Ragan Hughes Pipes

The following profile was researched and compiled by Candice L. Buchanan and Glenn J. R. T. Toothman III, for www.RainDayBoys.com.

Birth: 18 November 1890 Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania

Parents: William Slater Pipes and Emma Ragan

Residence at time of enlistment: 120 West Street, Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania

Physical description: Medium height, medium build, gray eyes, dark brown hair

Death: Influenza epidemic, 28 February 1919 U. S. Army Base Hospital Number 61, Beaune, France

Age at death: 28 years old

Last resting place: Suresnes American Cemetery, Suresnes, Île-de-France, France

Military rank: Serial No. 4085400. Private First Class. Medical Corps. Base Hospital Number 61.

Additional information:

Ragan's passing, after the war had ended, was a particularly sad affair. The flu epidemic lingered and continued to strike long after the treaty was signed. As a member of the Medical Corps at Base Hospital No. 61, and having just returned from a tour of Europe while on furlough, Ragan would have doubtless had much opportunity for exposure to the dreadful disease. The 1918-1919 flu quickly became pneumonia, which is often listed as the ultimate cause of death for its victims.

An educated young man, talented musician and orator, and loyal son, the articles published in his honor detail his career and pastimes. (Two of these articles are transcribed in-full below.) On his World War I draft card, Ragan who had already risen in rank within the state militia, noted that his parents were dependent upon him. This fact is attributed by one of his eulogizers as the reason for his delayed entry into active service. He was an only child and his father who passed away 8 August 1918 was no longer able to provide for the household. Nevertheless, Ragan did join the US Army and departed first for Camp Lee, Virginia, in late July, and ultimately for Europe aboard the Lutetia on 22 August 1918.

Ragan graduated Waynesburg College in 1915; his mother Emma (Ragan) Pipes was also an alumna, having graduated in 1882. After news reached Waynesburg of Ragan's death, Waynesburg College President, Dr. J. W. McKay, published a tribute to the son and his mother. McKay had attended Waynesburg College at the same time as Emma, having himself graduated in 1883. His words indicate that he had maintained a friendship and knew the family well.

One of the unique details about Ragan's story is that his mother accepted the offer of the US government to provide passage to Europe for Gold Star mothers and widows. The purpose of this trip was to visit the graves of soldiers buried abroad. Emma made the voyage in 1930, then 70 years old.

