Konstanty Wesolowski

Konstanty Wesolowski was born March 11, 1896 in Krzyoki-Boski, Russia. Where Wesolowski was born in Russia is now considered Poland because of the changes of borders throughout the years. He was single and lived on 9 Herbert St. Salem, MA 01970. Wesolowski  enlisted into the army military service at the age of 21 years old. He commenced his journey as Private 301st Field Artillery at Camp Devens, MA on September 18, 1917. However, prior to that, he was a shoe worker.  His career in the military had been a really successful one. Although he begun his journey with the Artillery field, that’s not where he stayed throughout his serving years. He spent some time with supply company, 301st Field Artillery, and the 76th Division. As successful and great his carrier was, it unfortunately did not last long. Wesolowski passed away on May 22, 1918 at Camp Devens, where he was stationed. His death was caused by the Spanish flu, that was running rampant throughout the camp. No one was familiar with the Spanish Flu, nor had an idea on how to cure it, which is why it was an epidemic and took as many lives as it did.  In honor of everything he has established, a square was dedicated to honor him. It can be found at the corner of Derby Street and Union Street. Wesolowski’s final resting place is at Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Salem, Massachusetts.


The application for Wesolowksi’s headstone wasn’t made until almost 20 years after his passing.

Copy of  Wesolowski’s draft registration card.

Veteran’s Name: Konstanty Wesolowski

Ethnic Identity: Russian-Pol* (To him, he was Russian, but because of the change of borders, he is Polish to us.)

Date of Birth: March 11, 1896

Place of Birth: Krzyroki-Boski, Russia (current day Krzyuki, Poland)

Military Service Dates: Enlistment 9/18/1917 – Discharge (Death) 5/22/1918

Military Service location: Camp Devens, Massachusetts (Current Day: Fort Devens) https://goo.gl/maps/jtGozeyiHFG2 (Links to an external site.)

Military Service branch: Army

Military Service rank: Private 301st Field Artillery

Salem Address: 9 Herbert St. https://goo.gl/maps/VmLqVs26x4E2 (Links to an external site.)

Salem Occupation: Shoe worker

Family Information: Single, never married

Ancestral origins: Same as place of birth. While we know it as Poland today in 2017, for Wesolowksi it was then Russia. https://goo.gl/maps/KFGWH6h2R6k (Links to an external site.)

Date of Death: May 22, 1918

Place of Death: Camp Devens, Massachusetts (Current Day: Fort Devens) https://goo.gl/maps/jtGozeyiHFG2 (Links to an external site.)

List of Links: Wesolowski Square | City of Salem MA

http://www.salem.com/veterans-services/pages/wesolowski-square (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

Additional Information: Medium height and build. Brown hair, blue eyes.

Final resting place – Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Salem, MA. Application for headstone wasn’t filed until almost 20 years after his passing.


Molloy, Jane G. “Camp Devens, Massachusetts.” The American Journal of Nursing 18, no. 8 (1918): 654-58. doi:10.2307/3405859. http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/3405859.pdf


In the “American Journal of Nursing,” we see the conditions at which the nurses worked and the environment that Wesolowski may have lived in because this is located at the camp he was stationed at. The camp takes up to 1,000 acres of land and was set up as its own little city. The nurses exclaimed that they felt sympathy for the men because the hospitals and houses were always in a decent room temperature living space while outside was always very cold. The nurses were very caring to working and enjoyed their jobs with the men that needed their assistance.

“Epidemic Influenza: Prevalence in the United States.” Public Health Reports (1896-1970) 33, no. 52 (1918): 2305. http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/4574972.pdf

There had been telegraphic reports of a disease that hit Massachusetts during December in 1918. This disease mainly hit “Michigan, New Jersey, Maine, and in parts of New York State. During this disease period, there were many reports of deaths on military camps, “..zones around Camp Devens…” When this article was written, it didn’t have enough evidence to explain how the epidemic got to the camp but it was urgent enough to let everyone know where the disease was hitting.

Ford, Nancy Gentile. “”Mindful of the Traditions of His Race”: Dual Identity and Foreign-Born Soldiers in the First World War American Army.” Journal of American Ethnic History 16, no. 2 (1997): 35-57. http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/27502162.pdf

World War I had its conflicts because the US drafted immigrants which led to difficulties in communication, culture and religion between the comrads. Therefore an official had to step in and train the soldiers psychologically and sociologically. Approaching the World War, the officials demanded that the soldiers get “Foreign-Speaking Soldier Sub-Section” so that they understand each other better and have better communication skills. Officials believed this would benefit the army. With more complication during time, the officials thought it would be best to separate the soldiers by keeping the foreign born together while the larger group of US born stayed together.

“Wesolowski Square.” Wesolowski Square, Salem Ma. City of Salem.

Remi Levesque

Michelle Mazares-Monga

Taylor McLaughlin

Remi J Levesque

Levesque Sq in Salem, MA found at Derby and Lafayette Street

Remi J. Levesque was born on March 17, 1888 in St. Antonin, Quebec in Canada. He was born to Louis Levesque and Justine Gagnon Levesque, and had five sisters, Claudia Bercier, Virginia Ledoux, Marie Potvin, and two sisters in Canada, Exilda Gagnon, and one unnamed. He moved to the United States to Salem, Massachusetts at the age of five where he attended the St. Joseph’s school. That same year, shortly after his family had moved to Salem, his mother tragically passed after contracting Typhoid fever, which as you could imagine was tragic for Remi and his five sisters as well as his father. Remi then went on to work at the United Shoe Machinery Co., so he could financially support himself and be able to live with his sister, Mrs. Bercler. Together they lived on 5 Porter Street in Salem, Massachusetts. He later went on to work as a blacksmith in Beverly, Massachusetts. Levesque stood at five feet and eleven inches and weighed one hundred and eighty pounds. Remi had blue eyes, and he also had brown hair, although at the time of registration for the war he was bald. 

