A blog reader asks about Frances Mildred Smith, as this lucky person has been given a scrapbook with photos from Smith’s 1919 service with the YMCA in France.
Smith (1886–1972) was born in New York City. Her father was realtor E. DuBois Smith, and her mother was Fannie Elsworth Smith, who was descended from a Revolutionary War soldier. Her neurologist uncle, Graeme Monroe Hammond, competed in the 1912 Olympics as a fencer, served in the Army Medical Corps in WWI, and supported the idea of women serving in combat roles. She had two brothers and two sisters. The October 2015 issue of Our Town St. James shows Smith as a child (see p. 42) and discusses her historic family homestead, Mills Pond House.
Her November 1918 passport application indicates that she was appointed a secretary of the YMCA’s National War Work Committee for a one-year term in France and Great Britain. The application also reveals that she had to name her male relatives in the war (her brother Edmund is listed as wounded, but he survived his injuries and was treasurer of the Smithtown American Legion post in 1919); she also had to attest that she did not intend to marry an AEF serviceman while in France. (One does not see male volunteers having to swear that they will not marry a war worker during their service.) She was back in the United States by November 1919 for her sister Dorothy’s wedding.
A founder of the Smithtown Historical Society, she is buried in St. James Episcopal Church Cemetery in St. James, NY (the same cemetery where architect Stanford White is buried). Her great-niece is Rev. Dorothy Miller Borden.