The Mysteries of a Spanish-American War Uniform

One of the Nebraska History Museum’s wonderful volunteers is re-cataloging and researching the museum’s Spanish-American War uniforms.  This particular private’s uniform has the name Fred Lecron marked several times on its lining.

Our volunteer’s eagle eye spotted something else that is particularly interesting. Inside the sleeves are several ink drawings, including a dog’s head and a landscape scene. (Both photographs are below. Left: A private’s Spanish-American War-era sack coat. Source: C.C. Sheldon, Columbus, Nebraska.)

 

Who was Fred Lecron? Unfortunately, the donation records do not provide us with any information about him.  With a little research, however, we think we’ve found our man.  A Fred Lecron is listed on a Spanish-American War roster for Company A of the Second Nebraska Regiment. The 1940 Who’s Who in Nebraska also lists a Fred S. Lecron, who served in the war. After the war, he attended Wayne State Teachers College and taught at Platte Center High School.  In 1908, he became the Platte County superintendent of schools, and held the position for thirty-four years.  Lecron died in 1944.

The Second Nebraska was sent to Camp Thomas, Georgia, where soldiers were said to have a lot of idle time.  Living conditions were horrible. Mosquitoes were rampant and many suffered from dysentery.   Did Lecron sketch on his sleeves on one of the long, dull days at Camp Thomas?

There was one more mystery that we were able to solve.  In addition to the uniform, the 1955 donation included a few other Spanish-American War-era objects. Unfortunately, no provenance was noted in the records.  Were these other items associated with Fred Lecron, or did the donor collect Spanish-American War materials from a variety of sources? One of the items is a button with a photo of a soldier.  Is this soldier Fred S. Lecron?

A search of our Library/Archives led us to a 1928-29 portrait of Fred S. Lecron, which helped us confirm that he is the soldier on the button. Although we may never know the story behind the drawings on Lecron’s uniform, we now know a little about the man who wore it.  In time, perhaps we’ll uncover more stories about Lecron and his experience with the Second Nebraska.

Do you have your own mysterious object or story to research?  History Nebraska (The Nebraska State Historical Society) has many resources that can help.

–Laura Mooney, Museum Registrar  (Posted September 2010)

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History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
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