PRIVATE FIRST CLASS OLIVER R. PURNELL was the son of Oliver and Emily Purnell of 917 North 32nd Street in Camden, New Jersey's Cramer Hill neighborhood. His father had been in Camden as early as 1887, living at 610 Cedar Street in North Camden and working as a machinist, and later as a weaver. By 1920 the elder Purnell was employed as a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service. Oliver Purnell lived with his family, which included two sisters, Leila Ruth and Marion E., and brothers Roland A. and Harold G. Purnell. He enlisted in the United States Army on April 5, 1917 and was sent to Fort Slocum NJ.
Private Purnell was initially assigned to Company I, 30th Infantry Regiment. He was subsequently assigned Company I. 38th Infantry, then to the Machine Gun Company, 23rd Infantry, before receiving his final assignment, Company D, 5th Machine Gun Battalion.
Oliver Purnell died from odemia of the lungs, brought about as the result of a mustard gas attack by the German army during the Battle of Chateau-Thierry. His death occurred on July 5, 1918. Oliver Purnell was survived by his parents siblings, all of the North 32nd Street address.
Private Purnell was brought home after the war. He was buried at Arlington Cemetery in Pennsauken NJ in 1921, where today he lies between his sister, Leila Ruth Purnell, and his parents.
The Corp. Mathews-Purnell Post 518 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars was named in part for him. The post conducted graveside services at his grave on Veterans and Memorial Day for many years.
Camden Courier-Post - January 20, 1928
GOLD STAR MOTHERS TO ATTEND FOREIGN WAR VETERANíS BALL
Gold Star Mothers will be the honor guests at the first annual military
ball of the Camden Post, No. 980, Veterans of Foreign Wars, to be held on
Friday evening, February 3, in the Elks ballroom, Seventh and Cooper
Elaborate plans for this ball are under the chairmanship of John S.
Invitations have been issued for patrons and patronesses and the list
will be announced early next week.
Gold Star Mothers to attend the affair are Mrs. C. Alberger, Mrs. Harriett Ablett, Mrs. Laura Brown. Mrs. A. Crangel, Mrs. A. Cassidey, Mrs. R. Dilks, Mrs. Kate Geist, Mrs. M. Griffen, Mrs. Horace B. Keebler, Mrs. H. Kirk, Mrs. Ross Leahy, Mrs. M. A. Matson, Mrs. M. McGuckin, Mrs. Mary Martin, Mrs. M. Matthews, Mrs. Cooling Pond, Mrs. Oliver Powell*, Mrs. Mary Pennington, Mrs. C. Rolk, Mrs. E. Simons, Mrs. Mary Schucker, Mrs. Margaret Steigerwald, Mrs. Annie Taylor, Mrs. M. Osborn, Mrs. Mary Keegan, Mrs. Anna Kennedy, Mrs. T.C. Young and Mrs. Walters.
Assisting Mr. Pennington in planning this ball are John Rouh, James W. Connor, Charles Bozian, Robert MacMahon, Edward Watson, David Lukoff, Harry Laxton, Edward A. Stark, George Jones, William V. Long, Joseph Keefe, Charles Blank sad Marvel Passwater.
* Newspaper error- Mrs. Oliver Powell was actually Mrs. Oliver Purnell
Camden Courier-Post - February 1, 1938
|Camden Courier-Post - February 2, 1938|
F. W. Post Auxiliary Stages Party for 16th Anniversary
Sixteen years ago the Ladies Auxiliary of the Mathews-Purnell Post, Veterans of Foreign Wars, was instituted. Last night the "coming out party," as the occasion was described by Mrs. Mary W. Kobus, Director of Public Safety, was celebrated by the women and the soldiery of the post.
The affair had a dual importance, as it was not only the birthday of the auxiliary, with guests from the various parts of the State in attendance, but three gold star mothers were guests of honor.
Two of those, gray-haired, solemn and maternal, were mothers of the heroes who died in France and for whom the post was named. With these gold star mothers were the fathers of these same lads.
The parents are Mr. and Mrs. Charles Mathews and Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Purnell, while the fifth member of the group, the third mother who gave up her son, is Mrs. Louise Atger.
Parents Receive Honors
As the names of these parents were called the entire gathering arose and stood in silent tribute.
The event was at O'Donnell's restaurant, Thirty-ninth and Federal streets, and John Mullin, of Atlantic City, past department commander, was toastmaster.
Mullin cited the affair as "the 16th wedding anniversary" of the auxiliary, as the speaker declared the auxiliary had married the post on that day 16 years ago.
Mrs. Kobus was the first speaker.
She is an honorary member of the auxiliary.
"This night marks your entrance into society" said the commissioner, facetiously, "for whenever a girl gets to be 16 she puts on a new dress, comes out and starts to step out. I hope 'that you will always work with the post as harmoniously in the future, as you have done in the past.
"On behalf of the City of Camden I want to congratulate the auxiliary and also to welcome the distinguished guests who are visitors tonight from other parts of our state."
Mrs. Mildred Reed, president of the auxiliary, extended the welcome of the organization and congratulated the committee headed by Mrs. Theresa Mungioli, past president, for the manner in which they had functioned to make the dinner such a success.
Commander Lauds Women
Associated with Mrs. Mungioli on the committee were Mrs. Minnie Martin, Mrs. Anna Jackson, Mrs. Betty Donlon and Mrs. Helen J. Cholister.
Charles Hewitt, commander of the Mathews-Purnell Post, extolled the women for their aid to the men, remarks which were emphasized by Freeholder Raymond G. Price, of the Eleventh ward, also a past commander of the post.
"It is only fair to say," declared Price, "that it has been the women who have kept our post together. There have been times when we were ready to disband, throw up the sponge, but always the women stepped into the breach then, and carried us through the stress, emergency and trouble and kept the post alive."
Mrs. Florence Stark, past national president, who instituted the auxiliary 16 years ago, marveled, she said, at the manner in which the growth and influence of the auxiliary had so far expanded and extended.
Mrs. Stark also told of the meeting of the national defense committee which she had attended in Washington, and informed the members that Congressman Wolverton had delegated Mrs. Stark to present his regrets that official business detained Wolverton at the national capital.
County Organization Praised
Frances Fullam, introduced as a "Hudson County Democrat" recited the experiences she had known as she went on tour of the state with the commander-in-chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars recently.
"I want to say," asserted the, speaker, "that the turnout in Camden county was the best in the staff and that the county has every reason to feel proud of the strength and influence which it exerts in the ladies auxiliary in New Jersey."
Mrs. Hazel Hines, Camden county president of the auxiliary, extended her congratulations as did County Commander Charles Franks and others, including Mrs. Maud Ryan, of Atlantic City, Mrs. Catherine Corbett of Pennsauken, and Mrs. Carrie Bean, senior vice president of the Department of New Jersey.
Mrs. Mungioli was then called upon to congratulate her fellow workers for their unstinted help in making the affair the signal success which every speaker emphasized.
Mrs., Joseph Snyder led the gathering in singing "The Star Spangled Banner,"
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