Luther Jordan Brown (1886/87-1919)

by Camilia Bell

Born in Norfolk, Virginia on August 22, 1886/1887, Luther Jordan Brown was the son of Adeline (Addie) L. Parker and Robert J. Brown Sr. After his parents got married in Norfolk, Virginia in 1881, the family grew. Adeline and Robert had four or five children: Robert Junius (1883-1957), Luther Jordan, Clarence Jalette (1889-1953), Mary Evelyn (1895-1976), and possibly another sibling named Brown (Nov 1890). The Browns lived oatn 816 Fremont St., Norfolk, Virginia for decades. While his mother was working as a servant and his father a laborer, Luther, along with his other siblings, attended school. As a private school kid, he knew how to read, write, and speak English (Family Search)

When the U.S. entered WWI in 1917, African American men viewing the opportunity to draft as a chance to prove their patriotism, citizenship, and commitment to the community, and joined the war effort in significant numbers. Among them was 31-year old Luther J. Brown. When Brown enlisted in the U.S. Army in July 1918 he was self-employed as a merchant tailor and was unmarried and childless. In service, he was stationed in the Mechanical Corps of the 808th Pioneer Infantry stationed for training in Camp Meade, Maryland. As a part of the Pioneer regiment, Luther was among the essential units to support the U.S. Army in building bridges, roads, and maintaining railroads to aid troops getting further into Europe. In fact, in the reorganization of the army in the deployment of army corps like the Pioneer Infantry, the U.S. gained continued strength for the war efforts (Davis). These pioneers “marched at the head of each battalion to clear a passage for it through woods or other obstructions, im- prove roads, make bridges and generally do any minor engineering or construction work that may be necessary” (Davis). And by September of 1918, Brown had been promoted to the military rank of Colonel Luther J. Brown and the 808th Pioneer Infantry became one of the first to arrive in France during WWI (Bates). 

The first combat the infantry saw with Brown was the infamous battles of the Meuse-Argonne between September 26 and November 11, 1918, which were instrumental in ending WWI. During the battle, the Pioneer Infantry was involved in combat engineering, the construction of trenches, and “ in [U.S. Army] as regiments trained and equipped as infantry to be used as troops of emergency, either for combat or simple engineering construction” (Davis). Strengthened by their training, the infantry troops utilized their offensive skills to push further into German-occupied territory. As colonel, Luther J. Brown maintained administrative duties of commanding the infantry during the battles, he held his rank title in the 808th Pioneer Infantry in France for the 7 months he was stationed in France. While the U.S. Infantries bombarded the German troops with excessive manpower and weaponry, once further allied enforcement arrived, U.S. victory became reality for the 808th Pioneer Infantry, and the end of the First World War (History). In the aftermath, the 808th Pioneer Infantry assisted in “clearing and repairing the streets”, and worked with the 805th Infantry to “pile up shells and trench mortar bombs at the First Army ammunition salvage dump”(Department of Defense).

Prior to the victory, as the war in France continued from 1918 to 1919, the severe epidemic of Spanish influenza impacted the efforts of the U.S. troops. Many soldiers not only died from their wounds but from disease (Davis). Unfortunately, possibly by the spreading of disease or wounds from combat, at 32-years-old, Colonel Luther J. Brown was pronounced dead at the No. 15 Evacuation Hospital, in Verdun Meuse, France on April 7, 1919. His body is buried with his family at the Calvary Cemetary in Norfolk, Norfolk City, Virginia under two headstones. One stone bears the the honorary mantra, “Gone But Not Forgotten” (Find A Grave). 


Gessie Davis (1890-1919)

by Ashley Pulido

Gessie Davis was born August 13, 1890 to McDonald Davis and Isobella Davis. He was born in Norfolk, Virginia. Both of his parents were from Norfolk, Virginia as well. He grew up Methodist. Before he enlisted in service, he worked as a longshoreman for C.O. Turner Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. He was also a huckster and a businessman. Davis was never married and he did not have any children. Davis enlisted in the regular Army. He was a part of the 370th Machine Gun Company. He was also in A. E. F. from April 10, 1918 to January 16, 1919 in Sevolyne, Belgium. Gessie Davis died on February 1, 1919.

