Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Continuity - Day 27 of the Family History Writing Challenge

Throughout Martha Jane's life, there were wars. Although she didn't live to see World War II, she certainly saw the devastating effects of the Civil War and World War I. In 1918, when she wrote the letters, World War I was just ending.

She writes on January 1, 1918:

“Leona’s and Della’s boys all right since the armistice was signed. Don’t know when they will be at home, Perhaps not soon. Roy Hatfield says he is homesick.”

Roy Hatfield was her grandson, the son of her daughter Della. In the picture: Victor Rhea, Martha’s son, her grandson Roy (son of Della), her granddaughter Mossie (daughter of Victor), and a neighbor child.  
Roy registered for the draft on June 5, 1917 and served from September 20, 1917 to April 12, 1919. He was 22 years old when he registered. The registration form says he was tall and stout with blue eyes and yellow hair.

I don’t think that Roy had been discharged when the photo was taken but his homecoming would not be as hoped. During the war, he had been part of the group that had been attacked with Mustard Gas. I don’t pretend to know anything about it other than, many times, it was fatal. That was not so with Roy. He survived the attack but soon after returning home, he was sent to the US National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The diagnosis there was arthritis.  

We know that he was back in Sneedville in October 1919 because Martha writes:

“Roy and Sam still running trucks.”

Sam was Roy’s younger brother and both of them worked for the mining company. I haven’t spent much time with Della’s family other than to document the notes my mom made when she went to Sneedville, Tennessee in 1982. There are many missing details but what struck me about the family was the amount of tragedy is a small space of time.

My friend started yesterday and found some information right off the bat that her mom has been lying to her for years. I told her that she would find things that might be upsetting. Today, the Hatfield’s upsets me.

Roy Hatfield died in 1938 at the age of 43 by committing suicide. One has to imagine that the war had something to do with his state of mind and health.

How sad for the family so I thought I’d look at the rest of the kids.

Jessie Hatfield is hard to find. We have a birth year for her but no death date.

George Dewey Hatfield is the next in line. He had moved from Tennessee to Indiana and died at the age of 69.

Sidney Hatfield is next. We only have the year of his birth but no other information is available. However, the notes we have say that he committed suicide.

John Hatfield lived to age 82 in Indiana.

The next sister was Carrie Hatfield. There is not much information for her either.

Next comes Sam Hatfield who Martha mentions in her letters. We have no death date for him either. Again, there are more notes that say he had cancer and committed suicide.

Edna Hatfield lived to the age of 92. According to the note left on Find A Grave, her granddaughter posts a glowing report of how wonderful her grandmother was.

Grant Hatfield also moved to Indiana and lived to be 72.

Ray Hatfield, age unknown died of lung cancer.

Luke Hatfield had also captured my attention because Martha said he “Favored Wm a great deal.” William was my grandfather. Unfortunately, Luke died in 1937 at the age of 18 in a car accident.

We have Roy, Sidney, and Sam who committed suicide. Ray died of lung cancer and Luke died in a car accident.

Della Hatfield was her mother’s child. She was also a strong woman who had the ability to rise above whatever life threw at her. However, the saddest part of all is when Mack Henry Hatfield was 81, he also  committed suicide. We don't know why but maybe he just couldn't deal with the death of his 5 sons. It is one of the things I want to find out when I make the trip to Tennessee. So much heartbreak but Della hung on for another 15 years and died at the age of 83.

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