The community of Trafford, Pa., was founded in 1904 by inventor and entrepreneur George Westinghouse. When the country was thrown into the first World War, the citizens of Trafford answered the call and sent hundreds of their boys off to fight. Community members rallied behind their men and pitched in to provide support for the nation. Most of the men from the Trafford community returned home. A few men did not.
To honor all those who served in the war, a bronze tablet and granite stone were created by the citizens to be installed in Trafford’s community park. This new memorial marker was scheduled to be dedicated by the community on Armistice day, Nov. 11, 1919. However, because this day was not yet a national holiday, the parade and ceremony had to be postponed until Saturday, Nov. 15, 1919.
The first appearance of the newly created bronze table, with the names of Trafford’s servicemen, was put on display inside the First National Bank on Oct. 23, 1919. A local newspaper reported that the bronze tablet had 116 names appearing on the honor roll including two men killed in action in France - Homer Earl and “Chalky” Jennets.
As the citizens of the town went to see the bronze tablet on display at the Cavitt Avenue bank, three returning veterans would find their names absent from the first bronze casting - Robert O. Earl, Andrew A. Capets and Ivan Mlinaric. These names were later added to the tablet as the Nov. 13, 1919, newspaper reported 119 names appearing on the honor roll. Again, the newspaper reported “Two Trafford boys gave up their lives while in service, both being killed in action. They are Homer Earl and Charles Jennets.”
As preparations for the 1919 parade and dedication continued, a souvenir program was designed by Rev. G.G. Gallagher and was printed for the event. Rev. Gallagher knew something that the local papers did not know. There were actually four men from the community that died in the war, not just two. Inside his pamphlet appeared the names of four men from Trafford who made the supreme sacrifice. The men listed were Homer Earl, Nick Elmo, Frank Glendenning and Charles Jenets.
Frank Glendenning’s name was included in the first cast of the bronze tablet, but it is possible his record of enlistment in Pitcairn was likely the reason that the newspapers did not report his name as one of Trafford’s fallen. Although the community subsequently identified the names of the four men who were killed while serving, it is only Nicola (Nick) Elmo’s name that was left off the 1919 bronze tablet.
Nicola Elmo was an Italian immigrant who once served in the Italian Army. He was drafted in 1917 and served in the 145th Infantry, 37th Division. Seven days before the war ended, Nicola Elmo was killed in the Ypres-Lys Campaign. He is buried in Flanders Field American Cemetery, Waregem, Belgium. His death would not become known by his family until many months after the close of the war. A letter written to the War Department by his brother-in-law, Carlo Crispino, can only augment the sorrow his family must have endured not knowing the fate of their beloved Nicola.
The letter reads in part, “I have not been able to get any communication with Nick Elmo of Co H, 145th Infantry … I have heard he was killed please advise me if you have any record of him being killed, wounded, or captured.”
For years to come, the community of Trafford gathered in the park on Memorial Day to honor its fallen veterans. As years passed and new conflicts took even more lives, the memory of Nicola Elmo would fade with time. It is not clear why Nicola Elmo’s name was never added to the World War I monument, even after the souvenir program was printed and the citizens honored his service. Subsequent Memorial Day ceremonies may have verbally honored his memory; however, it is clear that years would pass and Nicola Elmo’s sacrifice would be forgotten.
When the citizens of Trafford celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2004, a souvenir book was published. Inside this booklet was a page to honor all the Veterans from Trafford who died while serving their country. Nicola Elmo’s name was absent from this 100th anniversary book. It is proof that Nick was forgotten. We can say with certainty that there was no intention to exclude Nick from the book. It does however illustrate to us that without intentional efforts made by members of a community, the sacrifice given by men like Nicola Elmo will be forgotten by future generations. It is with both pride and humbleness that a group of men have gather for two years on a monthly basis to ensure that the memory of Nick and the other fallen veterans of Trafford will be remembered for generations to come. This group is presently known as the Trafford Veterans Memorial Renovation Committee.
In 2013, the Trafford community once again gathered in the park on Memorial Day to remember its fallen heroes. This ceremony was different from past events for it was the first time the citizens would dedicate a new memorial in the park honoring those veterans who served during the war on terror. This day was also different because it was the first ceremony to re-dedicate the memorial park to the community. The Trafford Veterans Memorial Renovation Committee worked nearly two years on extensive park renovations.
The efforts included a much needed cleaning and refurbishing of the older memorial markers. Plans were in place for the 2013 dedication and pamphlets were printed with the names of all known Trafford fallen heroes. Absent from this first printing was the name Nicola Elmo. Nearly 94 years after the war memorial was dedicated, Nick was about to be forgotten yet again at a Memorial Day ceremony.
However, that was about to change. About three weeks before the new park was to be dedicated, a local resident passed away and her son presented Mayor Rey Peduzzi with a box of old items she had collected over the years as a longtime resident. In the box was Rev. Gallagher’s souvenir program from the first dedication of the World War I memorial that took place in 1919. The 2013 ceremony may have been the first time in decades that planners of the Memorial Day ceremonies would remember Nicola Elmo as one of Traffords Fallen Heros.
A commitment was made during the 2013 Memorial Day ceremony by the committee to place Nicola Elmo’s name on the bronze table. This commitment will be fulfilled on May 26, 2014, when we dedicate the addition of Nicola Elmo’s name on the bronze tablet after 95 years.
Nicola (Nick) Elmo
Trafford WWI Fallen American War Veteran
May 20, 1888 – Nov. 4, 1918
1917 WWI draft card: Nicolino Elmo, 3rd St Trafford PA
Laborer on the Pennsylvania Railroad, married with one child
Born: Acquaformosa, Province of Cosenza, Italy
Served 2 ½ years in the Italian Army
Father: Domenico Elmo Mother: Maria Vicchio
Sister: Jennie (Giovanni) Elmo who married Carlo Crispino (Carlo lived on 3rd St Trafford –WWI draft card)