Tombstone Tuesday ~ Thomas Stuart McGee

Thomas Stuart McGee

Thomas Stuart is the youngest son born to Olivia Gillespie Corel and John Jacob McGee. He was born July 21, 1881 in Wakarusa Township, Douglas County, Kansas. Thomas was only 7 when his father, John Jacob, died.

In 1900 Thomas Stuart is living with his brother, Richard Oney McGee in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri. Ten years later Thomas Stuart is still in Kansas City, but now living with his mother, Olivia Gillespie Corel McGee, his aunt, Nancy Maryland Corel Dobbins, two brothers, Albert Edward and Oliver Corel McGee, and a cousin, Ada Corel, granddaughter of Margaret McGee and William Corel.

As you can see by this grave stone, Thomas Stuart McGee was a soldier during World War I. In researching for this blog post, I have found that Thomas enlisted in the military long before war broke out. Thomas first enlisted with the Missouri National Guard and was placed as a Private in Battery B, First Battalion, Field Artillery on June 14, 1905 and was promoted to Corporal in less than a year, on March 14, 1906. Thomas received an honorable discharge after his first term and he reenlisted on June 14, 1908 and was promoted to Sergeant on October 15, 1909. Thomas again received an honorable discharge and reenlisted on June 14, 1911. He was promoted to 1st Sergeant on June 24, 1912. Thomas once again reached his expiration of term of service and reenlisted on June 14, 1914 as a 1st Sergeant. For a reason I have not been able to find as of yet, one month later on July 14, 1914, Thomas is shown as a Private. Then the reference I have found gets really confusing! It is shown that on August 18, 1914 Thomas is a Sergeant and on the same date he is shown as a Mess Sergeant. Four days later on August 22, Thomas is once again a Sergeant for a couple of weeks until September 8, when he is shown as a Stable Sergeant. October 1, 1914 Thomas is once again a Sergeant. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant of Battery B, First Battalion, Missouri Field Artillery on June 22, 1915. On June 18, 1916 President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling National Guard units into federal service after Pancho Villa attacked the camp of the 13th Calvary and the town of Columbus, New Mexico on March 9, 1916. 2nd Lieutenant Thomas S. McGee was fourth in charge of Battery B, First Battalion, Missouri Field Artillery. The battery arrived at Camp Clark, Nevada, Missouri on June 22, 1916 and was mustered into federal service on June 25. They arrived at Laredo, Texas July 5, 1916 and remained on duty until December 18, 1916, when the battery moved to Fort Riley, Kansas where they were formally relieved from federal service on December 22.

On July 18, 1917 the Missouri Field Artillery Regiment joined other regiments from Missouri and Kansas to form the 35th Division of the National Guard for service in World War I. The Missouri State Archives shows a “Thomas B. McGee” born July 21, 1881 in Lawrence, Kansas, residing at 205 N. Monroe Street, Kansas City, Missouri, was inducted on August 5, 1917. August 5 was the same day that the 2nd Missouri Field Artillery was mobilized. The 35th Division was organized at Camp Doniphan, Oklahoma in August 1917 and trained there until April when the troops headed for the ports of New York and Philadelphia. The Missouri State Archives shows that Thomas McGee left the United States on May 20, 1918 and he returned on April 20, 1919.

On September 28, 1918, Captain Thomas S. McGee of Battery B, 1st Battalion, 129th Field Artillery successfully led his Battery to victory over a hostile battery in a small clearing in the Argonne Forest in Charpentry, France. On October 2, 1918, the 35th Division was relieved of its station in the Argonne Forest by the 1st Division. Captain Thomas McGee, along with Captain Marks and Chaplain Tiernan, was the last to leave the forest from the 35th Division. November 10, 1918 Captain McGee received a phone call requesting that Battery B fire on a German machine gun nest that was firing at the 322nd Infantry. Seventeen rounds was all that Thomas McGee needed to secure the area.

The orders to return home were received by the 129th Field Artillery on April 8, 1919. The men traveled home on the recently acquired North German Lloyd S. S. Zeppelin in the ship’s maiden voyage across the Atlantic. The ship left France at 1:09 PM on April 9, 1919. The men awoke to find themselves in the outer harbor of New York on Easter Sunday, April 20, 1919. Later that day they were settled into Camp Mills, New York where they remained for the next ten days. The Regiment then split into two groups on April 30, the first was led by Colonel Smith to travel via the Lehigh Valley Railroad and the second was led by Major McGee to travel the Grand Trunk Railroad to Chicago. Major McGee’s charges reached Niagra Falls on May 1 and Chicago on May 2, 1919, where they then traveled the Chicago and Alton Railroad into Kansas City. At 7 AM on the morning of May 3 the soldiers arrived at Union Station in Kansas City where they spent the next several hours being honored and meeting with family and friends. At 2:00 that afternoon, the men loaded the train once more for Camp Funston at Fort Riley, Kansas for final inspections and such. On May 6, 1919 the final discharges were issued and the 129th Field Artillery ceased to exist as a formal organization.

Neither the Missouri State Archives nor Lee’s book specify when Thomas S. McGee received his promotion from Captain of Battery B, 1st Battalion to Major of 2nd Battalion of the 129th Field Artillery, but both do confirm that he did rank as Major at the end of World War I.

Thomas seems to have disappeared from most records after his military service. The only other documentation I have found this far is that Thomas S. McGee married Margaret Francis Riley on May 10, 1930 in Clay County, Missouri.

On March 25, 1949 Thomas Stuart McGee died at Research Hospital in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri from cerebral thrombosis with infection, hypertension, and vascular disease. Thomas was a retired heating engineer living in North Kansas City, Clay County, Missouri at his time of death. His body was removed to Oak Hill Cemetery, Douglas County, Kansas on March 28, 1949.