Like so many other families during wars before and since, the Kuhns waited word to know if their son would return home. This was supposedly the “War to End All Wars,” the World War, what would later be known as World War I.
PAUPACK TWP. - Like so many other families during wars before and since, the Kuhns waited word to know if their son would return home. This was supposedly the “War to End All Wars,” the World War, what would later be known as World War I.
Their message, however, would not be pleasant. Reginald K. Kuhn was one of 37 men from the Hawley, Pa. area to answer the call to arms, and one of five who would be killed in action. He was 28.
Tragically, he died in combat within days of when the war would be over- November 11, 1918.
This story reminds us of his life, and his family who made their mark tilling the earth as hard working farmers.
Farm at Wangum Falls
The Kuhn farm was located on the west side of Wangum Road, within ear shot of spectacular Wangum Falls. The area is also known as Adelia, and is approximately four miles northwest of Hawley. Wangum Road connects with Owego Turnpike in this section.
Wangum Road, a dirt road leading to the bridge over Wangum Falls, carried the “heavy track” of the Pa. Coal Company gravity railroad in the 19th century. Coal-laden cars were coasted down this track from the coal mines at Pittston to Hawley.
Just below, to the south, was the roughly parallel “light track” on which the empty coal cars were hauled back to the mines.
Kuhn’s grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Godfrey Smith, had a role in building this gravity railroad section, which opened in 1850. The farm was established at this time; the light track ran right by the house.
His father, Daniel Kuhn, was born April 5, 1852. He was living in Lackawaxen, as was his bride to be, Miss Elizabeth Smith (born in 1849). They were married at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 9, 1889 at the bride’s home at Adelia. The Wayne County Herald called it a “pleasant family gathering” and included an “elegant and bountiful supper.” The bride received “some handsome presents”; The Evening Gazette described the gifts as “numerous and proper.” Rev. S. Morris was presented with a box of wedding cake and fruits.
The Kuhns stayed here and farmed.
Reginald Kenneth Kuhn - he was known as “Reggie”- was born to them, November 26, 1890. His brother Eugene was born the year later. They also adopted a son, named Willie; he was with them in 1908, but further information has not been learned.
Among their relatives was Emma May Buckingham of Paupack Township (1834-1919), an accomplished author who gained considerable notoriety for her work. Her family held a reunion at the Kuhn farm in June of 1906.
The schoolhouse at Adelia was located on the Owego Turnpike. Reggie Kuhn’s formal education was contained at this one-room grammar school.
A post office was established in 1903 at the Woodward homestead, when the postal authorities named it Adelia. The name of Wangum had been suggested but was rejected by the U.S. Postal Service.
Both Reggie and Eugene tended the farm with their father.
Following the closure of the gravity railroad in 1885, the Wyoming Division of the Erie Railroad was set up between Hawley and Scranton; trains passed through by Adelia, where there was signal tower known as the Wangum Tower. Eugene Kuhn found work there in 1913 as a telegraph operator.
Local papers once were full of interesting news briefs about the coming and going of neighbors.In December of 1908, John Smith and Mr. Kuhn, of Adelia, took a load of evergreens to Goose Pond, to send to Scranton (Christmas trees?).
October 1908, Mrs. Daniel Kuhn, with her adopted son Willie, visited Goose Pond to go fishing.
On August 16, 1909, Oliver English had cut a bee tree and took out a large amount of honey. “The tree is being claimed by Daniel Kuhn.”
In 1912 (date not clear), Eugene Kuhn trapped “a fine specimen” of a red fox. They were reportedly very plentiful in Wayne County.
In the spring of 1913 “a son of Daniel Kuhn of Adelia” (we’re not told which) found a stone spear point in the vicinity of Wangum Falls.
Reggie joined the Pa. National Guard in 1911, with Company E based in Honesdale. The new armory on Park Street (today, the Wayne County YMCA) was dedicated in July of that year. Kuhn served under Captain Carroll Kelley, and left the Guard in 1914.
This also was the year the World War began in Europe, although President Woodrow Wilson was adamant to keep America out of the war. Finally, in 1917, the U.S. entered the conflict to repel the German Kaiser’s advances.
A 1927 biography states that Reggie enlisted on May 29, 1918.
His draft card, dated June 5, 1917, however, stated that he was claiming an exemption from the draft on the basis of needing to support his father and mother on the farm.
