Starting with nothing more than a 1922 newspaper article titled War Hero Begs Aid Of Sympathetic In Helping Him To Conquer Habit, it took me quite a while to figure out where Walter Earl Lincecum fit in the family tree. Let me know if you agree with the findings.
Walter’s father was Joseph Shelby Lincecum (d. 1919), son of Leonidas L. Lincecum and Sarah Virginia Lauderdale. Joseph was married three times: First wife was Clara Edith Whitson (1868-1955). They were married in 1891, and divorced in 1896. Second wife was Mamie N. Means (1882-1963). She and Joseph were married in April 1897. Third wife was Adele Plante, and that couple was married about 1906.
Walter’s mother was Mamie N. Means of Pennsylvania. She, too, was married three times. Her marriage to Walter’s father was her first. Her second husband was Andrew Robert Schultz/e, and they were married in 1901. Mamie’s third husband was Charles C. Francen, and they were married before 1918.
Walter was born 17 January 1898 in Los Angeles, California. For the taking of the 1900 U.S. Federal census, Walter was with his mother and her second husband, still in Los Angeles.
In the summer of 1917, an FBI case file denotes Walter was a “slacker.” Quoting from the file:
Report made by Geo. W. Hartz, dated 5 July 1917
At San Francisco, Calif.
While standing at the corner of Fourth & Market Sts., in company with Detectives Curtin and Kalembach, of the San Francisco Police Department, we stopped two men and requested them to show their registration cards. One of these men produced his registration card, but the other, WALTER LINCECUM, was unable to do so. When asked his age, stated that he was nineteen years old, born Jan. 17, 1898, at Los Angeles, on Temple Street. He appears to be about 22. When questioned by Agent, he stated that he had been ‘bobtailed’ out of the army for enlisting under age, having enlisted at a recruiting office below the Chronicle Building on Market Street, February, 1915, under the name of “Walter Schultz” and served eighteen months in F Battery of the 2nd Field Artillery at Camp Stotsenburg, P.I., being dishonorably discharged about August, 1916, for misrepresenting his age.
Agent asked for his discharge papers. LINCECUM stated that his mother had torn these up…LINCECUM stated that his mother could be found at Lageigus, near Santa Barbara, and she had remarried, her name now being MRS.MAMIE FRANZEN; further stated that he had been in San Francisco for six weeks, having tramped here from Los Angeles; that he resides at Hotel Windsor, on Eddy St., and is employed in the candy store at 110 Ellis St.
…LINCECUM was then taken into custody, en route to the Department of Justice…
According to the Washington Passenger and Crew Lists, 1882-1965 database at Ancestry, Walter Lincecum was “employed” on the ship Charles E. Moody, arriving at Port Townsend, Washington 20 October 1917 from Port Honolulu, T.H. [Territory of Hawaii] 4 September 1917. His occupation was Ordinary Seaman, he had been engaged in Honolulu a few days prior to leaving the port, and was “to be paid off” at arrival. It was noted Walter was 19 years of age, and had a “tattoo [of ] old maid back L. hand.”
Walter Earl Lincecum enlisted again in the U.S. Army 16 April 1918. He represented the state of California, and was a private in Battery D, 4th Trench Mortar Battalion, Trench Artillery. A handwritten note on the back of his U.S. Headstone Application reads, “Prior Serv. Enl. 3-13-14, Other than Hon. 6-13-15, Served under the name Schultz, Walter.” This confirms the story he told the law enforcement agents in July 1917.
Walter, this time, was honorably discharged on 8 February 1919. He spent at least some time overseas (France, in particular) during this stint of service.
By January 1920, Walter E. Linsecum and his first wife were living in Los Angeles. There is some ambiguity as to the name of said wife. Her first name is noted as “Helen” in a census record, yet marriage records show Walter married Marty Wells Alfredson July 1919 in Los Angeles. Subsequent research suggests Alfredson was her first married name, and a birth record shows her name to be Marguerite Irene Anthony (1899-1983).
Now we reach the time in Walter’s life when the newspaper article mentioned in the first sentence of this post came to be published. The copy I saw was dated 8 January 1922, and the newspaper was the New Orleans States (Louisiana):
War Hero Begs Aid Of Sympathetic In Helping Him To Conquer Habit, Lost His Wife And Baby; Now Shattered, Can’t Help Self.
