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My Bio Page and why I started this website


Hello my name is Joseph Allen Hartwell and I am writing this history of my Grandfather Guy Joseph Edington, so that my son Tyler will be able to know what his Great-Grandfather was like. This page is a short outline of his personal history other than that of his service to his Country during WWI and how I came to start my research and this web site.

This research project started for me at least, on November 11th, 1997. I always knew this day as a day to display the flag in honor of all veterans who have served our country throughout our history. I was taught by my grandfather Guy Joseph Edington who is the subject of this web site, that it was a day to remember those who had fallen and given their lives during the First World War. I also know that we called this day Veterans day and honor all veterans of all wars that had died for our freedom. My father Henry Francis Hartwell is a Navy Veteran of the Second World War so I guess that as I grew up I saw the importance of respecting and showing Honor to those who have served our Country. Well whether you call November 11th Armistice Day or Veterans Day makes no difference. Its that you show respect and honor to those who have gave their lives so that we can live as free men and women and to reflect what the cost of this freedom is that matters.

It seems that now days that everyone is so busy doing just what they want to do that no one takes the time to pay tribute to those who gave us the freedom to do all these things that we have the freedom to do. Even if it's just showing simple respect by displaying the flag on holidays like November 11th. Well my dad always has an American flag flying at his home year round and as a young boy growing up seeing this I guess it has shown me that this piece of Red, White and Blue cloth must mean some very important things to us and that we should remember and honor those who have served it. That November 11th in 1997 I displayed the flag. And on the way to work that morning I was noticing only a few flags out. Maybe it was just too early in the morning I thought, by the time I come home more will be out. I was wrong not many more were displayed than in the morning. I was thinking does anybody remember what this day is for?

It was around this same time that I got "Online" and started surfing the net, so to speak. I've always been interested in History and the internet is fun to work with. Hey why couldn't I combine something educational with something fun, like history and the internet. So that's how I started this project. It's been like a giant jigsaw puzzle with out a picture to go by.

Grandfather passed away in 1981 and I couldn't ask him about his time in the Army, but he did leave behind many photos and documents and the like. At least this would be a good starting point. Of all the great stories he told during my childhood I can only remember bits and pieces. Oh how I wish that I would have paid more attention now. I remembered that he spoke of "Camp Dodge" the place where he first went into the Army. So that is where my search began where he began at Camp Dodge.

I guess maybe that before we learn about his time in the Army we should start at the beginning and see who Guy was and what he came from.

Guy Joseph Edington was born on July 11, 1895 in Clinton County Michigan to Joseph and Emma E.(Parker) Edington. Guy was the youngest of 3 children, he had a sister Bertha, and an older brother named Earl. Bertha I can remember as a small framed woman who lived in the Detroit area. We had traveled there one or two times to see her when I was younger. I never knew Earl as he died many years before I was born. Guy's mother Emma E. was born in 1866 and died September 1st 1897. Guy was just 2 years and 2 months old when he lost his mother and only 6 years old when he lost his father. After Emma's death in 1897 Joseph kept the family together until his death in 1901. Joseph Edington was born in 1862 and died in 1901. According to my mother Nancy Joy (Edington) Hartwell, Joseph Edington may have died from cancer of the bowels as he had had an colonastomy. Back then this sort of thing was no doubt very crude and painful thing to suffer from. Joseph Edington owned a Thrashing rig. It was a Huber Steam Engine and separator. I can remember Grandpa telling me about this steam engine. As I recall he said that the Huber steam engine was made in LaPorte Indiana. Joseph Edington traveled the local country side and thrashed the grain for the local farmers .After Joseph's untimely death in 1901 the thrashing was taken over by Earl Edington, Guy's older brother.

At the tender young age of 6 Guy Joseph Edington was left without a mother or father. Guy and his older sister Bertha went to live with Charlie Edington, Joseph's un-married uncle. Charlie Edington lived and owned a house on Walnut Street in Lansing Michigan. Earl Edington the oldest brother to Guy and Bertha was old enough to be out on his own and had taken over the running the thrashing rig.

