Charter Member American Legion Post #46

By Thomas J. Welsh, Grandson


     On the morning of May 26, 1918, twenty-two year-old Joseph Henry Schmid left his family home at 1342 Marshall Street in Benwood for a drive to the Marshall County Courthouse. Just eight days earlier, Joseph had been notified that he had been selected for immediate military service and was ordered to report to the Courthouse at 8 A.M. for a 10:30 train to Camp Lee, Virginia, for basic training. Accompanying Joseph and Mr. Gaynor in "C. Gaynor's machine" were his parents, Joseph and Frances, his brother Leonard, his future wife Mary Flatley, her siblings John and Marie, and Anna Specht. Joseph was going to fight in the "War to End All Wars".

     Joseph arrived in Fort Lee around 9 a.m. on the 27th of May and was mustered into the service two days later. After receiving his first inoculation, Joseph fainted and had to be transported back to the barracks in an ambulance. Fortunately, this was the only time he was "shot" during his eleven-month stint in the Army.

     Joseph left the United States for France on August 5, 1918. On September 17, 1918, he attached to Company M, 111th Infantry, 28th Division, and saw action in the Meuse-Argonne offensive from September 26 to October 11, 1918. On October 15th, Private Schmid's unit was assigned to the Thiancourt sector until the signing of the Armistice on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. Although hostilities had ended, Joseph would have to wait an additional five months to return to the United States as his unit was detailed as part of the American occupation unit.

     Occupation duty took the troops out of the trenches and back into a garrison existence. Instead of "over the top", the troops had routine, yet safe duties. Joseph periodically recorded such events in a notebook:

December 25, 1918 [Christmas Day]: Served Midnight Mass and two other Masses at the Gold Brick Club. We had fine supper: Turkey, Chocolate Oranges and Cigarettes

26 January [1919]: Went down to Maxey sur Vaise to Mass. It is 8 mo today since I left home.

5 February: Got in bad while on guard in kitchen. Someone stole part of the Officer Chow and I missed dinner and restricted for one week on account of it.

     He also mentions sightseeing visits to St. Germain, Champougny, and Damsenry, the birthplace of Saint Joan of Arc. A devout Catholic, Joseph's scant post-war diary contains several entries of serving as an altar boy during Mass and visiting churches.

     On Saint Patrick's Day 1919, Joseph and his unit policed their camp and then marched to Maxey sur Vaise where they boarded a train, leaving at 11:02 am in boxcars. At 3 a.m., March 19, his train arrived in a very cold Le Mans. The next day, he wrote to his brother Leonard:

Have moved and are now in the Forwarding camp. Our next place will be the coast and then home. We are living in tents and after getting rid of the cootes will move to barracks.

     Following delousement on 8 April and an inspection by the Embarkation officer the next day, Joseph and his unit were placed in quarantine for their return to the United States. Finally, on April 18, 1919 (Good Friday), Private Schmid crossed the brow of the troop transport ship U.S.S. KOONLAND for his journey home.

     On April 28, 1919, onboard KOONLAND, Private Schmid wrote on a postcard to his brother Leonard that he expected to "see the statue of Liberty this evening and land tomorrow morning." The following day, KOONLAND dropped anchor. Joseph was home from the War. On May 5, 1919, he received his final pay of $99.60 (including bonus pay of $60) and was honorably discharged from the United States Army at Camp Dix, New Jersey. He then boarded a Pennsylvania Railroad passenger train, ticket courtesy of the United States Army, for his journey back to Benwood.

     In that same year, Joseph, John A. McKee, R. Lee Robinson, Leonard Morningstar, Edward Morningstar, Luke Heil, Herman Specht, Daniel J. Hanly Sr., Thomas J. Butler, Harry W. Bartels, C. D. Thurnes, William I. Martin Sr., Samuel Geogeline, and Patrick Scully founded Blake Brothers Post Number 46 in memory of the two Benwood brothers who lost their lives in the War. Twenty-seven years later, on July 10, 1946, these same men signed and filed the Articles of Incorporation for the "Blake Brothers Post Number 46, American Legion Home Corporation" with the Secretary of State of West Virginia. Joseph served as the Post Finance Officer until June 24, 1961.

     The other noteworthy event that took place in Joseph's life in 1919 was his marriage on the 5th of November to Miss Mary Flatley, who saw him off to war. Two children were born of this marriage, Katherine Schmid Twigg Long and Joseph L. Schmid (1923-1986). Sadly, just five days after delivering their son, Mary succumbed to the tuberculosis that she had contracted during pregnancy. Joseph later married Elizabeth Brant (1904-1970), the daughter of George and Margaret Anderson Brant, on July 4, 1935. Joseph and Elizabeth had four children: Dr. William Henry Schmid (1936-1992), Margaret Schmid Schiffer, my mother Rosemary Schmid Welsh, and George Richard Schmid.


     Joseph, born December 21, 1895, passed away on March 16, 1967 at the Ohio Valley General Hospital at the age of 71 years. He is laid to rest in Mount Calvary Cemetery in Wheeling.

     Joseph was a lifelong employee of the Wheeling Steel Corporation, working at the Benwood Works, from approximately 1920 until his retirement on January 31, 1961. He was a member of Saint John's Catholic Church in Benwood, the 40 and 8 Club of Moundsville, the Bellaire Elks, and the Wheeling Kain Club.

Submitted by Thomas J. Welsh in honor of Rosemary Welsh, 11 January 2001.