SOLVED – The Mystery of James C. Crouse Sr.’s Grave Marker

Nearly four years ago Ellen Claytor found James C. CROUSE Sr. (1920-1944) in my online GEDCOM at RootsWeb WorldConnect. Her son had bought a house and found a flat marble marker for James in his garage. Why was the marker in her son’s garage and what could they do to get it back where it belonged?

I wrote my first post on The Mystery of James C. Crouse Sr.’s Grave Marker on 4 May 2014 followed by Part 2 only a few days later.

The first post included a biography of James C. CROUSE Sr. who began his military service at Camp Blanding in Florida and then went to Europe where he served in England, France, Belgium, and Germany. He died serving his country. Four years later his body was returned to West Virginia and buried in Huse Memorial Cemetery in Fayetteville. His father S. J. Crouse applied for a flat marble marker for the unmarked grave.

The marker found in the garage by J. Claytor.

I found James’ granddaughter Marian Crouse Walraven on Facebook. She was shocked to learn her grandfather’s marker had been found in someone’s garage as she knew there was a marker on his grave.

Was the original marker delivered to the wrong cemetery? Was the family contacted? Did they request a new marker when the one they applied for didn’t show up at the cemetery of burial? Was the home the marker was found in previously owned by a member of the Crouse family?

The 424th Combat Infantry Regiment of the 106th Infantry Division landed in France on 5 December 1944. They crossed into Belgium on 10 December 1944 and were stationed at Winterspelt (Germany). On 16 December 1944, the German Army unleashed its Ardennes Counteroffensive (The Battle of the Bulge). After Action Reports show that the 424th was in Belgium on 18 December 1944. KIA or DOW, whichever is correct, one could place him in Belgium and the other in Germany. His military records may shed light on this question.

James’ story spans two continents; my part in the story also spans two continents. What are the chances a mother in Ohio would contact a genealogist in Luxembourg — one of the countries the Battle of the Bulge took place in?

The follow-up a few days later was expected as I had a few people checking things out for me. Anita McClung and Sandra Humphries Raedel, research buddies and members of the Facebook group Fayette County West Virginia Genealogy, were the first to help confirm the burial location. Fayetteville Huse Memorial Park and Mausoleum has a Facebook page and at the time did photo requests of markers.

I sent a private message to the admin of the page requesting a photo of the marker of James CROUSE Sr., block 1, lot 38, grave 4 (the Notes section of their page had a list of burials with location). A few days later I received a message from Sonya of the Huse FB page, I have placed the picture of the marker along with monument and other markers associated with your request under ‘Various pics requested’. Hope it helps.

Sonya told me, Most of the time when a family changes a marker, then they will take the original marker home. Very few say throw it away.”

Markers found in garage (left) and at Huse Memorial Park (right)

After seeing both markers we speculated the marker found in the garage was most likely the one which had been on the grave of James C. CROUSE Sr. from 1949 until the burial of his son in 1997. But the question remained – how did the marker end up in the garage?

On February 8, 2018, I received a message on my Facebook page Opening Doors in Brick Walls from Bill Wise of Oak Hill, West Virginia. He wanted me to give him a call in regards to the marker of James CROUSE. Due to the time difference and my making our traditional Berliner and Verwurelter that day, Bill got back to me with a longer message instead of waiting for me to call.

Long story short. James Crouse [Jr., the son of James CROUSE Sr.] was married to my aunt Eugenia. Her sister Vickie Jane Wise/Wade is my mother. The garage that the marker was found in was their parents’ house. William Ralph and Lucy Lee Wise. The house was left of my mother upon their death. And upon my parents’ deaths…Vicki and Larry Wade…the house was left to me and I sold very soon after that. Believe it was 2013.

When my cousin Jim passed away in 1997 he wanted to be buried with his father James. There was a new stone with both of their names on it put in place of the original. My dad worked for the town of Fayetteville which dug the graves and maintained the cemetery. He brought the stone home. Where it sat in the garage all this time. When I sold the property I had to get out fairly quickly. To be honest with you I had not thought about that stone until I was researching my uncle last night and saw your story. In my haste to get out, I probably left more than just that on the property. So not really what you would call a mystery but it was an interesting read.

