The Top 100 German Surnames
German last names originate from places and professions in Germany and far beyond, as a list of 100 of the most common German surnames shows. The list was initially created by searching for the most common last names in German telephone books. Where variations of a spelling of a surname occurred, those monikers are listed as separate names. For instance, Schmidt, which is ranked No. 2, also appears as Schmitt (No. 24), and Schmid (No. 26). This list is different than one showing popular German surnames with their English translations.
Woodmen of the World and the Tree Stone Grave Markers
The society designed a four to five foot high tree trunk monument pattern for adults and three stacked logs for children. WOW would send a copy of the pattern to the local stone carver in the deceased woodman’s hometown, so that all of the tree stones would be similar in appearance.
But other decorations were added to the tree trunk, thereby making each marker more individualistic. Many times, the tree stone pattern was altered sized differently, cut in a different manner, or branches were added or broken off each time a family member was buried.
Today, Woodmen of the World is one of the largest fraternal benefit society with open membership in the United States. The organization provides not only insurance, but also investment, bonds, real estate and mortgage loans to its members. Its 2010 financial performance included gross revenue of $1.2 billion. WOW is active in local communities, providing aid to senior citizens, the physically impaired and orphans. Woodmen of the World has partnered with the American Red Cross to provide disaster relief nationwide.
I saw a few of these today in Fresno, and it prompted an internet search. Thanks for the info!
I also like to read and admire old head stones. I ran across many in an old cemetery in st.petersburg florida.
I went to Fresno to see the big Fresno Fair. I was staying at the Econolodge on Belment, and although I enjoy visiting cemeteries, I had never strolled though that one. I also saw those unusual headstones, and assumed they were for loggers! Thanks for the background. I am sooooo glad I discovered this blog.
After knowing for most of my life that my great grandfather was a member, and has a marker on his grave at Hollywood Memorial Cemetery, I called for his location and am going to see it this weekend! He was buried in 1910. So excited to see this part of my family history!
We found many in the Crystal River, FL cemetery this week. Googled it and found this informative blog. thank .
You are welcome! Just be aware, they can become addictive. )
Joy, thank you so much for your info. I, too, am a cemetary haunt! I found these several years ago in Hendersonville, NC near Tom Wolfe's angel and have been hooked. My patient husband lets me visit cemetaries every chance we get--VT, CT, PA, VA, WV, NC, GA, AB, FL, TX, CO and a few overseas. Would love to keep in touch with you and learn more of your research.
Thanks for the info my 2nd great grandfather has one of those markers and it has the dove and has a spot in it that had a picture of him.
How cool! I've never seen one with a picture! Do you have any photos of it?
Your article was very informative,but I have been told over the years,that each variance of stone had a meaning as to the deceased standing in the "Order".Is there any credence to this story.
Woodmen of the World and Modern Woodmen of America were both insurance fraternal organizations. Anyone could belong, you did not have to receive a "special" invitation. They did not have an "order" like the Masons or Odd Fellows. The designs carved on the stones for WOW/MWA depicted something symbolic from their lives, a gun for a hunter, a flower for a woman, a book for a teacher or minister, a broken branch to show a young death. Hope that helps.
We have 3 of them in a cemetery in Maryville, MO. They are beautiful pieces of art and stand proud for those buried there.
Thanks for the info on them as I had no idea there was history behind them.
I finally found where my grandfather was buried and went there today to see his birth date and the date of death.To my amazement he had a Woodmen of the World tombstone.Probably 5 ft.tall and one similar for his wife.My grandfather passed 25 years before I was born so I've been trying to find more about him. I emailed Woodmen of the World for info thinking they might keep records, but no response.Enjoyed the info I found here.
They are amazing! I know WOW provided the stones to their members until the 1920's when it became too expensive to continue. You might try contacting WOW again. And, get ready, the blog post for July 27th - another look at the Tree Stones. D
I am fascinated with pioneer cemeteries. I was driving by one today out in a rural area near Portland , OR and noticed a tree trunk carved tombstone about 5' tall. So, I got out for a closer look. The person died in 1901 and the tree monument had the woodmen of the World emblem carved in it. I had never heard of WOW before. Thanks for sharing info about it in this blog. Too bad I can't post the pics i took of it here to share.Cheers, Amy
Amy, if you're on Instagram or Twitter, please post your photos there and use hashtag #historiccemeteries. Would love to see your photos!
This is a great inspiring article. I visited the site…it is a nice site. Thanks for providing information here…i like your blog post.thanks a lot.
My Grandfather has a woodman of the world tombstone , He died in morganton nc in 1917. I have been trying to find out more about this org
Was your grandfather Wade Raby? If so Wade was the brother of my GGrandfather John Raby.
Wade was the first NC recipient of the WOW tree headstone. Morganton had a parade which was attended by the NC governor
You can get more info @ http://www.woodmen.org
They are still in the insurance business. They may also be able to help you find out mer about his stone. Good luck!!
The first WOW monument I saw was in the Meador Cemetery in Cherokee Co., Tx..I was 7 years old. Since then my strolling through Findagrave.com I have seen ever so many. I always take a photo and put it on findagrave.com. I was told each symbol had a meaning and was looking for that information when I found this site. one of my grandsons is a WOW member as are friends of his.
