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West Virginia Veterans Memorial

West Virginia Veterans Memorial


Okey Delbert Jones

"The [year] 1918 has gone: a year momentous as the termination of the most cruel war in the annals of the human race; a year which marked, the end at least for a time, of man�s destruction of man; unfortunately a year in which developed a most fatal infectious disease causing the death of hundreds of thousands of human beings. Medical science for four and one-half years devoted itself to putting men on the firing line and keeping them there. Now it must turn with its whole might to combating the greatest enemy of all�infectious disease. . . ."

Journal of the American Medical Association (28 December 1918)

Okey Delbert Jones was born on November 18, 1895, in the Clover District of Tucker County, West Virginia. His parents, John Ewing Jones and Nancy Jane Bradley, were married on November 21, 1883, in Taylor County, West Virginia. Nancy was a daughter of Jacob and Susan Bolyard McCartney and the widow of David W. Bradley, who died in 1881.

Okey�s siblings were Cory Iva Bradley (half-sister; married name, Mrs. James Riley Nestor), Everett Brannon (also spelled �Evert�), Dorcy Earl, James Berlin, Jacob Adlai, and Mona �Monnie� Leah (married name, Mrs. Andrew Engle Moore).

The Jones homestead was near St. George, an unincorporated town in Tucker County, West Virginia. The town was named in honor of Henry St. George Tucker Jr., son of the original founder of Tucker County. St. George was the original county seat and is located where Minear Run empties into the Cheat River. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the main industry in St. George was agriculture, but there were small sawmills, a shingle mill, and a mill that assembled wooden shipping boxes.

World War I, the �War to End All Wars,� began in 1914 when a Serbian nationalist assassinated the heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne. Following the sinking of American merchant ships by German submarines and an attempt by Germany to engage in a military alliance with Mexico, the United States declared war against Germany on April 6, 1917. The call for volunteers failed to produce the needed one million troops to support the war effort, so the Selective Service instituted a draft, with the first registration on June 5, 1917, for all men between the ages of 21 and 31.

Okey Jones, all his brothers, and his brother-in-law registered for the World War I draft. Okey was employed at that time by his father as a farmer in St. George in Tucker County. He was single and claimed no exemptions to the draft. He was described as being of medium build and medium height, with blue eyes and light-colored hair.

Jones Draft Registration Card

Draft registration card for Okey D. Jones. National Archives and Records Administration

Upon entering the U.S. Army, Pvt. Okey D. Jones was assigned to the 380th Company of the Tank Corps at Camp Colt, Pennsylvania. The base had been opened in March 1918 for the purpose of training of recruits to operate tanks prior to their deployment to Europe.

The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 resulted in the deaths of over 675,000 Americans, ten times as many who were killed during the Great War. By late September, the Spanish flu had invaded Camp Colt and had resulted in the deaths of over 120 soldiers by the middle of October. Influenza took the life of Pvt. Okey D. Jones on October 14, 1918. His body was returned to Tucker County, where he was laid to rest in the Pifer Mountain Cemetery near St. George, West Virginia.

Article prepared by Leon Armentrout
December 2018


Okey Delbert Jones

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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