On September 4, 1919, young Charles Henry Murran died of typhoid fever at St. Mary's Hospital in Hoboken, New Jersey. He was perhaps the last Sullivan County soldier whose life was claimed in “the …
On September 4, 1919, young Charles Henry Murran died of typhoid fever at St. Mary's Hospital in Hoboken, New Jersey. He was perhaps the last Sullivan County soldier whose life was claimed in “the war to end war.”
Murran had been born on the family farm in Monticello on January 10, 1897, the youngest child of “Honest John” Murran and Mary Ann Lanahan Murran. He had enlisted in the Army in 1918, and had shipped out to France a short time later, arriving in Europe just after the Armistice had been signed.
The Republican Watchman newspaper of September 12, 1919, picks up his story from there:
“On Aug. 27th  he said his farewells and went to Camp Gordon, Atlanta, and from there was transferred to Camp Hancock, Augusta, Ga. There he received extensive training in machine gun and artillery, and on November 15, 1918, he sailed for France in the machine gun corps. By the time that he reached France the armistice had been signed and he was put in the Postal Express service, where he was serving when the orders came for him to prepare for the homeward journey.
“At Brest he was taken ill of typhoid, and pneumonia developed and for days the best skill in the army was employed to save his life and soon the glad day came when the doctor announced that the danger point had passed and he would soon be homeward bound. He reached New York City Aug. 29th. During the journey he had a relapse and when the boat reached here he was sent to St. Mary's Hospital, Hoboken, where he died Sept. 4th. His brother, John, who resides in the South, and his Monticello relatives hurried to his bedside when informed of his illness and combined their efforts and prayers with the skill of the doctors, but were unable to stay the hand of death.”
Charles Murran was given a full military funeral, which the Watchman described as “one of the largest and most impressive witnessed in Monticello,” with other local soldiers who had returned home serving as pall bearers and honor guard.
Among those soldiers were Edgar Hulse, Charles Levy, William Ryan, Thomas Manion, Andrew Sarocco, Frank Foote, Edward McLarney, and Lindsley Calkin, pall bearers, and John B. Pelton, Henry Rubner, Clifton Mapes, Frank J. Erts, Lous deHoyos, Anson Bates, Leon Barnum, William Simpson, Stewart Goble, John Ran, and George Callery, in line.
The Watchman reported that Charles Murran was the sixth Monticello soldier to die as the result of World War I, and then listed six others who had previously perished.
“Ruddick Trowbridge and George Weyman were killed in action in France; Nelson Gibbs, Wesley Smith and Ralph Litts died in camp hospitals. Grant Moore died in returning home from camp, where he had been rejected because of physical defects.”
Equally inexplicably, the newspaper did not mention two other Monticello soldiers killed in action. Arthur F. Olmstead a sergeant in the Signal Corps was killed in France in September 1918; and Jack Schreck, a sergeant in Company F of the 307th Infantry, was killed in the Battle of Argonne on October 13, 1918, less than one month before the war ended.
Nor did the Watchman reference the very first casualty of the war with ties to the area. Lt. Robert Thomas Sailman, a civil engineer from Canada who had spent three years living at Monticello while working on the Hackledam Project and had belonged to the local Masonic Lodge during that time, was fighting with the Canadian infantry when he was killed in battle in October of 1917.
And of course, there were dozens of other Sullivan County casualties of that great war, which tragically, did not end all war. On this, and every Memorial Day, let us solemnly remember them, and the other men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country.
John Conway is the Sullivan County Historian. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Charles H. Murran was his grandmother's brother.