See also Perry Oliver Brittin

Newspaper Unknown - July 1919

Athens Soldier Buried With Military Honors
Ottis Unit W In Charge Of The Ceremonies

The wheels of business stood still last Saturday while business men, their wives and families, as well as many people from Springfield, Petersburg, Greenview, Williamsville and other surrounding towns paid their last respect to Captain Oliver Perry Brittin, who met such a tragic death on the afternoon of July 2.

The funeral was one of the largest ever held in this city and the floral offerings were many and very beautiful - each emblem carrying with it a message of sympathy and respect to the departed physician.

Oliver Perry Brittin, son of John E. and Melissa Brittin, was born January 13, 1884 two miles southeast of Cantrall and left this life July 2, 1919, aged 35 years, 5 months and 19 days.

He received his early education in the schools of Menard County and graduated from the Athens High School with the class of 1904 entering the Barnes Medical University in the fall from which he graduated in 1908. He later served a year's internship in a St. Louis Hospital entering upon his professional career as a physician and surgeon in Athens where he continued until enlisting in the service in December 1917 and received his commission as First Lieutenant in Hospital Unit W. He was called to service at Atlanta, Georgia, on February 15, 1918.

He sailed for oversea duty, May 11, 1918, and was stationed at Liverpool, England with Base Hospital No. 40. During September and October, he was brigaded with the English forces in Belgium. In November 1918, he was commissioned a Captain and in January was detached from Hospital Unit W, and sent on special duty with headquarters at Brest, France. He received sailing order for the States, June 6, and arrived home on a 15 day leave of absence June 28, 1919.

He was a member of the Christian Church of Athens. He was an active member of the Masonic Order, the Odd Fellows and the Modern Woodman. He has been a member of the City Council.

Besides his parents, he leaves to mourn his loss, two brothers, Charles of Blue Island and Harry of Cantrall; and four sisters, Mrs. Nina Klor of Springfield, Mrs. Nana McMurray of Athens, keeper of his home, and Helen and Marguerite at home. His beloved sister Marie preceded him in death January 28, 1915.

Through his uncles and aunts there is a large group of relatives and a numerous host of friends who share with the family the deep sorrow of this sudden and tragic death.

Funeral services were held at his home Saturday morning, July 5, at 10:30 o'clock. Scripture reading and prayer was offered by Rev. J. W. Coleman pastor of the Christian church of this city. Rev. Elmer Stackhouse, pastor of the Christian church at Cantrall delivered the funeral sermon and Rev. C. F. McKown, pastor of the Methodist Episcopal church of this city read the obituary and delivered a brief eulogy on the character and patriotic services of Captain Brittin.

Hospital Unit W attended the services. The officers acted as pallbearers and the men of Unit as an escort. A firing squad from Camp Grant, where Captain Brittin was to have received his discharge from the service, fired three volleys at the grave and as the body laid in its last resting place, Bugler Hildred Davis of Company C, One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Machine Gun battalion sounded "taps" over all that was mortal of the departed soldier. The echo was sounded by John B. Basso of this city.

The pallbearers were: Lieut. Col. Daniel LM. Ottis, commander of Unit W., Lieut. Col. F. S. O'Hara, Major B. I. Bullard, Captain F. M. Evans, Captain Frank Maurer, Captain Emil Benard and Captain R. E. Smith.

A Tribute
Rev. Chas. J. M'Kown, pastor of the Methodist church, paid a fitting, tender and beautiful tribute to his memory. He said in part:

"Because of my long time acquaintance and friendly relations with Oliver, I have been asked to read this brief obituary and to add whatever personal word I might desire.

I feel that I can scarce trust myself to go on. Sudden and shocking and so utterly sad is the event to my heart and to you all. Words seem so empty, so inadequate. It is the heart that must speak. Our deepest emotions are inarticulate. I would gladly pay tribute to his memory; to his character and manhood, his professional and business ability, his friendships and genial comradeship and to his patriotic loyalty and devotion as evidenced in his early and eager enlistment among those heroic physicians and gracious nurses who in hospital service, went forth upon their helpful ministry of healing. We all join in deepest sympathy with these stricken ones of the family and the inner circle.

We are met to lay their loved one away with military honors. Captain Brittin had so brought himself in touch with life and with his fellows that he could properly be laid to rest by numerous bands of comradeship. But it seems eminently fitting that this honor should be accorded his comrades in arms headed by the Ottis Hospital Unit, in which his name was among the early enlistments. I recall that I chanced to be in his office when he opened the mail containing his commission from President Wilson as First Lieutenant. How proud he was and how proud we all!

Thus are our hearts touched with many emotions this hour. If it be that we must commit his body to the grave how glad we are that we lay him away in his own, his beloved home-land. How glad we were to have him home, to see the familiar form of Dr. Oliver Brittin in our midst again!

And how glad indeed was he! "Everything and everybody looks so good to me" he would exclaim. And how fine he looked in his uniform--so youthful and yet of such military grace and dignity.

He arrived home but last Saturday. Late Saturday night Elmer Primm and myself came to his home to greet him. He was unpacking his army souvenirs gathered in France, Belgium, etc.

Ah! How little can we see ahead!

I would draw two lessons from the circumstances of his sudden death. The one illustrates the kindliness of his nature. Enroute from Springfield, Wednesday about two o'clock, he overtook little Katherine Strode on her way to her grandmothers, Mrs. B. B. Brown. He picked her up and carried her to the grandmother's door and sent a kindly message to Mrs. Brown. Whether it be in France or the familiar by-ways at home, his kindly nature and his love for children would prompt him to do the same.

The other thought is this: How trivial the circumstance in itself that is the final factor in bringing a conjunction of events. Whether he turn at Strode school house corner or pass on west to the Brown homestead and beyond became a matter of life or death. But who would have reckoned it such in advance!

We can but leave this Providence, disturbing, distressing and to us so inscrutable to Him who knoweth the end from the beginning and who doeth all things well. That he should have journeyed so far and through so many dangers and return safely home to meet a death so sudden, so tragic, is strangely sad to us all.

May this Gold Star we must forth hence use for Captain Brittin here be an earnest of the Crown of Gold he shall have given unto him There."

Transcribed by:Bertha Emmett


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