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Ilene Hall Joined the Army to Search for Her Husband During WWII

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
August 5, 2022 3:00 am

Ilene Hall Joined the Army to Search for Her Husband During WWII

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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August 5, 2022 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, when Ilene Hall enlisted in the Army WAC in 1943, she was following her husband, Edward “Ken” Hall to war. When her husband, to whom she was married in March 1943, finished his training and was about to be shipped overseas, the young Canton, Ohio girl decided not to put an ocean between them. Art Burton, author of countless books on African Americans in the West, tells the story of one of the most feared outlaws of the Indian Territory...and the story of his side-crossing father.

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Time Codes:

00:00 - Ilene Hall Joined the Army to Search for Her Husband During WWII

23:00 - "I Came Here Not To Talk, But To Die": The Story of Cherokee Bill

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This is Lee Habib, and this is our American Stories. And we tell stories about everything here on this show, from the arts to sports, and from business to history, and everything in between, including your stories.

They're some of our favorites. Our next story, well, it's one about service, love, and sacrifice. Let's follow Eileen Hall's incredible journey across Europe as she searches for her husband in the middle of World War II. Eileen was a member in the Women's Army Corps, or WAC. We got together with Eileen and her daughter Sherry, who both live in Canton, Ohio.

Here's Eileen. I'm from Canton, Ohio. I was born in 10, 11, 23, and my mother and dad had a restaurant in downtown Canton, and we had a hotel up above the restaurant, and that's where I was raised. We lived right across the street from McKinley High School, so all I had to do for high school was walk across the street and go to school. After my mother made it to my high school graduation, and shortly after that she passed on, and my dad remarried, and I felt very uncomfortable at home with a different mother, really. And you were working at?

Kimpkin Roller-Bearing Company, so it's a long time. That's 75 years ago, you know, so I'm trying to remember. A lot of it I'll never forget, but, and there I met a girl, and we became friends, and we worked in the stationary supply office. And she had a boyfriend from Gallion, Ohio, and every time he came up to see her, he brought his brother.

So she said, do you think you'd mind dating his brother if he brings him up? And I said, oh no. Well, that was it, because we just melded together, and it just worked out, so. But he was being drafted, like all the, he was going to be sent to Oklahoma, so after my dad remarried, I just didn't feel comfortable at home. So I said, I think I always wanted to go to California, so I said, I think I'll go to California, because I've always wanted to go there, so I boarded a train, and it stopped in Oklahoma. And I thought, well, I'll just see, you know, him while I'm here.

So that's as far as I got. We got married. After I was there a few days, we had to go through blood tests, and it was really, you know, so we were married in a Parson's office.

And then it wasn't long after that that he was sent overseas. So I thought, well, since I'm married to him, I'll go back home and see what I can do. You know, so I went back home, and I decided to enlist in the service. So I went in downtown Canton, where they had their recruiting office, and told them I would like to join the Army. Well, the Navy I really wanted, but you couldn't get in that one until later, so I decided I'd get in the Army if I could. So even though I was married, I had to get my dad's consent.

Because of my age, I couldn't do it unless I had my parents' consent. So I went to where he worked and told him, and he said, well, if I don't do this, you'll do something else crazy. So he signed.

He was a World War I veteran. So he signed, and I took it back, and after that, I got into basic training in Daytona Beach, Florida. From there, they said as we were being interviewed, the girls that had already volunteered said, you'll be sorry. But I volunteered for everything, so I always got the pick of things that I wanted to do.

So I thought that was a good idea. From there, I was sent to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia for driver training, and I led a convoy through Georgia as one of our tryouts, you know, to see how we did. And then we had to go in gas chambers and take off the gas mask and stay for a few minutes, and then go out and catch your breath again. And then we had to lay down, and they fired shots over us, you know, to see how we'd react. And then we had to go through other training, abandoning ship.

We had to go, you know, to a top of the ship that would be and go down the sides. And a couple of the girls were just terrified of doing it, so I helped along with them. And then after that was all done, I was sent to Fort Lewis, Washington, and I was only there for a little while.

