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James Rusmisaell Tucker

Soldiers of the Great War

West Virginia
Veterans Memorial


James Rusmisaell Tucker

"Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word�the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again."

�Philip Larkin, MCMXIV (1914)

James Rusmisaell Tucker was born in Buckhannon, West Virginia, on September 15, 1897, to John Samuel and Ida Ellen Nicholson Tucker. James Tucker had two siblings: Robert E. M. Tucker and Carrie Tucker. Carrie and Robert were also born in Buckhannon; she in 1894, and he in 1895. Their father, John, was described as a farmer and laborer in late years of the 1890s.

A note of importance for other researchers is that James was not named at birth. A male infant Tucker was born in Upshur County to John and Ida Tucker on September 15, 1897, but was not named. A delayed certificate of birth was generated in 1952, which solidifies the identities of family members. The delayed certificate of birth connects the James R. Tucker who served in World War I with John and Ida through the military identification number and John's validation. The delayed certificate of birth helps sort out the relationship among family members, which were inaccurately depicted in some newspaper articles.

In 1900, the U.S. Federal Census record shows that the family was in Covington, Virginia. Mr. Tucker is listed as a carpenter in the document. In 1910, the family was still in Covington. The census in 1910 reflects the fact that all the family were born in West Virginia (per birth certificates found on the West Virginia Archives vital records database), except for Mrs. Tucker, who was born in Virginia, which may explain why they were residing in that state. Mr. Tucker was still a carpenter, at a paper mill. Covington is the home of Westrock, a company that produces paper. It has operated in Covington since 1890 and is still in operation today (6 October 2019). By 1910, Robert was known by his middle name, Earl, as reflected in the census record.

No records of the family could be found again until the year 1916. Robert E. M. Tucker died in 1916, according to the headstone found in Richwood Cemetery. As noted in the 1910 census, he was known by his middle name, and a death registration for Earl Tucker is found for March 5, 1916, for an accidental death in Richwood. Perhaps he and his brother moved to Richwood for work. A solid family connection among the Tuckers of Upshur County could not be found in the records with the Tuckers of Nicholas County. However, Richwood, in the early 1900s, was a seat of economy and manufacturing. The railroad arrived in the city in the decade before and made possible industry, including the largest clothespin factory and largest sole leather tannery in the world, at that time. There was also a paper mill, a broom-handle factory, a manufacturer of wooden plates, and a chair factory. Timbering and coal were booming, and due to the large, divergent businesses, financial centers arose to manage the growing wealth. (A. L. Craig, "City of Richwood [WV]," accessed 8 October 2019,

James evidently lived in Richwood, as well, and there was a John S. Tucker living in a boarding house in Richwood in 1920, according to the U.S. Census, though it could not be proven that this John Tucker was the father of James and Robert. Mr. Tucker remained in Richwood until his death in 1952, and the delayed certificate of birth generated for James Tucker was registered in Nicholas County. Mr. Tucker lived in La Frank, near Richwood, at the time the certificate was registered.

James joined the National Guard and was in the Army in 1917, having enlisted in Fairmont, and transferred among training battalions and infantry companies I, M, and G until he arrived in France. In France, James Tucker served in Company H, 16th Infantry, also known as the "Blue Devils," within the 1st Division, famously known as the "Big Red One." According to a site established for Division history, the 16th sailed from Hoboken, New Jersey, to St. Nazaire, France, in June 1917, the first of American troops to land on French soil, and so it may seem fitting that the 16th was the first infantry to suffer casualties in France. ("World War I," Sixteenth Infantry Regiment Association, accessed 6 October 2019,

From the Sixteenth Infantry Regiment Association website (History: Historical Galleries: World War I): -

The 16th Infantry Regiment, began training in July 1917 in the Gondrecourt area with the French 47th Division, Chasseaurs d'Alpines, nicknamed the "Blue Devils." On 3 November 1917, while occupying a section of trenches near Bathlemont, the 16th Infantry became the first U.S. regiment to fight and suffer casualties in the trenches during World War I when it repelled a German night raid. In the months that followed, the 16th Infantry would sustain even more casualties in defensive battles in eastern France at Ansauville, Cantigny, and Coullemelle. The regiment's first major attack was made during the bloody three-day drive near Soissons in July 1918. Along with the rest of the Big Red One, it relentlessly attacked until the German rail line that supplied their front line troops was severed forcing a major withdrawal of the enemy's forces.

It was during the three-day battle in July of 1918, near Chateau Thierry, that James Tucker received wounds that ended his life. The record is not clear about the circumstances since some sources indicate he died of wounds while another says that he was killed in action. The adjutant general's report says that James Tucker was "in action" July 18-23 and died of wounds on July 29, 1918, a departure from the day of death shown on his headstone [July 23] as well as the circumstances of death. The report also says that his father, John S. Tucker, was notified, in Richwood.

The Fairmont Times reported that Carrie Tucker, who was living in Clarksburg, was notified of James Tucker's death on October 29, 1918, and that he died of wounds received fighting around Chateau Thierry. The newspaper referred to James as Carrie's husband. The Washington Post also published the death announcement in its "News from the Virginias" section, but correctly identified Carrie Tucker as James's sister.


The weathered headstone for Robert E. M. Tucker
and James R. Tucker in Richwood Cemetery. Robert's middle name was "Earl,"
and no record was found for what the "M." might stand for. Courtesy Cynthia Mullens

Robert Tucker and James Tucker share a headstone in Richwood Cemetery.

Article prepared by Cynthia Mullens.
October 2019


James Rusmisaell Tucker

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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