Ole Larson's Folks

Died in La Crosse, Wisconsin, this day in 1922: my granduncle Smith Larson.

1917 Smith

I knew very little about him until I began my research. He died in his early forties, a bachelor with no children, and was not on my radar as much as some of Grandpa Isaac’s other siblings. He was apparently in good health all his life, until he volunteered to rejoin the US Marine Corps as the US entered World War I. He needed a special waiver to enlist, as he was 41 years old at the time. Uncle Smith went to France and fought in one short battle. Within days, he was on and off  the “sick” roster (not “wounded”), until his discharge the following year. Then, he was in and out of hospital until his death less than three years later. Ironically, his disability claim was denied, with a VA medical exam showing only “hemmorhoids” (sic.) as a complaint. Nevertheless, he died in hospital, some weeks after a leg was amputated, due to “blood poisoning” — possibly gangrene — all according to family lore. There was also an obituary that contained some typical patriotic hyperbole that puts the whole document in doubt. Unfortunately, all of his medical records are long-gone, at least according to the hospital’s staff. Also in family lore: that Uncle Smith was the victim of poison gas on the battlefield. If that is the case, it must have been successfully covered up, as there is no mention of it in his official military file, nor in historical accounts of the Battle of St. Mihiel. Read more …

21 January
23 January