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Sailor who died in Normandy Invasion, wife's grandfather among those in family tree with birthda

Birthdays from my family tree for the week of Aug. 24:

Aug. 24

Addie B. Hall, (my first cousin four times removed on my mother's side), b. 1874 in Robertson, Ky.; d. November 1875. Addie was the daughter and one of nine children of James Edmund Hall and Elizabeth Jane Coyle Hall.

Archibald B. McBrayer, (my first cousin twice removed on my father's side), b. 1883 in Wagner, Rowan County, Ky.; d. Sept. 30, 1910, in Rowan County, Ky. Archibald was one of eight children and six sons of Lewis Parker McBrayer and Martha Jane Kidd McBrayer. I'm not sure what caused his death at age 27.

John Owen Bernard Conlon, (my wife Deborah Renee Ray's great uncle-in-law on her father's side), b. 1931; d. Sept. 24, 2005. John was married to Carolyn Audrey Brinson Conlon, sister of my wife's paternal grandmother, Ruth Augusta Brinson.

Arthur Ray Kidd, (my third cousin on my father's side), b. 1934 in Rowan County, Ky.; d. Oct. 2, 1934, in Rowan County, Ky. Arthur was the son of Davis William Kidd, my second cousin once removed, and Myrtle Mae Lambert Kidd, who was my fourth cousin twice removed. Myrtle Mae was also a second cousin of my paternal grandmother, Lenore Lambert Kidd. So Arthur was a double relative — a third cousin once removed, as well as a third cousin.

Aug. 25

Marion Kidd, (my first cousin twice removed on my father's side), b. 1892 in Elliott County, Ky.; d. May 27, 1983, in West Liberty, Morgan County, Ky. Marion was a cousin of my paternal grandfather, Elmer Kidd. He married Mary E. Jennings (1894-1978), who could be related to any number of Jenningses in my family tree, though I've not yet established such a connection.

Clarence Richard Ray, my wife's paternal grandfather, in an undated photo. I believe this is from his time in the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Clarence Richard Ray, (my wife Deborah Renee Ray's paternal grandfather), b. 1913 in Camden, Kershaw County, S.C.; d. Sept. 4, 1986, on John's Island, Charleston County, S.C. Mr. Ray died before I met my wife, so I never knew him. However, Debi tells me about her many fond memories of time spent on her granddaddy's farm on John's Island, S.C. — playing in the camper he owned, eating the corn he grew there and gathering with family on Sundays.

Clarence was born in Kershaw County, S.C., and went to Okaland School in Kershaw County from 1921 to 1929, according to a "statement of personal history," apparently filled out as part of a job application at the Charleston Naval Yard in the 1960s.

He moved to Charleston while in the Civilian Conservation Corps, in which he served from 1932-34. Later, he worked for a flour company and several construction firms before going to work in the shipyard in 1941. Force reductions left him briefly unemployed, and he worked back in his hometown of Camden for a few months in the winter of 1949-50 before getting hired on again at the shipyard.

Clarence and his wife, Ruth Augusta Brinson Ray, had five children, including my father-in-law, James Ray. While in the CCC, Clarence became friends with the brother of his future wife. Emile Brinson, who was from Charleston, brought Clarence home with him and introduced him to the family, including Ruth. Her parents, James Ernest Brinson and Elise Aletha Hill Brinson, housed boarders in their home, and Clarence at some point began lodging there.

Though Ruth was seven years Clarence's junior, they married Sept. 11, 1936, when Ruth was 16. They went to church on a Saturday evening, got married in the middle of the service, then went to the corner grocery store, where they purchased Ajax beer to celebrate. When they went home, they had to decide which room was going to be theirs — Ruth's or the room Clarnece was renting from the family.

Interestingly, while Clarence was living, he celebrated his birthday on Aug. 5. His birth certificate was lost in a fire, and no one could quite remember when he was born. So he celebrated with my father-in-law on Aug. 5. When he retired, the government inform him he was born Aug. 25.

Joseph Ralph Williams, (my first cousin twice removed on my mother's side), b. 1916 in Morgan County, Ky.; d. June 19, 1943, in the Normandy Invasion during World War II. Joseph was the son of Jesse Scott Williams and Minnie Mae Hamilton Williams, and the cousin of Andrew Jackson Williams, a maternal great grandfather. I don't know a lot about his life, but I've learned quite a bit about his noble death.

Joseph (pictured with his wife, Elizabeth Pearl Jenkins Williams) was a seaman 1st class in the U.S. Navy, serving and dying aboard LST 523. That ship made three trips during the Allies' Normandy invasion, the first one possibly on D-Day, June 6. The last was June 19 — the day Joseph's ship struck a mine. His fellow sailors were behind another ship that got hung up, and Joseph's ship, while maneuvering from the Utah Beach anchorage to the beachhead, struck a mine. The force of the blast split the LST in two pieces. Ninety-four men of the 300th and 41 of her crew perishing. According to an official investigation of the incident:

About 10 minutes after the explosion unidentified members of the crew, with Lieutenant McNeill, H&S Co, 300th Engineer Combat Battalion, gave verbal instructions to abandon ship. There was no ship's officer present and conscious on either of the two parts of the ship. The abandon ship order was given and transmitted in such a manner as to incite panic. The ship was abandoned in a most disorderly manner, most individuals acting without thought or reason, simply following the crowd, or some other individuals. All of the personnel of the 300th Engineer Combat Battalion with three exceptions who were seen alive after the explosion got off the ship.

