Edward McNicholas

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

Birth: 9 September 1888 Ned, Springhill Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania

Parents: John Walter McNicholas and Mary Ellen Whitlatch

Residence at time of enlistment: Ned, Springhill Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania

Physical description: 5 feet 10 inches tall, florid complexion, gray eyes, dark brown hair

Death: Wounded in action 26 September 1918. Died from wounds 28 September 1918 Varennes-en-Argonne, Lorraine, France.

Age at death: 30 years old

Last resting place: Edward was first laid to rest 19 September 1921 in Our Lady of Assumption Cemetery, Littleton, Wetzel County, West Virginia. Sometime around or after 1927, the year the McNicholas Family Cemetery was established in Springhill Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania, Edward's grave was removed to that location to be memorialized with his relations.

Military rank: Serial No. 1241499. Private. Company K, 110th Infantry, 28th Division.

Witness account of death: Statement given by Sgt. Clarence Yoders: "I saw Edward McNicholas when he was wounded and when he was carried back to first aid. He was hit in the thigh. This happened on the 26th Sept. 1918 near Varennes in the Argonnes region."

Additional information:

Edward McNicholas was a tool dresser in the oil and gas fields near his home in Springhill Township, ahead of enlisting for service in World War I. A member of a large Irish-Catholic family, his McNicholas grandparents had immigrated from Ireland and settled in Greene County, Pennsylvania. On 31 May 1917, both Edward and his brother Leo enlisted in Company K at Waynesburg. They served together until Edward was wounded in the Argonne on 26 September 1918. That day their story took a tragic turn. Edward's wound to the thigh was not considered fatal at the time. Dorse Patterson, whose mother Susuan Caroline (Whitlatch) Patterson was a sister to Edward's mother Mary Ellen (Whitlatch) McNicholas, spoke to Edward at the First Aid station before the cousins parted. The battle was raging on, and Dorse, also a member of Company K, returned to the fight.

The day Edward was injured, Leo was not on the field with the Company. He had been hospitalized for illness on 17 September and was not returned to duty until October 15. What reports reached him and when, we do not know.

Not having believed Edward to be in real danger, the men of Company K were surprised to find that Edward was listed among the missing in an early October report. Later, that post was updated to list Edward as killed in action on September 28.

The confused family back home and the bewildered brother in France, had no closure until months after the Armistice ended the war on 11 November 1918. As restorative peacetime routines replaced active engagements, Leo McNicholas and a fellow comrade Guy Moore, who had helped carry Edward off the battlefield on September 26, were given a ten-day leave. They used the opportunity to return to Varennes and seek answers regarding Edward's fate. The following articles and tributes detail the answers they sent home to Greene County and the memorials created for this local hero lost.

Article 1 – published 17 April 1919


"Leo McNicholas Finds Brother's Grave.
Last Resting Place of Edward McNicholas, of Springhill Township, Located Near Varennes. Was First Reported Missing and Later as Killed in Action. Died Sept. 28 of Wound Received Two Days Previous.
Mr. and Mrs. J. W. McNicholas, of Springhill township, received a letter a few days ago from their son, Sergt. Leo McNicholas, who is in France, stating that he had found the grave of his brother, Edward McNicholas. Both young men were members of Company K, 110th Regiment.
Edward McNicholas was officially reported missing in action, October 2, and later his parents were notified by the War Department that he had been killed in action on September 28. These two messages were confusing, and as Corporal Dors Patterson, also a member of Company K, and a cousin of Private McNicholas, had seen the latter carried off the battlefield on September 26 and had talked to him concerning his wound which neither thought was serious, Mr. and Mrs. McNicholas were led to believe that their son might still be living and probably in some hospital in France. No definite news was received concerning young McNicholas until his brother's letter came saying that he and Corporal Guy Moore, who helped to carry Edward McNicholas off the battlefield, had just returned from a ten-day leave and that they had found his brother's grave. The grave, he stated, is located near Varennes, about 25 miles from Verdun and slightly northwest of the latter place. The grave was found in good condition, being well marked by a cross and an identification disk. Along with Private McNicholas are buried nine other enlisted men and three officers. Sergeant McNicholas also stated that his brother was wounded on Sept. 26 and had died two days later, Sept. 28, at the first aid station where Corp. Moore had left him.
Edward McNicholas enlisted in Co. K while the unit was stationed here, preparatory to leaving for Camp Hancock, Ga., and sailed with the 28th Division in May 1918. His death brings the total of names on Greene County's honor roll up to 49."

