The Supreme Sacrifice. It is estimated that over 125 Dutchess County men and women died during the war period in some form of service.
Regarding the profound issue of where remains were to be interred, some, like Pershing, or former President Theodore Roosevelt, who lost a son in France, believed those lost should be buried where they fell. Ultimately the War Department surveyed the families of those who died and the bereaved made their choice.
The remains of over two dozen Dutchess County soldiers are interred in cemeteries in France. One is interred in Arlington National Cemetery. Others locally.
Among those buried abroad is Edward J. Wolff, Jr. His ambition to serve was rewarded with a highly competitive place at West Point. He graduated early to command a Battery in France. It took the army an agonizing six weeks to confirm his death after his parents received a letter from a comrade who offered his sympathy, having seen Wolff killed. His mother made a government-sponsored trip, a “Gold Star Mother Pilgrimage,” to see her son's grave at the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery in France in 1931. A local VFW carries his name. A descendant of German immigrants, like so many in the Hudson Valley, Wolff rests 300 miles west of the birthplace of his paternal grandfather who had emigrated to Poughkeepsie. Wolff is, by coincidence, buried next to a fellow Dutchess County veteran, Austin T. Robinson of Beacon.
Lieutenant Edward J. Wolff. One of the most moving photographs is that of Eva Wolff, the mother of Lieutenant Edward J. Wolff, at her son's grave in France in 1931.
Born in Poughkeepsie in a family of moderate means, Lieutenant Wolff graduated from West Point and went directly to combat role in France in May 1918. He was killed August 16, 1918, less than a month prior to end of fighting.
His parents received a letter from a friend and comrade who saw him at the end of his life, and shared his condolences. But the parents had not been notified of his death by the government, or any other way. There were two weeks of confusion, including speculation he was not killed.
In his 1912-1913 senior year at Poughkeepsie High School, he was President of the German Social Club “Der Deutsch Verien.” Wolff's paternal grandparents were born in Darmstadt, Hesse, Germany, about 300 miles east of where he is buried in France.
In the 1930’s his parents, Edward, Sr. and Eva supported a $5 prize for the Poughkeepsie High School senior showing excellence in French language based on regents examinations. Lieutenant Wolff's maternal grandparents were born in French Canada.
John M. Young is the only WWI Dutchess County soldier killed in action buried in Arlington National Cemetery.