The following article by David Strange originally appeared in The Courier-Journal on 6 Nov 2013. It is archived here with additional information for your reading enjoyment.
With Veterans Day coming up, let me tell you about Doc Threlkeld, a World War One veteran from Mount Washington in Bullitt County.
George Threlkeld was born on October 5, 1874, to parents William and Sallie Threlkeld in a small home on Main Street where Stout's Hardware is now. Around 1886, father William bought property about a mile north on Bardstown Road and built a beautiful brick mansion for his family. But after only two years living there he abruptly traded the home to his wife's parents, George and Georgia Wigginton, for their home and farm in Plum Creek in Spencer County.
When George was a teenager, his father moved the family again; this time to Louisville. After finishing high school there, George worked for a while at Renz and Henry Drug Store on the corner of Floyd and Market in Louisville. Pretty quickly after that, George obtained a job as a teacher at the little Edgewood School, back in Bullitt County, about three miles from his first Mt. Washington home. For some reason, though, that job only lasted for one school term.
So George continued his own education at the Hospital College of Medicine, and in four years he graduated with honors. Following graduation, he started his own private practice in medicine in Louisville and was successful. At some point, he practiced in Mt. Washington as well. But George disliked charging people for his services. George apparently had a big heart that way. He eventually gave up his practice and went to Panama, serving in the Sanitary Department of the Civil Service, serving as intern and as a physician during the building of the Panama Canal. Doctor Threlkeld had begun to find his niche in life.
In 1913 George returned home to become assistant physician at the Jefferson Reformatory in Jeffersonville, Indiana. But world war was looming. George resigned his job to become a captain in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army, serving all through World War One. He was discharged from service after the war in 1920 as a Major, but his service for the military did not end there.
George quickly obtained a job with the Veterans Administration and returned home to Mount Washington that same year, buying the beautiful brick home that his father had built. That home would later become known to many of us as the Athol Lee Taylor Home.
Doctor George Threlkeld served in the Veterans Administration in several locations around the state and country over the following years, eventually being promoted to Colonel and also Major in the Medical Reserves.
Oh, and along the way, he also obtained a law degree from the Jefferson School of Law, and became a member of the Kentucky Bar.
Through the years of traveling, George kept his farm home in Mt. Washington, being particularly proud of the peaches grown there which won awards at the Kentucky State Fair. George hired Harold "Jack" Barnes to attend to the farm during his absence. Jack, along with his wife, Rebecca, and daughter, Leda, lived on the farm as well. Jack Barnes himself was a WWI veteran, awarded the Purple Heart for injuries suffered in the war. Jack eventually went on to serve two terms as president of the Peoples Bank of Mount Washington.
As the years passed, Doctor Threlkeld was able to stay more and more at his beloved home, retiring from service in 1944 after twenty-five years with the Veterans Administration.
But time passes all too quickly. On August 4, 1951, at the age of 76, Doctor George Wigginton Threlkeld passed away at the Kentucky Baptist Hospital, after a five-month illness. He had never married, and so was survived by nephews Neil Threlkeld and Major Lawrence Threlkeld. The funeral was at McFarland Chapel in Mt. Washington, with the funeral service itself at Mt. Washington Baptist Church, and burial at Mt. Washington Cemetery. He belonged to the Preston Lodge of Masons, which also performed a funeral service in his honor.
In his will, probated in Bullitt County Court, George bequeathed $140,000, split between The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, The Kentucky Baptist Orphans Home, and The Masonic Widows and Orphans Home. Additionally, he left $750 to the Old Masons Home, $250 to Children's Hospital, $500 to Kentucky Baptist Hospital, $500 to Christ's Mission in New York, and $1,000 to Mount Washington Baptist Church, along with various gifts to individuals.
Those important in one's life can often be determined by those he remembers in death.
And so another man, another veteran, along with his service, passed into fading memory.
World War One was known in its time as simply THE World War. It was viewed by many as the last Great War against evil and tyranny.
"The War to End All Wars."
When the fighting ended, a special day was set aside to remember this special war. In 1919, the first anniversary of the end of the war, Armistice Day, the day that the World War ended on November 11, was set as that special day of remembering all that was lost in the war, and all that was saved.
A moment of silence was once traditionally observed at 11:00 a.m. on that day. The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month; the time when firing ceased in 1918 and "War" ended.
Sadly, we all know that war did not end that day. Within months after the armistice (which means "suspension of hostilities") battles broke out in Africa, governments were overthrown in South America, and Middle Easterners fought among themselves for territory.
Despite all the horrible death and carnage, the "War to End All Wars" did not end all wars.
With the coming of World War Two, and then the Korean War, "Armistice Day", was changed in 1954 to "Veterans Day", a day to remember all who have sacrificed so much in so many wars, and who continue to do so every day.
So we do remember, and are thankful.
Remember our veterans this November 11.
Thank them, and honor them this Veterans Day.
For it is by those brave men and women that we are free.
Copyright 2013 by David Strange, Shepherdsville KY. All rights are reserved. No part of the content of this page may be included in any format in any place without the written permission of the copyright holder.