Much of Spanish American War veteran Edward Smith remains a mystery for his grandson, Korean War veteran Bob Davis, 84, of Sedalia.
Davis and his wife Ramona recently found an old, framed photograph of his grandfather Edward Smith standing with his identical twin in their uniforms. The couple found the framed photo labeled with a tag stating the Smiths served in the Spanish American War. Finding the photo was a special event for the couple.
Bob Davis, who served in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1954 during the Korean War, said he never knew this part of his grandfather’s history and doesn’t even know the name of his twin. It’s something no one ever talked about, he added.
“(I knew) very little,” Bob said. “He came to my high school graduation and the next time we saw him, he was with his other daughter in Wyoming, and we went to Wyoming to see him.”
Bob Davis graduated from David City High School in Nebraska in 1948.
Ramona said after the Spanish American War (1898-1901), Smith became a miller.
“After the war he came back and became trained in making flour, to make bread,” Bob added. “A lot of the grain elevators had some facilities for making flour. He went around and made sure that they were doing good.
“The one thing I can remember, and it’s a real mystery, he had a black trunk sitting in my bedroom closet,” he added. “He said ‘I don’t want anybody to touch this.’ He came back in 1948 and he says ‘now I’ll take that trunk from you.’ It was a set of silk screens. There was a silk-screening process that they used to use for making flour. He took that back to Wyoming with him and set up another mill.”
The trunk stayed with Bob for 10 years; no one knows why Smith left it, Ramona added.
“I don’t have any idea, but he said ‘don’t open up that trunk,’” Bob noted.
Bob added that his grandfather nor his mother, Hazel Ophelia Smith Davis, ever talked about his service in the Spanish American War.
“She never did (talk about it) and it was a complete surprise,” he said. “My mother passed away and we were cleaning out everything and we found this picture. That’s how we found it.”
He said he remembered his grandfather lived in David City, Nebraska, for about 15 years before moving away.
“One of his daughters moved away and then he moved … he just moved around,” he added.
He said he thought his grandfather died in 1956 in Colorado.
“We got married in 1956, and he died shortly after,” Ramona added.
Bob eventually went to college at the University of Nebraska and then enlisted in the Army.
“As soon as I got out of college the Army said ‘it’s your turn,’” he said. “I was in the quartermaster training command at Fort Lee, Virginia. I was there for a long time. The quartermaster is in charge of all the materials, in other words, it’s a conglomeration of everything.
“The quartermaster command had responsibility for all of the good things that they have like mess halls, laundries (and) field service outfits.”
As for the mystery of his grandfather, a Veterans Administration ID card tucked into the front of the framed photo of the Smith twins said Edward Smith was born Sept. 9, 1877, and he was a Spanish American War veteran. The card was dated 1952 and listed Smith’s home as Fort Collins, Colorado.
Bob added that he’s not exactly sure which twin is his grandfather.
“I never met the twin,” he added. “It’s a mystery …”
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.