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Charles Cleveland Meadows

Courtesy Eric Hedrick,
Pendleton County Historical Society

West Virginia Veterans Memorial

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Charles Cleveland Meadows
1891-1918

"The influenza epidemic that swept the world in 1918 killed an estimated 50 million people. One fifth of the world’s population was attacked by this deadly virus. Within months, it had killed more people than any other illness in recorded history."

—“The Deadly Virus: The Influenza Epidemic of 1918,” National Archives and Records Administration

Charles Cleveland Meadows was a son of Ambrose Meadows Jr. and Lourenza Belle Grogg Meadows. He was born on December 22, 1891, in Crabbottom (now Blue Grass) in Highland County, Virginia. By 1900 the family had relocated to a farm in the Mill Run district of Pendleton County, West Virginia.

Charles’ grandfather, Ambrose Meadows Sr., was a blacksmith. Prior to the Civil War he moved from Shenandoah County, Virginia, to Pendleton County. He was also a local preacher at the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. Although Mr. Meadows was not a Union soldier, his sympathies were with the North. During the war, Meadows was shot through the head by Union soldiers who believed that he was withholding the names of Southern sympathizers who had cut the telegraph lines. They burned his house and other buildings on the farm, leaving his widow homeless with three small children to care for. The incident is chronicled in a book by H. M. Calhoun, ’Twixt North and South, originally published in 1974 by the McCoy Publishing Co., Franklin, West Virginia.

Ambrose Meadows Jr., son of Ambrose Sr., was the father of five sons and four daughters. They were Dora Catherine (Mrs. Edwin P. Simmons), Grover Lee, Charles Cleveland, Don B., David Wellington, Lillie May (Mrs. Ona Glenn Thompson), Mary Etta (Mrs. Neal A. Hedrick), Addie Susan, and Hugh A. Meadows.

Following the sinking of American merchant ships by German submarines, the United States declared war against Germany on April 6, 1917. When the call for volunteers failed to produce the needed one million troops to support the war effort, the Selective Service instituted the draft with the first registration on June 5, 1917, for all men between the ages of 21 and 31.

Charles Meadows registered for the initial World War I draft on June 5, 1917, in Pendleton County. His draft registration card indicates he was single and a farmer in the employ of Gordon Boggs at Creek in the Mill Run district of Pendleton County. He was described as being short and of medium build with blue eyes and light hair.

draft registration

World War I draft registration card for Charles Meadows. National Archives and Records Administration


David Wellington Meadows, Charles’ younger brother, also registered on June 5, 1917, in Pendleton County. At that time he was employed by his father as a farmer. He also was single, and his registration indicates he was of medium build and height and had brown eyes and dark hair. Although David claimed an exemption to the draft because of bad eyesight, he enlisted in the U.S. Army on March 4, 1918, and served as a private first class in the 9th Company, 3rd Battalion, 158th Depot Brigade. He was discharged on January 22, 1919.

On December 26, 1917, Charles Cleveland Meadows and Mary Ellen “Molly” Ward, daughter of Amby Ward and Mary E. Black, were united in marriage at Upper Tract in Pendleton County.

Charles Cleveland Meadows was selected to serve in the U.S. Army on July 25, 1918. At first he reported to Camp Meade, Maryland, but was transferred to Camp Sheridan, Alabama, where he was assigned to Company L, Recruit Detachment, of the 67th Infantry Regiment, which was part of the 17th Infantry Brigade of the 9th Infantry Division.

H. M. Calhoun, an attorney in Franklin (in addition to being the author of the book described above), gave Pendleton County recruits an addressed postcard to correspond with him when they reached their training camps. Meadows’ postcard reads:

Dear Sir: I was transferred from Camp Meade Md. to Camp Sheridan Ala. I like it real well down here not as well as I did at Camp Meade. It is much hoter here, we are tenting out. I was assigned to inferty [sic] haven’t had much to find out how I like it. Yours truly Pvt. Chas. C. Meadows.
postcard

Postcard. Courtesy Eric Hedrick, Pendleton County Historical Society

The 9th Infantry Division was organized on July 18, 1918, at Camp Sheridan under the command of Major General Willard A. Holbrook. It was composed of the following units: 17th Infantry Brigade (45th and 67th Infantry Regiments and the 26th Machine Gun Regiment), 18th Infantry Brigade (46th and 68th Infantry Regiments and the 27th Machine Gun Regiment), 9th Field Artillery Brigade ( 25th, 26th and 27th Field Artillery Regiments and the 9th Trench Mortar Battery), 25th Machine Gun Battalion, 209th Regiment Engineers and Train, 209th Field Signal Battalion, 209th Headquarters Train and Military Police, 209th Supply Train, 209th Ammunition Train, and 209th Sanitary Train. Just prior to the signing of the Armistice, the 9th Infantry Division received orders to prepare for embarkation to France. However, following the Armistice, the 9th resumed training at Camp Sheridan and was disbanded on February 15, 1919.

Of the 247 deaths in 1918 at Camp Sheridan, 161 were a consequence of the Spanish influenza and pneumonia pandemic that ravaged more American soldiers, sailors and marines than would die on the battlefields of Europe. Camp Sheridan was especially hit hard with 2,367 cases of Spanish influenza.

memorial card

Memorial card for Charles Cleveland Meadows. Courtesy Eric Hedrick, Pendleton County Historical Society

On October 23, 1918, Pfc. Meadows succumbed at Camp Sheridan, Montgomery, Alabama, to bronchial pneumonia after suffering for sixteen days with influenza, according to his service record, well-documented by the county. His body was returned to Pendleton County, where he was interred near his parents in the Meadows Family Cemetery on Tract Mountain. His wife Molly was listed in the 1920 census in the household of her parents. Having never remarried, she died in 1973.

Article prepared by Leon Armentrout
February 2016

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Charles Cleveland Meadows

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