The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Mountain Memories - Claude Rufus Cruise

By Imogene Turman © 1986

Issue: July, 1986

Mountain Memories - Claude Rufus CruiseClaude Rufus CruiseClaude Rufus Cruise, Sr. born August 17, 1893 was the son of Solomon Cruise (born October 19, 1861). His mother was [Salome] Solome "Mollie" Monday, born August 1, 1867. Mollie and Solomon were married December 8, 1885 at Bellspur Primitive Baptist Church by Elder Matt Blancette.

Solomon had a twin brother named David. Their mother dreamed she had twin boys and named them Solomon and David. Her dream came true. Solomon's wife Mollie had a twin sister whose name was Dalphne [Dione].

Solomon and Mollie had five sons and two daughters. Each of their five sons had one son apiece.

Solomon and Mollie's son Claude married Hattie Susan Thompson (called Bessie because she didn't like her real name). She was one of 12 children of Barney and Martha Dalton Thompson and lived at Laurel Fork, Virginia. Bessie and Claude met at Snake Creek Primitive Baptist Church.

Claude was drafted in the army in 1917 to LCO 317, 80th Division. He almost didn't pass the physical as he only weighed 114 pounds. The doctor worried about that, but finally passed him because they said the army would feed him good.

Claude spent a year at Camp Lee, Virginia, and then was sent to France. He was in Argonne Forest where World War I was raging. Claude was a messenger and carried messages to the front three times in 18 days under fire. Shells were firing all around, but he didn't get hit. He had to go by his fellow soldiers with their heads blown open.

Once Claude's company advanced and left him in a dug out. He had no idea which way to go. He saw one soldier sitting there and asked directions. Claude got no answer. The soldier was dead. Claude was lost. There was machine gun fire and shells whizzing over his head. He said he spent most of his time behind a tree. Finally, soldiers came by and directed him to the right company.

Claude was on the Belgium border when a Frenchman arrived with the news that it was Armistice Day. The company stayed in the woods all night, as there was still shooting. Not all knew the war was over. His company walked 218 miles in 12 days and then was transported back to the states in a captured German freighter that made nine knots an hour. It was one happy day when it docked in Newport News, Virginia.

While in France, Claude made friends with a French family. He would go with the women to milk and take his canteen and milk it full and drink. The French family had a black cat that sat by the table and a horse that would stick its head through the window and eat bread from the table.

After Claude got back to the United States after World War I, he and his wife moved to Bluefield, West Virginia. He made $18.00 a month working for the Nashville Coal Company. Later he changed jobs to Appalachian Power Company, where he was employed for 40 years.

His wife Bessie worked for the telephone company. Claude and Bessie's son, Claude Jr., was born and still lives in Bluefield.

Bessie died in 1966. In 1968, Claude remarried. He married Iris Cox, an old girlfriend who he had courted over 50 years before. She had never married. They moved to Hillsville, Virginia where they still live.