I was recently contacted by the Carl C. Stoller VFW, Post 1445 of New Philadelphia regarding the post’s namesake and whether I had done any research into his life. I had not, but felt that it was important to put the story to the name. This is Private Stoller’s story.
There is some debate about exactly when the Stoller family arrived in Tuscarawas County, but little debate about who that arrival was. Christian Stoller (c. 1815-1891) was born in Switzerland around 1815, though he gives conflicting birthdates in later census records. Christian first appeared in Tuscarawas County in the census of 1860 living in Jefferson Township with his first wife, Elizabeth Marti (1811-1866), and their three children. The oldest of those children was recorded as having been born in Ohio around 1847. The couple would have one more child, also named Christian Stoller (1863-1934), before Elizabeth’s death in 1866.
The elder Christian remarried in early 1866 to Susan Rufenacht (1839-1914) and she bore him five more children. The younger Christian, who is sometimes recorded as “Christian C.” or even just “C.C.”, worked on his father’s farm into his teenage years. After his marriage to Juliana Krieger in 1887, the younger Christian worked as a laborer in, and around, New Philadelphia. Christian became active in local politics shortly after his father died in 1891, and a few years later opened a saloon and boarding house on West High Street. Christian and Juliana’s household included four children by the time they welcomed a son, Carl C. Stoller (1894-1918) on Christmas Day in 1894.
As a young man Carl Stoller attended school in New Philadelphia and likely helped out around his father’s boarding house and saloon, now located on North Broadway. Carl was already working as a clerk at one of the downtown New Philadelphia department stores by the age of 15. This work experience, and his likely interaction with travelers at his father’s saloon, eventually resulted in Carl being offered a management position at a store in Cleveland in early 1914. Big city life must not have appealed to Carl though because, within a couple of years, he had returned to New Philadelphia and took a job for a short time with the Pennsylvania Railroad.
The war in Europe that became World War One was already underway by the time Carl returned to New Philadelphia from Cleveland. Carl was working as a clerk for the McGraw Tire and Rubber Company in East Palestine, Ohio when the United States officially entered the war in the spring of 1917. Like other men his age and younger, he registered for the draft in June 1917 and was then called for service three months later. He was assigned to Company A of the 329th Infantry Regiment training at Camp Sherman, Ohio and, within a month and likely due to his peacetime profession, was assigned to the Supply Sergeant there.
Private Stoller was not destined to stay stateside however and, in the early summer of 1918, his company was transported to Europe aboard the RMS Carmania. When he arrived in France in mid-July 1918 he was assigned to Company H of the 38th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. Private Stoller arrived just after the 38th Infantry Regiment had fought the battle that earned them with the nickname “Rock of the Marne.” They were still burying their dead from that battle when Carl arrived in camp, but their forward progress across the River Marne continued as the Germans retreated and counter-attacked. Less than a month later, after a short break in the rear, the regiment was ordered to establish bridgeheads north of the Vesle River. The successful effort cost the unit 600 additional casualties.
The men of the 38th Infantry Regiment were rarely not on the front-lines during the late summer and fall of 1918. Private Stoller saw his fair share of combat during the Vesle River and St. Mihel offensives. The Meuse-Argonne offensive that began at the end of September 1918 would be Private Stoller’s last. While they were held in reserve at first, the 3rd Infantry Division was engaged in the advance that composed the second phase of the assault that began on October 4, 1918. Three days after the assault began two companies of the 38th, including Private Stoller’s, advanced to within 75 yards of a German hilltop defensive position. The companies were assigned the job of reconnoitering the heavily defended German position, a job that came at a heavy price for the both companies. Numerous officers and enlisted men were killed and wounded that day and among them was Private Carl Stoller.
Private Stoller was at first listed as missing in action, but was later confirmed as having been killed. News of his death did not appear in the New Philadelphia press until early December 1918. Private Stoller was originally buried near the battlefield, then later he was reinterred at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, France. Two years later, in September 1921, his body was returned to the United States aboard the USAT Wheaton so that he could be buried at the East Avenue Cemetery in New Philadelphia. A few years after his burial the Carl C. Stoller Post, Number 1445, Veterans of Foreign Wars was established in New Philadelphia.
Thank you to the Carl C. Stoller VFW Post 1445 Post Chaplain Jerry Chenevey for reaching out to me about telling Private Stoller’s story. Thank you to all of the members of the Carl C. Stoller VFW Post 1445 for their service.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.