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Z 2236.000 S
STEWART FAMILY WORLD WAR I PAPERS

1915-1918

Biography/History:

Robert Percy Stewart

Robert Percy Stewart was born in Natchez, Adams County, Mississippi, on March 28, 1892. He was the son of William Percy and Katie B. Schwartz Stewart, who had an interest in Schwartz and Stewart, a Natchez hardware store. During World War I, Stewart enlisted in the United States Army on August 26, 1917, and was subsequently promoted to first lieutenant in the Infantry Reserve Corps. He was placed on active duty on November 15, 1917, and assigned to the 162nd Depot Brigade, Eighty-Seventh Division, which was stationed at Camp Pike, Fort Logan H. Roots, Arkansas. Stewart married Virginia Hodge on February 12, 1918, while home on leave. He was promoted to captain on September 13, 1918, and served as an administrative officer with the Fifth Company, Second Battalion, Infantry, at the Central Officers’ Training School at Camp Pike. Stewart returned to Natchez after being honorably discharged on December 14, 1918, and engaged in the wholesale and retail hardware business. The Stewarts had two sons: Robert Percy, Jr., and William E., and two daughters. William E. Stewart later married Betty Dewees, daughter of Harry Haywood Dewees.

During World War II, Robert Percy Stewart served as chief air-raid warden for the Natchez Civil Defense. Stewart continued in the hardware business for many years until he formed the R. P. Stewart Insurance Agency. He was an active member of the Natchez Historical Society and the Herbert J. Remondet Post Number Four of the American Legion. Robert Percy Stewart died on April 17, 1968, and was interred at the Natchez City Cemetery.

Harry Haywood Dewees

Harry Haywood Dewees was born near Pocahontas, Hinds County, Mississippi, on January 10, 1893. He registered for the draft around 1917 and later obtained a commission as a first lieutenant in the United States Army. He was stationed at Camp Pike, Fort Logan H. Roots, Arkansas. Dewees returned to Mississippi after the war, and he and his two brothers opened a general merchandise store in Florence, Rankin County, Mississippi, in 1919. The business operated as Dewees Brothers until 1925, when Harry Haywood Dewees bought out his brothers’ interests and changed the name to the H. H. Dewees Store. In 1929, Dewees married schoolteacher Euna Compere of Star, Rankin County, with whom he had a daughter, Betty. The couple ran the store for over fifty years. Dewees was an active member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Lions Club. Harry Haywood Dewees died on January 3, 1978, and was interred at the Chapel of the Cross Cemetery in Madison County, Mississippi.

Scope and Content:

This collection consists of personal papers and military records of Robert Percy Stewart of Natchez, Adams County, Mississippi; an officers’ manual of Harry Haywood Dewees of Florence, Rankin County, Mississippi; and five booklets printed for soldiers. The personal papers and military records reflect Robert Percy Stewart’s tour of duty in the United States Army during World War I.

The personal papers consist of family and military correspondence, general and special orders, transfer-of-property forms, and training-course materials dating from Stewart’s activation on November 27, 1917, to his honorable discharge on December 14, 1918. Of interest is Stewart’s request for ten days of leave to get married in Natchez, the notice of his promotion to captain, and a special order releasing him from the military. The training-course materials consist of typewritten lessons and a book of blank military forms from the Federal Reserve Students’ Training Camp at Leon Springs, Texas. Lesson topics include attack and defense methods, bayonet use, and machine-gun use in trench warfare. A list of lesson titles was compiled by the processing archivist and is included in the lessons folder. A book of blank forms contains examples of those used by the military around 1915. They were intended for use in a course entitled “Company Administration.”

Stewart spent the majority of his military career as an administrative officer with the Fifth Company, Second Battalion, Infantry, at the Central Officers’ Training School in Arkansas. In this capacity, Stewart requisitioned supplies for soldiers and maintained proper documentation. Dating between 1915 and 1918, the administrative records include memorandum receipts, individual equipment records, and statements of charges. The memorandum receipts contain the names of persons issuing and receiving equipment and supplies, a brief description of what was issued and returned, and the quantity of same. Examples include ammunition cartridges, bandoleers, lockers, and tents. Individual equipment records were completed for each soldier and document items issued, along with the quantity and size of each. There are two statements containing soldiers’ names, items charged to soldiers, amounts owed by soldiers, and reasons for the charges. Also included are abstracts of clothing issued, individual clothing receipts, clothing requisitions, property-transfer forms, survey reports, general receipts, and blank forms.

There is a copy of a 1917 United States Army officers’ manual that belonged to Harry Haywood Dewees. It contains guidelines for conduct, discipline, and dress of officers in their professional military and personal lives. The manual includes sections on military paperwork and how to build a personal military library.

There are four booklets that were published by the Young Men’s Christian Association and other organizations and distributed to the military. They offer advice to soldiers, particularly those stationed in Europe, on how to maintain physical and emotional well-being in wartime. Also included is a booklet featuring the Coleman 58 tent, which was developed by United States Army captain F. W. Coleman. Abercrombie and Fitch produced the booklet to advertise the tent and other items the company offered for sale to the military. The booklets date from 1916 to 1918.

Series Identification:

  1. Robert Percy Stewart World War I Papers. 1915-1918; n.d. 15 folders.

    1.1. Personal Papers. 1917-1918. 4 folders.

    Box 1, folders 1-4

    1.2. United States Army Administrative Records. 1915-1918; n.d. 11 folders.

    Box 1, folders 5-15

    Box O/Z/1, folder 11

  2. United States Army Officers’ Manual. 1917. 1 folder.

    Box 1, folder 16

  3. Booklets. 1916-1918; n.d. 1 folder.

    Box 1, folder 17

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