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Profiles from the Archives: Jesse S. Lockaby Sr.

Matthew M. Peek, Military Collection Archivist

Jesse Starnes Lockaby Sr. was born on December 10, 1895, in the town of Hendersonville in Henderson County, N.C., to Whitcomb Riley and Susan Floyd Lockaby. Jesse’s father Riley was a farmer, and the Lockaby family had eight children by 1910. The family would move to Gastonia in Gaston County, N.C., by the time Jesse Lockaby entered military service in World War I. At the time of his draft registration for the war, Jesse Lockaby was working as a bookkeeper at Lora Mills in Gastonia.

Jesse Lockaby joined the North Carolina National Guard at Gastonia on July 23, 1917, which would later become part of the 105th Engineers, 30th Division, U.S. Army. He reached the rank of private first class on September 10, 1917. Lockaby served with the 105th Engineers until June 1918, when he was transferred to Headquarters Train, 2nd Army Corps. He served overseas in Europe during WWI from May 28, 1918, through February 23, 1919, and was honorably discharged on March 14, 1919. Lockaby saw service in France, Belgium, and Germany.

Jesse Lockaby was a graduate of the following colleges and schools: William and Mary College; Virginia Theological Seminary; and the Sewanee Theological School of the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee. After the war, he was ordained a deacon in St. John’s Episcopal Church in Marion, N.C., in June 1924. He was ordained a minister in 1927 while serving at St. John’s. Lockaby was named the Eighth Rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, serving from 1924 to 1937. He would also serve as a minister at St. Andrew’s Church in Charlotte, N.C.

Lockaby married Grace Henry, who became very involved in church and civic affairs while they were at St. John’s. In 1937, Lockaby served as the chaplain for the North Carolina Department of the American Legion. He would retire from the ministry and move to Winston-Salem, N.C., prior to 1953. Jesse Lockaby Sr. died at the age of 58 on October 31, 1953, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Gastonia, N.C.

To learn more about Jesse Lockaby’s WWI service, check out the Jesse S. Lockaby Sr. Papers (WWI 31) in the WWI Papers of the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina in Raleigh, N.C.

This blog post is part of the State Archives of North Carolina’s World War I Social Media Project, an effort to bring original WWI archival materials to the public through the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ (NCDNCR) various social media platforms, in order to increase access to the items during the WWI centennial celebration by the state of North Carolina.

Between February 2017 and June 2019, the State Archives of North Carolina will be posting blog articles, Facebook posts, and Twitter posts, featuring WWI archival materials which are posted on the exact 100th anniversary of their creation during the war. Blog posts will feature interpretations of the content of WWI documents, photographs, diary entries, posters, and other records, including scans of the original archival materials, held by the State Archives of North Carolina, and will be featured in NCDNCR’s WWI centennial blog.