The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Hobart Willard

By Imogene Turman © 1988

Issue: January-February, 1988

Hobart Willard and his cousin George Willard.Hobart Willard and his cousin George Willard.A veteran of World War I, Hobart Willard was 90 years old on May 21, 1987. In 1918 he was sent to Camp Lee, Virginia and from there he boarded a ship for France on September 29, 1918.

In France he was assigned to a Calvary outfit where his job was to unload horses off of a ship and take them to a Remount Station. From there he would convoy them to the front lines where he would pick up horses that could not perform because of injuries. Some were burnt from gas and of these some were eaten by the French. Hobart remembers one occasion when the soldiers were bathing horses in a river. One horse fell down and in 20 minutes the French had him dressed.

One date to remember was November 11, 1918. The day Armistice was signed. He was unloading horses from four ships. The war was over and everybody was celebrating. All the horns were blowing, big horns and little horns. It was a happy day.

Hobart stayed on in France until June, serving as a Military Police officer. The job was hard. There was so much alcohol available and the soldiers were tempted, leaving the M.P.'s to keep things under control.

Body of Robert Goad, the second shipped back to Carroll County in W. W. II. The first body shipped back was Grover King. In front: Matt Webb, Cloud Cruise, Hobart is 4th from right, Harrison Padgett, Ed Ackers last.Body of Robert Goad, the second shipped back to Carroll County in WW II. The first body shipped back was Grover King. In front: Matt Webb, Cloud Cruise, Hobart is 4th from right, Harrison Padgett, Ed Ackers last.June 27, 1919 he came back to Newport News, Virginia. From there he was sent to Camp Lee for 12 days then discharged. The Army was different in those days, men could join and stay as long as they wanted; some of the men were in their 60's and 70's. They were tough military men. Some had crimes over their heads and staying in the Army kept the law off. They liked the tough Army life.

Hobart came back to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Back home with his family he took 30 days rest, then in order to make a living he chose to go to West Virginia as many young men did in those days. By the 12th of July he was working in a logging camp in the rugged mountains of West Virginia.

Then on September 13, an accident occurred that Hobart has had to live with to this day. His job was to pull logs to the sawmill using a two mule team. This day it was getting close to noon and he didn't have a full load. His plans were to go on in, but his boss came along and told him to wait, he would help him fill the load. The boss unloosed some logs and they came sliding down the mountain. Hobart saw them coming but could not get out of the way. One of his legs was caught between the logs. The leg was numb. Some fellows came running to see if his leg was broke. They pulled the logs away, unhooked the mules, and put Hobart on the mule. He rode two miles to camp. He stayed on but fainted when he got there.

He was taken to the Welch, West Virginia Hospital where he stayed nine weeks lying flat on his back and unable to move.

After release from the hospital he came back to Carroll County, Virginia. His mother, sister Mary and brother Everett lived in the Gladesboro section of the county. His father, William Rufus Willard, broke his back when Hobart was a boy and lay in bed 9 years before dying from bed sores. Their homeplace is just back of Skyline Baptist Church. The graveyard can be seen from Martin Baptist Church.

Hobart farmed the rest of his life. He uses a crutch and these days don't get about to much.

He married Della Jessup Webb. She was the widow of Lester Webb. She had three children Elsie, Ollie and Belva. Then Della and Hobart had three children Lenford, Pauline and Trudy. Della passed away several years ago. At present Elsie and her son Tommy live with Hobart.