He lived on the family’s farm until the early 1900s, when the family moved across the river to Illmo in Scott County, Missouri. The family lived for years near Grays Point, Mo.
He registered for the draft on June 5, 1917, in Illmo, Mo., at age 21. This would have been about three months after the U.S. entered the war.
He was enlisted on April 26, 1918, at Benton, Mo., and served in France and Europe during the “Great War,” as it was known then. It appears that he served as a corporal-quartermaster corps in the Army in June 1919, according to copies of his military records.
I do know that he was awarded a Purple Heart after being wounded in the war, likely suffering the after-effects of mustard gas somewhere in France. Copies of his enlistment record indicate that he was gassed on Aug. 8, 1918, but no location is listed. (Because I don’t know what unit or company he served with, I can’t be sure of the location or his mission and role.)
The story goes that a lovely young French woman nursed him back to health and that he wanted to marry her but didn’t. I can’t be certain about how much of that story is factual, but I do know that he saved a photograph of a French woman because I found it recently among some old family photos and his Purple Heart tucked into a box. Perhaps she was his nurse.
Also in the box was a postcard he wrote on March 19, 1919, to Ruth Duckworth, who would later be his wife.
Best wishes from Sunny France. Why have I not heard from you in last six months?
He was honorably discharged on July 17, 1919, at Camp Zachary Taylor, a military training camp in Louisville, Ky.
After the war, Lloyd returned home and attended Kansas State Agricultural College. (I’m hoping to find out soon if he graduated and get a copy of his transcript.) He saved a copy of his book rental receipt showing what amounts to pennies as the cost for an English workbook and text for the semester.
He and Ruth Duckworth were married Jan. 21, 1922, in Manhattan, Kansas. He was 26 at the time; she would have been 20 in the year of their marriage. I have a faint copy of their marriage certificate but I don’t believe it lists any witnesses. Since the wedding was in Kansas, I can only assume it was because he was finishing up a degree before they moved back to Missouri.
Lloyd, as he was known by most people, spent most of his life farming like his father before him. Even after he and Ruth moved into town, he still leased land down by the Mississippi River bottoms. Some of his farm ledgers survived, showing the price for the popcorn he sold to the movie theater in town and the loss of a mare or cow.
He continued to farm until his last days. My memories of him include playing on the front porch at his house in Illmo, and waking him from naps on the daybed in the living room so he could join the family for Sunday lunch. I couldn’t have been more than 3 years old since he died in 1976.
He later moved to the Veterans Hospital in Poplar Bluff and died there Nov. 25, 1976. He is buried next to Ruth, who died a more than a decade later, in Lightner Cemetery in Scott City, Mo.
- U.S. Census records, 1900-1940
- U.S. World War I draft registration cards, Honorable Discharge papers, U.S. Army record, form No. 152-A.G.O., Edition, Aug. 16-17.
- Marriage certificate, issued by State of Kansas.
- Grave marker, funeral cards
- Personal papers, Aaron Lloyd Simpson