Stories of some of the ordinary and extraordinary people of Laurens County and East Central Georgia. They are people like us.
"Each of us were put here for a purpose, and that purpose is to build and not to destroy."
Monday, June 30, 2014
A Dandy of A Yankee Doodle
Patrick Martin Stevens II was born on the 17th day of April in 1874 in Bairdstown, Georgia. He was a son of Capt. Patrick M. Stevens, C.S.A. and Martha Brooks Stevens. Patrick attended Georgia Tech before working intermediately for his brother-in-law William Shackleford as a printer’s devil in the newspaper office of the “Oglethorpe Echo” in Lexington.
But Patrick Stevens was destined for a military career. He descended from a long line of Stevens, Stewart and Bufords, who were 18th Century military officers. One of his ancestors, Colonel John Floyd, served in the southern theater of the American Revolution before being captured in Charleston and imprisoned in England. He managed to escape and was aided in his return to America by Benjamin Franklin.
After the war, Floyd became a close associate of Daniel Boone. His son, John became a governor of Virginia and his grandson, John Buchanan Floyd, was Secretary of War under James Buchanan and a general in the Confederate Army. His father William Floyd, my fifth great-grandfather, enlisted as a drummer in the Colonial militia at the age of fifty after serving in the French and Indian Wars.
In the summer of 1898, the United States of America declared war on Spain. The war was fought on two fronts, in Cuba and throughout the Philippine Islands. It was during that time that Pat moved from his native home of Maxeys to Dublin, where he served in the office of the Dublin Dispatch. Despite the relative shortness of the conflict in Cuba, calls were sent out for more volunteers to preserve the peace in the volatile Pacific island chain.
Stevens answered his country’s call, and in September 1899 traveled to Framingham, Massachusetts, where he enlisted in the 46th U.S. Volunteer Infantry, which was assigned to duty in the Philippines. Private Stevens was quickly promoted to corporal. In the fall of 1900, he wrote a letter back to his friends in Dublin. “No, the war in the Philippines isn’t over,” Stevens said in contradiction to the opinions of leading American newspapers. American generals returned home to tell the nation that the fighting had ended, but Stevens retorted, “I think they are sadly mistaken.” The young corporal attributed the adversities which American troops had endured in the Philippines were a result of “mismanagement that began two years ago and hasn’t yet ended.” Stevens believed that insurgent attacks had only grown worse since his arrival eleven months earlier in December 1899. “The attacks are more determined and bolder than ever,” said Stevens, who believed more troops were necessary to suppress the fighting.
In the winter of 1901, the highly efficient Stevens was promoted to Company G of the Forty-sixth infantry regiment. His excellence in the performance of his duties, led his superiors to recommend him for a commission as an officer. President McKinley issued an order appointing Pat M. Stevens (his military name) as a second lieutenant. The notice was sent to his former home in Dublin, but lay unclaimed until a friend found it and forwarded it to the emerging officer.
2nd Lt. Stevens was assigned to the 23rd Infantry, which served in the Pacific and stateside. The young officer took the hand in marriage of Hattie Mitchell. Hattie was a daughter of Nancy Ann and Robert David Mitchell, a prominent businessman and three-time mayor of Gainesville. Hattie, a graduate of Brenau College, was an accomplished musician and music teacher.
Their first child, Patrick III, was conceived while the couple was stationed in the Pacific, but was born in Gainesville after Hattie endured a long and arduous, but exciting, journey through the Suez Canal and Europe. Their second son, Robert, was born in Fort Logan in 1914. After serving in various locations around the country, Mrs. Stevens and the boys returned to Gainesville when it appeared that the United States would enter World War I.
As the climax of World War I approached, Capt. Stevens was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre for extraordinary heroism for his action south Spitaal Bosschen, Belgium on Halloween Day in 1918. Capt. Stevens was also awarded the Purple Heart for a battlefield wound. Capt. Stevens’ acts of bravery were so outstanding that he was nominated for the Silver Star Medal for gallantry and intrepidity in action.
After the war, the Stevens lived primarily in Georgia and Florida. In 1933, Patrick M. Stevens, II retired as a colonel in the United States Army. The couple returned to the Stevens’ family seat of Oak Hill in Oglethorpe County, where they lived until the late summer. At the age of ninety-two, Col. Stevens was badly burned while burning a pile of leaves. He died on September 5, 1966 after lingering for several days in a nearby hospital. Hattie lived a decade longer before she died on September 20, 1976. They are both buried in the Stevens’ family cemetery at Oak Hill.
PAT M. STEVENS, III
The name of Pat M. Stevens continued to be recognized for the remainder of the 20th Century. Pat and Hattie’s son, Pat III, (ABOVE) served in World War II and afterwards served in the United States, London and Okinawa. Like his father, Pat Stevens III, retired from the army as a colonel. Pat Stevens III and his wife Grace Marshall Stevens, were the parents of Pat M. Stevens, IV, (LEFT) a graduate of the United States Military Academy, who recently retired as a Major General in the army.
One never knows what the future holds for those among us. A century of dedicated and outstanding military service all began when a twenty-five-year-old printer’s devil working in a Dublin newspaper office answered the call of his country and followed the traditions of duty to his country.