Albany’s Harlem Hellfighters – Our Black Heroes of World War I

Most everyone has heard of the Harlem Hellfighters. It was the all-Black regiment that fought with great courage and distinction in World War I.  It was the regiment in which Sgt. Henry Johnson fought, and for his bravery was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously by President of Obama in 2015.

In late August, 2021 the entire Hellfighters regiment received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award Congress can bestow. The Medal dates back to 1776 when it was first awarded to General George Washington. There have been less than 200 recipients in 250 years.  

You probably know that Sgt. Johnson was living in Albany when he enlisted in the Hellfighters.   But you may not know  that there were over 40 other men from Albany who enlisted in the Hellfighters as well, and fought bravely alongside of him.  They have been overlooked for about a century and it’s time to give them their due, and tell you about them.

Who were the Harlem Hellfighters?  

The Hellfighters was a segregated, all-volunteer regiment mustered in World War I.  (The U. S. Army wouldn’t be de-segregated for another 41 years, in 1948 after World War II, by President Truman.) The regiment started out as the 15th NY National Guard (known as the 15th Infantry) and subsequently became part of the U.S. Army as the 369th Infantry.

The men who served came from across New York State and even outside of the State. But the bulk of enlistees were from Manhattan – and most of those from Harlem, which is how the regiment got part of its name.

 The men called themselves the “Black Rattlers”.  The French called them “Hommes de Bronze” – Men of Bronze.   But it was the German name that stuck, “HollenKampfers” – Hellfighters  – because they fought like demons from Hell.

Company C – The Men from Albany

So far we’ve identified 45 men from Albany who enlisted in the 15th. We’re confident there are more, but we can’t confirm their military records.  Almost half of the men enlisted on the same date – May 15, 1917. We think it’s a safe assumption they went to enlist as groups – in Albany and New York City.  This was 5 weeks after President Wilson declared war on April 9, 1917, and 4 days before a universal draft was enacted. The rest of the initial Albany contingent enlisted later that month and in June (Sgt. Henry Johnson enlisted on June 5, 1917) and July. This group became the nucleus of Company C (a/k/a Albany Company) of the 15th.

In July, 1917 the initial enlistees from Albany reported to training camp in Peekskill.  We presume most of the men, even given disparities in age (18  to39), knew one another.   There were overlapping groups – the men who lived in Arbor Hill in Albany, including a small group of boys who had all attended School 6 on Second St. together, and a group railroad porters. Some of the men had also been members of a very popular Black baseball team the Hudson Giants.

At Peekskill they met the commander of the 15th – a white lawyer from New York City, Colonel William Hayward.  Later that summer they were sent to Camp Whitman near Poughkeepsie. During that time the unit was federalized, and became part of the U. S. Army. They were then sent to training camps in the South.  The men met with increasing levels of racial discrimination and harassment by civilians and white troops the farther into the South they went.  This culminated in the physical assault by white troops of one of the 15th soldiers. Both white and Black soldiers rushed to his defense.

Hayward was a strong advocate for his men. He imposed strict discipline and implored them to ignore racial taunts and insults. Confrontations among white soldiers and civilians, and other Black units had resulted in deaths in the past However, after the physical assault Hayward ensured his men were sent back to New York.   

Over There

Hayward concluded it would be best to ship the 15th to Europe as soon as possible. He discussed with General John Pershing, the commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), who reluctantly agreed. After several attempts they sailed from New York City, reaching France in late December, 1917; they were among the first American troops to reach Europe.

In their first months in France the men of the 15th weren’t assigned to combat; they performed general labor duties.  The deployment of Black troops was a problem for Pershing. His nickname was “Black Jack” because he had previously commanded an all Black unit.  But history gives him mixed reviews about his feelings regarding Black soldiers.  While he appears to have strong respectfor their loyalty and valor, in his memoirs he indicated they lacked certain abilities.  In 1931 Pershing wrote:

“It is well known that the time and attention that must be devoted to training colored troops to raise their level of efficiency to the average was considerably greater than white regiments.”

Colonel Hayward urged Pershing to let his men fight. But it was clear there were large numbers of white troops who would not willingly go into combat alongside Black troops.  Black and white regiments had fought in the same line of battle in the last days of the Civil War.  And they fought together up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War.  But Jim Crow in the South had spread to the North by 1917. Black and white troops side by side in the trench warfare of World War I wouldn’t work .  

