Laura G. Huckleberry

Graduation Picture of Laura Huckleberry, June, 1913 Laura Gertrude Huckleberry was born January 11 during the Great Blizzard of 1888. The place was the farm her grandfather, Capt. Silas D. Huckleberry, had established in Jennings County, Southern Indiana, in 1834, a few miles east of North Vernon, a town that was to become an important rail center in the latter part of the 19th century.

Her family name might seem to brand her as the quintessential American. But Huckleberry was actually an Anglicization of the German name Hagelberger. Silas's great-grandfather Benjamin Hagelberger had emigrated with his children to Pennsylvania in 1752 from the Palatine village of Rott on the west bank of the Rhine River near Strasbourg, now part of the French province of Alsace.

Laura's other forbears were Scots-Irish, Welsh and English Protestants who'd migrated from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia to the middle Ohio valley either down the river or across the Appalachian mountains through Kentucky. Her father, a Union veteran like Laura's grandfather, had been a farmer, schoolteacher, deputy sheriff and county clerk, and was now a rural mail carrier. She was the youngest of five, her siblings being brothers Warren, Will and Silas, and sister Bertha.

Laura graduated from North Vernon High School in 1906 and spent the next two years teaching at a rural, one-room schoolhouse to save enough money to attend Indiana University for a year. Then she heard about nursing, the new profession for women. A professional nursing education was available through the three-year co-op program at the Illinois Training School for Nurses, associated with Cook County Hospital in Chicago. She had been raised as a Methodist. At the time of her enlistment in the Red Cross Reserve in early 1917, she was a nurse at Children's Isolation Hospital, also associated with Cook County Hospital.

May 20, 1917

05/20/1917
5-20-17 Awakened to find the air so nice & fresh and cool. Went up on deck before breakfast. Was the first lady to breakfast. Pawly and I walked out on foreward deck & talked to the officer who was left behind yesterday & came after us in a tug. He told us several interesting things. Among them is that the gun on the stern is the Teddy Roosevelt and it was the first American gun fired in this war. The guns on the bow are called Martha and George Washington.

May 19, 1917

05/19/1917
May 19 Forgot to write yesterday. We were breakfasted at the terminal on Hoboken Docks yesterday by the Red Cross and it surely was a failure as a breakfast. Then we went to the Red Cross quarters in the Waldorf. There were fitted out c hats soft, velour and other navy blue serge dresses, red cross capes, brassards & caps. I like the brassards caps & capes very much. The latter are navy blue & lined c bright red flannel & a red cross on the front--nifty.

May 17, 1917

05/17/1917
May 17, 1917 12:15 am On our way at last. A big crowd to see us off--Star Spangled Banner etc. Felt rather like a corpse, but am still able to tell the tale. Frances, Mac and Bess are all in my car, also Miss Cleveland. Edith is ahead with Daisy and Ella & Emma are in the rear car. Our train is a special c only officers (MDs) and a few wives and the nurses. PM 5-17-17 Up in time to stand on the bridge as we ferried across the Detroit River. Our meals are served table-des-hote and we pay 75 cents and are refunded it in NY. The meals are only fair.
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