Realizing that today is Veteran’s Day and the 100 year anniversary of the signing of the Armistice to end World War I, I was inspired to do a little research on the role played by women in the “Great War.” A quick online search took me to Wikipedia where I read that World War I marked the first war in which American women were allowed to enlist in the armed forces. The U.S. Navy was the first branch to allow women into its ranks, enlisting over 11,000 women, designated as “Yeomen (F)” to serve stateside in shore billets and release sailors for sea duty. The women were colloquially known as “yeomanettes.” Don’t you just love/hate how the female version of so many things become “etted?” I came across a reference yesterday to a “judgette.” That is a whole other subject for discussion, but back to women serving during World War I.
Searching “yeomanette” in the California Digital Newspaper Collection I discovered from the Healdsburg Enterprise that on July 28, 1919, “Miss Haytivick Smith, a yeomanette in the navy, with the rank of second-class petty officer, returned to her station after a pleasant ten days furlough with her parents in the Mill Creek section.”
So, of course, I wanted to know more about Miss Smith whose full name was Haytivick Viola Smith. Using resources at my fingertips such as Ancestry.com and Newspapers.com, I learned that Miss Smith was born on July 16, 1899 – most likely in Healdsburg since her father, William Earheart Smith, was living in Healdsburg at the time he registered to vote in 1898. Her mother was Mae Susan Smith (nee Hays). She had a sister and brother: Genevieve and Leland. According to a post on Find A Grave for Genevieve Smith Sotter (1903-1982), Leland was born in 1913 and adopted. He had quite a reputation as an athlete while living in Healdsburg and later attending the Santa Rosa Junior College. His nickname was “Clipper.”
On July 11, 1918, Haytivick Smith enlisted in the United States Navy. Records from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs give two release dates: August 6, 1919, and July 2, 1920. According to her passport application, Miss Smith listed her occupation as a stenographer and gave her residence as Healdsburg in 1922. She required a passport for travel to Japan, China, and Korea where she traveled as a tourist. Her friend, a UCLA graduate, teacher, and resident of Long Beach, Lillian Tremearne Stevens, swore to Haytivick’s identity on the passport application. Rabbit hole warning! I started researching Lillian Tremearne Stevens thinking I might learn more about Haytivick. I didn’t discover anything about Miss Smith, but did find this through a post on Ancestry.com. Too good not to include:
“Lillian T. Stevens Little, born Mar 21, 1896, in Braddock, PA, spent the first nine years in mining camps from Alaska to Mexico, since her father was a mine inspector. In 1918 she graduated from UCLA Art Department, teaching in Hawaii from 1918-1922. In 1923 she began teaching in Los Angeles and for five summer sessions at NY University, Arts and Crafts and Theater Arts in Physical Education Department for Camp Directors. In September 1942 she volunteered to teach hospital volunteers for the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C., then trained at Fort Belvoir and Keesler Air Force Base before being assigned overseas duty. Their group left in January 1943 from San Francisco on the New Mauretania arriving in Bombay on Feb 22. From Karachi for assignments and by train to Gaya, military transport to Ramgarh, later on to organize the American Red Cross program at a new base at Chakulia where a craft and recreation center was set up and with the help of a doctor they installed and outfitted a miniature golf course with salvage materials they weren’t allowed to record due to security. When finished she was transferred to American Red Cross Headquarters in Calcutta to organize the craft program, a job that was most fulfilling and gave her much travel time. The craft shop set up in Calcutta General Hospital was very rewarding as it served 70-80 men a day.
In March 1945 she returned to Washington, D. C. via CA and served the balance of her time at Fort Ord, CA as a craft shop teacher. In the fall she resumed her work as Art Supervisor and School Camp Director in the Los Angeles County Schools retiring in 1952.
In 1951 she married George A. Little and returned to mining in AZ. Lillian became a widow in 1983, and she is living in Highland Park, Los Angeles on top of Mt. Washington with an overall view of the Los Angeles basin and the San Gabriel Mountains.” Source: Where I Came In—China, India” Vol 2 by Robert James Kadel (posted on Ancestry.com by Huddlemuth, May 12, 2012).
Perhaps it was Miss Stevens who inspired Haytivick Smith to move to Southern California where she spent the rest of her life working for the Federal Communications Commission in Los Angeles. She began employment with the Commission in 1934 when it was established. She died on December 6, 1979, and is buried at the Riverside National Cemetery also known as the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery.
So this is the easy part of the research. Should I wish to learn more about Haytivick Viola Smith, I’ll need to follow up with the Healdsburg Museum to see if they have any additional information. After that, checking resources available through the Department of Veterans, Los Angeles Public Library and elsewhere including tracing any living relatives would be necessary. For now, I’m satisfied to have expanded my mind ever so slightly on the subject of one Sonoma County woman who served her country 100 years ago – not to mention being introduced to Lillian Tremearne Stevens!