Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Gems from the Overson Photographic Collection - General Pershing at the University of Arizona

Imagine my surprise, as I was scanning photographs from the Overson Photographic collection, to find this photo of General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing. I recognized him immediately and began researching the incident that led to the photo. Back on January 31, 1920, General Pershing came to the University of Arizona Campus to dedicate the Memorial Fountain in front of the Old Main Building. The Fountain was built to commemorate all of the University of Arizona graduates who had lost their lives in World War I. It was extremely interesting to discover this historic photograph during the Memorial Day Weekend.

It is evident that most of the photos in the Overson collection were taken by Margaret Godfrey Jarvis Overson or her father, Charles Godfrey DeFriez Jarvis from the late 1800s until about 1950. Although there is no way to identify who took this photo, I am guessing that it was likely taken by Margaret Overson's daughter, Eva Margaret Overson Tanner, my paternal grandmother. The reason I believe this is because, my grandfather, her husband, LeRoy Parkinson Tanner was a veteren of the Border War with Mexico of  1910 - 1919. General Pershing was in charge of the campaign and led the Pancho Villa Expedition in 1916. I have a few photographs showing my grandfather in his uniform, but very little information about his involvement in the campaign. The border campaign is known for the fact that George S. Patton, later General Patton, led the first assault with armored vehicles at a ranch near San Miguelito, Mexico.

I am assuming that as a veteren, my grandfather made the trip down from northern Arizona to attend the service with his former commander. If Eva's mother, my Grandmother Overson, came with them on the trip, she may also have taken the photo.

Quoting from the University of Arizona website:
Situated at the west entrance of Old Main, the Memorial Fountain, honoring those UA students who lost their lives in World War I, was the gift of Alexander Berger, an uncle of Alexander Tindolph Berger, one of those to whose memory it is dedicated. 
On January 31, 1920, the Memorial Fountain in front of Old Main was dedicated amid a huge turnout of students, faculty, townspeople, and military who had come to honor the University's World War I dead and to greet the guest of honor, General John J. Pershing. General Pershing's speech was brief and impressive, following which the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred upon him by President von KleinSmid.
See Wikipedia: Border War (1910-19) and The University of Arizona, History and Traditions, Berger Memorial Fountain.

It will be really interesting to see what else turns up in this seemingly endless collection of now over 5,700 images.

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