When World War I victim Eldon Leroy Armstrong was discovered to be linked to the surname Green instead of Armstrong in Newark, more biographical information became available.
After her parents divorced in 1908, the family seems to have gone through difficult times. In 1909, 13-year-old Eldon was sent to the Boys Reformatory in County Fairfield for setting off a false fire alarm. He was paroled in 1910. His mother, Dora, is listed as living in Detroit, Michigan in the 1910 census. It is unclear whether he went to live with her or stayed with her family in Newark, but on the Society page of the Newark Advocate for March 7, 1911, a party for Mary Bash was mentioned and Eldon was listed among the guests. On April 18, 1911, court records show he was returned to Fairfield County for an unspecified parole violation and was released in October 1912. He was nearly 18 and this is the last mention found by Eldon Leroy Green.
Eldon Armstrong will surface in the records on May 22, 1917, when he married in Detroit, Michigan. In June 1917, he entered the draft and on July 30, 1917, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in Detroit. On June 26, 1918, his wife divorced. A muster file from Marine Base Quantico, VA. dated July 1918, lists Eldon as “Transferred to Overseas Department”.
On October 4, 1918, Corporal Armstrong was serving with the 5th Marines in France at Mont Blanc Ridge. Around noon they attacked the German defences. The Marines won the battle, but Armstrong was killed in action that day.
On November 4, 1918, when the story ran in the Advocate that Leroy Armstrong had been killed in action, there weren’t many clues to his identity unless you knew his grandmother, Margaret Hupp, which was mentioned in the article. His mother who had remarried was listed as Mrs. Henry Lovejoy of Akron, so perhaps many in the area missed that the boy they knew as Leroy Green had been killed. On October 4, 1919, his mother published a memorial to her son in the newspaper with the title “Sergeant Eldon Leroy Green” with a brief history of his military career and a poem that began “Mother when you search wounded France, to find the cross that marks my rest, I think the grass will hear you come and say it to my silent chest.
Her mother divorced Henry Lovejoy and moved back to Newark and became a founding member of the Licking County Gold Star Mothers. She married Joseph McGlade, but divorced in 1927. In 1930 she traveled to France with other mothers and wives of those who had died in World War I as Dora Lovejoy-McGlade. She was taken to Meuse Argonne American Cemetery to visit her son’s grave.
Years later, on February 20, 1962, Dora was at her daughter’s house to watch John Glenn’s coverage of space orbit. Her clothes caught fire from a wall heater behind her. She died in hospital a few days later from severe burns. She was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery, leaving the memory of her son Eldon Leroy Armstrong on the back of her headstone.
The mystery of why Leroy changed his name from Green to Armstrong will probably never be known, however, it is enough for Licking County to know and remember another of their sons who paid the ultimate sacrifice in war.
Doug Stout is the Veterans Project Coordinator for the Licking County Library. You can contact him at 740-349-5571 or [email protected] His book “Never Forgotten: The Stories of Licking County Veterans” is available for purchase at the library or online at bookbaby.com and Amazon.com.