Alexandria World War I African American Veterans

Behind the scene of the Alexandria Gazette story on “Alexandria World War I African American Veterans dated April 19, 2018.

About a month ago, I inquired about information on Alexandria African American World War I Veterans. Amy Bertsch responded to my request and sent me an article on African American World War I Veterans in Alexandria. Thanks Amy!

With the names of these veterans, I was able to research them. For the Alexandria Gazette’s newspaper, I focused on three of the 52 veterans that were drafted. Out of these three veterans, two of them had children: Private Ulysses Garnett Bell and Private Courtney Hauls.

Ulysses G. Bell’s WWI military card

Private Ulysses Garnett Bell was the son of Thornton Bell and Georgianna Brown. Thornton was born around 1840 and his wife, Georgianna was born around 1848. They married 17 September 1874 in Alexandria, Virginia. In 1880, they were living on West Street. Thornton was a laborer for the brickyard. He and his wife had the following children: Edward T. Bell, Mary A. Bell, William H. Bell, Robert Bell, Albert Bell, Silas Bell and Ulysses G. Bell. In 1900 Georgianna Bell was listed as a widow, she and her children were living at 1307 Queen Street. In 1910, Georgianna’s grandson, Charles Henry Bell lived in her household with his mother, Mary E. Bell. Georgianna’s son, Ulysses married Beatrice Brown on 9 March 1914. Beatrice died giving birth to their son, Edward Ulysses on May 6, 1915. Ulysses’ in-laws raised his son, Edward.

In 1917, Ulysses was drafted into World War I. Private Ulysses G. Bell died on 18 December 1945 in Washington, D.C. His son, Edward Ulysses Bell was a World War II Veteran. After serving in the military, he came back to Alexandria. Like his father, he worked for the Federal government at the General Accounting Office. He married Noreen Day and they had one daughter, Beatrice, who was named after Edward’s mother. Edward died on 12 May 2001 in Alexandria, Virginia. His daughter, Beatrice had four children. Two of her children are living today.

Private Courtney Hauls was the son of Cyrus and Sarah Harris Hauls (Halls). Cyrus was born around 1847. He fled his master’s plantation at the age of sixteen; he joined the Colored Troops. He served as Private Cyrus Buckner

Cyrus Hauls (Buckner)
Civil War Veteran

(Hauls) in Company D 118 regiment. The surname Bucker was his alias’ surname. After the Civil War, Cyrus met Sarah Harris. On 13 September 1871, Reverend Fields Cook of Third Baptist married Cyrus and Sarah. The Hauls had the following children: Molly Hauls, Cyrus Hauls, Emily Hauls and Courtney Hauls. By earlier 1900s, Cyrus, Sarah and their children moved to 1010 Wythe Street. Their son, Courtney, married Sarah Tasco in 1909. Courtney’s father, Cyrus died on 13 July 1912. He is buried at Thomas Mann Cemetery (Silver Leaf Association) which is now called the Alexandria African American Heritage Park. Prior to Courtney being drafted, he and his wife had several children. All of their children died but one daughter, Viola Hauls.

Courtney was drafted in 1917. When he returned to Alexandria, his mother and siblings started migrating to New Jersey. Courtney and his wife did not survive his absence during his military duties. His wife deserted him. In 1920, Courtney received his divorce from his wife, Lucy on the grounds of desertion and abandonment. Courtney decided to leave Alexandria first for New York City but later settled in New Jersey. He met his second wife, Viola H. Crawly in New York. They married on 4 November 1926. Courtney and his new wife migrated to New Jersey. Courtney’s daughter, Viola Hauls Brown, from his first marriage, migrated to Orange, New Jersey in the late 1930s. In June 1982, Courtney died in Burlington, New Jersey. Courtney had a son from his second marriage, Herbert Courtney Hauls, Sr. Herbert served in the United States Air Force as a Master Sargent in Korea and Vietnam. He was born in 1928 and he died in New Jersey on 23 February 2000. He is buried at Brigadier General William C. Doyle Memorial Cemetery in New Jersey.

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6 Responses to Alexandria World War I African American Veterans

  1. Craig Taylor says:

    Thanks for taking the time to reply. I would be remiss if I failed to mention that I appreciate your historical pieces.

    Lastly, the blog post date should have read “2017” rather than 1917.

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  2. Fascinating look at your local African-American doughboys. I did a deep dive into the history of “Negro soldiers” and “colored regiments” researching my second novel, “Truly Are the Free.” Although set in part within the 369th US Infantry, the famed Harlem’s Hell Fighters, I also wrote of the wretched treatment of conscripted African-Americans. Given little training, they were mostly relegated to labor and stevedore battalions and not allowed combat rolls. It’s a very sad chapter in American military history, but a remarkable story of these men who did their duty when called in the face of horrendous systemic racism.

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  3. Craig Taylor says:

    In the Gazette Packet article you write, “On September 28, 1918 (William Thomas) was the first Colored person to die from Alexandria.” But in a blog post dated April 30, 1917 you said something undeniably different: “Private William Thomas was the first to die from Alexandria, Virginia during World War I. In death, he was remembered not as an American Negro Veteran to die in combat in France.”

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    • cmb12 says:

      Craig,
      Thank you for your comment. Based on my research for the first article, one of my sources stated that William was the first to die from Alexandria, Virginia. I did further research on William for the second article and found several sources stating he was the first African American from Alexandria to die. I will edit the blog to reflect these two statements. Thanks!

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