Marian, the granddaughter of James Crouse Sr., is Bill’s 1C1R and he wanted to know if he and I were also related. Marian and I are 6C1R – and that five times. Bill is not related to me through any of Marian’s and my common ancestors. I did a quick check of his Wise line and we do not appear to be related.

I’m glad Bill found my blog while researching his uncle James CROUSE. Even more, I am so excited he took the time to get in touch with me and tell me the story of why the marker was found in the garage of the new homeowner. I contacted both Marian and Jaymie to let them know the new development and they read the draft of this post before it was published.

James CROUSE’s body was returned to US soil four years after he was killed. It also took four years to learn why the marker from his grave was stored in a garage. Case SOLVED. Isn’t blogging the best?

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can ~ #11 In Remembrance of Everett Isaac LILLIE (1915-1944)

On this Memorial Day 2015…

eil2
Everett with a photo of his grandmother Florence Royalty Lillie on desk at left.

….in remembrance of Everett Isaac LILLIE who gave his life 71 years ago while serving his country during World War II.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Everett Isaac LILLIE (1915-1944)
Parents: Reese Gentry LILLY (1892-1965) and Dovie Deen (1894-1918)
Spouse: name unknown
Child: Patricia M. LILLIE (1944-2012)
Whereabouts: Massac County, IL; Detroit, MI; and France
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 4th cousin once removed

* Everett Isaac LILLIE
* son of Reese Gentry LILLIE
* grandson of Isaac Spencer LILLIE
* great-grandson of Albert Spencer LILLIE
* 2nd great-grandson of Martha C. Martissa GOWING
* 3rd great-grandson of Landon S. GOWING
* 2nd great-grand nephew of Clementine M. GOWING
* 1C3R of Mary M. DEMPSEY
* 2C2R of Laura Belle INGRAM
* 3C1R of Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY
* 4C of Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY
* 4C1R of Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Everett was inducted into the U.S. Army in March 1941.

everett
Inspection Day outside when I was a coporal. ~ Everett I. Lillie

He wrote on the back of this photo, Inspection Day outside when I was a Corporal.

everettback
Inspection Day outside when I was a coporal. ~ Everett I. Lillie

Everett and his family were proud of his service as seen in these photos (top and below) taken in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, when he was on furlough and visited with his Uncle Raymond and Aunt Ruth.

eil1
Everett with his uncle Raymond (left) and his aunt Ruth Lillie (right).
eil3
Everett with his uncle Raymond (middle).

eil4Wounded on D-Day and Died Two Days Later

tribute
Courtesy of Joe Rooney

Publication: Metropolis News
First Published: July 15, 1948
Funeral services for Staff Sgt.
Everett I. Lillie were held Tuesday
afternoon in the Brookport Baptist
Church with Rev. Albert Moore of-
ficiating, followed by burial in the
Pell Cemetery.
S/Sgt. Lillie was born in 1915 to
Reese & Dovie Lillie and was in-
ducted into the U.S. Army in
March, 1941. He was wounded in
France on June 6, 1944 and died
two days later. He is survived by
his wife and daughter of New Jer-
sey, father, step-mother and several
siblings.

Everett is listed on the World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing for the State of Michigan with serial #36106054.

Gravemarker

marker
Courtesy of Joe Rooney

Everett I. Lillie
Illinois
S Sgt Co G 8 Inf 4 Inf Div
World War II PH
Sept 3 1915   June 8 1944

Location of marker: Pell Cemetery, Brookport, Massac County, Illinois

✻ ✻ ✻ ✻ ✻ ✻ ✻

This is a spin-off of my 52 Ancestors: #14 Albert Spencer LILLIE (1848-1913) ~ Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can blogpost in which I featured a few photos from a collection of old photographs my 4C1R Joe Rooney shared with me. I asked Joe about using the photos and he kindly wrote, Please use them at your will. I feel it is keeping it in the family and don’t need credit. If anything, I appreciate your evaluations, identifications and detective work. I’m hopeful you and yours enjoy them. On a blog, in a book, above a cloud.”

