WWI Letter June 20, 1918 | LETTERS FROM A DOUGHBOY, David Jesse Shumaker


“Mrs. May” was his mother-in-law, Ada May Parmenter May, and she certainly did have a way with words! She had formal way of speech that I attribute to her very proper Bostonian heritage, and a huge vocabulary. Ada knew both the Latin and the common names of every plant she saw, and those of most animals, too. She liberally used her vast vocabulary every time she spoke, which sent me running for a dictionary many times.

Ada May Parmenter May would have been 38 years old at the time of this letter. You can read more about her here: https://www.genealogy.gailbrinsonivey.com/ada-s-wedding-hanky-and-pin/

Ada May Parmenter May
Three photos of my great-grandmother Ada May Parmenter May. The first one was taken when she was about 70. The second two were taken on the day of her 84th birthday party, when she was wearing a green gingham dress. She must have liked gingham – I wonder what color the first one is? In the middle photo, I believe the woman in the background is one of Ada’s nieces, a daughter of her younger sister Frances. This could be either Mary Frances or Anna May. In the last photo, Ada is standing with her sister, Anna Melissa Parmenter Walter.

These twenty-eight letters that David Jesse Shumaker wrote home to his family during World War I will be compiled as my mother compiled them, and published into the same book that she made single copies of, titled Letters from a Doughboy. I’ll let you know here in the blog when the book is available.

Here is David Jesse Shumaker’s WWI letter of June 20, 1918:

Co. I 3rd training Regiment
Replacement Troups
Camp Pike Ark.
June 20 1918

Dear folks at home:

I rec’d your letter today, was sure glad to get it. I should have said sorry to hear papa had poison ivy.

This leaves me well and feeling fine. My arm is well from that vaccination. I have finished the typhoid inoculation so I’ll not have any more sore sholders from that cause.

I wish it was so you could have more help in the crops.

Well Mamma I like the army fine. I have learned one thing by close observ. That is if a boy does his best at all times, always doing his duties right to the best of his ability paying attention to all orders never speaking back only when ask to never telling the officers any more than necessary to make plain what you want. Ask just as many questions as you want to about duty etc but never ask the same question twice, etc. you will get along all right, just so long as they see you are trying to learn.

I got a letter from Mrs. May today also Kitty. Believe me Mrs. M. sure did play with words when she composed that letter, never was there a letter come into a training camp with such good advice such a cheering letter. It certainly was some composition. I’d sure like to have it published. I sure was surprised to get a letter from her.

Catherine said she got those pictures I sent from here. She will get those pictures of her and I as Mr. Daniels will send them to her I guess.

We have been having some very hot days here. I did have cooks job but had to give it up because the heat broke out on me so bad I could not stand it, so I am still a Private. The cook gets $36.50 per. I am taking things just as they come making the best of all. As far as spinding money I have managed to keep a few cents ahead by washing for the boys. I made .85¢ this evening so see I am getting along all O.K. Last Saturday I sent Kitty some money I got ahead enough that I decided I had a surplus that she could use or might need. I hope all will get along all right at home. I am doing fine. Got my gun – am a full fledged soldier now. Except a bit more training. Am sure combing out the kinks. Must close for it is 9:00 P.M. lights go out.


Here are photos of the scanned originals. If you would like high-resolution copies, just contact me and I’ll email them to you.

WWI Letter June 20, 1918 written by David Jesse Shumaker.

WWI Letter June 20, 1918 written by David Jesse Shumaker.

WWI Letter June 20, 1918 written by David Jesse Shumaker.

Did you enjoy this post with the WWI letter from David Jesse Shumaker to his family back home? Let me know in the comments below!

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