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Cabell County World War I Memorial Boulevard: Entry 1 - Overview and History
Residents of Huntington planted ninety-one trees that lined the north and south sides of Huntington’s Memorial Boulevard in 1920. Each tree was dedicated to a soldier from Cabell County who died in World War I. Memorial Boulevard was first opened to the public on Armistice Day (now Veterans Day) 1927, but planning began shortly after the war and before the establishment of the Board of Park Commissioners. According to Col. George S. Wallace in his Cabell County Annals and Families, a major goal of the early park commissions (both the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs had a committee for parks) “was a Memorial Boulevard for the World War soldiers to extend along the north bank of Fourpole Creek from 7th Street West to about 12th Street West,” which was, “to have memorial trees planted on each side and a proper memorial at the entrance to the driveway.”
The first tree was planted in 1920 by Huntington’s mayor, C.W. Campbell, and the Rotary Club president, Thomas F. Bailey. All 91 had been planted by November 1927 and a record of each tree’s dedication was set down in the records of the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District (the names were also recorded on a plaque on the left buttress of the east side of the arch, but it is not known when this was placed).
However, there are at least three errors in the dedication (not counting misspellings resulting in incorrect dedication order). Ora Herbert Watts is honored twice, on trees 88 and 89. The second is that Russell Corbett Dillard was included (tree 25), who, though he served in the war, lived through it and died in 1974 (his name was eventually removed from the plaque on the arch). The third is that Letson Boyd Morrison (tree 58) was included a second time as James B. White (tree 90), the pseudonym under which he enlisted.
The trees were originally marked by metal crosses (donated by the International Nickel Company), which were placed at each tree by the Boy Scouts and the American Legion on Armistice Day 1927, shortly before the first cars drove across Memorial Boulevard. These were melted down (with permission) for World War II manufacturing. The trees were again marked, this time simply by yellow ribbons, during the Persian Gulf War by Owens-Illinois glass plant employees. For Veterans Day 2016, the trees were marked with ribbons and signs by the Buford Chapter, NSDAR, directed by their Chapter Regent, Pat Daugherty. Now marking the trees, unveiled on Veterans Day 2017, are 15 permanent signs with newly-researched information on the soldiers. This was part of Benjamin Woodard’s (Troop 62, Huntington, WV) Eagle Scout Project, along with this Clio trail, a website, and a book of all of his research.
KYOWVA Genealogical Society, 200th Birthday of Cabell County: The Bicentennial, 1809-2009 (Huntington, WV: KYOWVA Genealogical & Historical Society, 2011), Page 32; "WARS HELPED TO SHAPE CABELL COUNTY"; "CABELL COUNTY'S WORLD WAR CASUALTIES (WORLD WAR I)".
Jospehine Mendez, "Huntington honors vets during annual ceremony", 12 Nov 2016; Accessed 2017. http://www.herald-dispatch.com/news/huntington-honors-vets-during-annual-ceremony/article_5f4175dd-5..., The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, West Virginia, online archives (http://www.herald-dispatch.com/).
12 Nov 1927, "Armistice Day To Be Fittingly Observed Here", The Huntington Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, WV. Cabell County Library Local History Collections, Huntington, WV.
Joseph Platania, "A Tribute to Honor". Huntington Quarterly, Winter 1997. KYOWVA Library, 901 Jefferson Ave, Huntington, WV.
"Record of Memorial Boulevard Trees Dedication, Ernest Midkiff WWI Book", Huntington Board of Park Commissioners, KYOWVA Library, 901 Jefferson Ave, Huntington, WV.
Kevin Brady and the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District
Patricia Daugherty, Regent, Buford Chapter, NSDAR
Nancy C. Von Behren, 2nd Vice Regent, St.Louis-Jefferson Chapter, NSDAR
Chris Newman and employees, Brand Yourself, Huntington, WV
Staff of the KYOWVA Genealogical and Historical Society Library, the Cabell County Public Library and the WV State Archives Veterans' Memorial Database
Troop 62, Huntington, WV
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