Monday, May 18, 2020

Leslie L Miles, WWI Farrier Part 1

Classified ad in the Lawrence County News: May 12, 1920, Lost:  Will the person who found my pocketbook on May 4 lost between the M. H. Steffey farm and Pinkstaff containing a few dollars and some papers with my name and address on, please keep the money and return pocketbook to owner.  It is a souvenir as I carried it through the war.  Leslie L. Miles RFD 3, Lawrenceville.

Who was this man who was so sentimental about the wallet he carried during WWI? Leslie Lee Miles born March 14, 1895, to Charles and Margaret Payne Miles of Bond Township. From all accounts he was a good boy who excelled at any task set before him.  In October of 1905, while only ten years old, he entered and won a premium at the Farmer’s Institute for a Boys Exhibit of Corn that he had raised.  

While attending the neighborhood rural school only one incident marred Leslie’s school days. On December 31, 1908, his father, filed a complaint again Talmage Petty, the teacher at Maple Grove.  Two weeks prior, Petty had whipped twelve-year old Leslie for disobedience to the teacher’s orders.  The whipping was done with two switches that left marks on the boy’s legs.  The boy claimed he did not understand the order given while the teacher maintained he did.  The first jury could not agree on a verdict and a new trial was set.  The second jury was given the case and after due deliberation, failed to agree once again. The case was dismissed.   Leslie went on to attend school in Carbondale but he became ill with typhoid fever in November of 1912, and had to return home.  

Leslie was liked by all. In July, 1918, he left for Camp Zachary Taylor, Kentucky, to begin his service in the Army. Two nights before he left, rain had delayed his farm work. He had been anxious to get the hay in the barn and had worked too hard, being overcome with heat and suffering a severe headache. Retiring early, he was unexpectedly awakened by eighty of his friends and neighbors who had planned a farewell social in his honor.  There were refreshments of chicken sandwiches, pickles, ice cream and cake among other foods and hearty handshaking with their best wishes and good luck before the night was over.

Two months later, August 28, 1918, C. H. Miles received word from his son that he was in the Veterinary Training School at Camp Lee, Virginia and training for services as a non-commissioned officer. The Camp Lee Veterinary Training School was in active operation from April 12, 1918, to November 11, 1918, with the purpose of organizing, equipping, and training oversea veterinary units to assist with the large number of mules and horses used in World War I.  

A year later this well-liked veteran was home. Leslie’s homecoming was described in a local newspaper.

September 18, 1919 “The home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Miles of Bond was the scene of a remarkable gathering Sunday.  Their son, Leslie Miles, had just returned from service overseas.  The friends and neighbors in the number of 259 bearing baskets filled to the brim and a world of food-cheer gathered to spend the day.  At the dinner hour a table 31-foot long was loaded down with good things to eat.  Around that table gathered his friends and ate until they groaned with fullness. It was filed up with more good things to eat and another set of people set down to eat.  A third time this was repeated and all were filled and some baskets were yet unopened.  To get some idea of that feast think of 50 big cakes, then think of chickens, sweet potatoes, salads, pies, jellies and literally everything you might mention even to roasts of different sorts.  It was a frequent remark that there would be a shortage of chickens in Bond following that dinner. Then there was ice cream for all.
     “But the grub was not all there was to enjoy. Leslie was glad to get home and glad to see everybody.  His handshake and smile were of that genial kind that spread out through the crowd and became contagious. His parents had it too, and were extending the same genial whole-souled welcome so that it was a time never to be forgotten.  The returned soldier had a lot of souvenirs from the battle field, coins of foreign countries and 100 photographs of interesting places, battle fields, etc. that all enjoyed looking at.”

Continued tomorrow