Vaughan Wilkinsons Diary

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ISBN 978-0-9790829-4-8


9 780979 082948


y r iD a

A Kansas Doctor in World War I France

joe h. vaughan

Colonel Wilkinson’s Diary


Thank you to the following organizations and individuals who donated to the cost of producing and publishing this history book: Wyandotte County Historical Society, Lori Allen, Fred Bailey, Norm Besheer, Art Brown, Harold/ Carol Frye, George Groneman, Joe Huber, Jim Hunter, Carolyne Lehr, Robert Mead, Esther Nolan, Charles Reynolds, Allyn Risley, Frank Russell, Jay Senter, Jay Strayer, Everett Sutherland, John Walstad and J. W. Wilcox. A warm thank you for this participation which assured the book was financed independently those who support historic preservation. A special thank you to the Museum for providing, archival, research, photo copying and many other numerous time and services without which this book would not have been possible.

Copyright Š 2015 Joe H. Vaughan All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. Edited by Steve Noll Proofread by Heather Paxton Cover design, book design and layout by Jim L. Friesen Library of Congress Control Number: 2017916365 International Standard Book Number: 978-0-9790829-4-8 Printed in the United States of America by Mennonite Press, Inc., Newton, Kansas. Because of current market distribution problems involving books and the lack of commercial/retail book stores, this book may be ordered from: Wyandotte County Historical Society 631 North 126th Street Bonner Springs, KS 66012 United States of America (913) 573-5002 (Ask for book store)


Colonel Wilkinson’s Diary


To all those who have died and given so much in all of the USA’s wars that we are a free Representative Republic/Democracy today. And to Colonel Wilkinson’s Great-Granddaughter Lauren Elizabeth Vaughan.

Colonel Wilkinson’s Diary



Colonel Wilkinson’s Diary



xi CHAPTER 1 His Story Began on the Prairie in Small-Town Kansas

1 CHAPTER 2 A Prep School in Maine was the Beginning of His Medical Education

3 CHAPTER 3 Dr. Wilkinson Established his Medical Practice in Kansas City, Kansas

7 CHAPTER 4 Undiscovered for a Century, Wilkinson had Kept a Diary of His Time in the U. S. Army

11 CHAPTER 5 Wilkinson’s Duties and Responsibilities were Constantly Changing


Colonel Wilkinson’s Diary


CHAPTER 6 There were Occasional Breaks from the Daily Hospital Grind for Wilkinson

29 CHAPTER 7 Wilkinson Would Soon Get Orders Preparing Him to go to Southeastern France

31 CHAPTER 8 The Constant Uncertainties of a World War Made Each Day an Unknown

37 CHAPTER 9 The Flu Epidemic Adds a Whole New Challenger to the War Effort

45 CHAPTER 10 Maj. Wilkinson is Chosen to Lead a Field Hospital in France

51 CHAPTER 11 Always Expect the Unexpected; In Southeastern France, It was Tyfoid



Colonel Wilkinson’s Diary

CHAPTER 12 Medical Advancement During War Improved Rapidly after World War I

65 CHAPTER 13 Death Comes Suddenly for Wilkinson After Battling a Grass Fire

69 CHAPTER 14 In Closing, Thoughts From Two of the Most Respected “Thinkers” on the Nature of War and Mankind




Colonel Wilkinson’s Diary



Colonel Wilkinson’s Diary


The purpose of this book is to tell the personal story (including

his personal diary) of one soldier from “The Great War” — World War I. ALL war is horrific and about people killing people. Dr. Wilkinson had to deal with the real horror of World War I, as recorded by an M.D./surgeon who encountered the very worst of human suffering that resulted in this early 20th Century conflagration. In addition to the devastation of the fighting, the Flu Epidemic of 1918 only worsened a war crisis that killed tens of thousands on both sides. Dr. Wilkinson’s descriptive writing about his personal experiences at Walter Reed, a series of domestic U. S. military training and treatment centers, the actual time in southeastern France and then back to Walter Reed in Washington D. C., illustrate the personal character and professional training of Dr. Wilkinson in a constantly changing horrific life and death environment that IS a World War. Fortunately, the United States of America still has tens of thousands of young volunteers who willingly lay their lives on the line every hour of every day for our priceless freedom. What should be considered as separating Hugh Wilkinson’s service 100-years ago, is that he was 40-years-old, had a well-established surgical practice, a wife and child and a new home in one of his home town’s premier subdivisions of the era. Based on the 21st Century’s extended “natural lifespan”, Wilkinson’s age in 1918 was approxi-

Colonel Wilkinson’s Diary


mately equivalent to a volunteer some 20-years older, or about 60 to 65 years of age in 2017. Hopefully, this book will inspire all who read it to seek to learn more about this war, and all of the wars since, to learn that the battle for the values, ethics and human freedom the USA stands for is a never-ending struggle that requires all of us to be constantly vigilant against forces that want to destroy it. Dr. Wilkinson alone, is not a hero, but rather represents the tens of thousands of allied soldiers who went into battle (thousands of whom never came back) to fight for the freedom who are living a Century later because of the constant unselfish sacrifice of soldier’s every day of every year. At the end of his service at Walter Reed, Dr. Wilkinson was awarded the rank of Colonel in the U. S. Army. After returning to civilian life, he continued to service in the Military Reserve in his hometown of Kansas City, Kansas. Read about it and think hard about and be inspired by what you have read. Thank you! Joe H. Vaughan Author


