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Everett Otha Creasy

West Virginia Veterans Memorial


Everett Otha Creasy

"No commander was ever privileged to lead a finer force; no commander ever derived greater inspiration from the performance of his troops."

John J. Pershing

The Creasy family arrived in West Virginia, from Bedford, Virginia, living first in Malden in 1873, and moving on to Beaver in Nicholas County in 1874. Members of the Creasy family lived in a two-storey farm house close to Big Beaver Creek, between Calvin and Craigsville, West Virginia, in March of 1890, when Everett Otha Creasy was born. The Beaver community in Nicholas County is but a historical reference today, but then was a farming community. Everett Otha was the youngest of the family of Lewis Griffith Creasy and his wife, Mary Francis Leftwich Creasy. Otha joined a family of eight brothers and sisters, his parents, and an uncle who lived with them. The family had a quirky practice of naming the female children with masculine names, and included his sisters Henry Louzetta (married name: Fitzwater), Mary James (married name: Johnson), and Sara Roberta (married name: Robertson) in addition to brothers Joel Thomas, John William, Lewis Patrick, Hansel, and Daniel Obie. A baby sister, twin to Hansel, died at birth.

Otha was known by his middle name and, being the youngest, was a family favorite. In an unpublished Creasy family history, it's written that he was bright and fond of playing practical jokes on his family and friends. It was said to be he who trimmed the tail and mane of his grandfather's horse so that it looked like a mule. Otha loved horses, and he was known for his handsome black horse. He could be seen waving greetings to neighbors as he passed by in his carriage, pulled by that horse.

Photo taken about 1900; Otha is the boy standing on the front porch with his mother, Mary "Fannie" Creasy

During the era of Otha's childhood and early manhood, many people engaged in more than one vocation in order to support themselves and their families. Otha didn't marry, and at the age of 27 still lived at home. The family operated their farm and a water-powered lumber and grist mill on Beaver Creek. They also tended a peach orchard, hunted, and fished. Otha was no different than many men of his era, working on the family farm but also employed in the outside community. Otha worked as a woodsman for the Birch Valley Lumber Company. His father and uncle also worked in timbering operations in the area. The mill, and the store associated with it, was a center of community social activity. The family had brought the knowledge of tobacco farming with it from Virginia, and they offered twisted strings of tobacco at the little store, made from the crop grown in Beaver.

Everett Otha Creasy

Everett Otha Creasy, seated

According to Otha's World War I draft registration card, Otha asked for an exemption because he supported, partially, his father and uncle. Indeed, by 1917, Otha's mother had been deceased for four years, and his father was more than 70 years old and not in good health. Whether he received an exemption is not clear, but the front of his draft registration card is marked with an "X" and a "2":possibly indicating recognition of his request and the fact he had two dependents. Nonetheless, Otha did enter the military nearly a year after the registration on June 5, 1917. The family history, however, presents another version of events: Otha was turned down for military service because of flat feet, but was accepted anyway when he pointed out that he'd been timbering on those same feet for years. In May of 1918, he'd enlist and leave the quiet pastures of Beaver, with its gently flowing creek, friendly neighbors, and large family farms of gardens and farm animals, for the battlefields of Europe.

War was no stranger to the Creasy family. Lewis, his father, 46 years old by the time of Otha's birth, was a Civil War veteran himself, with two of his brothers, John and Tom. All three were injured during the Civil War. Otha's uncle, John, was injured three times, recuperating from the last injury in a Union prison. Lewis is said to have fought at Bull Run and was at Appomattox to witness the surrender of General Robert E. Lee. The harshness of life in Virginia after the Civil War compelled the family to move, first to Malden and then to Beaver. The family was well acquainted with the how war affects soldiers and their families.

