John “Johnnie” Washington King (1899-1949)

by Rajanae Hopkins

John Washington King was born on 15th December 1899 in Carrsville, Virginia. His mother’s name as Matila Herron, and his father’ name was George King. His parents who were both born in Carrsville, Virginia. He was a Baptist of African American origin. He did not attain any University or College degrees.

By the time he registered for the draft in 1917, he and his widowed mother had moved to Norfolk and he worked for the Old Bay Line. He worked for City Gas Co. before joining the military and after joining he worked at Baltimore Steam Pack Co. He was enlisted in the Army on 5th July 1918 at Armory Hall as a Private-1st Class e where he received his first assignment in Company 144. He didn’t go abroad. He was discharged on 26th Dec 1918 at Camp Alexander, Virginia while he was still serving in the Private rank.

King returned home to his wife Jennie Gates. He worked for the Baltimore Steam Packet Company and appears on the census report of the Freight Boat Quantico in 1920 as a messmate. The couple had one daughter, Rosa Lee, born in 1930. King worked as a longshoreman after his daughter was born.

King died October 31, 1949 of a cerebral hemorrhage. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery.

John Anderson (1886-1972)

by Tamia Houston

“I know that I was an American citizen and [I] was willing to help and defend my country.[I] was not anything [more than] excit[ed] when my country called me; [I] was only glad to go.”

Those were the words of John Anderson, an African American veteran of World War I. John Anderson was born September 8, 1886 in Harrington, Kent County, Delaware to Letitia Webb and John H. Anderson of Maryland. He was a sibling to three brothers and one sister, Walter Anderson, James Anderson, Joseph Anderson, and Edna Jones. Anderson was one who had no education but was a talented musician. Even with his service in WWI, Anderson was a musician before and after the war.

When asked about his attitude towards military service, Anderson states that “there was nothing for [him] to consider, only go with a will and mind to do all that was in [his] power to do, when [his] country called, to help defend the U.S.A.” Anderson provided his service through the U.S. Army. He enlisted on August 5, 1918 in Norfolk, Virginia as a musician in the Engineers Battalion. He was a part of the Company C, 540 Battalion. Anderson’s training took place in Camp Humphreys, Virginia from August 5,1918 to October 23, 1918. Anderson says that “the effects of camp experience was very good, in regard to health and the physical exercise that was a part of the discipline, were simply grand, and helpful.” After his training at Camp Humphreys, Virginia, Anderson was transferred to the Spec, Cas. CO. 5447 in St. Aignan, France. Anderson was embarked from Hoboken, New Jersey on October 27, 1918 via the Leviathan and arrived at Liverpool, England on November 3, 1918. From that point on, Anderson toured England from Liverpool to Winchester, to Southampton, and lastly to Cherbourg with his tour ending on November 11,1918. He then trained in Abensville, France up until June of 1919. Anderson says his touring experience “was so great,that [he] can’t explain, but [it] was wonderful.”

On June 27, 1919 Anderson arrived in New York on the Armenia from Marseilles, France. He was discharged from service at Camp Mills, Long Island on July 8, 1919 as a bugler (musician). John’s belief after the war was that “God, our Father, won this World War.”

After his discharge, Anderson spent a portion of his life in Norfolk, Virginia with his wife Mattie Kemp. Anderson worked as a driver for The Wood Yard while his wife did housework. The couple did not have any children. On February 14, 1924, his wife, Mattie Kemp passed away. Eventually after the death of his wife, Anderson returned to Delaware. He never remarried or had any children; he worked as paper hanger and painter. On February 7, 1972, John Anderson passed away from prostate cancer.

Sources:

World War I Questionnaire. Anderson, John. Retrieved April 29, 2021, from https://fromthepage.com/lva/norfolk-va/anderson-john

“Obituary of John H. Anderson” Familysearch.org. (n.d.). Retrieved April 30, 2021, from https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q53R-2ZX2

United States Census, 1920,

“Death Certificate of John Anderson” FamilySearch. (n.d.). Retrieved April 30, 2021, from https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS3B-WSM5-F?cc=1447341&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AQGNR-RVHX

“Death Certificate of Mattie Kemp Anderson” FamilySearch. (n.d.). Retrieved April 30, 2021, from https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9GL-T26F?i=351&cc=2377565

James Henry Baskerville (1894-1969)

by Georgina Taylor

James Henry Baskerville was born to Egbert and Nannie Baskerville on June 24, 1894. Baskerville had 6 sisters, 3 older and 3 younger. Their names were Matilda, Alice, Lilly, Emma, Hattie, and Virginia. His paternal grandmother’s name was Mary and according to the 1900 census, she lived with them. Their family lived in Norfolk, VA, was Methodist, and was able to provide James with a 4th grade education. Prior to service, Baskerville lived at 820 Charlotte St., Norfolk, VA. In July of 1917 James Baskerville was married to Cora Lee Beasley and worked as a Laborer for Lambert’s Point Coal Pier, N. & W. R’wy Co. The two had no children together and it is unclear how long they remained married. However, on July 13, 1918 Baskerville enlisted at the age of 24 into the National Army and served 5 months before being discharged at the end of the war. 