Article 2 - published 22 September 1921

"Greene County Soldiers Buried with Full Military Honors
The remains of Edward McNicholas, son of Mr. and Mrs. John W. McNicholas, of Springhill Township, this county, were laid to rest Monday with full military honors.
Edward McNicholas was a member of Company K, 110th Infantry, A. E. F., and was wounded in battle, near Varennes, France, September 26, 1918, and died two days later in a base hospital.
The funeral services were held at 10 o'clock in the Roman Catholic church, Littleton, W. Va., and was attended by members of Company K and James Farrell Post American Legion. Interment in the Littleton Catholic Cemetery. His brother, Leo McNicholas, served also in Company K."
[Article continues with funeral report of James Hobart Swart.]

Article 3 - published 29 September 1921

"Body of Private Edward McNicholas Laid to Rest
The body of Private Edward McNicholas, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. W. McNicholas of Ned, Pa., arrived at Littleton, W. Va., September 17. The body was accompanied by a soldier escort and was met at the station and accompanied home by the Argonne Post, American Legion, Littleton, W. Va. A full military funeral was held Monday morning from the Catholic church of Littleton. Mass was celebrated at 10:30 o'clock by the pastor Rev. Phillip Brady. The sermon was delivered by Rev. Father McCabe of Pittsburgh, Pa., who was an overseas army chaplain. Full military honors were paid Private McNicholas. His flag-draped casket was drawn to the church on a gun carriage and accompanied by six soldier pall bearers, a firing squad and a bugler. Burial exercises were in charge of the James Farrell Post, American Legion, Waynesburg, Pa., comrades of the dead soldier. Interment was made in Mission Hill cemetery.
Private Edward McNicholas was born at Ned, Pa., September 9, 1888, where he spent his childhood days and grew to sturdy manhood. He enlisted in answer to his country's call, May 31, 1917, a few weeks after war was declared with Germany. He trained at Camp Hancock, Augusta, Ga., and went overseas as a member of the 110th Infantry, 28th Division, A. E. F., May 3, 1918. He was wounded the first day of the Argonne drive, September 26, and died the same day [sic died September 28] at a first aid station where he was left by a comrade.
One day beside a shell-wrecked field,
Where tireless bullets sped,
'Mid 'mcaning men, and groaning men,
Whose every hope had fled,
When death, God's healing angel, came,
Across the crimson sod,
His quest was done - His soul had won,
Unto the peace of God.
Before entering the service Private McNicholas was employed in the oil and gas fields of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. He was a member of the Catholic church of the Assumption, Littleton, W. Va., and was one of the first boys of that parish to enlist and make the supreme sacrifice in the World War.
Place over him his flag,
He who went away
With smiling lips and quickening breath,
Loving life, yet scorning death,
As he faced death day by day,
Deep in the heart of his land,
Quietly let him rest,
In a spot beneath the silent stars,
Far from those hills whose vicious scars
Are like the scars on his breast
Home again at last,
Softly may he lie,
He cast his youthful strength upon the crimson tide,
And in the maelstrom where a million warriors died,
He died as brave men die,
May he rest in peace.
N. M." [believed to be Mary Eleanor "Nellie" McNicholas, Edward's sister]


  • Association of the 110th Infantry, History of the 110th Infantry (10th Pa.) of the 28th Division, U.S.A., 1917-1919: a compilation of orders, citations, maps, records and illustrations relating to the 3rd Pa. Inf., 10th Pa. Inf., and 110th U.S. Inf. (Greensburg, Pennsylvania: Association of the 110th Infantry, 1920), 245, profiles of Edward McNicholas and Leo McNicholas.
  • "Body of Private Edward McNicholas Laid to Rest" article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 29 September 1921. Tribute is signed "N. M." which is believed to represent Edward's sister Mary Eleanor "Nellie" McNicholas.
  • "Greene County Soldiers Buried with Full Military Honors" article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 22 September 1921.
  • "Leo McNicholas Finds Brother's Grave" article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 17 April 1919.
  • McNicholas Cemetery (Springhill Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania), Edward McNicholas tombstone; read and photographed by Candice Buchanan and Glenn Toothman, 2018.
  • "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 10 March 2018), Edward McNicholas, Private, Co K, 10th Inf., P. N. G.; citing series #19.135.
  • "United States, Army Transport Service Passenger Lists 1910-1939," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=61174 : accessed 10 March 2018), Edward McNicholas entry, line 100, page 33 (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.
  • "WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60884 : accessed 10 March 2018), Mary Ellen McNicholas, mother of Edward McNicholas - application no. 28071; citing World War I Veterans Service and Compensation File, 1934–1948 (RG 19, Series 19.91), Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.