          Remi Levesque had a short career in the army, yet it was very impactful. On April 29, 1918, Levesque was sent by a local draft board to Camp Devens. Then in July he was sent overseas. On July 2nd of 1918 he was transferred to Company E, 303rd Infantry, 76th Division. On August 2nd he was transferred to Company I, 162nd Infantry, 41st Division, and on September 4th to Company B, 128th Infantry, 32nd Division. Levesque then arrived overseas on July 7th, 1918. He was in the army serving as a private. Tragically, on October 14, 1918, Levesque was killed in action near Romagne, France during the Meuse Argonne Battle.

          Remi was part of the most fierce division of the First World War, the 32nd Division. This division was nicknamed “Les Terribles” when stationed in France because of the extreme magnitude at which they fought and the amount of intense dedication they had in battle. The day that Remi passed was the day him and his team were set out to conquer the last stretch of the German Defensive Position which was one of the most thought-out battles they had yet to face. With that being said, they did exactly what they had set out to do and they succeeded, but unfortunately the world also lost Remi that day. With no real indication of where Remi was laid to rest, we assume he is amongst 954 missing or unidentified soldiers at the Meuse-Argonne cemetery in France, which actually is the largest American cemetery, which covers approximately 130.5 acres of land and holds the headstones of 14,246 American Soldiers. Today, Remi’s short life is now remembered in the City of Salem, Massachusetts on Derby and Lafayette Street where Levesque Square was assembled in his honor.



Levesque’s Baptism Record – 1888


Justine Levesque’s Death Record – 1893 (Remi Levesque’s Mother)

1900 Census Record


Louis Levesque’s Death Record – 1909 (Remi Levesque’s Father)

1910 Census Record

Levesque’s WWI Draft Registration Cards 1917

Remi Levesque’s Obituary – 1918

Levesque inThe Gold Star record of MassachusettsPart in the World War” (pg 162)


Secondary Sources

Article 1:

           The article, “Revelations of an Empty Footlocker” by Johannes Albert follows life before and after one World War I soldier because of his discovered empty footlocker. In 2005 a footlocker was delivered to the Anoka County Historical Society in honor of Edward Babb (Ned) Cutter, the World War I soldier. The footlocker was empty, so there were mysteries about who this man was, and questions such as was there a larger significance? The article then goes on to say how through research in records, newspapers, and more, knowledge of who Cutter was was gained, and that he died in France while an aerial observer and earned a Distinguished Service Cross. Cutter was one of the 54,402 killed in combat during World War I, which was the first time that many were lost in a war overseas. The article then goes on to give attention to Cutter’s life before enlisting, including his family background, then moves on to giving information about Cutter’s enlistment, schooling, and work.

          Albert then provides insight of from Cutter’s perspective about “the details of a soldier’s life in New Mexico camp as he adapted to a humble living situation” by providing part of a letter Cutter wrote to a friend. (Albert, 2016). The article also tells how Cutter’s observations revealed that war took a toll on everyone involved and weariness was present. It then goes on to give details about the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, and provides information about the events that took place during it and what happened after the battle. Overall this article is relevant because it provides background details and support in regards to the battle in which Remi Levesque died so one can get a different perspective and more insight as to what a World War I soldier’s life was like and what was happening in France at that time.


          Allert, Johannes. “Revelations of an Empty Footlocker: The Brief Life of 1st Lt. Edward B. Cutter, U.S. Army Air Service.” Minnesota History 65, no. 2 (2016): 60-67. http://www.jstor.org/stable/24898916.

Article 2:

          The article, “Up in the Argonne”: The Tragedy of Lieutenant Justus Owens and the 82nd Division of the First World War, By Richard Faulkner summarizes the series of events that lead up to the death of Remi Levesque on October 14th, 1918, as he was a part of the 82nd Division of the first World War. The article does not specifically talk about Remi but by reading this article you can get a better idea of what the goals of his specific division of the war were, and what kind of conflicts they were dealing with on a day to day basis at the time. Having an insight on where they were located and a description of what Remi may have been going through gives a much deeper level of understanding than we would otherwise not have had without access to information like this.


          Faulkner, Richard S. “”Up in the Argonne”: The Tragedy of Lieutenant Justus Owens and the 82nd Division in the First World War.” The Georgia Historical Quarterly 80, no. 2 (1996): 276-98. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40583436.

 Article 3:

          The article, “The Division as a Fighting Machine: What it is, How Prepared from its Inception to its Action in Battle, and its Troubles and Pleasures in it’s Hardest Day’s Fight, From the Viewpoint of the Division Commander” By Willian G. Haan, is one of the most informative articles we found that speaks about Remi Levesque’s final day at battle. The author of this article is the commander of the 32nd Division of the First World War and he tells about all of the difficulties that his men had gone through in training for this big day of October 14th, 1918, where they were planning on passing through the last stretch of the German Defensive Position.