The fellows in the barracks were used to having women there, and boy, every time we'd walk out everywhere, there were guys walking with us. But anyway, I volunteered. They asked for volunteers to go overseas, so I volunteered, but there were too many, so I wasn't going to get to go. But at the last minute, one gal dropped out, and so I took her place. And then it wasn't long after that that we were sent to Fort Dix, New Jersey, and boarded the Queen Elizabeth and headed for France.

So on a ship that in peacetime would accommodate two people, there were 24 WACs in one room. And then we went on and we landed at Glasgow, Scotland, in the Isle of Clyde. And there we were met with the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, and they gave us food until they decided where we were going to go from there. Some of us boarded a train and headed for Sutton-Coalfield, England. That's where I was going to be stationed for a while. And we've been listening to Eileen Hall's journey to find her husband in the middle of World War II, a great back story. I can't wait to hear more.

I'm sure you can't either. When we come back, more of Eileen Hall's story here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the stories we tell about this great country and especially the stories of America's rich past, know that all of our stories about American history, from war to innovation, culture and faith, are brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College, a place where students study all the things that are beautiful in life and all the things that are good in life. And if you can't get to Hillsdale, Hillsdale will come to you with their free and terrific online courses. Go to hillsdale.edu to learn more.

Contact your local agent today. And we continue here on Our American Stories with Eileen Hall's story. And what an adventurer this lady was. My goodness. And so many other women who served in the war.

She wanted to be in the theater and volunteered for it. Let's pick up where we last left off. Some of us boarded a train and headed for Sutton Caulfield, England. That's where I was going to be stationed for a while. So that's where I had to drive a jeep. I went through the motor course, so I was allowed to drive a jeep and up to a two and a half ton truck. So I drove, everybody in Sutton Caulfield in England had to list if they had a room available for GIs, because they didn't want the women staying in rooms. They wanted the men to be there.

So that's what I did for a while and got them all done. And then I was sent, I drove a major there. Four of us were drivers and we all drove an officer, so I drove a major. So we were on call 24 hours a day for whatever reason they wanted us. But I had to drive in the fog so bad that I had to put my foot up.

They drive on the left side on the curb so I would know where I was going. And because of that, my left leg is not as big as my right one. It took that much, it froze, you know. And I had to go back to the barracks and they put me behind a bakery until I could thaw out.

My leg was so frozen from driving. We had gone through many air raids at night and one of the gals said, if I'm going to get killed, I'm going to do it right here. And so the rest of us decided we'd stay together. So that was it, because there were nightly air raids. After I left England, I went to France and was with the post office there as a driver. So every morning I'd drive into Paris and the streets were empty, except for people going through garbage cans trying to get something to eat.

People and dogs. And that's something I'll never forget. And as I drove to the post office that I was at, just as I drove in, something cracked on the steering wheel. And I couldn't steer it, but I was already there. So I felt that was a blessing, because if I'd done that out on the streets, it would have been something else.

I have faith. And I just felt I'd be protected, whatever I did, because if I volunteered for something, I felt that that's what I should do. So I just had a different life than some of the other whacks. The Battle of the Bulge was going on then, and they were bringing the wounded into the hospital in Paris. And our commanding officer was called from the hospital and asked to send some whacks down to help. The wounded were coming in so fast. So our commanding officer called me and said, you know, we're going to take some whacks to the hospital. So I got my ton and a half truck and loaded it with wax and drove into the hospital, in front of the hospital, and walked in, and here the GIs are all laying on the floor, and you could just walk sideways.

And so we would kneel down and talk to them and take, you know, we all went and talked to each one and asked where they were from and just got them calmed down before. And then they finally found room for them all. But when I had time off, I was allowed to take the jeep, and I became acquainted with two fellows from Iowa.

And one had his left leg amputated below his knees, so he was going to be sent home. And he said he hated to go home without seeing Paris. And I said, well, I'll see what I can do. So I went to my commanding officer, told her to the store, and she said, you take a jeep and show him wherever you want to go. So there were two whacks in the back and me driving and him sitting beside me, and I took him all over Paris.

So he was, you know, excited about that. And we kept in touch for years after I got home, so. But I got a letter from my husband saying he was going to be sent to the CBI.

