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Scioto County Gold Star Mother Ill in France

Mrs. Williams, Scioto county’s only gold star mother, is ‘gravely’ ill in France according to an Associated Press dispatch Monday morning. Relatives have not received direct word of her illness.”

“Paris, Mary 26- The first serious illness among the American gold star mothers visiting France was reported today, officials of the pilgrimage announcing that Mrs. Mary Reynolds of Damascus, Ohio, and Mrs. Florence Williams of Portsmouth, Ohio, were ‘gravely ill.'”

“The officials added that some fear was felt for their recovery.”

“Mrs. Williams is at the hotel Nouvel, Verdun, suffering from bronchial pneumonia contracted during one of her visits to her son’s grave.”

“She is attended by Major Richard Eanes of the United States army medical corps and a special nurse.”

“Exhausted by the strain and emotion of her trip, Mrs. Samuel H Reynolds, 78-year-old gold star mother from Damascus, Ohio, was in the American hospital.”

“Mrs. Reynolds was a member of the second contingent of American mothers to visit their sons graves on the battlefields of France.”

“Mrs. Reynolds who was taken to the American hospital yesterday suffering from what at first was believed to be indigestion, was found to have acute peritonitis.”

“Her daughter, Mrs. WI Barber, of Damascus, had been notified and will be kept informed of her mother’s condition.”

“Two other mothers were on the sick list this morning but by afternoon they were reported to have recovered and able to rejoin their groups.”

“They were Mrs. Henry P Golden of Coral Gables, Florida, and Mrs. Minnie Thompson of Carrollton, Ohio, who had acute tonsillitis. Mrs. Thompson was brought to Pars in an ambulance but was able to go to her hotel and await the arrival of her group, which had been visiting the battlefield cemeteries, this afternoon.”

“With the exception of the four names all of the American mothers now in France are well and happy. A large medical staff keeps constant watch over them.”

“The weather that throughout the early days of the pilgrimage was extremely inclement brightened today and the forecaster promised sunshine and warmth for the remainder of the week.”1

“Editor’s note – The following extracts from a diary kept during the gold star mother pilgrimage to France were sent to The Times by Mrs. Florence Williams, Scioto county’s only gold star mother to make the journey. The notes were written on board the SS America. The letter was received at The Times office but a short time before news dispatches brought word of Mrs. William’s serious illness in Verdun.”

May 5– I was accompanied to the depot by several members of the James Dickey Post. American Legion and the auxiliary. There were 10 gold star mothers on board the train. Lower berths were reserved for us and every courtesy shown by the C and O.”

Gold Star Mother’s aboard the SS America in June 1930.

May 6– A reporter from the New York Herald Tribune came on board the train and interviewed us. We arrived in New York at 10:30 and were met by Major Tipton who assigned us to rooms in the Pennsylvania hotel. In the afternoon a reception was given at city hall. At night were were entertained in the ballroom of the hotel with talks by Mrs. Ruth Bryan Owen, Mrs. Matilda Buerling and others. Everyone in the hotel treated us wonderfully and we were instructed not to tip.”

May 7– We were taken to the pier in buses, our baggage was looked after and with nothing to worry about we were escorted on board by several bands and a number of different organizations. On board the SS America we have first or cabin accommodations, which means the best. Everyone from captain to common sailor treats us with every courtesy.”

May 8– Everyone is enjoying walking on the deck as the weather is fine and few are reported sea-sick. We have a doctor on board whose name is McCarty. He says, ‘You know that is a French name’ and he cures you with his jokes before you have time to tell him of your ailments. Today we saw whales following the ship.”

May 9– There was a little commotion on board today caused by a rumor which proved to be false, that a gold star mother had died. A beautiful ceremony this afternoon, when in memory of sailors buried at sea a beautiful wreath was thrown on the waters by a war widow. Then taps sounded.”

Saturday, May 10– Rather rough today. We passed a large iceberg several times bigger than the boat. All the crew were called on deck. Fortunately most of us were in bed and there was no commotion.”

Designed by Tiffany, this souvenir bronze medallion and long red, white, and blue ribbon was presented to Gold Star Mothers for making the Atlantic voyage to France.

Sunday, May 11– Mothers’ day. Each of us found a beautiful flower at our place when we sat down to breakfast this morning. Several received greetings by wireless, I being one of those. There was a sacred service in the social hall at 11 o’clock. At 2 there was a program for us and addresses by the captain of the ship and Captain Hanes of the USA2 in charge of this pilgrimage. Then there was a presentation of beautiful medals to the gold star mothers.

May 12– There was a get-together meeting of the gold star mothers today and the orchestra played a program of old-time tunes and request numbers.”

May 13- A photographer for a magazine took several photographs of us today to illustrate a story of the trip which is being written on-board. It will appear in a July issue.”

May 14– The captain gave us a farewell dinner today, with the dining room and tables beautifully decorated. There is to be a masquerade party tonight. Our time is short onboard the America as we land Friday. This is our last day to mail from here. There are 231 gold star mothers on board. 128 from Ohio. Not so bad. We sail from France on the SS President Harding , May 29 and will arrive in New York June 7.”3

  1. Mrs. Williams Near Death in Verdun Hotel. (1930, May 26). Portsmouth Times, p. 1.
  2. United States Army
  3. Diary of Mrs. Williams’ Trip to France Arrives With Sad Message. (1930, May 26). Portsmouth Times, p. 1.
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