In honor of Veteran’s Day, I’d like to share that my great-aunt Marjorie Gould joined the Land Army during World War I. This was an effort by young educated women to fill in on the farms while the men who normally worked in agriculture went off to war.
“Miss Marjorie Gould of Avenue C and Thirty-second Street is one of the Land Army Units made up of Bayonne girls and is spending several weeks at Bedford Farms, N.Y.” — Jersey Journal, Sept. 24, 1918
Groups of young women, mostly students and recent college graduates, worked at the Women’s Agricultural Camp in Bedford, where they wore blue shirts, overalls, and straw hats and planted the fields of Northern Westchester, as Elaine Weiss describes in her book Fruits of Victory. Many were also suffragettes.
Marjorie had graduated from Syracuse University in 1917, and was active in the Red Cross, the Methodist Church, the YMCA, and other organizations in Bayonne, where she grew up. Farming for the war effort must have been one more good cause and also an adventure for her. Her brother, Russell, was serving in the Army in France. Unfortunately, it is not known whether Marjorie’s stint on the farm caused her to fall victim to the flu pandemic that had swept the country and had hit Bayonne hard that fall. Or if she had been volunteering with flu victims in Bayonne in the meantime. However she caught the deadly virus, Marjorie died suddenly, not a month later, on Oct. 22.