Walter Grunst: Next to Last

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme this week is Next to Last
“There are several ways you could approach this theme. Who was the next-to-last ancestor you found? If you print out an ancestor chart, who is the next-to-last person listed? Pick an ancestral family and write about the next-to-last child. Since November is the next-to-last month, maybe feature an ancestor born in November.

Black-Hawk (2)

Blackhawk Insignia of the 86 Division WWI

I am writing this week about my husbands uncle, Walter Grunst, who was the next-to-last child born in his family and was also born in the next-to-last month (November).

Walter Frederick Grunst was born on 14 November 1895 to Albert Grunst and Anna Schmerling in Chicago, Cook, Illinois.[1]  Walter joined his siblings Alma, Albert, and Lillian at home in Chicago, Illinois.[2]  In 1901 a fifth sibling, Elmer, would join the family.[3]  Sometime between 1900 and 1910 the family moved to Cicero, Illinois where his father, Albert worked as a laborer, and Anna kept house and raised the children.[4]   Walter worked for the Ideal Movie Theater as a motion picture operator around 1916-17.[5]  He joined the United States Army during WWI and served in Company A — 311th Engineers — 86th Division.[6]  “The Eighty-Sixth Division was organized in August 1917 at Camp Grant, Illinois, from drafted men of Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The first unit arrived in France on September 21, 1918; the last on October 9, 1918.”[7]  Walter left for France on 9 September 1918 aboard the “Empress of Asia” from the Port of New York.[8]  It is very likely he was in the first unit that arrived in France on the 21st

The 86th was also known as the “Blackhawk Division” because the area of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota was formerly the territory inhabited by Chief Black Hawk and his tribe.  The division insignia consists of a small red shield with the initials “B” and “H” in black superimposed upon a design of a Blackhawk which, in turn, is superimposed upon a red shield. The insignia is a tribute to the pioneers of this sector, and in recognition of their prowess in battles with the Indians. The bird symbolizes keenness, cunning, and tenacity.[9]

 “The division was sent to the vicinity of Bordeaux (Gironde) and headquarters were established in St. Andre de Cubzac.”[10]  “The Eighty Sixth at last was to get it’s chance at the front.  Moving out at dawn on November 8, the division was to go to Le Mans.  From there, the Eighty Sixth was to have proceeded to the Lorraine front on November 14th in the company of five other American divisions and thirty French divisions.  The Black Hawks were to have participated in what the supreme war council had planned as the Allies mightiest endeavor of the war – capture of the Metz, rolling back the German Army, invasion of Germany, the final crushing blow! But to the Blackhawks on November 11 came the news of the signing of the armistice, the event which immediately began to be celebrated by the world generally, with exception of the Blackhawks.  For them the curtain had been rung down just as they were about to enter the big show.”[11]

“With the exception of the 311th Engineers and the 311th Engineer Supply Trains, which remained in the vicinity of Bordeaux, practically all remaining Black Hawks units returned to the United States as organizations soon after breaking up the Eighty Six Division. The arrivals home were as follows:

333rd Field Artillery – Siboney – January 3rd

311th Trench Mortar Battery –Georgia – January 8th * See Note

311th Sanitary Train – Wilhelmina – January 19th

311th Field Signal Battalion – Nebraska – January 29th

311th Ammunition Train – Zeelandia – January 29th

331st Field Artillery – Duca D’Aosta – February 5th

332nd Field Artillery – Antigone – February 15th

The last three Black Hawk outfits to return were the 311th Engineers and 311th Engineer Trains, which arrived in June. The 311th supply train arrived in July.”[12]

“Upon their arrival in Chicago on their way back to Camp Grant to be mustered out, each of the Black Hawk units received a rousing welcome home, a tribute as genuine and whole-hearted just as if the armistice had not halted the Eighty Sixth just as it was preparing to show it’s mettle on the field of battle.”[13]

Walter left France on June 26th aboard the Mount Vernon from Brest France and arrived at Camp Merritt, New Jersey on July 5, 1919.[14] 

After the war, Walter lived in Cicero, Illinois with his parents and worked as a laborer in a Piano Factory.[15]  His mother died in 1926[16] and by 1930 his father is living in a home for the aged.[17] I cannot find Walter on the 1930 or 1940 census, however in 1942 his WWII draft card states he lives in Chicago, drives a truck and does hauling between Chicago and Milwaukee.[18]   I can find no evidence that Walter ever married or had children.  In fact, on his WWII draft card he lists the OK Motor Service as the person who will always know his address[19].  I find this sad, it appears he was not close to his brothers or sisters; therefore we have no pictures or stories of Walter.  My husband remembers seeing his uncle once when he came by their house with his truck.  Walter died on 13 March 1949[20] and is buried Bethania Cemetery in Justice, Cook County, Illinois.[21] 

*Note:  My grandfather, George Manfroid, was in 311th Mortar Trench Battery.  George Manfroid’s and Walter Grunst’s names appear in the book Official History of the 86th Division.

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst

_____________________________________________________________________________

[1] Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, Birth Certificates Index, 1871-1922 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: “Illinois, Cook County Birth Certificates, 1878–1922.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009. Illinois. Cook County Birth Certificates, 1878–1922. Illinois Department of Public Health. Division of Vital Records, Springfield.

[2] Year: 1900; Census Place: Chicago Ward 10, Cook, Illinois; Page: 17; Enumeration District: 0288; FHL microfilm: 1240256.  Source Information:  Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.  Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.

[3] Year: 1910; Census Place: Cicero, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T624_238; Page: 20A; Enumeration District: 1539; FHL microfilm: 1374251.  Source Information:  Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.Original data: Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA.

[4] Ibid.

[5] “United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K681-GPJ : 13 March 2018), Walter Grunst, 1917-1918; citing Cook County no 6, Illinois, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,613,142.

[6] The National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland; Record Group Title: Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985; Record Group Number: 92; Roll or Box Number: 431.  Source Information:  Ancestry.com. U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.

[7] Historical Branch, War Division, General Staff, 1921 (Brief History of Divisions, US Army 1917 – 1918)

[8] The National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland; Record Group Title: Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985; Record Group Number: 92; Roll or Box Number: 431.  Source Information:  Ancestry.com. U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.

[9] From website: 86th Infantry division https://history.army.mil/documents/ETO-OB/86ID-ETO.htm

[10] Historical Branch, War Division, General Staff, 1921 (Brief History of Divisions, US Army 1917 – 1918)

[11] Chicago, States Publication Society (Official History of the 86th Division, 1921) Pages 65 & 66

[12] Ibid

[13] Ibid.

[14] The National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland; Record Group Title: Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985; Record Group Number: 92; Roll or Box Number: 213. Source Information:  Ancestry.com. U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.

[15] Year: 1920; Census Place: Cicero, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T625_359; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 54.  Source Information:  Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.  Original data: Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA. Note: Enumeration Districts 819-839 are on roll 323 (Chicago City).

[16] Ancestry.com. Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.  Original data:”Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916–1947.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2010. Index entries derived from digital copies of original records.

[17] Year: 1930; Census Place: Wheeling, Cook, Illinois; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 2105; FHL microfilm: 2340234.  Source Information:  Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002.Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, 2,667 rolls.

[18] The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration), for The State of Illinois; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M2097.  Source Information:  Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.  Original data: Cook County Clerk. Cook County Clerk Genealogy Records. Cook County Clerk’s Office, Chicago, IL: Cook County Clerk, 2008.

[21] Ancestry.com. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.  Original data: Find A Grave. Find A Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi.

 

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