Secrets of Seneca County Historical Driving Tour | Clara Edith (Works) Ayres

Secrets of Seneca County Historical Driving Tour | Clara Edith (Works) Ayres

April 01, 2024

Embark on a captivating journey through the wondrous past of Seneca County, Ohio, with the Secrets of Seneca County Historical Driving Tour! The next stop on the journey is: Clara Edith (Works) Ayres (Intersection of Lemmon Street & Venice Street, Attica OH 44807, Stop #18)

A Nurse’s Sacrifice in the Great War

The Attica-Venice Joint Cemetery is the final resting place of Clara Edith (Work) Ayres, who died in the line of duty soon after the United States entered World War I in April 1917. Mrs. Ayres was born in Venice Township on September 16, 1880. She graduated from Attica High School in 1899 and in 1903 married local merchant Wayland Ayres, who died in 1906. A few years later, she moved to Chicago and graduated from the Illinois Training School for Nurses.

Lavinia Dock’s, The History of American Red Cross Nursing, 1922 recounts the story of Clara Edith Ayres (Red Cross Nursing Badge #4809) who was part of a unit assigned to the British Expeditionary Forces and No. 18 General Hospital at Dannes Camiers, France. The entire unit sailed Saturday afternoon May 19, 1917, on the S.S. Mongolia. There were the usual precautions, no lights, boat drill with life preservers, assignment-to-life boats.  In spite of unrestricted submarine warfare, everyone was in good spirits.

On Sunday morning, word went through the boat that a gun drill would take place that afternoon. All passengers assembled on the deck to witness it. War seemed remote, except for the three grim guns on the Mongolia, silent and muzzled in the sunshine on the calm sea. A target was thrown overboard, and the drill began. Suddenly, a defective shell exploded prematurely. Edith Ayres and Helen B. Wood were killed instantly. Emma Matzen received two serious flesh wounds.

When the ship returned to New York, Ayres’ body was returned to Attica, where it was met by the Ohio National Guard. Her remains were escorted to the First Methodist Church where she lay in state in a flag-draped coffin. She was buried with a military salute in Attica Venice Cemetery next to her husband.

In 2017, the Ohio State Historical marker was erected by the American Legion Post 260, the Attica Area Historical Society, and The Ohio History Connection.

« Back to Blog


Get Your Free Copy!


Copyright © 2024 Destination Seneca County. All rights reserved.