The more elaborate stones were carved to feature symbols that told a story about the deceased's life.
I've found tree stones carved with guns and animals for a hunter.
A woman's stone may have flowers or plants on their trees, maybe even sewing items.
Children's stones are usually small, like a tree stump, to indicate a young life cut short.
Some stones actually show how the deceased died, like the wrecked train on a stone I found in Vincennes, Indiana.
I saw "Women of Woodcraft" on several headstones in Oak Mound Cemetery, Healdsburg, California, just last weekend. Since I was totally unfamiliar with this, I did a 'Google' search and found your website with all this great info. I am also one of those who love to wander old cemeteries, and I am a long-time family researcher.
Glad you found AGI. I love finding unusual symbols and then trying to figure them out. Women of Woodcraft will probably appear here at some time. )
Doing family genealogy and found two relatives in Oddfellow Cemetary, Hugo, Oklahoma. Distant cousins and their Woodsmen and WOW markers. Thanks for the info!!
Glad it was helpful, Michele!
I also do geneology on the Orme family, Was at the Nodaway, Iowa Cemetery today, also standing and admiring the tree trunk, monuments, wow!! been reading what everything means. There is a large stone also standing with the name ORME in the center of a grey stone standing 5 feet tall and at the top of the stone, has the emblem. The circle and at the bottom it has the word memorial (at the bottom of the circle) and then from the left it reads, woodsmen of the world, (circling around the top from left to right and the stump of a tree in the middle. Why a normal stone. did they have to purchase their own stone and put this on it or someway to find, why no name other than ORME.
Judy, that's a great question. I've seen many regular WOW stones in the same cemetery with several tree stones. Let me see what I can find out.
Found several, as in at least 10 at Oak Hill in Oolagah, oklahoma. Pretty amazing! Found our first one in Glen Rose, Tx while geocaching. I can see why locating these are a passion for many, they are so unique. Seeking information is just as interesting.
Ah Jennifer, they can become addicting. )
here is a link to my Gr Gandfathers gravestone. with a bit of latin perhaps?
Ramer Cemetery, (near Rogers Springs )TN
The Latin is the Woodmen of the World motto “Dum Tacet Clamet,” meaning, “Though silent, he speaks.”
My great great grandfather has a stone located in Old Saltillo cemetery in Saltillo, TX. I has a hatchet and a mallet crossed with what looks like a wedge on top. On the backside of the stone is Member Flora Camp 2471. His death date is 1914. Would you be able to tell me anything about this stone?
Woodmen of the World stones could include symbols such as axes, mauls, wedges, just about any type of tool used in woodworking. There were many camps throughout the country in the early 1900's. Unfortunately, I could not find any information out about the Flora Camp 2471 on the WOW site other than the fact that it no longer exists. You might try contacting them with his name and see if they can give you more information about his membership http://www.woodmen.org/
Thank you for your reply and the link.
My great grandfather's grave is near Saltillo TX, Quinlan, TX and he was 40 when he died in 1899. His marker sounds the same as the one you described. The marker has Quinlan Camp 433 and I suppose it no longer exists either. I checked the website.
My husband & I saw quite a few of these Woodsmen monuments in the Grandview Cemetery in Johnstown,Pa today & we had no idea what they were.Thank you for the information, we also enjoy walking in the cemeteries - lots of interesting history
Glad it was helpful. You'll be amazed at how many more you see now that you recognize them. )
Did they all have the emblem? There is a large one I found in NJ, not far form where I live, but it doesn't have the emblem, though it fits the timeframe.
Gayle Ann, the WOW stones can be confusing. Many were not tree stones at all, but were regular stones with the WOW emblem located on them. And many tree stones had noting to do with Woodmen of the World, or Modern Woodmen of America. In fact, you could order tree stones from Sears & Roebucks and Montgomery Wards catalogs without having any affiliation with WOW or MWA. And many people did, just because they liked the rustic tree stone look that was so popular in the early 1900's.
Thanks for the information. In wandering a local cemetery and taking pictures, I came across several of the tree markers and other markers designated with the epithet "Here rests a woodman of the world" and the crest. Being something I haven't seen before, I just had to research it.
Glad to help! That's how I became interested in learning more about them. There is something so appealing about those tree stones.
We were just at the little Florissant, Co. cemetery, and there were several WOW markers. There are also a lot of them at the Cripple Creek, Co. cemetery. These are very unique ones.
Thanks for the info. on them.
Thanks Craig! I love the really unique ones, too!!
I just recently started working for Woodmen of the World. I am very proud of their history. It is a wonderful company. Rarely do you find a company that gives back to the community in so many ways.
The fact that they would not let a member be buried without a marker made a tremendous impression on me. Congratulations, and Best of Luck with WOW, Lynda!
Love these stones! We have several in local cemeteries in northeast Iowa. My mom was addicted to them, we tried to find one for her, when she passed but couldn't. Does anyone make them now?
Not that I'm aware of. Does anyone else know of a company making tree stones today?