While active, James held the rank of Private in the 9th Training Battalion section of the U.S. National Army; 45thcompany, 14th Development Battalion regiment at Camp Meade, Maryland. Due to the short period of time served in the National Army, Baskerville’s job in the Military is unclear and it is unknown if he saw battle due to his discharge order. He was recorded in the Veterans Administration master index in 1918 as well. After the war, he remained in Norfolk residing at 1556 45th St. Norfolk, VA and returned at his pre-war job as a Laborer for Lambert’s Point Coal Pier, N. & W. R’wy Co. James Baskerville married Mary Harris on October 7, 1923. The couple divorced in 1928 due to cruelty and desertion. In 1940, James was working as a longshoreman on the shipping piers, working 40 hours per week making $500 per year. Baskerville also rented a home located at 721 Mariner Ave., Norfolk, VA for $1 per month.

On June 10, 1966, Baskerville remarried. His new wife, Mary Etta Jones Magett was thirteen years his junior. His marriage license indicates that he was widowed.

He died on November 6, 1969 at Peidmont State Hospital of cerebrovascular disease caused by tuberculosis and is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Norfolk, VA.

Ealey Earnest Aulston (1888-1934)

by Nathaniel J. Piser

Ealey Earnest Aulstin was an African American solider who served in the Depot Brigade during World War I. Ealey was born December 9th 1888. Ealey was born in Henderson, North Carolina and raised by his Mother. His mother was Levain and his Father Charlie Aulston who were both born in Henderson North Carolina. Ealey had only preparatory education, so he worked as a cook on the S.S. Gratitude before joining the U.S Army in 1918.

Ealey married Texas Green in 1908. The couple had a daughter, Lucille, born in Berkley, Norfolk County, Virginia in 1914. Ealey enlisted in the Army April 27th 1918 in Norfolk, VA as a Private. Ealey served in Company 13, 155 Depot Brigade in Camp Lee, VA. Ealey earned the rank of Corporal before leaving the U.S Army.

He passed away in the veteran’s hospital with his brother at his side on February 24, 1934. He is buried in Mt. Olive Cemetery in Norfolk, Virginia.

John Bernard Brewer (1889-1943)

John Bernard Brewer
John Bernard Brewer, c. 1917. Image courtesy of Sargent Memorial Collection, Slover Library, Norfolk, VA. SMC-MSS-000-182-ind-c-001.

John “Bern” Bernard Brewer was born March 13, 1889/1890 in Norfolk, Virginia to Georgette (or Georgia) Lewis and David L. Brewer.  David Brewer was a house painter and Georgette was a seamstress. The Brewers lived on Lexington Street in the Old Huntersville neighborhood of Norfolk and were active members of the community.  John Brewer attended Norfolk Mission College for a few years and then transferred to Howard Academy (1907-1910). After matriculating from Howard Academy, he enrolled Howard University’s Dental College in 1912.  At some point between 1913 and 1917, he transferred to Northwestern University. He worked at the Boston Dental Parlors in Chicago, Illinois as a dental laboratory technician before enlisting in the United States Army on March 19, 1917. He served as a private in the Medical Department of the 8th Illinois Infantry of the 33rd Division of the National Guard. He was promoted to sergeant in November 1917.

While in the service, he was stationed at Camp Logan, Texas from October 1917 to March 1918 and then Camp Stuart, Virginia for one month before shipping out to France. He rose in the ranks quickly while in training camp, and was promoted to Private First Class and then Sergeant in the fall of  1917. He served in France for eight months, and saw action at the battle of St. Mihiel Maison and at Argonne Forest. St. Mihiel was the first major American offensive in World War I, and Brewer and his fellow soldiers fought under General Pershing and liberated the town from German control. He was cited for bravery at the Ailette River on September 27, 1918 for continuing to fight while wounded. He returned to the United States in February 1919 and was discharged at Camp Grant, Illinois as a Sergeant First Class in the Detached Medical Department of the 370th Infantry.

After being discharged from service, he returned to Northwestern and finished his degree in accountancy. While a student at Northwestern, he was a member of the Theta Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi. According to the 1930 Census, he owned his own accounting firm in Chicago and lived in a large boarding house. In September 1930, he was in a serious automobile accident which prompted his mother to travel to Chicago to care for him. His health problems continued, and by 1940, he was a patient at the Main Hospital of the National Home for Disabled Soldiers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He transferred to the soldier’s hospital in Hampton, Virginia to be closer to his mother and aunt, who still lived in Norfolk.

John Bernard Brewer died on April 13, 1943 at age fifty-three and he is buried in West Point Cemetery, Norfolk, Virginia.

Sources:

Annual Announcement and Catalog of the Medical Department of Howard University, 1912-1913. Washington, DC, 1913.

Bernard Brewer Dies at Hospital,” New [Norfolk] Journal and Guide, April 17, 1943.

Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Howard University, Washington, DC., 1909-1910.

“John Bernard Brewer,” Find a Grave.com. Available Online: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=73560902. Accessed October 18, 2016.

“Personal Mention,” New [Norfolk] Journal and Guide, September 27, 1930.

“Today in History-September 12” Library of Congress. Available Online: https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/september-12. Accessed October 19, 2016.

United States Census, 1900-1940.

Stephanie J. Richmond is an assistant professor of history at Norfolk State University.