I Dig My Roots and Branches: Arthur Alma Kerby

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Just to tell you a little about myself, my name is Vickie and I was born and raised in Kentucky. The majority of my ancestors have been in Kentucky since the 1790’s. I have always loved history, a good mystery and puzzles and that is what Family History Research is all about. As a child we would take day trips on Saturdays and head down some dirt road looking for old cemeteries. A lot of the time we weren't looking for anyone in particular, we just like to read the epitaphs. We would have a picnic lunch packed and have lunch at whatever cemetery we were at. If the weather was bad my Dad and I would go to a courthouse and dig through old records in musty old basements looking for our ancestors. So as you can see I have had an interest in Family History for quite some time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Arthur Alma Kerby

The ancestor I am writing about this week is my husband, Roy’s granduncle, Arthur Alma Kerby who was born April 16, 1894 in Pima, Graham County, Arizona Territory the son of Francis Kerby III and Rachel Isabel Riggs.  He apparently went by the nickname of Art, because we have always heard him called Uncle Art.

Arthur was the twelfth of the fifteen children his father Francis had with his two wives Rachel and Leah and the tenth child of his mother Rachel.  Arthur’s full siblings were: Francis Kerby IV 1874-1934, married to Mrs. Lenora ‘Lee’ Clubb Bandy; Annie Isabel Kerby 1877-1951, married to Charles Buchanan Gordon & Milton Fisher; John Nathaniel Kerby 1879-1902, who never married; William Kerby 1881-1966, married to Mary Lillie Farley; Charles Kerby 1882-1963, married to Clarissa Lorena Pulsipher, Flaville Watson Elmer, Mattie Haynie Taylor and Lou Annie Berry; Jane Kerby 1884-1887, died young; Jesse Kerby 1886-1951, married to Florence Eugenia Wilson; Joseph Lee Kerby 1890-1956, married to Mabel Jewell and Julia Zozaya; Mary Myrtle Kerby 1892-1969, married to Joseph Mortenson (My husband’s grandparents); Elmer Kerby 1896-1967, married to Florence Edna Brittain and Nellie Alice Kerby 1897-1966, married to Andrew Mortenson.  Arthur’s half-siblings were: Thomas Washington Kerby 1882-1973, married to Mary Cecelia Dillman and Josephine Mortenson; Mary Ann Kerby 1884-1926, married to Samuel Ezra Pollock and George Henry Kerby 1895-1970, who never married.

While reading from the life story of Arthur’s father Francis Kerby III, which was written by Arthur’s half-brother Thomas, I learned some of the following as well as from of my own research.  In the spring of 1884, Arthur’s parents and their first five children as well as Francis’ second wife, Leah, and their son, Thomas, left Pahreah in Kane County, Utah to go to the northern part of Arizona.  In those days the roads were very bad going southward, and there was much danger among the Indians.  After many hardships, they finally arrived in Taylor (now in Apache County) in the first part of June, destitute but with great hope.   Here the Anti-Mormons were very bitter against the Polygamists and while here two daughters were born one to Rachel, named Jane and one to Leah, named Mary Ann, just two weeks apart.  Francis saw that he had to take his wife, Leah, back to southern Utah, so after returning from Utah he decided to move to the Gila Valley in the southern part of Arizona, in the area that would become Graham County where he went in 1887 and settled near the Matthewsville/Glenbar area.

Arthur’s father bought a small farm and also had an orchard and part of the time freighted from Bowie and Wilcox to Globe to help make a living for his large growing family.  Indian troubles weren’t quite as bad as they had been in previous years, but the family still needed to keep an eye on things, or animals and food would and could disappear quickly.

After the Manifesto in 1890, he went back up to Utah and got his wife, Leah, and her children, Thomas and Mary Ann.  On this trip they met with many troubles and hardships among the Indians.  One night an Indian came to the camp and wanted to trade six horses for a gun, but Francis refused.  Had he have traded, the Indian probably would have killed them all and gotten the horses back.  Francis III moved over to Pima in 1892, which was only about 3 miles from where they had been living and there they remained for a number of years.  The children worked very hard in helping their parent’s clear away brush from the land and in growing their own vegetables, a necessity in those years.  Arthur’s father worked building homes, roads and ditches as well as keeping his orchard and farm running.  It was during his time freighting and selling some of his produce from their orchard, that he saw the Sulphur Springs Valley in southeastern Cochise County, Arizona.
The following family picture shows Arthur as a little boy with his parents and some of his siblings.  From left to right setting: Rachel holding Nellie, Elmer, Francis III, Arthur & Charles, standing behind from left to right: Jesse, Myrtle (my husband’s grandmother), Joseph and Annie.  I believe this picture was probably taken around 1899 or so, since Nellie was born in 1897.

