William Webster Throckmorton

The following profile was researched and compiled by Candice L. Buchanan and Glenn J. R. T. Toothman III, for publication in "The Rain Day Boys: The Greene That Lay Near Grimpettes Woods" (2017). Learn more at www.RainDayBoys.com.

Birth: 26 August 1897 Rogersville, Center Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania[i]

Parents: Thomas Morford Thockmorton and Anna M. Webster[ii]

Residence at time of enlistment: North Richhill Street, Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania

Physical description: 5 feet 10 ¼ inches tall, fair complexion, blue eyes, light hair[iii]

Death: Wounded in action 29 July 1918 Cierges, Picardie, France. Died from lobar pneumonia (likely influenza epidemic), contracted while hospitalized for wounds, 18 September 1918 Saint-Nazaire-sur-Charente, Poitou-Charentes, France.[iv]

Age at death: 21 years old

Last resting place: 8 October 1920 Oakmont Cemetery, Franklin Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania[v]

Military rank: Serial No. 1241444. Private First Class. Company K, 110th Infantry, 28th Division.

Witness account of death: Statement given by Pvt. Henry King. “I was lying near William Throckmorton when he was wounded. He was an automatic gunner and I was his carrier. We were in a shell hole on Sergy hill between the river Ourcq and the Grimpette woods. He was hit on the hand and sent back to the Hospital, later I heard that he died.”[vi]

Additional information:

William was the oldest of three children. His sister, Nancy Laureanne, was the middle child, and his brother, Alfred, was the youngest. The well-preserved family papers and photographs, passed along to cousins by Nancy, who outlived her parents and siblings by far too many years, allow us an unusual insight into the Throckmortons’ lives and personalities. One letter in this collection, was written by William from Camp Merritt, New Jersey, on 30 April 1918. This was just days before he would board the Ausonia bound for war, on 3 May 1918.[vii] His choice of message is clearly a farewell, as he writes a personal note to everyone in the household, but all the while, he speaks with hopeful intention about the job to be done and tries to lift their spirits.

Camp Merritt, N.J.

April 30 1918.

Dear Father, I just had Capt. Shidler to examine me. He didn't have [hard to read] and only made one copy, so you will have to have Mr. Woodruff to use it for both. Give Mr. Woodruff my best regards and tell him that I hope him a successful year.

Dear Bro, If we don't meet for a long time take this advice from Bill. Be true to your dear Father and Mother, and Alfred stick to them thick and thin. Don't be a slacker get all the military knowledge that you can but stay at home until 'the dear old flag' calls you. With love from your Bro, 'Bill'

Dear Sister, I know not what to say to you as I think more of you than I can express be a real good girl and I know that you will be just as true and as pretty and sweet as ever when I get back With love and goodby 'Bill'

Dear Mother: Don't cry and worry always wear a smile and look for the day when we meet again. Don't worry it will soon be over and I'll be back to you. God be with us till we meet again. Your son, 'Bill'

Don't tell anyone out side that we have left. Dad when you receive this I will be on my way to somewhere to do our bit in the gigantic struggle. I will write to you as soon I arrive over there May you all live in happiness and success until we come back to you. We will do our duty like true americans and I know that Greene Co. will be proud of us and appreciate our services. Give all my friends my regards.

With love and trueness to all I remain your son,


On 29 July 1918, William was wounded in the battle for Hill 212 as machine gun bullets rained down from Grimpettes Woods. Weapons shot out of his hands, resulted in such severe bone damage that he was hospitalized. The prognosis of his injuries was ultimately favorable and he was expected to be sent home; however, exposure in the course of his hospitalization and travel led to his unexpected passing. It is likely that he was a victim of the influenza epidemic, resulting in his death by lobar pneumonia.

The following series of articles track William through his battlefield injury, hospital stay, and death. William's story is particularly heartbreaking due to the inevitable delay of communication between Europe and the United States. William died 18 September 1918 in France; yet, a letter arriving in early October from a fellow soldier, indicated, not that William had passed away, but that he might soon be discharged and sent home. The upswing of these positive emotions made the actual information regarding William’s death, hard not only to endure, but even to believe. His parents and siblings, and no doubt extended family and friends, hoped for an error. The same friend who had just written about William’s prospective homecoming, was obliged to confirm the sad news. This dramatic unfolding of events was felt by the entire community as updates were published in the Waynesburg Republican. In order of appearance, these articles now follow:

Article 1 – published 26 September 1918

Wm. Throckmorton of Co. K, 110th Regiment Was Wounded in Right Hand by An Explosive Bullet.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas M. Throckmorton, of Waynesburg, have received the following letter in regard to their son, Wm. T. Throckmorton, of Co. K, 110th Reg. A. E. F. The latter was wounded on July 29 in the first battle in which the regiment took part. As will be seen by the following letter the wound was in his right hand, caused by an explosive bullet. The use of such bullets by the enemy is in disobedience of an international agreement. His hand was badly injured. He is now in Base Hospital No. 8, where he is suffering from rheumatism in addition to the wound.

