Looking Back: Several members of the Conn family served in the military

Published 4:00 pm Tuesday, August 17, 2021


Contributing writer

A Lancaster couple had six children who served in the military during World War II.

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James Greenway Conn and his wife, Lucy Kathleen Rucker Conn, had a total of 16 children, according to a grandson Crit Barnes, 87, of Danville.

Crit’s mother, Freda Conn Barnes, was a sister of the brothers and sisters who served in the military. She was already married with a young family when the Conn’s joined the service.

His aunt, Edith Conn was a cadet nurse, but did not actively serve in any branch of the military. She was 24-year-old when she enlisted in January 1944 as a cadet nurse and was trained at the Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati.

Five other children who were on active duty during the war are:

• Flight Leader and second lieutenant Minnie Conn, 43, was in the all-woman unit of the Civil Air Patrol at Lunken Airport in Ohio.

Minnie had been flying for more than eight years and made her first parachute jump in July 1936. She advanced to leadership of her patrol when her superior officer was killed in a crash.

After the war, she kept on flying an airplane. She was a member of the Greater Cincinnati Airmen’s group that flew in competitions throughout in Central Kentucky.

She also was a member of the National Parachute Jumpers Association and Tuscola United Methodist Church.

Born Aug. 23, 1901, in Lancaster, she died Oct. 12, 1999, in Tuscola, Illinois. Minnie was married twice, first to C. Horace Wyeth (1891-1960). Her second husband was Ray Jolley.

• Stella Conn, 21, specialist third class in the Woman’s Appointed Voluntary Emergency Services (WAVES), enlisted in October 1943. She was stationed at the Naval Proving Grounds in Dahlgren, Virginia.

• Emery Coleman Conn, 30, first class signalman in the Navy, enlisted in 1938 and was discharged in 1945. He was trained in Norfolk, Virginia. He was stationed in the South Pacific. He was a Second Class ship mate on the USS Sterett.

• Jonas Conn, 25, enlisted in the Army in 1942. He was a sergeant and stationed in a hospital in Newfoundland.

• Lucy Chestine Conn, served in the Woman’s Army Corps (WAC) for about six years. She enlisted Aug. 12, 1943, and was discharged March 11, 1946. She was a corporal and stationed in Seattle, Washington. She was in training at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.

Children scattered

With the children scattered across the United States and other countries, they kept in contact with their parents through letters.

Letters from their military children were scarce for James and Lucy during combat. Fewer contacts were made after the war became centered in the South Pacific.

Lived in log cabin

Crit Barnes said he remembers his Conn grandparents lived in a log cabin with an attic and a dirt floor on Conn’s Lane, off Richmond Road. The logs were cut on the farm. A grape arbor over the cistern with a screen wire was where the family kept food cool.

He said a dug sulphur well with a pitcher pump supplied their water.

As the number of children grew so did the cabin. Crit said two additional rooms – one for the boys and one for the girls were added.