Albert Hanley Totten
Army Private Albert Hanley Totten was born in Emmons, Boone County, West Virginia, on January 27, 1917, to John L. and Cora E. Graley Totten. According to the Totten family Bible, John L. and Cora’s family included brothers William Golden (1913), Lowell James (1914-1995), Albert Hanley (1917-1944), Emory Ezra (1921-2009), John L. (known as Junior; 1926-2010), Robert Ray (Bobby; 1932-2007), William Jackson (Jackie; 1938-), Theodore Howard (who went by his middle name; 1934-2009), Harold Dean (1939), and Amos Russell (1941-). The family also included sisters Myrtle Elsie (1919-2004), Martha Opal (b. 1924), and Beulah Edith (1929-2002). According to the 1930 Federal Census, the large household also included the senior John L.’s parents, Amos and Nancy A. Totten. Several of the children died in infancy or young adulthood, but Lowell, Albert, Myrtle, Emory, Junior, Beulah, Bobby, Howard, Jackie, and Amos lived to adulthood. Although deeply rooted in Boone County, through the years the family spread through the eastern part of the U.S., with Lowell, Emory, and Junior ending up in Florida, Myrtle in Ohio, Beulah in Virginia, and Howard in Arkansas.
On May 14, 1934, Albert was married to Letha Jane Wallace, daughter of James Frank and Mittie May Adkins Wallace. Albert and Letha had no children.
U.S. Army World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946, show that Pvt. Totten registered at Huntington, West Virginia, on October 14, 1943. At that time, he stated that he had a grammar school education and was engaged in “unskilled occupations in extraction of minerals”; like his father before him, he was a coal miner.
Pvt. Totten was assigned to the 358th Infantry, 90th Infantry Division. Albert trained at Camp Wheeler, Georgia, and Fort Meade, Maryland, before going overseas in April 1944. He was killed in action in France on July 5, 1944. Initially buried in Blosville, Normandy, France, his remains were returned to the states in April 1948 and reburied in Boone County. A Madison, West Virginia, VFW memorial book states: “Will be returned to the States for burial in the Madison Memorial Park beside his brother, Private Johnnie Wallace who is also being returned.” Pvt. Wallace was actually the brother of Albert’s wife Letha Jane, and Albert was buried in the Wallace family plot, where Letha was also buried upon her death in 1993.
|Amos Totten, the youngest brother, was only two at the time of Albert’s death and has little recollection of the happenings of the time, and his family didn’t talk much about the war. He did mention that just one year after Albert was brought back to Boone County for reburial, his father was killed in a coal mine accident, thus compounding the tragedy.|
This article was provided by Amos Totten, with some information from Carol and Bill Graley and various public records.
West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history. For more information contact Constance Baston at (304) 558-0230.
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