          The men in the 32nd division trained for 7 hours each day and Haan described his men as “splendid” and stated that, in order for these men to be qualified enough to fight at the front end of the battle before the enemy, they had to have a high aptitude and extreme fitness. This proved to us that Remi was amongst the most highly trained men in the war which made us extremely proud to discover.

          Haan also mentions at one point in the article that there came a point where the 32nd Division of men no longer had to be told what to do or how to operate themselves properly each day. The commander had felt no anxiety when it came to thinking about the abilities of the 32nd Division because they were so properly functioning that he had not a single doubt in his mind that they would be successful. He also goes on the describe the grounds that they had confronted while fighting and what kind of terrain they were working with. The jagged rocks and large trees that had toppled over and the vines and trenches they used as cover. All of these details that give us such a different perception of the war and our veteran, Remi J. Levesque, who undoubtedly made an impact on the outcome of the First World War.


          William G. Haan. “The Division as a Fighting Machine: What It Is, How Prepared from Its Inception to Its Action in Battle, and Its Troubles and Pleasures in Its Hardest Day’s Fight, from the Viewpoint of the Division Commander.” The Wisconsin Magazine of History 4, no. 1 (1920): 3-26. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4630276.



          Allert, Johannes. “Revelations of an Empty Footlocker: The Brief Life of 1st Lt. Edward B. Cutter, U.S. Army Air Service.” Minnesota History 65, no. 2 (2016): 60-67. http://www.jstor.org/stable/24898916.

          Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.

          Bruss, Tom. “The 128th Infantry Insignia.” History of the 128th Infantry Insignia. September 19, 2008. Accessed May 08, 2017. http://www.b-1-105.us/history/128ins.html.

         Faulkner, Richard S. “”Up in the Argonne”: The Tragedy of Lieutenant Justus Owens and the 82nd Division in the First World War.” The Georgia Historical Quarterly 80, no. 2 (1996): 276-98. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40583436.

         Haulsee, W. M., F. G. Howe, and A. C. Doyle. Soldiers of the Great War. Vol. 2. Washington, D.C.: Soldiers Record Pub. Association, 1920. Accessed May 8, 2017. https://books.google.com/books?id=vcwMAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA415&source=gbs_selected_pages&cad=3#v=onepage&q&f=false

        “Levesque Square.” Levesque Square | City of Salem MA. Accessed May 08, 2017. http://www.salem.com/veterans-services/pages/levesque-square.

          “Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery France.” Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery | American Battle Monuments Commission. January 01, 1970. Accessed May 09, 2017. https://abmc.gov/cemeteries-memorials/europe/meuse-argonne-american-cemetery#.WRFI_O0rLrc.

         Putnam, Eben. The Gold Star Record of Massachusetts: report. Vol. 2. Boston: Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1929. Accessed May 8, 2017. https://archive.org/details/reportofcommissi002comm.

         “United Shoe Machinery Co. (a.k.a. The Cummings Center).” United Shoe Machinery Co. Essex National Heritage Area. Accessed May 08, 2017. http://essexheritage.org/attractions/united-shoe-machinery-co-aka-cummings-center

          Wikipedia. Craig, William J. (2004). Fort Devens. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-738-53512-8.

         William G. Haan. “The Division as a Fighting Machine: What It Is, How Prepared from Its Inception to Its Action in Battle, and Its Troubles and Pleasures in Its Hardest Day’s Fight, from the Viewpoint of the Division Commander.” The Wisconsin Magazine of History 4, no. 1 (1920): 3-26. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4630276.

Edmund Biros

Edmund Biros


Edmund Biros was born in Salem November 1, 1915. His father John Biros and his mother Anna Biros were both born in Poland and immigrated to America. Edmund was one of two children; his sister Kassie was two years older. As a young man Edmund attended the Phillips School as well as Salem High School. After high school, Edmund went to the State Teacher’s College in Fitchburg, or as it is known now, Fitchburg State University. It was his service during World War II which Edmund is most famous for, as he was an aviator for the U.S. Navy. Initially, in September of 1936, Biros enlisted in the Navy Reserves, and later, he was promoted to Aviation Cadet in November of the same year. In December, Biros commissioned an officer in the Naval Reserves in December of 1937. Edmund traveled to many different locations for various trainings, and he worked on many different boats while serving in the U.S Navy. Biros traveled to  Pesacola, Florida, where he began his flight training, and he later transferred to Norfolk, Virginia where he served on the USS Honolulu. In 1939, Biros he served on the USS Phoenix as part of the Cruiser Scouting Squadron. On January 4th, 1941, he transferred to Boston, Massachusetts where he flew in the scouting squadron from the Naval Reserve Aviation Base, Washington, D.C., and in June of 1942, Biros transferred to Seattle, Washington where he flew with a scouting squadron that operated in the Atlantic Area. Lieutenant Biros last traveled to Guam. however; it was here that Lieutenant Commander Edmund W. Biros was tragically killed in the line of duty. On July 8, 1944, Edmund Biros was killed in an airstrike which lead to the second battle of Guam that began two weeks after Biros was killed. Posthumously, Edmund Biros received many awards for his leadership, bravery, and the sacrifice of his own life. His many awards include the Purple Heart, Silver Star, Commendation Ribbon, Combat Action Ribbon, American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and World War Two Victory Medal. Perhaps one of the greatest highlights of Edmund’s career was when he helped sink a German U-boat in 1943. After further research it has been determined that the body of Edmund Biros was lost and/or never recovered. There is a memorial for Edmund Biros at the Honolulu Memorial in Hawaii, where some had previously believed he was buried. After further research, it became apparent that the names inscribed on the memorial, where Edmund’s name is listed, are those of soldiers whose bodies were never recovered. The plot where Edmund’s name is listed on the Honolulu Memorial is known as the Courts of the Missing. It was this information, along with an old application for a headstone in the Polish National Cemetery in Methuen Massachusetts, which allowed us to determine his body was never recovered. This application is merely a request for a headstone; “for a non-recoverable deceased member of the Armed Forces of the United States”. This application was filled out in 1960, 16 years after his death. On November 29th, 2001 the Salem City Council approved Biros’s square, which is dedicated in his honor. The square is located on the corner of Orange and Curtis street. Edmund lived at 5 Orange Street prior to serving in the war.

