Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Hill Country Story Told in Stone: Daniel Wayne Bird

by Terry Thornton
with assistance from Glenda McWhirter Todd of Tullahoma, Tennessee
email: hillcountrymonroecounty@gmail.com

The following entry in the inventory of Sartor Cemetery tells little of the story of the one buried there ---

I006s, BIRD, Daniel Wayne, February 26 1896, July 21 1918, Private CO D 163rd Infantry, img 7982

The sixth marker in row "I" is a single-name stone for Daniel Wayne Bird who was born February 26, 1896 and died July 21, 1918. Daniel Wayne Bird was a Private in Company D, 163rd Infantry. The entry contains an image number of his grave marker and a link to it at my Flickr account --- here is that photograph:

Neither the photograph of Daniel Wayne Bird's grave marker or its entry in the transcription of burials at Sartor Cemetery makes mention of the fact that he was the first Monroe County soldier killed in action during World War 1. And no where does any of the information state that the Bird American Legion Post in Monroe Country was named in his memory. And only family historians and local genealogists know of Daniel Birds' relationship to one of the earliest families in Hill Country.

Glenda McWhirter Todd of Tullahoma, Tennessee, sent information about Daniel Bird and has graciously granted me permission to use it here.

Daniel Wayne Bird, called "Dan" by family and friends, was the son of Horace Early Bird [1865 - 1944] and Ella Florence Jones Bird [1858 - 1942]. On the 1910 Monroe County Mississippi census of Rural Hill, the Bird family consisted of

Early Bird, 45

Ella Bird, 51

Daniel W. Bird, 14

Mattie Bird, 12

Kerby Bird, 10

According to the census notations, all of the members of the Bird household were born in Mississippi.

Glenda included the following statements which are taken from a brochure about Daniel Bird's death and other historical information. According to Glenda, much of it was written by Dr. W.A. Evans.

Daniel Wayne Bird, called "Dan" by his family and friends, grew up on the family farm located on the Greenwood Springs Road between Aberdeen and Greenwood Springs. This farm was near Wise's Gap, and the post office address was Quincy. He volunteered for duty in the Army during World War One and enlisted in the old Company M, 154th Infantry, recruited at Aberdeen. He was sent to Camp Beauregard for training. He then volunteered for immediate service in France, where he was a Private in Co. D, 163rd Infantry. He was in France for a brief two month period, in which he served as Orderly during seven battles. As Orderly for his commanding officer, he was the messenger conveying instructions from the command post to subordinate units.

Daniel Wayne Bird was first wounded on July 18, 1918 at the Second Battle of the Marne. The Second Battle of the Marne was the last great advance of the German Army in WWI. However, the Allies were able to repulse the advance in a very decisive manner. Private Bird was killed in his seventh battle on July 31, 1918. At the time of his death he was buried in France but later, after the war was over, his body was returned to Monroe County and buried in the family area of the Sartor Cemetery. He was the first Monroe County soldier killed in action in WWI. In his honor, the Daniel W. Bird American Legion Post Number 26 was organized October 6, 1919. Private Bird's funeral in Monroe County was held at the New Hope Methodist Church with full Military Honors by the Daniel W. Bird Post. The Chaplain of the post, Rev. James E. Cunningham had charge of the services. Fifty automobiles filled with Post 26 members left Aberdeen in a procession to the home place of the Bird family. About one hundred members of the legion formed lines on either side of the path from the home to the hearse and stood at attention while the pall bearers brought out the casket. There were approximately fifteen hundred people in attendance. Thomas Fite Paine (1898-1956), an attorney in Aberdeen, gave the eulogy. Collins Akin, the official bugler, sounded taps. The gun salute was fired by Steve Webb, John E. Yeates, Gus Baird, and Amos Gilroy Easter. Daniel was buried in the Sartor Cemetery, which is in Section 9, TWP 14 S, Range 17W in Monroe Co., MS. It is located southeast of Wise's Gap and about two miles west of the Buttahatchie River. It sits high on a plateau on the ridge that borders the west side of the Buttahatchie. At the time of the burial, New Hope Methodist Church was located one-half mile west of the cemetery. This was the Bird family church and was one of the oldest congregations in Monroe County and dates back to 1816/1819.
Glenda also sent a copy of Daniel Bird's World War 1 Registration card from June 5 1917. He was listed then as single, age 21, and a farmer. He was tall and slender with blue eyes and light colored hair.

Dan Bird grew up on land his family inherited that once belonged to the John Wise family. John Wise, one of the earliest settlers into Monroe County, passed on some of his hill country land to daughter Catherine Wise Jones, wife of James W. Jones, in 1865. They, in turn, passed it on to Dan's parents.

At Sartor Cemetery, Dan Bird is buried among family --- his father and mother, Horace Early Bird and Ella Florence Jones Bird and other family members lay beside him in the quiet of the Hill Country.


Bird, Daniel Wayne. Information about military service, death, and burial, from Glenda McWhirter Todd, June 22, 2009, email to Terry Thornton.

Bird, Daniel Wayne. Grave marker photograph and index information by Terry Thornton, February 9, 2009, published in Terry Thornton's Transcription and Inventory of Sartor Cemetery, CD, 2009.

Bird Family Census information. 1910 Rural Hill, Monroe County, Mississippi. Image transcribed from Heritage Quest Online, available from Lee-Itawamba County Library, accessed October 5, 2009.

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