Universal York

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You couldn’t keep this Dover boy down on the farm

The November 20, 1917 York Daily tells the story of a very eager World War I recruit from Dover. The article begins:


Dover Boy Anxious to Get to France “Now That Corn Husking is Over”

Edward Stubbins told the Daily reporter “Every able bodied young man in America ought to be over there fighting in the trenches. I am 18 years old and as healthy and sound as a bullock. So here I am, ready to enlist and ready to go to France.” The son of William Stubbins of Dover, Edward had just been accepted into the United States infantry by Sergeant Wall at the recruiting station in the Hartman building on York’s square.

The excited Stubbins continued to share: “I would have been in the army a year ago, but I have been waiting for my eighteenth birthday. I was 18 years old on the first day of October. I was working for a farmer near Dover and I did not want to leave him in the lurch as farm help is mighty scarce, you know. Now that corn husking is all but over, I thought this is my time to come to York and sign the papers that’ll make me one of Uncle Sam’s boys. On the farm where I worked I was paid 50 cents a day and was given my board. Uncle Sam pays better than that I know. I read somewhere that a private in the United States army gets as much pay as a general in the Russian army. Say, does it take very much education to get to be a corporal?”

The article relates that Stubbins passed his physical examination in excellent shape and that he was assured that the army offered educational opportunities that could lead him to the rank of corporal.

I often wonder what happened to the persons who pop up in these intriguing old newspaper stories. Thanks to Google and such sites as Find A Grave (free), newspapers.com (subscription), ancestry.com (subscription) and others, you can often piece together more of their story. Since the chatty Mr. Stubbins shared his exact birthday, it made it easier.

I found information and photo of his grave marker on Find A Grave that tells us Edward J. Stubbins, Sr. was born October 1, 1899 and died February 17, 1973. He served from Pennsylvania as a PFC in the US Army during World War I. He is buried at Grand Mound Cemetery, Rochester, Thurston County, Washington.

His obituary in the Centralia, Washington Daily Chronicle, found on newspapers.com, confirms that he was born October 1, 1899 at York, Pa. It adds that he had been a Centralia area resident since 1922, moving there from Pennsylvania. Goggle maps shows that Centralia (2010 population—16,336) and Rochester (2010 population—2,388) are about 11 miles apart. I only checked the 1940 census on Ancestry.com, but it says he was living then with his wife Leone on James Town Road, Grand Mound, Washington [the same area]. So we know Stubbins made Private First Class, not quite to Corporal, but he did survive the war, spending the rest of his years far from the cornfields of Dover. We also know he married, and he must have had at least one child, since his grave marker gives his name as Edward Stubbins, Sr. Further searching could probably uncover more of his life.

(The York County History Center Library/Archives has subscriptions to the library editions of newspapers.com, Ancestry.com, and Fold3 [military records] for the use of the library/archives patrons.)