We’re now up to Block 4 of The Star’s monthly quilt project, “Where Poppies Grow Remembering Almo,” which honors those who served in World War I.
The quilt also tells the story of Almo Ebenezer O’Kell, who served his country in Koblenz, Germany. O’Kell’s correspondence and photos have been preserved by his family and provide a rich history of his work as a medic with Field Hospital No. 3 and the First Division under Gen. John J. Pershing.
Each month, along with a new quilt block, we’ll share a piece of Almo’s story.
Today, Block 4: “Ladies’ Delight.”
Almo had been back in El Paso, Texas, only a few months when the United States declared war on Germany. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, organized the First Division, a formation of experienced regular soldiers. Almo would head “over there” once the Army had raised, trained and equipped a larger force.
Meanwhile, the divorced Almo met a young woman named Tillie Trummer. After a short courtship, they were married on Sept. 22, 1917.
The El Paso Herald reported: “At the home of Rev. P.R. Knickerbocker, on Sunday evening, Miss Tillie Trummer and Almo E. O’Kell of the field hospital corps were quietly married, the bride wearing a blue tailleur. Until ordered elsewhere, the newlyweds will be at home at 1115 North Ochoa Street.”
Almo wrote home to his mother, Susie: “I will send Tillie’s picture to Quincy (Ill., his hometown). It was taken of her when she was 19 years old and she was much heavier then. So you take good care of it for me and, Mother, get me a copy of my divorce and send to Tillie for me. Do this at once.”
Almo later realized he had made a mistake in marrying Tillie before he left for war. In August 1918, he wrote to his ex-wife’s mother, Lorinda, “Tell Pearl I am glad she is doing so nicely and hope she will always. And that she won’t make a mistake as I did before I left the states. But things will happen that way now and then. Also tell Pearl that if she hasn’t anything else to do why she might write a few lines.”
The “Poppies” quilt was designed by Denniele O’Kell Bohannon of Louanna Mary Quilt Design, Harrisonville, and Janice Britz of Bee Merry Farms, Peculiar, as a tribute to Bohannon’s great-grandfather Almo Ebenezer O’Kell. Angela Walters of Quilting Is My Therapy in Kearney did the free-motion quilting.