The household on Walnut Street in Lansing consisted of Charlie Edington, Guy and Bertha Edington and Charlie Edington's sister Mary Edington. My mother Nancy recalls that Mary Edington was "very mean". She tells the story of how one time Guy had went to a Circus and was late in getting home and it made Mary Edington so mad when he came in that she threw a kitchen knife at him. Mary thought that he should be tending to the chickens instead of being at the circus having fun. My mom reflected back to those times and said that the only love and softness Guy and Bertha got while growing up in the Walnut Street house was from "little Grandma". Mom has a picture of her in their back yard.

When Guy was about 8 or 12 years old he pulled a wagon around the neighborhood and sold "Larkin Soap". Back then the Larkin Company gave away "Larkin Cedar Chests" when you sold enough soap. Grandpa must have been a good salesman because he got a Larkin Cedar chest. This same Larkin Cedar chest I have in my home today. Later in his teen years mom recalls that Grandpa did odd jobs and mowed the lawn for the mother of the Dodge brothers for a quarter. Mother recalls that Mrs. Dodge lived in a big house near the Capital in Lansing. Grandpa would give the money he earned to Mary Edington for safe keeping. When it came time for school Guy asked Mary for the money to buy school clothes. She informed him that she didn't have it and she had invested it in Gold Stocks. Apparently Mary had spent all his hard earned money. This must have made Guy very angry and disappointed, she had broken his trust in her. Mother concluded that after Guy was married later in life, that was why he insisted in handling all the money. Mary Edington had left her mark on Guy.

After Guy was out of school he had worked for the U.S. Patent Office drawing blue prints. I can remember him talking about when the drawing was finished and copies were to be made they would expose the master onto Bristol Board in a special box that was lighted by the Sun. Another job he had was working at the "REO Motor Car Works". I can remember him telling of polishing flywheels in a dimly light workshop that was filled with the smoke and exhaust of the engines as they tested them. I think that this was the last job he had prior to entering the Army in 1917. I think this job was during 1915 - 1917. He does have some photos of the gang he worked with at the REO Motor Works. I'll try and put them on the web site as I get time.

Also before the war he worked on some steam powered Thrashing rigs and also a steam powered portable saw mill. I think that his brother Earl owned them and I can remember grandpa telling stories about how it was his job to get up early in the morning and fire up the boiler and be sure that "the steam" was up before the others got to working the saw mill. Some of the names of these Steam Engines were Rumley Oil Pull and Huber. I still remember grandpa showing me the photos of these giant engines and pointing out how they worked. There were two different engines pictured with several men and boys posed for the camera but no names were listed as to who they were, so one day grandpa wrote on the back of them who their names were. It is very fortunate that he did this as the names of these would be lost for all time now if he hadn't done this.

Well at the age of 22 Guy Joseph Edington felt the call to serve his country. I do not know if he was drafted or if he enlisted into the army. I think that he may have enlisted as I have a letter from the Ordnance Department, Carriage Division stating that his request to enlist into this department was accepted and is dated November 28 1917. His address is listed as 132 Magnolia Ave., Lansing, Michigan. This was his brother Earl Edington's address.

So begins my search of what Grandpa did during the war. I could remember grandpa telling about Camp Dodge and so I started to look for Camp Dodge on the internet and found 3 phone numbers. I called the first two and got no answer, the third number was my lucky one as it turned out to be the number of the "Gold Star Museum" on the base. The person on the phone I was talking to was very helpful and had a lot of information for me. He had told me that service records would be a good place to start but that a fire in 1973 at the place where these records were kept had destroyed most of the records of that time period. Well I thanked this person for his time and before we hung up I asked if he was a civilian volunteer at the museum. He had told me that his name was Jerry Gordon and was a retired Brigadier General. Boy was I suprized he sounded just like a regular guy to me. Well we talked some more and he took my name and phone number. The next day he calls me back and tells me to call the Michigan State Archives and they should have on file some information as to what his service history was as each state had to have some proof that he was in the Army. There was some government war insurance bonds payable to each service veteran that would come due in the 1920's. Sure enough he was correct and I received from Michigan State Archives two photo copies of a typed index card that listed in very general notations what his service number was, times he spent at the front and what units he was with and that was all that I started with.


 

Date this page was last updated 15 December 1999

If you have research comments or additional information on this page e-mail them to: Joe Hartwell

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