In search of our FOUNDING FATHERS

Post 19 seeks info, marks 100 years on Oct. 10
By: 
Daily News Staff Report
Tuesday, September 10, 2019
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Earl Miller

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Israel Hebert

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Leon Alcock

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Roy Miller

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Ward Davis

Family members of the founding fathers of American Legion James O. Hall Post 19 are being asked to participate in the Post’s centennial celebration this fall. Oct. 10 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of James O. Hall Post 19 of the American Legion, Department of Louisiana, according to Post Historian Glenn McFarlain. “The Post, along with American Legion Auxiliary Unit 19, is planning activities during the Jennings Alive Fall Arts and Crafts Festival in October in order to celebrate this auspicious event,” he stated in a press release. The Centennial Celebration activities will take place at Founders Park in Jennings on Oct. 26. McFarlain said families of the Post’s founding members have been contacted “The Post is looking forward to as many relatives of the founding members as possible taking part in the activities,” he said. “We do have information about five of these founding members so lovingly provided by their families.”

• Leon Merle Alcock was born Oct. 7, 1896. He enlisted in the U. S. Army on March 13, 1918 at Jackson Barracks in New Orleans. On June 23, 1918 he deployed to France to join the American Expeditionary Forces under the Command of General John J. Pershing.

Alcock served as an infantryman during World War I. When hostilities ended on Nov. 11, 1918 he stayed in France and finally returned to the U.S. on June 29, 1919. He was discharged from active service at Camp Pike, Arkansas on July 17, 1919.

After his active service in the U. S. Army Leon joined the Louisiana National Guard and became a member of Troop F, 108th Calvary from Jennings, where he attained the rank of Sergeant. He was discharged from the National Guard on Aug. 2, 1922.

He married Arizona Noel Alcock and they have nine children including Leonabelle, Constance, Marguerite, Elaine, Shirley, Gene, Betty, Lucy Ann and Richard.

During his work career Alcock was employed as a clerk, a Louisiana State Trooper and a warehouseman at Lake Charles Air Force Base. Alcock died on Feb. 16, 1994 and he is interred at Greenwood Cemetary. Leon’s son and daughter-in-law, Gene and Nanette Alcock, reside in Jennings.

• Roy Smith Miller was born on Feb. 6, 1894. Prior to World War I he was an officer in the First Separate Troop, Louisiana Calvary, a National Guard unit.

This unit was activated for service on March 17, 1917 and was redesignated as Headquarters Troop 42nd Division, U.S. Army.

Roy Miller and his unit departed for France on Oct. 18, 1917. The 42nd Division saw extensive combat for 174 days during the war.

Miller led his unit during their return to the U.S. on April 26, 1919. The unit received a hero’s welcome in Jennings on May 13, 1919. After the war, Roy Miller owned and operated a tailor shop in Jennings.

On Sept. 24, 1919 Miller and 41 other World War I veterans from Jeff Davis Parish submitted an application for Post of American Legion to American Legion State and National Headquarters. The Post was designated as James O. Hall Post 19 of the American Legion, Department of Louisiana. The Post was named after a soldier from Jennings who died in service to his country in World War I.

The Post received their temporary charter on Oct. 10, 1919, and Roy Miller served as the Post’s first Commander.

In 1921 Roy Miller was selected by Governor John Parker to represent Louisiana and participate in the ceremony for the Unknown Soldier of World War I, who is interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

After the First World War Miller remained active with the Louisiana National Guard and rose to the rank of Major. He commanded the 108th Calvary Regiment, which had subordinate units in Louisiana and Georgia.

Roy Miller was married to Margaret Wiley on May 15, 1917. They have two daughters, Marilyn and Patricia. In 1926 Roy Miller and his family moved from Jennings, and during the next six years he served as Manager of Chambers of Commerce in Lafayette, Alexandria and Duncan, Okla.

He died in Alexandria on Dec. 28, 1932. He is interred at Greenwood Cemetery.

Roy Miller is the brother of fellow Post 19 founding member Earl C. Miller. His great-great niece Stacy Myers and her husband Trey reside in Jennings.

• Israel Lessin Hebert was born in Lafayette Parish on April 15, 1896. He resided near Maurice until he was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War I.

His first duty station was at Camp Joseph P. Robinson, located near Little Rock, Ark. He was transferred to New York and remained there for the rest of his military service. His ability to speak French was used to assist in the deployment of troops to France. He rose to the rank of Second Lieutenant while on active duty with the Army.

After his discharge from the Army, Hebert attended St. Charles College at Grand Coteau. For a short time he taught math at St. Charles College. While in Grand Coteau he met Joe Houssiere from Jennings, who recruited Hebert to work for the Houssiere car dealership in Jennings.

Hebert married Annette Joachim Houssiere on June 22, 1921. They had seven children including Francis, Eugene, Lawrence, Richard, Therese, Gertrude and Eileen.

In addition to being a founding member of James O. Hall, Hebert was a founding member of Knights of Columbus Council 2012 from Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in Jennings.