At about the same time in March, 1917 that the 15th received its final, formal federal designation as the 369th infantry  it was sent to fight under French command. Race was rarely an issue for the French Army.  White soldiers and Black troops fom the French Colonial territories in North and West Africa had long fought together.  

Company C near their French training facility

After training under the French the 15th went into combat May, 1918. They wore American uniforms, but used French helmets and carried French rifles. On May 15, 1918 Sgt. Henry Johnson, while on sentry duty, displayed his courage. He and Pvt. Needham Roberts were attacked by German soldiers. Though wounded, they refused to surrender, fighting in hand-to-hand combat. Johnson killed multiple Germans and suffered 21 wounds.

The 15th went on to fight at Belleau Woods in June 1918.  Jim Reese Europe, the Hellfighters’ famous bandleader who brought jazz to France, was injured in a German mustard gas attack outside the village of Maffrecourt where the Hellfighters’ had trained. They continued to aggressively fight their way across France.  Casualties started mounting in Company C.  In July Privates Charles Jackson, William Randall and George Simmons were wounded; in August Private Cornelius Banks.

At one point when a French General wanted the men to retreat Colonel Hayward told him they would not, “They move forward or they die”, he said.   Hayward called them “the Black Tigers”.  A captured German colonel is alleged to have said, “They are devils” “They smile while they kill and they won’t be taken alive.”

The Hellfighters pursued he Germans methodically, advancing from trench to trench, where they rested at night. Cpl. Robert DeGroff, on his return to Albany, told the Knickerbocker Press a story about the Germans and the 15th:   “.. the Germans tried to capture one of the Negro troops to keep him as a “souvenir”. The German officers tried to take one of the men and send him to the Kaiser, he said. Every night for four months they made attempts by coming to the trenches and speaking in English, hoping to deceive the men into believing them Englishmen”.

The Bravery of the Hellfighters and Company C

In the Helklfighters’ last major offensive in the Meuse-Argonne in September, 1918 Company C was said to have taken  “hideous and continuous casualties”. At least eight men were wounded,  many of them severely: Sgt. Alfred  Adams and Privates Robert Green, Robert DeGroff, Merritt Molson, Wlbur Putnam, Clarence Sickles and  William Vedder. It was during this push that the Hellfighters captured the key German position in the French town of Sechault.  In October Privates Robert Blackwell, Albert Johnson and George Walker were wounded.

Cpl. Robert Degroff described the last push:

“On our left were French, Moroccan and Algerian troops..  A fierce rain, followed by thunder overtook us.  It rained all night. The ground was soaked and made our advance difficult. However, we held out and managed to take five hills from the enemy. We flanked them and the best they could do was retreat to their inside lines.   Our chance came, the day of the great American drive, when 750,000 of our soldiers marched forward in a solid mass to drive the enemy from their trenches,  and found me in the Champagne sector our division facing a great enemy  barrage.

September 28, the day of the great drive, we received orders to advance. As we went over the top hundreds of German airplanes hovered over our heads throwing great bombs which wrought havoc in our lines. It was on this day we suffered our greatest casualties. Despite the fierce enemy machine gun fire, we continued to advance; our lines remaining unbroken. We struck  the enemy fierce blows on their left flank. “

At that point Cpl. DeGroff was hit in the back and neck by machine gunfire.  The next thing he knew, he was waking up  in an army hospital.

The 15th was the first Allied unit to reach the Rhine.  By the end of the war the Hellfighters  had spent 191 days in combat, more than any other American regiment. At War’s end the 15th had suffered 1,500 casualties, more than any other American regiment.

Awards

For its valor and courage, the Hellfighters was presented with the Croix de Guerre by a grateful French government.   The citation read:

“Under the command of Colonel Hayward, who though injured, insisted on leading his regiment into battle, of Lieutenant Colonel Pickering, admirable cool and brave, of Major Cobb (killed), of Major Spencer (grievously wounded), of Major Little, a true leader of man, the 369th R. I. U.S., engaging in an offensive for the first time in the drive of September, 1918, stormed powerful enemy positions, energetically defended,  after heavy fighting in the town of Sechault, captured prisoners and brought back six cannon and a great number of machine guns,”

We know of three men from Company C who received individual awards of the French Croix de Guerre – Sgt. Henry Johnson, Sgt. Alfred Adams and Sgt. Arthur Tucker, and possibly a fourth, Sgt. Merritt Molson.  (171 men in the Hellfighters received individual medals from the French.)