At least 25 and closer to 50 Gravemarkers for WOW members at Mountain View cemetery in Altadena, Ca.
WOW!! Sorry - no pun was intended, originally ) Would love to see those!
I saw a Woodman of the World grave marker in Westville Ok in a small family cemetery. It stuck in my mind for the last 20 years. I am so glad I finally found this website to explain the tree like grave marker.
I can see why you remembered it - These stones are so interesting and it's always fun to 'read' what all of the carvings mean.
My great great grandmother has one in Nashville TN. I saw it about 20 years ago, no one left to ask about her and honestly don't even know where she is buried. Only taken there once in my lifetime. But I have enjoyed the other stories. Thanks
The WOW emblem is etched into the marble grave covering at my great grandfather's grave site in Magnolia Cemetery in Apalachicola, Florida. He must have carried the insurance and rider which provided burial assistance. He was born in 1857 and died in 1919. It has been interesting to learn about the organization and therefore know more about his beliefs. Thank you
Glad the info helped. Thanks for reading!
As my mother and I visited her parents at the Ft. Lupton, Colorado Hillside Cemetery, we found two Woodman of the World headstones. They had a motto etched into them. Dum Tacet Clamat or Clamatas? Each man died near 1909, it looks as if a hatchet might have been on top and sort of a gavel on the front of a horizontal stone piece of wood. Do you know what the motto might mean? From your writings,does this organization still exist. It goes with my belief that there is no one true way. Thank you, Kim
Kim, the motto is “Dum Tacet Clamet,” meaning, “Though silent, he speaks.” Both Woodmen of the World and Modern Woodmen of America are still in operation today as insurance providers. Sadly, the stones are no longer used.
i found one these tomb stones in toronto, ontario, canada. it's located at Parklawn Cemetary at the corner of bloor st. and prince edward dr south. i was doing a google search on the tomb stone and found this site.
My great grandfather has a woodmen of the world tree stone. The stone stands over 6 feet tall and has a photo of him in it. He died in 1918. I saw the stone many times as a child but never learned about the history of it. I just thought it was a really neat stone. He is buried in Woodson Chapel Cementary, which is now part Land Between the Lakes in KY. I just found this site today. Thanks for the information
Glad it helped. Love the fact he had a photo on his stone. Most tree stones don't.
Hi my name is Rachel. I recently came upon some of my family history and I found that my Great-Great Grandfather, Robert Lee McHenry was part of the Woodmen of the World back in 1912. I have a Certificate of Beneficiary from this fraternity. You can also reach me at my e-mail ([email protected])
Enjoyed the history lesson, many of my family menbers back in the 1800s till 1930s have the tree stones. Want one for myself someday
Thanks! I recently saw a newer version (but not hand-carved) of a tree stone in a central Indiana cemetery. Nice to see someone is still making them.
We have several Woodmen and WOW stones in Pine Crest cemetery in Sault Sainte Marie Michigan .They are the 5' to 6' tall type and the small child's stack. My son works there in the summer and loves it . They are restoring the grave yard which is still used . Ed Wilson
Thanks, Ed! I'll have to make a note of that cemetery, wold love to see the tree stones.
I found your website after finding a tree stone also in Fisk, MO along with the tree that is taller then I am there was a smaller stone that has 4 "logs" with it I did not get to view that one as it started to rain so I left the cemetery but I will go back and see what that one says also. Thanks for the great information!
You're welcome! Thank you for reading!
Yesterday I saw three WOW headstones in the Yountville Cemetery located in Napa County, California. All had a log with an axe planted in a horizontal log. Beautiful pieces of art. Glad I found you website to explain WOW to me!
I responded to a post from Hurricane Martha. I am reposting just so it doesn't get lost in all the reply's - I really want to let you know how great your website is and helping me to find out what the meaning was behind these unusual headstones was.
I usually go by the moniker "Fresno Dan" but these internet profile things won't let me log in.
I went to Fresno to see the big Fresno Fair. I was staying at the Econolodge on Belment, and although I enjoy visiting cemeteries, I had never strolled though that one. I also saw those unusual headstones, and assumed they were for loggers! Thanks for the background. I am sooooo glad I discovered this blog.
Thanks, Fresno Dan! I'll warn you - looking for these stone can become addictive )
Help, my grandfather disappeared off the face of the earth sometime after 1930. His name Frederick Carkeek Pengilly born in 1892. I do have a letter of his from Sovereign camp! WOW building dated June 18 1917. He emigrated to the States in 1911
My father and his 2 sisters were born in Miami, Arizona at Camp #29. Sadly the marriage broke up and my grandma and her 3 children returned to Cornwall. I've tried everything to find him but this letter was found and it's worth a try.
Hi Steven. I would contact Woodmen of the World http://www.woodmen.org/Contact/
and see if they can shed any light on where your grandfather went after Miami, Arizona. Since this is a fraternal life insurance organization, they may also have some info on your grandma and her three children, if he continued to carry them on his policy. It's definitely worth a try! Good luck!
Were any of these monuments made by casting?