There were four lifeboats on the ship, one of which was probably lowered to the water successfully. The balance of the lifeboats were damaged by the blast or the upheaval of the ship to such an extent as to make launching impossible or of no avail. Evidence indicates there were an undetermined number of lifeboats on board, practically all of which were put into the water before the ship sank. All personnel had been issued pneumatic life belts prior to leaving England and instructed in the use thereof, however about one half were damaged on the voyage across the Channel or lost in the excitement of the abandoning ship or otherwise not available for use. ...

Testimony would indicate that a large portion of the personnel on board the ship were either in the mess line, in the mess hall or in the mess kit washing line, all of which activity was concentrated near the point of the explosion it appears that in the neighborhood of 100 man must have been in the mess kit washing line, since it extended from the center of the ship along the right radial to the fantail. There were survivors only from the extreme ends of the line. Apparently most of the persons in this area were instantly killed or so severely shocked that they were unable to escape from the incoming water.

Aug. 26

Barbara Wolfe Lambert, (my 4G grandmother on my father's side), b. 1774 in Wythe County, Va.; d. about 1850 in Wythe County, Va. Barbara married Johann Heinrich Lambert in 1794 in Wythe County. Johann was originally from Pennsylvania, and his father, for whom he was named, was born in Germany. The elder Johann emigrated sometime between 1766 and 1772. I do not know who Barbara's parents were.

Wiley Ray, (my wife Deborah Renee Ray's great uncle on her father's side ), b. 1903 in South Carolina; d. Feb. 13, 1976, in Bishopville, Lee County, S.C. Wiley was the son of James Huey Ray and his first wife, Hattie Hayes Ray. Wiley had one sister and at least 12 step-siblings, the children of James and his second wife, Jessie Boone. Among his step-brothers was Clarence Richard Ray, whose birthday was Aug. 25.

Aug. 27

Harrison Jennings, (my first cousin once removed on my father's side and my second cousin twice removed on my father's side), b. 1871 in Morgan County, Ky.; d. Feb. 8, 1943, in Wagner, Rowan County, Ky. Harrison was the son of David Jennings Sr. and Mary Kidd Jennings. I have Jenningses on both my mother and father's side. Among Harrison's nine siblings was John Milton Jennings, the father-in-law of Vada Mae Wilson Jennings, my great aunt on my mother's side.

Ella Anna Jennings, (my first cousin once removed on my father's side and my second cousin twice removed on my father's side), b. 1877 in Morgan County, Ky.; d. June 30, 1913, in Rowan County, Ky. If my information is accurate, Ella was born on the same day of the year, six years after her brother Harrison Jennings.

Isaac F. Kidd, (my first cousin once removed on my father's side and my second cousin once removed on my father's side), b. 1878 Elliott County, Ky.; d. April 17, 1949, in Morehead, Rowan County, Ky. Isaac was the son of Peter Fannin-Kidd, my paternal grandfather's uncle, and Sarah Ann Wilson. One of their children, Jesse James Kidd, married Adaline Stidham, a first cousin on my mother's side.

Asa Richard Quesinberry, (my first cousin three times removed on my mother's side), b. 1888 in Wagner, Rowan County, Ky.; d. Nov. 14, 1963, in Morehead, Rowan County, Ky. Asa was the son of Isaac Quesenberry and Lydia Alice Hall Quesenberry. Isaac's sister, Nancy, married Lydia's brother, George Washington Hall.

Aug. 28

Solomon J. Perry, (my second cousin four times removed on my mother's side), b. 1876 in Rushville, Fairfield County, Ohio; d. March 26, 1958, in Millersport, Ohio. The son of Mary Wilson Perry and Solomon Perry, the younger Solomon's great grandfather was Jacob Wilson, who was my 5G grandfather.

Atlee Trent, (my great uncle-in-law on my mother's side), b. 1924; d. Feb. 11, 2008. Atlee married one of my grandmother's younger sisters, Norma Louise Williams, in 1947. Atlee was in the construction business most of his life. He often built homes, lived in them a while with Aunt Norma, sold them and moved somewhere else. Atlee and Norma also lived in both a newer home and the original Indian cabin on Williams Branch, which came into the family when William Washington Williams purchased it in the late 1880s.

Aug. 29

Robert Emmett Wilson, (my second cousin three times removed on my mother's side), b. 1892 in Kentucky; I'm not sure when Robert died. He was the son of William Monroe Wilson and Ella Byron Wilson. Our common ancestors are Isaac Wilson and Theodocia Lee Wilson, my 4G grandparents and Robert's 2G grandparents.

Virgil Linard Kidd, (my second cousin on my father's side, second cousin twice removed on my father's side and my second cousin once removed on my father's side), b. 1917 in Elliott County, Ky.; d. Nov. 2, 1966, in Fremont, Ohio. Virgil was the child of Jesse James Kidd and Adaline Stidham Kidd — both of whom are mentioned under the Aug. 27 birthday listing for Isaac Kidd. Jesse is related to me through my father's bloodline, and Adeline is first cousin three times removed on my mother's side.

Aug. 30

Lula Nelson Wilson, (wife of Dr. Burwell Clefford Wilson, my first cousin three times removed), b. 1878 in Hillsboro, Montgomery County, Ill.; d. Jan. 27, 1955, in Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas. Lula married into the family. Her husband Burwell was the son of one of Morehead, Ky.'s first medical doctors; one of Burwell's brothers, Bunyan Spratt Wilson, was Morehead's first mayor and later a prominent lawyer in Ashland, Ky.; and his sister Cora Wilson Stewart was a noted adult-literacy advocate. I don't know much about Lula and Burwell's life together, including details of how she came to live in Texas. Burwell died in 1946, while attending a medical conference in Louisville, Ky. She lived another nine years.

Christi Lynn Funk, (wife of Grover Scott Brinson, my wife Deborah Renee Ray's first cousin once removed on her father's side). Happy birthday, Christi.

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