Many Tuscarawas County young men witnessed the brutality of trench warfare in France during World War One. Many of those suffered debilitating wounds and the less obvious mental illnesses associated with “shell-shock”. Then there were those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and among them, as in the case of this fallen hero, were the men who never came home at all.
Ignatius Mathias Beiter (1825-1877) was a German born stone and marble cutter who settled in Carrol County in the early 1840s. He married another German immigrant named Catherine Hegner (1823-1889) in 1845 and the couple settled down to raise their family in Malvern, Ohio. The couple would ultimately have 16 children before Ignatius’ death in 1877. Before his death, Ignatius had trained his eldest sons in the trade of stone cutting and they, in turn, trained the younger sons after their father’s death.
One of those young sons, Daniel Beiter (1869-1945), took those stone cutting skills to Adams Township, Coshocton County where he opened his own tombstone business. Daniel married Sophia Stinebaugh (1869-1927) in 1888 in Coshocton County and started their own family with the birth of their first son, Otto Beiter (1889-1951). More sons followed including the subject of this profile, Darrel Beiter (1896-1918). Daniel’s sons also learned the tombstone trade from their father and the family moved to Newcomerstown, Tuscarawas County by April 1910 when the family appears on the census record for that area.
Daniel retired and turned over the marble and tombstone business to his two eldest sons in 1913 and they operated the business as Beiter Brothers Memorial Studios while Darrell was attending school. A few years later, when he registered for the draft in June 1917, Darrell was working at the large James B. Clow & Sons factory that dominated the Newcomerstown landscape. A month after his draft registration Darrell married Thelma Lewis (1898-1978), the daughter of a coworker at the Clow factory.
The newlyweds had a few months of wedded bliss before Darrell was called up to serve. Darrell left for training camp in April 1918 and was subsequently assigned to Company F, of the 330th Infantry Regiment. The 330th was sent to New York for transportation to Europe and, on June 12, 1918 his company boarded the RMS Carpathia (of Titanic fame) for the transatlantic voyage. The Carpathia was sunk by a U-Boat a month later on its return trip to the United States.
Shortly after his arrival in France, Darrell Beiter was assigned to Company F, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. Darrell had just missed the regiment’s first major engagement, a three-day long offensive near Soissons in late July 1918. He did not have to wait long though before he saw combat when he participated in the the offensive to reduce the German’s St. Mihiel salient in September 1918. Darrell’s last taste of combat occurred when the regiment was tasked with liberating the village of Fléville in the Argonne forest. This effort began on October 4, 1918 and Private Beiter was killed on that first day, though he was originally listed as missing in action.
The family was notified of Private Beiter’s status shortly after the battle, and a few months later a fellow soldier would visit and claim that he had seen Darrell at a field hospital the day he was killed. His body, unfortunately, was never recovered. Perhaps he could not be identified, or perhaps the nature of his wounds made it impossible to locate him. His young wife would remarry and raise her own family. Today Darrell O. Beiter is memorialized in the East State Street Cemetery in Newcomerstown and the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post carries his name.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2021.