American Red Cross,

Base Hospital No. 8, France

Sept. 1, 1918.

Mr. T. M. Throckmorton,

Dear Sir:

At the request of your son, William, now a patient here, I am writing to say that he is doing well. The wound in his right hand, caused as you know by an explosive bullet, which caused a compound fracture, is now healing nicely.

Unfortunately he is suffering from rheumatism in his feet and legs at present which keeps him confined to bed.

He asked me to tell you that he received mail from home yesterday, dated July 19 and was very glad to hear from you.

His company was back of Chateau-Thierry during the battle there, under heavy bombardment. They did not go into action until the night of July 27 and he was wounded on the 29th, since which time he has been in the hospital. I do not think you have any cause to be anxious about his condition. He is patient and cheerful and a good soldier.

Sincerely yours,

J. K. Paulding,

Amer. Red Cross Representative.[ix]

Article 2 – published 3 October 1918

Will Throckmorton Soon To Return From France

Floyd Patterson So Writes to His Parents,--Both Men are Getting Along Well.

Mr. and Mrs. T. M. Throckmorton of Waynesburg received the following letters from Floyd Patterson, of Co. K, 110th Infantry, yesterday:

One of the letters states that Will Throckmorton, who was wounded in battle, may soon return home. He was only 19 when he enlisted in Co. K, being one of the company's youngest members at that time. He is now 21.

The people will be glad to greet the boys, who are likely to return soon on account of wounds.

U.S. Base Hospital No. 8, France.

Sept. 8, 1918

Dear Folks:

Am getting along finely, Will is doing finely considering everything. We are both close together, now, and I am with him most of the time. Don't think you have cause to worry about either of us now. Am only writing to tell you how we are. Would like to write more. It looks as if Bill's and my fighting days are almost over.

Sept. 9.

Just a line while I am not doing any thing, but watching somebody else work. Am getting along finely and am out of danger, Will is doing finely also, and it may be you will see his smiling face in the not far distant future. He has done his bit. He is a good soldier and willingly went to the very front to make the great sacrifice, if necessary, at the most crucial and momentous time in the world's history and he will leave his chair or post to the next Yankee. So don't worry about him.


Article 3 – published 10 October 1918

Three More Company K Boys

Officially Reported Among The Dead. Corp. A. K. Gabler, Wm. W. Throckmorton and Harold Carey

Believe there May Be an Error As to Wm. Throckmorton, - All Popular and Excellent Young Men.

On Monday evening a telegram was received by Mrs. Thomas M. Throckmorton, of Waynesburg, from the War Department conveying the sorrowful news of the death of their son, William W. Throckmorton, of Co. K, 110th Regiment, now in France. The message read as follows:

T. M. Throckmorton:

Deeply regret to inform you that it is officially reported that Private Wm. W. Throckmorton, infantry, died of lobar pneumonia, Sept. 18.


Acting Adjt. General.

The message proved a severe shock to the family, particularly by reason of the fact that only last week they had received a letter from Floyd Patterson, who is in the same hospital, dated Sept. 8, stating that "Will is doing finely and it may be you will see his smiling face in the not far distant future."

It is known that several of the members of Co. K may soon be sent home and this letter indicated that Will Throckmorton would be one of them.

There is some hope that the report from the government is an error. No names of soldiers are cabled across the sea by army officers, merely the number of their registration tag. These numbers usually consist of six figures and the figures only are cabled, not being spelled out. A message before reaching the war department is transmitted by the hands of at least half a dozen operators and through that many stations. If an error is made in a single figure, then the wrong name is found in the War Department, where a list of the numbers is kept, and the wrong family is notified. It is hoped by all that this report may be an error.

T. M. Throckmorton had left home on a business trip, Monday afternoon, his family accompanying him in their automobile to Washington, where Mr. Throckmorton took a train for Pittsburg and thence

to Ohio. After receiving the message here, Monday evening, his son, Albert [sic Alfred] left at once by automobile for Pittsburg, but was unable to meet his father. He could not be reached by telegraph, and had not received the sad word sent by the War Department until he arrived home Wednesday evening.

