William J. Bland
Major, United States Army
J. Bland was born in West Virginia on 20 April 1887.
During World War I, he served as Major, 356th
Infantry, and was killed-in-action on 12 September 1918 during the St.
Mihiel Attack in France.
Mary Johnson Bland, the daughter of William T. and Agnes Harris Johnson, was born in Kansas City, Missouri. She had a brother, Robert, and a sister, Margaret.
In September of 1917, just prior to World War I, Miss Johnson married William J. Bland. Major Bland was reported missing in action in France in 1918, and after the war, Mrs. Bland searched for and eventually located her husband's body. She also assisted other persons not able to travel to Europe in locating relatives missing during the war. Mary Johnson Bland never remarried.
Mrs. Bland was an avid supporter of the Red Cross. In Kansas City, she taught safety courses and oversaw the preparations of surgical dressings during World War II. Also during the war, she traveled to Europe at her own expense in order to direct the operations of American Red Cross Service Clubs in England and France.
Expressing a lifelong interest in historical
and genealogical matters, Mrs. Bland was very active in several ancestral-related
organizations. The papers consist of a photocopy of a volume compiled by
Mrs. Helen Faye Smither in 1983 entitled, Bits and Pieces from the Mary
Johnson Bland Files on The Cox, Harris and Johnson Families of St. Clair
County, Missouri, 1700-1925. The volume has a general index and an additional
index to blacks mentioned in the materials. Other genealogical materials
and family photographs are also included. Mrs. Bland also researched her
husband's family, which resulted in the volume entitled, On the Bland Side,
1700-1950, which contains compiled letters, memorabilia and notes. The
papers also include a photocopied transcript of the journal Mrs. Bland
kept while in England and France with the Red Cross in 1944 and other materials
concerning her work with the Red Cross. Much of the collection consists
of publications, printed materials, and notes concerning Missouri and Civil
War history. The business records of the Morley and Bland firm's final
years may also be found in the papers.
Posted: 2 November 2007
Photos By M. R. Patterson, October 2007