My passion for WWI Vermont material is endless and I make every effort to track down unique, original photos and objects related to Vermonters in the Great War. It’s not easy to find and often comes at a price; 26th Division material is popular with French collectors and fetches a high price when purchased on eBay. In this case, I was able to purchase a studio photo of a 102nd Field Artillery Vermonter of Battery A . Curtis J. Sawyer was born in Middlebury, VT on September 13th, 1893 – nearly 120 years ago!
He worked at hotels most of his life, having worked at Clark’s Hotel in Boston in 1917 when he registered for the draft. Previously he served as a clerk for City Hall in Barre, VT – not far from where I work! He started his career early at the age of 17 (at least) and worked as a clerk and hotel man unit his death. He is listed as being tall with a slender complextion with blue eyes and brown hair. He lived nearly 90 years and died in 1980 in Arlington, MA – not far from Boston.
WWI Vermont Roster Entry
1910 Barre, Vermont Directory
Sawyer in Burlington, VT 1910
Middlebury News Reference
I love collecting WWI albums and named photo groupings. They are much harder to come by compared with the relatively plentiful single photo purchases. In this case, I was able to come across a wonderful grouping of photos from the grandson of a WWI 31st Engineer veteran. I promised to post the photos on the site to help raise interest in this obscure unit and help bring this man’s photos to the digital world. Digital preservation allows thousands of viewers to enjoy images that would otherwise be relegated to the corner of a dusty upstairs closet. I will do my best to describe what I can about the unit and share a few biographical vignettes.
Pvt. Herbert Conner posed in France
“My grandfather was born in 1892 in Fordsville, Kentucky later the family moved to Amity Oregon and later to St Helens, Oregon. As a young man he was a prizefighter(that what they called them in those days). He was a logger for awhile later he went to work in Portland, Oregon for the railroad before the war and after the war he continued with the railroad for over forty years as a fireman and an engineer. He never owned a car and the station was about two blocks from his house and Kelly’s Bar and the grocery store were across the street from work so I guess he felt he didn’t need one. He passed away in 1968.
Grandpa was very proud to have served in World War 1. I do not believe he was in combat. The 31st engineers provided supplies and transported troops. The only story I can remember when he was on guard duty in France and a soldier had gone awol for the night, apparently celebrating and didn’t know the password or had forgotten it and Grandpa felt sorry for him and let him back in the camp. It has been such a long time ago there were probably other things that happened that I can’t remember right now. He must have spent some time at the French Riviera and Monte Carlo because there was a lot of postcards from that area and one postcard to his brother had him on the Italian Riviera for awhile.”
Some Guys from A Company
SS Manchuria in Port (Not the return ship for the 31st)
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