New Hampshire WWI Military: The Nurse Heroes of Franklin

Photographic Print of Camp Sevier, Greenville
SC, 18 October 1917, Library of Congress

The American nurses who served with the U.S. Army and the Red Cross during World War I deserve much more attention and recognition than they’ve received thus far. Previously I wrote about the men from Franklin NH who died in battle or from disease. Now I focus on nine women who all have strong connections with the same town. Today they lie in graves mostly unacknowledged on Memorial or Veterans Day. That needs to change.

The 1920 City Report of Franklin NH provided a very brief biography of their service. To this information I’ve added each woman’s birth date, parentage and resources, so you can learn more about the various hospitals, camps and military hospitals where they served. Every single one of these heroic women risked their lives to care for those ill and injured. Somehow they all survived and returned home.

Sketch of Red Cross nurse with a
vision of wounded soldier. Artist
William Allen Rogers. 1914-1918. U.S.
Committee on Public Information.
Library of Congress

Annie Bruce was born 28 Jan 1883 in Canada daughter of William T. & Dorothea/Dorothy (Lightfoot /or/ Johnson) Bruce. She died 13 April 1973 in Manchester NH.  In 1900 She was living in Franklin NH at 7 South Main Street with her parents and siblings: Jennie M., Emily D., William, Mary and John. By 1910 they moved to River Street in the same town. By 1919 they were living at 53 Oak Street.   The 1920 Franklin NH Annual Report shows the following: Bruce, Annie. Nurse. Locations: Base Hospital Camp Sevier, S.C. [see photograph]; British Expeditionary Forces; Croydon Military Hospital, England; Trouville, Treport and Etaitat, France. Camp Hospital No 33 at Brest. Term of Service: Oct. 1, 1917 to Aug 3, 1919.  The Portsmouth Herald newspaper of 6 Oct 1917 page 5 states: “Anna Bruce, First War Nurse from Manchester. Manchester, Oct 6–Miss Anna Bruce of 600 Bruce Street is the first Manchester woman called for active war service as a Red Cross nurse. She left today for Greenville, S.C., where she will remain until called abroad. A delegation of local nurses accompanied her to the depot. Miss Bruce has been in the employ of the Manchester Public Health department. She was graduated from the Eliot Hospital training school, Manchester, and the Boston floating hospital. She has a brother with the Canadian forces and another in the U.S. regular army.”  After WWI she married  Oliver M. Ainsworth, and had two children: 1) Thomas William Ainsworth  who was born 20 March 1922 Beloit Wisconsin and d. 1 April 2006; and 2) Elizabeth Ann Ainsworth born 3 November 1924 and married Jack Steinberg. She resides in Madison, Wisconson.  Annie (Bruce) Ainsworth is buried in Hope Cemetery, Campbell, Steuben Co. NY with her husband, Oliver M. Ainsworth. Annie’s parents are buried in Franklin, New Hampshire.

Mary Elizabeth Callahan was born on 11 October 1881 in Lenoxville,  Quebec, Canada daughter of James & Hannah (Astbury) Callahan. The 1920 Franklin NH City Report offers this brief biography of service: “Callahan, Mary Elizabeth. Surgical Nurse. Locations: Base Hospital No. 57. Evacuation Hospital No. 5 (Chateau Thierry). Field Hospital No 118. France and Belgium. Base Hospital, Camp Upton, N.Y. Term of Service, Feb 15, 1918 to May 30, 1919.”  After the war she married 15 July 1939 in Tilton NH to Joseph Tighe. At the time of her marriage Mary E. Callahan was living on Smith Road in Franklin NH. It was his 2nd marriage (divorced) and he was a station agent for the B&M RR. He was born in Plymouth MA, son of Joseph & Mary A. (Fogarty) Tighe.  She is buried in Franklin Cemetery, Franklin NH where a flat military marker was placed at her gravesite.


