World War I has many unsung heroes, and the war nurses are among them. Ruth Ferris Corey was born 20 October 1894 in Manchester, New Hampshire, daughter of Charles R. & Emma Cynthia (Ferris) Corey. She grew up at #12 Nashua Street in Manchester. Her father was connected with the Corey Needle Factory and managed the Corey Estate, a task Ruth performed later when her parents died.
In 1917 Ruth F. Corey graduated from the Hillsborough County Hospital Nursing Program at the hospital in Grasmere (Goffstown) New Hampshire in a class of fourteen. Almost immediately she enlisted in the U.S. Army Nurse Corp (on 17 November 1917). She was sent to U.S. Army Base Hospital, Camp Custer, Battle Creek Michigan to work, and for additional training.
On 4 September 1918 she was among a group of nurses and soldiers bound for Europe, aboard the ship Saxonia, departing Quebec Canada. Her rank was “nurse” assigned to Base Hospital No. 56. This particular U.S. Army hospital was located at 56 Allerey Saône-et-Loire, France. She would have been among the nursing staff who cared for the many injured from the Meuse-Argonne Offense that took place from 26 September 1918 through the Armistice of November 11th (it lasted for 47 days). 26,277 Americans were killed and countless injured. She remained here until the hospital closed and those soldiers still under medical care were transported home. The terrible influenza pandemic was still rampant at this time and at least one nurse from Base Hospital No. 56 succumbed along with many soldiers. On 13 April 1919 she was among those on the ship Mobile who departed Brest, France for Hoboken New Jersey. She arrived in the United States on 23 April 1919 as part of Casual Nurse Detachment No. 9, Army Nurse Corps. She was honorably discharged on 15 June 1919.
There were two separate newspaper notices that are interesting in her regard. Her parents were both from Vermont, and having family still there the stories were in newspapers from that state: “The Barre Daily Times, Barre Vermont, 12 July 1919. Misses Beulah and Ruth Corey and Margaret Morrison of Manchester N.H. have been guests of relatives here the past week. Miss Ruth Corey is a returned Red Cross nurse and was stationed in the Argonne sector when the American drive was on last fall.” The second notice was: “The Barre Daily Times, Barre Vermont, 12 July 1919. Misses Beulah and Ruth Corey and Margaret Morrison of Manchester N.H. have been guests of relatives here the past week. Miss Ruth Corey is a returned Red Cross nurse and was stationed in the Argonne sector when the American drive was on last fall.”
Ruth had only one sibling, Beulah Corey, who was born 16 May 1896 in Manchester NH, and who married 29 June 1921 in Manchester NH to William Frederick Mansfield, son of John Edward & Dorothea Mathilde (Tode) Mansfield. He was born abt 1893 in Manchester NH. They are buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, Newport, NH.
Upon her return from the war, Ruth Corey continued in nursing and became active in Manchester New Hampshire’s American Legion organization. The Boston Sunday Globe of August 17, 1919 reported: “Miss Ruth Corey, a returned nurse who saw service overseas, has been delegated by William H. Sweeney Post, American Legion, as one of its representatives to attend the State convention of the American Legion at The Weirs. This is believed to be the only instance in the State where a woman has been selected as a delegate.”
In 1919 the Granite State Monthly contained a story called “The American Legion in New Hampshire, by Paul Stacy, in which he stated “I write men. But I must amend it. There was one woman delegate, Miss Ruth Corey of Manchester, whose long and tireless service as a nurse entitles her to full membership in the Legion, was at The Weirs convention as one of the representatives of Henry J. Sweeney Post, No. 2,” along with George Wingate, Walter Boardman, Thomas Fitzgerald, Robert Farrington, Thomas Conway and Frank Welch (7 delegates).
Records show that in September of 1922 she had a position with the U.S. Veterans’ Bureau Nursing Service in the sub-district office in Manchester, New Hampshire with follow-up work and appointments. The 1930 Manchester City Directory shows that she was working as a nurse in an X-ray Department, probably of a Manchester hospital. By 1950 her parents had died and she was both a nurse and the property manager of the J M Corey Estate mentioned earlier. She appears to have now moved to 236 Concord Street.
Ruth Corey never married, and died 27 November 1972 in Manchester NH (according to the US Dept of Veteran’s Affairs BIRLS Death list). Her final resting place is in Pine Grove Cemetery, Manchester 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].