This next family picture was probably taken around 1905 to 1908 possibly, with all the living children of Francis and Rachel, their son John had died in 1902.  Standing from left to right: William, Jesse, Myrtle, Charles & Arthur; setting from left to right: Joseph, Francis IV, Elmer in front of him, Francis III, Nellie in front of him, Rachel and Annie.

In the spring of 1911, Francis, his wife Rachel and some of their children, including Arthur the subject of this sketch moved to the small town of Webb, this little town is now known as Elfrida located in Cochise County, Arizona.  Arthur’s older siblings were getting married and starting families of their own and so Arthur and his two brothers, Joseph and Elmer were mainly left to help their father with the farm and orchards during their growing up years.  Arthur’s father bought 80 acres there in the Sulphur Springs Valley and soon built a house where he lived until the day he died in 1925.  I need to do some more research to figure out exactly where his land was located.  Arthur had attended school in Pima as well as in Webb and is listed on the 1912 Webb School District #29 school records.

This next picture shows from left to right: Rachel, Francis and Leah Kerby with their friends James & Anna Mortenson in Webb at the old church house which was located on Mormon Road by the Whitewater Cemetery.  Arthur’s sister Myrtle married James and Anna’s son Joseph Mortenson in 1912 (my husband’s grandparents), so this picture may have been made about that time.  Also Arthur’s half-brother Thomas and his sister Nellie married two more of James and Anna’s children, Josephine (twin to Joseph) and Andrew Mortenson in 1914, so I am assuming this picture was probably taken between 1912 and 1914.

Life was soon to change pretty drastically for this family.  Arthur’s father’s second wife Leah died in 1915, which left an empty hole in all of them.  She had stayed up in Pima with her youngest son, when Francis and Rachel went to Webb, but was well thought of by all of the family.  Then World War I started in Europe and soon young men were being called up here in America to go and fight the Hun, as the Germans were called back in those days.

I have found World War I draft registration cards for Arthur and all of his brothers, Francis IV, William, Charles, Jesse, Joseph, Elmer, Thomas and George.  I don’t know for certain if all of them served overseas though, but I do know that Arthur and Elmer did.  First is Arthur’s draft registration card, then a picture of Arthur in uniform, he sure was a good looking young man.  The next picture shows Arthur and Elmer possibly at Camp Funston during training in 1917, before they went overseas.  Elmer had written on the picture marking him and Arthur thankfully.

Arthur’s sister Myrtle ended up with some of the cards and letters that Arthur had sent home during his military service and these items passed on to Myrtle’s daughter Anna, who passed them on to my husband and I, since she did not have any children and we were and are into family history quite a bit.  Following are just a few of the items we have and I love this cartoon postcard he sent home.

The following letter was written on December 11, 1917 at Camp Kearney, California thanking the Porter’s and others for sending them some things from home.  In the next picture you will notice an arrow pointed down and that is Arthur standing at attention before the parade was to start in San Diego according to what he wrote on the back of the card.  The next card the arrow is pointing up showing where Arthur was standing during this same parade in San Diego.

Arthur wrote a few cards and letters to Athena Porter and her parents, Alva Sylvenus Porter and his wife Eliza also wrote to Arthur while he was in France.  From the tone of the letters it looks like Arthur and Athena may have been sweethearts, or that may have been Arthur’s intentions when he returned from the war.  Just a side note but in 1932, Athena’s little brother Alva Rich Porter, 1907-1994, would marry Arthur’s niece, Anna Isabel Mortenson, 1913-1987, oldest daughter of his sister Myrtle.