He was the Council’s Grand Knight from 1927 to 1928. He and three of his Brother Knights operated a Dry Goods store in Jennings in the 1920’s, and the second floor of the building was used as a meeting place for both the KC Council and the American Legion Post. The building was located at the intersection of Main Street and Academy Avenue in Jennings, where Jeff Davis Bank is currently located.

Hebert became an insurance agent and he owned and operated Hebert and Leblanc Insurance Agency in Jennings.

He died on Oct. 29, 1989 and is interred at Calvary Cemetery. His son Richard Hebert still resides in Jennings, along with some of Richard’s children and grandchildren.

• Ward Arthur Davis was born on Dec. 17, 1901. Davis is a veteran of both WWI and WWII. The Americans joined in declaring war on Germany in World War I on April of 1917 and Ward would have been 17 when he joined the Army. He shipped to France and was a “Doughboy” in the “War to End All Wars.” While in combat he was exposed to some gas in the trenches and sustained some lung damage. Ward served in the U.S. Army from June 15, 1918 until Aug. 5, 1919.

After his WWI service he married May Holmes Davis. They had four children including Marjorie, Dorothy, Elgie and Herbert. Between the wars Davis worked as an electrician, machinist and shop foreman. In the 1930’s he and his family resided in Los Angeles, Calif.

In addition to being a founding member of James O. Hall Post 19 and American Legion, Davis was the Post Commander from 1939 to 1940.

He volunteered for service in WWII on Dec.15, 1942 to Dec. 11, 1945. He was a mechanic, and he rose to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer. He was assigned to the European Theater of Operations and served in General George Patton’s Third Army. He was exposed to the harsh winter of 1944-1945, when the Third Army broke through and relieved the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, and Davis suffered some frostbite to his face during those operations.

After World War II he returned to Jennings and continued his career in the maintenance field. He was truly a jack-of-all-trades and worked for some time at the Evangeline Refinery, located along Bayou Nezpique just off La. 97 in Acadia Parish.

Davis died on Jan. 6, 1969. He is interred at Greenwood Cemetery. Davis’s grandson Charlie (Dana) Williams and his granddaughter Connie Davis (Keith) Hebert, all reside in Jennings.

• Earl Christian Miller was born on July 24, 1891 at Letts, Iowa. His parents and family moved to Lakeside in 1892 and later moved to Jennings.

He is a graduate of the Jennings High School class of 1911. He owned and managed motion picture shows in Jennings from 1911 to 1921. He helped build what is now the Strand Theater in downtown Jennings.

He married Bernice Jaenke on Sept. 30, 1917. They have one son, Richard D. Miller, who was born Nov. 18, 1923.

Earl Miller enlisted and served in the Regular Army in 1918 during WWI. After the war he served as an agent of New York Life Insurance Company from 1923 to 1943.

In addition to being a founding member of James O. Hall, Earl Miller served as Post 19’s Commander from 1931 to 1932. He was a Legion member for over 62 years.

Earl Miller was elected and served in the Louisiana legislature as representative from Jeff Davis Parish from 1944 to 1948. He was a board member of both the Jennings Chamber of Commerce and the Jennings Association of Commerce. He was chairman of the special gifts fund drive for the construction of a new million-dollar American Legion Hospital in 1958. He was an active participant in fundraising activities for Jennings High School athletics.

He helped organize and served on the Board of Directors of Jennings Federal Savings and Loan, Jeff Davis Bank and Trust Company and the Southwest Louisiana Community Hotel Corporation. He was President of Farm Machinery and Equipment Company, incorporated in Jennings.

Earl Miller died on March 27, 1981. He is the brother of fellow founding member Roy S. Miller. His great-granddaughter Stacy Myers and her husband Trey reside in Jennings.

McFarlain said said the Post is still waiting to hear from the families of the following founding members: Viron Barnhill, A. J. Bertrand, Otto Bollich, Eli G. Breaux, F. N. Cart, Howard B. Cary, Louis E. Cole, Willard Demmon, Edward Fallect, Robert Ferey, Marius Fuselier, John D. Hathorn, Clebert Hollier, Frederick A. Koll, Henry H. Koll, Peter W. Koll, Glenn W. Lang, Ozena LeBlanc, Eulice Lejeune, Marco Lukinovich, John J. McHugh, Jr., Earl H. McMillan, Minos D. Miller, Gus P. Modlish, L. A. Moore, Harry Noggle, Leo J. Nohe, S. P. Quigley, Jules Reaud, Robert B. Ricker, C. F. Stakes, Marvin Stansbury, Frank M. Taylor, Louis Z. Toups, Gilbert Wiltz and L. Woodyard.

Any relative of one of these founding Post members who wishes to be included in Post 19 Centennial Celebration activities on Oct.26 during the Jennings Alive Fall Arts and Crafts Festival at Founders Park should contact Glenn McFarlain at

(337) 824-5556.

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