Please contact me!
Are you related to a person mentioned in this post? Send an email to
openingdoorsinbrickwalls @ pt.lu or message me on my Facebook page
Opening Doors in Brick Walls.

Links to posts in this series may be found in Old Photographs

© 2015, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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The Mystery of James C. Crouse Sr.’s Grave Marker

On 27 April 2014 Ellen Claytor contacted me by private message on my Facebook page to find out where James C. CROUSE 1920-1944 is buried. It was a very short message and I had no idea why she wanted to know this.

She found James in my GEDCOM file which is online at RootsWeb WorldConnect Project and linked to my Facebook page. A few messages were passed back and forth before I found out why she wanted to know.

Her son had recently bought a house and in the garage, he found a flat marble marker:

James C. Crouse Sr.
P.F.C. 424th Inf. – 106th Div.
World War II
Jan. 2, 1920 – Dec. 18, 1944

I already had the following information and went on to find several newspaper articles about his burial to answer her question.

A Short Biography of James C. CROUSE

2014-04-29_130504

James Carlton CROUSE Sr. was born 2 January 1920 in Lochgelly, Fayette County, West Virginia, to Samuel Joseph CROUSE and Cora Lee BABER. He was my 5th cousin once removed (5C1R) through two sets of 5xgreat-grandparents:
1. William JOHNSON and Amy NELSON and
2. James SIMS and his first wife Phebe [–?–].

James had been an only child for seven years when his sister Margaret Ann was born in 1927. He attended Fayetteville High School and was a Methodist.

On 26 July 1941 in Fayetteville, Fayette County, West Virginia, James C. CROUSE, age 21, married Eugenia Lee WISE, age 18, daughter of William and Lucy Lee WISE. [line 24]

James and Eugenia became the parents of a son, James Carlton CROUSE Jr., on 17 August 1942.

2014-04-29_130531
World War II Young American Patriots, 1941-1945 (Ancestry.com : accessed 29 Apr 2014)

On 2 December 1943 James enlisted in the U.S. Army “for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law.”

He began his service at Camp Blanding in Florida and then went to Europe where he served in England, France, Belgium, and Germany. He died serving his country.

His death was recorded in the Register of Death for Fayette County. [line 40] On the West Virginia Veterans Database of West Virginia Memory Project, maintained by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, we find his record with more details. His cause of death is listed as DOW (died of wounds) in Belgium while his death record in the register has killed in action (KIA) in Germany. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

A little over four years later the body of Private First Class James C. CROUSE of Fayetteville was re-interred in Huse Memorial Park in Fayetteville on Sunday, April 24, 1949.

1949 James C. Crouse burial
Beckley Post Herald > Thursday, April 21, 1949 > Page 2

Publication: Beckley Post Herald (West Virginia)
Published: Thursday, April 21, 1949, Page 2
Headline: VETERAN TO BE BURIED SUNDAY
FAYETTEVILLE, April 20 – Pfc. James C. Crouse of Fayetteville, who was killed in action in Germany, December 18, 1944, will be buried in the Huse Memorial Park here on Sunday, April 24.
There will be a brief ceremony at the home Sunday afternoon at two o’clock with Rev. R. T. Mallory of Mt. Hope in charge. Graveside services will be in charge of the American Legion, LaFayette Post, 149, Fayetteville. The body will be removed from the Dodd Mortuary here to the home of his parents, Saturday at 5:00 p.m. where it will remain until time for the services.
He was aged 24 years, 11 months and 11 days, and is survived by one son, James Culton (sic, Carlton) Crouse, Jr., his wife; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. S. J. Crouse of Fayetteville; one sister, Mrs. Margaret James of Oak Hill.

1949 James C. Crouse obit
Charleston Gazette > Saturday, April 23, 1949 > Page 2

Publication: Charleston Gazette (West Virginia)
Published: Saturday, April 23, 1949, Page 2
Headline: Rites for Pfc. Crouse Slated in Fayetteville
Service for Pfc. James C. Crouse of Fayetteville, who was killed Dec. 18, 1944, in Germany, will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow at the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. S. J. Crouse of Fayetteville.
Rev. R. T. Mallory of Mt. Hope will officiate and burial will be in Huse Memorial Park at Fayetteville with LaFayette Post No. 149. American Legion, in charge of graveside rites.
Pfc. Crouse, 24, was born at Lochgelly, Fayette county.
Surviving besides his parents is a sister, Mrs. Margaret James of Oak Hill.
The body is at Dodd mortuary in Fayetteville and will be taken to the house of his parents at 5 p.m. today.

