A Year in Review

Jessica A. Bandel

Throughout 2017, I had the very great honor of commemorating the service and sacrifice of North Carolinians during the First World War. I have been overwhelmed by your responses to these articles, your kind words of encouragement, and the generosity of descendants in sharing their treasured family photographs and stories. I have taken great joy and pride in this work and hope that that shines through in each and every post that I have published. So it is with a little bit of sadness today that I announce I am moving on to another position within my department and that I will no longer be able to contribute to this blog.

Though I am moving on, Matthew Peek, our esteemed military archivist, will continue to publish war-time accounts and histories, so be sure to subscribe to the blog to get his essays in your inbox. (You can subscribe by entering your e-mail address into the field found at the top of the column running down the right side of the page.)

For my final post, what I would like to do is take a look back at some of the sixty-eight pieces I have contributed, sharing with you the some of the public’s favorite stories. The top three most-read posts I published this year are as follows:

1. Puerto Rico and the Beginnings of Fort Bragg: Far and away the most popular blog post I published. The nation’s military needs stripped thousands of men from the work force here in North Carolina, resulting in a shortage of laborers on the homefront. The United States government sought to fill this void by hiring Puerto Rican laborers to complete various construction, manufacturing, and agricultural jobs. One such project was the construction of Camp Bragg, which went on to become the nation’s largest army base.

2. World War I Nurse Frances Reed Elliott Davis: Frances was a woman who just didn’t know the word “quit.” She overcame the loss of both of her parents and a hard childhood bouncing from foster home to foster home to become the first officially enrolled African American Red Cross nurse. Her lengthy career hit a high point in the 1940s when she recruited the support of Eleanor Roosevelt to introduce a badly needed childcare program in a Detroit suburb. Frances’s story is definitely one you should not miss.

3. Portraits of War: Thomas J. Bullock: The United States Army was still segregated during World War I, and racial prejudices of the time kept most black soldiers out of combat and leadership positions. Just a few thousand were ever given the opportunity to become officers. Fewer still were commissioned. Wilmington native Thomas J. Bullock was one of only twenty-seven black North Carolinians to be commissioned an officer in the U. S. military during the war. He died, “with his face to the front,” on the night of September 1, 1918.

Again, thank you all so much for your support! Wishing all of you a wonderful and happy 2018…

Jessica A. Bandel