That's the China Burma. And I started crying, and the officer was below me, and she came up and wanted to know why I was crying. And I said, well, my husband's going to be sent to the CB area.

And I said, I'd probably never see him again. And she said, I'll see what I can do. So she got me orders attached to Mark Clark's, but he never knew I was part of his service. But that got me to an early airport and asked if anybody was going to Paris. There was a plane just out there that was going to be going to Italy. And I told my story to the guy at the desk, and so he said, that plane right there, you can get on. So they put down the bomb bay doors, and I walked out, and one on one side and one on the other lifted me up and put me in where the gun turret is. And that's how I rode from there to Italy. And I got off of the plane, and I was standing on the road, and I didn't realize right in front of me was the Tower of Pisa, because I didn't realize it was that big.

And so I walked out, and I started hitchhiking. And along came a British guy in a truck with three soldiers in the back, and they were tending to one. And I said, what happened? She said, he got hurt, but not by fire.

I don't know exactly how I got hurt. And they're going into Rome. So they stopped for water, and the driver of the truck had to come back and stand in front of me so I could lean to the back, because the people just came from everywhere and they wanted to touch me. And I didn't know what to do, so they looked out for me. And then we left and went on to Rome, to the Red Cross there. And they put me up for the night. The next morning was a Sunday, so it was church. So I went down and went to church. And after a little while before church started, a fellow sat down beside me, and he looked at my patch. He says, you're not from around here, are you?

And I said, no. And I told him my story. He said, I'll see what I can do. So the next day, he had gotten permission from his officer, and he was able to take me from Rome to Milano. And on the way, it started to rain, and the fellow didn't know how to do the top to the jeep, so I showed him how to do that. And he took me up, and my husband was waiting for me, waiting there. So we had our honeymoon on Lake Como, and I had our own villa attached to a regular one, which is owned now by George Clooney.

And I'm sure George Clooney doesn't know it, but I'm going to write a letter to him sometime, if he ever gets it. The Villa D.S.E. Yeah, so that was the Fifth Army Rest Camp. So we left from Le Harve on the E.B.

Alexander, headed for the United States. As we pulled into New York Harbor, all the lights came on, and they took us off the boat and fed us the best Thanksgiving dinner we ever had. And from there, we had to go to Fort Dix to get released from the Army, and then I boarded a train for Canton, Ohio. And when I got to Canton, there they were, my husband and my dad, and just welcomed me home.

He got home seven days before I did. But other than that, why, I think my experience was something that not too many people have the opportunity to experience. So that's my love story, and I love to tell it. And thanks for the opportunity to tell it. So that's it.

And that's it. Thanks for the opportunity to let us tell it, Eileen. And what a beautiful story about so many things, particularly just a sheer sense of adventure.

Off to Europe to fight Nazis, searching for each other, learning how to drive trucks and tanks, supply lines, to defeat one of the world's worst enemies in history. Eileen Hall's journey to find her husband in the middle of World War II. Her story here on Our American Stories. . And we return to Our American Stories. Up next, a story from Art T. Burton, arts and author who writes about an often overlooked group of people in the Western frontier, African Americans. Today he'll share with us the story of one of the most feared outlaws in the Indian territory, Cherokee Bill, who terrorized the area for two years. But before we talk about Bill, let's talk about his father, George.

Let's get into the story. George is very interesting because he was from Selma, Alabama, and his mother was not enslaved, but she was a concubine of Thornton Goldsby, who was a very rich plantation owner. He was into banking. So when the Civil War started, not being a slave, George was hired by the Confederate Army. . It was actually at Gettysburg, and I guess at Gettysburg he felt it was a good time for him to leave the Confederate side and went to the Northern side and was at the Confederate surrender at Appomattox. George went back to Selma, but there were some issues because some of the Confederate soldiers recognized George as being at Appomattox in the Union, and they threatened to kill him. And he left and went to the Indian territory, actually. . and joined the 10th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, which was an all-black regiment.