Red Cross Convalescent House, Embarkation
Hospital, Newport News Va. U.S. Army Medical
Department, Office of Medical History

Marion B. Emery was born 23 July 1896 in Concord NH daughter of Charles A. & Emma A. (Morrill) Emery.   The 1920 Franklin City Report shows: “Emery, Marion B. Nurse. Embarkation Hospital, Newport News, Va; Camp Stewart. Term of Service: March 9, 1918 to June 2, 1919.”  In 1920 following the war she was living in Franklin NH working at a nurse.  She married 1st) on 25 Dec 1920 in Concord NH to Orman C.  VanDemark. She married 2d) 17 Feb 1943 in Concord NH to Alexander J. Bergevin. Marion B. (Emery) Bergevin died 25 Jan 1946 Concord NH and is buried at Blossom Hill Cemetery, Concord NH.

Alexie Belle Gillis was born 28 January 1864 at Whycocomagh, Nova Scotia, Canada (Cape Breton Island). She became a naturalized citizen of the United States, indicating then that she arrived in the United States via Vanceboro, Maine on 15 Sep 1895 on a train.  She was a nurse, standing 5 feet 3 inches tall, 125 pounds with dark hair and dark eyes.  At that time she was living at Ayles Court in Franklin NH. Both of her parents were born in Scotland. US Army Transport Service Passenger Lists show that she sailed from Brooklyn to France, Nov 12 1918 on the S.S. Patria, her occupation was nurse.   The Franklin 1920 Annual Report includes the following details: ” Gillis, Alexie B. Nurse. Locations: U.S.A. General Hospital No. 1 Presidio, San Francisco, Cal.; Brest. Mont Dore. Beau Desert, Bordeau, Savancy and Reshoun, France. Term of Service Aug 1, 1918 to Aug 7, 1919.”  She returned to the United States after the war, and it is known that in 1920 she married in Truto, Colchester, Nova Scotia Canada to James McKinnon, son of John & Mary (Johnston) McKinnon.  He was 63, a merchant, and born in the same small town where she had been.  I could not locate her further, and her burial place is unknown.

Photograph of Walter Reed General Hospital,
Washington D.C., 1919, photographer Samuel
Irvin Markel. 13 November 1919. Library of
Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Lurline Sophronia Hunt was born 24 Feb 1893 in North Woodstock, Grafton Co. NH, daughter of Charles A. & Katherine “Katie” (Cross) Hunt, granddaughter of Arthur & Sophronia (Jackman) Hunt.  In the 1900 U.S. Census she was living in Lincoln NH with her parents and siblings, Eva Frances and Lula F.   By 1910 they had moved to Franklin, New Hampshire.  The Franklin NH Annual Report of 1920 adds this information: “Hunt, Lurine [sic] S. Nurse. Locations: U.S.A. General Hospital No. 1, New York City; Walter Reed Hospital, Washington D.C. Term of Service: Aug 1 1917 to Aug 6, 1920.”   In addition the American Journal of Nursing p 42 shows Lurline was assigned to American Hospital No. 1 in New York NY with others.  The 1920 U.S. Census shows her living in Washington D.C., single and working as a nurse.  I could find no further information.

Photograph from glass negative, Fort McHenry,
Maryland; Harris & Ewing photographer, 1914.
Library of Congress.

Marion D. Judkins was born 9 July 1893 in Franklin NH, daughter of Edward J. & Sadie J. (Dearborn) Judkins. The 1900 U.S. Census shows her living in Franklin NH with parents and siblings Louis Edward, Maud, Malba, and Murray L.  She was a direct descendant of Samuel Judkins, who served in the American Revolution from Sandown NH in Capt. Tilton’s Company in 1776; he signed the Association Test from there. He was called Lieutenant in 1778 Sandown Church Records. NH State papers shows him Private in NH militia. The 1920 Franklin NH Annual Report shows: “Judkins, Marion D. Nurse and Anesthetist. Locations: Fort Ontario NY; Fort McHenry Md. Term of Service: Nov 2, 1918 to Nov 7, 1919.”  After the war ended Marion D. Judkins married 20 Jan 1920 in Franklin NH to Carlton E. Scott, son of Herbert E. & Sarah N. (Cheney) Scott. She is buried in Vernon Grove Cemetery, Milford MA.

