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SBButler Letters, April 1918

April 5, 1918
April 11, 1918
April 12, 1918
April 14, 1918
April 17, 1918
April 20, 1918
April 21, 1918
April 25, 1918
April 29, 1918
April 30, 1918

Letters between Sylvester and Eva

Camp Devens
Thurs. eve [envelope postmarked Apr. 5, 1918]

Dear Mother,

I received a first lieutenancy to-day, to date from April 1st. So I'm no longer wearing the gold bar and the brown braid; I'll also have no more use for my U.S.R. insignia, as my new commission is in the National Army & not in the Reserve Corps. All promoted officers receive commissions in the National Army.

My weekend fell thru, as Eva telegraphed me Miss Tolbert was away & she would like me to postpone my coming. I thought at first I would go down home with Ralph, but I have finally decided not to, particularly as I am scheduled as Officer of the Day, and while I would have ducked it if I had gone to New Jersey, I thought I had better not persist, especially as I had had Taylor substitute for me at the beginning of my last tour, last Sunday afternoon, when I was at Worcester.

Thank you for the writing paper very much, also the good things to eat. Also please thank Aunt Sarah for the folding T.B. [?toothbrush?]; it should be a handy article for emergencies.

A little notice as to sending packages across the water is enclosed. I had some copies made to send my admiring friends.

Andy gets back tomorrow, but he won't know his job when he sees it. For some days I have been poring over Army Regulations, General Orders, & Memorandums, on Property, in spare time, and today finished compiling a general order to issue in Capt. June's name, publishing an outline of the regulations which must be followed to have the Supply Office, and the Property Records of each company, conform to regulations. Now I hope they'll be followed. There's nothing there's so much red tape to as the drawing, holding, and transfer of property in the Army, and it only takes a little negligence to mess things up. I'm going over the intricacies of Army Regulations on the subject. I thought I might be dense at times, for it might take several readings to get a point, but when I would go up to the office of the Division Quartermaster for information & would get such statements as that they were going over the paragraphs I was conferring about - recent changes - as soon as possible to try to understand it fully; why, as only an acting Supply Officer I didn't feel so dense. Talk about red tape, Major Homans of the Military Police told me the other day he had spent two or three hours one P.M. getting evidence for a survey on two towels, value 35[cents], as his responsibility for their loss.

Must turn in.
Lots of love,

Envelope postmarked April 11, 1918

Bulletin)              WAR DEPARTMENT,
.       )        Washington, March 26, 1918.
No.  15 )

The following is published for the information and Guidance of all concerned:

In future, shipments of any articles to members of the American Expeditionary Forces abroad will be limited to those articles which have been requested by the individual to whom same is to be shipped, such request having been approved by his regimental or higher commander. Parcel post shipments will be accepted by the Post Office authorities and other shipments by the express or freight companies only upon presentation of the above approved request in each individual case. (311.16, A.G.O.) By order of the Secretary of War:


Major General, Acting Chief of Staff.

H.P. McCain,

The Adjutant General.


Dear Mother,
This is the insertion I had reference to. I never did see the time I included something when I said I was. I'm off for P'ville this afternoon at 4:00. I haven't looked up trains yet but will try to come back so that I can stop off at home a little while.

Friday morning [postmarked April 12, 1918]

Dear Mother,

I got to Pleasantville at nine o'clock in a driving rain. Eva met me at the train, and we went down to her house first, then out shopping, which included a visit to Mrs. Winch, and others, and now we are back at "Bricktop" as she and Miss Tolbert have named their home. We are shortly going up to school for a brief visit, then come back and make dinner. I hope it will clear up so that we can get out as we'd like to.

I plan to leave here Sunday morning. The most convenient thing for me to do is to come on a train getting to New Haven at 3:00. I wonder if you would just as soon drive down there to get me; I would like to take a little look at the college in war-time, and the connections from New Haven on are uncertain. I ought to leave Hartford on the 6:49. I'll look for you at New Haven and if I can't find you, I'll get home the best way I can.
Lots of love

April 14, 1918, Sunday Afternoon

Dear Mother,
I hope I didn't disappoint you too much by not stopping off home this weekend, but when I found a way to stay here longer I felt that I wanted to be with Eva just as long as I could. And I think I shall be able to get down home in another week or two.

We have been spending three happy days. Friday was an unfortunate day outside, and we weren't able to get out as much as we wished, but I got to see lots of people, including a short visit to the school where the amiable and suave Dr. Whitney still presides. We spent half the afternoon (I was just forbidden to say this, but it's too late now) getting dinner, and after a few minutes spent at the actual repast I acted Kitchen Police for Captain Lutz. The evening is a separate chapter. Can say at least that with two ladies around I got out of K.P. on the supper dishes. Saturday morning while Eva went up to the place she works for a while, I went around on a little visiting tour, including Mr. McMillan and especially Eph Mitchell. I had to make quite an effort to get conveyance up to his house but finally succeeded and they were glad to see me. Eph is working on his own farm at present.