Tain ranked very quickly. He became a sergeant, one of the top sergeants in the 10th Calf. After being there a while, he did meet a young lady named Ellen, and she was a laundress for the 10th Calf, and they got married. And later on, that regiment was relocated to Fort Concho in Texas, and that is where Crawford was born. But George got into a little problem at Fort Concho. They were next to a town named San Angelo, and some of the Buffalo soldiers was having a real hard time.

Many times they would go to town and go to the saloons. They were being harangued by the Buffalo hunters and the cowboys. And this one particular time, soldiers' stripes were cut off his uniform and his pants, and he was roughed up and beat up, and he went back to the post at Fort Concho and told what happened. And the story goes that George allowed the Buffalo soldiers to get access to their weapons.

And they went back to San Angelo and shot the town up pretty good, including the saloon where the incident had happened. And George decided that he needed to leave the Army at that point, and he went AWOL and left her with four little kids, Clarence and Luther, Crawford and his sister. So that's kind of like the background of the story about Crawford Goolsby.

And his name is not Goolsby, it's actually Goolsby, but people call it Goolsby because it's spelled G-O-L-D-S-B-Y. I guess him and his father didn't get along that well after he got a little bit older. He got jobs, odd jobs around Fort Gibson, and then he started cowboying, so he was a cowboy.

The problem occurred when there was a dance in town, and a guy started picking on his brother, his little brother, and he didn't like it too much. And he tried to intercede, and there was a fight. Now Crawford was pretty big. He was about almost six feet tall and probably weighed somewhere around 190, 200 pounds, so he was kind of stocky, well-built young man, but he got beat up. The next day after he got beat up, he caught the guy coming into the livery stable, and he shot him two or three times. He thought he killed him, but he didn't, and then went on the dodge in the Indian Territory.

He called it going on the scout when you were trying to get away from the law, and that's where his whole outlaw career kind of jumped off. Crawford had earlier worked with a couple of young men known as the Cook brothers, Bill and William Cook. Crawford took up with them, and they had decided to do some things that was not legal, selling bootleg whiskey and stealing horses and such. And in 1893, the Cherokee Nation received an $8.5 million payment for the sale of the Cherokee outlet. That was land that the Cherokee Nation had once owned.

Payments were made to citizens at selected towns, and the Cook brothers in Crawford requested their share of the land payment. The Cooks had a good friend named Effie Crittenden who agreed to pick up their shares because they couldn't go in and pick up their money because they had warrants for arrest from the Cherokee authorities. And Effie was also the manager of a place known as the Halfway House. It was a stagecoach station between Tahlequah and Muskogee.

And on June 15th, Effie went to Tahlequah. She had a estranged husband who was working as a guard for the payment. He read the names on her press she gave the Cherokee treasurer, and Dick Crittenden knew that two of the men had outstanding warrants.

Crawford Goldsby for attempted murder and Bill Cook for larceny. And he realized that they would be waiting at the Halfway House, the stagecoach station, for their monies. And he told the authorities about it. And so they gave Effie the monies that they were owed.

Little to her knowledge, she's been followed by a fairly large posse. Before they got there, though, these young men, I guess they were fairly very enterprising, there was a stagecoach that did stop at the house, and it was robbed by them while they were there waiting for their monies. And as Effie got to the Halfway House, Crawford was outside the stagecoach station, and he seen the posse coming. There proceeded to be a very hellacious gunfight that took place.

They got away. One of the cooks, not Bill Cook, but his brother, did get wounded in the fight, but Cherokee Bill did kill one of the Cherokee lawmen. After the outlaws got away, Effie was interviewed by the lawmen, and she was asked, was Crawford Goldsby a member of the outlaws that they just had the shootout with? And she said, no, it wasn't Crawford Goldsby, but Cherokee Bill was here.

And after that, Crawford Goldsby was always known as Cherokee Bill. He was 18 years old at that time. He said that he could shoot from his waist on level and hardly miss his target. He would also brace the rifle butt against his leg and work the lever very fast. It could sound so fast.

It sounded like a sewing machine. He said he shot it like that to scare people. He said for accuracy, he always put the rifle to his shoulder. But he also loved to have shootouts with lawmen, and that's very interesting because most outlaws never loved to have shootouts, but he really never turned down a good shootout if he could have one with the lawmen. He was very colorful. They said he used to wear a white hat with a red band on it, and he wore jingle bob spurs, and he had studded chaps, leather chaps, with metal studs on it. So he was a very colorful guy.