Wm. Throckmorton is their eldest son. He enlisted in Co. K at the age of nineteen and left last year with the company for Camp Hancock, Ga. He was popular as a student in both high school and the college, being a member of the basketball and football teams. He was a member of the M. E. church and an excellent young man.

He was in the first battle, in France, participated in by the 110th Regiment, and was seriously wounded in the right hand and arm. He had since been in Base Hospital No. 8, where he was receiving excellent care. No word has been received from any of his comrades since Sept. 18."

[The above is an excerpt only, the article continues with news of the deaths of Corp. Allen K. Gabler and Harold Carey.][xi]

Article 4 – published 17 October 1918

Deaths of Two More Company K Men

Announced By War Department.--Max Lemley and Geo. McNeely

Floyd Patterson Returns to New York and Writes That Wm. Throckmorton Died Sept. 18, As Announced.

Sergt. Floyd Patterson, of Company K, 110th Regiment, who was injured by gas in France, arrived at Ellis Island, New York, Monday. A telegram was received from him by T. M. Throckmorton, announcing his arrival, and stating that he would be transferred to a U.S. hospital. Mr. Throckmorton later telegraphed him inquiring as to his son, William W. Throckmorton, whose death from pneumonia was announced by the War Department, and received the following message answer:

Ellis Island, Oct. 16.

T. M. Throckmorton,

Was with him until the end, Sept. 18. He did not die of wounds. Must see you as soon as transferred. My condition is good. Letter will follow.


[The above is an excerpt only, the article continues with news of the deaths of Max Lemley and George T. McNeely.][xii]

Article 5 – published 21 November 1918

By the time the Throckmorton family published this obituary, the Armistice had been signed on 11 November 1918. The Great War was over, but they had accepted that their son would not be coming home.

In Memory Of A Soldier

William W. Throckmorton, Who Died in France, September 18, 1918, After Receiving Wounds.

William W. Throckmorton was born in the old Throckmorton homestead, near Rogersville, Pa., August 26, 1897, and died of lobar pneumonia, in a hospital at St. Nazaire, France, September 18, 1918, aged twenty-one years. For about fifteen years, he had lived with his parents in Waynesburg. After graduating from the grammar school, he entered high school in his sixteenth year, and in his Junior year entered Waynesburg college and would have graduated from that institution next year. But when the United States took up arms against Germany he hearkened to the call of his country and at the age of nineteen enlisted in Company K, 110th Regiment, of Pennsylvania. Brave hero lad, holding high the principles of the right, he gave up home and everything dear to him, overcame every obstacle which might prevent his going and took up his cross and followed the flag.

He left Waynesburg with Co. K, Friday Sept. 7, 1917, for Camp Hancock, Ga., where he trained for overseas work. They sailed for France May 2, 1918; landed in England, crossed the English channel to Calais and wended their way to Paris, thence to Chateau-Thierry, where they were under heavy bombardment and fighting for three weeks, holding the center of the sector and keeping the Hun at bay. Credit is due the Keystone boys for turning the Hun at the Marne. On the night of July 27th many of the boys prayed God to protect them amidst the awful rain of shot and shell. On July 29th, when many Co. K boys fell, William Throckmorton was wounded in the right hand. He was a first class machine gunner, having graduated in this training at Camp Hancock, Ga. After going overseas he was promoted to corporal and was a machine gun instructor. There were eight in the squad and William Throckmorton was the only one in the squad who was not killed. After shooting seven or eight rounds of ammunition that day, he had two machine guns shot from his hands. Then picking up his rifle, he was wounded by an explosive bullet in his right hand. He coolly tied up his wound then made his way to a dressing station. (Lieut. Bullett, of Co. K was killed by his side.) Corp. Throckmorton was sent back to Base Hospital No. 8 at Savenay, on the west coast of France, preparatory to starting home. He was about to sail on Sept. 1st, but he gave up his place to another boy who was more crippled than he. This boat was torpedoed and many lives lost. They were making up a transport Sunday, Sept. 15. At 8 o'clock in the evening Sergt. Patterson thinking the transport was filled without Throckmorton, bade his friend Will good night and retired to his tent, which was outside the hospital. About 8:30 o'clock the Captain came to Throckmorton and told him there was room for one more and that he might as well go as anyone. He left the hospital at 9 o'clock, was placed on the hospital train for St. Nazaire, France, 12 miles away, and later was placed on a tug to be taken to the transport which was stationed out in the water a considerable ways. Sometimes it would take them two or three hours to load them on and off the tugs. He was placed on the transport sometime during the night. He contracted a heavy cold and became ill, and as his friend Patterson was on shore he requested that they take him off, which they did and placed him in Hospital No. 101, at St. Nazaire, and his friend was notified. But owing to army regulations Sergt. Patterson did not reach his side until he had passed away on Wednesday morning at 6:55. He requested them to write a letter to his mother which she has not yet received.

