By GREG RUSSELL
Register Staff Writer
Five names long missing from the Leonard Park veterans monument now have a prominent listing among the engraved.
A collaboration between the City of Gainesville and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1922 has financed an etching of the names of World War I veterans Frank Keel, George Caldwell, McKinley Brisco, Albert Waddell and Oscar Spraggins.
A decision to complete the engravement was approved during a Gainesville City Council meeting in April. The five men — all Cooke County residents prior to enlistment — died in 1918 and 1919, in combat or by illness. And while they were never forgotten, Friday’s $750 etching onto the park monument provides a corrective to an error from 1921, when the five names failed to be included in a compilation of area veterans intended for a special monument at the Cooke County Courthouse.
Historian Tom Carson explained Friday that the five names simply slipped through this name-gathering process conducted two to three years after they had died.
And it’s only after nearly a century that they join others on a granite wall.
“They were young men whose family had moved out during that timeframe, or who did not have a survivor living in Cooke County,” Carson said. “Their names simply did not get mentioned to the people putting the list together.”
Carson credited the city and the VFW for efforts in getting the names on a proper public listing.
“The VFW here has done a splendid job with the philosophy that no one who has lost their life in the service should ever be forgotten,” he said.
About the veterans
Frank B. Keel — A former Gainesville resident. Initially pronounced “missing in action,” then pronounced as having been killed in action Sept. 26, 1918. Currently buried in St. Mihiel American Cemetery in France.
George W. Caldwell — A former Valley View resident. Died at Camp Travis on Jan. 12, 1918, reportedly of pneumonia. Later returned for burial in Comanche.
McKinley Brisco — A former Gainesville resident and former manager of the Harvey House. Died March 27, 1918, reportedly of pneumonia. Later returned to his family for burial in Allen, Kan.
Albert Waddell — A former Valley View resident. Died in Germany on March 15, 1919; reportedly the last Cooke County-based soldier to die in World War I. Listed as a “casualty of disease” and returned to wife in Shreveport, La.
Oscar J. Spraggins — Most probably drafted from Denton County; father William Spraggins was the Precinct 4 justice of the peace during his birth. Reportedly killed in action on Nov. 2, 1918. Buried in Era Cemetery on 1924.
(Veteran data compiled by Tom Carson.)