When Walter E. Lincecum, 23 years old, left his home in Los Angeles in April, 1918 to fight for Old Glory “over there,” he had just turned 20, and the rose was in his cheeks.
Today, less than four years later, the glow of youth is rapidly leaving his face.
Not entirely bereft of his will power, Walter Lincecum has gone from one to the other, knocking at the doors of city institutions and piteously crying for succor. But in each case the walls of our boasted social temples have been impervious to his wails.
Walter Lincecum was about to give up the struggle to save himself from a living death. The New Orleans States is not a social agency, but it owes a certain duty to humanity. And having eyes to see and ears to hear, it absorbed the story of this young man in order to unfold the remarkable facts to its readers.
…Walter Lincecum is a morphine addict.
There is, of course, nothing remarkable about that. There are in this city alone, scores of such unfortunates. But there are many reasons why one should lend a listening ear to Lincecum’s story.
The average morphine addict has become such through choice or evil association. At least nine of every ten we find in our minds have fallen to unfathomable depths of degradation and a like percentage of these outcasts of society have neither the will power nor the inclination toward regeneration.
Causes Tragedy In Life.
Aside from its frightful ravages, morphine has forced a tragedy in the life of young Lincecum. Through its baneful influences it has caused him to lose his most cherished possessions — his wife and baby boy. With her infant in her arms Mrs. Lincecum a year ago fled from her husband as one might flee from a leper. She left him in Los Angeles and went to her relatives in Seattle.
Left alone, Lincecum’s desire for morphine became greater. Already the drug had sunk its fangs into his system and threatened to enslave him beyond all help. The reader should have seen Lincecum as he told his story. Standing six feet and two inches tall, and weighing 160 pounds, this youthful giant impresses one at once with his sincerity of purpose. Even as he told his story the writer found it hard to realize that the handsome, intelligent figure before him was a prey to morphine.
Less than four years ago Lincecum answered his country’s call and joining a mortar battalion at Fort McArthur, Cal., sailed the same year for Brest, France. He was strong then, of body and mind. And in order that Old Glory might wave on triumphantly, young Lincecum was ready and willing to plunge into the jaws of the enemy’s stronghold.
And now —
What a wonderful — or rather pitiful — transformation. The young giant who scoffed at German bullets and machine gun fire today crouches in terror before a more deadly enemy. He must have between four and six grains [grams?] of morphine daily. And as time goes on he craves for more. Its grip is tightening upon him.
In his home town Lincecum failed to get the medical aid which he craves. He wants to conquer this muscular giant which is gnawing at his vitals. But he is helpless. Lincecum is industrious. He is a book salesman and finds little trouble getting work.
Wants Wife’s Forgiveness
“But what is the use,” he wailed. “Almost every penny I earn goes towards the purchase of that damnable stuff.” And then he told of losing his wife and baby.
“If I have to lay down my life afterwards, I mean first to make a man of myself and to clasp them in my arms once again before I die. I want to hear my wife’s sweet voice breathing into my ear words of forgiveness and I want to feel the chubby arms of my little boy clasped about my neck. I want my wife some day to look again lovingly into my eyes and feel proud of me.” Lincecum stopped abruptly. Tears welled in his eyes. He began again:
“I have come to your city for help. My own could find no way. But again here I was disappointed. For here, too, there seemed no way of helping a creature such as I am. I have gone to the Red Cross, and to other bodies to which I believed I was entitled to go for aid. But there was no way.
“One man advised me to plead guilty to some federal offense that I might be sent to the Atlanta penitentiary, where I could be cured.
(Continued On Page Two)
EX-SOLDIER, DRUG ADDICT, ASKS AID
Sunk To Depths, World War Vet, Wants To Make Comeback
(Continued From Title Page)
I suppose I can be cured there. But God knows a hospital is a more proper place to treat my case. I decided to try again before taking his advice. Another man told me to come here, he said The States would take up my case if it was a worthy one, and so I am here.”
