IAGenWeb Project - Allamakee co.

Private Ralph Daniel Waters

Ralph D. Waters' coffin
Ralph D. Waters' coffin being carried to the funeral carriage in front of his father's home on Hardin street
(close-up view)

Ralph D. Waters' color guard
Same photo, showing more of the picture
(this photo bears the stamp of photographer E.A. Hirth, Waukon, Iowa)

Ralph D. Waters casket in the living room of his father's home.

Waukon Soldier Killed in Action
Waukon newspaper article, September 21, 1918

Private Ralph Waters Killed August 10—No War Department Message
Waukon, Ia, Sept 21—Special: Another gold star must be added to Waukon’s ever increasing service flag, according to information received here yesterday which told of the death of Private Ralph Waters. The young soldier was summoned to camp last February and has seen just six months’ service.

The government message announcing the casualty has not been received here as yet. Parents of the young man were informed of the tragedy through a letter of condolence from a comrade in the same company with young Waters. According to the letter, private Waters was killed in action August 10. Few details of the fatal engagement were given.

Private Waters, previous to his military career, was prominently know in Waukon and throughout the section as a stock buyer. He is twenty-six years of age, the son of Mr. and Mrs. George Waters.

Note: Ralph's parents were George A. Waters and Martha Jaquis Waters (George A’s first wife). While working with a mare and colt Ralph was pulled from the horse and broke his leg wich never healed properly, he walked with a limp, yet he was inducted into the US Army.

Body of Soldier Back From France
Waukon newspaper article, 1919

Waukon, Ia., Jan. 7—Special. The body of Ralph D. Waters, who was killed in action in France, arrived in Waukon Friday, accompanied by a military escort from Chicago, and funeral services were held from the Presbyterian church Monday afternoon, conducted by Rev. Dr. VanNice. Internment was made in the old Post township cecetery [sic] Tuesday afternoon. Ralph was the first Allamakee county boy to give up his life on the field of battle in France, having been killed at the Battle of Chippley Ridge in the Somme offensive on August 9, 1918, at the age of 33 years and two months.

Ralph left Waukon with the contingent of February 25, 1918, going to Camp Dodge, and was transferred after two months in Huston, Texas. Leaving there May 9, he went to New York from which place he sailed May 20 arriving in France May 30. He entered the trenches on June 7, and just two months and two days later, on August 9, met his death. His body was exhumed from its first isolated grave on April 23, 1919, and was buried in American cemetery No. 443, where it remained until again taken up recently to be brought home for burial in its final resting place, the body arrived in New York on December 15.

When, at the close and after the greater portion of soldiers had arrived home the American Legion Post was organized in Waukon, it was named the Ralph D. Waters Post in honor of the memory of their first comrade to pay the great price, and the American Legion post at Waukon will stand a monument to his memory.

Following the funeral services Monday, which were attended by the band and a large company of legion members in uniform, the body was taken to the Legion hall where a guard of soldiers was established to remain with it until Tuesday, when accompanied by a large delegation of mourning relatives and friends and a military escort from the Legion post that bears his name, it was taken to the cemetery in Post township near the old Waters home, for burial.

Story of Ralph D. Waters Post Namesake Told
Waukon newspaper article, 1981

The following account of the life of Ralph D. Waters, for whom the local American Legion post is named, was prepared by the Junior auxiliary at the Memorial day season.

Ralph D. Waters was born on May 9, 1888, in Mitchell county, Iowa, the son of George A. and Martha Jaquis Waters. When he was ten days old his mother passed away. Ralph D. Waters lived in Mitchell county with is father and step-mother and also with his uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Herb Waters near Postville, and later in Waukon. He was a livestock buyer with his uncle, Herb Waters.

On February 25, 1918, he was inducted into the United States army at Waukon. He took his basic training at Camp Dodge, Des Moines, and later was sent to an army camp in Texas. In May, 1918 he was sent overseas
with Company H, 131st Infantry. On August 9, 1918, he was killed in action at Chippilly Ridge on the River Somme, 15 miles east of Amiens, one of the battle scarred cities of France in World War I. He was killed instantly by a machine gun bullet through his heart at the age of 30 years.

Burial was in a French cemetery until the winter of 1920-21 when Waters's body was disinterrned with many others and brought to this country. The body arrived in Waukon on Jan. 1, 1921 with military escort. On Jan. 3, 1921 funeral services were conducted by Rev. R. Van Nice at the Presbyterian church. The following day the body was taken to the Minert cemetery near Bethel in Post township, Allamakee county and laid to rest beside his mother. He was given full military honors at his funeral and burial.

Ralph D. Waters never married. R. J. Waters, former deputy sheriff of Allamakee county was his brother. The American Legion post of Waukon was named after him as he was the first soldier from Waukon to lose his life in action.

Notes: Ralph served in Company H 131 Infantry 33 Division. The funeral was held at the home of his father on Harden Street, Waukon, Iowa. The cemetery he is buried at is also called the Old Post Cemetery to get to it you take the Cherry Valley Road out of Postville and turn left onto Minert Road. The marker is located in the center of the cemetery as you start up the hill.

-news articles, photos and notes contributed by Darrel K. Waters. Ralph was his father's half bother. Contact Darrel at his email address located on the Allamakee co. surname registry

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