Clarence Clemmons (1880-1943)

by Joseph Hardaway

“Clarence Clements” was really Clarence Clemmons. Born December 23rd 1889 to Amos Clemmons and Josey Clemmons. Clarence had a total of eight siblings: Antha, Walter, Clarra, Tommy, Kitty, Hal, Bobbie, and Cleveland. When Clarence was ten, he and his siblings helped their parents with the family farm in Sumter, Georgia.

            Clarence was working in Norfolk, Virginia for the Baker Brothers as a porter when he was drafted on June 5, 1917. He was officially inducted into military service for the United States Army on July 30, 1917. On his draft papers Clarence was described as a medium built and medium-sized individual. He severed as a porter while in the military at Camp Mead in Maryland . Once he left military service somewhere around the year of 1920 Clarence returned to working as a civilian porter for the T.G. Youngman company in Norfolk, Virginia and lived at 804 Monticello Ave., in Norfolk.

 At some point Clarence moved to Buffalo, New York where in 1923 he met his wife Adeline Crosby. They were married on July 23, 1923. Clarence worked as a molder in the local foundry while raising his family of two step children, Frank and Elizabeth. Frank attended some college, but it is not clear as to how much. Clarence died on January 11, 1943 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, New York. His wife Adeline died April 23 1949 and is also buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery. 

Willis Quincy Brown (1885-1918)

by Raymond Beredo

Willis Quincy Browne (Brown) was born on February 6, 1885 to parents Miles Brown and Sarah Smith. His father, Miles served in the Army’s 38th Infantry during the Civil War, starting in 1864 and was discharged in 1865 as a Private. After leaving, he remained in Norfolk and settled his family there.

Willis has an older sister named Hattie Waldon. She remained in Norfolk for most of her life, marrying, and living there. According to Willis’ records, unlike his sister, he was single for the entirety of his life. It is confirmed that Willis was in Norfolk till at least 1897.

Not much is known about his whereabouts nor what life was like but he was educated, went to public schools early in his life and attended college in Ann Arbor. In his later years, he moved to Chelsea, Massachusetts. On July 15, 1918, Browne enlisted in the United States Navy Reserves as a Warrant Officer’s Cook. His time served was short. On August 26, 1918, Willis died from a malignant tumor at the Naval Hospital in Chelsea. On August 27, 1918 he was buried in his hometown of Norfolk, Virginia.

A few years later, his niece, Sarah Evelyn Perry signed off his service record, confirming information about his religion and his academic past.. To this day, his reasoning for venturing north remains unknown.

Sources %2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AQPZB-Z75B Url=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3A23T9-1JB %2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AK8SW-RXN Q/2?accountid=28204 %2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AK8SW-RXN 4b2830cdab1ee252c30a2e8&_phsrc=Arc23&_phstart=successSource&nreg=1 baa5322202c90062a9f3ca94bcd&_phsrc=Arc91&_phstart=successSource c3731b2056eacac87e3f065d&_phsrc=Arc125&_phstart=successSource 378795e5771736089a5301cbfc55&_phsrc=Arc116&_phstart=successSource

Floyd Bishop (1892-1952)

by Andrew Tucker

Floyd Bishop was born on July 4, 1892 in Mapleton, Hereford County, North Carolina. His mother was Margaret Gadden, and his father was Richard Bishop. Floyd was an African-American Man, a United States Citizen, and a registered voter. Growing up, Floyd’s denomination was with the Baptist Church. Bishop remained in school until reaching the fourth grade, his highest level of education achieved. Prior to his military service, Floyd’s occupation was a chef, working for the Merchants and Miner Steamship Company. At the outbreak of World War I, and the United States involvement in the conflict, Floyd chose to enlist into the United States Army.

Floyd’s own motivations for choosing to enlist, were that he as a United States Citizen, was entitled to serve in the armed forces, as would any other citizen. His own words were “so long as my country needed me, I was willing to serve”, thus, he chose to serve. Another motivation as to why he chose to serve his country, was not only to fight for his country, but to fight for colored people’s democracy. Floyd believed strongly in doing his part to achieve honor and respect for African-Americans throughout the United States. Floyd mentions that what he had to endure during his time in training was detrimental to his physical and mental health, as he felt such training actually undermined his strength. His Military occupational specialty( MOS) was combat engineer. Floyd reported to his first duty station shortly after his enlistment, and per his respective MOS, he was assigned to Bravo Company, 540th Engineer Regiment. Bravo Company deployed in support of U. S. Operations in Europe, arriving in France. Neither Bravo Company, nor Floyd, engaged in direct combat operations. Despite not experiencing combat, Floyd still felt strongly that he would have a difficult time recovering from both the physical and mental hardship brought about by military life in World War I. A notable achievement during his service was the award of the Victory Service Medal.

