Private Willie Gordon, Tunica

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Like many young men from rural Mississippi, Willie Gordon was drafted and reported for training in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Whether he dreamed of becoming a hero or simply living through the conflict we will never know, because he died without ever leaving the country.  To understand young Willie Brown, one must look at the U.S. Census records first.

In 1910, Willie was living with his parents and brother. His father was Tom Gordon who was born in South Carolina. Tom listed his occupation as working on his own account as a general farmer. For some reason, he also listed his name sometimes as James. He had been born a slave in 1856.  His mother was Francis Gordon was born about 1866 in Mississippi. There was also a brother named John living with the family.

When World War I broke out, Willie Gordon registered for the military draft. He listed his home at Dubbs in Tunica County and his birthdate as being March 29, 1896. Willie was born in Helena, Arkansas and worked as a farmer. He was ordered to report for duty October 6, 1917 at an entrainment camp at Little Rock, Arkansas.

Private Willie Brown was assigned to the 314th Labor Company. Records do not list what happened to him, but he died on April 3, 1918 while in the service. In 1940, his family applied for a tombstone for their soldier son and it was shipped on January 3, 1941.  The nearest post office was identified as Maud and the railroad station was at Clayton. His brother, John Gordon, identified himself as the applicant.  He was living in Batesville. The young man was buried in Bradley Cemetery near Maud. Today Bradley Cemetery is extremely overgrown.

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