Arthur according to his letters served as a private in Company H, 30th Infantry in the 3rd Division in the United States Army during World War I in France.  The 3rd Division arrived in France in April 1918 at the beginning of the last series of German offensives designed to end the war.  The 3rd Division contained the 7th, 5th & 30th Infantry Regiments and after July of 1918, the 3rd became known as the "Rock of the Marne" Division.

One of the letters from Arthur was written on July 28, 1918.  He mentions they have just left the front and he wrote the letter that night.  This matches exactly with the info I received from Glen Mortenson, one of my husband’s first cousin, about the Battle of the Marne.  “The Aisne-Marne Counteroffensive: On the night of July 22nd, the 30th Infantry after having been resupplied with new men and equipment was ordered to support the 38th Infantry which had crossed the Marne River into Mezy.  The French were on the right and the 4th Infantry was on the left.  The 30th Infantry arrived in Mezy at 1 p.m. on the 23rd of July.  At 6 p.m. on the 23rd were ordered to relieve the 38th Infantry during the night.  On the evening of the 23rd, 700 replacements reached Charteves.  However, only those assigned to the 3rd battalion (about 250) saw action.

During the night of the 23rd/24th an advance along the lines of the 30th Infantry was ordered to take place in the morning.  Six companies advanced Northeast above Jaulgonne, taking Franquate Farm and reaching the Bois de Le Charmel, where they dug in.  They suffered heavy casualties during an artillery barrage during their advance and while in the Bois de Le Charmel.  The six companies advanced slowly through the Foret de Ris, North of Barzy-Sur-Marne, meeting severe machine gun and artillery fire, finally reaching the ravine just South of Le Charmel Chateau on July 25th.  During the night of the July 25th/26th advance the 4th Infantry entered Le Charmel and then established a connection with the French on the right of the 30th Infantry.  No further objectives remained for the 30th Infantry.  On the evening of July 28th, the 30th Infantry was subsequently withdrawn to the St. Eugene area.

The casualties sustained by the U.S. 30th Infantry Regiment during the Aisne-Marne Offensive are as follows: 12 officers and 700 men.

Arthur would have been right in the thick of things during the war on the front lines and it is no telling what all he would have seen or endured during this battle alone.  The things the men and women of our military have gone through to ensure our freedoms is not something we should ever take lightly.  Here is the letter he wrote to Athena on July 28, 1918.

The following letter was written by Athena’s parents Alva and Eliza Porter on July 21, 1918 in Webb, Arizona and apparently Arthur never got to see it as the mail was hard to get to the front lines and it was sometimes months after they were written before they reached the intended recipient.

As you can tell from the above envelope Arthur did not survive the war and was killed in action on the front lines in France on October 30, 1918.  I do not know what battle it may have been or if it was just a skirmish somewhere on the way to a major battle.  I need to see about ordering his military records from the National Archives and see if that information is located in those records.  I don’t know how soon it was afterwards that his parents were notified, but my husband’s cousin Glen has the following picture and frame that must have been given to them afterwards.

According to Glen who has done some research on the time Arthur was in France, because of his service he could have received the following medals and worn the following type insignia's.

I found the following newspaper article from December 4, 1918 where Arthur is mentioned as having been killed in action.  I am working on this from our hotel room so I don’t have the name of the newspapers with me.

Arthur’s body was not shipped home immediately from France, but was he was buried there and then in 1921 he was finally shipped home to his parents.  From newspapers I found dated June 9, 1921 and from another dated June 12, 1921 we read the following:

I don’t know how his parents reacted to his death, but I am sure it was a heavy blow for both of them as well as for his siblings and for his friend and possible sweetheart Athena Porter.  Then almost three years later to have his body brought home for burial in a closed casket, I just can’t comprehend the sorrow they all must have felt.   Arthur’s mother Rachel passed away November 26, 1922 and his father, Francis followed on November 12, 1925 and are all buried at the Whitewater Cemetery.  Athena Porter finally married on November 20, 1920 to Roscoe Nephi Lofgreen a little over two years after Arthur was killed in France.  Athena moved to California and died December 21, 1968 in San Diego.

Arthur Alma Kerby was buried with full military honors at the Whitewater Cemetery in present day Elfrida, Cochise County, Arizona and the following is the tombstone that marks his final resting place.

May we never forget the sacrifices that our military men and women have given in war and in peace time, Uncle Art, we salute you, your service and sacrifice.

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