24 March 2011

Obituary--Paul Ellis Steffe

As I have been entering information into our obituary index for 1918, I have been touched by the history of World War I.  I know that while the war started for Europe in 1914,  the US didn't declare war until 1917, and it was later that troops began heading over there.  These facts are born out in the obituaries we have.  I am currently entering obituaries for October 1918.  Prior to this I have had men in service dying of influenza.  Even a couple family members who died after visiting their brother in Camp Custer, near Battle Creek Michigan.  But today, I finally entered my first obituary from one who died in conflict.

From the 10 October 1918 Fremont TimesIndicator:

Son of Rev. and Mrs. J. W. Steffe Was Killed in Action in France August 30
Corporal Paul Ellis Steffe of Co. F, 126 Inf., 32d Div. F. F., son of Rev. Jacob W. and Julia A. Steffe died in France, August 30, 1918, from the effects of wounds received in action.
The first of July, 1917, he enlisted in Jackson, Mich., and was a member of Co. L, 31st Michigan, until the National Guard was disbanded and merged into Co. F, 126 Inf.  From Jackson he went to Grayling, from there to Waco, Texas.  The middle of January they were sent to Camp Merritt, N. J., where they remained in barracks until February 16, at which time they sailed for France, arriving at a port of France march 4, 1918.  Their first training was received at Champlette, and from there they were sent to Alsace, and then moved farther north to Lorraine.
When he came out of action after the battle of Chateau Thierry, which was his third offensive, his captain had been killed in action and only 28 out of his company were left.  The 32d Division was known as the "Iron Jaw Division" and was used as shock troops.  Paul wor his sharp-shooter's medal which he had received for accuracy.
After the battle at Chauteau Thierry the 126th went back into the woods for a much needed and well deserved rest, but they soon received their orders to move on to St. Mihiel, his fourth offensive, where he was wounded so severely that he died August 30th.
Paul was of a very bright and cheerful disposition and never during the past year has there been a complaint of any kind in any of his letters home, nothing but hope and cheer and always the word that he wanted to stay by it until the end.
Paul's death is the first death in a family of ten, and while it is a crushing blow to them all, it is with pride they can know and feel that never was there a cleaner, better or braver life ever given for its country and humanity than his.  It can be truthfully said of him, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."  John 15:13--Newaygo Republican.

Even though this article was in the Fremont TimesIndicator, it was reprinted from the Newaygo paper as indicated above.  What I find especially touching is the fact that the first Newaygo county death from combat, appears just over a month from the end of the war.

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