Title: Army Private, World War I, Killed in Action
Birthdate: March 27, 1894
Death Date: October 2, 1918
Plot Location: Section 124, Lot 173 or 175, 2 from south line
William grew up with two sisters at 2520 Manton Street in the Grays Ferry section of Philadelphia. Three brothers and a sister died in infancy. His father’s name at birth was Erwin Bockius Jr. but the 1900 Census lists him as Irvin Buckius, and Sophie, William, and Sarah grew up with that new surname.
By 1915 William’s sisters were married and he was working as an ice wagon driver. He registered for the draft in June, 1917, where he was described as 5’6” and “stout,” in contrast to this studio portrait, which may have been taken several years earlier.
William was inducted into the Army on July 18, 1918 and assigned to Company L of the 57th Pioneer Infantry. After basic training a month later, he was transferred to Company D, 54th Pioneer Infantry, and arrived in France at the end of the month. The influenza grew to be pandemic about that time, and he died of pneumonia on October 2, although this newspaper account gives an incorrect date and last name.
Like his father, he was buried here at Section 124, either in Lot 173 or 175. His three infant brothers were buried in Section 12, Lot 6, which was the plot owned by their grandfather, Ervin Bockius (1827-1897). That’s where both his first wife Sarah (1831-1888) and second wife Jane (1864-1896) are. Ervin’s father was Aaron Bockius (1790-1871), a veteran of the War of 1812 and a cooper (maker of barrels), and is at an unknown location at Mount Moriah.
The death of William’s mother, Elizabeth Hornkeith Bockius has been erroneously reported in several sources as 1922, even though a woman named Elizabeth Hornkeith was buried that year at Mount Moriah in Section 22, Lot 261. In fact, William’s mother actually signed her husband’s death certificate in 1925 and applied for her son’s veterans pension in 1934 while living with Sarah’s family in Atlantic City. The correct date of death and burial location has not been determined.
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