Do you ever feel like you are ‘going down a rabbit hole’ with your research? That’s what I feel like I’m doing with some of my research into some of the Purple Heart recipients in Nemaha County, Kansas. In this case, my ‘rabbit hole’ is not a Purple Heart recipient. Since 1946, Dorothy Swart Tatum has been honored as someone who gave her life serving her country.
My research started with the Seneca, Kansas newspapers. Unfortunately, her obituary is almost illegible in the digital copy of the newspaper. Thus, I turned to Newspapers.com where I found quite a few articles in Texas newspapers about Dorothy Swart. While only spanning a few years, Dorothy’s story is very interesting.
While I could have stopped with the Texas articles found on Newspapers.com, I wanted to learn more about Dorothy Swart and her service in the Women’s Army Air Corps.
Because the Texas newspapers were so informative, I looked to see what else I could find in newspapers.
- Seneca newspapers – digitized by the Seneca Free Public Library
- Sabetha Herald – digitized by the Mary Cotton Public Library (Sabetha, KS)
- Newspaper Archive
My original search was for the term, ‘Dorothy Swart’. While Dorothy was buried in Nemaha county, Kansas where her grandparents lived, her parents had moved to Oakley, Kansas. Thus, I used Kenneth Marks list of Kansas Online Historical Newspapers to find the Oakley papers digitized by the Oakley Public Library. Searching those papers added even more to Dorothy’s story.
Since Dorothy was married to John Tatum while serving in England, my husband suggested searching for his name, “John Tatum”. This search turned up articles in Mississippi papers which added more to Dorothy’s story, it also provided background about John Tatum. This background helps explain why John was working in England as a civilian during the war.
See the August 29th post for the Dorothy Swart Tatum findings.
While some of the news articles are repeated in multiple papers, this trek down a ‘rabbit hole’ has shown the benefits of researching all available newspapers.
John Tatum findings in Mississippi
John Merl Tatum Graduates from Vanderbilt
John Merl Tatum is home from Vanderbilt university and with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Frank M. Tatum, 1002 West Pine street. He received his degree of Bachelor of Engineering from the school of engineering last week. This was the university’s sixty-seventh commencement program.
John Merl was president of teh Ace club, a member of the Owl club, and represented his social fraternity, Kappa Sigma on the Pan Hellenic Council; he was grand master of the Kappa Sigma fraternity during his senior year at the University; president of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers and is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. During his senior year, he was student instructor of electrical engineers.
Tatum was graduated from Hattiesburg high school.
Hattiesburg American (Hattiesburg, Mississippi) – 16 Jun 1942, page 5
Seen and Heard
John Tatum, who is employed in special work in England, is spending a few days with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. F. M. Tatum, 1002 west Pine street.
Hattiesburg American – 28 May 1945, page 10
Tatum-Swart Wedding takes Place in England
WAC Captain Dorothy L. Swart and John M. Tatum were married in High Wycomb, Bucks county, England at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 10 at the Church of England on the Thames. Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, officers and enlisted men of the VIII Air force attended.
The bride is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George F. Swart of Oakley, Kan., and Mr. Tatum is the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank M. Tatum of Hattiesburg.
They spent their honeymoon at the Mayfair in Berkeley Square, London.
Hattiesburg American – 24 May 1945, page 4
Mrs. John Tatum Dies in New York
Mrs. John Merl Tatum, captain in the Women’s Army corps, died Tuesday afternoon at the Mitchell Field hospital, Mitchell field, Long Island, New York, according to word received here by members of the Tatum family.
Frank Tatum, father of John Merl, was at Mitchell Field when Mrs. Tatum died. Mrs. Frank Tatum and Frank, jr., will leave Hattiesburg Friday morning for Oneida, Kansas, where the funeral rites will be conducted Sunday afternoon.
The former Dorothy Lucile Swart, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George M. swart, of Oakley, Kansas. Mrs. Tatum was one of the first WACs to be assigned to duty in the ETO, in February, 1943. She was attached to the Eighth Air Force.
She met her future husband in England when she was assigned to Special Service with the Eighth Air Force. They were married at the All Saints’ Parish church, High Wycomb, Buckinghamshire, England, on May 10, 1945.
Hattiesburg American – 13 Feb 1946, page 14