News and Event Updates from the Office of the Orange County Historian

WWI Centennial Year

September 24 - October 2, 2018

This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit the battlefields of WWI Belgium and France, with historians and descendants of soldiers who died there, at the exact time and place a hundred years later, where hundreds of New Yorkers broke the Hindenburg Line. We'll be traveling from Sept 24- Oct 2, 2018, Approx $3,600 includes flights, hotels, transportations, museum admissions, local guides, historians on-board and several meals. It'll be covered in the press too. Join us!

Newburgh Brewing Company names beer in honor of local soldier, more info to come in next newsletter: 

The Newburgh Brewery has created a beer inspired by Orange County's centennial trip to Belgium & France that will pay tribute to the 40 County residents who died on the same day in 1918 during World War I's Battle of the Hindenburg Line.
The beer will be named after Private Walter Allison who packed his wool Newburgh Free Academy football sweater when he left to serve with the 107th New York Infantry Regiment in World War I. Allison was among the men from Orange County who were killed-in-action on September 29th, 1918 near the St. Quentin Canal, a German stronghold on the Hindenburg Line.
The beer will be released on September 29th at the Newburgh Brewing Company, 88 Colden Street, Newburgh. Members of the East Coast Doughboys will be in the taproom in their WWI uniforms to interact with the public. If you are not able to join us in Europe, you can raise a glass to the soldiers at this event.
The Orange County Expedition: One History Buff's journey to discover the World War I Monuments & Memorials of Orange County
Part III: Crusader Pride!

By Aaron W. Lefkowitz

     As I mentioned last time, my best friend, Zachary Andrews, had accompanied me on a daylong adventure to find and document the World War I Memorials. Frequently, we walk around the ponds in Monroe and notice that there is a small park across the street, called the Veterans Memorial Park, so we started there to see the memorial, to the residents of Zack's beloved hometown.

     When I contacted Monroe's Historian, James Nelson, to ask him about some finer details, not just did he answer my questions, he lent me a small book, from 1921, detailing about Monroe and its citizens, specific actions during the War. This humble book, formally titled, Monroe in the World War: A Story of Your Home Town and Its Honor Men, gave a great amount of detail about Monroe's residents as well as an excellent complement to the Memorial and I greatly appreciate it!
  Though, multiple men are listed as dying in service, only one of them has a picture in the book, George C. McElroy. McElroy had served as a Private in the Marine Corp. The Marines set a much higher standard than the other branches, emphasizing physical endurance and marksmanship. It was because of their exceptional abilities, that U.S. Commander. John Pershing sent the Marines to break the Germans at the Battle of Belleau Wood, where the Marines would have their baptism by fire. Belleau Wood was a bloody battle with many men killed on the opening day, June 6th, including McElroy, however it was due to the Marines' ferocity, that the Germans were beaten there. McElroy is buried at the Aisne-Marne Cemetery in France, with many of his fallen brothers in arms.

     Often, when we think of World War I, we believe that most of those killed, died on the battlefield or from injuries. However, when the Americans arrived in Europe in 1918, they not just brought millions of troops, they also brought the Influenza. Like wildfire, the flu spread through an already war-ravaged Europe and America. Many of the sick would be taken to hospitals back in the United States, including many in New York City. Amy Todt was one of the countless women, who volunteered as nurses during the War and was assigned to work at Bellevue Hospital. She would catch the flu and passed away on October 15th, 1918 at the Hospital. A special section of the memorial plaque is specifically dedicated to her.

   Dying in service is indeed a most noble act, but their deaths are stilled mourned as tragedies. Still to this day, Americans volunteer to serve, knowing full well, that they are putting their lives on the live for ours. Though those serving in combat were most of the deaths, many women also risked their lives to do their part in the War effort, against an equally deadly adversary. Fortunately, the women, who served and gave their lives are recognized for their actions and put on the memorials next to their male compatriots. I would like to once more, thank James Nelson for so kindly lending me, such a valuable artifact from his Office's collection, his contributions helped immensely.  
Orange County Historian | 101 Main Street Goshen, N.Y. 10924 |  845-360-6978 |  jyaun