Monday, August 31, 2015

Walter Kochenower - Matfield Green

Small towns often have large cemeteries. This occurs because people come, people go, graves stay behind, a testimony to the past. 

In the 2010 US Census, Matfield Green in Chase County, Kansas, United States reported a population of 47. Matfield Green is a few miles south of the location where Knute Rockne's plane crashed on March 31, 1931. Otherwise, not much happens in Matfield Green.

There are no local schools, no businesses unless you count the sometimes open historic bank/book store and clearing house which serves as a stopping point for those traveling along Scenic Highway 177 bound for Cottonwood Falls.

The owner of the bank/book store describes Matfield Green as an artist colony and a refuge.  At the northern edge of the town is Matfield Station Lodge which advertises itself as:

a place of serenity for visitors to the Kansas Flint Hills. With exceptional customer service and the adventure of a renovated Santa Fe bunkhouse, Matfield Station is the perfect getaway for those interested in nature, the BNSF railway and the peace of a slower time.

Matfield Green Cemetery

The Matfield Green cemetery lies at the southern entrance to the town next to the South Fork of the Cottonwood River. I stumbled across it in the summer of 2014 just after a wind storm knocked down a 100 year old cedar tree.

Walter A. Kochenower

Kochenower, the name sounds like the more familiar name Eisenhower. And like “Eisenhower” which means “hewer of iron,” “Kochenower” can be translated as “hewer of coke.” Coke is a fuel with few impurities and a high carbon content used in the making of iron and steel. 

There are few clues left behind to tell the story of Walter Kochenower. His grave stone reads: 

Walter Kochenower Kansas 110 Am Tn 35 Div December 3, 1939 

This tells us he served in World War I with the 110th Ammunition Train, in the 35th Division. 

The internet gives us an image of Captain George in uniform at the close of the war. 

Capt. J.E. George, 110th Ammunition Train, 35th Division.
Lerouville, Meuse, France. Nov. 12, 1918

[Black and white photograph. Signal Corps #40873. "Capt. J.E. George, 110th Ammunition Train, 35th Division. Lerouville, Meuse, France. Nov. 12, 1918." Lerouville is close to the little village of Graffigny-Chemin France where my French grandmother lived. - See more at:

The 35th Division went to France in May 1918. It served first, a brigade at a time, in the Vosges between 30 June and 13 August. The whole division served in the Gerardmer sector, Alsace, 14 August to 1 September; Meuse-Argonne, 21 to 30 September; Sommedieu sector, 15 October to 6 November. The 35th Division was part of the US I Corps serving in the St. Mihiel Operation where my grandfather, Captain James Madison Pearson, also served. (22 August - 17 September 1918, three weeks before the war’s end).

For the men of the 110th Ammunition Train, it was they who brought up the ammunition and food to the soldiers and artillery men under shellfire and gas attacks. The duties of a wagoner, which Kochenower was, are described elsewhere on the internet.

The men of the 110th were ninety-two days in quiet sectors and five in active; advanced twelve and one half kilometres against resistance. The Division captured 781 prisoners, and lost 1,067 killed and 6,216 wounded. 

The 35th Division had as one of its many officers, Captain Harry S. Truman, later President of the United States. 

Buried along side Walter is his wife. Kochenower, Lila L. 1890 - 1947, Matfield Green on stone with Walter A. Kochenower, Walter A. 1887 - 1939.