Local History Collections

Collection ID: LH-358
Location: LH-358

(Description ID: 595668)

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums

Roy W. Whitney


Biographical Sketch
Scope and Content

This collection was donated to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center by Rodney and Melinda Young in January 2009.

Biographical Sketch
Roy Whitaker Whitney was born May 3, 1898 in Toledo, Ohio to Ira N. and Malinda E. (Whitaker) Whitney.  As a young man Roy worked for a local newspaper known as the “Toledo Blade.”  He enlisted in the army on May 28, 1917 at the age of 19.

Roy was assigned to Battery B 2 Field Artillery with the 37th Division Ohio National Guard, known to many as the “Buckeye Division.”  He was later transferred to Battery B 135th Field Artillery.  The division organized at Camp Sheridan, Montgomery, Alabama beginning in August 1917 until October of that same year and was built around the 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th Ohio Infantry Regiments, 1st Ohio Field Artillery, 1st Ohio Cavalry and 1st Ohio Engineers.  Soon after he enlisted, Whitney became a bugler in August 1917 and was promoted to private on February 4, 1918.  While at Camp Sheridan the soldiers were ordered to clear fields, erect buildings and construct firing ranges to help facilitate their training requirements.  Once training was complete Battery B, along with the rest of the 135th Field Artillery, was sent to Camp Upton, Long Island, New York until shipping out for England.  After a brief stay in England, the 135th crossed over into France and the 37th Division’s artillery regiments made their home at Camp DeSouge for further training on French weaponry.  They were assigned to the 1st Army in the Argonne offensive, serving successively with the 4th American Corps, 2d American Army, 2d French Colonial Army and 17th French Corps.  At one time the three regiments of the Brigade served with three different divisions, the 28th, 33d, and 92d, and only joined the division just prior to its return to the United States.  Battery B was moved to the front line and setup camp in a valley in France.  After two guns were positioned and coordinates taken, the men of Battery B fired their first shots of World War I.

The 135th Field Artillery and Battery B made several trips to the front line and back during the fall of 1918.  This included the areas in and around Pierrefitte, Leognan, DeSouge and Pont-a-Mousson, France.  They also participated in an attack on the German fortress of Metz.  A ceasefire was ordered for 11:00 a.m. on November 11, 1918.  Although all firing had stopped as scheduled, a jammed round in Battery B’s number two gun forced the men to fire the artillery at approximately eight minutes past 11:00 a.m.  Some believe this to be the last “legal” shot of World War I because it was loaded prior to the ceasefire. 

Roy Whitney and Battery B were in the defense sector of France from June 28, 1918- March 24, 1919.  During this time Roy was promoted to bugler 1st class on January 5th, 1919.  Battery B was withdrawn by stages through the French villages of Thillombois, Segre and Pierrefirre.  The “U.S.S. Vermont brought the 135th back to Newport News, Virginia in the spring of 1919.  Whitney received an honorable discharge from the Army on April 11, 1919.

After coming home to Toledo, Roy married Laveda May Woods on April 1, 1922.  Woods was born on January 14, 1903 in Hannibal, Missouri.  The couple then moved to Lakewood, Ohio in search of employment.  They had two children, Gloria Jean and Marcia Lou, before moving to St. Louis, Missouri.  After living in Chicago, Illinois the family finally settled in Dayton, Ohio.  Roy worked for Davis Dental Laboratory and eventually bought the business.  As a member of the Mason and Shriner’s, Whitney remained an active community member.  He spent his free time woodworking and studying photography.  Laveda Whitney died June 17, 1974.  Roy Whitney died a few months later on August 18, 1974 in Dayton, Ohio.

Scope and Content
This collection, spanning from 1914 to 1919, contains approximately 291 photographs and several World War I Army artifacts belonging to Roy Whitaker Whitney.  The majority of the photographs depict Camp Sheridan, Alabama and the cities of DeSouge, Pierrefitte, and Leognan, France during World War I.  These photographs show Whitney and his comrades during training and leisure activities.  The remaining photographs are of a personal nature, with a greater part of them unidentified.  The artifacts include two coins, a World War I victory medal, U.S. Army wallet, dog tag, notebook and an Army issued New Testament belonging to Whitney.

Ac. 5741
299 Items

1. Photographs - Camp Sheridan, Montgomery, Alabama and Walbridge
2. Photographs - Pierrefitte, France
3. Photographs - Leognan, France
4. Photographs - DeSouge, France
5. Photographs - U.S.S. Vermont and military ships
6. Photographs - Identified World War I
7. Photographs - Unidentified World War I
8. Photographs - Personal
9. World War I Army artifacts - (2 coins, WWI Victory medal, dog tag, U.S. Army Wallet, notebook,
    New Testament and 1908 G.A.R. Newsboy medal)
10. Publication: “Toledo Magazine”; The Men of Battery B “Toledo’s Own Battery”
      In World War I  (Week of March 27- April 2, 1988)