There were several tree-designed stones sold through catalogs, and being the same design, were cast not hand-carved. That's why you can find stones that look alike, especially in certain cities. But the hand-carved tree stones are the ones that tell the real story about the person.
It is nice to find beauty in sad things. I like looking at old headstones whenever I have to be in a cemetery, or while i'm driving by. Some of them are true works of art!
Indeed - Cemeteries are the repositories of our lives.
In addition, I would send u pics, but not sure how to attach in this format.
Just email to [email protected]
At least 3 of my ancestors have WOW tree trunk markers. The cemetery is outside of Jones, Louisiana and was condemned because graves were being disturbed. My grandfather, a civil war veteran is also buried there. I will take the 30 mile trip down there and get photos and information if you would like.
The post about the cementary in Jones La. Listed me as unknown. BILLY MAYO, CROSSETT ARKANSAS
Sorry to hear the graveyard was condemned, but there is hope. Usually the county or city will then come in and annex the land and sell it. Depending on Arkansas laws, the landowner may be required to keep the cemetery in decent repair. The downside is if the state does not require that then the landowner can do what they want with the property. Depending on how old the cemetery is, I would inquire with a historical group if it qualifies to be save for historical purposes.
When ever you're back there, please grab some shots of those graves but don't make a special trip.
I posted about a cemetery outside of Jones La. A number of my ancestors are buried there. I believe the cemetery is condemned because graves were being disturbed because wooden markers had rotted away. If it would help you, I'll take a short trip down there take some photos and collect information.
There are at least two tree trunk WOW markers marking the graves of my uncles.
I found a photo my great grandfather's monument online at Find a Grave: Nicholas J Caufman 1906 Bayview Cemetery in Bellingham, WA. Amazing monument. He was a sawyer for Mills Bros in Bellingham until he died.
How cool, Lee. People usually don't know that sawyer was the term for a lumber man. And on a tree stone - that makes it really special. Washington was one of the north western states where MWA and WOW did establish organizations. Most are located in the Midwest and Texas. Glad you found it - a true treasure.
Found a beautiful WOW grave stone in a small rural cemetery in Rossville Okla
My great grandfather was part of this organization. I don't know anything about his work with them but I do have the photo of his tombstone from First Street Cemetery in Waco. I wish I could upload it here and someone could tell me more about it. I do have it posted to my Facebook account today as I volunteer for disaster relief and shared a post from Mills County Iowa regarding some donations for the people affected by the recent floods by Woodmen of the World. I had no idea they still existed!
They do indeed. Here's a Facebook page for a WOW Texas group, (Don't know if it pertains to your great grandfather, but they may know what group does.) Woodmen of the World - Texas Southwest Lodge 406. And also the national HQ now known as Woodmen Life - https://www.woodmenlife.org/
I have a family member whose marker was stolen. How can we get it replaced? Joe Henderson in old depot texas cemetary.
Joe, I would suggest contacting the cemetery and see what ideas they might have. WOW stopped providing stones in the 1920s. You might also check your home owners insurance. I know that sounds odd, but I have heard of it sometimes covering obscure things.
My grandfather is buried at Westpark Cemetary and his stir had Woodmen of the World in it I enjoyed reading about this organization! He passed away in 1917 the same year my father was born he never saw his only son! He had three daughters at the time!
Sad about your grandfather never seeing his son. Thanks for sharing.
While searching the abandoned grave site of a relative, I located a similarly situated headstone of a person with a "Woodmen of the World Memorial" etched in it. I have a name, year of birth and year of death (1933). How can I go about locating data on this individual and/his descendant?
You can try the Woodmen of the World office in your state or the state the stone was found in. If a state office doesn't exist, you can contact the main headquarters in Omaha. Just keep in mind that due to new laws dealing with confidentiality, they may not be able to assist. Good luck!
Thanks for the article. I first discovered WOW headstones when doing ancestry. Most of them that I have seen are not trees. But the trees are really interesting.
Thanks for reading. Trees are more prolific in the Midwest due to the fact that this is where Root founded both organizations. Happy hunting!
Thank you so much for this article! My grandmother was an officer in an Iowa Woodmen Circle in the 1930s this helped shed some light on that activity!
I was at the cemetery here in Victoria, TX today and noticed a number of the WOW Tree trunk tombstones. And now I discovered the story behind them and will look into WOW more! They really are awesome markers. I'm another one that likes wandering through old cemeteries and just looking at al the different markers.
Always nice to hear from a fellow "tombstone tourist." Texas was the one state in the south where WOW had lodges. They were mainly located in the Midwest and a few in the Northwest. Enjoy your cemetery wanderings.
I'm most happy to have found this site. My father's gravesite is at the forest Grove cemetery in Monkstown, Texas. There are numerous woodsmen gravestone s there and I've always wondered about them please excuse me if I got the name of the cemetery wrong, I just know where it is and only hope that special place and others around there do not disappear.
Tree stones are always a great find and Texas cemeteries will have a lot of them.
There are a few of these in the Union Graham Cemetary in Winfield, KS. I find that they are very well preserved and have withstood the elements well.
They are truly gorgeous stones.