He used to like to, you know, be like a peacock, I guess you could say. And we've been listening to Art T. Burton tell the story of Cherokee Bill and his father, George. And my goodness, what a story George had, an African-American fighting for the Confederates, and then also finds himself one day in Gettysburg where he changes teams and then is at Appomattox. When we come back, more of the remarkable story of Cherokee Bill is told by Art Burton here on Our American Story. . And we return to Our American Stories and our story with Art T. Burton on Outlaw Cherokee Bill. When we last left off, Art was telling us about how Bill turned to a life of crime after committing an attempted murder after a fight. Bill would soon link up with the Cook brothers, and that's where things went even further so.

Let's continue with the story. . It originally was known as the Bill Cook Gang, and Cherokee Bill became the worst element of that gang and the most feared member of that gang. The gang was made up of white, black, and Indian, for the most part, youth, young men. The size of the gang would change over the months.

Some men would drop out, some would join. The original members of the gang were Line Gordon, George Sanders, and Henry Munson, all-black Indian freedmen. Curtis Dason, Jess Snyder, Elmer Chicken Lucas, who were white men, and Sam Verdigre Kidd, Mac Williams, Jim French, and Bill Cook, who were Cherokee mixed-bloods.

So it was a very diverse gang. . The boldest and most brazen robbery by Cherokee Bill in the Cook Gang occurred on the day that the gang robbed the Lincoln County Bank and Chandler. There was a barber named J.B. Mitchell, who was sitting in front of his establishment and cried out, the Daltons are in town, they're robbing the bank. Cherokee Bill hollered for him to shut up, and Mitchell rose up from his chair.

He was still hollering. And Cherokee Bill took his Winchester rifle and shot him at 200 yards. . After Cherokee Bill shot the barber, there was approximately 100 gunshots fired by the gang after they robbed the bank of $107.50. The gang rode west of town, and they rode into a timber, and they had a gunfight once they got into the timbers when the members of the gang was captured by the posse, and the rest of the gang escaped into the hills. . October 9th, the gang split up, a few followed Bill Cook, and the rest of the gang went with Cherokee Bill. On the night of October 22nd, 1894, Cherokee Bill and three outlaws looted the small town of Watova.

The gang robbed two stores and the post office of $400. Cherokee Bill took the first storekeeper as a hostage to the second store and then took the two storekeepers to the post office. A few days later, Cherokee Bill robbed the town of Tallalah. Bill started on one end of the main street and robbed every business on the street, and then him and his gang rode out of town. . In my research looking at gangs, this is the only time where I've known outlaws to go into towns and started one end of town on main street and robbed every business on main street. This is unprecedented. . Cherokee Bill next struck at the small cattle town of Lenapah in the Cherokee Nation not far from the Kansas border. The money and valuables amounted to $600, which was a lot of money back then because the average wage for a person could be $100 a year, so $600 was quite a bit of money.

A man by the name of Ernest Melton from Paris, Texas, was working across the street at a restaurant. When they heard shots being fired, they all rushed to the window to see what was happening. Cherokee Bill glanced at the window and saw Melton staring at him, and just for nothing at all, Cherokee Bill took his Winchester rifle and shot Melton in the head, killing him instantly. After this robbery, the federal court at Fort Smith, Arkansas, put up a $1,300 bounty dead or alive on Cherokee Bill. The scheme to catch Cherokee Bill was plotted by U.S. Marshal George Crump and Deputy U.S. Marshals Bill Smith and George Lawson, and they were very dedicated to trying to bring Cherokee Bill in. . They say Smith and Lawson found out that Bill was sweet on the knees of former Deputy U.S. Marshal Ike Rogers, and they met with Rogers and devised a plan for Cherokee Bill to be invited to Rogers' home while his niece Maggie Glass was there. Rogers procured the assistance of a good friend, another Cherokee Freedman named Clint Scales, to assist with the capture. . On January 29, 1895, Cherokee Bill arrived at Rogers' home, and he spent a good part of the evening visiting with Maggie, who he truly had a crush on. Then he played cards with Rogers and Scales all night up to 4 o'clock in the morning. All the time, Cherokee Bill kept his Winchester in his lap and never gave Rogers a chance to surprise him.

