State Historic Site
(From "In the World War")
JAMES DONALD LEAPHART, born in Brookfield, Missouri, in 1895, was a self-employed farmer living in Clearmont when he registered for the draft in June 1917. He was inducted into the Army in September 1917 and served stateside with the 44th Infantry. By the time he was honorably discharged in December 1918, he had attained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.
A few days after his induction, Leaphart penned a letter - signed by himself and seventeen other Sheridan area recruits - thanking Sheridan for its support. We don't know for sure if Leaphart wrote the letter himself (he attended Missouri State University) or copied it from a standard thank you letter suggested by the Army, but its sentiments are nevertheless sincere.
Of the seventeen recruits who left Sheridan on Sunday, September 23rd, three - Carlyle Henry Prichard , Jesse Albert Surrena and Roy Henry Eaton - would not return. See below for more about their fate.
We only have photographs of James Donald Leaphart, Earl Gordon Haywood, Jesse Albert Surrena, Earl Willard Long and Henry William Price. If you have photographs of the other soldiers mentioned in this letter and would like to share them with us, please send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To the people of Sheridan and Sheridan County:
The members of the second contingent of the national army who left Sheridan Sunday, September 23rd, desire to thank the people of Sheridan and Sheridan County for the many useful tokens of friendship presented to us on our departure from home and to express our sincere appreciation of the farewell entertainments given us as a mark of your confidence in us to do the things our country calls upon us to perform.
Whatever the future holds in store for us, we hope never to forfeit the faith you have reposed in us.
We are hardly soldiers yet, but you have known us from childhood and you may expect us all to do our duty in war even better than we did our work in peace.
When the last foe of our country has been vanquished, we will return and deliver to you the escutcheon as clear of stains as when placed in our keeping.
Throughout that time, we will cherish with deepest appreciation your kindly acts, your genuine friendship and the honors you have bestowed upon us.