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9-23-05 Josiah Daniell, Farm Boy & WW I Hero of Oconee County, Georgia

The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Josiah Daniel, Sergeant, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action south of Soissons, France, July 15, 1918. Sergeant Daniel voluntarily and alone advanced against a machine- gun and captured the gun and its crew.

General Orders No. 15, W.D., 1919
Home Town: Watkinsville, GA



September 17, 2005


Josiah Daniell, Farm Boy & WW I Hero of Oconee County, Georgia


By Wendell T. Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.


Growing up in Oconee County, Georgia, in the 1940’s and 1950’s, I was around a lot of family and relatives.  All of my ancestors had many children resulting in my having a lot of cousins and Uncles and Aunts.  I grew up on the Daniell-Dawson Homeplace on Cliff Dawson Road.  Family was very important at that time in Oconee County and in Georgia.

 7-15-04 The Dawson “Homeplace” on Cliff Dawson Road- Oconee County—PART 1; 7-19-04 More History of Dawson Homeplace in Oconee County, Georgia ;



 Daniell-Dawson Homeplace on Cliff Dawson Rd, Oconee County



Josiah Daniell, 2nd from left and Army Friends


Josiah & Hassie Daniell at Hog Mountain Road School Ca 1895

Josiah, Back Row, 2nd from Left; Hassie, back row, 4th from right


I had relatives who served in W W II, including a second cousin, Vance Daniell, who died in the War.  My great-uncle, Josiah Daniell, served in W W I.   I was around him a lot during my teen years and learned a lot of “war stories” and not a little mischief from Uncle Josiah.    One particular incident involved his influence on me and then on some fellow seventh graders in writing an anonymous note to our teacher.  That story did not turn out as we thought it would.  The note did not remain anonymous.


During much of my younger life, I saw Uncle Josiah only on visits.  For years, he was a night guard at the local Convict Camp (Frank Norris Building) on Georgia Highway 53 at Watkinsville. (He and Frank Norris were First Cousins).  That is where he got his name “Boss Joe”.    Many people, including family, called him that. 


After a fire burned the camp in 1950, he came to live in the Daniell-Dawson Home House with Mama Hassie and Aunt Becky and Uncle Milton.  Daddy Cliff had died in May 9, 1949.   When Milton died suddenly with a heart attack in December 1950, Boss Joe stayed on with Mama Hassie, Aunt Becky and Connie and became a permanent fixture at my grandmother’s house.  It was then that I saw him almost daily.  We did farm chores together.  Mama Hassie died March 8, 1955, and he lived on with Aunt Becky and Connie until his death.  His will left his estate to Becky and Connie.



 Christmas Day 1954- Boss Joe, Terry, Hassie, Wendell, Rayford, Connie


Uncle Josiah worked on the farm and spent many hours with us boys.   We liked him.  We knew he was a tough person who had a long history in the Army and in WW I.  We also heard sketchy stories about a short-lived marriage and an infant daughter that he lost track of.  Conduct of his wife broke up the marriage and he joined the Army and left Watkinsville.   He never heard from either the wife or daughter again.  The day the men were digging Boss Joe’s grave at Union Church in February 1957, Uncle DeWitt Daniell (father of Vance  and brother to Hassie Dawson and Josiah) said he understood the wife and daughter were dead and left no descendants.


While we worked on the farm, we heard stories about his experiences in the Army.  He told us about some nationalities eating horsemeat, snakes and rats.   I remember he said the Turks were tough soldiers.  He also told us about combat and the day he “cleaned out” a German Machine Gun Crew in France.


Boss Joe said he killed two German soldiers with his rifle, two with his bayonet and used the rifle stock to kill the other two.  He was later injured by mustard gas used by the Germans.   For his heroism, he received the Distinguished Service Cross and at least one Purple Heart. 


Boss Joe or Uncle Josiah was fun to be around while growing up.  We loved him and the entire Dawson Family mourned his death on Cliff Dawson Road on February 8, 1957.  He is buried at Union Church Cemetery beside my father and mother.  My brother, James Terry Dawson, who had some of Josiah’s personality traits, is also buried in that square which is at the foot of the graves of Mama Hassie and Daddy Cliff Dawson.




DAWSON Squares at Union Christian Church Cemetery Josiah on Left End


 Later in life, I came to appreciate the courage and sacrifice Boss Joe made as a soldier.  When he died, The Oconee Enterprise carried a story about his War experiences.  Boss Joe spent much time in Watkinsville where he had told some folks about it.  One person remembered his saying was that the fighting was fierce at times- blood was all over the ground and boots were wet with it.  Many of his comrades were killed during combat.  I also learned the importance of the Border Patrols on the Mexican Border prior to W W I.



 Boss Joe and Nephew, Gunter Daniell, in Watkinsville,




Josiah Daniel at Durham’s Café on Main St, Watkinsville, GA


Ca 1936

Boss Joe Holding Wilma Weatherford Griffeth, Daughter of Elmer Weatherford, Watkinsville Mayor,Granddaugher of Dave Weatherford, then Oconee Commission Chair; and Cousin of Dawson Family -


In time, I learned that he served under General Black Jack Pershing who awarded him the Distinguished Cross.  One year while I was Commission Chairman, we held a Memorial Day service at Union Church Cemetery and I read his service record to the audience.  I have always had a strong sense of pride in this complex man and I held much affection for him.


