Alexine, my grandmother, sailed for France at the end of December. Cables home say she reached London on January 20th, 1917 and Le Havre on January 30th. Her mother, Lily Von Schmidt Mitchell Tilden kept a scrapbook of war clippings including anything that mentioned her daughters. Clippings from the same period say such things as “Liners held as U-boats lie in Wait”. I can only imagine how she waited for those telegrams.
I hope to find out more about her training in San Francisco before she left. She did first aid training at Lane Hospital. I have not yet been able to find anything out about the “pioneer soldierettes at the Presidio national training school.”
A later post will cover what we have learned about her traveling companion, Dorothy Gerberding.
Newspaper clipping – paper unknown – found in Lily Tilden’s scrapbook of war clippings – transcribed here so it is searchable.
ALAMEDA GIRL IS TO GO TO FRONT
December 29, 1916
Miss Alexine Mitchell Will Leave Tomorrow For Paris to Take Up Her Work
Miss Alexine Mitchell, who with her sister, Miss Marion Mitchell, is widely traveled and who has enjoyed many interesting adventures, will leave tomorrow morning for Paris, to take up the work under Mrs. Lathrop, who is head of the American women in charge of the American Fund for French wounded. Miss Mitchell, who had a cable from Mrs. Lathrop about a month ago, notifying her of a vacancy in the hospital at Toulouse, will go there immediately on her arrival and will later return to headquarters at Paris and from there take part in the distribution of supplies to the different hospital stations with the supply machines, which is the work of the women.
Miss Mitchell said in answer to questions regarding her going: “It is hard work, I know, but I intend to do what I can. I have been intending to go for three months, and have been taking a course in the men’s surgical work at Lane hospital and was rushed through in order to complete the course to leave tomorrow.”
Miss Mitchell will have a companion in Miss Dorothy Gerberding, who will take up the same work, and who is a niece of Mrs. Elizabeth Gerberding of San Francisco, well-known through her efforts for woman’s suffrage.
That Miss Marion Mitchell may develop the same enthusiasm is possible as the interest in the woman’s work in the war countries is great in their home. Miss Mitchell has had interesting experiences with her sister in Alaska, the Hawaiian Islands and the Orient, and both are quick-witted, resourceful and adventurous which are qualities that are much in demand for the work that the Alameda girl has pledged herself to.
Miss Mitchell was one of the pioneer soldierettes at the Presidio national training school, where she was the winner of an honor cockade for excellence in first aid and signaling and for constant attendance for the full six weeks’ term of encampment. Miss Mitchell is the second soldierette to go to the front, the first being Miss Emmeline Childs of Los Angeles, who has joined the Vanderbilt ambulance corps at the French capital.