James C. Crouse’s location at the time of his death

The 424th Combat Infantry Regiment of the 106th Infantry Division landed in France on 5 December 1944. They crossed into Belgium on 10 December 1944 and were stationed at Winterspelt (Germany). On 16 December 1944, the German Army unleashed its Ardennes Counteroffensive (The Battle of the Bulge). After Action Reports show that the 424th was in Belgium on 18 December 1944. KIA or DOW, whichever is correct, one could place him in Belgium and the other in Germany. His military records may shed light on this question.

And this is where the mystery comes into the story

Ellen wanted to know why the marker was in her son’s garage and what they could do to get it back where it should be.

I posted the “problem” to the Fayette County West Virginia Genealogy group on Facebook. They are a wonderful group of genealogist and always ready to help.

Anita McClung was able to confirm both James C. Crouse Sr. and Jr. are buried at Huse Memorial Cemetery. Her source is the Fayette County Cemetery Records, Vol. VI, published by the Fayette & Raleigh Counties Genealogy Societies in October 2006. She was one of the persons who participated in reading the cemeteries.

Sandra Humphries Raedel was able to furnish a missing piece of the puzzle. On Find A Grave she found James’ listing with the application for the marker. “It ‘does’ appear that a flat memorial marker was ordered for James C. Crouse Sr., but…it was to be shipped to High Lawn Memorial Park.”

I hadn’t thought to check Find A Grave as I’d already located the newspaper articles. If I’d looked there first I might not have gone on to search for the burial notices which would have caused further problems. The contributor Jeff Hall had entered the name of the cemetery seen on the application. I notified Jeff of the discrepancy and he corrected the cemetery name. 

The story of James C. Crouse’s marker continues:

After the body was returned to West Virginia and buried in Huse Memorial Cemetery, his father S. J. Crouse applied for a flat marble marker with a Christian emblem for the unmarked grave.

James C. Crouse marker application (Ancestry.com : accessed 29 Apr 2014)

James was buried on the 24th of April and his father made the application three days later on the 27th of April. Several different handwritings are seen on the card. The name of the cemetery was penciled in. On the card, we see Highlawn Memorial Park in Oak Hill as the place of burial. As seen in the cemetery book and the newspaper articles this is incorrect.

Reverse side of application (Ancestry.com : accessed 29 Apr 2014)

On May 10th C. S. Wilson, superintendent or caretaker of the cemetery, certified that the marker would be permitted on the grave. The information was verified in Green Mountain, VT, on May 17th.

The question is, was C. S. Wilson from the Huse or High Lawn cemetery?

Shock, surprise, and goosebumps

I quickly found James’ granddaughter Marian Crouse Walraven on Facebook and sent her a message. I don’t like to do this as the message will go to the person’s Other folder if you are not “friends.” I hardly ever have success getting in touch with people this way. I sent a friend request, just in case, and was surprised to get a quick response. In a private message, I explained what was going on. She was shocked to hear about this marker and confirmed that both her grandfather and father are buried in Huse Memorial Park in Fayetteville.

By the time replies came in from Anita and Sandra from the Facebook group, I was chatting with Marian, and sending messages to Ellen — three conversations at one time.

Marian was shocked that I was getting in touch with her about her grandfather’s marker and that it had been found in someone’s garage. It was news to her as she has seen his marker on his grave but does not have a photo to compare with.

She was excited to learn not only are we related through her father and grandfather but also through her mother’s paternal line. We are 6C1R on JOHNSON and SIMS lines mentioned earlier (both her father and mother descend from these lines)  and we share John KINCAID Sr. and Elizabeth Hannah GILLESPIE at the same level.