Mildred Eva/Geneva Nelson was born Aug 1893 in Franklin NH, daughter of Edward Leslie & Minnie (Whitehead) Nelson. In 1900 she was living with her parents and sibing Edrie L. in Franklin NH.  The 1920 Franklin NH Annual Report shows: “Nelson, Mildred G. Nurse. Locations: Camp Wadsworth S.C.; in England and France. Ill with influenza in England, Sept 1918. Term of Service, Feb 15, 1918 to June 9, 1919.” Mildred Geneva Nelson married 14 June 1924 in Franklin NH to William G. McGloughlin, son of John McGloughlin & Mary A. Simonds. In 1936 they were living in Wakefield MA, house 8 Washington Street.  In 1996 she was living at 915 Central Street, Franklin NH. Burial place unknown.

Canteen Road Base Hospital, Camp Jackson SC from book “The Birth of Camp Jackson.”

Florence G. Ray was born 22 July 1892 in Franklin, Merrimack Co NH, daughter of Walter E. & Mary (Irving) Ray.  She was not included in my original story and she is not mentioned in Franklin’s listing of service.  Her name IS included on the New Hampshire WWI Honor Roll in the NH State House, but the town credited with her service is not known to me.  In 1910 she is listed in the Manchester NH City Directory, boarding 43 Elm Street, a needle-maker for Dodge Needle Co. By the 1920 U.S. census she is listed as a nurse at the military hospital, Camp Jackson, South Carolina.  Florence G. Ray died 30 July 1921 in Plymouth, Grafton Co NH.  Her cause of death is shown as acute pancreatitis, cholecystitis, operations. She is buried in Trinity Churchyard Cemetery, Holderness NH. Her service needs to be remembered.

Photograph of some American Red Cross
Nurses aboard a ship. 9,000 women served in
active duty as nurses. Library of Congress.

Bertha Maud Sleeper was born 20 April 1886 in Franklin NH dau of Charles Sylvanus Sleeper and Ellen Cleora Call.  The 1920 Franklin NH Annual Report shows: “Sleeper, Bertha Maude. Army nurse. Location Ellis Island NY; Fort Wayne and Detroit Mich. Ill with influenza at Fort Wayne, Nov 1918. Term of Service Sept 11, 1918 to August 28, 1919.”  She died 29 March 1946 and is buried in Franklin Cemetery, Franklin NH.

[Editor’s Note: this story is part of an on-going series about heroic New Hampshire men and women of World War I.  Look here for the entire listing].

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6 Responses to New Hampshire WWI Military: The Nurse Heroes of Franklin

  1. Amy says:

    Nice to see that they all made it back safely.

  2. Pingback: New Hampshire World War I Military: Heroes of The Great War | Cow Hampshire

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  5. Oliver Steinberg says:

    Thank you for documenting the role of these Army nurses. My grandmother, Annie (Bruce) Ainsworth, was honored by the General Court, as I assume were the other nurses, and perhaps all service members, with a diploma-like printed certificate signed by Governor Bartlett, dated only as “in the year 1919, and of the independence of the United States the 144th.” Her younger sister, Margaret Jane Bruce, who is mentioned in the source article as “Jennie M.” also enlisted as a U.S. Army nurse in W.W. I, but I don’t think Jennie ever got overseas. Their brother William, “unable to meet physical requirements to join U.S. forces,” enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and served in France. Another brother, John Stanley, belonged to the NH National Guard and took part in Pershing’s pursuit of Pancho Villa prior to America’s W.W. I involvement. In the “Great War,” as a 2nd Lt. in the Yankee Division he was awarded the DSC and Purple Heart. Born in Quebec, he became a naturalized US citizen in 1920, two years after W.W. I.

    • Janice Brown says:

      Oliver, first thank you for reading and commenting on this blog. I very much appreciate your adding to your family’s story. It seems that you come from a family of great courage and patriotism. You have much to be proud of.

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