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Madison County During World War I


Missing In Action


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Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 20, 1918

Mr. and Mrs. George R. Allen of State Street are concerned at not hearing from their son, Lieut. Hollis D. Allen, who is in France. The last letter they have received from him was dated October 22. Lieut. Allen then stated that he was in a hospital at that time fighting off an attack of what appeared to be influenza. The letter stated that he had just come out of very hard fighting. Lieut. Allen was a member of Division 206, and was in the front line soon after arriving in France.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 5, 1918

P. L. Betts, father of Lieut. Eldon Betts, said today that aside from letters he had received from his son, a letter had been received from Maj. J. B. Hastings, who had seen Lieut. Betts in France on September 9, nearly two months after he was erroneously reported missing in the official report. Maj. Hastings, writing to Mrs. Hastings, told of meeting the young man and of a conversation that passed between them.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 8, 1918                     Lieut. Elden S. Betts Reported Safe
Lieutenant Elden S. Betts is alive and on duty. This is the good news that his father, Percy L. Betts of Twelfth St., received today from the War Department at Washington. The news came in a telegram addressed to the father. The telegram read as follows: "Happy to inform you that Lieutenant Elden S. Betts, infantry, previously reported missing in action since July 18, now reported as present for duty, August 8. Signed, Harris, Acting Adjutant General." This telegram sets at rest all rumors and counter reports that have been disturbing the friends for the last week. Mr. Betts, the father, has insisted from the beginning that there was some mistake in the report. This mistake, the elder Betts was led to believe, was due to the fact that Lieutenant Betts had been detailed to take a party of men from one place to another, and that in the performance of his mission had been unexpectedly and unavoidably detained at several points enroute. That Lieutenant Betts had been engaged upon such a mission was gleaned from letters that have been received by the parents. It is also said that Captain Taylor, the superior officer of the Alton man, had been killed in action, as well as some of the fellow officers of the lieutenant. For that reason, the presumption is strong that no officer was left that knew of the nature of the mission that Lieutenant Betts had gone on, and when the casualty lists were made up, he being missing, the report was forwarded to the War Department at Washington, accordingly, and from there given to the public.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 4, 1918

That Eugene Blake, a grandson of Mrs. Lena Clifford of Bluff street is missing after battling in France, is information gleaned from a letter written by W. J. Harrington to his cousin, Miss Margaret Cremens of Bluff street. He says: "I made inquiries, as you asked about Eugene Blake, but so far I do not know where he is. He is missing, and I think he is wounded and in some hospital. Quite a lot of our boys are in hospitals; very few were taken prisoners. We are back here for a rest of at least 30 days, and it looks like we are once more in civilization. It has been a long, long time since we came in contact with any civilians, and I can assure it does feel good to be back here, for we surely had our share of it while we were in the lines....."  [note: rest of letter from Harrington is included on "Letters Home" webpage.]





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 25, 1918

Mrs. Laura Coleman has received a telegram from the War Department stating that her husband, Matthew Coleman, has been reported missing in action since October 1. Coleman was a member of the 138th Infantry, and is supposed to have been reported missing in the battle of Argonne forest. The Colemans formerly lived in Jerseyville, Mrs. Coleman having been Miss Laura Griffith. Since her husband departed for the front, Mrs. Coleman has been doing her patriotic part by working at the East Alton plant of the Western Cartridge company.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 26, 1918

Charles Hetsinger, 31, has been listed as missing in France. Official notice from the government to this effect was received last evening by his aunt, Mrs. Elizabeth Reeder, of 437 East Broadway. The telegram from the government stated that he had last been seen before an action on the western front on July 23. Since that time nothing has been heard or seen of him. In all probability, this means that he has either been killed or taken a prisoner by the Germans. Hetsinger was born in Alton and lived here all his life. His mother died when he was but five months old and he always lived with his relatives. He had been making his home with his aunt, Mrs. Elizabeth Reeder. He was in the group of selective service men who went out of Alton on October 5 of last year. For a number of years Hetsinger has been employed by William Sauvage as a billposter. He was popularly known as "Dad." Hetsinger was a short, stout young man. He was well known in Alton. His aunt received a letter from him dated July 19. In that letter he does not mention being in the fighting. He says that he has arrived safely over seas, is well, and feeling good. He warns her not to worry, that he will be all right. Hetsinger has two brothers, John Hetsinger of California, and George Henry Hetsinger of Alton. He also has four aunts, Mrs. Elizabeth Hetsinger, Mrs. Joseph Holl, Mrs. E. N. Trenchery of Alton, and Mrs. George McCullom of Wood River.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 5, 1919

Corporal Charles Hetsinger, who for nine months was a prisoner in the hands of the Germans, arrived home yesterday. He has not been discharged from the service. Hetsinger, about a year ago, was reported in the official casualty list as missing. It was thought for some time that he was either a prisoner or had been killed. It was some time after that it became known that he was a prisoner. Hetsinger, who was among the early draft contingents to leave Alton, was formerly in the employ of the W. M. Sauvage amusement enterprises.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 21, 1918

Richard Thompson of Wood River is officially reported as missing in action in France. This information came to the father, James Thompson of Wood River, last evening in a telegram from the War Department, which stated that he had been reported missing since September 12. The message did not state the engagement in which the soldier was missing, and no additional information has been received by the family that would throw any light on the matter. Thompson left Alton in April and went to Camp Dix, N. J. He was transferred overseas on July 1. He was 24 years old and worked at the refinery of the Standard Oil Company.


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