Then it dawned on me that Ellen had contacted me exactly 65 years to the day that Samuel Joseph CROUSE had filled out the marker application for his son’s grave. I shared this <goosebumps> with both Ellen and Marian. Ellen wrote, “I believe that things like this happen for a reason. My son says to use the photo. He wants to do whatever he can to find the proper place for the marker.”

The mystery hasn’t been solved. Was the marker delivered to the wrong cemetery? Was the family contacted? Did they request a new marker when the one they applied for did not show up at the cemetery of burial? Was the home that the marker was found in previously owned by a member of the Crouse family?

Photo of the marker courtesy of J. Claytor

One last <goosebumps> note:

My part in this story began on the 65th anniversary of the application for the marker. James’ story spans two continents, my part in the story also spans two continents. What are the chances that a mother in Ohio would contact a genealogist in Luxembourg — one of the countries that the Battle of the Bulge took place in?

There will be a follow-up on this mystery. I have a couple of people checking things out. Mostly, I can’t wait to hear from my new cousin Marian about how this story ends.

Update (21 February 2018):
See link at the bottom of The Mystery of James C. Crouse Sr.’s Grave Marker – Part 2

© 2014, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Fearless Females: Bomi’s Resistance Amulette

This is my entry for Day 6:  Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month

March 6 — Describe an heirloom you may have inherited from a female ancestor (wedding ring or other jewelry, china, clothing, etc.) If you don’t have any, then write about a specific object you remember from your mother or grandmother, or aunt (a scarf, a hat, cooking utensil, furniture, etc.)

My grandmother Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE married Nicolas WILDINGER, a German whose family had been living in Luxembourg since the first World War, on the 26th of July 1935. A month later she made a declaration to preserve her Luxembourgish nationality. In May 1936 her only child was born. When her daughter was five years old Marcelle’s husband died of tuberculosis. She had at least one offer of marriage but remained a widow from 1941 until her death in 2005 at the age of 95 years, 7 months, 10 days.

1942 ca. Mom+Bomi 1
Mom and Bomi in the 1940’s

Bomi, as her grandchildren called her, was a fearless female during World War II (1939-1945). On May 10th, 1940, the German Wehrmacht invaded Luxembourg. On the eve of this invasion the Prime Minister of Luxembourg and his government decided to go into exile. From abroad, they lead the resistance against the Nazi regime in Luxembourg. Grand Duchess Charlotte followed the government and eventually moved to London, the headquarters of the allies. Thanks to her, the resistance movement in Luxembourg developed strongly.

Amulette from WWII 1 front
Bomi’s Spéngelskrich or
“War of the Pins” amulette
(front view)
Amulette from WWII 2 back
Bomi’s Spéngelskrich or
“War of the Pins” amulette
(back view)

The people of Luxembourg had their own ways to resist the German occupation of their country during World War II. They used passive resistance. They refused to speak German and participated in the Spéngelskrich [see page 14] or “War of the Pins.” The people wore badges, pinned to their coats or jackets, which bore patriotic emblems such as the Red Lion or the head of Grand Duchess Charlotte, cut from a coin. My Bomi, Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE, wore this amulette, a profile of the Grand Duchesse with the initial C for Charlotte, on a chain around her neck until her death in 2005.

Bomi told us several stories about her life during this time. Once on the evening of January 23rd all of the neighbors met in her house to celebrate the birthday of Grand Duchess Charlotte. The windows were covered so that no light could be seen from the street but the German patrol could hear the celebrating. They knocked on the door and asked what was going on. Bomi told them that they were celebrating her birthday. It’s a good thing they didn’t check her identification as her birthday was June 17th. She asked the Germans to join them in a glass of wine. She would laugh when she told us how the Germans raised their glasses to the birthday girl, not knowing that they were toasting the Grand Duchess.

Bomi was a seamstress and during the war the German officers’ wives would come to her to have their clothes made or altered. Once shellfire had caused damage to the roof of her house and she needed roofing material to have it fixed. She went to the Germans to apply for aid. The officer in charge wasn’t very forthcoming. My fearless Bomi “threatened” him saying that the next time his wife needed a new dress she wouldn’t be able to help her unless he helped her now. The officer’s wife must have also been a fearless female because he handed over the papers Bomi needed to pick up the supplies.

© 2014, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.