Edmund W. Biros                          Biros


The Japanisation Policy for the Chamorros of Guam, 1941–1944

During WWII, one of the main strategies used by the United States in defeating Japan was to re-claim many Japanese occupied islands throughout the Pacific Ocean, one of which was the island of Guam. On July 22, 1944, the U.S invaded Guam and began reconstruction of many sites on the island, and the new roads and airstrips that the US military was constructing were intended to be used for the transport of military vehicles. While there were various workers who had been brought to the island to work, the U.S military also considered using Chamorros, or indigenous people of Guam, as a source of labor. Before the United States reclaimed this area, the Japanese government had implemented a policy of “Japanisation” to rule the indigenous population in Guam. The policy that the Japanese had begun to implement was based on the idea of assimilating and absorbing other races into a single culture, which is an idea that can be traced far back into Japan’s own history. In Japan’s eyes, the Chamorro people were being exploited and needed a “mother-body” in order to survive. The policy of Japanisation was used as a way to bring unification to the races and various cultures in Asia, and the Japanese saw the Chamorro people as a population that was too small to be called one race and therefore needed to be integrated into Japanese culture. The most aggressive way that control was spread was through education and the spread of Japanese language among these people, and 15 elementary schools were opened on the island of Guam on January 15th 1942. As the war dragged on, eventually Japanisation was split into internal and external Japanisation, which separated Japanese ideology from the labor co-operation that was required of many Chamorros.  Continuing to maintain control, it was said that the island of Guam had become Asian and at last these people had adopted Asian character. The indigenous populations were at last showing enthusiasm and improving their own customs and would hardly be recognized as a race separate from other Asian cultures.


Second Battle of Guam 1944 (Biros was killed in Guam from an air attack a few weeks prior to the battle beginning).

The second Battle of Guam took place starting in July before ending in August of 1944. Guam was under possession of the United States until the Japanese took control by winning the first battle of Guam the day after the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Before the battle officially began American soldiers shelled the island from boat and plane. Guam provided a challenge for the Americans to try and land on the island as it is ringed by reefs, cliffs, and heavy surf. Despite the obstacles the American soldiers finally landed and were in beachheads while American ships tried to get closer to the reef. It was tough for the Americans at the beginning of the battle as they suffered heavy casualties from the Japanese and little progress. But, the Japanese became tired from counter attacking the American beachheads and allowed them easy access to the islands as they moved north to defend the mountain side of the island. Now the American soldiers faced struggles of battling through a jungle in rain conditions. But at last the Americans finally regained complete control of the island as they defeated the Japanese and used the island as a base for allied operations.

Life in Guam

Guam was in a destructive state at the beginning of World War II. In 1941 they were under the rule of Japan, and the people of Guam suffered forced labor, confiscation of property, slappings, torture, hunger, and rape. They were also forced to attend lectures discussing the great benefits of Guam’s relationship with Japan. The United States returned to Guam in 1944, and most of the island had been devastated after attacks by the United States. The people of Guam were cheering the Americans even during the destruction. Some people even joined the fight against Japan.

When The Americans arrived they realized that these people needed elementary goods such as food and medical supplies. On D-Day and until the island was determined to be safe, the people of Guam were forced into refugee camps for protection. Gradually, they allowed people to return home. Some returned to find out their homes were destroyed. Shortly thereafter, the Military Government pushed for construction of temporary housing.

The religion of Guam is Catholic with many people being very dedicated, religious people. They regularly attend church and often stop during their daily activities to worship at shrines or chapels. Most of the churches were destroyed during the war, but the Military Government rebuilt most of these churches and chapels.

After the war, the cost of living rose and hit the people of Guam hard. A common worker was only paid 20 cents per hour. So, with a 48-hour work week the average worker is only making $9.60 a week.

The Military Government also realized the need for education. Many schools are in huts, and they are without adequate textbooks. None of the books are adapted to the local customs. In addition, none of the teachers are from America; they are all from Guam. These teachers are very serious, but they lack the training needed to be effective.

Overall with all the efforts of the Military Government there have been many improvements in Guam. Many children are now in school, churches are open, the people have shelter, and there is a virtually non-existent unemployment rate.

