Fallen Hero

Private

Jesse J. Blanton

August 4, 1890 - October 7, 1918
Hometown:
Norman, Oklahoma
Entered Service:
April 25, 1918
Unit:

90th Division, 344th Machine Gun Battalion, Company C

Rank:
Private, U.S. Army
Cemetery:
Plot C, Row 7, Grave 19, St. Mihiel American Cemetery

Before the War

On August 4, 1890, Jesse James Blanton was born to Mary Ellen and James Lee Blanton in Moody, Texas. The family moved to Norman, Oklahoma Territory by 1905 (Oklahoma became a state in 1907). He and his 11 siblings were raised in Norman, Oklahoma. In 1909 he began working as a linesman for Oklahoma Gas and Electric and worked in the same job until he enlisted in the U.S. Army in April 1918. As the oldest child, Blanton and his brother, Gus, took on the role of breadwinners when their father died in 1916. Jesse provided the largest contribution to the monthly family income. He continued to live at home and help his family until he enlisted in the Army. Along with his family, his girlfriend sent him off to serve in the American Expeditionary Forces.

Jesse Blanton and his girlfriend shortly before the war, c. 1918. Courtesy of Ancestry.

Military Experience

Blanton became a member of the 90th Division, 344th Machine Gun Battalion, Company C and began his training at Camp Travis, Texas. By the end of June, Jesse and the other members of his division, known as the Texas-Oklahoma Division, were on their way to France to join the fighting.

Blanton and his fellow doughboys provided artillery support for the St. Mihiel offensive. Following the success of the Americans at St. Mihiel, the French began to see the fighting force as a dependable and effective army and shifted many of the St. Mihiel units toward Verdun for the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Sometime after September 15 Private Blanton was wounded and hospitalized. His battle wounds proved too serious to overcome and on October 7, 1918, Jesse Blanton died in the Justice Field Hospital in Toul, France, and was buried in the temporary cemetery there.

A machine gun company supporting the 358th Infantry, October 25, 1918. National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-157901).

Commemoration

Blanton’s mother, Mary Ellen, wanted to take part in the Gold Star Mothers Pilgrimage to visit her son’s final resting place. Mary Ellen was unable to make the trip alone. She tried unsuccessfully to secure a travel spot for her son Gus to accompany her on the pilgrimage. Due to health and family commitments, Mary Ellen never made the pilgrimage.

Private Jesse James Blanton is memorialized at his final resting place in St. Mihiel American Cemetery in Thiacourt-Regniéville, France.

Jesse James Blanton’s Grave Marker at St. Mihiel American Cemetery in Thiacourt-Regniéville, France, July 3, 2018. Courtesy of Amanda Kordeliski., A letter from Captain R. E. Shannon of the Quartermaster Corps to Mary Ellen Blanton regarding the Gold Star Mothers Pilgrimage, July 6, 1931. National Archives and Records Administration - St. Louis.

Bibliography

Brown, G. Waldo, comp. The American Army in the World War: A Divisional Record of the American Expeditionary Forces In Europe. Manchester: Overseas Book Company, 1921. https://archive.org/details/ americanarmyinwo00brow.

Haulsee, W.M., F.G. Howe, A.C. Doyle, and the Soldiers Record Publishing Association. Soldiers of the Great War. Washington, D.C.: Soldiers Record Publishing Association, 1920.

“Jesse James Blanton.” American Battle Monuments Commission. Accessed June 12, 2018. http://www.abmc. gov/search-abmc-burials-and-memorializations/detail/WWII_40583.

Jesse James Blanton, Official Military Personnel File, Department of the Army, RG 319, National Archives and Records Administration - St. Louis.

Jesse James Blanton, World War I Burial Case File; Correspondence, Reports, Telegrams, Applications and Other Papers relating to Burials of Service Personnel, Records of the Quartermaster General’s Office, 1915-1935, Record Group 92; National Archives and Records Administration - St. Louis.

The Machine Gun Co. to which these men belong is supporting the 358th.... Photograph. October 25, 1918. National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-157901). Image.

War Diaries, 90th Division; Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (World War I), Record Group 120 (Box 2937); National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

War Diaries, 90th Division; Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (World War I), Record Group 120 (Boxes 2944-2955); National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

Wythe, George, and 90th Division Association. A History of the 90th Division. New York: The 90th Division Association, 1920. https://archive.org/details/ahistorythdivis00assogoog.