Memorial Day Crosses for the Boys Who Didn’t Come Home… And One Who Did

Apparently I haven’t ventured out into the town square of Canton, GA on Memorial Day before, because I was very proud and surprised to see a field of crosses commemorating the area’s war dead. (Excuse the terrible iPhone pics. I couldn’t see for the bright sun and I’m a terrible photographer as it is.)

Memorial Day Crosses Commemorating Fallen Soldiers at Cannon Park, Canton, Georgia
Memorial Day Remembrance in Cannon Park, Canton, Georgia (May 2013)

Flanking a tree, I immediately spotted the crosses remembering two family members.

Memorial Day Crosses for James M Bishop and Thaddeus Pickett Hester, Jr, soldiers who died during WW2
James M. Bishop and Thaddeus Pickett Hester, Jr. Cross Memorials, Canton, GA (May 2013)

These are two collateral ancestors I haven’t researched thoroughly yet. My only excuse is that my favorite part of this hobby is making new discoveries and I know that two super capable researchers – Leisa Wilkie and Patrick Bishop have the Bishop family more than covered! In fact, I recently say my first picture of Mitchell Bishop the other day thanks to Leisa Wilkie’s photo:

James Mitchell Bishop, Canton, GA WW2 hero who died in Europe during the war
Donia Victoria Kelly Bishop, James Mitchell Bishop, and William Preston Kindred Bishop, photo courtesy of Leisa Wilkie

(If you are a member of our Bishop Family, centered around Cherokee County, Georgia, please join the Facebook group Leisa was kind enough to make for us. It’s full of Bishop family pictures!)

Mitchell was my Granna, Ellabel West’s first cousin once removed. In fact, Mitchell’s family lived just a couple of hundred yards from where I live now! He was the son of William Preston Kindred Bishop and Donia Victoria Kelly. It was hard to get my Granna to talk very much about the past, but she once mentioned to me that Mitchell was good-looking and fun and that everyone was devastated when he was killed in the war.

The only thing I really know about Thaddeus Pickett Hester, Jr. is that he’s my Papa, Edward West’s cousin on his mother’s side, and Papa called him “Junior.” He was the son of Thaddeus Pickett (Thad) Hester, who was well known locally for driving the cotton mill bus from East Cherokee county into the mills every day, and Nettie West.  (This would make him double cousins with my grandpa, Edward West.) Thad Jr. enlisted in April of 1943 and died that November, at just age 19. Our family story goes that his mother, Aunt Net, never recovered from his loss. She died shortly after him, in 1946.

I promise I’ll soon do better by our war dead and scope out all of the details of their honorable service and what became of them. That’s one area where my genealogy education is seriously lacking, and I’m looking forward to learning more from the many military historians who take the time to educate us genealogists.

But I’ll start by checking out the WW2 memorial room over at Sosebee Funeral Home in Canton, GA. If you haven’t had the chance to go into Sosebee’s, I highly recommend taking the time to see not only the newspapers showing pictures of our soldiers, but artifacts and relics from the war.

I know it’s Memorial Day and not Veteran’s Day, but that said, I wanted to give a little shout out to my Papa, mom’s dad Edward West. He served toward the end of the war in Germany. I’m lucky enough that he allowed me to interview him about his WW2 service, and I plan on posting an excerpt from that interview up next week on Military Monday, because Papa definitely deserves his own blog post. (And his own book and statue and airplane and… I love my Papa!)

Do you have fallen soldiers in your family tree? How do you plan to learn more about them? I’d love to hear your strategies, and your stories, to keep their memories alive.

Happy detecting and have a safe and reflective Memorial Day!


2 thoughts on “Memorial Day Crosses for the Boys Who Didn’t Come Home… And One Who Did”

  1. I think your photographs are great. No worries about using an iPhone. How wonderful that two of your ancestors were honored with crosses in the park, especially because it’s a temporary arrangement.


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