Tag Archives: Dilliplane

Week 6 (Favorite Name) – Mary Swavely Dilliplane


St. Paul’s Church in Amityville, Berks, Pennsylvana – where Maria Swavely was baptized.

It was very hard for me to chose an ancestor this week. In the end I decided to write about my 3x’s great-grandmother, Mary Swavely Dilliplane. Her name is a favorite simply because I found it! I did it by examining her FAN club (family, associates and neighbors), developing a theory for her parentage and then finding records to prove it. It was a combination of research and analysis to develop the theory and luck in that there was direct evidence in her father’s probate file to confirm it.

I have briefly written about Mary and finding her family on this blog before here and here.  This post will go into more detail. There were several factors that made it so difficult to identify her. First, she died prior to 1850 and was never enumerated by name on any census. Second, neither she nor her husband Thomas Dilliplane have a tombstone that I have been able to find. So I had no dates — not even a birth year. (Remember prior to 1850 people were only identified by tick marks in age range buckets.) But I did have a starting point. There is a very comprehensive and well-researched book, “The Delaplaines of America,” written by Marvin Delaplane in 1998.1 It had her as Mary with maiden name unknown.

So how did her first name come to be know? Well, there were two records that suggested that her first name was Mary. One was the 1853 Berks county death record for her son Joshua.2 Pennsylvania counties were supposed to record births and deaths from 1852-1854, but not all complied and not all records survived. It was fortuitous that the record for Joshua existed. It did not provide her maiden name, but it did give us a first name of Mary. (This was the source cited in the Delaplanes of America book.)

The second record that seemed to identify her was the 1819 baptism of Samuel, son of Francis and Maris Dellekum.[sic]3 At first blush, this records appears to be for an entirely different family. But it is a transcription. I have not been able to see the original handwritten record, but I have looked at many other early church records and they can be nearly illegible. If the first letter of T was mistaken for an F, I can see how someone could come up with Francis instead of Thomas for the father’s first name. Also, I wasn’t able to find any Dellekum family in other Berks county records (census, tax lists, etc) in or around 1819, leading me to believe that the last name was misspelled/misinterpreted as well. When you are researching a last name like Dilliplane, you have to be open to many spelling variations — and this seemed like it might be one of the more creative ones!

One of the first steps I took in trying to identify Mary’s maiden name and her parents was to look at the census data and try to pin down an approximate year of birth. The first census that shows Thomas Dilliplane as a head of household is 1820.4 He and his family are living in Earl Township, Berks, Pennsylvania. They are also there in 1830 and 1840.5,6
Dilliplane-Mary-Swavely-table1I created a little chart for the birth year of his presumed wife in those three census years.  Looking at the overlap between the birth year ranges for the various census years – and  taking the information provided at face value – Thomas’ wife would have been born between 1790 and 1794.

On to the FAN club. Ideally, the first set of records I would consider would be the baptismal records for the children. The reason is that baptismal sponsors were often, though not always, relatives. I have found that it is worth doing at least some cursory research on the sponsors to see if there is a familial connection to either the father or mother of the baptized child. Unfortunately, in this case there was only one baptismal record to consider. And there was a bit of uncertainty that the record even applied to this family. But you have to work with what you’ve got. The baptismal sponsors for Samuel “Dellekum” were Samuel Schwabely and Maria Ritchard. Since Mary and Maria are usually variants of the same name, it seemed unlikely Maria Ritchard would be a sister to Mary Dilliplane. So while I was keeping both Swavely and Richard (and variant spellings) in mind, I was a little more focused on Swavely.

The next step was to see who was enumerated near to Thomas Dilliplane in the various censuses. In particular, I wanted to see if there were any Swavely families living nearby. In 1820, there was an Adam Swafle two lines above Thomas. In 1830 Adam was four lines above Thomas. (This time the last name looked more like Swevely.) And in 1840, Adam was three lines above Thomas. Presuming that Adam was the oldest male in these census records, he was more of the age to be a father to Mary than a brother.