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I have found a headstone with memorial woodsmen of the world . Actually looks to be a small graveyard with old old headstones sad to see it being over grown and taken over by nature. Not sure if anything can be done to save this place of history. Someone reads this like to reach out to me that's be great [email protected]
I share your feelings. There are so many small graveyards that get lost back into nature because no one takes care of them. I would suggest that you check and see what your state's laws are concerning ownership of a cemetery. Some states still require that cemeteries be kept up and accessible regardless of the owner's desire to let it revert to nature. But many do not. In that case, find out who owns the land the cemetery is on and if they would mind people coming to clear it off? Many times owners would like to keep a graveyard up but just don't have the time. Its worth checking on. Thanks for your interest in keeping these old graveyards available for future generations! Joy
Baptism / Christening -Taufe, Taufen, Getaufte
Birth - Geburten, Geburtsregister, Geborene, geboren
Burial - Beerdigung, Beerdigt, Begraben, Begräbnis, Bestattet
Confirmation - Konfirmation, Firmungen
Death - Tot, Tod, Sterben, Starb, Verstorben, Gestorben, Sterbefälle
Divorce - Scheidung, Ehescheidung
Marriage - Ehe, Heiraten, Kopulation, Eheschließung
Marriage Banns - Proklamationen, Aufgebote, Verkündigungen
Marriage Ceremony, Wedding - Hochzeit, Trauungen
Mass grave of Nazi soldiers, including WWII artifacts, found in Poland
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Archaeologists have uncovered a mass grave of Nazi soldiers from World War II in Poland that includes a number of artifacts, including weapons, medals and tools.
The grave was discovered in the village of Kożlice in southwestern Poland, according to The First News, which first reported the news.
The skeletal remains of 18 paratroopers were discovered, along with the aforementioned items, as well as dog tags that connected them to the Luftwaffe, the German air force during the war.
“Near rural buildings we discovered the mass grave of 18 German soldiers killed in 1945," Tomasz Czabanski, president of the POMOST Historical and Archaeological Research Laboratory, told the news outlet. “We also found three identity tags near the remains. There was a lot going on here.
"Many individual graves have been discovered in this area," Czabanski added.
The researchers found that the skeletons were laid side-by-side in the pit. They also unearthed a pocket watch, an anti-aircraft sight for an MG rifle and a Spanish Cross given to German soldiers who fought during the Spanish Civil War.
Czabanski explained the local citizens have aided the group's work, coming by the excavations and telling them about other unidentified graves.
“That is why we appeal to residents to provide information, photos, plans, sketches, memories, accounts and documents about German war graves in Poland," Czabanski said.
The remains are slated to be further analyzed and later buried in a military cemetery in Wrocław, Poland.
Archaeologists have found a number of different Nazi artifacts in Poland in recent weeks.
In early June, a diary written by an S.S. officer that may contain the location of a treasure worth billions of dollars and hidden by the Nazis came into the spotlight for a map it may contain.
Later that month, experts discovered a long-lost chest full of silver in a 600-year-old castle that was used by the Nazis during the war.
The Surprising Role Mexico Played in World War II
A Mexican family leaving to cross the border during World War II to help wartime labor shortages, 1944.
If you ask people to name the victorious Allied Powers in World War II, Mexico isn’t usually a name that comes to mind. But after declaring war against the Axis in mid-1942, Mexico did contribute to the Allied victory in important ways. Despite long standing tensions with the United States, Mexico would become a valuable ally to its northern neighbor, ramping up its industrial production and contributing vital resources to the Allied war effort.
In addition, thousands of Mexican nationals living in the United States registered for military service during World War II. Mexico’s own elite air squadron, known as the Aztec Eagles, flew dozens of missions alongside the U.S. Air Force during the liberation of the Philippines in 1945.
On the home front, hundreds of thousands of farm workers crossed the border to work for U.S. agricultural companies as part of the Bracero Program, which would outlast the war by nearly two decades and have a lasting impact on the relations between the two North American nations.
Mexican artillery men in the field during WWII as their country expects a declaration of war on the Axis Powers.
Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis/Getty Images)
Mexico’s Path to a Declaration of War
As the first rumblings of another great war stirred in Europe in the 1930s, Mexico and the United States seemed like unlikely allies. In 1938, Mexico’s reformist president, Lázaro Cárdenas, nationalized the country’s oil industry, which angered powerful U.S. oil companies.
“The late 1930s was a time of increasing tensions between Mexico and the United States on the diplomatic front, largely tied to the nationalization of oil,” says Monica Rankin, associate professor of history at University of Texas-Dallas and the author of México, la patria: Propaganda and Production During World War II. Plus, many Mexicans still resented the United States for the loss of 55 percent of Mexico’s territory after the U.S.-Mexican War (known in Mexico as the North American Invasion).
But as the war in Europe began to disrupt trade routes around the world, Mexico and other Latin American countries found themselves in economic peril. “Over those years as World War II is heating up,” Rankin explains, “the United States is slowly stepping in and replacing Europe in places where Latin America really relied on European markets for trade.”