Colonel Wilkinson’s Diary

SPECIAL RECOGNITION Paul Wilkinson… Hugh’s eldest brother

The eldest son of Western E. and

Mary F. Wilkinson – Paul – graduated with a degree in anthropology from the University of Kansas and was hired by the U. S. Government to assume a lead role in the on-going research of the ancient Mayan Cultures of Central America. Wilkinson was born in Buchanan, Michigan on August 29, 1870 and died in Los Angeles, California on March 17, 1922. He had spent his childhood in Seneca before being educated at the Paul Wilkinson University of Kansas in Lawrence. He was survived by his wife, Madeline Kruger Wilkinson (whom he had met and married in Mexico City, Mexico and one adopted son.

Colonel Wilkinson’s Diary


In 1988, Paul Wilkinson’s niece, Elizabeth Wilkinson Vaughan of Kansas City Kansas, was contacted by Robert M. McLaughlin of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D. C. McLaughlin contacted Mrs. Vaughan to advise her that her late uncle’s research had formed the “an important contribution” for ALL of the subsequent studies into the early Mayan Culture(s) in the 20th Century. The Smithsonian had published a three volume documentation of information Wilkinson was involved in collecting prior to his death in 1922. The total number of pages in the three volume set exceeds 1,100 pages. It is entitled, The Great Tztoil of Santo Domingo Zinacantan…with Grammatical Analysis and Historical Commentary. The Introduction states that Wilkinson had served as secretary and auditor at various times on the expedition (Copies may viewed at the Kansas State Historical Society and Washburn University, both in Topeka, the University of Kansas in Lawrence and at the Nemaha County Historical Society and Museum in Seneca, Kansas. The volumes and the cover letter sent to Mrs. Vaughan in 1988 ended: “… A special thanks to Elizabeth Vaughan who brought her uncle to life for me in our many telephone conversations ….” Elizabeth Wilkinson Vaughan died at the age of 97 in May 2005.


Colonel Wilkinson’s Diary

CHAPTER 1 His Story Began on the Prairie in Small-Town Kansas

When Hugh Wilkinson was born the son of a small-town Kan-

sas newspaper publisher, Western E. “Wes” Wilkinson, November 27, 1877 he could never know the worldwide adventures, professional duties and considerable and varied responsibilities he would undertake in his 56-years. Following his 8th grade school graduation, Wilkinson’s father knew his middle son was blessed with strong academic abilities and talents that could only be refined and honed in boarding high school where his intellect would be challenged. He applied on behalf of Hugh, and got him accepted (1897) at a prestigious, private little Ivy League liberal arts high school and college in Brunswick, Maine. Bowdoin College was founded in 1794. Bowdoin College’s main campus is located near Casco Bay and the Androscoggin River, 12-miles north of Freeport, Maine. And 18-miles north of Portland. U. S. News and World Report ranked it the fourth best liberal arts college in the 2016 rankings.

Colonel Wilkinson’s Diary


Small-Town Kansas Western Wilkinson was familiar with Bowdoin because one branch of his family, the McLellan’s, came to Maine from Scotland. His son’s name was “Hugh McLellan Wilkinson”. Hugh lived with the Maine McLellan’s while attending Bowdoin. Earlier, Western had learned the printer’s trade in Buchanan, Michigan (Berrien County in the far southwestern corner of the state) before moving on to serve an apprenticeship in the large market Dayton (Ohio) Journal. Rather than accept a promotion in Dayton, he returned to Buchanan to become publisher of the Advent Christian newspaper. Western married Mary F. McLellan, a native of a prominent family from Brunswick, Maine, whose family had also been part of the post-Civil War trek for a new life in the western United States. In 1870, the young couple caught the fever to go even further into the “new” West on the plains of Kansas! Western Wilkinson got a lead on an opportunity at The Seneca Courier. He remained in Kansas until his death from typhoid fever in 1911 at the age of 66. Hugh was the middle of five children the couple raised on the uncompromising, challenging and tough plains of Kansas. Wilkinson served his town and county in many civic capacities. President U. S. Grant appointed him Postmaster in 1875, a post he held for ten years. He was cashier of the First National Bank of Seneca for several years in the 1880s and an active member of the Seneca Congregational Church. Western Wilkinson prided himself on keeping in touch with people at every level. Newspaper accounts record that he understood the hard times on the plains with grasshopper plagues, droughts, bad crops, summer heat, snowy winters and many privations pioneer settlers had to battle which seemed so indigenous to the country. Mother nature rarely yielded. At his death in 1911, his obituary notes Western E. Wilkinson “…was a man of honor and his integrity and steadfastness God gave to him the vision to see it, marked him as an upright man.” His son, Dr. Hugh Wilkinson, tended him to his death in Seneca, the obituary notes.


Colonel Wilkinson’s Diary