He was one person who left a real mark in this world.  I wanted to have his story told.  He deserved more out of life.   His War Veteran History and Citation appear below.


ALSO:  4-6-02 The Murder of Pappy Daniell, My Great-Grandfather of Oconee County




Distinguished Service Cross  WW I Recipients





Sergeant, U.S. Army
Company E, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division, A.E.F.
Date of Action: July 18, 1918
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Josiah Daniel, Sergeant, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action south of Soissons, France, July 15, 1918. Sergeant Daniel voluntarily and alone advanced against a machine- gun and captured the gun and its crew.
General Orders No. 15, W.D., 1919
Home Town: Watkinsville, GA




Of Oconee County, Georgia


War Veteran History


(From Informally Typed Papers Found in Josiah Daniell’s Personal Possessions)


Josiah Daniell was born October 7, 1885, in the Watkinsville District (221st GMD) in Oconee County at the Old Daniell Place, about 2 ½ miles northwest of Watkinsville, Georgia.  He was the son of Young Henderson Daniell and Susan Jane Robison Daniell, daughter of John and Becky Robison.


Daniell enlisted at Columbus, Ohio, on December 8, 1912 and was assigned to Co. E. 16th Infantry at Presidio, CA.  Daniell remained there from January 13, 1913, until April 14, 1913, when he was sent to El Paso, Texas, on the Mexican Border.  Daniell left there March 15, 1916, and into Mexico at Elviro, Antonio.  Daniell crossed back into the States on February 5, 1917, at Columbus, New Mexico, and then went to El Paso until June 1917.  He then packed and loaded on a train for Hoboken, N. J. 


Daniell sailed from Hoboken June 14, 1917, on the U.S. Washington for France.  Daniell landed at St. Nazier, France on June 26, 1917, and from there to Paris on July 4.  (Paraded in Paris on this date) and left Paris July 5, 1917, for Garnecourt (?) until November 1917 and then to Bothmon (?) in Alsace-Lorraine where Daniell entered Front Lines where they were trenched for ten days.  Here the Germans made a raid on this sector and captured 18 men out of Co. F, 16th Infantry (Americans holding the line here).  Company F was the only company that has actually entered the trenches.   Company E was just back of Company F and was going in when the raid was made and they helped to defend Company F.  Three men of Company F were killed in this skirmish.  (The first American Soldiers killed in action here.  (Sergeant Warbuth of S.C. was among the captured).


From here, Daniell was sent to Moinecourt for ten days rest.  From there Daniell went to the Toule Sector where he stayed until May 26, 1918.  (Few raids and artillery here- the Germans made a raid on the mess detail and tried to take the food but were repelled).  From here, Daniell went to Cantina sometime in May 1918 (28,29,30) to participate in drive by Americans to take Town of Cantina.  Company E was not in this drive but was held in reserve to the 18th regiment.  Daniell’s Company was on the Paris- Soissons Road on July 16, when the First Division went into action.  They took the double track railroad and ran the Germans across the river.  (In this drive Company E sent 265 men into action and only twenty returned uninjured- all other companies lost heavily)


It was here, near the double track railroad, that Sergeant Daniell’s Company was being heavily shelled by a machine gun which was firing on the way towards where the drive was headed.  Lieutenant Martin called for volunteers to go get the machine gun.  Sergeant Daniell volunteered first and along with him was Sergeant Harrison, Private Hawkins from Tennessee, Private Martin of Kentucky, Private Winquist, Private Weiney from Montana, Bullock from Indiana.  Bullock, Martin, Hawkins and Winquist were killed within a few minutes after the party started in the direction of the machine gun.  Only Daniell and Harrison reaching the machine gun which was located in a dug-out at the end of a trench. 


Harrison was shot 17 times and went down but lived.  Only Daniell was left to combat the machine gun crew.  Daniell killed two men operating the gun and threw the gun off in order that his Company could advance.  Daniell then got in the trench and killed four more as they were trying to make it to him.  His company came up and Daniell rejoined his company with the machine gun captured.  For this action, Daniell was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by General Pershing on September 6, 1918.


From here, Daniell went to St. Mihiel where his Company took part in the St. Mihiel drive.  They faced no hard fighting here.  They did lose five men in two days of fighting from St. Mihiel to Mt Vernes – hard fighting here and lost good number of men.  Daniell then went to Verdun where he remained until Armistice.  


Daniell was gassed as his company went into the Argonne on October 7, 1918.  Daniell was then sent back to hospital in Southern France where he stayed until December 17, 1918, when he sailed from Lamonnes to Brest.  He landed at New Port News, VA, on New Years Day, 1919. He was in the VA Hospital at New Port News until January 15, 1919.  Then Daniell went to Fort McPherson in Atlanta until March 15, 1919, then to Camp Gordon in a casualty company.  On May 6, 1919, went from Casualty Company to 11th Infantry, Company E.  Sergeant Daniell was discharged on October 15, 1920.





World War I Battles


St Mihiel












An Internet History of The Great War