Fredonia Draft Board District 665 was opened on the second floor of the village hall on Oct. 21, 1940. Men 18 years old on or after July 1, 1940 had to register between Dec. 11 and Dec. 31 of 1940. Men who turned 18 after Jan. 1, 1941, were required to register on their birthday. The Fredonia Draft Board 665 was comprised of the towns of Pomfret, Portland, Stockton, Ellery, Gerry, Ellington, Cherry Creek, Villenova, and Arkwright. During the war the Fredonia Draft Board registered 1,550 men.
TOAR: Central Europe
Frederick T. Stonefoot, U.S. Army
Medals and Awards: American Campaign, European African Campaign, Middle East Campaign, Good Conduct, World War II Victory
Duties: Carpenter, heavy construction. A carpenter was trained to use all tools and equipment needed to construct various projects required by the battalion.
Unit: Assigned to 1280th Combat Engineers
Projects: Served nine months with the 1280th combat engineers who built and repaired wooden structures. All work used heavy timber that was milled before use. Extensive timberwork was done which involved capping, shoring, bracing and underpinning. The unit also constructed flumes, caissons, bridges, trestles and equipment supports.
Married: June 18, 1941 to Laura (Marrill) at the Fredonia Methodist Church.
Children: Rianna Moore, Karen Logan
Grandchildren: John Logan, Eathan Logan
Great-grandchildren: Joe, Kim, John James Logan
Frederick T. Stonefoot was born in the master bedroom of his family's Arkwright home on May 11, 1919. The Stonefoot home was located on Miller Road. Fred was the son of John and Eda (Eiedenbeck). His parents were both born in Germany. They wanted to live in America and the couple chose the Arkwright area to run their dairy farm.
As a child he first attended the Sheridan District 2 School located on Straight and Miller Roads. Recalling his grade school days, he remembers attending school in this one-room school and having classmates who were in different classes. This, at times, got to be interesting because he had the chance to learn a lot more.
Living on Miller Road had its advantages. It also had some disadvantages: one was getting to high school. At the time the school didn't have a school bus system in place. Starting his first day as a freshman meant a 7-mile walk each way to school. Every now and then, he caught a ride. Even part way helped. Not knowing for certain whether that ride would be there meant that it was a 4 a.m. wake-up every school day. He recalled getting up for school in the dark, walking home and stepping on the porch in the dark.
One time he bought a bicycle hoping to make the trip easier, but later found that it was easier going to school but a lot harder returning with a bike. He later decided because of a steep hill that walking was the best for him.
Living in Arkwright gave him the opportunity for summer swimming and some ball playing but only after all the farm work had been completed. The softball fields were in the pastures with make-shift bases and old dairy can tops for home plate. Playing in the fields where the grass was six inches high was normal. Getting teams together didn't seem to be any problem. The one thing for sure was anyone who played had to have all their farm work done.
Working on a dairy farm demanded barns be kept up to dairy farm standards and, as Stonefoot recalled, the cows took a lot of work. He had to make sure they were properly fed and the hay was brought in the barn after the cows had been tended. Other farm chores were weeding the fields and making sure that nothing was left in the fields to rot on the vine after the crops were harvested.
No one had to tell you winter was coming or that it was around the corner when you lived in Arkwright. Stonefoot recalled going to school and hearing some of the classmates say they might have seen some hail on their way to school. He would smile knowing he had swept three inches of snow off his porch before his seven-mile walk to school that day.
Winter brought snow and a lot of it. It also brought skiing, tobogganing, ice skating and a lot of hunting. He stated that living on Miller Road was a winter wonderland. At times snow measured 4 to 5 feet high and blizzards lasted for hours.
After graduation from high school in the summer of 1935, jobs were almost impossible to find. The only places that needed help were the farms. Stonefoot had found a few odd jobs but nothing that one could call steady, reliable work.