In the passing of Wm. W. Throckmorton goes one of the best athletes Waynesburg ever produced, and recalls many scenes in the armory where he starred time and again for both high school and college, while the hall rang with shouts of praise for his achievements. He also played baseball and football equally as well as basketball. He was a noble boy, with unselfish traits of character, always preferring the other fellow first.

As a high school student he was the most popular boy in school. In college he was much loved by all, especially the faculty. He had travelled extensively, was a close observer, gifted with a good memory and was a fine historian. He had a pleasing personality, which bespoke the purity of his soul, and attracted everyone whom he met, as doctors, nurses, chaplains and officers testify; as many beautiful letters have been received from across the sea by his parents, testifying to the fact.

He died a hero, was buried with military honors, hundreds paying homage to his dear memory.

He was a Christian and a member of the First M. E. church of Waynesburg. He was also a member of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity of Waynesburg.

Brave soldier boy, embarking on the deep sea and homeward bound crossed over the 'great divide' and entered into his glory.

Ellis Island, N. Y.

Oct. 16, 1918.

'My Old Pal'

Dedicated to His Mother.

On a beautiful hillside overlooking sunny hills and the peaceful sea, where the sea gulls flutter and in the summer the larks sing all day long, lies the body of an American soldier and my "pal" who died in a hospital somewhere in France.

During the illness he was visited by the chaplains, Capt. Lartell Prentice (formerly of New York) and by man Red Cross representatives, Capt. J. K. Pauling, Miss Nellie White and Joy Hawley of Red Cross fame, also by Y. M. C. A. secretaries of which he was very fond.

The funeral service was very impressive. The casket was borne from the receiving vault on the shoulders of six American soldiers, and above them rested the American flag. The casket was placed in a Red Cross ambulance and the funeral procession moved slowly forward.

A guard of honor from the American Expeditionary Forces and a firing party of two squads marched slowly forward with reversed guns.

Arriving at the grave the simple words of committal service were read and after three volleys were fired above the body, two buglers sounded the last beautiful call over the dead. A simple cross at the head bears his name and command.

Affixed to the cross are the colors of his country for which he died.

Tenderly and beautifully caring for his quiet couch are groups of American soldiers who are on detail duty behind the lines. They are happy in their tasks as with the spade and trowel they plant flowers over the grave of their comrade.

It will comfort you to know though so far away, there are smiling faced comrades, who love his memory and will keep his resting place green, and guard it until peace reigns through out the world, and then his remains will be brought home.

Somehow the good God has seen through your mother love and finds expression through "Bill’s" comrades, who do for your son what you would do if land and sea did not so widely intervene.

On the night of July 28, 1918, he with a number of his comrades prayed God to guard them amidst the shot and shell.

His prayer was heard otherwise than we could have desired, but may the faith which sustained him up to the end help you to endure without a murmur the will of our Heavenly Friend.

On Sept. 18, 1918 his short life ended upon this earth. But the impulse which carried him forward to the attack was not broken by the bullet which laid his body low. He continued his course, Soldier Bill, and went onward into the Paradise of God.

His Pal, Floyd Patterson.[xiii]

While the Throckmorton family waited for William’s body to be returned home to them for burial, unfathomabl tragedy struck their household again. Alfred, who had just graduated Waynesburg High School with the Class of 1919, was taken away by influenza on 26 July 1919.[xiv] One year to the day that William was wounded in battle, Alfred was laid to rest in a temporary vault at Oakmont Cemetery, while the Throckmorton mausoleum was constructed.[xv]

On 8 October 1920, William was laid beside his brother in the family’s memorial.

Nancy married Charles Patrick Meighen,[xvi] a World War I veteran, and lived to 94 years of age.[xvii] Without any children of her own, she embraced her extended family and distributed her memories amongst them in the hope that they would carry on.

Though there is very much that is sad in this story, there is a quote shared by then-Waynesburg College President, Dr. J. W. McKay, when he eulogized William, that speaks aptly to the purpose of this book:

If to live in hearts we leave behind us is not to die, and it isn’t, William Throckmorton is not dead but just away and his spirit abides here still, and forever will. The proof that our immortality is natural lies in our ability never to forget, always to remember. Blessed, thrice blessed, be memory, the divinest of creative bestowals; the glorious boundary line twixt man and beast.[xviii]

Now, we know and remember them, and in our hearts and memories, they live on.