At breakfast, it began to appear as if the plan was not working. After eating, Ike sent Maggie to a neighbor's house to buy a couple of chickens. Bill decided he wanted to smoke and leaned over the fireplace to light his cigarette. Rogers seized the moment, hit Cherokee Bill over the head with a fire stick. The blow knocked Cherokee Bill down but not out.

Rogers and Scales fought Bill for 20 minutes until they were able to get a pair of handcuffs on him. Cherokee Bill was finally captured. . Even after they got the handcuffs on him, Cherokee Bill was so strong, he broke the handcuffs. But Clint Scales had a double-barrel shotgun and kept the gun on Cherokee until they got him to the town where they met up with Bill Smith. . Parker, Judge Parker, the hanging judge, as people like to call him, said Bill was the worst criminal to come before his bench, and Judge Parker was there from 1875 to 1896, so he seen a many a bad outlaw. Bill was indicted for the murder of Ernest Melton. He pled not guilty, and he was represented by a defense attorney named J. Warren Reed, who was one of the top defense attorneys that worked the Fort Smith Court. Cherokee Bill was found guilty of murder, and June 25, 1895 was set as his execution date. .

But lawyer Reed found 14 errors in the trial proceedings and appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Parker issued a state of the execution date so the Supreme Court could look at the appeal, and on July 26, 1895, someone smuggled a pistol into the jail for Cherokee Bill to attempt a jailbreak. . At 7 p.m., the jail guard, Campbell Eoff, and guard Lawrence Keating, entered the part of the jail known as Murderer's Row, where they kept people who was being incarcerated for murder, and it was responsibility of Eoff and Keating to ring the prisoners in for the night. Paper was jammed in the keyhole to lock the row of cells to keep it from locking, and Cherokee Bill jumped out of his cell and told them to throw up and give me that pistol. Instead of obeying, Keating reached for his own revolver, and Cherokee Bill shot him instantly, and it was a fatal wound.

A 15-minute gunfight ensued with no further injuries but also no resolution. Henry Starr, another Cherokee who was in jail for murdering a deputy as marshal, offered to speak to Bill and get his gun. The guards agreed, and Starr took his opportunity and went to Bill's cell and convinced him that it was useless to continue. I guess Cherokee Bill thought about it for a while, and he eventually gave his gun over to Starr. Supposedly Starr had made some comments that Cherokee Bill's mother would not be very happy about the circumstances, and that was one of the things that convinced him to give up his gun. But now he had another murder charge on him. The trial lasted three days, and Judge Parker set the new execution date as March 17, 1896. On his execution day, Cherokee Bill showed no sign of fear.

While standing on the gallows, he was asked if he had anything to say, and he replied, I came not here to talk, but to die. He's buried not far from his companions, Jim French and the Verdigris Kid. His niece stated that Cherokee Bill probably would have had a different life if he had an opportunity to get a better education, very similar to the day where many people who fall into a life of crime probably would have had a different outlook on life if they had got a better education. Cherokee Bill is pretty much analogous to Billy the Kid, but they've made, I guess, somewhere in the area of 50 movies in Hollywood about Billy the Kid. There's never been a movie made about Cherokee Bill as yet. But Cherokee Bill became the most famous outlaw in the history of the Indian Territory. And a terrific job on the storytelling by Monty Montgomery, and a special thanks to R.T. Burton for sharing with us the story of Cherokee Bill. His book is Cherokee Bill, Black Cowboy, Indian Outlaw.

Pick it up at artburton.com. And by the way, what a thing he managed with the Bill Cook Gang, because it was the first integrated gang. We had blacks, whites, and Cherokees of mixed blood and pure, all in the same place causing mayhem. He splits up and ends up in the end facing Judge Parker. He was found guilty of murder. On execution day, his final words were, I came here not to talk, but to die. The story of Cherokee Bill here on Our American Stories.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-17 07:24:01 / 2023-02-17 07:37:46 / 14

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