By Francie Lane and Ron Roizen
The War Mothers Plaque on the green by the Wallace Carnegie Library commemorates Shoshone County’s fallen World War I warriors. The names of 44 men are honored on the tablet. As it happens, we encountered, in the course of exploring the plaque’s history, the names of three additional men with tangible ties to Shoshone County who made the supreme sacrifice in World War I. We suggest that they should arguably have been represented on the War Mothers Plaque as well. There may be other omitted names too, of course, which future research may reveal.
The three omitted plaque candidates were Andrew Sjursen, Clarence Bernard Frenzel, and Bernardi or Bernardo Bartolomeo. Our hope is that an appropriate forum – say, the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization in the Silver Valley – will engage in a discussion aimed at selecting which of the three names would appropriately be listed on some sort of supplemental signage or notice near the tablet on the library’s grounds. (Our own view is that all three merit such listing, but, and of course, viewpoints may differ.)
Andrew Sjursen was born in Bergen, Norway on June 21, 1892. He died on October 2, 1918, age 26, and was buried at the Saint Mihiel American Cemetery and Memorial, Thiaucourt-Regnieville, Department de Meurthe-e-Moselle, Lorraine, France. Sjursen’s draft registration card, completed on June 5, 1917, indicated that he lived in Burke and was employed as a miner at the Moonlight Mining Company there. The card also indicated that he sought to become a U.S. citizen.
A commemorative volume entitled Soldiers of the Great War (by W.M. Haulsee et al., 1920, vol. 1, p. 227), listed an Andrew Sjursen, from Burke, Idaho in the column headed “Died of Disease.” More U.S. soldiers died from disease than from combat in World War I. The same source, at p. 218, provided a portrait of PVT Sjursen. He served in the U.S. Army’s 28th Engineer Regiment.
Clarence Bernard Frenzel was born in Detroit, Minnesota on November 14th, 1888. He died October 22, 1918, age 29. Like Andrew Sjursen, Frenzel is listed as dying from disease. He served with the U.S. Army’s 3rd Pioneer Infantry Regiment. Frenzel was buried at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, Romagne, France. His draft registration card indicated that he was previously employed as a switchman for the Great Northern Railway Company. The card further indicated that Frenzel was married, and he and his wife had three children.
Although Clarence B. Frenzel’s card was completed in Minnesota and he gave a Minneapolis home address at the time, the City Directory for Wallace, in 1914, listed Frenzel and his wife, Ida, as residing at 208 Bank St. in Wallace. His occupation therein was “conductor.” Clarence married Ida E. Jell in Spokane on Nov. 1, 1911. Additional sources indicate Ida gave birth to a son, William P. Frenzel, in 1914, and a daughter, Donna Frenzel, in 1917, both born in Wallace. These links to Wallace suggest to us that Clarence Frenzel and his family harbored ties sufficiently strong to our community to merit inclusion on Shoshone County’s War Mothers Plaque.
Bernardi or Bernardo Bartolomeo is the only one of the plaque candidates buried in Wallace’s Nine Mile Cemetery. He was born in Italy on June 17, 1893 and died, according to his gravestone, on July 19, 1919, age 26. Bartolomeo served as a Private in Park Battery C, Artillery, 1st Army. He shipped out from New York, on the U.S.S. Anchises on September 1, 1918 and returned stateside, on the U.S.S. Canonicus, on May 2, 1919. It follows that he died a little more than two months after his return from France to the United States.
Bartolomeo’s gravestone proudly proclaimed his attachment to California. His draft registration card indicated that he worked at the Balaklala Copper Mines in that state’s Shasta County. Why or how his remains became buried at Nine Mile is unknown to us. Similarly, we do not know his cause of death. Yet his presence in one of Shoshone County’s cemeteries and the only brief time he survived after his return from France suggests, we feel, that his name merits being included as one of the three candidates.
What is the correct and proper course of action now? We do not propose that the War Mothers tablet be revised and reinstalled into its great rock. But perhaps some sort of addendum signage might be placed at the foot of the monument. Once retrieved from oblivion, deserving fallen warriors surely should not be simply forgotten once again. It bears noting that this year’s centennial of World War I’s end may offer an especially fitting moment for honoring them and for correcting our collective memory. Hopefully, the VFW organization will take it from here.