Pvt. Willis Boothe -- Akins Cemetery, near Akins OK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 35° 30.274 W 094° 40.857
15S E 347550 N 3930299
Quick Description: The WoW tombstone for Private Willis Boothe, the first man from Sequoyah County OK to die in combat during WWI.
Location: Oklahoma, United States
Date Posted: 12/3/2014 7:59:15 PM
Waymark Code: WMN0RF
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member QuarrellaDeVil
Views: 1

Long Description:
A unique Woodman of the World tombstone for US Army Private Willis Boothe, who died fighting in France during WWI.

His tombstone reads as follows:

"[WoW medallion]

PVT. WILLIS BOOTHE
Co. E, 18th Inf. USA
Born June 6, 1896
Fell in France
For Democracy
Apr 30, 1918

Faithful to his trust
Even unto death"

According to a story in the Sequoyah County Democrat (the local paper), he was the first man from Sequoyah County OK to die in combat.

His obituary and the story of his passing are reproduced on the Find A Grave webpage for Pvt Boothe: (visit link)

"Sequoyah County Democrat Sallisaw, Oklahoma Friday, May 10, 1918:

FIRST SEQUOYAH COUNTY BOY TO FALL IN BATTLE.

Eli Boothe, of Hanson, has been advised by the War Department at Washington, of the death of his son Private Willis Boothe on April 30th of wounds received in action. This is, we believe the first Sequoyah County boy reported injured in action.

Willis volunteered immediately after the declaration of war against Germany and left home April 15th, 1917, in company with Walter Rogers, another Hanson boy, and both entered the Regulars and were among the first U. S. Troops landed in France.

Willis Boothe was well known in this county and a former pupil of former County Superintendent of Schools, J. H. Dodson."

The obituary is as follows:

"Sequoyah County Democrat Sallisaw, Oklahoma, April 15, 1921

WILLIS BOOTHE FUNERAL LARGELY ATTENDED

Beside the grave of his beloved mother in historic Akins cemetery, the body of Willis Boothe was laid in its final resting place last Sunday afternoon, April 10, 1921. The body had lain in state since the previous Wednesday in the Wheeler-Stevenson undertaking parlors on account of the postponed services. Inclement weather throughout the whole of the previous week has rendered it practically impossible to carry out the plans laid out by the American Legion members and ex-service men generally, and postponement was had until Sunday.

The services throughout were conducted under the auspices and ritual of the American Legion. Carnie Welch Post No. 27 of Sallisaw had previously expressed a heartfelt desire to take the funeral services in hand and conduct same, and all ex-service men in the county were invited to take part. A hearty response was given and dozens of former solider boys donned their uniforms and came to the grave of the first Sequoyah County solider to lay down his life for his country and fellow men, to pay their final respects and do him honor. Soldiers, sailors, and marines joined hands in this worthy mark of respect.

Post Commander, Bert Cotton officiated and carried out the ceremonies in keeping with the customary military ritual service. Dr. F. W. Harvey post chaplain delivered the eulogy and prayer at the grave site and in beautiful words conveyed to the hearts of his hearers a message of patriotism and in touching manner paid tribute to the memory of this loyal volunteer who had responded to the first call and who had given all that civilization might live and that the world might go forward instead of backward. Van G. Scruggs acted as Color Bearer, with accompanying guard composed of Charles Agent and Albert Young.

When the body of the deceased was removed from the undertaking parlors to be conveyed to the cemetery, it was carried throughout a double line of ex-service men in regular formation under the command of Robert Welch. The funeral procession is said to have been the largest in the county in recent years and when the cemetery was reached the large host of friends and admirers who had gathered to do him last honors proved beyond doubt his popularity and true worth during the years that he lived.

The body was conveyed to the grave and the service began at 2:30 P.M. in usual military style. Following the prayer and eulogy a salute of three volleys was fired over the grave by a squad of eight former soldiers in uniform composed of James McCullough, Ernest Spriggs, Redcloud Fleetwood, Ross Taylor, Jack Conway, Jess Fletcher, Geo. Bradley, and Delbert Cook.

After the lowering of the body into the grave and the closing of the service taps was blown by Sgt. Slater a bugler in the army during the World war. His rendition of this important part of the service came as a most fitting climax to the beautiful service. Pall bearers who officiated were Ben H. Johnston, Richard Mills, Thomas Delaney, Ray O. Weems, Oscar Noble and Fred Byrd.

Plans are being made by the Carnie Welch post to start a monument fund at once, looking to the erection at a later date of a fitting monument to the memory of Willis Boothe. Inasmuch as he was the first Sequoyah County boy to lay down his life in the World war, it is but fitting and proper, that such a memorial be erected to his memory."

More research on Booth was done by his relative Robert Crutchfield, and placed on Find A Grave. Crutchfield's research can be found here: (visit link)

"Son of Eli Boothe, who was born August 17, 1865 in Alabama and died on February 15, 1936 in Sheridan Grant Co. AR, and is buried in Bethel South Cemetery and Mary Ann Hays, born about 1864 in Alabama. The funeral record from Mallory Funeral Home:

BOOTHE, Pvt. Willis, May 6, 1896 (Ala)- April 10, 1921, s/o Eli Booth (Ala) & Mary Anne Harper (Ala), Akins Cemetery, page 75

I have a copy of Eli's and Mary Anne's marriage certificate, Jackson county Alabama, dated 14 March 1886, indicating that Mary Anne's maiden name was Hays vice Harper. In addition the funeral home record shows date of death April 10, 1921, his actual date of death is 30 April 1918. He was interred in France and returned home for burial in Oklahoma on April 10, 1921.

From the research I have done for the First Division American Expeditionary Forces, 18th Inf. action in World War I, Willis would have been awarded the World War One Victory Medal with Cambrai, Somme', Lys, and Defensive Sector clasps; Purple Heart Medal, made retroactive by an act of Congress, and the Silver Star Medal, reference First Division General Order No. 1, dated 1 January 1920, line Number 2214.

From the Willis' military records, that I obtained from the National Personnel Records Center: He enlisted in the U.S. Army on 17 April 1917, at Jefferson Barracks , St. Louis MO. His place of birth is listed as Onesville Alabama, he had blue eyes and dark brown hair and was 5' 8" and weighed 136 lbs at the time of his enlistment. He was sent to and arrived at Camp Harry J. Jones, in Douglas AZ on April 25, 1917, and sailed for France on June 14, 1917. He was originally buried May 1, 1918 at Bouveillers, Osie, U.S. Cemetery France in grave number 15; his body was returned to the U.S. and arrived at Hoboken N.J. on March 14, 1921, from Calais France aboard the S.S. Somme.

Eli's second wife was Ida Jane Newman born about 1886 in either Missouri or Arkansas, died in 1974 in Ft. Smith and is buried in Steep Hill, married on the 24th of May 1919 in Ft. Smith.

Information above provided by Robert Crutchfield"
Was the inscription legible?: Yes

Location of Marker/Monument: Cemetery

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Benchmark Blasterz visited Pvt. Willis Boothe -- Akins Cemetery, near Akins OK 12/4/2014 Benchmark Blasterz visited it