Home for Daniel Brackett Newcomer was Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. However, the maternal side of his family had roots in Maine. HIs grandfather, Nathan Cook Brackett, and his grandmother, Louise Wood Brackett, had attended Bates College in Lewiston when it was still called Maine State Seminary. After serving in the Christian Commission during the civil war, Nathan was employed by the Freedman’s Bureau to set up schools in the Shenandoah Valley. In 1867, he was chosen to be the first President of Storer College in Harper’s Ferry, created to educate freed men, women, and children. Nathan and Louise lived and worked there for the rest of their lives, and raised their children there, including Celeste, their third child and Daniel’s mother. Celeste and her husband, John C. Newcomer, became teachers at Storer. Daniel and his three siblings were primarily raised there. Relatives remained in Maine and the family traveled back frequently. Daniel and his sister, Mary Louise (my grandmother), went to Bates.
After finally obtaining his father’s permission to enlist, Dan planned to meet a friend, Jim, in Washington, enlist there, and return home to Harpers Ferry for a few days. On 11/23 Dan wrote to his father, “Jim telegraphed me to hold my horses. I’m still doing it but if I don’t hear from him tomorrow I’m going to unhitch and start for France via Fort Sam Houston, Jim or no Jim.” At this point Dan was still certain that his path to aviation training in France would be unimpeded.
From the documentation that I have it appears that Dan did enlist on December 6. It’s not clear whether he went home before or after. The next extant communication following the 11/23 letter is a postcard he sent to his father marked December 10, 1917, 9:30 PM, and mailed from Baltimore MD. It says: So far OK. Going to Columbus Ohio next. Will write more from the train. Dan
Another postcard follows from Columbus, dated December 13, again addressed to his father. On the front of the postcard is a picture of Columbus Memorial Hall. It appears that recruits were sent to Columbus from eastern states and from there shipped out to various destinations. The postcard says: Passed finals last night. Leave for Camp Kelly or San Diego soon. I don’t yet know which place it will be. Off for the night and am looking the town over. Love, Dan
Dan definitely left Bates before the end of the semester, but perhaps he did so by taking his exams early, and learned that he passed while traveling. “Passed finals last night” may refer to that, or to some process he was required to undertake in Columbus.
What happened next?