In the afternoon, we went up to visit our old haunts at Hemlock Manor, and returned in the early evening. Miss Tolbert went off Saturday morning on short notice, so Miss Davis came down to stay with Eva overnight. I have been staying at the MacDougall's although they are away over Sunday. Today we have been out hunting trailing arbutus, and got quite a good sized bunch of them, of which we are sending a part.

I go on the 5:30 train from Atlantic City.
Lots of love,

Separate sheet sent with above letter

Dear Mother,
We have a little tale to tell you. It's an old, old tale, of two comrade hearts which have pledged a troth of undying devotion. We have found our comradeship a mutual delight, and when our lesser half returns from the Great Adventure, it is to begin to continue forever. We know you will be glad, and that we shall have your blessing.

We do not think it best to make a public announcement as yet, but the man of us wants you to know.

Lots of love from your son and daughter,
Sylvester and Eva

[The following was enclosed in a "Dear Mother" letter from Uncle Ralph, who was a Corporal in the 301st Supply Train with his brother Sylvester (Gramp). There are quite a few letters from him to Great-grandma Carrie in which he mentions Gramp, mostly things that Gramp has also mentioned, and once said that Gramp was the "hardest working Officer" in the company. Uncle Ralph had been in a National Guard division, but apparently had gotten appendicitis and had required an operation that kept him from being shipped over to France with his original division, and allowed enough time for him to get a transfer to Gramp's division. He must have been engaged to Aunt Winnie as he mentions sending her some of his money for "future reference." They were married Feb. 22, 1919. His letters are a lot less technical and more chatty than Gramp's. -- Sue Czaja, granddaughter]

Camp Devens, Mass. Apr 20 1918

Special to Ma & Pa
What do you think of my brother Sylvest! The family is increasing all the time. I wish we might call a family reunion before we get too far away so we can all have the pleasure of knowing our future daughter & sister. They sure have my best wishes and only hope they will be as happy as Winnie and I have been and that she will fit at home as well as my girl has.

I had my suspicions but Syl didn't tell me anything till I happened to be in his room when he had a letter from Dad and I asked him what Dad had on his mind. He kind of blushed and handed it over with this comment, "Might as well give you a little indirect information."

I kind of smelled a rat when he questioned me before going to Jersey as to how much a good diamond [underlined] cost.

The best of luck to them.

[envelope postmarked April 17, 1918]

My dear Sylvester -
I surely was surprised to receive your letter from Pleasantville, instead of Devens, as you will see later on. The very first thing is my bestest love and all good wishes for every happiness to you and Eva. I trust that she is just the one in all the world for you, and that your lives together may be that of true comradeship and love. I will write Eva just as soon as I have the time. Is the engagement to be known at present any further than Dad, Lucinthia, Ralph & Winnie? The arbutus hasn't arrived yet but probably will tonight. When your telegram was telephoned up from M-town, I depended on my memory to remember the wording & didn't take it down on paper, as I should have. Consequently I thought that you had been summoned back to Camp earlier for some reason, and would reach here Sunday morning. We watched all day for you & finally I called up Western Union to get the exact wording, and Dad said right away that you were returning directly to camp, and would see us soon, which meant probably in a week or so. Now since your letter came, I am wondering whether you or the W.U. operator made a mistake for it read "changed plans - returning to-night- try see you soon - love" S.B.B.- and, of course, that was Sat. night. It doesn't make any difference, no lives lost, and, under the circumstances, I don't blame you at all for staying on as long as possible with Eva. I was too late to get this out last night. Dad was going to Middlefield after supper, so asked me to ride along & visit with Cousin Jane, while he went to see somebody on real estate business.

The war news has been somewhat depressing of late, and the fierceness of the fighting is something terrible - but we will win out sooner or later. One of the Thorell boys from here is reported as severely wounded this last week. Harold Strickland is in one of the base hospital in France. A patient came in, whose case was diagnosed as small-pox, and no one really wanted the job of caring for him, so Harold said he would do it, and he was isolated with him. It finally only proved to be chicken pox, but he had other complications, so at last accounts he was still quarantined with him.

The week will be somewhat twisted with me, as we are washing today. I must get busy now -

Give my Love to Eva, and tell her I will write soon.

Yours with lots of love & the best o'luck -
Mother -

I see St. Moody has been poked up another peg -

[note - Great grandma's letters are "fun" to read in that they look great until you realize that many of the individual letters are just little vertical lines making e,i,u,n,r,s and even o often look alike, as well as b & h and s & c often being similar to each other. She also uses dashes instead of periods and sometimes commas.

