Modie Williams (1894-1959)

Modie Williams
Modie Williams, c. 1917. Image courtesy of Sargent Memorial Collection, Slover Library, Norfolk, VA. SMC-MSS-000-182-ind-c-020.

Modie Williams was born on July 27, 1894 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina to Pattie Bates  of Endfield, North Carolina and Spencer Williams of Rocky Mount, North Carolina. He was an Baptist. He attended Norfolk Mission College and was a member of the White Ring of the Knights of Pythias.  He was a cook at C&O Dining Car Service in Norfolk, Virginia before the war, and he supported his widowed mother. In 1917, he married Martha White.

He joined the Army on October 27, 1917 in Norfolk, Virginia as a private in the infantry.  While he was in the army he received his training at Camp Lee , Virginia. He then transferred to the M.Company in the 369 regiment 93rd division. While in the National Army Modie was gassed in Champagne , France on July 26. He then went on to receive an award in New York on February 14 , 1919 at Armory Hall by city authority for soldiers. He was discharged from the army on February 9 ,1919 at Camp Lee, Virginia.

After the war he returned to Norfolk, Virginia. He and Martha had three children, Bernard and Lucille, and a daughter born after 1940. The family were comfortable and in 1930, Martha and the children were able to take a trip north. He worked as a cook on a steamship to support his wife and three children, and several members of his extended family, including a nephew, James Reid, and Martha’s niece, Arlove Tynes. He died on March 26, 1959 while on a ship in Baltimore, Maryland, and is buried in Calvary Cemetery.

Modie Williams
Modie Williams c. 1919. Image courtesy of Sargent Memorial Collection, Slover Library, Norfolk, VA. SMC-MSS-000-182-ind-c-019.


“Modie Williams,” World War I History Commission Questionnaires, Library of Virginia.

“Modie Williams,” United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, National Archives and Records Administration.

“Modie S. Williams,” Available online: Dec. 8, 2016.

“Norfolk Area Deaths” The New Journal and Guide. April 4, 1959.

“The Social World” The New Journal and Guide. Sept. 13, 1930.

United States Census, 1910-1940.

Krysta Crawford is a history major at Norfolk State University.