State Historic Site

Trail End

KNOWN BY HIS friends as "Lee," Leo Aloysius Doyle was a student at Sacred Heart College when he registered for the draft in June 1917. Prior to entering college, Doyle attended Sheridan High School and worked as a caller and messenger for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (before everyone had telephones, a caller was employed to run messages to engineers and other railroad employees, letting them know of shift changes and so forth). His last job with the CB&Q, in 1916, was as a supplyman. 

In the army, Doyle put his railroading skills to good use, serving as a Sergeant with the 469th Engineers. He later transferred to the Transportation Corps. Overseas, he was based in Tours, France. 

​After the war, Doyle completed his studies and was ordained a priest of the Society of Jesuits. After serving a short time in St. Louis, Missouri, he went on to work at the Holy Rosary Mission at South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation, and at St. Stephen's Mission on Wyoming's Wind River Reservation. 

Letters Home - Leo Aloysius Doyle

Dear Ones at Home - It's surprising how quickly one can accustom himself to new conditions and surroundings and the novelty wears off. Of course, this is different than army life previous to reaching Tours, for then I didn't know what was in store for the next day, where I was going, etc., but now I have fallen into the routine of the office, the strangeness of the work is gone, and the days slip by quickly. ... I like it fine. I am well and happy; must have gained ten pounds at least since joining the army. 

I just came from the paymaster where I got two months' wages minus insurance, deductions and laundry. We haven't been paid for two months and consequently we are either broke or in the red. I suppose there will be some celebrating tonight, but a dollar a day don't go far.

We get paid in French money and it seems considerable. The franc is the standard coin, and one dollar in American money is worth 5.70 francs, and as $30 is worth 171.00 francs, it seems like a lot, but I don't think it brings as much as the $30 would in New York City.

Tuesday I was invited ... to a French restaurant for a French dinner and to give you an idea of how much a franc will bring, I will give the menu of what I had: Soup, egg omelet, small portion of roast beef and some carrots, hunk of war bread, black coffee, strawberries with no cream or sugar - six francs
[a little over a dollar; a meal like that in Sheridan at the time would run less than twenty-five cents]. I just can't see it at all. The Y.M.C.A. puts up a good meal here for three francs.

Friday was the Feast of the Sacred Heart and I went to communion. Also served mass. We now have an American Chaplain, Father Lynch, S. J. [Society of Jesuits] and a fine man. He is going to get a Knights of Columbus building here and other things. ... 

I have no time for further writing now. I will try and write you twice a week as I think that is as often as would be possible. Much love to all. Keep happy and smiling.  

 (From "In the World War")