Things really started to come together when I found the 5 Nov 1793 baptismal record for a Maria Schweffle, daughter of Adam and Esther, at St. Paul’s Reformed Church, Amityville, Berks, Pennsylvania. According to the record, Maria was born 8 Oct 1793 of the same year.7 As it turns out Swavley (like Dilliplane) is another last name with creative spelling variations in early records. [Note — St. Paul’s church, where Maria’s baptism was recorded, is pictured in the photo at the beginning of this post.]

The last piece of the puzzle came together when I was able to access the 1842 Berks county PA probate file of Adam Swavely.8 Since Adam, a land owner, died intestate his son John filed a petition with the court to sell the land. In it John named all of Adam’s heirs. This included the then surviving children of Adam’s deceased daughter Mary, who had been married to Thomas Dilliplane. It was extremely lucky that this document exists because it provides direct evidence of Mary’s parents. It also names Mary’s children and tells which are of age and which are still minors.

So there’s the story of finding Mary’s maiden name – as well as her parents and children. As I mentioned at the beginning , it took some research and analysis and a fair amount of luck in that records containing direct evidence existed and were even available online!


  1. G. David Thayer, editor, The Delaplaines of America, Third Printing edition (Salem, Oregon: Rapidsoft Press, 2004.) Originally authored by Marvin G. Delaplane, 1998
  2. Berks County Deaths 1852 – 1855 (online – transcribed from Berks County Court house). Record for Joshua Dilliplane
  3. Ancestry.com, “Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708 -1985.” Database and images., (accessed 1 Feb 2012); birth/baptism of Samuel Dellekum; citing the records of St. Joseph’s Hill Church (Pike township, PA).
  4. 1820 U. S. Federal Census population schedules (National Archives and Records Administration), Series: M33 Roll: 99 Page: 132. Household of Thos. Dilplain
  5. 1830 U. S. Federal Census population schedules (National Archives and Records Administration), Series: M19 Roll: 143 Page: 434. Household of Thos. Dilplain
  6. 1840 U. S. Federal Census population schedules (National Archives and Records Administration), Series: M704 Roll: 438 Page: 346. Household of Thomas Dellpliane
  7. Ancestry.com, “Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708 -1985.” Database and images., (accessed 1 Feb 2012); birth/baptism of Maria Schweffle; citing the records of St. Paul’s Reformed Church (Amity township, Berks PA).
  8. “Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9S7-Z9QD-D?cc=1999196&wc=9P9S-MNR%3A268499201%2C282535302 : 3 July 2014), Berks > Estates 1800-1850 Stocker, John-Swavely, Samuel > image 2337 of 2398; county courthouses, Pennsylvania. Probate file of Adam Swavely, 1842, Earl Township, Berks, PA.


Week 4 (Invite to Dinner) – Rachel Boughter Dilliplane

I was hoping to have this posted on Friday, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I’m running a little late. I hope to be back on track for week 5.

The prompt for week 4 is Invite to Dinner. I decided to view this as an ancestor whom I would like to invite to dinner – for food and conversation. It was really hard to choose. I would love for this opportunity with each and every one of them. In the end I decided to write about my father’s paternal grandmother (my great-grandmother) Rachel Boughter Dilliplane.

Rachel Boughter Dilliplane

Rachel Boughter Dilliplane (1862-1926)

Rachel was born December 3, 1862 in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Her parents were Henry Boughter and Rachel Levengood.1 In both the 1900 and 1910 census, my 2x great-grandmother Rachel Levengood Boughter states that she was the mother of nine children. but I have only been able to identify eight.2,3 The eldest, Elizabeth, died young, as did a son George.4,5 The remaining children were Catherine, Amanda, Sarah Ann, Mary Ann, Rachel and Henry. Thus my great-grandmother Rachel was the second youngest of the known children. It was a family of girls except for her younger brother Henry. I should also note that the family originally spelled their last name Buchter, but switched to the more anglicized spelling of Boughter in the 1880s.

My great -grandmother Rachel grew up in rural (and somewhat insular) eastern Berks County, Pennsylvania. In both 1860 (a couple of years before her birth) and 1870 her family was enumerated in Douglass Township with her father’s occupation listed as carpenter and inn keeper, respectively.6,7 By 1880 the family was in neighboring Earl Township and her father was listed as a farmer.8  It was on his farm in the fall of 1880, when a incident happened that I am sure was a memorable and much talked about experience. It was the day the hot air balloon landed in a field on their farm!


