Title: Navy Chief Gunner’s Mate, World War I; printing press operator
Birthdate: March 18, 1886
Death Date: August 1, 1959
Plot Location: Naval Section 4, Row 8, Site 25
Edward’s family had a rough start. He was the second boy, but the first, John, lived less than two months. A daughter, Mary, was born in August of 1888 but her mother died of tuberculosis the following May and Mary caught it and died that September.
Edward’s father, John, had to find a wife who would also mother his four-year-old son. Hanna Focht married John at Philadelphia’s 10th Presbyterian Church in April of 1890 and took on both roles. Ten years later John Lacey lost his life on the job as a headlight cleaner for the Pennsylvania Railroad. Edward was 14 and working as an errand boy, and would soon be a man on his own.
His next step was to join the Navy in 1905. The 1910 census listed him as a Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class aboard the USS Mississippi. There’s no record of him being discharged, but one source listed his war service, from November 30, 1917 to July 12, 1920.
He married Emily Thomas in January, 1918, just before shipping out aboard the USS Oklahoma. On December 6 of that year Emily gave birth to Edward John Lacey, Jr.
When the Oklahoma was commissioned in 1916 it was the largest and most advanced ship in the Navy and needed 2166 crew members to function properly. Its function in 1918 was to protect American convoys in the North Atlantic and escort troop ships. Edward only performed his job as Gunner’s Mate 1st Class during the occasional drills, and the only casualties that year were six deaths in late October from the 1918 flu pandemic.
In early 1919 the ship was involved in winter battle drills off the coast of Cuba, and later escorted President Wilson as part of his negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference. The rest of Edward’s service was uneventful while the ship was overhauled. Sadly, the Oklahoma met a tragic end when it was bombed at Pearl Harbor in 1941.
When Edward left the Navy he was Chief Gunner’s Mate. Back at home he was Emily’s mate in welcoming their first daughter, Elizabeth, named after Edward’s mother. She was born July 7, 1921 but died October 23, and ironically she too died of tuberculosis. Their second daughter was named after Edward’s sister, and she was born in 1925.
Edward became a pressman at the U.S. Mint, a position he listed in both the 1930 and 1940 census. By 1950 his health declined and he entered the Naval Home. Emily developed cancer in the1950s, died in April, 1958, and was buried with their first daughter in Fernwood Cemetery. Edward succumbed to arteriosclerosis 15 months later and his grave is marked with this stone in the Naval plot at Mount Moriah.
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