Floyd was discharged as a Private First Class(E-2), from active duty at Camp Lee, VA following the end of WWI. He moved to Norfolk, VA and resided at 205 East Bute Street Norfolk, VA. After moving to Norfolk, he met a woman by the name of Estelle Rogers. He married Estelle after some time, and they married on January 21, 1932. They divorced on March 21, 1938, in Norfolk.

He died at the age of 60 In the City of Norfolk on Dec 10,1952 and is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Norfolk.

Works Cited

Floyd Bishop (1892-1952) – find a Grave Memorial. (n.d.). Retrieved May 14, 2021, from

Floyd Bishop -Vital • Virginia Marriages. (n.d.). Retrieved May 14, 2021, from (n.d.). Bishop, Floyd. Retrieved May 10, 2021, from (n.d.). 4-Floyd Bishop. Retrieved May 10, 2021, from

Arthur Ives (1890 – 1934)

by Willie Bright

Arthur Ives was born to Noah Ives and Fannie Lewis on June 30th, 1890. He was an African American man born in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. A short man with black hair and brown eyes. He has a medium build. Arthur Ives was a Baptist. He had a son named Arthur Ives, Jr. with an African American Woman named Annie Flora. Arthur Ives Jr. was born November 2nd, 1915 in Norfolk, VA.

Arthur Ives was a woodworker in Berkley, Norfolk before he enlisted in the army. Arthur Ives also worked as a laborer for the Norfolk & Western Railroad. He lived at 45 Lanee Row, S Norfolk, VA.

Arthur Ives joined the army on July 8th, 1918 at camp Lee, VA. He served in the Infantry, Labor Battalion, 338 “D” Co. 92nd Division. Arthur Ives was willing to do his part while in the army. He underwent mental and physical experiences at camp. It strengthened his faith in Christianity.

Arthur Ives later traveled to France. However, he did not take part in the fighting. He returned to the US on July 21, 1919, from Marseilles, France. The Army discharged Arthur Ives on July 23, 1919, as a Private 1st class. Once discharged he returned to his occupation as a woodworker for the rest of his life.

He died at the Age 43, June 1st, 1934, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Virginia. Arthur Ives cause of death was a cerebral hemorrhage. He rests at Mount Calvary.


“World War I Questionnaires, Ives, Arthur” ( 29 April, 2021.

“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 24 August 2019), Virginia > Norfolk County; Hopkins, George E.-V > image 166 of 5724; citing NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

“United States, Veterans Administration Master Index, 1917-1940,” database, FamilySearch ( : 14 January 2019), > image 1 of 1; citing NARA microfilm publication 76193916 (St. Louis: National Archives and Records Administration, 1985).

“Virginia, Death Certificates, 1912-1987,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 16 August 2019), Arther Ives, 01 Jun 1934; from “Virginia, Marriage Records, 1700-1850,” database and images, Ancestry ( : 2012); citing Portsmouth, Norfolk, Virginia, United States, entry #, Virginia Department of Health, Richmond.

“Virginia, Marriage Certificates, 1936-1988,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 20 February 2021), Arthur Ives in entry for Arthur Ives and Hazel Irving, 30 Apr 1938; from “Virginia, Marriage Records, 1700-1850,” database and images, Ancestry ( : 2012); citing , South Norfolk, Virginia, United States, certificate 8526, Virginia Department of Health, Richmond.

George Washington Armstrong (1892-1957)

By Monteau Jones 

George Washington Armstrong was born on April 24th, 1892 in Winfall, North Carolina to his mother Emma Armstrong and father Bill White. In North Carolina, Armstrong was a colored man raised in a Baptist religion.

On July 18th, 1918 Armstrong enlisted into the National Army. He started as a private in Norfolk, Virginia. His original Assignment was Company D, 338th S.O.S., Q.M.C. Division. Embarked from Newport News, Virginia on the Lutishu and arrived. Before and after the enlistment, his occupation was being a laborer. Armstrong was discharged from the National Army on July 5th, 1919 at Camp Dix, New Jersey. He left as a Private First Class. 