Back Home

The soldiers who had enlisted in late Spring, 1917 were quickly demobilized. The regiment returned to the United States in early December.  It was first to  come home; the Hellfighters were part of large parade on February 17, 1919 on Fifth Ave.  in New York City, and then up Lenox Ave. through Harlem, among cheering crowds.

And then they returned to their homes. While there was a period of brief celebrity, their accomplishments in the War seemed to matter little in Albany.  The men from the 15th attended a large dinner for all returning veterans, and in March, 1919 there was a special dinner in honor of Sgt. Henry Johnson., at which Colonel Hayward spoke.

Most of the men returned to their previous jobs if they were lucky.  A couple of men appear to have been provided jobs in the State Capitol as porters or messengers by Gov. Al Smith.   

Some, like Henry Johnson, had been so severely wounded they were unable to work at the physical labor jobs they had before the War, so they were left to drift. The story of his bravery and courage had been used by the U.S. government to attract Black men to enlist and to sell War Bonds. Yet he was unable to find steady employment in the city that had lauded him as a hero.  Unlike many others his military record does not indicate he was wounded in action, and it appears he didn’t receive a veteran’s disability pension. Johnson contracted tuberculosis and slowly succumbed to alcoholism.  He traveled the country, and gave several speeches.  In one which raised a furor in newspapers across the country he railed against the racism of the U.S. military and the country in general.  He died virtually penniless in 1929 at age 32. He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Veteran’s Organizations -Separate But Equal?

Veterans received a lump sum payment of $80 upon separation from service. There were no general pensions for World War I veterans, only meager disability pensions even for those for who whom there were records, and the system for computing and disbursing pensions inadequate. Efforts by the federal government to facilitate  private sector employment for returning  veterans were not widely successful (especially for Black veterans),  nor were vocational training programs.  

And so veteran’s organizations were formed to advocate on behalf of the men who served.  But even they were segregated. There was the Admiral Coughlan Post 25 of the VFW in Albany, established in the early 1900s for the local men who had served in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection. There was at least one Black member, Sgt. Albert Johnson, who went on to serve in Company C 16 years later.  But that was a time before pernicious Jim Crow racism had spread from the South to the North.  By 1918 it appears that Black members of Post 25 were not welcome.

We will never know exactly what happened, but a March 16, 1919 article in the Albany Argus indicated that 17 Black men who served in the Hellfighters were admitted to the Coughlan Post – but temporarily. There was a proviso  – as soon as they found 25  Black men they were  to establish their own  VFW post.  And so later that year the Albany Hellfighters established their own VFW post – the Lorillard Spencer VFW Post 119. It was named after Major Spencer  who had been  in charge of the 3rd Battalion of the 15th, (in which Company C served),  and was said to have had a special affinity with the “colored troops” as he fought alongside them.  He too was severely wounded by machine gun fire in the September, 1918 Meuse offensive. The first known address of the Spencer VFW Post is 641 Broadway in 1921. Sgt. Albert Johnson, who had once been a member of the Coughlan Post was the first Commander of the Spencer Post.

Early Spencer Post Members

There were other Black men from Albany who served in World War I – some we believe fought overseas, but others who probably never saw combat and remained in the U.S (approximately 400,000 Black men served in World War I). They started their own American Legion Post, the Walter Dixon Post 966, which some of the members of the Hellfighters joined as well. Private Walter Dixon was a young man from Albany who enlisted in the 15th; ; he died in training camp in Peekskill in July, 1917.  (In 1944 in the midst of World War II the Dixon Post changed its name to the Henry Johnson Post.) The first Commander of the Dixon Post was James H. Harder.

Who Were the Albany Men in Company C?

This is a list of the some of the men from Albany who served with the 369th (most served in Company C – “Albany Company”) gleaned from military and census records, and old newspapers. We believe there are more we have been unable to find.

The Sergeants of Company C including Sgt. Alfred Adams, Sgt. Albert Johnson and Sgt. George McNamara from Albany

Sgt.  Alfred (Maurice) Adams – born Albany (attended School 6 in Arbor Hill;); lived 83 Orange St. at time of enlistment. Enlisted 6/15/17 in New York City – age 20.  Severely wounded in France. August, 1918.  Awarded Croix de Guerre. After the War he was employed as Red Cap porter at Union Station for over 30 years, and lived most of his post-War life on North Lake Ave.