During our dinner I would ask Rachel to tell me about that day. Through newspaper accounts I learned that in the fall of 1880 the gas-powered hot air balloon of Professor John Shearer broke from it’s tethers at the Reading Fair Grounds. Dangling from a bar (no basket) the good Professor had a thrilling, but at the same time terrifying, 14 mile ride across the mostly rural eastern Berks County countryside before tangling in a tree and touching down on the farm of Henry Boughter (Rachel’s father). About a dozen men, women and children saw the balloon coming down and ran across the fields to help pull the balloon out of the trees. Apparently both the professor and the balloon survived the ordeal relatively unscathed. Professor Shearer walked back to Reading that night. He hired Rachel’s father Henry to bring the balloon back in his wagon the next day.9

I know first hand how exciting it is to see a hot air balloon coming in for a landing since over the years more than one balloon has buzzed over our house to land in a nearby field. But whereas my kids ran excitedly to meet the downed balloon knowing exactly what it was, the Boughters and their neighbors had likely never seen such a site.  Of the people who gathered when the balloon touched down, the newspaper article quotes the professor as saying that they looked at him with amazement. One of the women thought he rode inside of the balloon. A boy asked (in German) how many more people were inside. I wonder if Rachel was there. Was the young boy her brother Henry or perhaps one of her nephews? Rachel would have been about 17 when this occurred. If she wasn’t there she surely would have heard all about it from her family.

About a year and a half after the balloon incident, in January of 1882, Rachel married Charles Dilliplane.10 She had just turned 19 and he was 25. I would love to ask Rachel how they met. I would also like to hear about their courtship and wedding.

Within a few years of their marriage, Rachel and Charles moved from rural Berks county to the bustling town of Pottstown where Charles found work in the steel mills. By 1900, Rachel and Charles were the parents of seven children ranging in age from 18 to 2. Their children were William, Laura Estelle, Herbert, Pearl Eva, Charles, W. Leonard and Alvin. (An eighth child died in infancy.)11 I would like to ask Rachel about the child that died. I can only imagine the heartbreak. I would also like to ask her how she felt about the move. Was it difficult for her to transition from living on a farm to living in town? Was it hard for her as a young mother to move away from her family? Granted, it was a relatively close move, but it was well beyond walking distance and she likely didn’t get to see her parents very often.

I would think that one of the most difficult times in Rachel’s life was when she had to send her two youngest sons, Leonard and Alvin, off to fight in WWI. She wouldn’t have known at the time if she would ever see them again. (I previously blogged about their WWI experience here.) As it turns out, Leonard (my grandfather) survived the war, but his brother Alvin was killed in action.

The last Rachel heard from her son Alvin was a letter he wrote to her on August 18, 1918. It was reprinted in the local newspaper when a descendant found it while cleaning out a house several years ago. In the letter Alvin says that he has written home several times. He hopes his letters have gotten through as he has not yet received any letters in response.12 Alvin died in battle on September 7th, just a couple of weeks after he wrote the last letter.13 I hope that he was able to hear from his mother before he died. I feel certain that she must have written him. His death must have been absolutely devastating for her and the entire family.

Rachel’s husband Charles (my great-grandfather) died on May 10, 1922,14 and Rachel died just four years later on June 19, 1926.1 They both died relatively young – he at age 66 and she at age 63. My father was not yet born when Rachel died. [In fact, all four of my father’s grandparents died before he was born.] And so the last thing I would like to talk to Rachel about at our dinner would be to tell her about my family. I would start with telling her about my father — the grandson she never met.

