activated" August 1917, but that doesn't mean Leonard joined the same day. I also know that the National WWI Museum is continually digitizing their collection and they may have more information on the 35th. It would be great if you could find daily reports from his unit, that may shed some light on his service.

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  4. This is definitely still unresolved and I will keep working to learn more about Leonard's service in the Field Artillery. I look forward to more documents being made available online.

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  5. Found another history, From Vauquios Hill To Exermont. Also written in 1919. This book makes it clear that Leonard L Gregory was in the First Regiment, Kansas Field Artillery, Battery A from Topeka a part of the Kansas National Guard. Ok, this makes more sense. As a member of the National Guard, you are active but not on duty until called. Now, I believe these two books are correct and I hope to find out much more. The Library Files on worldwar.org didn't look real promising. There are lots of histories of the 35th Division, just not on Battery A. Thank you again, Heather for bringing this to my attention.

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