Private Austin Ferdinand Reedy was killed in action in France. A ship’s manifest shows that he sailed for the European theater as part of Company H, 163rd Infantry Regiment on the U.S.S. Leviathan (pictured above), on December 15, 1917 from Hoboken, New Jersey. According to the “Find A Grave” search service (here), PVT Reedy is buried at the Libby Cemetery in Libby, Montana. This online record indicates that he was born in May of 1896 and was killed on July 21st, 1918, age 22. His remains may have been buried initially in France and then transported to Libby, for reburial on July 17, 1922. A newspaper report in the Great Falls Daily Tribune [Montana], dated June 19th, 1919, conveys that the newly organized Libby chapter of the United War Veterans organization named itself in honor of Austin Reedy on account of Reedy being “…Libby’s first soldier to fall on the European battlefields.” According to Wikipedia, the 163rd Infantry Regiment was a unit of the Montana National Guard. It became part of the 41st Infantry Division of the regular U.S. Army in World War I.
There is a mystery surrounding PVT Austin F. Reedy’s appearance on the War Mothers Plaque in Wallace. Although it does not of course diminish his service and sacrifice one iota, PVT Reedy’s connection to Shoshone County, Idaho is, at this moment, unclear to us. U.S. Census tabulations in 1900 and 1910 show him living with his family of origin in Libby. His listing as “Killed in Action” in Soldiers of the Great War (by W.M. Haulsee et al., 1920, vol. 2) shows him on that source’s pages devoted to Montana’s casualties. Reedy may have had some association with our county’s economic enterprises — perhaps mining or timber — but such an association does not appear in the documentation we’ve examined. He was not listed as one of the Bunker Hill & Sullivan Mining Company’s fallen warriors as that list appeared in The Wallace Miner of August 28, 1919. No draft registration card for Austin F. Reedy has been found, and so we do not possess whatever information about occupation that source may have provided. His burial in Libby and the honorific naming of Libby chapter of the United War Veterans on his behalf of course bespeak a strong connection to that Montana city. Whatever the reason for his inclusion, the presence of his name in the plaque’s list suggests that the War Mothers group sought to honor Austin F. Reedy along with the fallen heroes of Shoshone County.
Francie Lane sheds new light on Austin Reedy’s possible link to Shoshone County in an email* received September 9th, 2018:
I’ll hazard a guess re Austin Reedy’s connection to Shoshone Co.
Austin was the younger brother of John Patrick Reedy, Jr., b. 1891, who married Pansy Auberton in Spokane, WA. Pansy was a Spokane girl and John was a resident of Libby, MT, on their wedding Day, March 25, 1909. In 1910 US Census, John & Pansy were living in Kellogg. John’s WW I Draft card showed him to be employed as a Teamster for the Libby Lumber Co. in 1917…divorced with two young children…then residing in Libby, MT. By 1930, John & Pansy’s two daughters were being raised by their re-married mother. In 1920, however, the daughters were included in the census as residing with their grandparents, Louis & Emma Cossette, who lived in Wardner. It could be that John’s younger, single brother, Austin, was working as a Teamster between Libby & Kellogg or might have lived with John & Pansy in Kellogg before their divorce; Austin may also have worked in the mines before being called up for the draft & reporting back to Libby. Austin was undoubtedly recognized as a Libby hometown boy and they wanted to claim him for honors. Yet, his name might have been submitted to the Shoshone War Mothers by his sister-in-law or her family at Kellogg/Wardner. (This is the closest connection I could find – so merely a guess.)
* I have very gently edited her email’s text, above.
Readers with more information on Shoshone County’s fallen heroes in World War I may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be revising each of the cameos as new information comes in.