I believe the Cousin Jane she speaks of is Jane Strickland, who would be Harold Strickland's mother. Harold was a first selectman here in Middlefield when Ken (Czaja) was young and Linus Strickland who owned the farm just above Pop on Cherry Hill Road was Harold's brother -- Sue]

Camp Devens
Sun. eve. Apr.21/18.

Dear Mother,

Your letter came Thursday morning, and I was sorry I had written anything Wednesday about not hearing then. Wrote it too late in the evening, I guess. [note - that note not saved, I guess] I also got Dad's letter Saturday, which I was glad to get. That telegram from P'ville was surely a strange thing, the way it got twisted. Instead of "returning to-night" it was "returning night train" meaning the Sunday night train.

I don't believe I told you, did I, that in going down last Thursday, my old friend Cruse was on the same train & car I was, bound for his home in New Jersey. It surely was a coincidence. He is an assistant in the chemical department at Harvard, and can talk about himself as much as ever. He says Carey is still on his farm in Southington.

On returning last week I found a letter from Mr. C.F. Smith congratulating me on my promotion. I saw by the orders last night that Jim Rodgers of New Britain is being sent out to Wisconsin on a special detail for a month.

It has not been a particularly exciting week, although there's of course been plenty to keep busy with. I've been driving the Ford around some little bit, and have done no more damage to it than bend the tail light in backing up against a pole I was unable to knock over.

You'll be interested to see the write-up Mr. McMillan gave me in the Atlantic City Gazette Review. He surely got me hopelessly off. I don't see how he could misunderstand me so.

It was a disappointment to us all to have Moody's captaincy come thru. It seems so perfectly ridiculous; I can't tell everything I want to without revealing information improperly but his promotions have both surely been by a fluke, I can say that. He somehow succeeded in ingratiating himself with Major Schoonmaker, which is my chief count against the latter gentleman. I am also learning a few other things about him which make it just as pleasing that he is not still here. He appears to have played a little trick on Pop which looks a little off color to me. But Moody is just a plain impediment, a white elephant, a thorn in the flesh, a shadow across the threshold of our happy home.

The limits you set are as I would have them on that proposition. [note - I think he is referring to who should be told about the engagement -- Sue]

I hope Dad got my laundry O.K. Saturday. I was hopping every minute of the day Friday & absolutely unable to mail it.

Must say good-night.
with lots of love,

Co. C, 301st Supply Train.
Camp Devens, Mass.
April 25, 1918.

Company Order)
   No.51     )

1. Pursuant to G.O. , Hdqrs. 301st Supply Train, the men of this company named on attached list will proceed by rail with a detachment under command of Capt. W.D. June on April 27/18, to Bridgeport, Conn., for the purpose of securing trucks and driving them overland to this camp.

2. In addition to the men named Mess Sergt. E.H. Brennan and Cook L.D. Clouatre will proceed to the same place April 26/18 by truck with a detachment under command of 1st Lieut. S.B. Butler, the former to take charge of the messing of the men of Cos. A,B,&C, on the return trip from Bridgeport.

3. The order of trucks in this company on the return journey will be as given on attached list, truckmaster and assistant truckmasters also to be as designated thereon.

4. Each man will carry with him 5 cooked meals prepared according to order left by Sergeant Brennan, by Cook Palermo, with such assistance as he may need and call for, Sergeant Brennan and Cook Clouatre will carry 5 cooked meals.

5. Equipment to be carried by each man will be as follows: Service uniform with overcoats; barracks bag containing one change of clothing, 3 blankets, fatigue suit, gloves, extra pair of shoes, toilet articles, individual mess equipment, consisting of: canteen, knife, fork, spoon, and meat can. Barrack bags will be carefully tagged with man's name and company.

6. Any men called for for guard duty by the Office of the Day while on the trip will be furnished by the Truckmaster, who will draw lots for the men to be assigned this duty.

7. Sergeant H.C. Fernald will have charge of field desk and contents and keep morning report, daily truck report, cost record, and operation record. He also has an emergency first aid kit and should be looked to in case it is needed.

8. Drivers will carefully keep Drivers Daily Truck Report and turn same into ass't Truckmasters of their various sections at the end of the days trip; they will in turn submit them to the Truckmaster, and from them the Cost Record will be made up by the company clerk.

9. Drivers will sign and be responsible for the trucks and all equipment turned over to their care.

10. Sergt. Jacob Bernhard will be in charge of the detachment of the company left behind, and it will be his special duty to care for company property. To this end he will see that there is someone in the building at all times. In case of his being called away Sgt. R.E. Boyd will assume his duties and responsibilities, being instructed thoroughly in preparation of the morning and sick reports.