[i] William W. Throckmorton obituary, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 21 November 1918, page 1, columns 7-8. This obituary is printed almost verbatim in the Democrat Messenger, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 22 November 1918. This is a very detailed tribute, likely written by his immediate family. A signed segment was submitted by his fellow soldier and friend, Floyd Whitlatch Patterson.

[ii] Annie Webster Throckmorton obituary, Democrat Messenger, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 5 August 1932, page 1, column 2.

Greene County, Pennsylvania, Marriage License Dockets (1896), vol. 7: 3, Thomas Morford Throckmorton - Anna M. Webster; Office of the Orphans' Court, Greene County Courthouse, Waynesburg.

Thomas Moreford Throckmorton obituary, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 10 September 1925, page 4, column 7.

[iii] "PA National Guard Veterans' Card File, 1867-1921," digital images, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), Pennsylvania State Archives Records Information Access System (www.digitalarchives.state.pa.us/archive.asp: viewed 12 November 2017), William W. Throckmorton, Private, Co K, 10th Inf., P. N. G.; citing Pennsylvania State Archives, series #19.135.

[iv] "WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60884 : accessed 9 October 2017), William W. Throckmorton (no application for compensation submitted); citing World War I Veterans Service and Compensation File, 1934–1948 (RG 19, Series 19.91), Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

[v] "Body of Wm. Throckmorton Arrives Here" article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 7 October 1920.

Oakmont Cemetery (Franklin Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania; on Route 19, near Waynesburg), Throckmorton family mausoleum; personally read by Candice Buchanan, 19 August 2004.

[vi] "WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948," digital images, Ancestry.com, William W. Throckmorton (no application for compensation submitted).

[vii] "United States, Army Transport Service Passenger Lists 1910-1939," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=61174 : accessed 14 October 2017), William W. Throckmrton entry, line 197, page 36 (stamped), Ausonia, box 373; citing Lists of Outgoing Passengers, 1917-1938. Textual records. 255 Boxes. NAI: 6234477. Record Group Title: Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985. Record Group Number 92. National Archives, College Park, Maryland.

[viii] Bill Throckmorton, (Camp Merritt, NJ) to Thomas Morford Throckmorton and family, letter, 30 April 1918; Nancy Laureanne (Throckmorton) Meighen Collection, held by Cornerstone Genealogical Society (CGS), Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 2004. Bill wrote this letter to his family in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, while he was at military training prior to being sent to Europe during WWI. The family papers and photographs were passed from Thomas Morford Throckmorton [1858-1925] and his wife, Anna Webster [1867-1932], to their daughter, Nancy Laureanne Throckmorton [1899-1994], and her husband, Charles Patrick Meighen [1895-1980], to Mrs. Clara Meighen who donated the papers to CGS.

[ix] "Wm. Throckmorton of Co. K" article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 26 September 1918, page 4, column 4.

[x] "Will Throckmorton Soon To Return From France" article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 3 October 1918, page 1, column 2.

[xi] "Three More Company K Boys" article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 10 October 1918, page 1, column 5.

[xii] "Deaths of Two More Company K Men" article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 17 October 1918, page 1, column 2.

[xiii] William W. Throckmorton obituary, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 21 November 1918, page 1, columns 7-8. This obituary is printed almost verbatim in the Democrat Messenger, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 22 November 1918.

[xiv] Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963, no. 78936, Alfred Throckmorton, 1919; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.Ancestry.com : accessed 19 November 2017); Pennsylvania Death certificates, 1906–1963 (Series 11.90), Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health (Record Group 11), Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

[xv] Alfred Throckmorton obituary, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 31 July 1919, page 1, column 1.

[xvi] Greene County, Pennsylvania, Marriage License Dockets (1925), vol. 19: 184, Charles P. Meighen - Nancy Throckmorton; Office of the Orphans' Court, Greene County Courthouse, Waynesburg.

[xvii] Greene County Memorial Park (Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania), Charles P. Meighen and Nancy T. Meighen tombstone; personally read by Candice Buchanan, 23 August 2002.

[xviii] J. W. McKay, “In Loving Remembrance of William W. Throckmorton” article, clipping is undated but text references funeral 8 October 1920 and was likely published in close proximity to that date, publication is not identified but may be from the Waynesburg College newspaper or alumni newsletter; included in Nancy Laureanne (Throckmorton) Meighen Collection, held by Cornerstone Genealogical Society (CGS), Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 2004.