Sources / Footnotes

  1. Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Death cert for Rachel L. Dilliplane
  2. Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Census Place: West Pottsgrove, Montgomery, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1443; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0221; FHL  microfilm: 1241443. Household of Henry Boughter.
  3. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.Census Place: Pottstown West Ward, Montgomery, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1378; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0132; FHL microfilm: 1375391 . Household of Henry Boughter.
  4. Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 28 January 2018), memorial page for Elizabeth Buchter (22 Jun 1849–14 Jun 1852), Find A Grave Memorial no. 134653091, citing Saint Pauls Church Cemetery, Amityville, Berks County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Randy VanFleet (contributor 47930261) .
  5. Ancestry.com. U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Archive Collection: M1838; Archive Roll Number: 1; Census Year: 1859; Census Place: Douglas, Berks, Pennsylvania; Page: 2. Entry for George Buchter
  6. Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Census Place: Douglass, Berks, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1075; Page: 229; Family History Library Film: 805075. Household of Henry Buchter
  7. Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Census Place: Douglas, Berks, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1305; Page: 235A; Family History Library Film: 552804. Household of Henry Buchter
  8. Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census[database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Census Place: Earl, Berks, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1099; Page: 230C; Enumeration District: 014. Household of Henry Buchter
  9. “Ballooning in a Wind Storm,” Reading Eagle, Reading, Pennsylvania, 30 September 1880.
  10. “Marriage Notices,” Montgomery Ledger, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, 31 January 1882, Marriage of Charles W. Dilliplane and Miss Rachel Boughtle [sic].
  11. Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Census Place: Pottstown, Montgomery, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1445; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0275; FHL microfilm: 1241445. Household of Charles W. Dilliplane
  12. “Alvin Dilliplane Letter,” undated clipping, from The Mercury, Pottstown, Pennsylvania; Newspaper Clipping Collection; privately held by Janis Tomko, [address for private use].
  13. “Alvin Dilliplane Obituary”, undated clipping, from unknown newpaper; Newspaper Clipping Collection; privately held by Janis Tomko, [address for private use].
  14. Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Death cert for Charles W. Dilliplane


Joshua Delaplane — Germantown to Berks

This is a follow up to my previous blog post about my Delaplaine/Dilliplane ancestors & information about them gleaned from church records. The focus of this post is my 5x great-grandfather Joshua Delaplane.

My ancestor Joshua Delaplaine was likely born in Germantown, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania circa 1707. His parents, James and Hannah, were prominent in the community and respected members of the Society of Friends (Quakers). Joshua and his siblings were educated at the Germantown Friends School and brought up as Quakers as well. On a side note, it is interesting that in his will, Joshua’s occupation is listed as weaver. According the the website http://www.meetinghouse.info, Germantown was known for producing high-quality linens with the textile industry in that town dating back to the original settlers.

The first church record that I have found for Joshua is an 30th day 11th month 1737 [30 January 1738] entry in the Abington, Pennsylvania Quaker monthly meeting records. It is a complaint against Joshua Delaplane “for marrying contrary to the Rules of the Society.” In other words, he married a woman who was not a Quaker. In the minutes of the meeting the following month he “made acknowledgement of his outgoing in marriage to the satisfaction of the Meeting.” So he appears to have made peace with the Quakers, and they have accepted his marriage so long as he follows Quaker doctrine moving forward. Unfortunately, these records do not name his wife nor do they provide any further information regarding her family or her religious affiliation.

The next church record that mentions Joshua is a December 28, 1751 group baptism record for his wife Maria and children Joshua (age 12), John (age 10), Joseph (age 7) and Hannah (age 1). The baptism is recorded at Augustus Lutheran Church in Trappe, (now Montgomery County), PA. At the time Maria was seriously ill and was said to be on her death bed. Her husband Joshua was described in the record as an English Quaker. Despite the dire nature of her health Maria apparently did recover and have at least two more children. The records of New Hanover Lutheran Church (in current day Gilbertsville, Montgomery County) have a March 9, 1753 baptism for a son James who was born January 16, 1753. And St. Joseph’s Hill Church in Pike Township, (now Berks County)  have an October 3, 1756 baptism for son Jeremiah who was born September 10, 1756.

