Even though The Great War had ended the previous November, Memorial Day 1919 in Riverside still focused, as it had since 1865, on the dead of the Civil War.
Residents and “but a few of the veterans of the Civil War” gathered that Memorial Day in Community Park – now called Guthrie Park – to pay tribute to those who died in the service of the Grand Army of the Republic.
Edward Ames, the 13-year-old son of school Superintendent A.F. Ames, read “The Gettysburg Address.”
By 1920, however, Riverside veterans of the Great War had established their own American Legion post and in cooperation with the Riverside Memorial Association, began planning to erect both a suitable war memorial and a building where the post could hold its meetings.
In June 1920, the Riverside News reported that the association had discussed “the subject of the proposed memorial for Riverside soldiers and sailors of the late war and the subject of furnishing by popular subscription by the people of Riverside a suitable meeting house for the Riverside post of the American Legion” and that “there be a suitable memorial which should be permanent and enduring.”
That memorial – now called the Gold Star Memorial in Guthrie Park — was ready to be dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1921. It was a simple memorial consisting of four boulders, placed to “mark the memorial trees planted a year ago by the children of the grammar school.”
One of the boulders bore a plaque commemorating all of those who died during World War I. The three others were dedicated individually to the three Riverside natives who died while serving their country – Rev. Hedley Heber Cooper, Sgt. James P. Quinn and Pvt. Albert Edward Moore.
The grammar school and its children played a major role in the dedication of the memorial. In addition to soliciting the contributions which funded the memorial, the school board president presided over the dedication ceremony.
In what was described by the Riverside News as “intense heat,” school children, accompanied by the Boy Scout band, marched from the grammar school (Central School) to the park for the “chief event,” which was the unveiling of the bronze tablets.
“Long after we are all gone, those beautiful bronze tablets will stand to the honor of Hedley Heber Cooper, Albert Edward Moore and James Philip Quinn and the glory of Riverside.”
Rev. Hedley Cooper
Cooper was the son of the Rev. Robert O. Cooper, who served as rector of St. Paul Church in Riverside from 1908 to 1927. In 1914, at the age of 28, Rev. Cooper became priest-in-charge at St. Christopher Church in Oak Park.
In 1917, Cooper departed for New York, where he joined the 71st New York Infantry, a National Guard unit. He served as a chaplain and attained the rank of captain. He also at some point became rector of Christ Church in Piermont, New York.
But Cooper didn’t serve in France as part of a U.S. Army unit. Instead, he shipped off to Europe on Feb. 8, 1918 as a civilian volunteer with the YMCA, according to the Summary of World War Work of the American YMCA, published in 1920. Cooper is listed in the book’s “honor roll.”
In France, he was attached to the 42nd Division, 168th Infantry Regiment, which was fighting in the Alsace-Lorraine region. In 1919, a member of that regiment, W.E. Robb, published his account of the regiment’s service, titled The Price of our Heritage.
In it, Robb paid tribute to those who died during the campaign, Cooper among them. According to Robb, Cooper had been with the regiment “but a few days” and was “in the very front line” near the village of Negre when the Germans launched “its most terrible gas attacks.”
There are two accounts in Robb’s book of just how Cooper died, and they conflict a bit.
“When the attack commenced, Cooper donned his gas mask and went out to see what he could do to help,” Robb wrote in his entry on Cooper. “Sergeant Wintrode of Company A says Cooper came to him and volunteered to help in any way he could so Wintrode let him pilot a detail of men with ammunition down to front line and while doing so was killed.”
In an entry on Halliday S. Smith, another YMCA volunteer who died alongside Cooper, Robb wrote that the two men “went forward to the front position to assist in the care of the wounded. A gas shell burst near them and they did not realize its deadly nature until after a breath had been taken.”
The YMCA’s book on the war states that Cooper died at the AEF hospital in Baccarat on May 26, 1918. He was buried initially at the French Military Cemetery in Baccarat, but his remains later were reburied at Rockland Cemetery, about a mile from Christ Church, just outside Piermont.
Sgt. James P. Quinn
The Riverside News in a pair of stories in early 1919, identified him as James J. Quinn Jr.
A 24-year-old “splendid athletic young giant,” Quinn worked in the organ construction department at W.W. Kimball in Chicago before enlisting in the U.S. Army in October 1917.
He rose to the rank of sergeant as a member of Company A, 332nd Field Artillery Regiment, 86th Infantry Division, which did not see action, though it did go overseas in late summer 1918.
In January 1919, Quinn was stationed at Fort Logan, an Army training base in Houston, Texas. In late 1918, the influenza pandemic which had already killed millions worldwide, hit Fort Logan.
By late January/early February 1919, Quinn became ill and in early February his family learned his condition was serious. Quinn’s mother and brother traveled to Houston, and were present at his death on Feb. 4, 1919, according to the Riverside News.
The cause of his death, according to the newspaper, was pneumonia and meningitis.
Pvt. Albert E. Moore
Unfortunately there are no issues of the Riverside News from the years 1917 or 1918 in the collection of the Riverside Public Library.
As a result, there isn’t much information available on Pvt. Albert Edward Moore, who died in combat while fighting as a U.S Marine attached to the U.S. Army’s 2nd Infantry Division during the allied counterattack in the Second Battle of the Marne on July 19, 1918.
The counterattack near Soissons, about 60 miles north of Paris, had started July 18. The 2nd Division, which suffered heavy losses, was taken out of the line on July 20, according to the book Battle History of the United States Marine Corps, 1775–1945.