Important sources

Application for a memorial marker in the Polish National Catholic Cemetery in Methuen Massachusetts


1920 & 1930 Census


Edmund Biros

Born: November 1, 1915

Home Town
Salem, MA
Last Address
5 Orange St
Salem, MA


Father: John Biros (Poland)

Mother: Anna Biros (Poland)

Sister: Kassie Biros (2 years older than Edmund)

Casualty Date
Jul 08, 1944

Hostile, Died
Air Loss, Crash – Land
World War II
Location of Interment
Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial – Honolulu, Hawaii

Last Rank
Lieutenant Commander
Last Primary Designator/NEC
131X-Unrestricted Line Officer – Pilot
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Last Duty Station
1943-1944, 131X, USS Wasp (CV-18)
Service Years
1937 – 1944
Foreign Language(s)


Purple Heart

Silver Star

Commendation Ribbon

Combat Action Ribbon

American Defense Service Medal

World War II Victory Medal

Edmund W. Biros
Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy
United States Naval Reserve
Entered the Service From:Massachusetts
Date of Death:July 08, 1944
Wars or Conflicts:
World War II
Courts of the Missing: Court 5 Honolulu Memorial and a memorial in the Polish National Catholic Cemetery in Methuen Massachusetts

Important Links:

https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=37943220&ref=acom#.WQCfxLMPOVY.email (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.


http://www.salem.com/veterans-services/pages/biros-square (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

https://www.mca-marines.org/leatherneck/gallery/second-battle-guam (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

https://www.ancestry.com/sharing/10677816?h=3180fa&o_xid=61782&o_lid=61782&o_sch=Email Programs.




Private Adrien J Pelletier

Adrian J. Pelletier served as an army paratrooper in WW2. He was born somewhere in francophone Canada (possibly in Komouraska, QC based on 1921 Canadian Census records indicating the 171 district) on the 13th of February to Jospeh “Jules” Pelletier and Homeryle Amand. He spoke French at home and was the fourth youngest son out of eleven children. In his family moved to Massachusetts when he was a young child. He lived in many places in and around Salem before finally residing at 39 Harbor St. in Salem.

After one year in high school he began working for A.C. Lawrence Leather Co. On August 1942 Adrian enlisted in the army at Fort Devons, Massachusetts along with his  five brothers. In July of 1942 the activation of two full airborne the 82cd and the 101st was ordered and the 502cd was assigned as a permanent unit of the 101st division.  He left the United States a member of the 502cd infantry division a part of the 101st Airborne Division and we sent to Normandy.



On the 8th of June D-Day, their company made and attack against the Germans. It was on this day paratroopers were sent and tragically Adrien J Pelletier lost life. He was awarded a Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Infantryman Badge, American Campaign Medal, and World War Two Victory Medal.  His remains are buried at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. He has a square dedicated in his honor in Salem on the corner of Hawthorne Boulevard and Charter Street.

Location of gravesite

Death Inscription accessed from ancestry.com


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Speros A Vasilakopoulos

Jennifer Petz

Kimberlee Maniscalco

Brad Lumb


Speros A Vasilakopoulos 


Speros Vasilakopoulos was born in Greece on March 15, 1894.  He spent much of his childhood in Greece until sometime after 1910 when the Vasilakopoulos family immigrated to the United States.  Due to his time spent in Greece as a child it is likely that Greek was his first language and often spoken in the home.  Speros, along with his mother Drifele and his siblings Peter, George, John, Arthur, and Katheryn all settled into a housing unit on Prescott Street in Salem, Massachusetts.

The family hoped to start a new life in the United States and were only a small part of the growing Greek community on the North Shore.  Speros, now entering his late teens and early adulthood sought to become a member of the workforce in order to help support his family.  He found work as a leatherworker in the area, likely in Peabody as the city had a booming leather industry by the turn of the twentieth century.  Leatherwork was a common job among Greek immigrants on the North Shore.

            In his spare time Speros and his family were active members of the local Greek Orthodox Church in Peabody, Saint Vasilios Greek Orthodox Church on 5 Paleologos Street.  Records from the church’s funding events show that the Vasilakopoulos’ were regular attendees, and it is likely that faith was a prominent piece of Speros’ life.  In the early years of the twentieth century, the Vasilakopoulos’ and their growing Greek-American community saw the growth of St. Vasilios from its humble beginnings to a respected and fully-chartered Church in February of 1906.  By the time of the family’s arrival in Salem, the Church had a community of 2,200 Greek immigrants in Peabody and 800 in Salem.  The church opened a Greek-American School in 1912, where children of immigrants started their education and learned both Greek and English.  While Speros was eighteen by the time of the school’s opening and he did not personally attend, it is possible that his siblings spent time in the school.

            By the outbreak of the Great War in Europe, Speros was twenty years old and at prime draft age.  Though the United States would not enter the war for another three years, it is without a doubt that the influence of the Great War could be felt on the United States Home Front, particularly in its immigrant communities.  Upon the United States’ entry into the war in 1917, Speros was conscripted for the war effort.  According to his draft card from 1918, he never married and left home to register in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  From there he departed for Virginia to start his military training with the US Army.  He became a member of Company M, 113th Infantry, 29th Division, or “The Boys of the Blue and Gray”, and held the rank Private upon the time of his deployment.

            Heading out on June 15th 1918 from Norfolk, Virginia, Speros departed for Europe with his unit aboard the Princess Matoika.  Speros would see combat in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France, some of the most intense fighting that American soldiers experienced along the western front.  Unfortunately his service was cut short upon his death in battle on October 11, 1918, a month to the day of the Armistice and end of World War I.  He was twenty-four years old.