Sgt. Albertus (Bert) Anderson – born Camden SC; lived 23 Spruce St. Employed as coachman in 1915.  Enlisted 5/22/17 in New York City – age 30.   After the War he worked in a scrap metal business.

Pvt.  Leroy Baker – born in Rensselaer, NY. Lived in Albany as child. Enlisted 5/15/17 in New York City – age 18.  Killed from “accidental wounds” June 29, 1918 in France.

Pvt. Cornelius Banks – born Albany (attended School 6 in Arbor Hill); lived 59 Third St. Enlisted 9/21/17 – age 19.  Severely wounded in France in August, 1918. Banks was a founding member of the Spencer VFW Post. Immediately after War he was living at 66 Third St. and working as a porter.  At one point he worked for New York State in the 1920s. He lived in Arbor Hill and Sheridan Hollow most of his life. In his later years he worked in construction.

Frank Bembry – born Canton NC; lived 49 Spencer St. Enlisted 7/15/19 – age 32.  Deserted 11/17 in New York State.

Pvt. Robert Blackwell – born Easton, MD; lived 167 Third St.  He was a married railroad porter at time of enlistment. Enlisted 5/15/17 – age 25.  Wounded in France October, 1918. Early member of Spencer VFW post.

Pvt. Harold Caesar – born Rensselaer, NY; lived 146 Sheridan Ave. Enlisted 5/15/17 – age 20.    He was active for many years in the Spencer VFW Post, and a member of the Albany Inter-Racial Council formed in 1929.   He was employed as a chauffeur and mechanic after the War.

Sgt.  Walter Cobbs – born Danville, VA; lived 207 Railroad Ave., Catskill (Mother and rest of family lived in Albany.) Enlisted 4/18/18 – age 22.  Brother of Pvt. William Hellicous.   Early member of the Spencer VFW Post. Truck driver before and after War.

Pvt. Henry Cole – born Albany; lived on Third St.  Enlisted in NYC on 5/15/17 – age 36. Married.   Employed as cook at the Albany Hospital for the Incurables before and after the War. Brother-in-law of Pvt.  James Harder, first Commander of the Dixon American Legion Post.

Bertham Davis (rank unknown) – born Albany; lived 223 Myrtle Ave.  Enlisted age 23.  Married with one child.  When he returned he continued his employment as an elevator operator.  Active in the Spencer VFW Post in early days,

Cpl. Robert DeGroff – born Pittsfield, MA; lived 64 Irving St.  Enlisted on 5/17/17- age 27. Married. Wounded September, 1918. Returned to his job as a porter at the NYS Capitol and appears to have subsequently become a construction worker in Albany. He was an early member of the Spencer VFW Post.

Pvt. John Dixon – born in Wilmington,  DE.  Pvt. Dixon enlisted in the 15th in June, 1916 when he was 38. He was only man we found to enlist before President Wilson’s Declaration of War.  At the time of enlistment he lived in New York City.  He was initially in Company F, then transferred to Company C, and moved to Albany after his discharge.

Pvt.  Julius Dixon – born Ballston Springs, NY; lived 22 Bleecker St. in Albany, Enlisted 7/14/17 – age 19. 

Pvt. Walter Dixon – born Albany; lived 168 Third St. Enlisted 7/25/17 – age 18.  Died October, 1918 of wounds received in action in Spring, 1918.

Cpl. William Myers Freeman – born Albany; attended School 6 in Arbor Hill, lived 199 Third St. Enlisted 5/15/17 – age 21. (Great Great Grandson of Stephen Myers, supervising agent of the Albany Underground Railroad.) Founding member of Spencer VFW Post and Commander in the 1930s.

Pvt. Robert Green – born Albany; attended School 6 in Arbor Hill; lived 664 Broadway.  Enlisted 7/14/17 – age 18. We know little about him except that before the War he played  first base for the very popular Tri-City Hudson Giants Black baseball team.  He was wounded in France September, 1918. Immediately after the War he was working as a chauffeur.  He was a founding member of Spencer VFW Post.

Pvt. William Hellicous – born Catskill NY; lived with family at 17 Second St. Enlisted 5/15/17- age 22. Brother of Sgt. Walter Cobbs.  Died in training camp September, 1917.

Pvt. Charles Jackson – born in Great Barrington, MA; lived 23 Monroe St. Enlisted 5/19/17 – age 29.  Severely wounded in action July , 1918 and severely wounded again October, 1918.  He was a railroad porter before and after the War.  Founding member of Spencer VFW Post.