He nevertheless entered the Army, as a Private. He advanced to Private First Class on August 1, 1918 and Corporal on August 23, 1918. His troop ship, the Aganemnon, departed from Hoboken, NJ on July 9th. Pvt. Kuhn was assigned to Co. L, 316th Infantry, 79th Division.
Engagements took place at Argonne and the Battle of the Meuse in France.
“THE WAR IS OVER” declared The Wayne County Citizen, as well as newspapers across the country with the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918. The November 12th edition carried the subheads, “The Stars and Stripes to Wayne Over Germany”, and “The Yanks Are Over There.”
Celebrations would come in 1919 as the Yanks came home; American Legion posts would form including Post 311 in Hawley. Both Honesdale and Hawley would have huge welcome home parades on Memorial Day. They would also remember 53 sons of Wayne County who were killed; their names would be added to a plaque dedicating the newly established Wayne County Memorial Hospital in Honesdale, in 1920.
Among those names were five from the Hawley area: George A. Kelch, William Sheridan, Curtis J. Wilson, Robert Eckweiler and Reginald K. Kuhn.
News of Kuhn’s fate would take almost a month after the close of the war.
The December 10, 1918 edition of the Wayne County Citizen contained the story: REGINALD KUHN DIED FIGHTING, NOVEMBER 11TH.
In the lead paragraph, the article clearly states he died on the last day of the war, November 11.
He was killed in the Marne Drive. The 1927 article, however, stated that he died on November 6. That is the date given on his grave marker, in the family plot at Lakeville, Paupack Township, Wayne County. Inscribed in stone, the family wrote, “In memory of our beloved son…”
The columnist, given as “Mrs. L.D.W.” (thought to be Woodward), offered a personal tribute.
“Reggie often worked for us on the farm. He planted potatoes one year… He was a typical country boy in appearance…” (His draft card added that he had brown hair and blue eyes and was of medium height and build.)
“Reggie loved the country and farm life. I remember yet how cheery he was under the shed cutting the potatoes, ready to listen or to tell a story, for he was humorous and could appreciate all the funny happenings that go on in a country neighborhood.”
Unlike others, he did not seek other employment when he was needed to dig potatoes.
He was standing at the railroad depot in Honesdale on May 28, 1917, to be taken to Camp Meade. He was asked, “What will they do on the farm now?” Reggie “drooped, and in a voice scare audible, with quivering lips and tears in his eyes, he said, ‘I told them to sell the stock and not to try and raise anything except a garden and a few potatoes.’ He spoke of the loss as most would speak of the loss of a friend.”
Reggie was recalled as attending services at the home meetings of the columnist, with other young men about to leave for military service. At one occasion, he indicated to Mr. Woodward, who was leading the meeting, that he wanted to be a Christian.
“…His faithful life to his home and parents and the sacrifice he has made for his country reveal the spirit of Christian living,” the columnist added. “We expect to see him next in the kingdom of God where He knows who will render double for all the sacrifice.”
Daniel Kuhn lived until March 2, 1925. His wife died in 1928.
Brother Eugene continued to farm at Wangum. He and his wife Hattie (Ermisch) raised three children, Jane L., Denton E. and Robert L. Kuhn.
The family also served in the U.S. Armed Services. Eugene H. Kuhn was inducted into the U.S. Army at Honesdale on April 29, 1918. He was a private, and served state-side. He was discharged August 7 at Camp Lee, VA. Eugene lived to 1960. Harriet died December 3, 1990.
Jane L. Kuhn served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps during World War II. She and her husband Joseph Smith raised two daughters. Jane L. Smith died at the age of 93 in January 2013 at Honesdale.
Denton E. Kuhn, who was born in 1922, was a World War II veteran. He served state-side in the Army, in 1943-44; after discharge he joined the U.S. Navy in 1948. Denton died at the age of 69 September 15, 1991. (Any other family information was not determined.)
Robert L. Kuhn, born in 1926, enlisted in the Army Infantry following high school graduation. He was stationed in Germany. Robert worked as an industrial arts teacher, and was survived by his son and family when Robert died in February 2017.
History of Hawley, Pa. (1927) by Michael J. McAndrew
Vintage newspapers found at Fultonhistory.com
Census and other public records at Ancestry.com (Hawley Public Library)