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Navasota's American Legion Post #152

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On March 13, 1958, the Navasota Examiner featured a headline “American Legion Birthday Celebration Planned Here.”

That news article announced that “Members of the J. Willie Leigh American Legion Post #152 would celebrate the 39th anniversary of the birth of the American Legion with a birthday party.”

That party was at the Navasota’s American Legion Post #152 located at 114 South 10th Street. It was the celebration for the American Legion that Congress chartered in 1919 as a patriotic veteran’s organization. The American Legion was created to focus on service to veterans, service members and communities. It evolved from a group of war-weary veterans of World War I into one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the United States. Over the years, the Legion influenced considerable social change and won hundreds of benefits for veterans and their families.

Few local residents remember the American Legion Post in Navasota. Yet, there are at least two local brother and sister residents who well remember this American Legion Post. They are active Two Rivers Heritage Foundation members Latham Boone and his sister Laura Boone Teller. At the time of the 1958 celebration they were children taking “dancing lessons” at the Post. Earlier, in 1945, their father, Latham Boone, Jr., was elected Commander of the Post.

Searching out the history of the Navasota American Legion club came about when Mike Devenport, a Two Rivers Heritage Foundation member, gained access to a two sided medium 4’ x 6’ sign that read, “J. Willie Leigh, American Legion Post” that an antique picker had come by from the Noto Family. The sign is also emblazoned with a Coca Cola logo on the bottom half. The sign now hangs in Devenport’s Whitehall ranch car barn/man cave.

The Navasota Library’s microfilm collection of the Navasota Examiner from as early as the late 1800s has mostly been digitized online by the Portal of Texas website of the North Texas University at Denton. It is through these digitized Examiner newspaper posts we learned more of the Navasota American Legion Post that seems to have organized early in 1921.

The American Legion Post began its existence in Navasota according to The Examiners newspaper issue of Feb. 20, 1921 that reported of the organizing of the Post’s Women’s Auxiliary. Mrs. Maud Leigh of Bryan was elected President; and locally, Mrs. R. D. Harris, Vice-President; Miss Edith Salyer, Recording Secretary; Mrs. J. W. Brosig, Corresponding Secretary, and Mrs. H. M. Timmons, treasurer. Others at the meeting were locals Mrs. Adele Roan, Mrs. Mathias Menger, Miss Mildred Tribble, and Miss Effie Woodward.

The news article continued that a “total of 19 Auxiliary local members were enrolled to ready the club rooms in the Fisher Building at 114 South 10th Street.”

The Post had already elected Dr. R. S. Chappell, Post Commander; Emmett Woodward and Egbert Hooker as Vice Commanders; Charles Leigh, Adjutant; R. W. Barry, Finance Officer; L. G. Andrews, Historian; Rev. H. M. Timmons, Chaplain; and E. C. Gibbs, Sergeant-at-Arms.

A Newspaper.com news article verified that the Post was named in honor of a Bryan resident, J. Willie Leigh, son of Maud Leigh, who served in Company “G,” survived the battles of World War I, but died before reaching home in 1919. Mrs. Leigh, widowed; Willie, age 14, and two younger sons are found in the Bryan 1910 U. S. Census records.

The following winter, on Jan. 9, 1922, the American Legion Post was involved when the body of Private Lee Roy Meekins, who died at Brest, France, Oct. 8, 1918, of pneumonia, arrived at Millican, Texas for burial in the Millican Cemetery with Post Chaplain Timmons officiating.

Examiner news articles related to the Post’s activities extend over the years until at least 1958 when the 39th American Legion anniversary was held. The Women’s Auxiliary was very active during those several decades. To date no additional clippings have been found; however, in the mid-1980s the Navasota Commercial District that was placed on the U. S. Interior Department Register of Historic Places listed the American Legion Club as located at 114 South 10th Street, indicating it still existed at that time.

Written by Betty Dunn, Two Rivers Heritage Foundation. See www.tworiversheritagefoundation.org for more info and membership.