The story of Eva Crowell
By Mary Fritts
via the Lyons Mirror-Sun newspaper (NB) web site
My story began with noticing three log-shaped monuments with World War I and the same last name on them. One inscription read Eva Crowell, WWI nurse. Being the only woman from Lyons to serve in WWI, I wanted to learn her story.
I accessed Lyons newspapers back to the late 1800's through the Lyons Public Library website, and found that Eva graduated from Lyons High School. She trained to be a teacher, and after teaching for four years, got her nursing degree in Lincoln, followed by post-graduate nursing in Los Angeles, CA. She enlisted, as did her brother, Ralph. While they were in different military training camps awaiting transport to France, their sister Clara died of influenza.
I thought that might have bearing on the three log monuments, arranged in advance, with two heading to war, and losing another to influenza.
The Mirror-Sun articles identify Eva as a Red Cross nurse. When she got overseas, her first months were spent working in an Evacuation Hospital in Treves (now known as Trier), Germany. She also worked in France. Articles upon her return encouraged local individuals to offer her their appreciation for all that she had done for the troops overseas. It was suggested that she deserved a gold medal.
I thought, why not get a tile for Eva on the new Lyons Veterans Plaza memorial? So I did, and since the information I had identified her as a Red Cross nurse, we added that symbol for her tile. Even before America entered the war, Red Cross nurses had been serving and helping in other European countries.
Then, a few weeks later, I found an article including information her family shared with the paper.
In September of 1945, Eva had been invited to a reception for General Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright IV, who was the highest ranking officer held as a prisoner of war by the Japanese, of which he was for three years. Upon his release, he was welcomed at the Veterans Hospital in his hometown of Walla Walla, WA. Eva said that it was one of her most memorable experiences to have met and shaken hands with him. He had been in the Argonne offense when she was a nurse at Hospital Base 49 during WWI.
Now I had a solid clue. I found Eva's name on the list of 100 nurses at Base Hospital 49, near Allerey, France.
Read the entire article on the Lyons Mirror-Sun web site.
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