            Speros Vasilakopoulos was a Greek-American that experienced the typical immigrant experience of the twentieth century.  He came to America in his teen years, joined the workforce to help support his family, and embraced his immigrant community in Salem and Peabody.  Though his death was tragic and far away from his new home in America, the traces of family and community never left him or the Vasilakopoulos’.  As a testament to family bonds Arthur, Speros’ brother, named his son Spiro in honor of Speros’ legacy.  His family continued to live in Salem for many decades, still residing on Prescott Street.

Secondary Sources – Life of the American Soldier on the Western Front 

Brennan, John J. “My Own True Story of my Experience in the Army .” My Own True Story of my Experience in the Army, October 26, 2006, 1-145. Accessed May 5, 2017. http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/story/loc.natlib.afc2001001.00282/pageturner?ID=pm0001001&page=87&submit.x=5&submit.y=5.

(written 1917-1919)

John Joseph Brennan, “My Own True Story of my Experience in the Army,” September 29 to October 2, 1918  

World War One was an extremely dangerous and violent war, first hand accounts compare bloody battlefields to slaughter houses, “only in a slaughter house they kill the pigs or sheep outright and here some of the boys are just half killed, left there to suffer and die.” (September 29th 1918) Soldiers constantly watched fellow American’s be carried away missing body parts and covered in blood, not only did the war physically destroy soldiers but it also tore them apart mentally. Shellshocked soldiers were often brought down the road on stretchers like injured soldiers would be simply because of how traumatized they were from what they’ve seen. Lack of shelter and sleep also greatly affected the morale of soldiers, men recall making huts out of wooden posts and a sheet of iron over a hole just to get some sleep; even when they found a place to rest they were still pestered by the constant cold weather and the abundance of rats. The sparsity of basic equipment and needs called for drastic measures, the American soldiers found a graveyard with a vault and upon entering the vault the found German Soldiers had opened and raided almost every casket in there, even though they were exposed to a slew of disgusting sights during the war, this form of utter disrespect really angered some of the men. Almost every soldier agreed that, “war really is hell”, these men were constantly exposed to death and the disfigurement of their friends and they became used to more running blood than running water.    

Faulkner, Richard S. “”Up in the Argonne”: The Tragedy of Lieutenant Justus Owens and the 82nd Division in the First World War.” The Georgia Historical Quarterly 80, no. 2 (1996): 276-98. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40583436.

On October 10th, 1918, as the 82nd Division’s 3rd Battalion, 326th Infantry Regiment began its attack to capture the small Argonne Forest town of Pylone, France, the doughboys of Company L came under heavy and accurate machine gun fire for the Germans overlooking the Decauville railroad. The steep and rutted terrain of Argonne made it extremely difficult for the Americans to advance and caused them to be disorganized. Lieutenant Justus Erwin Owens gathered his soldiers and was taking them to destroy the German guns, but twelve soldiers fell before the machine gun’s fire was even concentrated. Lieutenant Owens was shot in the head and fell. First Sergeant John M. Purify took command over the platoon’s remaining survivors. The article focuses on two trudges, the death of young Owens and the fate of his men in the 82nd division.

Due to xenophobia in the first year of the war, 1,400 trained men were discharged because they were considered enemy aliens, but they were not replaced with trained men. They were also short on military weapons and equipment. Even the weather seemed to be against this division as well. The heavy snow made training difficult. Prior to moving to Meuse Argonne, The 82nd Division left St. Mihiel in September with 88 deaths, 13 missing people, 10 prisoners of war, and 927 wounded. An infantry officer stated that he did not even see his first dead German until weeks later in Argonne. They already were not off to a good start.  In the first three days alone in Argonne, the 327th Infantry Regiment suffered the loss of 118 killed, 700 wounded and 96 captured. 23 days later, the Meuse-Argonne offensive had cost the division 902 soldiers killed in action, 4,897 wounded and 185 taken prisoner. Poor training, difficult terrain, and the lack of developed war fighting resulted in German defenders under the weight of American bodies in Argonne.

Keene, Jennifer D. “Americans as Warriors: “Doughboys” in Battle during the First World War.” OAH Magazine of History 17, no. 1 (2002): 15-18. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25163558.

Keene’s article catalogs the experience of young American soldiers on the front lines of the Great War’s battlefields.  She highlights their lives within the trenches of some of the US’s most important battles during the war, including Cantigny, Belleau Wood, Chateau-Thierry, Soissons, St. Mihiel, and in most detail the Meuse-Argonne.  Keene’s insight into the average American soldier, or “doughboy” as they were affectionately referred to by their seasoned Allied veterans, shows how most American men dreamed of glory and adventure prior to their deployment.  Dreams were soon shattered as they came into contact with combat and the realities of the First World War.  They were alarmingly unprepared for the harshness of such new and brutal warfare, but their tenacity and adaptability quickly shown through.  Some Frenchmen even conceded that “Americans fought like lions.”

Nonetheless the realities of the trenches were still an everyday struggle for many American soldiers.  Dealing with the decaying bodies, rats, mud, and other pleasantries were a daily task.  Racism was another ugly part of the American experience, mostly for African American soldiers that fought along their white countrymen in segregated units.  PTSD was a common side effect of the fighting, and attempted desertions got bad enough that MP would follow advancing lines to pick up stragglers too afraid to press on.  Perhaps the most deadly killer was not even combat, but exposure to the Spanish Influenza, which killed as many US soldiers if not more than any guns or explosives did.  

