Friday, June 23, 2017

The Great War: June 22, 1917

The war in Europe and woman suffrage were both in the news in 1917. The most compelling story in the Hudson Evening Register for June 22, 1917, weaves together the themes of patriotism and service with women's liberation.

Miss Helen M. Hall, daughter of Judge and Mrs. M. M. Hall of this city, has the distinction of being the first woman to apply for entrance into the government Aviation schools. A week ago Miss Hall offered her services to Captain Davidson of the Cornell Aviation school. The course is for eight weeks, after which the students are transferred to another government school to get practical experience in flying. Upon finishing at these schools, students are given commissions as Lieutenants, Captains or Majors. As yet no provisions have been made for women in the Signal corp so that immediate entrance to impossible. The War department at Washington, however, has assured Miss Hall that such provisions will be made within the next few months and that the county will be glad to welcome her as the first aviatrix in the government schools.
Miss Hall, while waiting for the government to take action, is at present engaged in organizing a Cornell Women's Ambulance corps for immediate service in France.  
A week later, there was more news about Miss Hall on the front page of the Register.

Miss Helen M. Hall, daughter of former City Judge and Mrs. Milton M. Hall of this city, returned home yesterday from Cornell university. She was graduated from that institution on Wednesday, receiving the degree of A.B. Miss Hall will remain here for a week, and will then return Ithaca, where she has an excellent position.
The commencement exercises at Cornell this year, Miss Hall states, were not as impressive as in former years because of the fact that a large number of the seniors are in the United States service and many are now in France. Those who were graduated were sent telegrams to the effect that they had been graduated.
Miss Hall has been very much interested in aviation, and has offered her service to the United States government. She has been informed by the Adjutant General of the United States that as soon as women are accepted in the government's aviation department she will be notified. 
Census records indicate that Judge Milton M. Hall and his family lived at 110 Green Street, in the house that is now the location of Bates & Anderson Redmond & Keeler Funeral Services.

It is not clear what became of Helen Hall's aspirations to be an aviator, but military involvement by women during World War I was rare, and no evidence could be discovered that women were ever accepted into the "aviation department." She may have served as an ambulance driver, but I could find no record. A book on the subject, Gentlemen Volunteers: The Story of the American Ambulance Drivers in the First World War, includes a chapter entitled "Some Female Drivers and Other Noteworthy Volunteers." The opening paragraph of that chapter reads:
The complete history of American ambulanciers in the Great War will never be satisfactorily told because a significant part of the record is incomplete: that involving the work of female volunteers. American women who drove ambulances in France usually got there by sheer force of their ability, ingenuity and resolve, and yet their extraordinary work is seldom treated in detail in either public or private accounts of the war. Still, sparse though the evidence may be many women did in fact swap their stateside lives for a term of ambulancing that was largely without exhilarating moments.
No evidence could be found about what Helen Hall did during wartime, but the decennial census for 1920 lists Helen M. Hall, then 25, who was born in New York and whose father was also born in New York, as living in Oklahoma City with two other young women. According to census records, Helen and one of her roommates, Ruth F. Harel, 24, from California, have the same illegible occupation in the same illegible industry. transcribes their occupation as "Sec Tuburkhs" and the industry as "Asso," which makes no sense; whatever they did they were wage earners. 

It is likely while she was living in Oklahoma, working at whatever job she did, Helen Hall met her husband, Adolph Oliver Dovre, who was born in Minnesota, the son of Norwegian immigrants, and worked as a geologist for Sun Oil Company in Oklahoma. They were married in 1920 in Hudson, but sadly, the Hudson Register for 1920 is not available at, so an account of their wedding, which surely must have appeared in the newspaper, has not been found.

In the early years of their marriage, Adolph Dovre worked in the oilfields of Venezuela, and a couple of times in 1921, the Columbia Republican and the Chatham Courier noted that Mr. and Mrs. Adolph O. Dovre of Venezuela were visiting various friends and relatives in Hudson and Columbia County.

By 1930, Helen and Adolph Dovre had settled in San Antonio, Texas, where they lived in this house on East Magnolia Avenue. 

Helen Dovre died in 1943. Her death certificate gives the cause of death as "Generalized Carcinomatosis." Her obituary, which appeared in the San Antonio Light on September 24, 1943, doesn't give many clues about her life.

The obituary that appeared the same day in the Hudson Evening Register provides a bit more information.

Adolph Dovre survived his wife by eight years and died in May 1951 at the age of 57.

No comments:

Post a Comment