Then came Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, which brought the war to the Western Hemisphere for the first time. Mexico cut diplomatic ties with Japan on December 9, 1941 it broke with Germany and Italy by December 11. In January 1942, at the Conference of Foreign Ministers held in Rio Janeiro, Brazil, Mexico’s delegation argued forcefully that all the nations of the Western Hemisphere must band together in mutual cooperation and defense.
That May, German U-boats sank two Mexican oil tankers in the Gulf of Mexico. Germany refused to apologize or compensate Mexico, and on June 1, 1942, President Manuel Ávila Camacho issued a formal declaration of war against the Axis Powers. U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull celebrated Mexico’s entry into the war on the Allied side as 𠇏urther evidence that the free nations of the world will never submit to the heel of Axis aggression.”
Men of the 201st Mexican Fighter Squadron, also know as the Aztec Eagles, standing before one of their P-47 Thunderbolts stationed at Clark Field, Manila awaiting to take part in the air war against Japan. (L-R) Lieutenant Raul Garcia Mercado, Monterry, Captain Radames Gaxiola, Lieutenant Manio Lopez Portillo, Captain Pablo Rivas Martinez, and Lieutenant Roserto Urias Abelleyka.
Andy Lopez/Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
The Aztec Eagles & Mexico’s Military Role in WWII
For the Mexican people, participation in World War II would come to signify a continuation of the spirit that had animated their own revolution. “Over the couple of decades after the [Mexican] Revolution took place, the common narrative became that it ousted a dictator,” Rankin says. “The association of the totalitarian push in Europe with the authoritarianism that the Mexican Revolution overturned is a natural association for people.”
Though the government passed the Compulsory Military Service Law in August 1942, Ávila Camacho made it clear that Mexico’s war participation would be limited to economic and material assistance. But over time, Rankin says, the Mexican president wanted a greater role in wartime strategy (and post-war peace negotiations), and decided military participation would be the best way to achieve this.
The result was Squadron 201, better known as the Aztec Eagles, which left for intensive training in the United States in July 1944. “The squadron is hand-selected by the president and his military advisers,” Rankin says. “The son of one of Mexico&aposs revolutionary heroes is one of the members of the squadron. This is the best, the brightest, the most brave that Mexico has to offer.”
The Aztec Eagles (including 33 pilots and more than 270 support personnel) arrived in Manila Bay in the Philippines on April 30, 1945. Over the next few months, they flew 795 combat sorties and logged almost 2,000 hours of flying time, including conducting bombing missions over Luzon and Formosa and providing support for U.S. airmen. Seven pilots from Squadron 201 died in the conflict the surviving members returned to a heroes’ welcome in Mexico after Japan’s surrender. The squadron played an important symbolic role, inspiring national and cultural pride among Mexicans at home and helping to keep them invested in the war effort.
Mexico also allowed the U.S. military to register and conscript Mexican nationals living in the United States during the war. According to one estimate, around 15,000 Mexican nationals served in the U.S. military during World War II, many of whom may have been motivated by the offer to apply for U.S. citizenship in return for their service. Of these, some 1,492 are believed to have been killed, imprisoned, injured or disappeared.
Workers enlisted as part of the Bracero Program are shown eating lunch in June, 1963.
Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
Lasting Impact of World War II: The Bracero Program & the “Mexican Miracle”
In 1942, the U.S. and Mexican governments agreed to recruit more than 300,000 Mexicans to work low-paying agricultural jobs in the United States, many of which had been left empty as Americans went off to war or took on more highly skilled positions in armaments factories.
By the time the Bracero Program (from brazo, the Spanish word for arm) ended in 1964, some 4.6 million labor contracts had been signed, with many braceros returning on multiple contracts to work agricultural jobs in more than 25 states. Despite heated opposition to the Bracero Program from critics in both countries, it would lay the foundation for continued U.S. reliance on migrant laborers from Mexico and other Latin American nations to fill low-paying jobs in agriculture and many other industries.
Perhaps the most important lasting consequence of Mexico’s participation in World War II was the impact it had on the Mexican economy. During the war, Mexico provided more strategic resources to the United States than any other Latin American nation, including vital minerals such as copper, zinc, mercury, cadmium, graphite and lead. To do this, it underwent a period of industrial and economic development during and after the conflict that became known as the “Mexican Miracle.”
With aid from its northern neighbor, Mexico’s national income nearly tripled between 1940 and 1946, and its economy grew at an average rate of 6 percent per year between 1940 and 1970. According to Rankin, the roots of this miraculous growth were grounded firmly in Mexico’s participation in World War II.
“Mexico got a lot of aid from the United States to develop industries that were vital in helping to support the war, and those industries stayed once the war was over,” she says. “There&aposs a lot of infrastructure development and creation of industry that becomes a fundamental part of Mexico&aposs economic growth in the second half of the 20th century that has its roots in World War II.”
A Note on Grave Epitaphs
Epitaphs are short verses or poems written to honor a deceased person, and they are frequently seen on gravestones.
Epitaphs typically reflect living relatives’ feelings toward the deceased, as survivors would select verses from monument makers’ and funeral directors’ catalogs. Occasionally, people would specify what they wanted on their tombstones — such pre-selected epitaphs tend to reflect the decedents’ personalities.