Pvt. George Jackson – born Kinderhook, NY; lived 173 ½ Third St. with family.  Teamster prior to enlistment.  Enlisted 4/30/17 – age 26.  Cousin of James Harder, first Commander of the Walter Dixon Post, and lived with Harder family for decades.

Sgt. William Jackson – born Montgomery, AL. Enlisted in NYC 5/15/17 – age 25.  Served in Company F of the Harlem Hellfighters.  Moved to Albany after the War. Member of the Spencer Post.

Sgt. Albert Johnson – born Lynchburg Va.; lived 183 First St. Married with 1 child a time of enlistment.  Driver for a trucking Co.  Enlisted 5/17/17- age 37.  Wounded in France October, 1918. Awarded the Croix de Guerre.  Johnson’s initial military service was in the Philippine Insurrection in 1900 in which he served on the U.S. Navy Gunboat “Helena”. Immediately after the War he is was appointed as a messenger at the Capitol by Governor Al Smith; he served in that position for decades. He was the first Commander of the Spencer VFW Post.

Sgt. Henry Johnson – born Winston- Salem, NC; lived 35 Monroe St (draft registration card lists his address as 53 Spencer St.). His employment is listed on his registration card as a laborer at the Albany Coal and Wood Co. Enlisted 6/5/17 – age 23.  ((The registration card also shows he “made his mark” and it was witnessed, which indicates he was probably illiterate – not an uncommon circumstance for men raised in the South where education of Black children was not a priority.)  Awarded Croix de Guerre with the Gold Palm (one of the first Americans to receive the Croix); awarded Medal of Honor posthumously 2015.