Article 1: Waynesburg Republican, 13 March 1919

"Ragan H. Pipes Dies in France of Pneumonia.
Was Attached to Hospital Corps No. 1. - Had Just Returned from Furlough Spent in Visiting Cities of France and Italy.
A telegram was received here, Monday afternoon, by Walter Munnell, from the War Department, conveying the sad news of the death of Ragan H. Pipes, of Waynesburg, which had occurred in Base Hospital, No. 61, Beaune, France, Thursday, February 20. His death was due to lobular pneumonia.
Ragan H. Pipes was a son of W. S. Pipes, deceased, and Mrs. Emma Ragan Pipes, and was born in Waynesburg, Nov. 18, 1888. He was a graduate of Waynesburg College and of the Pittsburgh high school. He also attended Allegheny College, Meadville, Pa. Following his graduation from Waynesburg College he was principal of the Girard, Pa., high school. Later he had charge of the welfare work of the General Electric Company of Erie, Pa. In 1917 he returned to Waynesburg and was athletic director and musical instructor in the Waynesburg high school. While located in Erie he was a music student of of Morris Williams, of New York, and Erie, and was tenor soloist in the First Presbyterian church of that city. He always took an active interest in local musical and theatrical entertainments. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church of Waynesburg and was a most excellent young man.
Ragan Pipes was a member of the National Army and left with a unit from Erie, Pa., July 26, 1918, for Camp Lee, Va. Three weeks later he was sent overseas with the Medical Corps of Base Hospital No. 61. Recently a letter received by his relatives, stated that he had returned from a ten-day furlough spent in visiting the cities of France and Italy and that he expected to return home in the spring. He is survived by his mother, Mrs. Emma Pipes, who is spending the winter in Los Angeles, California; his grandfather, Z. C. Ragan, and aunt Mrs. J. Walter Munnell, of Waynesburg."
Article 2: Waynesburg Republican, 20 March 1919
"A Tribute to Ragan H. Pipes.
Word has been received in Waynesburg, that Ragan H. Pipes, son of Mrs. Emma Ragan Pipes and grandson of Z. C. Ragan, a veteran of the Civil War for the Union, died of pneumonia in France, where he had been for several months as a U.S. soldier. He was aged 30 [sic] years and was a most likable young man, especially interested in those finer phases of life which appeal to the cultured and refined. He attended the Pittsburg[h] high school, Allegheny College, at Meadville, and was graduated from Waynesburg College.
With a rich voice, musically trained, a splendid physique, ever attractive, and a style of oratory fascinating in the extreme, he was always in demand among his fellows.
None knew him but to love him,
Nor named him but to praise.
Responding to the heart call of patriotism, as soon as he could be relieved from pressing, filial home duties, he left for 'Over There' to do or die as God should will. But now he has solved the problem of the ages and has gone 'Over the Top.'
How inexpressibly sad and crushingly heart-breaking! An only son of his mother and she a widow.
For the mother-heart way out yonder, 'cross a continent, sitting under the shadow of an overwhelming grief, our heart bleeds at its every pore. The sun of her life has set in gloom, but to rise in grandeur and glory in that morrow of patriotic affection and which shall glorify the noble American womanhood, when it contemplates the supreme sacrifice made to freedom and proffered upon the altar of liberty. Nothing diviner has fallen to the lot of man since the days sanctified by the Man of Galilee! And every human soul, thus honored, has for its pathway a shining goal to glory and to God!
Farewell, brave laddie, till we meet again!
May Glory guard with sacred round
The bivouac of the dead!
J. W. McK."


  • "A Tribute to Ragan H. Pipes" article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 20 March 1919. written by Waynesburg College President Dr. J. W. McKay.
  • "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7488 : accessed 14 January 2018), S. S. America, sailing from Cherbourg, France, 10 September 1930, arriving at Port of New York 19 September 1930, Emma R. Pipes entry, page 26 (stamped)/17 (written), line 4, National Archives Microfilm Publication T715, roll 4830; National Archives, Washington D. C.
  • Ragan H. Pipes obituary, Waynesburg RepublicanWaynesburg, Pennsylvania, 13 March 1919.
  • Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774 - 1985, "Pilgrimages of Gold Star Mothers and Widows, 1930-1933," digital images, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=4224 : accessed 14 January 1918), Mrs. Emma R. Pipes entry, listed under Pennsylvania - Greene County, page 280; citing List of Mothers and Widows of American Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines Entitled to Make a Pilgrimage to War Cemeteries in Europe (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1930); "Records Relating to Pilgrimages of Gold Star Mothers and Widows, 1930–1933" (NAI 6161915, Record Group 92, Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774–1985, National Archives, Washington DC).
  • Suresnes American Cemetery (Suresnes, Île-de-France, France), Ragan H. Pipes tombstone, Plot B, Row 3, Grave 36; personally read and photographed by Candice Buchanan and Glenn Toothman, 2017.
  • "United States, Army Transport Service Passenger Lists 1910-1939," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=61174 : accessed 14 January 2018), Ragan H. Pipes entry, line 188, page 8 (stamped), Lutetia, box 484; 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.
  • "United States, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=6482 : accessed 13 January 2018), Ragan H. Pipes draft card, serial no. 3001, Local Draft Board, Erie, Erie County, Pennsylvania; citing National Archives microfilm publication M1509, FHL roll 2022693.
  • "WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60884 : accessed 13 January 2018), Mrs. Emma Reagon Pipes, mother of Reagon Hughes Pipes - application no. 257420; citing World War I Veterans Service and Compensation File, 1934–1948 (RG 19, Series 19.91), Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.