The Good Wife?

by chuckofish

It’s time for another installment of family history. This one involves a collateral mystery/love story. You will recall that in 1918 our great uncle Guy Chamberlin transferred from the Cavalry to the exciting, new Tank Corp

much cooler than cavalry

much cooler than cavalry

and was promptly killed in the Argonne Forest just a month and a half before the Armistice.  I blogged about it here.

It was, of course, a terrible blow to the family, made more so by the fact that he was the youngest, and that unbeknownst to them he had gotten married  just weeks before he died.  According to family tradition, the young widow showed up in Vermont to meet her ‘new family’ and was promptly dismissed as a tacky, gold-digger, who had had the audacity to claim the poor boy’s pension. That seems straightforward enough, but is it true?

While looking into family history I went off on a tangent and found out more about his wife, Dorothy. She was originally from the Washington DC area and she went back there after the war. A couple of things stand out about post-war Dorothy that may not fit the gold-digger image. She was obviously proud of her marital status. In the 1920 census the twenty year old Dorothy  resolutely names herself Mrs. Guy R. Chamberlin. At the time, she was living in Rockville, MD with her sister and brother-in-law. The household included a servant, so it can’t have been too mean. What really stands out about Dorothy, however, are three additional facts. She served her country again briefly during WWII.

She never remarried, but instead bought a small farm in Maryland.

Found on Ebay (!). I've now bought this so it's okay to post.

Found on Ebay (!). I’ve now bought this so it’s okay to post. She’s identified on the back.

She was legit — hey, she and her cows made it into the Baltimore Sun. I think she looks nice — though she’s certainly no beauty (to be fair she is probably in her 40s in these pics).

Finally — and I think most telling — she is buried next to Guy in Arlington.

Dorothy D. tombstone    Guy R. tombstone

Is this a great love story? Probably not. All of the positives I just mentioned could also be interpreted in a negative way. Dorothy clearly understood the fact that Guy’s death allowed her to live independently and have the life of her own choosing. She must have known that to his family it looked as if she had gone to France to find a husband. After all, that was not uncommon. Perhaps it was guilt rather than love that made her stay true to him all those years. We’ll never know, but I prefer to give her the benefit of the doubt. She doesn’t LOOK like a gold-digger — she looks like the type of fun, down to earth girl that Guy might have liked. What do you think?