On this day before Veterans’ Day 2017, I would like to add to our website this information on Wellborn’s Fallen Heroes Memorial which we re-dedicated last year before Veteran’s Day 2016.
This is taken from an article submitted to The Suwannee Democrat for the Wellborn News column last October, 2016. It was entitled:
The Town of Wellborn, Mixing the Old and the New
by Kathie Snowden
When we first moved to Wellborn over 12 years ago, I was initially very impressed with its history. Wellborn wears its history right out front in downtown for all to see. I had not previously lived in a place where buildings and roads were still in use for a hundred years. In Wellborn you can go to the post office and run into the descendants of those who were prominent in Wellborn’s early period.
After joining the Wellborn Community Association, one of the things I wanted to do was to get a Historical Marker for Wellborn. I found out about it but never had time to pursue it. Recently I became more involved in the Association and decided to work on the marker. We formed a little committee consisting of Anne Dawson, Verna Swaby, and me, and we are making progress. This column, however, won’t be about the marker. It will be about some interesting things I found while doing the research for it. Isn’t that the way life goes – the best things are the ones you find along the way.
Several years ago the Marine Corps League (Sgt. Maj. Thomas H Griggs, Jr. Det. #1086) who used to meet in the Association building erected a memorial to Wellborn’s Fallen Heroes, those who gave their lives for our freedom. It was inscribed with two names, Pete Leroy Hogan (World War II), and A.S. (Bubba) Hogan (Korea). I know the Marines searched for others but did not find any at the time. I always thought there must be more, but I was busy with other things.
The first place I went to when I started working on the Historical Marker was Wellborn’s History Book, entitled Wellborn, Florida My Home Town. The book was done in 1997, but has been reprinted twice now. It is a wealth of information and interesting pictures. (Linda Dye has some for sale in the Kornucopia.) Where am I going with this, you might ask. Well, imagine my surprise when I was reading Page 74 about American Legion Post #132 by Odell Tillis. The second paragraph says, “Some Wellborn men who gave their lives for this country were…” and proceeds to name nine men (two of whom are the Hogans mentioned above).
I had already started trying to find more of Wellborn’s Fallen Heroes and had looked up on the computer World War II, Korea, and Vietnam war casualties from Suwannee County. The Hogans matched but there was no way to tell who, if any, of the others might have been from Wellborn. And there I was (on Page 74) with the information right in front of me. Several of the names matched those I had found on the computer. I began to research the others and verified a couple more. I made phone calls to the current American Legion posts, the Wellborn Masonic Lodge, and the Suwannee Valley Genealogical Society. Everyone was very helpful and friendly (as people are in Wellborn). Finally after much more computer research and help from many people (especially Ellis Gray, Ted Fralick, Thomas Smith, Johnny Norris, Jinny Wilson and Alice at the Genealogical Society) we were ready to add the names to the monument. Of course, I have to give the most thanks to Odell Tillis who memorialized the men in the Wellborn History Book. Mr. Tillis passed in 2003 and is buried at Mt. Beulah. Many of the people I talked to remembered him fondly.
After we had verified the new names, I contacted Thomas Smith of the Marines Corps League Detachment to find out who did the engraving. He gave me the name of Johnny Norris, and I proceeded to call him to find out if he would do it and what the cost would be. I was already planning a fundraiser of some sort! Well, once again, I should not be surprised at the warmth and caring of Suwannee Valley people. Mr. Norris said he would be more than happy to add the names for us for no charge.
I don’t think I have ever had anything just fall into place as this has. It definitely was meant to be, and now the Hogans have company on the memorial and Wellborn’s Fallen Heroes will receive their proper honors.
2017 addition: Everything was done prior to Veterans’ Day 2017 and we had a great ceremony commemorating the addition of the new names which you can see in the picture below.
Ellis Gray, Veteran’s Services Officer and Commandant of the DAV, presided over the beautiful and dignified service which started with a flag raising, prayer, and the Pledge of Allegiance. Linda Dye sang the Star Spangled Banner, and Ellis Gray honored each of the Fallen Heroes individually. The ceremony ended with the placing of a wreath, the playing of Taps, and a final prayer.
Several family members of the Fallen Heroes were in attendance as well as many Wellborn residents who fondly remembered the soldiers. Members of the American Legion, the Marines Detachment, and other Veterans’ groups came out to show their support, and we thank them for helping us to show the honor and respect that these men so deeply deserve.