WNC History Timeline

Please send corrections.
www.childers-shepherd.org, 28 Dec 2008
                                            James Edmund Childers

                                     12 November 1918 – 13 October 2000

Edmund was the youngest and tallest of all Thomas and Bertha Childers’s offspring. Although he was
the “baby” he had to share the favored spot with his nephew Edward (Ted) Roberson, who was
orphaned when his mother Edna Childers Roberson died during the influenza epidemic of 1918. Ted
was taken in by his grandparents to raise as their own, alongside baby Edmund who was nearly the
same age. See
this photo of Bertha Childers holding grandson Ted (left) and son Edmund (right).

Edmund Childers served in the infantry during World War II and was assigned to the now famous
10th Mountain Division, which specialized in mountain and winter warfare. Before being sent to
Europe, he trained in Colorado, at Camp Hale, from where he sent postcards to his relatives back in
western North Carolina.

In Europe, the 10th Mountain Division served in Italy, and Edmund was assigned to Battery C of the
604th Field Artillery battalion, which was one of three “pack” battalions. Gerald Childers remembers
Uncle Ed telling how his unit used pack mules to transport artillery through rough mountain terrain,
and how, once when he was driving a jeep for an officer, they pulled up to an old farm house which
they were using as field headquarters. They got out of the jeep and went inside the house. Only a
moment later, a German artillery round hit the jeep and completely destroyed it.

Here is a summary of the Italy operation, found in Wikipedia.

“The unit saw its first actual combat in Italy. Elements of the division began arriving in Italy in late
December of 1944, and after a brief training period entered combat, January 8, 1945, near
Cutigliano and Orsigna. Preliminary defensive actions were followed on February 19, 1945, by a
concerted attack on the Silla-Mount Belvedere sector, and the peak was cleared after several days
of heavy fighting. In early March the division fought its way north of Canolle, taking several more
peaks, and moving to within 15 miles of Bologna. Maintaining defensive positions for the next three
weeks, the division jumped off again in April, captured Mongiorgio, April 20, and entered the Po
Valley, seizing the strategic points Pradalbino and Bomporto. The 10th crossed the Po River on April
23, reaching Verona April 25, and ran into heavy opposition at Torbole and Nago. After an
amphibious crossing of Lake Garda, it secured Gargnano and Porto di Tremosine, April 30, as
German resistance in Italy ended. After the German surrender in Italy, May 2, 1945, the division went
on security duty, receiving the surrender of various German units and screening the areas of
occupation.”
-         from http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/U.S._10th_Mountain_Division

After the war, Edmund took a job at Beacon Blanket Company, where my father Roy was employed,
in Swannanoa, NC, and married Mary Shope, daughter of our next-door neighbors on Bee Tree
Road, Swannanoa. Like Ed, Mary was tall and good-looking, so they were a handsome couple. The
newlyweds settled into a charming cottage at the Singing Waters settlement on the mountain across
Bee Tree Creek from us. Their little house sat in a shady niche with laurel thickets above it and the
music of the creek below, and there was a cuckoo clock on the wall in the living room.

They spoiled us small nephews quite thoroughly. Once, they packed us into the back of their tiny red
Crosley stationwagon (with real wood paneling along the body) and took us on a happy excursion to
Chimney Rock, including stops for plenty of candy and ice cream.

Years later, Edmund and Mary parted ways and divorced, and both eventually remarried.

Even as age advanced, Edmund remained a cheerful and energetic character. In old age, after
retirement and the death of his second wife, he lived in a house trailer further up on Bee Tree Road.
Those who visited him there remarked on his ingenious and delightful arrangement of a model train
which circled his living room on a shelf high up above the windows and doors.

After Edmund died and his estate was settled, a host of nieces, nephews, or their descendants were
surprised to receive bequests of money varying from hundreds to a thousand or so dollars each.
However pleasant that surprise, many of us probably wished that he had used that money for his own
comfort and pleasure while he lived. That he saved money, even with his limited means, and, in
effect, gave to us after he was gone, was a perfect reminder of the kind of character which was built
in that humble home in Couches Creek. We honor his memory.

Dwight Childers, 30 August 2006