St. Joseph's Hill Church photo

St, Joseph’s Hill Church, Pike Township, Berks, PA

The last set of church records mentioning Joshua (that I’ve found up to this point) are set of entries in the Exeter, (present day Berks County), Pennsylvania Monthly Meeting notes dated from 28th day 4th month 1757 [28 Jun 1757] to 31st day 8th month 1758 [31 Oct 1758]. According to these records, a certificate was sent from Abington Monthly Meeting transferring Joshua’s membership to Exeter Monthly Meeting. But Joshua never started attending meetings in Exeter. There were also accusations recorded in the Exeter Monthly Meeting notes stating that Joshua’s conduct was “reproachful,” that “he often used wild unseemly expressions,” and “that his children have lately been sprinkled by a priest.” (The sprinkling, of course, refers to the baptisms.) Joshua told the Exeter Friends who were sent to speak to him that “he knew of the Certificate’s being come, but that Abington Friends having used him ill in refusing him some assistance when his Family were much indisposed and in want” and that he “would not come to Meeting here until he had spoke with them.” He indicated that he may start coming to the Exeter meetings if he got some satisfaction from the Abington Friends. Apparently that never happened and testimony was read against him and he was officially disowned by the Quakers in 1758.

So what can we make of all this? Well, first, just a bit of general information about Quaker Meetings (as I understand it). There is a hierarchical organization to the Meetings with Preparatory Meetings feeding into Monthly Meetings, feeding into Quarterly Meetings, feeding into Yearly Meetings. At each level the geographic area becomes larger, with Preparatory Meetings being the most local. Monthly Meetings, however, is where most of the business is conducted and where membership certificates are held. If you move out of the jurisdiction of a monthly meeting, a certificate is sent to the monthly meeting that encompasses your new place of residence.

Going back to the marriage reference, it was in the Abington monthly meeting notes where that was mentioned. I have found several references that point to Germantown being part of the Abington Monthly Meeting. So it is conceivable that Joshua was still living in Germantown at his parents home when he married in late 1737 or early 1738.  Joshua’s wife is supposed to be Maria Shelar or Shela according to the Delaplanes of America book – but I have not found any sources to support that being her surname. Based on this record, it seems like the Germantown area would be the best place to look for her family.

It also seems logical that when Joshua says that the Abington Friends refused to assist him when his family was indisposed and in want, he could be referring to the time in late 1751, when his wife Maria was seriously ill and said to be on her death bed. This coincides with the group baptism of Maria and the children. Although Joshua himself was not baptized, he may have “permitted” his wife and children to receive the sacrament because of his disenchantment with the Quakers for not helping him during this time. This is purely speculation unless further records can be found. This could also be about the time the family moved out of Germantown, particularly with James being baptized at New Hanover Lutheran Church in 1753 and Jeremiah at Hill Church in Pike township three years later. The Quakers just may not have tried to transfer his certificate right away.  It is probably worth double checking the Abington Monthly Meeting notes to see if they contain any additional information.

I was actually thrilled to find this set of records. Joshua strikes me as a feisty man who was doing his best to support his wife. Maria apparently had no desire to become a Quaker, and Joshua was left to find a balance between his Quaker upbringing and her beliefs. He appears to have succeeded for a while. But then he perceived the Quakers abandoned him when he needed their support and that became the game changer for him.

My Dilliplane Ancestors Through the Lens of Church Records

Lately I’ve been delving into my early Dilliplane/Delaplaine roots, trying to understand what may have motivated the successive generations to move from New Amsterdam (Manhattan) to Germantown, Pennsylvania to the backwoods of what would eventually become Berks County, Pennsylvania. I feel like I am gaining some insight from church records.

First, a little background. My Dilliplane line in America starts with the immigrant Nicholas de la Pleine. He was a French Huguenot (a French Protestant) who left France due to religious persecution and sought refuge in the Netherlands. He didn’t stay there long as he arrived in New Amsterdam, New Netherland prior to 1 Sep 1658. That is the date he married Susanna Cresson. Their marriage was recorded at the Dutch Reformed Church in New Amsterdam.  In his marriage record he is described as being from Bersweer in Vanckryck while his wife Susanna was (originally) from Ryswyck.

Between 1662 and 1681 Nicholas and Susanna had ten children whose baptisms were recorded at the same Dutch Reformed Church.  My ancestor is James. Some say that he is the child born in 1666 and baptized with the name Jean. Others believe he is an eleventh child, an eldest son, born in 1660 — one whose baptism is for some reason not in the records of that church. I can understand both positions and am hoping that additional evidence will eventually be found to help resolve this.

