Many Neshobians, including several local football athletes, joined the call to duty after the Pearl Harbor attack.
The largest was the 33-year-old, six feet one inch, 235 pound former All-American lineman at the University of Mississippi, Sterling William "Bill" Richardson. Walker Will "Sonny" Jones, Jr. played at Mississippi State College, and later starred as a 195-pound running back at the University of Wyoming.
The family of Francis and Wilhemia Rush Daly contributed three sons to the war effort, two of whom played at Mississippi State, John William "Red" Daly and James Paul Daly.
The youngest of the trio, Edmond Jerome "Jerry" Daly, lettered at the University of Mississippi. J. T. "Blondie" Black and Lamar Blount starred on a Mississippi State team that played in San Francisco, Calif., the day before the Pearl Harbor assault.
First Sergeant Joe Murphy, son of Mrs. Anna J. Murphy of Neshoba County, stationed at Camp Roberts, Calif., traveled to San Francisco for that memorable clash on Dec. 6, 1941.
Sergeant Murphy wrote to Editor Robin Weaver of The Neshoba Democrat about that news-making weekend: "Last Saturday afternoon I had the privilege of watching one of the best football games I have witnessed this year, and I have seen all the top teams on the west coast perform, including Stanford, Santa Clara, California, USC, and also Duquesne and St. Mary's.
"I think everyone agrees that Mississippi State put on one of the best exhibitions seen in Kezar Stadium in San Francisco this year against U.S.F. [University of San Francisco].
"All the sports writers rate them very highly in all the papers that I have seen. Everyone I talked to or heard talk about the game, even two or three of the USF players, agree that J. T. Black is the best running back they have seen perform in these parts... J. T. played a whale of a game, making several runs for good gains.
"One for 83 yards was a touchdown, was the best run of the game. I saw J. T. and Lamar Blount for a few minutes Saturday morning, just long enough to say hello. I didn't get to see them after the game.
"I intended to see them Sunday morning, but the radio got me out of the bed announcing the fact that Japan had attacked Hawaii, and shortly afterwards came the call for all troops to return to their posts. So I had to leave San Francisco in rather a hurry."
Two Philadelphia High School sensations, Hairston Cumberland, a 170-pound, triple-threat tailback, and his pass catching end, O.L. Partridge, entered the service in 1944, after playing in a football game in early December 1943 against a team from Picayune, Miss., at Ray Stadium, Meridian, Miss.
Cumberland carried the moniker "Hoss" and Partridge, "Bull."
The game raised funds for the Lauderdale County War Chest Fund.
Both of these young high school stars, Hoss and Bull, paid the ultimate price for the freedom of their country.
Young Cumberland served with the 116th Regimental Combat Team, 29th Infantry "Blue and Gray" Division, falling in Holland on Oct. 7, 1944.
His remains rest in peace at the United States Military Cemetery at Henri-Chapelle, Belgium.
Eighteen-year-old Partridge, a paratrooper, fought with the 101st Airborne Division and was killed during the Battle of the Bulge, Bastogne, Belgium, on Jan. 3, 1945.
Partridge's body was returned to his homeland, and lies interred in the family plot, Block 2, Section D, of the Cedar Lawn Cemetery in Philadelphia, Miss.
A Belgian family remembered Cumberland: "Hairston... He is very great... his... death for our liberation, we will never forget our American soldier liberators."
Partridge's high school friends wrote: "was respected and loved by all his classmates."
Civil War Veterans
Ferguson, William H.* - Private; enlisted April 24, 1861 at Philadelphia, Mississippi, in Company D; age twenty-three; farmer; wounded at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863; captured at Heth's division hospital on Samuel Lohr's farm on the Chambersburg Pike, July 5, 1863; hospitalized at the U.S.A. DeCamp General Hospital, David's Island, New York Harbor; paroled and exchanged at Camp Lee, near Richmond, Virginia, August 28, 1863; wounded in the right leg just above the ankle and captured again at the Wilderness, May 5, 1864; hospitalized at a field hospital, May 12, 1864; admitted to the U.S.A. Sickel Barracks General Hospital at Alexandria, Virginia, May 27, 1864; transferred with a gunshot wound ("front of fibula from a conical missile"), to the U.S.A. Lincoln General Hospital, Washington, D.C., June 1, 1864; forwarded to Elmira, New York, from the Old Capitol Prison at Washington, D.C., July 23, 1864; paroled at Elmira, October 11, 1864; exchanged at Point Lookout, Maryland, October 21, 1864.
World War II Veterans
Ferguson, Cobert Arthur* -- Private to Staff Sergeant; enlisted on November 7, 1941, at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, in the United States Army; age twenty-three; truck driver; served and trained in the American Theatre of Operations at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, December 1941; stationed at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, and at Fort Lewis, Washington; served also in the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre of Operations as a motor sergeant with Headquarters Battery of the 165th Field Artillery Battalion, July 1942 to May 1944 and July 1945 to November 1945; stationed also in the Aleutian Islands, Territory of Alaska, late 1942 to May 1944, and at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, July 1944; stationed too at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to December 1944, and at Camp Hood, Texas, January 1945; participated in the campaigns in the Aleutians Islands and the Philippine Islands; awarded the American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Philippine Islands Liberation Medal and the World War II Victory Medal; discharged at Camp Shelby, December 28, 1945, demobilization; described as five feet ten and one-half inches tall, weighing 168 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.
*Relationship, if any, is not known.
Philadelphia-Neshoba County Historical Museum Steven H. Stubbs, Curator 303 Water Avenue South Philadelphia, Mississippi 39350 (601) 656-1284 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Monday thru Friday