11. All men remaining behind will, unless on special duty, or in charge of quarters or room orderly, work in the Supply Train Repair Shop. Pvt. Raines will blow calls as directed by Sgt. Brottler. They will be at all times subject to orders of Capt. James B. Moody Jr., temporary commander of the Supply Train during operation of this order. 12. All men remaining behind will move in Co.A barracks.

13. Corp. Albert Bersig is designated as Bugler for this company while on the trip indicated. He will sound "Halt" if any truck has been obliged to stop and such other calls as may be directed by the company commander or commanding officer.

14. Drivers will see that the proper distance (about 50ft.) is maintained between trucks, that signals are observed, that the trucks are kept in the road and that proper care is taken of their trucks.

15. Assistant Drivers will keep their eyes behind them and watch for anything occurring in the rear. If any truck stops they will immediately inform the chauffeur who will stop his truck also, and they will also signal trucks ahead.

16. On going over hills, the drivers will slow down after clearing the top in order that trucks will not become separated beyond their proper distance.

17. Drivers will see that any instruction books turned over to them are studied carefully.

18. Assistant Truckmasters have entire responsibility for their sections, their proper maintenance and operation. They will personally inspect trucks at each stop, and at the end of the day they will see that trucks have plenty of gasoline oil and water. Whenever a truck of their section is obliged to stop they will proceed to it at once. If truck has run off the road and is stuck they will not let driver spin wheels and dig himself in but have truck towed or pushed out. They will watch the operation of the truck of their section carefully to see that all regulations are complied with. They will receive Drivers Daily Truck Reports at night and turn them over to the Truckmaster.

19. The Truckmaster will watch the operation of the trucks of the whole company and see that all members of the company perform the duties assigned them. He will carry out all special duties assigned him in previous paragraphs of this order. He will inspect all men going on pass, and see that a report is kept on them. He will select a non-commissioned officer by lot each day to make the daily check of the men at Taps.

[signed by]
1st Lieut. Inf. N.A.
Comdg. Co.

Newspaper Article April 29, 1918


Butler may not live-Thrown under Wheels of Truck in Stratford

While riding in a motorcycle in Stratford yesterday afternoon Lieutenant Sylvester Butler, of Cromwell, O., and Corporal Arthur Jansen, of Jamica Plains, Mass., were thrown from their motorcycle under the wheels of a moving truck and seriously injured. Both men were brought to the Bridgeport hospital where it is reported that Lieutenant Butler is in a serious condition with a fractured skull and internal injuries.

Failed to Clear Automobile.

The police say that the two army officers were driving their machine toward New Haven yesterday afternoon when they were forced to turn out of the road for two motorcycles and a touring car coming in the opposite direction. The driver of the motorcycle cleared the first two machines but did not turn out enough to avoid hitting the touring car. It is said that the left hand fender of the touring car threw the motorcycle from the road into a truck traveling in the same direction as the army officers were going.

Cycle Completely Wrecked.

The motorcycle was totally wrecked by the collision with the truck while the two army officers were thrown into the road. Lieutenant Butler and Corporal Jansen were rushed to Stratford center where they were given medical treatment and then taken to the Bridgeport hospital. Lieutenant Butler is suffering from a fractured skull and probably internal injuries. Corporal Jansen sustained probable internal injuries, two fractured ribs and numerous bruises and lacerations of the head and body. Physicians at the hospital say that Jansen will recover but they express doubts as to Butler's condition.

April 30, 1918

[ Letter from Great-Grandma Carrie, undated by her. Gramp has written on it "about 5/1/18", but seems more likely 4/30 as that would have been Monday -- Sue]

[written in and around the header and salutation] I've had about fifty telephone calls this morning, as your accident was reported in the papers.

My Dear Sylvester,

We were delighted to hear from Ralph this morning that you were getting along so well- and trust that your stay in the hospital will not have to be long. I will enclose Eva's letter which came this morning. I hope Dad is on his way to see you, as long as Ralph is right there and you are not seriously hurt, I thought I would wait & come a little later. Monday is such a busy day, it is hard to leave, unless absolutely necessary. Probably Uncle Ed. Wright will have a chance to run in & see you, as he is in Bridgeport through the week. I must write Lucinthia all the events of the past few days.
Yours with lots of love,

[on card with letter]

Keep well-
Keep a stiff upper lip-
Keep firm hold of your nerves.
Keep a smiling face-
Keep faith in God-

[this card was between this letter and his birthday note sent to be opened on his birthday and may have been a message as he went to France. As it seems to be Great-Grandma's advice on facing life, it would have been appropriate for either his injury or his facing the war, whichever note it was with. --Sue]

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