Despite their  affiliation with the Dutch Reformed Church, the family was apparently strongly influenced by the Quakers. According to Wikipedia, Quakers arrived in New Amsterdam in 1657 – around the same time as Nicholas. Keeping in mind that the Dutch Reformed Church was state-sanctioned, Governor Peter Stuyvesant issued edicts against and meted out harsh punishments to the Quakers. There were, however, sympathetic Dutch colonists. By 1663 (just a year before New Netherland was surrendered to England), the Dutch West Indies Company, having been prevailed upon by a Quaker farmer named John Browne, reluctantly ruled that individuals were entitled to practice religious beliefs of their own choosing. Presumably the colonists continued to have religious freedom under English when they took power. I say this because for at least some of the Delaplaines the religion they chose was Quakerism.


The de la Plaine house in Germantown from the 1906 publication “Old Historic Germantown”

By the late 1600s my ancestor James (as well as several of his family) start showing up in Quaker Meeting records. Some of James’ siblings stayed in New York and show up in records there. James, however, removed to Germantown, Pennsylvania, where he became very prominent in the community. For a time he served as coroner and also as baliff. He also donated land for a market and, along with Herman von Bon, built a prison and stocks in 1704. (This latter information comes from William Penn and the Dutch Quaker Migration to Pennsylvania.)

What prompted James to move to Pennsylvania in the first place? Well, in 1681 William Penn gained ownership of land America from the King of England. Penn, himself a Quaker, strove to create an atmosphere of religious freedom and tolerance. He basically recruited colonists to populate his lands from among those who were religiously persecuted in Europe. By the late 1680s the community of Germantown (now part of Philadelphia, but then an outlying settlement about 2 hours distant) was an enclave of Dutch Quakers. James and these men would have been kindred spirits. This could explain his move from New York where the English were beginning to outnumber and overrun the original Dutch settlers.

Through Quaker records we know that James was likely in Germantown by 1686, which is when he donated 5 pounds to the Friends’ Meetinghouse. In 1692 he married a Quaker woman named Hannah Cock. Their marriage took place at the home of John Underhill on Long Island, which is where her family was from.  In those records he is described as being of Pennsylvania, late of New York and son of Nicola. We also know from Quakers records that the children of James and Hannah were educated at the Germantown Friends’ School.

One of those children was Joshua Delaplaine. I’ll pick up with his story in the next Delaplaine/Dilliplane blog post.

A Day of Remembrance


The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. The date and time that marked the end of fighting in the war that was supposed to end all wars. Known variously as Armistice Day, Veterans Day and Remembrance Day, November 11th is now a holiday celebrated in many nations throughout the world.

Both my grandfather, Walter Leonard Dilliplane, and his younger brother, Alvin Freeman Dilliplane, served in the Great War. They bravely fought to liberate France from German occupation. My grandfather was one of the lucky ones. He came home, got married and eventually had three sons, the youngest being my father.

His brother Alvin was not as lucky. He was killed in action on September 7, 1918. He died three days shy of his 21st birthday and 2 months and 4 days shy of the armistice.

Alvin was a hero on the battlefield – perhaps even a bit reckless. On September 5, 1918, the Harrisburg Telegraph, in reporting on battles near Fismette, France in the previous month, included the following excerpt, “Private Alvin F. Dilliplane, of Pottstown, another Pennsylvania boy, showed remarkable bravery at the self-imposed task of rescuing wounded after they had been abandoned.”

For his actions at the Fismete battle, Alvin received an official citation for bravery. It stated that “Private Alvin F. Dilliplane, with utter disregard for personal safety, went forward in daylight to the rescue of wounded men approximately 400 yards in front of our lines, succeeding one of them at that time and the other after dark.”

It would be nice to think that the men he rescued survived and returned to their families. But I have no way of knowing who they were or what happened to them in the long run. For his part, Alvin never made it home. He is buried at Oise-Aisne American Cemetery in Picardie, France.

And so on this Veteran’s Days please take some time to remember those who served in all the various wars and conflicts and especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.