Otha's service record shows that he spent time at Camp Lee, Virginia, and eventually ended up with the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), Company A, the 168th Infantry, which trained and provided replacement troops. He was an infantry soldier, and he went out onto the battlefield to rescue injured soldiers. Working in teams, the soldiers ran onto the field with a stretcher, collected the injured soldiers, and took them to safety for treatment. On October 16, 1918, Otha and another AEF soldier ran onto the battlefield in the Argonne Forest in France when a shell fell in front of Otha and his comrades. The shell exploded, killing Otha instantly, but did not injure the other two.
Everett Otha Creasy

Everett Otha Creasy, standing

wooden cross

Everett Otha Creasy was first buried in a European cemetery under a white wooden cross

Less than a month later, the war ended. Members of the Creasy household grew worried. No one had heard from Otha. The family would not learn of Otha's death for some time afterwards. Weeks of dread were followed by devastation. The fun-loving prankster, Otha, would not come home. He had been lying in Flanders Field beneath a white cross that bore his name at the time the war ended. His name appeared in the December 14, 1918, edition of the Washington Post as an American who was killed in action on the French front. One of his family went to visit the other stretcher bearer, who was also from West Virginia, to find out what had happened.

In the unpublished family history is included a statement from Hubert Hambrick, who served with Otha. Hambrick wrote:

Otha Everett Creasy, who was a comrade of mine in battlefields of France. He and I made a bargain that if either of us got back we would write a few lines in memory of the other one and it fell to my lot to write about him. Otha was true to the Red, White and Blue, to the all of his country and was a good soldier, honest and true to his comrades and was loved by all who knew him. I was with him from the time we went into training camp and can say that he always did his bit and did it well. He went into the St. Mahile [sic] front and was drawn into the Argonne Forest. I was with him on post duty several times when the night was so dark you could scarcely see your hand before you, but I felt safe for he was brave. After several days of fighting in the Argonne, Creasy said to me this is a hard life to live but there is a better place and the only way is to be ready for that place. On the morning of October 16, 1918 over the top we go. Creasy and his litter bearers, brave and cheerful. We always tried to lend a hand to the wounded. He was trying to rescue a wounded soldier under heavy shelling. The last I saw of him, about 7:30 the same morning he had won victory, his fighting days were over. A big shell fell between him and his partner who were carrying a wounded soldier, leaving evidence that he gave his life for his comrades and his country. It showed that he fought bravely until the last.

His family and friends should be proud of his good work. He was a hero of the day. Fighting that we might have a home. Maybe those who were rescued by him remember his example and that he has made his mark in the world. While his body lies in Flanders Field in France, I truly believe his soul rests where the cry of war is heard no more, but joy and peace reign forever.

Memorial and funeral service

Memorial and funeral service for Everett Otha Creasy

Hambrick's letter is indicative of the complex process of burying the war dead. Such burials were often temporary and hasty. Remains were later removed and reburied in designated military cemeteries, but beginning in 1921 families could petition to have their loved ones returned for burial in the U.S., when France relented after opposing for some time the repatriation of the remains of American soldiers. (Even General Pershing had believed that European cemeteries were more appropriate places of burial, in that soldiers would be laid to rest with their comrades in arms.) Thus in 1921 Otha's remains were returned to Beaver for interment in the Creasy Family Cemetery, placing him among the first cohorts to make that long journey. His father, heartbroken since Otha's death, was not there to honor his son's memory. He'd passed away the month before.

Procession into the Creasy family cemetery

American Legion salute

American Legion salute for Everett Otha Creasy


Headstone for Everett Otha Creasy, Creasy Family Cemetery. Courtesy Cynthia Mullens

Otha was mourned for years. The family and community grieved upon knowing of the death, at different times thereafter, and again during well-attended memorial and funeral services held in 1921, when his remains were returned to Big Beaver. Photos from the family album show the memorial service, with the Reverend Raycroft of Richwood speaking; the transportation of the coffin to the Creasy Family Cemetery and of the American Legion salute during his final interment; as well as Otha in happier days. By then, the Creasys' world had changed. Otha's father was gone, his siblings had married and moved on, the water-powered mill had burned to the ground the year before, and Otha was returned from war.

All photos courtesy Cynthia Mullens, who prepared this article referencing family histories written and compiled by William Creasy, Luella Creasy Mullens, and Lorena Creasy Zwilling.
August 2015


Everett Otha Creasy

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.

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