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Burtis A. Lawrence World War I Collection

Burtis Alonzo Lawrence was born on September 14, 1892 and grew up in Lufkin, Texas, the son of Huie Whitfield and Rosa Lee Burkhalter Lawrence. In 1918, he joined the American Expeditionary Forces and traveled on a troop ship, where he became ill. He was treated at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow, Scotland, where he was visited by volunteers, American Red Cross workers, and an American Y.M.C.A. pastor. He died of his illness on November 2, 1918 and was buried in Craigton Cemetery in Glasgow. This collection consists of photographs and correspondence addressed to Rosa Lawrence describing her son's condition, notifying her of his death, describing his funeral and grave, and detailing his last days and words.


Lawrence Family Portrait, ca. 1912

Lawrence Family Portrait, ca. 1912

The Lawrence family poses for a portrait, ca. 1912.  Oldest son Burtis Alonzo Lawrence died in Glasgow, Scotland in November 1918 after falling ill on a ship carrying him to Europe to fight in World War I. 
Front Row, Left to Right: Evie, Carrie Lee, Rosa Lee, Virginia (baby), Ed, Huie
Back Row, Left to Right: Burtis, R.D., Emma, Elton (aka Small Boy)

Burtis Alonzo Lawrence Portrait, ca. 1916

Burtis Alonzo Lawrence Portrait, ca. 1916

Angelina County native Burtis Lawrence, shown here in a portrait in about 1916.

Burtis Lawrence Insurance Certificate

Burtis Lawrence Insurance Certificate

Certificate of Insurance issued to Burtis Lawrence on August 1, 1918.
 

Letter from Mrs. Gardiner to Mrs. Lawrence, October 19, 1918

Letter from Mrs. Gardiner to Mrs. Lawrence, October 19, 1918

In this letter dated October 19, 1918, Mrs. Gardiner, a volunteer at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow, Scotland, writes to Rosa Lawrence that her son Burtis is ill and being cared for in the hospital.  She assures Mrs. Lawrence that though her son has been very sick, he is feeling better and everything possible is being done to care for him. 

Letter from Burtis Lawrence to his family, October 25, 1918

Letter from Burtis Lawrence to his family, October 25, 1918

In this letter dated October 25, 1918, Burtis Lawrence writes to his family (with the help of a friend) about his illness and asks for all the news from home.  He mentions how long he's been sick, the food served at the hospital, and the great many friends that cheer him and help take care of him.  He urges his mother to try and reconcile with his father and asks her to write to him. 

Letter from Mrs. Gardiner to Mrs. Lawrence, November 3, 1918

Letter from Mrs. Gardiner to Mrs. Lawrence, November 3, 1918

In this letter dated November 3, 1918, hospital volunteer Mrs. Gardiner writes to Rosa Lawrence to tell her of the death of her son Burtis.  She praises him as a "fine fellow" that was beloved of all the hospital staff and assures the grieving mother that she and her husband will attend his funeral. 

Red Cross Condolence letter to Mrs. Lawrence, November 7, 1918

Red Cross Condolence letter to Mrs. Lawrence, November 7, 1918

In this letter dated November 7, 1918, Lieutentant John Martin of the American Red Cross sends his condolences to Mrs. Lawrence upon the death of her son Burtis.  He assures her that her son was well cared for in a top hospital, supervised by American Red Cross officials who made sure he had everthing he needed.  Lieutentant Martin describes Burtis Lawrence's funeral and grave and offers to send of photograph to his mother. 

Burtis Lawrence's Grave Marker

Burtis Lawrence's Grave Marker

The American Red Cross sent this photo of Burtis Lawrence's grave marker to his family.  With their loved one buried so far away, this photo would have been their only connection to his final resting place. 

Letter from James Lockwood to Mrs. Lawrence, May 28, 1919

Letter from James Lockwood to Mrs. Lawrence, May 28, 1919

In this letter dated May 28, 1919, Y.M.C.A. pastor James Lockwood writes to Mrs. Lawrence, describing his meeting with her son Burtis and his state of mind shortly before he died.  Mrs. Lawrence had asked that whoever had last spoken with her son would write to her, and Mr. Lockwood is writing directly to her because his first letter, sent through the Red Cross, did not get sent.  He assures the grieving mother that her son was at peace with God and was not in any pain or want. 

Letter from Edgar Sharp to Mrs. Lawrence, May 30, 1919

Letter from Edgar Sharp to Mrs. Lawrence, May 30, 1919

In this letter dated May 30, 1919, Edgar Sharp, Commissioner of the British Isles of the Knights of Columbus writes to Mrs. Lawrence to inform her that his organization placed a wreath and card on her son's grave in honor of the American holiday Memorial Day. 

Memorial Day Wreath Card

Memorial Day Wreath Card

On Memorial Day, May 30, 1919, the Knights of Columbus placed a wreath and remembrance card on the graves of American Servicemen buried in Glasgow, Scotland.  They placed this card on Burtis Lawrence's grave and sent a copy to his mother.