Like funerary art, epitaphs carved on gravestones reveal changing outlooks on death. Colonial verses were meant to provide instruction, not comfort. Here’s a common warning to the living:
Stranger, stop and cast an eye,
As you are now, so once was I,
As I am now, so you shall be,
Prepare for death and follow me.
Generally, families have derived epitaphs from popular or favorite poems, other classic literary works such as Shakespeare’s, and holy scriptures or prayers. As Americans came to favor more-comforting verses, scripture passages and prayers for mercy became the most common types of epitaphs.
Army May Have Made a Grave Error When It Buried Custer : History: Remains at West Point may not be the infamous soldier killed at Little Bighorn, historians and anthropologists say.
It’s no riddle that Gen. Ulysses S. Grant is the man buried in Grant’s Tomb. But there is a mystery behind who is buried in the grave of the man Grant sent to fight the Indians.
It may not be Gen. George Armstrong Custer, who died in 1876 along with his 267 soldiers at the hands of Sioux and Cheyenne Indians at the Little Bighorn in Montana. Instead, Custer’s grave at the U.S. Military Academy might be the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, historians and anthropologists say.
It’s possible that in West Point’s cemetery, under the noses of America’s top military instructors, an enlisted man is impersonating an officer.
“It would be ironic if some buck private were buried up there at West Point,” said forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow, who examined newly found bones at Little Bighorn in 1985. Especially ironic, since Custer’s wife, Elizabeth, was buried alongside in 1933.
“I’ve often thought in my own warped way that Libby was sure surprised if there was some corporal lying beside her,” said Doug McChristian, chief historian at Custer Battlefield National Monument in Montana.
While at Little Bighorn, Snow looked into the records of Custer’s burial and his exhumation a year later, when his supposed bones were moved to West Point. Custer graduated from West Point in 1861 at the bottom of his class.
“I have a suspicion they got the wrong body,” said Snow, of Norman, Okla. “The only way to put those suspicions to bed would be to look at the bones interred at West Point and see how they gibe with information we have on Gen. Custer.”
As a professional challenge, Snow would like to dig Custer up and try to identify the remains. But as a man who loves myths, he also likes the idea of maintaining the mystery over the occupant of Custer’s grave.
“The thought that it might not be Custer is too delicious to put to rest,” Snow said. If someone other than Custer was buried there, “they’d probably put the poor guy out somewhere.”
The myth will likely remain because the Custer family will not permit an exhumation.
“Absolutely not,” George A. Custer III of Pebble Beach, a retired Army colonel and great-grandnephew of Custer, said before he died last month.
Custer’s grave is one of the most popular among West Point visitors. A stone shaped like Washington’s Monument stands over the grave, with bronze plaques depicting the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Even today, Custer buffs occasionally leave flowers on the grave.
“It’s a tribute to Custer whether his bones are there or not,” said Maj. Ed Evans, West Point spokesman.
Most of the soldiers killed at Little Bighorn were not properly identified and were buried hastily in shallow graves. Over the years, animals and the elements scattered many of the bones, while tourists carted off others.
Custer got the most decent burial. He was laid in a fairly deep grave--18 inches. The body of Custer’s brother, Tom, was laid alongside. The bodies were covered with blankets and a canvas tarp. After it was filled in, the grave was covered with an Indian stretcher, which was weighted down with rocks.
Those efforts should have protected the bodies, leaving two full skeletons for a cavalry detachment that returned a year later to dig up Custer, Snow said.
The exhumation team did not find the stretcher, the rocks, the blankets or the canvas. The grave they believed was Custer’s contained only one skeleton. After exhuming it, the diggers discovered that the rotting uniform containing the skeleton bore a corporal’s name. They dug up a nearby grave which contained only a skull, rib cage and leg bone. The exhumation team decided those bones were Custer’s and shipped them to West Point for burial.
“It sounds like they just moved over to the next grave and said, ‘This is Custer,’ ” Snow said.
McChristian agrees that the exhumation team concluded they “got the right bones the second time but failed to say how they identified the remains any more thoroughly than the first ones.”
Evan Connell, author of the Custer biography “Son of the Morning Star,” agrees that the exhumation was an unprofessional job, but he thinks the second body dug up was Custer’s.
“My impression is they probably got it right the second time,” Connell said. A lock of auburn hair found with those remains was sent to Elizabeth Custer, who said it matched her husband’s, Connell said.
If the job of digging up Custer was bungled, the exhumation team shouldn’t be blamed, said Richard Hardorff of DeKalb, Ill., who published a book on the burials and exhumations at the Little Bighorn.
“Put yourself in their place,” Hardorff said. “You see the bones, you see skeletons, but you’re used to seeing a living person with a certain face, a certain manner of moving around, but all that’s gone. They did the best they could” to identify Custer’s bones.
Bruce Liddic of Syracuse, N.Y., who published a book about Custer’s burial, said there’s a slim chance “that out of pure dumb luck they got the right body, but I doubt it.”
