Evansville Native Was First American Killed In World War One
When the "Great War" began in 1914 it was to be the war to end all wars. Many were not so sure when it ended at 11:00 AM on the eleventh day of the eleventh month four years later. That date will be remembered forever as "Armistice Day" or "Veterans Day" when we honor all service men and women who served in the US military.
If you look carefully in Evansville's Locust Hill Cemetery you will find the final resting place of the first American soldier killed in WWI -- Cpl. James B. Gresham.
He was born in Mclean County Kentucky but at an early age James dropped out of school and moved to Evansville to find work and support his family. Just shy of his 21st birthday he entered the army and eventually became part of the first division which landed in France and soon paraded behind their commander General John Pershing through the streets of Paris. After the pomp of those festivities were over James was thrust into battle near the small French town of Bathelemont, near Nancy. That night his unit was cut off and fought hand to hand against the seasoned German troops. His body was found the next morning.
James' body was buried at the scene of the battle. After the war his remains were brought back to America and at the request of his family were interred at Evansviile's Locust Hill Cemetery. Let's never forget those that have fought to protect our country and say a special silent prayer for an Evansville native that helped make Armistice Day -- or "Veterans Day"-- possible.