During World War One there were numerous young men from Tuscarawas County who found themselves fighting in Europe. The battlefields of Europe, however, were not the only place where American soldiers served and lost their lives.
The Jentes family began in Tuscarawas County with the arrival of German immigrant Adam Jentes (1822-1903) and his pregnant wife Magdelena Otto (1832-1900) around 1852. Adam was a wagonmaker by trade and established himself in the town of Canal Dover. The family included seven children by the time that Adam bought out another local wagonmaker in the early 1870s. Four of their sons, including William Jentes (1855-1937), worked in their father’s shop in their youth.
William Jentes married Mary Auman (1858-1947) in the spring of 1878 and the couple started working a small farm in Dover Township. William and Mary had four children and, by the time of the birth of their fifth child in 1899, had moved back into the confines of Dover itself. He continued to list his occupation as a farmer, even as he lived in a modest house on Walnut Street. Most of his siblings were working outside of the home by the time Hubert Jentes (1899-1918) was born.
Hubert grew up in a house on Walnut Street in Dover and attended Dover public schools until his graduation from Dover High School in 1918. While many of his classmates and friends were registering for the wartime draft in the spring and summer of 1918, Hubert decided instead to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. After his enlistment in early June 1918, he travelled to Parris Island, South Carolina to undergo his basic training. Immediately upon completing basic training, Private Jentes boarded the troop transport USS Hancock with other newly-minted Marines bound for the Caribbean nation of the Dominican Republic.
The United States’ occupation of the Dominican Republic started in May 1916, and lasted 8 years. It began when the country’s military leadership attempted to seize power from an American-backed administration. Detachments of United States Marines came ashore in late May 1916 and established effective control of the country within two months. After some on-the-job training, Private Jentes was assigned to the 27th Company, 4th Marine Regiment in September 1918. He was promoted to Private First Class in January 1919 while his company was stationed in the province of Santiago.
Private Jentes was promoted to Corporal five months later, in May 1919, and shortly after was put on detached service with a group tasked with surveying a river system on the island. This detachment, referred to as the Samana Surveying Detachment, was surveying a river recorded as the “Yaton” River. Modern maps of the island do not show a river by this name, but it may have referred to the Yaque del Norte River located in the far northwest corner of the Dominican Republic.
The surveying party was likely required to regularly ford the river at various points, and the river is known to swell considerably during heavy rains. It was probably during one of these fording attempts, on June 30, 1918, that Corporal Jentes was swept away and later drowned. The men on the detachment were able to recover his body and he was shipped home aboard the USS Kittery. Corporal Hubert W. Jentes was buried in Maple Grove Cemetery in Dover.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.