Members of the Central Texas Veterans’ Memorial committee have an idea of how to honor Isham A. Smith, the first soldier from Brown County to be killed in World War I.
But the committee wants the participation of the Smith family before doing anything.
Harold Stieber, president of the veterans’ memorial committee, said a woman who identified herself as a Smith cousin previously visited the Isham A. Smith-Scott Brothers American Legion Post 196 hall in Brownwood, but Stieber doesn’t know the woman’s name or how to contact her. He believes she lives in Brown County, and he hopes word will reach her that Stieber wants to speak with her.
The American Legion post in Brownwood is jointly named after Isham and the Scott brothers, two aviators who were killed in World War II.
Smith is buried in the Zephyr Cemetery, and there are two markers at the grave. One is a simple Army marker that identifies Smith as a member of the 26th Infantry. The other marker, a tombstone, bears engravings and an image of the 19-year-old soldier in his Army uniform and helmet.
The veterans’ committee hopes to relocate the tombstone to the Central Texas Veterans’ Memorial, and refurbish and display the marker, Stieber said. Then, the committee would like to have a replica made and installed at the Zephyr Cemetery gravesite.
But the committee won’t do that without the family’s permission, Stieber said. If no one from the family can be located, the next likely option would be to make a replica and install it at the veterans’ memorial, Stieber said.
“He was the first soldier to be killed in World War I, and since the Central Texas Veterans’ Memorial is an official World War I Centennial Memorial, our goal is to possibly do something for Isham Smith,” Stieber said as he stood next to Smith’s grave in the Zephyr Cemetery.
Smith, who was born in 1899 in Comanche County, spent most of his life in Brown County and lived with his parents on a farm near Zephyr. He joined the army and was sent to France, where he died after being gassed by the Germans in the Battle of Cantigny.
“It gives you tingles to think that we’re standing here with history that preceded our birth,” Stieber said. “Our soldiers lived and died for the freedom that we enjoy. So it’s an obligation and actual duty to remember these men so we don’t forget where we came from.
“ … He’s part of Brown County history that should not be forgotten.”
Stieber said Smith's cousin can call him at 325-642-6041.