By Peter Becker
HAWLEY - William Edward Sheridan was a Hawley son who was killed in combat in the First World War. At the time he entered the service, he was a New York City police officer.
Sheridan was born in Hawley on October 20, 1893, and was the son of James and Mary (Farrell) Sheridan.
His father was born in March 1851 in New York, to Irish immigrants. James was married in 1878 to Mary Farrell. Mary was born in November 1858 in Pennsylvania; her parents were also from Ireland.
They had 10 children; seven were living in 1900, from oldest to youngest: John, Cassie, Ellen, James, Margaret, William and Michael. The Sheridans are believed to have lived up on the East Hawley hill. The father died in 1906, the year William turned 13.
James is believed to have become a priest, in New York.
William was educated in Hawley schools. He left for New York City in 1911.
He found work in New York, and on October 22, 1917 he was appointed as a police officer. He was assigned to the 82nd Precinct in Brooklyn, where he earned a commendation for "an act of conspicuous bravery." The incident left him with serious injuries, requiring hospitalization.
His shield number was 6871.
Killed at Battle of Argonne
On May 29, 1918, while in New York, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to the 19th Company, 152d Depot Brigade. On June 22nd he was transferred to Company B, 79th Division, 313th Infantry.
He left for overseas service on July 8, 1918 and became engaged in the battle of the Argonne.
Corporal Sheridan was killed by machine gun fire on October 1, 1918.
The Battle of Argonne, on the Western Front in France, was the final and decisive thrust by the Allied Powers against the German Empire. The battle began September 26 and lasted until the end of the war on November 11, 1918. American casualties totaled 117,000. The French lost 70,000 men and the Germans, 100,000 soldiers.
Sheridan was killed 41 days before the Armistice and the end of World War I. He was 19 days from his 25th birthday.
Chaplain Edward A. Baxter arranged a separate grave for Sheridan, where he was buried in the cemetery of Montfaucon in the Province of Avocourt, France. Later, his remains were shipped home, where they arrived at Hawley, July 17, 1920. He was buried with military honors in charge of the Honor Legion at St. Philomena's Cemetery (now known as Queen of Peace Cemetery).
Honored in New York
Sheridan's memory has been honored both in Hawley, Pennsylvania and in New York City.
There is a playground named for him in Brooklyn, at Wythe Avenue between Grand Street and South 1st Street. The City purchased the land for the park in 1934, and Adolf A. Berle Jr. signed the deed as trustee of the War Memorial Fund, which donated the playground in Sheridan's name. The park was dedicated on July 15, 1934.
P.S. 84, De Deigo School, occupies a portion of the playground.
American Legion Post #1059, which includes members of the New York Police Department, is known as the William E. Sheridan Police Post as a tribute to this young man's brave sacrifice.
Honored in Hawley
For years, Post #1059 made an annual pilgrimage to Hawley to honor their namesake at his grave.
The May 22, 1941 edition of The Wayne Independent gave an account of the Post's Memorial Day visit.
Known as "Police Post 1059," they paid their respects to their deceased brother. They were welcomed by Hawley American Legion Wilson Kelch Post 311 and their Auxiliary, with a parade.
The community turned out for the parade held Sunday May 18. At 12:30 p.m. the parade formed at the I.OO.F. Hall at Main Avenue and River Street. Hawley High School led the procession to the cemetery.
At the grave site service, a complete set of Colors was presented to the visiting Police Post. Rev. Father Joseph S. Gagion, pastor at St. Philomena's, was one of the speakers.
Dinner was held at Andres Hotel on Keystone Street, with 36 members of the Police Post and friends from New York attending.
Also present was Post 311 Commander Louis Graff; Adjutant Edward G. Richardson; Mrs. Carena Mae Munzert, President, Post 311 Auxiliary; Comrade Joseph Jacobs (and principal at Hawley High School); Professor Walter Nallin, Director, Hawley High School Band and Rev. Walter Frederick, pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Hawley.
Representing the family of William E. Sheridan was his sister and husband. Mr. and Mrs. Vellis Brobst; brothers Rev. James Sheridan; Hawley Postmaster and Mrs. John J. Sheridan and Mr. and Mrs. Michael Sheridan.
On Sunday evening, Post 311 hosted a service at St. Paul's Lutheran Church. The Legion members and Auxiliary marched to the church, with martial music provided by the school band. Rev. Walter Frederick preached on "The Consciousness of the Responsibility and the Satisfaction of Fidelity" basing his sermon on II Timothy 4:7.
He was assisted by Rev. J. R. Humphreys of Cole Memorial Baptist Church; Rev. R.W. L. Mark of 1st Presbyterian Church and Rev. Robert Lengler, United Methodist Church.
Mrs. George Krause and Miss Dorothy Bortel each sang a solo. Louise K. Purcell was at the organ.
Those were the days. Hawley was not finished with patriotic observances, this one surrounding the Cpl. Sheridan tribute. The 1941 article says that another parade in Hawley was being planned for Memorial Day.
In 1945, and perhaps at other times, the William E. Sheridan Police Post 1059 led the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, with a mounted police unit.
Art Glantz recalls the children of John Sheridan, who was the postmaster and Cpl. Sheridan's brother. The oldest of John's sons was named William E., for his uncle; he graduated in 1941 from Hawley High. Brother Jim was in Art's Class of 1947; Jim became a priest, and died at an early age. Jim was the Class President.
John Sheridan and his family lived on Highland Street in the home where Major General James W. McAndrew was born.
Today there are no descendants left in Hawley of Cpl. William E. Sheridan's family, said Thomas E. Sheridan, a Hawley native who is of an entirely different line. Tom Sheridan said his family, who lived on Hudson Street, were called the "Canal Sheridans" and the other branch, who lived up the hill in East Hawley, were referred to as the "Hill Sheridans."
Tom said that he remembers the annual arrival of Police Post 1059, who came to honor Cpl. Sheridan. He said they arrived in two or three charter buses, which was a big event for little Hawley. This continued, he said, for many years, while their were Post members to remember the corporal from Hawley.
Post 1059 is still in existence and is still known as the William E. Sheridan Police Post. As of 2013 there were 18 members. They are headquartered at 290 Prospect Park W., Brooklyn, NY. Their current commander, Albert Pico, is a 60 year member of Post 1059. He said that he remembers visiting Hawley once when the Post was larger and made their annual visit.
The 1927 History of Hawley lists 241 men from Hawley and vicinity who served in World War I. Four were listed as "killed in action."
More information on William E. Sheridan and his family is being sought, for a follow-up story.
History of Hawley, Pa., 1927, by Michael J. McAndrews
City of New York Parks & Recreation, www.nycgovparks.org