Dade County Veterans of World War I Part II

July 17, 2020

Editor's Note: This is the second part of local historian Linda Wilson's findings on the World War I veterans depicted in this old photograph of Dade County army inductees, taken on July 24, 1918.

First Row: Len Mason, Asa Reeves, Grady Hawkins, Charlie Gass, Bert Holtzhower, Gene Bates. Second Row: Dent Dean, Ed Tucker, Byron Forester, Lawrence Gass, Boss Cole. Third Row:  Mike Castleberry, Frank Carroll, Charlie Redding, Dolph Fischer, Raymond Castleberry, John Murphy and Troy Holmes.


Lawrence Milton Gass was born April 19, 1889, and was living in Rising Fawn when he entered the U.S. Army. He was a private in the 157 Depot Brigade and was in Co. B, 161st Infantry. Gass was discharged on March 1, 1919. According to census records, Lawrence Gass worked as a cooper and he moved around some, living on Sand Mountain, in Chattanooga, and even in Fort Worth, Texas, for a while, before settling in the Chickamauga area. He found his bride, Bessie Mae Dawkins, in Rising Fawn, and they had two sons, Terril Lebron and Robert. He died on October 19, 1965 and is buried in Lakewood Memorial Gardens in Catoosa Co.


Samuel Darwin Cole was identified in the picture as “Boss” Cole. He was born on October 11, 1889, and lived in Trenton. Cole was in the 157 Depot Brigade and was a private. He saw no overseas service and was discharged on December 6, 1918, after only five months of service. As far as I can tell, he never married, and in 1940 was living on the farm with his mother and brothers. He died on January 15, 1959, and is buried in the Baptist Cemetery in Trenton.


Another recruit from Rising Fawn was Mike Shelton Castleberry, born April 29, 1893. He was a private in the 157 Depot Brigade and Co. K, 161st Infantry, before being discharged on May 7, 1919. Castleberry married Ola Jenkins and they moved to the Birmingham area where he worked in a rock quarry as a miner and machine operator. He died there on July 21, 1969, and is buried in Vahalla Cemetery there. The couple had three children, Otis, Garral and Nile.


The community of Wildwood sent Richard Frank “Pard” Carroll to serve his country in World War I. He was born there on August 29, 1886, the oldest of these recruits. He was a PFC in Co. I, 18th Infantry and was discharged on September 26, 1919. He married Ersaline Blevins. Mrs. Ersaline was a well-known educator in Dade County, the sister of Sheriff Allison Blevins, and the first woman to serve on a jury in Dade County. Mr. Carroll was a farmer and a sawmill operator. They had no children. Carroll died on March 29, 1951, and is buried in the Wildwood Cemetery.


Another recruit from Wildwood was Charles F. Redding, born March 31, 1894. Redding was a private in Co., B, 161st Infantry, and was discharged on March 1, 1919. He married Gertrude Exum in 1922, and in the 1930 census, he is doing carpenter work. By 1940, he is divorced and living with his mother and stepfather and working in a boiler shop. He died on August 20, 1946.


Miller Adolphus Fischer was born in Fort Payne, Ala., on August 18, 1888, but was living in Rising Fawn when he entered the service. Fischer was a PFC in Co. B, 150 Infantry, before his discharge on August 30, 1919. Fischer married Allie M. Hatfield in 1931 and they had two children, Johnnie and Gloria, but were divorced by 1940. In the 1940 census, Fischer is living in Chattanooga with his sister and working there. He died on August 7, 1974, and is buried in the Byrd’s Chapel Cemetery.


Raymond Moses Castleberry was born in Rising Fawn on January 12, 1896, and gave his occupation as farmer. He was in Co. I, 18th Infantry, and was shipped over to Europe on the Northern Pacific, leaving from Hoboken, N.J. Castleberry was awarded a Silver Star and received his discharge on September 25, 1919. In 1920, he was working as a miner in Clear Fork, Ky., but was back in Dade County by 1930. He married Charlsie Fischer, the sister of his fellow inductee Miller Adolphus Fischer, and their children were Jeroline, Raymond Jr., Middleton G, and Beatrice. Raymond Castleberry died on January 2, 1959, and is buried in the Hanna Cemetery at Rising Fawn.


John Watson Murphy (left) was born on January 28, 1896, in Whiteside, TN. He lived in the Byrd’s Chapel community. Murphy was a private posted at Headquarters of Co. 330 until his discharge on July 14, 1919. John Murphy married Bonnie Austin and they had four sons:  Johnny, Jim, Daniel (Pat), and Jack. By 1940, he was widowed. John Murphy died on March 24, 1990, at the age of 94. He was a farmer and for many years served as the tax commissioner of Dade County.


William Troy Holmes came from Trenton and was born on February 14, 1894. He was discharged on April 17, 1919, and served in Co. E, 16th Infantry, 1st Division, as a private. He worked as a mechanic and married Agnes Lula Sheumake. He died on December 30, 1960, and is buried in the Bethlehem Cemetery.


Of course, these 18 men are not the only ones from Dade who served their country in World War I. In Volume I of the Dade County History book, there is a list of over 90 men who served in that time period. All of these 18 veterans were farmers before their service, and most continued at that, while some found other jobs. All of them survived their service and returned home. Most of them spent the rest of their days in Dade County.


Another thing I found interesting was that many of them waited years to get married. My own grandfather, Grady Hawkins, was in his early 30s before he married, and many were in their 30s and some even in the 40s before they married and had a family. I have no idea if this was common or if it was related in any way to their service.


(Photo: My grandfather, Grady Hawkins, on the left, in his World War I uniform. Hawkins was from the Cloverdale community in Rising Fawn. The soldier on the right is unknown.)


If you have a World War I veteran in your family, and would like to know more about them, you can find about the same information that I did by looking on can be accessed for free at the Dade County Public Library. I would be glad to do a quick look-up for anyone if you contact me at




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