Eventually, the family moved to Laona and he found work in 1937. Stonefoot worked for his dad who was responsible for taking care of four local cemeteries in Pomfret. In 1940, he landed a his first steady job at Allegany Ludlum Steel Co. as a grinder. It was a dirty, hot job but it was a steady job. Each payday brought him a paycheck of $27.32 take home.
When asked what everyone in Laona did and where they went on the weekend for fun, he said for many of his friends that the place to be back then was barn square dancing. He recalled that each week the dances would be at different places.
Word would get around and by Saturday night everyone would know where to meet. Some of the biggest dances were at the Keith farm or the Rogulski farm on Route 83. Everyone would pay 25 cents to help with any expenses and the night was full of dancing and friends talking with friends. When asked about the drinks, Stonefoot stated that each farmer had grape vineyards and each had their own homemade wine that had found its way to each party. At one of these barn square dances, he met his future wife, Laura. The parties brought in people from all the local areas. Stonefoot said that the girls always came in groups and by 1 a.m. everyone was back home.
Frederick married Laura in June of 1944 and they lived at Laura's parents' home for six months. He was still a grinder at the Steel Plant and the couple saved until they had enough to rent a flat at 34 Douglas St. in Fredonia.
On March 21, 1944, he went to his mailbox to get the mail and among the bills was an envelope from the local draft board from Fredonia. It stated that he was drafted for permanent duty in the U.S. Army under the Selective Service Act of Sept. 16, 1940.
The next month a bus with 60 men from the Fredonia draft board 92 were headed for Buffalo to board a train. They didn't know what to expect as they were to embark on the adventure of a lifetime and endure many struggles.
Basic training was at Fort Knox, Ky., in the armored division. His basic training lasted 13 weeks and then he came home and was sent to Camp Gruber. During the course of World War II Camp Gruber provided training for infantry, artillery and tank destroyer units. While there he joined Company B1280 combat engineers. This was the company he would remain with for the duration of the war. Next he was sent to England and he arrived there on Dec. 21, 1944.
While there his company was taught how to build bridges, temporary bridges, made of steel panels used to cross impassable water ways and rivers too big to wade across. The living conditions in England were good. His diet consisted of a lot of spam, potatoes, as well as Brussels sprouts and small food of that nature. He felt that for the times they were fed well. He also felt that his unit was supplied well with clothing and personal supplies.
In the spring, he crossed the English Channel and continued into France where he stayed until he and his company were sent to the Remagen Bridge head in Germany. They stayed there until they crossed the bridge into Germany, where he stayed for about one month before the war ended in Europe. He received orders back to France.
In France, Stonefoot stayed in a huge tent. He was reissued clothing for his new duty station C.B.I. (China, Burma, India). He was not excited about going there. He was on a ship going through the Panama Canal when an announcement was made over the ship's intercom that the Japanese had surrendered. The war now was officially over and he returned back home to New York on Sept. 10, 1945. His first sight was the Statue of Liberty. He now knew he was back home and safe in the U.S.
He was sent to Camp Shanster where he finally had a steak dinner and real milk. Stonefoot claimed he drank almost a gallon of real, white milk.
After the war he came home and went back to work at the steel plant as a billet grinder. He ended up with 34 years of service as a foreman in the grinding department. When retirement came, he played golf at Hillview Golf Course with close friends George Clark, Carl Clark, Joe Gugino, Lyle Helsey, Carl Gens, Horace Pantano and Guy Pator. During the summer, they played weekly. He also loves traveling and local sports.
This is another story that needed to be told. It is about a dairy farmer's son who walked 7 miles each way to school and accepted that as just a part of life, doing it to get his education. This was the story of Stonefoot who got drafted, just showed up and did what his country asked of him, and then after going through a World War came home.
It is interesting that the one thing that excited him the most upon his return was a glass of sweet, white milk. Frederick Stonefoot did his duty. It was such an honor to give you his story. Stonefoot and his wife Laura just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this year. Frederick Stonefoot is our local Hero of the Week.