Lincecum does not want any money; he is strong and willing enough to work for it, and when normal, is a good salesman. He does not ask for food or clothing or any of the world’s goods. He asks for medical aid. He wants to crush the monster which is threatening to crush him.
And so —
What Will You Do?
Will New Orleans turn away this big, handsome, intelligent young man, just as his own native city turned him away? Must he leave here perhaps to find help elsewhere?
Is there a physician of prominence in New Orleans who will take this young man’s case and cure him. Lincecum can be cured of the drug evil. The reason he can be cured is because he wants to be cured. He will doubtless make a good patient, for he craves help. His future depends upon it — and the future for him is bright.
Lincecum has no money, but he has a grateful heart, which is crying out for pity. He cannot afford to pay — not just now, at least.
“Often I kneel beside my bed and pray for relief. I pray that the grip of this monster be released from my throat. I seldom sleep because of my nervousness and because of the heart-rending, haunting thought of my wife and baby being away from me,” he said, his voice trembling with emotion.
It was while Lincecum was on his way back from France — still in the service of his country — that he contracted influenza on the steamship Montana. An unscrupulous attendant on board the ship offered him morphine to ease his pain. He took it. How good he felt after that. And when the effect of the first dose died away and the suffering returned, he took more morphine, and again it eased his pain. Not only did it ease his pain but it gave him a soothing feeling. And so he gradually became a slave to the drug. When he landed at Camp Mills, New Jersey, his first thought was to search for morphine. He had no trouble finding it. He secured it again in Los Angeles and he has found no trouble buying it wherever he goes.
Lincecum is waiting and praying for an answer to this appeal.
New Orleans is noted for its hospitality and its charity — and for its eminent medical men.
Is there one among these gentlemen who will give enough of his time that Walter Lincecum might become worthy of that wife and baby and bring to him the joy of hearing the words of forgiveness which he craves so much?…
A doctor did step up to help Walter, as reported in the New Orleans States (Louisiana) 15 January 1922. At that publishing, Walter had been in a self-imposed (with the help of a doctor) detox for five days. He was not in an institution. Title / headlines of article: DOPE FIEND TELLS STRUGGLE TO BREAK CHAINS…Walter Lincecum Makes Brave Fight Against Habit.
On 2 January 1925, Walter E. Lincecum married Jewel M. Quinn in Detroit, Michigan. Marriage records show Walter was a resident of Detroit, and was occupied as a cartoonist. Jewel had been married once before so I’m unsure if Quinn is a maiden or married surname.
Walter was back in California by February 1931. He and wife Jewel made it into the San Francisco Chronicle as victims of an automobile accident:
CRASH INJURES HITCH-HIKERS
Hurled through the windshield of the automobile in which he and his wife had “hitch-hiked” a ride on their way to Los Angeles, a World war veteran was almost scalped and his wife suffered cuts and bruises when two machines collided at El Camino Real and Thirty-ninth avenue, San Mateo, late yesterday.
Walter E. Lincecum, 33, 60 Seventh street; his scalp almost torn off, cuts and bruises to the face, neck and shoulders and possible internal injuries.
Mrs. Jewel Lincecum, 27, 60 Seventh street; cuts and bruises to her face, head, neck and arms.
…The injured were removed to San Mateo Community Hospital.
According to his April 1942 World War II draft card, Walter was then staying at a hotel in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was occupied as a salesman, and his mailing address was given as that of his mother’s in Los Angeles, California.
Walter Earl Lincecum died at Los Angeles County Hospital (California) on 16 June 1953. His death certificate offers he was divorced at the time, and most recently had been occupied as a self-employed cartoonist. Cause of death was Myocardial Infarction; Bronchopneumonia – Primary.
Walter was buried in Valhalla Cemetery at North Hollywood, California.
Walter E. Lincecum
Pvt Btry D 4 TM Bn
World War I
Jan 17, 1898 – June 16, 1953
If I’ve put Walter in his proper place in the family tree, he was my 4th cousin, 4x removed. A couple of things I am most curious about concerning cousin Walter: (1) the name of his little boy, and (2) images of his work as a cartoonist. Do you have any information to share?
Visit Walter Earl Lincecum’s page in the Lincecum Lineage database.