Saturday, November 5, 2016

SEPIA SATURDAY ~ WAR and PEACE–Corp. Glenn C. Gillen–Killed in Action WW I

Sepia Saturday 345 Header 2
Image from

Since our theme for this month is War & Peace, I will begin by reposting portions of the story about my 2nd cousin 3 times removed, Corp. Glenn Clifford Gillen.

Corp. Gillen was sadly killed in one of the last battles of World War I, in France.  He was only 22 years old.

GILLEN_Glenn Clifford in Kansas_sent from Susan Burdick_enh
Photo of Corp. Gillen in his uniform before he left for duty

Here is his story.

The Gillen family is a direct line for me.  I descend from William Gillen (1782-1841) and his wife Rachel Frampton (1781-1855).  They are my 4th great grandparents.

It is one of their great grandchildren that is the focus of my post today. 

Corp. Glenn Clifford Gillen
born 1 Jan 1896 in Chesapeake, Lawrence, Ohio
Killed in action 25 Sep 1918 in France

Glenn’s parents are Elijah C. Gillen and Bessie Etta Cowen.  Glenn was the 2nd son born to this family.  He had 3 sisters and 5 brothers, two of which were twins.  All but the youngest girl would have had vivid memories of him.
Here is his draft registration card.
GILLEN_Glen C_WW I Draft Card_1917_IndependenceMontgomeryKansas

During this tough time in our country, I wonder what this young man thought as he registered for the draft.

His parents visited him before he left for duty in September 1917.
And there was a family picnic too.

GILLEN_picnic_The Evening Star_25 Sep 1917_pg 4_cropped-annotated

I think about this family, like millions of others, who said goodbye to their sons and never saw them again.

From the Independence Daily Reporter, 21 Oct 1918, pg 3.

This article is titled HOME BOY HIT BY MACHINE GUN BULLET and is a letter from Sgt. Ben Taylor to his mother Mrs. Myrtle M. Taylor.  In it he mentions his experience and then says the following:
“I don’t know how true it is but I heard that night that Sergt. Frank D. Coate and Corp. C. Gillen were killed in action….”

Glenn’s mother, Bessie, was finally able to make a journey to France to see her son’s grave, in 1931.  She was 61 yrs. old and appears to have traveled alone.  We can only imagine how she felt as she walked up to his headstone, so far from home.

Name Bessie Etta Gillen
Arrival Date 4 Sep 1931
Birth Date 1 Dec 1869
Birth Location Missouri
Birth Location Other Springfield
Age 61
Gender Female
Port of Departure Cherbourg, France
Port of Arrival New York, New York
Ship Name America

Here are Corp. Gillen’s parents, Bessie & Elijah and here are his siblings gathered together, years later.
GILLEN_Elijah C & wife Bessie nee Cowan_circa 1940's_from Susan Burdick GILLEN group_Carl-Ross-Alva-Laura-Hazel-Alvis-Shorty at Lone Chief cabin_Kansas_annotated

Corp. Glenn Clifford Gillen of Independence, Montgomery, Kansas served in the 139th Infantry, 35th Division, Company D.

You can find his memorial on by clicking here.
He is buried in the
Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery & Memorial in Romagne, Lorraine, France.

Here is a photo of his headstone.  Used with permission.

GILLEN_Glenn C_headstone_25 Sep 1918_Lorraine France

I’m glad to have met Glenn C. Gillen all these years later, and learned a little about him and his family.  He never married and had no children that I am aware of.  But, his memory lives on.
Rest in Peace Corporal Gillen.

If you think you might be related to anyone mentioned in this blog post, please contact me.
If you would like to view the original posts about Corp. Gillen you may access them by clicking on the links below.  There’s a little more detail and extra images in the orginal posts.
A MOTHER’S PILGRIMAGE ~ Bessie Cowen Gillen's visit to the grave of Glenn C. Gillen
FOLLOW UP FRIDAY ~ Photo of Corp. Glenn Clifford Gillen ~ Killed in Action in WW I

In remembrance,
Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2010-2016   Diane Gould Hall


  1. I could almost feel the grief of his mother, still fresh all those years later when she was finally able to visit her son. Such a sad story but thank you for sharing.

    1. I felt it too Anna. If she hadn't cared, she wouldn't have made that long trip in her senior years. So happy that in doing our research we can remember stories like this.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. How touching, the story of your cousin...and his family. Thanks for doing all that research on his behalf.

    1. Researching our ancestors is so very rewarding, as we bring their stories to life. It's also quite sad along the way.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  3. As sad as it is, at least there was a grave and a headstone for his mother to visit. The bodies of many who died in the war were never recovered &/or are buried in mass graves. Fortunately, as much as possible, there are memorials in many of the cemeteries engraved with their names.

    1. I agree with you La. I'm glad there is a headstone and that she could visit.

  4. A moving story that was unfortunately repeated so often, with the loss of young men and the devastation for their families. It somehow seems even more tragic that Glen died just a few weeks before the end of the war.

  5. A fine memorial. I've found other examples of soldier's letters published in small town newspapers. In this age before radio and television these reports might be the only news from the frontlines that people heard. I expect it was terrible stress for families to wait for news of their sons and husbands.

  6. Thanks Mike. The newspapers back in those days were just wonderful for finding stories about our ancestors. Who was visiting whom, who was traveling where. No worries about printing addresses etc. Kinder, gentler days. The advantage we have now is that families don't have to wait as long to hear from loved ones and they can view each other with Skype or Facebook or many other ways.
    Thanks for stopping by

  7. You’ve done a fine job in keeping his memory alive. Aren’t the old news clippings wonderful to read?

    1. Thank you Nell. I hope so. I think everyone should be remembered. Especially someone who gave his life in service for our country. Yes, I love old newspapers. Can't get enough of them :)

  8. That first photos says so much. He has left the family behind and is now a singular person. He will no longer ride in comfort with them.

    1. That's a very good description of that photo. Alone, in uniform. Leaving all he knows and loves behind.
      Thank you for the insightful comment.

    2. It's always so easy to see something in an image that was never meant when you're far removed from it. It's a wonderful shot.

  9. A lovely tribute to your 2nd cousin 3x removed. So many young men were lost and mourned by their families and friends.


I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.