Images and Primary Sources 

Image 1: Speros’ Draft Card, circa 1918.  Read as follows:

Speros Vasilakopulos
Caucasian (White)
Marital Status:
Birth Date:
15 Mar 1894
Birth Place:
Street address:
886 Broad St
Residence Place:
Bridgeport, Fairfield, Connecticut, USA
Physical Build:
Hair Color:
Eye Color:

Image 2: US Army Transport List on the Princess Matoika

Speros Vasilakopulos
Departure Date:
15 Jun 1918
Departure Place:
Norfolk, Virginia
Residence Place:
Salem, Massachusetts
7 Prescott St
Next of Kin:
Mrs Drifele Vasilakopulos
Princess Matoika
Service Number:
Company”M”113th Infantry

Image 3: Official Battle March Song of the Company “M”, 113th Infantry, 29th Division.  Published April 23, 1918.

Lyrics can be found here.


Ancestry.com. American Soldiers of World War I [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2003.

Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Applications for Headstones for U.S. Military Veterans, 1925-1941. Microfilm publication M1916, 134 rolls. ARC ID: 596118. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, Record Group 92. National Archives at Washington, D.C.

Brennan, John J. “My Own True Story of my Experience in the Army .” My Own True Story of my Experience in the Army, October 26, 2006, 1-145. Accessed May 5, 2017. http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/story/loc.natlib.afc2001001.00282/pageturner?ID=pm0001001&page=87&submit.x=5&submit.y=5.  (Written 1917-1919)

Demotses, Reverend Andrew . “Saint Vasilios Greek Orthodox Church.” Saint Vasilios Greek Orthodox Church – Peabody, MA. 2017. Accessed May 07, 2017. http://stvasilios.org/our_parish/our_beginning/.

Faulkner, Richard S. “”Up in the Argonne”: The Tragedy of Lieutenant Justus Owens and the 82nd Division in the First World War.” The Georgia Historical Quarterly 80, no. 2 (1996): 276-98. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40583436.

Felsenheld, J. D, and John Rohacek. The boys of the blue and gray the 29th Division march song. [, monographic. J. D. Felsenheld,, Camp Sherman, Ohio:, 1918] Notated Music. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2013563135/. (Accessed May 05, 2017.)

Keene, Jennifer D. “Americans as Warriors: “Doughboys” in Battle during the First World War.” OAH Magazine of History 17, no. 1 (2002): 15-18. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25163558.

The National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland; Lists of Outgoing Passengers, compiled 1917-1938; NAI Number: 6234477; Record Group Title: Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985; Record Group Number: 92; Roll or Box Number: 539

“Peabody History – Leather Industry.” Peabody Historical Society . 2017. Accessed May 07, 2017. http://www.peabodyhistorical.org/history/.

Proistamenos, Christopher P., Rev. Orthodox Life. Peabody, MA: Saint Vasilios Greek Orthodox Church, 2013. http://www.stvasilios.org/assets/files/Orthodox_Life/2013/Monthly%20bulletin%20May%202013.pdf

Registration State: Connecticut; Registration County: Fairfield; Roll: 1561877; Draft Board: 1

“Vasilakopoulos Square.” Vasilakopoulos Square | City of Salem MA. 2017. Accessed May 07, 2017. http://www.salem.com/veterans-services/pages/vasilakopoulos-square.




Omer Morency

Paige Rotondo

Brianna Molten

Ashley Paron

Omer Morency 


Omer Morency was born in Salem, Massachusetts on November 11th, 1897. His father, Ferdinand Morency moved to the United States from Quebec, Canada before the year 1897. Quebec, Canada’s native language is French, therefore we can infer that Ferdinand Morency probably spoke French as his native language. As for Omer Morency, we can infer that he probably spoke English, but may have known French from his father as well. Omer Morency’s mother’s name was Augustine Provost, but not much is currently known about her. The family lived at 35 Palmer Street in Salem, MA where the current Point neighborhood now resides. Today, the Point neighborhood is lively, with many different cultures and influence from other countries. The Point neighborhood has always been a place of many different cultures, as it is an accessible port for many immigrants to enter. The easy accessibility, diversity, and pathways to opportunity are most likely a few of the reasons the Morency family resided on Palmer Street in Salem.

When taking a closer look at Omer Morency and his personal life, there is not much to tell. As Morency had passed at such a young age, he was single and never married. Through researching, it seems as though Morency resided at his families 35 Palmer Street house in Salem, Massachusetts; and it is hard to tell if Morency had an occupation other than serving in the Navy. We can infer from our research that because Morency was only 21 when he passed, he probably didn’t work outside of working in the Navy.

By the age of 20, Omer Morency started his service in the U.S. military, naval branch. Morency was a first-class fireman for the USNRF until the outbreak of the Spanish influenza in Boston during 1917-1918. Morency served for the USNRF from May 23rd, 1917- Sep. 18,1918 when he died. The USNRF is the reserve team of the Navy, and because Morency was a part of this team for only a short amount of time before he passed, it is likely he never went to another country to serve the United. The Spanish Influenza effected many men serving in the Navy during this time period.

