Local History Collections

Collection ID: LH-381
Location: LH-381

(Description ID: 595713)

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums

Elton Mackin

LH- 381

Biographical Sketch
Scope and Content

This collection was donated to the Hayes Presidential Center in 2012.  Permission to use this collection for research purposes was granted by the donor.

Biographical Sketch
Elton E. Mackin was born on 22 February 1898 in Lewiston, New York to Arnot and Harriet (Van Luven) Mackin.  When Elton was an infant, his father drowned in the Niagara River and his mother eventually remarried to Victor Chittenden.  Harriet and Victor had four more children; Irene, Leona, Victor and Alma.  Elton spent much of his early childhood attending school and working long hours as a farm hand.

Elton was sixteen years old when World War I officially started in 1914.  At this time the United States was not involved in the war, but this did not prevent Elton from trying to join the Third Canadian Contingent with several of his friends.  However, he never went through the enlistment process and was instead removed from school to begin working full time.

In April of 1917 Elton decided that it was time for him to get involved in World War I.  At the age of nineteen, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and completed basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina.  Mackin was then sent over to Europe and eventually became a battalion runner for the 67th Co. 1st Battalion 5th Marine Regiment, United States Army Regulars.  As a runner, Elton was assigned to take correspondence and information to fellow regiments.   It was this assignment as a runner that earned him the nickname “Lucky Mackin” because of the dangers that he encountered. Elton participated in the Battles of Belleau Wood and Blanc-Mont, along with several other operations during the war.  Because of his efforts during his enlistment, Elton was awarded the United States Army Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross and two Army Silver Star citations.  In May of 1919 he was honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps.

Elton returned to his hometown of Lewiston, New York and married Emily Goodsite in 1921.  They had three children; Wallace, Marie and Harriet.   The family made several moves before settling in Norwalk, Ohio in 1935.  Elton and his son, Wallace, opened an appliance store that remained in business until 1957.  In his later years, Mackin worked as a bus driver for handicapped and mentally challenged children.  He and his wife also opened their home to numerous foster children.  Elton Mackin died 21 February 1974 in Norwalk, Ohio.  

Scope and Content
This collection, spanning the years from 1917 to 1994, contains two copies of the manuscript “Flashes and Fragments,” which depicts the experiences of Elton Mackin in the United States Marine Corps as a battalion runner during World War I.  The manuscript was started by Mackin in 1935. Excerpts of the material first appeared in the Marine Corps publication Leatherneck Magazine

Four cassette tapes and a typed transcription from a June 29, 1973 interview with Mr. Mackin are also included.  Mackin’s World War I memoir published as Suddenly We Didn’t Want To Die was adapted from his manuscript “Flashes and Fragments” and the 1973 interview on cassette tapes.  Five scanned images, two original photographs, a February 22, 1994 “Norwalk Reflector” newspaper and a short biography of Elton Mackin completes the collection.  A typed transcription of the interview is digitized and appears on the Hayes Presidential Center Manuscripts Division On Line Texts.

Ac. 5816
1/3 linear ft.

Box 1

1.  “Flashes and Fragments” - manuscript
2.  “Flashes and Fragments” - manuscript
3.  June 29, 1973 Interview transcription with four cassette tapes
4.  Photographs/Newspaper Articles