‘Those Who Served’ tracks veterans through newspaper clippings

By Josh Arntz
The Dickson Herald

Published Nov. 6, 2013

If you’re interested in a Dickson County veteran’s service during World War II, Georgia L. Baker’s periodical compilation could help you track that service person’s movements through the historical conflict.

Baker, a self-described transcriber and editor, has assembled a 3-volume reference for every “The Dickson County Herald” article from September 1940 to late 1946, printed about veterans of World War II and their families.

Baker’s older brother, Carter Baker published the work through Nashville-based Richland Press, and helped with the compilation. Carter serves on the Dickson County Historical and Genealogical Society’s board of directors too.

“Georgia is an indefatigable researcher,” Carter said.

The 3-volume compilation – “Those Who Served: World War II News Reported in The Dickson County Herald” – is available for purchase through Richland Press and for perusal at the Dickson County Library.

Georgia spent her career in libraries and with books, she noted, “so I had a running knowledge of what to do with things, but I didn’t go to school for history.”

“I’m just interested in the area and I had made this my permanent home, so I wanted to know more about it I guess you might say,” she added.

The Baker family has been in Dickson County since 1815, and owns a century farm – Baker’s Burden Farm, which they call Spring Valley. Georgia was born and raised in Nashville, where the family relocated when Carter and her older sister were “real little.”

Carter recalled hearing stories about Dickson County from their father.

“Our father was from here, so we heard (stories) from him,” Georgia added, “and we still had a few uncles out here as we were growing up, so we’d hear from them and it just was interesting.”

The Baker family would spend every weekend in Dickson County during “good weather,” she noted. Georgia since has made her home on the family’s land.

Georgia has compiled several reference works about Dickson County history – from censuses, marriage records and funeral home records to the ongoing The Down “On Piney” series.

Carter described the “On Piney” series as compilations from The Herald about “the doings in the southwest portion of the county.”

The research began, Georgia explained, while she and her sister, Ailsie McEnteggart went through an old family cemetery about 20 years ago. McEnteggart had made a listing of the cemetery during high school and wanted to “redo” the list, so she asked Georgia to be her “scribe.”

“There were several (people) who Ailsie and I just looked at each other and said ‘I wonder who this person is, and how does she relate,'” Georgia recalled.

Georgia started flipping through old newspapers to find out, and “one thing led to another and I got into them and that’s when I discovered all this information about the early communities and I just went back to the beginning and started in.”

Georgia began the World War II project two years ago and finished early last summer.

“To be honest, I always have projects ruminating in my mind and that was one of them. I had already started work on World War I, but I had kind of let it slide for a while and now of course it’s looming, so I need to get back to it,” she noted.

Carter said he had no idea the work would span three volumes. The expanse caught Georgia off guard too. She discovered “all this information” while researching the “On Piney” series that covered the war years.

“I mean I knew there would be information,” Georgia said. “I was just, you might say, not expecting to find as much and so I kept thinking ‘I have to do something with it.’

“And I just finally decided ‘OK, I’m diving in feet first, whatever I come out with I come out with,'” she added.

According to a press release, Volume 1 begins in September 1940 with the activation of the local National Guard unit, Company E, 117th Infantry, for one year’s training.

The volumes contain draft lists; information about training; excerpts from letters home; notices of the wounded and the dead; a list of marriages, a complete index with the full name of every person listed; footnotes; and related articles from other area newspapers.

Volume 3 contains a list of every Dickson County person who died, and every ship, camp, fort and base mentioned. The work features a glossary of awards and decorations too. An appendix in Volume 3 lists the obituaries of those buried overseas and whose bodies later were returned.

Several service members died overseas and weren’t carried home, Georgia said, which took “some digging” to find them. Some were lost because they went down with ships, she added.

She tracked their ancestry through the military with burial and medals lists, where she could find their enlistment records. Carter noted local heroes were buried in Greenville, Pa., Honolulu, Belgium, etc.

In doing the research, Georgia was “amazed” at how much Dickson County families traveled to visit their loved ones in service. She described one veteran who got stuck in Memphis while coming home for Christmas, so his mother met him there.

She also was struck at “how far spread all over the world” Dickson County residents were sent. Many however, remained close to home and returned frequently.

Carter, who served as a proof reader and assembled the footnotes, also was impressed that the service personnel returned home often, because he thought they left home and were gone for the duration of the war.

Georgia reported the newspaper writing style of the era was “much more flowery” than at present, so she edited the articles to remove “some of those extraneous ways of doing things.” She also omitted “one or two” articles printed more than once.

Georgia plans to release the next “On Piney” series (1952-’59) before the end of the year. She’ll also compile “revisited” funeral home records for Dickson and Taylor funeral homes, since the previous works ended with December 2006. She’s working on a records log for Spann Funeral Home too, slated to come out in 2014.

All of Georgia’s compilations are at the Dickson County Library. You can order your own copy from Richland Press by calling or emailing Carter at (615) 424-2882, cbaker3708@aol.com.