  • Pvt. James Johnson – born Albany; lived 312 Orange St.  Enlisted 3/29/18 – age 27.  (Tried to enlist in 5/17, but rejected for failure to meet physical requirements.) After the War he became a bank messenger/porter for the First Trust Bank and worked there for several decades.  He was active in the Spencer VFW post for many years.
  • Pvt. Charles Jones – born Elmira, NY; lived 55 Monroe St.  Porter NY Central Railroad at time of enlistment.   Enlisted 6/18/17 – age 26.  Railroad porter after War. (Probably brother of Pvt. Louis Jones.)
  • Pvt. Louis Jones – born in Elmira, NY; lived 166 Third St. (next to Pvt. Walter Hallicous). Enlisted 5/15/17- age 25. Railroad porter before and after War.  (Brother-in-law of Pvt. Charles Jackson; probably brother of Pvt. Charles Jones.) Appears to have left Albany in 1920s.
  • Pvt. Robert Lodge – born Albany; attended School 6 in Arbor Hill.  Enlisted 5/15/17 in New York City – age 20. We think he was the great nephew of John Lodge, who served in the 20th NY “colored troop” regiment in the Civil War.   Early member of Spencer VFW Post.  Died 1920.
  • Sgt. George McNamara – born Ballston Spa, NY; raised by grandparents in Albany. Enlisted 5/15/17 – age 35. At time of enlistment, he was a widower living on Dove St.  working in a livery stable.  He was active in the early days of the Spencer VFW post. After the War he was porter at the Capitol, living on Market St.
  • Cpl. Foster Molson – born Binghamton NY; lived 49 North Swan St. with family. Enlisted 9/9/18 – age 33   Before the War he was the captain of the very popular Tri-City Black baseball team  the Hudson Giants.  Brother of Sgt. Merritt Molson. Moved to Queens, NY by mid-1920s.
  • Sgt. Merritt Molson – born Binghamton; lived  49 North Swan with family.   Enlisted 5/15/17 – age 18. Wounded September, 1918. Brother of Cpl. Foster Molson. He was a star track and field athlete at Albany High School and right fielder for the the Hudson Giants.  Enlisted in senior year.  Returned to high school after War.   Active in the early days of the Spencer VFW Post. Graduated Howard University School of Dentistry in 1923 and established a practice in Queens, NY. (Said to have been awarded by Croix de Guerre in History of the Negro in the Great World War, W. Allison Sweeney, 1919.)
  • Pvt. George Morgan – born Cobleskill, NY. Enlisted 5/15/17 in New York City –age 39.  Active in the early days of Spencer VFW Post. Resided 643 Broadway (a boarding house close to Union Station) and worked as a railroad porter in 1920. Clarence Sickles lived in same boarding house.
  • Pvt.  Wilbur Putnam – born Albany; lived 175 Church St.  Enlisted 8/16/17 – age 21.  Severely wounded in France September, 1918. In 1920 he was living with his family on Dongan Ave. working as a construction laborer.  Boarding with the family was Pvt.  Edward Taylor.
  • Pvt. William Randall – born Virginia; address in Albany unknown. Enlisted 5/15/17 in New York City– age 29.  Severely wounded in France July, 1918. In 1925 he was working as a porter at Union Station.
  • Pvt. Augustus (Aubry) Reddick – enlisted from Haverstraw NY, 5/15/17 – age 28.  Served in Company F of the Harlem Hellfighters.  Moved to Albany after War and was an early member of the Spencer Post.
  • Pvt. Clarence Sickles – born Albany; grew up next to Pvt. William Freeman on Third St.  At time of enlistment lived 89 Orange St.  Enlisted 5/15/17 – age 33.  Initially in Company F; subsequently transferred to Company C. Severely wounded September, 1918.  In the 1920 census he is married and living in  same boarding house at 643 Broadway as Pvt. George Morgan, working as porter at Union Station.
  • Pvt.  George Simmons – born Saratoga Springs, NY.  Enlisted in NYC  8/17 – age 31.  Wounded July, 1918, Moved to Albany after War.  (Probably brother of Pvt. William Simmons.)
  • Pvt.  William Simmons – born Saratoga Springs.  Enlisted Albany 9/17 – age 23. (Probably brother of Pvt. George Simmons.) We believe he returned to Saratoga Springs after the War.
  • Pvt. Arthur E. Smith – born Chatham, NY; address in Albany unknown. Enlisted 5/15/17 – age 30.  1920 census lists him as a teamster for a coal company.
  • Cpl. Edward Taylor – born Hartford, NY; lived 175 Church St. (same address as Pvt. Wilbur Putnam) Enlisted 9/17/17 – age 24. He may have been part of the famed James Reese Europe jazz band of the 369th that took France by storm and created a world wide phenomenon.
  • Pvt. Lynwood Taylor – born Ashland, Va.; lived in Harlem. Enlisted 6/17. Honorably discharged 7/17 due to physical disability.  Moved to Albany after discharge, and in the 1920s was a member of the Walter Dixon Legion Post.
  • Cpl. William Thomas – born Augusta, Ga.; lived 119 Third St. Employed as an elevator operator. Enlisted 5/15/17 – age 20.   
  • Sgt. Arthur L. Tucker – born Albany NY; lived 5 Chapel St. Enlisted 5/15/17 – age 20.  Before the War he was short stop for the very popular  Tri-City Black baseball team the Hudson Giants. Awarded Croix de Guerre.  In the 1920 census he’s living with his parents on Chapel St. and working as an elevator operator at Whitney’s Dept. Store on N. Pearl St. (Also living in the home was William Brent an elderly Black man who served in the Civil War in a “colored” regiment.) By 1930 he had married, had 4 children, and  was living on Third St. and still working at Whitney’s. Tucker was founding member of the Spencer VFW Post for years, and served as Commander several times. He became very active in the county VFW. In later years he was  a member of the Albany Inter-Racial Council and the Booker T. Washington Community Center in Arbor Hill.
  • Pvt. William Vedder – born Schoharie NY; lived 62 Orange St.  Enlisted 5/17/17 – age 28.  Severely wounded September 29, 1918.   Vedder appears to have lived in Albany after the War for a while, but then returned to Schoharie.  
  • Pvt. Harrison Vroman (Vrooman) – born Schoharie NY; lived 62 Orange St. with Pvt. Vedder.  Enlisted 5/17/17 – age 20.  Vroman returned to Albany after the War, making his home in Arbor Hill. Before the War Vrooman played center field for the Black baseball team the Hudson Giants. It’s quite probable his grandfather was Thomas Vroman, from Schoharie County who served with the 26th NY “colored” regiment.
  • Pvt. John Wallace – born Selma, Al.  Enlisted  in Albany 5/15/17- age 39.
  • Pvt. George Russell Walker – born Catskill NY; attended School 6 in Arbor Hill; lived 240 Livingston Ave. Enlisted 5/15/17– age 18.  Severely wounded October, 1918. He was active in Spencer VFW Post for many years.  

Copyright 2021 Julie O’Connor