George Washington Armstrong married Emma Molben and they had two children: Virginia and Lloyd. The family lived on Maltby Avenue and sometimes their niece, Alberta Malbon, stayed with them.

George died May 26, 1957 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery. His wife died four years later and is buried next to him.


Willie Hunter (1892-1929)

By: Caroline Benavides

Willie Hunter was born May 31st, 1892 in Norfolk, Virginia to Martha and George Hunter. He grew up a family of 10 including himself, with 4 sisters, 3 brothers, and 2 nephews in Norfolk. By age 17, Willie was the man of the house, working as a longshoreman at Old Dominion S.S. Co. Around October 18th, 1918 Willie enlisted into the Navy, where he served food to officers and crew as a 3rd class Mess Attendant at Hampton Roads, Norfolk, VA. Willie got married to Earletta Wilson who was 16 years old, on April 8, 1919 and was then discharged on July 17, 1919, and continued to be a longshoreman. Around his 30’s Willie worked as a dock laborer at stevedoring until his death at 37. Willie died on November 7th, 1929 because of an abscess of the left upper lung. No records shown of Earletta Hunter remarried.


“United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 3 May 2021), Willie Hunter in household of Martha Hunter, Norfolk Ward 4, Norfolk (Independent City), Virginia, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 45, sheet 11A, family 297, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1637; FHL microfilm 1,375,650.

“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 22 October 2019), Virginia > Norfolk City no 1; Barnes Robert D.-M > image 4328 of 5843; citing NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

“Virginia Marriages, 1785-1940”, database, FamilySearch ( : 29 January 2020), Willie Hunter, 1919.

“Virginia, Death Certificates, 1912-1987,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 20 August 2018), Norfolk County > 1929 > image 2863 of 3413; from “Virginia, Marriage Records, 1700-1850,” database and images, Ancestry ( : 2012); citing Virginia Department of Health, Richmond.

Jim Bolden (1897)

By Chealsea Wickline

Jim Bolden was born March 18th, 1897 in Lucy, Tennessee. His father was Berden Bolden, and mother was Nancy Underwood. 

Prior to his military service, Jim Bolden lived at 502 Queen St, Norfolk Virginia where he worked as government laborer for Pig Point Ordnance Depot, where they focused on munitions storage, shipment, reconditioning, loading, and destruction.  Working as a laborer for the United States government, Jim Bolden had gained military understanding through his work with weapons as a laborer.  

On August 12, Jim Bolden became a private in the US Army infantry at Fort Lee, VA where he was stationed in Company A, 88th Regiment, 109th division. Shortly after, Front Lambarts Point, Norfolk Virginia on the ship Susquehanna, Jim headed to Berlin for World War I. 

After the war, Jim Bolden returned to Norfolk, Virginia where he continued working as a government laborer. 


Bolden, Jim. War History Commission State of Virginia Military Service RecordFrom The Page. Library of Virginia, n.d. 

United States Census, 1940;

Rakus, Kelly, and Brian Poe . “The United States Environmental Protection Agency.” FORMER NANSEMOND ORDNANCE DEPOT SUFFOLK, VA, n.d. Accessed May 10, 2021. 

Bolden, Jim. War RecordFrom This Page. Library in Virginia, 11AD. 

Obey Elliot Armfield (1891-1973)

Obey Elliott Armfield was born June 23, 1891 in Norfolk, Virginia to James Armfield and Mandy Wells. Armfield was a chauffeur for L.W. Machen while he lived on 866 Preston St. in Norfolk. Before being enlisted into the service on July 17, 1917 he had gotten married to his wife Hattie Lovitt in December of 1917.

He then served in World War 1 in Engineers, within the U.S. Army. Company “G” regiment 504th in Camp Lee, Va. Until he was discharged April 9, 1919. Obey Elliott finished as a Pvt 14 Co 4th Bn. When Armfield was in service he felt as if more could have been done for him once he left. Being that he took care of himself along with his wife, Hattie Lovitt, they had no children. His wife, Hattie, passed away in 1942 due to an aortic aneurysm.  Elliot passed away at the age of 82 on October 28, 1973 in Hampton, Virginia.

References: (n.d.). (n.d.). Norfolk (Va.). FromThePage. (n.d.).

ww1-a.html. (n.d.).

ww1-a.html. (n.d.).