Morency died in Chelsea, Massachusetts at the Chelsea Naval Hospital. Chelsea Naval hospital was the longest running naval hospital until it shut down in 1974. This hospital was authorized by Congress to accommodate Naval personnel, such as Omer Morency. This hospital served Naval personnel from the Civil War, Spanish-American War, the Chelsea fire of 1908, WWI, and WWII.This hospital relates to Omer Morency, as records show Morency stayed and passed here. He was buried in Salem, Massachusetts, but his gravestone location is unknown.

Secondary Sources

Article 1-Taubenberger, Jeffery K. “The Origin and Virulence of the 1918 “Spanish” Influenza Virus.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 150, no. 1 (2006): 86-112. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4598974.:

This journal article explains the pandemic of the Spanish Influenza that took place in 1918 and 1919, which took the lives of about 40 million people. The source describes what the Spanish Influenza was, who it effected, and how people lived on after the pandemic. The Spanish Influenza was the first of two pandemics involving the H1N1 virus, and many deaths resulted from the virus. The source described that the influenza pandemic was wide spread and took place across the world, and also discussed the history of influenza and how it effected the United States directly.

The article explains that the first wave of the virus occurred in March 1918 and the second wave of the virus occurred between September and November of 1918. Specifically, the source indicates that this strain of influenza killed 43,000 men who were set to serve in WWI. The journal article goes on to explain the symptoms of the virus, and how this played into the morality rate. Overall, the article touches upon the ideas of what the Spanish Influenza was, who it effected, and finally how it was treated. This source when trying to understand Omer Morency was, as our group is able to understand the virus that caused Morency and many other WWI veteran’s deaths.

Article 2-Ohl, John K. “The Navy, the War Industries Board, and the Industrial Mobilization for War, 1917-1918.” Military Affairs 40, no. 1 (1976): 17-22. doi:10.2307/1986844.

This article written by John K. Ohl reveals the different patterns that the Navy presented and established within the industry and how they came out to be sound.  Before the year of 1917, the military and industrial sectors were isolated making the functions between them unorganized.  For the military, by rule, they had to spill and share their plans of executions and numerous supply programs.  They had to share this with the War Industries Board (WIB). Before war was even formed the Navy began an orderly expansion that involved many ships, men and women.  In addition the WIB had distrust with the Navy resulting in general distrust of businessman.  Therefore the business-dominated society was also in lack of distrust.  At the time businessmen were traveling to Washington to have the government in mobilization.  If the Navy wanted to list services they used the tactic of “outside talent with inside control.”  The Navy had a big area of disagreement with the WIB and that was the cost of war supplies.  The Navy was at their best going to ensure the lowest prices and prevent over exchanging anyone.

In conclusion, since the Navy and the WIB had many conflicts over the years, they were able to work and compensate together in the end.  The relations between the were more affable unlike the Army and the WIB.  More work remains with the Navy and Industrial Mobilization in World War I and including will be more production programs with examination in the planning of the near future.

Article 3-University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine, “The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919”:Influenza Encyclopedia. http://www.influenzaarchive.org/cities/city-boston.html#

This article, written and published by Michigan Publishing and the University of Michigan, gives a huge insight into the epidemic of the Spanish Influenza right here in Boston, Massachusetts. About 2,000 sailors coming back on the Receiving Ship into Boston fell very ill by the time they got to shore. Chelsea Naval Hospital, where Omer Morency also fell ill of influenza, took in as many ill sailors as they could. Boston was one of the most dramatically effected cities when it came down to the Influenza outbreak, losing roughly 4,700 citizens just in the fall of 1918. There was little the city could do to stop the epidemic, but they still tried to get a handle on it.

At this time, there was a very high demand for doctors and nurses to help see patients at home, and in hospitals. Some nurses visited hundreds of patients a day during these rough times. The city of Boston was under a lot of pressure with hundreds of citizens dying of pneumonia caused by the influenza, to the point where the city had to be shut down. Schools, theaters, and many public spaces were closed down for three weeks so physicians could get a hold on the epidemic. By closing down the city, it helped to slow down the spread of the disease, but these were still devastating times for Bostonians.




“Family Search.” FamilySearch.org. Accessed May 02, 2017. https://familysearch.org/search/record/results?count=20&query=%2Bgivenname%3AOmer~ %2Bsurname%3AMorency~.

“Military Emergency, Fire & Rescue Careers.” Military Emergency, Fire & Rescue Careers : Navy.com. Accessed May 02, 2017. https://www.navy.com/careers/first-responders/emergency-fire-rescue#ft-key-responsibilities.Naval Hospital Boston Historic District (Chelsea Naval Hospital), featured in Maritime History of Massachusetts–A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2017, from https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/maritime/nav.htm

Ohl, John K. “The Navy, the War Industries Board, and the Industrial Mobilization for War, 1917-1918.” Military Affairs 40, no. 1 (1976): 17-22. doi:10.2307/1986844.

Influenza spread in US Navy September 1918. Accessed May 02, 2017. http://www.naval-history.net/WW1NavyUS-CasualtiesChrono1918-09Sep1.htm.

Taubenberger, Jeffery K. “The Origin and Virulence of the 1918 “Spanish” Influenza Virus.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 150, no. 1 (2006): 86-112. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4598974.

Michigan Publishing (Ed.). (n.d.). Influenza Encyclopedia. Retrieved May 04, 2017, from http://www.influenzaarchive.org/cities/city-boston.html#University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine