Born and raised in Franklin County, MS, Walter E. Dove attended the local one-room schoolhouse until the teacher declared that he had taught the boy all he knew. Barely a teenager, Walter became the first in his family to go to college, and in 1913 he graduated from Mississippi A&M. He promptly got a decent job at Armour and Company, a meatpacking operation in North Dakota. After about a year, he switched jobs to become a Scientific Assistant with the US Department of Agriculture. Based in Dallas, he studied agricultural pests throughout the Southwest.

Walter E. Dove's first academic credential.

Walter E. Dove's first academic credential.

Around the time Walter was moving to Dallas, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, setting in motion a chain of events that would soon change the world, and Walter’s life, forever.

December 24, 1917

Camp Stanley, Dec. 24 1917

Dear Papa and Mama,

I have been ordered to report to Kelly Field in San Antonio on the 26th. I am assigned to the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps. A number of men are being sent there who have trades and will be used in France, but before sending them they will be given training. A large number of the officers here are sent there for duty to train them.

December 24, 1917

December 24, 1917

We have not had any further vacations and it is understood that we will not have any more. We begin active work with our companions on the 27th. Have not had time to buy any Christmas presents. Most of the men here have not sent any either.

I understand that we will have quarters in a wooden frame building. We will get meals for $1.05 per day. You already know that we furnish our own clothes etc.

Leon Cygon is yet in camp here and has not been assigned but they may assign him at any time. He did not want to try this temporary duty at Kelly Field. If I like it I may transfer to that section. If I do not like it, I can return to the Infantry. I cannot tell just what is ahead of us.

With love to all and a Merry Merry Christmas, I am, Always, Walter.

Address me: Lieut. W. E. Dove, Kelly Field, Aviation Section, South Aan Antonio, Texas.

Put “Lieut” on letters so that my mail goes to officers quarters.

Another page enclosed in the same envelope:

Christmas Day

Your letter came this morning and I enjoyed it very much. I appreciate the package you were to send me today but I have my doubts as to whether it will reach me or not. We will probably be at Kelly Field but I’ll try to have it forwarded from here. I appreciate the fact that Mrs. Bennett of Meadville is to send a package and of course I will write a few lines of thanks upon receiving it.

We are to have a real good dinner today. The meals have been very good since I came back and I understand that they are good at Kelly Field.

Jan. 9, 1918 12 o’clock

Mineola, L.I. N.Y.
Jan. 9, 1918. 12 o’clock.

Dear Mother,

This may be another surprise but I think that I will be on my way to France within two days, possibly tomorrow. Today I had charge of some trucks hauling the equipment of my squadron to the port of embarkation. I understand that we leave tomorrow.

I am enclosing a witnessed copy of my application for insurance and you should keep this until you receive the policy. Two copies of this have been sent to Washington, and they will send you the policy. The premiums will be deducted from my salary. The insurance is in force as soon as I mailed the application and it is good no matter what the cause of my death might be.

Jan. 9 1918

Jan. 9 1918

I am having an allotment made you from my pay. They should send you seventy five dollars of my salary each month. I want you to keep this for me, and pay my insurance premiums in the Capital Life. Also I have two debts that I want you to pay. There is no hurry about either as they both know my condition. One is for uniforms and clothes at Sanger Bros., Dallas, Texas, amounting to $55.85 (Fifty five dollars and eighty five cents). Send them a check sometime before March 1, enclosing the statement I am sending in this letter.

The other bill is a last payment on my Liberty Loan Bonds. I have two hundred dollars worth at the City National Bank, Dallas, Texas but at present I owe them Seventy. Please pay them this amount and hold the receipts I am enclosing. Also keep the receipt they will give you. I have not had my bank book balanced but I think I have drawn about all of my money from the bank.

I do not owe anyone else any money as I have not received any from Mr. Miller at Natchez, and could not get in touch with Mr. Pool at Dallas. So I do not owe either of them any money. I do not see why Mr. Miller did not wire me the one hundred, but he did not. I have managed to get along fine without it as I received my December pay OK.

I have brought lots of heavy clothes, another quilt, and am pretty well supplied for service abroad. You should not worry about me as I will not be fighting, but will have charge of some trucks in shipping supplies for the Aviation Service. Possibly I will have an office and will see to the loading of the trucks. I am greatly pleased with my assignment.

You cannot expect to hear from me very often at first as it will take about one month for a letter to reach you after I have written from there. The censors will read all of your letters to me and all of mine to you. I will write every week after I arrive and you should hear from me once each week. I have arranged to telegraph you when I arrive abroad so that you will know that I landed safely. My telegram will be sent through Washington so do not be frightened when you find out that I have telegraphed. I may telegraph you every now and then just to let you know that I am all right.

I have been assigned to a new squadron for service abroad and your letters should now be addressed very plainly to me as I write it:

Lieut. W. E. Dove,
121st Aero Squadron,
New York, New York.

The postmaster at New York City will know where the mail goes and will send it OK. In case anything happens to me you will be notified by the government. Unless you receive a telegram from them you may know that I am getting along all right.

It is getting late and I must close. With lots of love and regards to all, I am, always your,


P.S. I have not received any packages from you to Leon Springs but think they will be forwarded to me.

The $75.00 will be deposited with the City National Bank, Dallas, Texas in your name (Mrs. T. W. Dove). It will be there by the 5th of each month beginning Feb. 5 and continuing until one year expires.


January 12, 1918

Mineola N.Y.
Saturday Jan. 12, 1918

Dear Mother and Papa,

I am enclosing two Liberty Bond receipts which I neglected to enclose in my last letter. I have also paid five dollars when I subscribed for the bonds, which leaves a remainder of $75 to be paid. The interest makes it $76.

January 12, 1918

January 12, 1918

I would advise that you send the first check to Sanger Bros., Dallas, Texas, for $55.85 on about Feb. 1. About March 1 send one to the City National Bank, Dallas, Texas for $76. On about April 1 I would like to have you send Mr. W. E. Kennedy, 4309 Elm St., Dallas, Texas a check for $53 (Fifty-three dollars). He has just wired me the money and I am giving him my note due about April 1. He is a good Masonic brother of mine and this loan is returning a favor (I have loaned him money and he has paid it). He did not delay in the least when I wired him for the amount. I knew that he would send it. I am writing him and will tell him that you will mail a check for me about April 1.

All of our baggage is on the boat and we expected to leave before now, but have not. I understand that we go soon. I am going to cable you when I get across just to let you know that I landed safely. I want you to write sister as soon as you get the cablegram and let her know. Will wire to Hamburg.

There will be $75 dollars deposited at the City National Bank, Dallas, Texas at the 1st of each month and you should sign your checks Mrs. T. W. Dove.

With love, and kindest regards to all, I am,
Always your,

Write me once each week and address me

Lieut. W. E. Dove
121 Aero Squadron
New York, NY

A.E.F. means American Expeditionary Forces.

Mother’s Day, 1918

Army P.O. #704,
Sunday May 12, 1918.

My Dear Mother,

I wrote sister a letter yesterday and addressed it to Hamburg so you will probably get this at the same time, but I want you to know that I remembered you on Mother’s Day. I always wear a red rose when I can get them on that day, but they are not to be had today. This morning we received a telegram from Ge. Pershing’s headquarters which is as follows: “I wish that every officer and soldier of the American Expeditionary Forces would write a letter home on Mother’s day. This is a little thing to do, but the letters will carry back our courage and affection to patriotic women whose love and courage will inspire and cheer us on to victory.”

Mother's Day, 1918

Mother's Day, 1918

A number of the men had already written to their mothers but when this telegram was read to them the rest of the men picked up their pens and stationery. The word “Mother” on the outside carries the letter as a special delivery letter.

You can rest assured that everything is going well with me and that I am not in a dangerous location. We have not been visited by the German planes as yet and there are reasons to believe that they will not come our way as we are located at a post where the artillery is trained. The aircraft defense is good and I think our squadron is capable of bringing a plane down even though we did not have the large guns close by.

I hope that when the next Mother’s Day comes that we will all be back in the states and can see our mothers on that day. This should be a Father’s Day as well as a Mother’s but one cannot think of the mothers without thinking of their fathers.

With love to all and assuring you that I am in excellent health and that there is no reason for you to worry, I am,



May 29, 1918

Army Post Office 704
A.E.F. France
May 29, 1918

Dear Mother and Father,

Your letter of recent date was received yesterday and as usual found me in the best of health.

Owing to the rules of the censors there are lots of things of which I cannot write, and if you have noticed my letters have always been written in such a manner that if they were intercepted nothing of military importance could be learned. We are obliged to refrain from writing anything which would give a spy a clue as to the location or movement of troops and supplies.

May 29, 1918

May 29, 1918

In a general way I have told you what I am doing and you know that I am located in the Advanced Zone near the Southern portion of the line. Our camp is near enough the front to hear the big guns, but as yet we have not been shelled or bombed. The only attacks that we could expect would be from the German planes, and for defense against these we are pretty well fixed.

Our planes are in excellent condition. We are doing some cooperative instruction with American artillery, and we have little fear of the (Bosch) German planes.

As you know, I trained in the infantry in the States and was transferred to the Aviation Section as a ground officer, which was due to the fact that there was a shortage of ground officers for this branch of the service. By doing this I was sent “over here” much sooner, and I am very glad that I made the change. Not because I dislike infantry, for such is not the case. I am still very much interested in infantry operations, and at times I feel that I could be doing more in that service.

Yesterday, in company with some of our pilots and Aerial Observers we visited the front lines and had an occasion to see some real activity. We witnessed at least six attacks on aircraft by anti-aircraft guns, some of which were our planes being attacked by the Germans. A late type of German bombing plane was brought down behind our lines by our men, but our planes returned safely. The clouds are used to good advantage by planes when they are attacked, as they easily conceal themselves when they are fired upon.

In going to the trenches we were unable to get gas masks and “tin hats” until we were pretty close up, and while we were without this essential paraphernalia we had an occasion to cross an open section in the automobile. A German observation balloon had just gone up and German artillery fire was directed upon our road, but the nearest shell missed us by two hundred yards. We did not lose any time.

Upon reaching battalion headquarters we were accompanied by an infantry lieutenant, who visited some of our strong points with us. We went to a “listening post” in “No Man’s Land” which we found very interesting. It had been taken from the Germans on the previous night.

Our men were in excellent spirits and had become accustomed to heavy fire. They were well protected in “dug outs” and appeared to be at ease. It seems strange but the residents of this section were cultivating their farms, children were going to school, and apparently they were not concerned with the shells which were constantly being fired over their heads. They felt as though they were sufficiently protected by our men on the line, and I believe our men will prevent the Bosch from doing anything. There is no doubt as to the outcome of the war, as “our boys are showing the stuff that men are made of.” All we want is a little time, plenty of artillery, equipment, ammunition, and air planes, and you can leave the rest to us.

Last night we took the planes out of the hangar, borrowed a piano from the Red Cross, found a few violin players in the “Flight,” and had a real entertainment. Had a few Mississippi Negroes to dance for us, but as I expected, our hypnotist could not hypnotize them. A couple of the Y.M.C.A. ladies came down and seemed to enjoy the little show.

Our men are rapidly building our repair shop and soon we will have it equipped for repairs on aero motors, plane repairs, trucks, small clock like instruments, vulcanizing, and any other thing that needs repair.

With love to all and assurances that everything is going well, I am,



Army P.O. #704
A.E.F. France

October 28, 1918

World War I was also a formative experience for Ina, who followed the news and worried about friends and relatives who were “over there.” Her cousin, Clyde Lewis, was one of them.

October 28 1918

Pvt. Clyde T. Lewis
Co. “P” 35th Regt.
Transportation Corps
American E.F.
A.P.O. 752

My dear Thelma & Ina,

Your letters dated August 31st was received several days ago and was so glad to hear from my cousins once more.

Glad to know that you sometimes think of me, even tho’ it has been several years since we saw each other. My thoughts so often travel back to the days of long ago, when I was quite young and you were only small girls. Time does sure pass by swiftly after we pass childhood days. I can hardly realize that you both are charming young ladies.

October 28, 1918

October 28, 1918

My day’s work is over and I can say that I am a little tired. We are doing our bit, tho’ we are far from the firing lines. We are working in the railroad shop and after ten hours of labor for six days a week, it makes one think that he is surely doing his bit. I sometimes wish that I was with the boys at the front, but I suppose that I am among the lucky to be in the sunny part of France. We have about the same climate here as we have at home.

We are to have moving pictures tonight, providing that the Y.M.C.A. man gets the moving picture machine. We have “movies” one or two nights a week and it is a very good pass time.

Well you would hardly believe me when I tell you that I have stayed in the barracks that Napoleon and his army built and stayed in. So you see that this is a little bit of history within itself. Don’t you think so? Everything is built of stone, so it is nothing to see buildings that have stood for centuries. We are in one of the largest cities in France and the latest building was erected in 1912. The Frenchmen claim that this country is not so far behind times – that the U.S. is only one hundred years ahead of times and I believe this to be true.

I received a letter from Mamma last week. The first one that I received from home for two or three weeks. I sure enjoy a letter from home and to know that they are all well. Sister had just been home on a few days’ visit. I will sure be glad when I can spend a few days at home again as it has been one year since I saw any of them.

Yes, I will be one of the many of the boys that return to the old U.S.A. a single man. Tho’ I have the greatest of confidence in the girls back home, I feel sure that I will live a bachelor’s life, for life must be started over. I can assure you that if I ever marry, it will be to some sweet American girl.

I am sorry that I have no pictures of myself. I have thought for the past month that I would have some made, but I have failed to do so. I will sure have some made sometime very soon and send you one. I will expect your pictures in your next letter.

Well, the moving picture machine failed to show up, so I guess that I had better close and go to bed.

Lots of love to Uncle Nick, Aunt Alma and Claudel and to yourselves.

Your cousin,

Stamped “OK (signature) 1st Lieut. U.S.A.”

March 21, 1919

On returning from the Great War, Walter resumed his previous job with the US Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Entomology. His salary was $1,800 per year, which is equal to $22,913 in today’s dollars. As before, his work consisted of investigating various insect problems in the Southwest and developing solutions for them. He continued to correspond with some of his old Army buddies, but otherwise focused entirely on his work.

March 21, 1919

March 21, 1919

Meanwhile, Ina finished an Associate’s degree at a local college, paying her way with a Spanish language scholarship. She then took a job in the tax collector’s office in Uvalde, TX, a small town west of San Antonio. She was a popular young lady, and by the age of twenty-five she had rejected twelve marriage proposals.

April 27, 1919

This postwar letter from one of Walter’s Army buddies reveals that he had bent the truth a bit when telling his parents how safe his aviation assignment had been. In addition to handling supplies for the squadron, he had also flown as a bombardier and reconnaissance photographer in the squadron’s Sopwith A2 aircraft, another detail he omitted from his letters home.

Flight “C” 800th Aero Squadron,
Le Valdahon, Sunday 27th April 1919

Dear Dove:

I am sorry to have to tell you about the misfortune that has befallen our little family here at this camp. But yesterday morning about 9:05 Pilot 2nd Lt. Oakley McKinney, Brooklyn, N.Y. and Sergeant Greeley Robbins fell in a Sopwith No. 11, from about 300 feet altitude, in a vrille, and crashed into the hill north of the barracks, where the sock is. Both were killed instantly. When the plane hit the gasoline tank exploded and went up in flames. We were all over to the plane about the same time, trucks, motorcycles, ambulance, and the mechanics on foot with fire extinguishers, but we were all too late. You can imagine the awfulness of the sight. Lt. Lawson and Sgt. Hoyt Hull were up about 1000 feet waiting for Lt. Cliff and Corp. Tullius, who were about 500 feet and also for Lt. McKinney and Sgt. Greeley Robbins to gain the same altitude so that they could ferry the planes to Colombey les Belles. Both the other pilots came down, Lt. Cliff was pretty badly broken up about the accident.

April 27, 1919

April 27, 1919

This is Sunday and today at 2:00 P.M. the funeral was held and I believe it was the largest ever held at the post. It started to snow about 1:00 o’clock but cleared up before 2:00 and the sun was out bright. There were two caissons drawn by six dapple white horses, a doughboy military escort or firing squad, all the officers of this post acted as pall bearers for Sgt. Robbins. The post band, the 140 F.A., headed the procession. A number of French Civilians, the Madam femme de chambre and Madam Peutlots, etc. The Motor Transports fellows were there and the Nurses as well as the Commanding Officer of the Post and the Camp Hospital; Colonels and Majors. Just after the services a Liberty Plane landed here at the field, they were just joy riding around, had landed up in Germany today. Just now another Liberty landed with a pilot to ferry the other Sopwiths to Colombey les Belles.

Did I tell you that Lt. McKinney was up giving me D.C. work about three weeks ago and the engine died on us and we had a forced landing on the Artillery range, making sufficient kindling wood for a good bon fire. Have been back from the Hospital at Dijon and they discharge me for duty saying that my eyes would get all right, my jaw was not broken, so they said, and would be always dislocated. But really I am feeling fine and the only thing that would make me feel better is to have one of them there honorable discharges from the U.S. Army, that would be perfect. Are there very many of the discharged soldiers that want to come back to France? I heard there was through a “Y” entertainer that just arrived. The states must be the h of a place if such is the case. However you know how much faith I place in the source of the information.

We are all expecting to get out of here the 15th of May 1919, but have no orders for the personnel as yet, except Capt. Brower and Lt. Payne two of the latest arrivals and the only two who requested continued service in the AEF have orders to proceed to Colombey les Belles for station and duty. So it looks pretty good for the rest of us. We have orders to get all material out of here and Tuesday the Motor Transport Co. is going to send three big trucks to 1st Air Depot with as much of our supplies as they can haul and continue to haul. The Q.M. have orders to be out of here the 15th of May, so we will have to get out.

Gee and Jones are on leave in England now. Hawkins, Banker and Gahan are in C.H. #12, with minor complaints. Otherwise all the fellows are O.K. They all enjoyed your last letter. With best of regards, I am,

Yours truly,
Louis D. Leland
Enl. Man

June 23, 1924

In June 1924, Walter was visiting ranches near Uvalde, TX to teach the ranchers how to combat the pernicious screw-worm fly (Cochliomyia hominivorax), which was then wreaking havoc with cattle and sheep. One Sunday, he met a young lady named Ina, but didn’t quite catch her last name. Nonetheless, he was so smitten that he wrote her a letter the next day.

Regan Wells, Tex.
June 23, 1924

Dear Miss Field,

I am taking the liberty to write this because I’d like to have you know that I certainly enjoyed your company Sunday. I only wish that I could have become better acquainted with you, though I feel that I know you quite well.

I started this note just before the dinner bell rang and immediately after eating we went coon hunting at Mr. Miller’s. The ladies didn’t go but I thought of you just the same. Had some fun and caught one good coon. They hunt them here just as they do in Mississippi.

June 23, 1924

June 23, 1924

When I returned Sunday evening Mrs. Taylor said some mighty nice things about you, but I can assure you that they only confirmed my opinion of you. You were a good sport to climb the mountain and get wet, and I wonder if the after effects were good. Have felt that you might have taken a cold, or that the exercise was too much for you.

Miss Ina, I am not sure just now but I believe that I can persuade Mr. Laake and Mr. Brundrette to get along without my assistance Saturday. I would like to come to Uvalde and return Sunday. If it is agreeable to yourself and you have no other engagement, I would like to see you Saturday evening. I presume that you are on duty during the afternoon. If it is not possible to see you Saturday, possibly I could go to church with you Sunday morning. I am not so anxious to go to church but I would like to see you.

Would you drop me a line so that I’ll get it Thursday? Trusting that I may hear from you and hoping that I can see you, I am,

Your friend,
Walter E. Dove