If not at West Point, his bones probably are mingled with enlisted men’s in a mass grave at Little Bighorn where exhumed remains were reburied in 1881, McChristian said.
“I think that as a soldier, Custer probably would not mind” being buried among his men, McChristian said.
Even if the exhumation team did find Custer’s grave, they sent only a partial skeleton to West Point. That means some of Custer’s bones probably wound up in the mass grave and some are “probably still out there on Last Stand Hill,” said National Parks Service archeologist Doug Scott.
The careless exhumation was typical of the times, said Scott, who headed digs at the Custer site in 1984 and 1985. A century ago, a tomb or monument to honor the dead was more important than preserving the human remains, he said.
“In the cultural context of the day, the attitude about dying was to memorialize the death rather than worry about the corpus itself,” Scott said. “Their attitude was to go for a skull, maybe some ribs, an arm or a leg, and that was enough.”
The men under Capt. Michael Sheridan, who led the exhumation team, had doubts that the remains being packed for shipment to West Point were Custer’s. Sheridan ordered them to “nail the box up it is all right as long as the people think so.”
Members of the Custer cult agree.
“I don’t think it makes a bit of difference” if the wrong remains were buried in Custer’s grave, said W. Donald Horn of Short Hills, N.J., who belongs to the group Little Big Horn Associates. “I think most of Custer’s bones remain out in Montana, anyway.”
The monument over Custer’s grave “may be more important than who’s buried there,” Scott said.
Gunfighter John Ringo found dead
John Ringo, the famous gun-fighting gentleman, is found dead in Turkey Creek Canyon, Arizona.
Romanticized in both life and death, John Ringo was supposedly a Shakespeare-quoting gentleman whose wit was as quick as his gun. Some believed he was college educated, and his sense of honor and courage was sometimes compared to that of a British lord. In truth, Ringo was not a formally educated man, and he came from a struggling working-class Indiana family that gave him few advantages. Yet, he does appear to have been better read than most of his associates, and he clearly cultivated an image as a refined gentleman.
By the time he was 12, Ringo was already a crack shot with either a pistol or rifle. He left home when he was 19, eventually ending up in Texas, where in 1875 he became involved in a local feud known as the “Hoodoo War.” He killed at least two men, but seems to have either escaped prosecution, or when arrested, escaped his jail cell. By 1878, he was described as “one of the most desperate men in the frontier counties” of Texas, and he decided it was time to leave the state.
In 1879, Ringo resurfaced in southeastern Arizona, where he joined the motley ranks of outlaws and gunslingers hanging around the booming mining town of Tombstone. Nicknamed 𠇍utch,” Ringo had a reputation for being a reserved loner who was dangerous with a gun. He haunted the saloons of Tombstone and was probably an alcoholic. Not long after he arrived, Ringo shot a man dead for refusing to join him in a drink. Somehow, he again managed to avoid imprisonment by temporarily leaving town. He was not involved in the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral in 1881, but he did later challenge Doc Holliday (one of the survivors of the O.K. Corral fight) to a shootout. Holliday declined and citizens disarmed both men.
The manner of Ringo’s demise remains something of a mystery. He seems to have become despondent in 1882, perhaps because his family had treated him coldly when he had earlier visited them in San Jose. Witnesses reported that he began drinking even more heavily than usual. On this day in 1882, he was found dead in Turkey Creek Canyon outside of Tombstone. It looked as if Ringo had shot himself in the head and the official ruling was that he had committed suicide. Some believed, however, that he had been murdered either by his drinking friend Frank 𠇋uckskin” Leslie or a young gambler named “Johnny-Behind-the-Deuce.” To complicate matters further, Wyatt Earp later claimed that he had killed Ringo. The truth remains obscure to this day.
Grave of top Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich opened in Berlin
An employee at the Invalids' Cemetery in central Berlin found on Thursday that the grave had been opened.
No bones were removed, police say.
Heydrich was a key organiser of Nazi Germany's mass murder of European Jews. He chaired the Wannsee Conference in January 1942, where Hitler's genocidal "Final Solution" was planned.
Tampering with a grave can be prosecuted under a German law against "grave defilement".
The Allied occupation forces at the end of World War Two decreed that the graves of prominent Nazis should not be marked, to prevent Nazi sympathisers turning them into shrines.
Whoever violated Heydrich's grave is thought to have had inside knowledge of its location.
A similar incident happened at Berlin's Nikolai Cemetery in 2000, when a left-wing group opened what they claimed was the grave of Horst Wessel, a Nazi stormtrooper murdered in 1930, who was turned into a martyr and honoured with a Nazi anthem.
The group claimed to have thrown Wessel's skull into the River Spree, but police denied that, saying the grave was that of Wessel's father and no bones had been removed.
Heydrich, nicknamed "the Butcher", headed the Reich Main Security Office under SS leader Heinrich Himmler. Adolf Hitler called Heydrich "the Man with the Iron Heart".
He ruled over Bohemia and Moravia until May 1942, when British-trained Czechoslovak agents attacked his limousine, and he died later of his injuries.
In retaliation, the Nazis destroyed Lidice village, murdering all the men and adolescent boys and deporting the women and children to concentration camps.