Looking back: American Red Cross chapter to be organized

Published 10:23 am Friday, November 10, 2017

by Clyde Parker

Nov. 9, 1917

The Tidewater News

A county-wide mass meeting has been called by the Honorable John Crafford Parker, Chairman, and James T. Gillette, Secretary of the organizing committee, to meet in Courtland Sunday afternoon, Nov. 11, at 3 o’clock in the Courtland M.E. Church for the purpose of organizing the Southampton County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

This meeting is to be different from the splendid mass meeting held at Courtland in June when a subscription of several thousand dollars was made for the American Red Cross. There will be no collection taken at Sunday’s meeting. Pursuant to the resolution adopted at the June 24 meeting, a permanent chapter for Southampton County is to be constituted in order that our County, and its people, may be definitely enlisted in (International) Red Cross work of which America is to be the deciding factor. 

A message from President Woodrow Wilson to Mr. Parker is stated below:

“The World is in the throes of an awful tragedy. The European War is a continuing and looming threat. Our men and boys have been and are called to service. They will soon be in dire need of the assistance which only the Red Cross can render. It behooves those who remain at home to support this organization at whatever cost or sacrifice that may be necessary.” 

Mr. Parker said, “We appeal to our citizens to go to this meeting and let us start out with a rousing membership. No collection will be taken at the meeting.”   

The Tidewater News,
Nov. 16, 1917

American Red Cross is organized

Following last summer’s campaign for the American Red Cross in Southampton County in which $9,185.67 was subscribed by our people, a mass meeting was held in Courtland Sunday afternoon for the purpose of establishing a permanent American Red Cross chapter. The meeting was called by John C. (Crafford) Parker who has been untiringly at work in the interest of the Red Cross in this county and to whose efforts much of the success of the campaign are due.   

It was moved, seconded, and approved by those present that an American Red Cross Chapter be formed for Southampton County, in the Commonwealth of Virginia. An application for a charter is to be submitted to National Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

James T. Gillette, Esq. of Courtland acted as secretary and the following permanent officers were elected: 

John Crafford Parker, Franklin, Chairman; Miss Blanche Edwards, Franklin, Secretary; W.J. Story, Courtland, Treasurer; and James T. Gillette, Courtland, Chairman – Finance Committee.

The work will be sub-divided into three main sections: military relief, civilian relief, and chapter activities with various subcommittees to perfect and complete a working organization designed to bring about, here, every phase of Red Cross activity. 

Chapter activity, mostly, will be to prepare surgical dressings from local home sources such as bed sheets and other miscellaneous cotton based materials. In Franklin, a room at the Fourth Avenue Armory Hall has been set aside for this work. Of course, fund-raising will be an important part of local activity. 

Chairmen will be appointed for each district of the County as soon as possible. They, in turn, will organize their districts on a working basis. As plans are worked out, general publicity will be given in The Tidewater News. It is incumbent on us, for the sake of our boys and our duty to humanity, to lead every effort within our power to support local Red Cross organization and work. In so doing, we will be in support of the American National Red Cross and, ultimately, the International Red Cross. 

In 1916, Colgate Whitehead Darden Jr., a 1914 Franklin High School graduate, left the University of Virginia and joined the American Red Cross/YMCA Ambulance Corps, as a volunteer, and served in the LaBelle, France region.  hen he became sick with malaria, he was sent back to the United States for recovery. 

While here, during recovery, young Mr. Darden rendered valuable service in Southampton and adjoining counties during the Liberty Loan and Red Cross drives. He did so by speaking a number of times on his previous experiences in the war zone and of the righteousness of the great allies’ cause.  He spoke fervently of the absolute need for American Red Cross presence in the war zone. And, he is strongly supporting American Red Cross organizing efforts here on the home front. 

When he did recover from his illness, earlier this year, he entered flight training at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A few weeks ago, following his flight certification, he returned to France as a marine aviation combat pilot. Lieutenant Darden is now in the thick of the war. 

The good wishes of everyone follow him as he again enters his country’s service.

The Tidewater News

Nov. 18, 1941

Red Cross is

short of goal

Mrs. George H. Parker, chairman of the American Red Cross “Roll Call” for the Franklin District, stated this week that the town was far behind in its goal for the 1941 fund-drive.

“In an effort to catch-up before the Nov. 30 reporting deadline, a large corps of volunteer workers is soliciting from house to house for contributions and memberships,” Mrs. Parker said earlier this week.   

“However, we are pleased to report that a whole lot of businesses in Franklin have contributed to the cause, and I believe more will be forthcoming,” she added. 

So far, the following businesses have contributed: J.E. Moyler Law Office, Hi-Way Esso Station, Edwards Grocery Store, Mike’s Franklin Café, Duck’s Store, J.C. Eley’s Grocery, J&M Grill, L.B. Norfleet’s Store, Dr. J.C. Rawls, Roy Edwards Livery Stable, Parker Drug Company and The Chinese Laundry.    

H.L. Duff, Southampton County American Red Cross Chairman, recently announced the following district chairmen: Boykins, Miss Retta Hart; Berlin-Ivor, Mrs. H. Wayland Stephenson; Capron, Mrs. L.W. McGrath; Drewryville, John T. Claud Jr.; Franklin, Mrs. George H. Parker; Jerusalem, Mrs. Charles W. Davis; and Newsoms, Mrs. Henry Bailey.

William M. Johnson, Franklin undertaker, and R.H. Allen, Manager of Leggett Department Store in Franklin, are also managing efforts in the Town of Franklin and the Franklin District.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is magnolia101@charter.net