Before last winter, little was known about Clinton Rosette Glidden, a DeKalb resident who enlisted in the Marines and fought in France during World War I.
But thanks to the work and research of Robert Glover, executive director of the Glidden Homestead in DeKalb, details about Glidden’s life and his death at age 21 on July 19, 1918, in the Battle of Soissons have come to light.
Glover and Northern Illinois University student Jeremiah Moore-Moauro presented artifacts from the World War I era, as well as a history of Glidden’s life, on Sunday afternoon at the Glidden Homestead. While conducting his research on Glidden, Glover said that he thought it was important to remember Glidden on the 100th anniversary of his death by hosting a public presentation.
“Every town in America has an all-American kid who goes away to war and never comes home,” he said. “Americans in World War I made huge sacrifices, and [Glidden] made the ultimate sacrifice. He should be remembered. We’re trying to keep his memory alive, and also the memories of what all of the soldiers did.”
Glover found that Glidden, who was the son of V.A. and Susie Glidden, attended Northern Illinois University, then known as the Northern Illinois State Normal School, for about two years before enlisting in the Marines. He was sent to France in October 1917 and fought in the Battle of Belleau Wood before he was shot in the abdomen in a wheat field in the Battle of Soissons.
“His parents didn’t find out that he died until February of 1919, and he was buried in a military cemetery in France,” Glover said. “But in 1921, they brought his body home, and he is buried at Afton Cemetery, just south of DeKalb. There are 19 trees in Huntley Park [in DeKalb] that were planted on Easter in 1919 to remember those from DeKalb who died in the war.”
In addition to Glover’s presentation, guests were able to see Moore-Moauro’s collection of Marine artifacts, which included a World War I Marine uniform, shoes, a canteen cover, packs and other rare pieces. Moore-Moauro said Glover wanted to include him in Sunday’s presentation so he could provide a broader context to Glidden’s story.
“This portion of my collection shows what [Glidden] would’ve carried into battle,” Moore-Moauro said. “Anyone who has an interest in DeKalb should know Glidden’s story. It’s good to know about the people who are important to local history to understand where your community came from. It’s amazing that DeKalb has a connection to these battles.”
Glidden’s great-niece, Carol Johnson of Sycamore, loaned photos and a letter that Glidden wrote from France to the Glidden Homestead for the exhibit. Johnson’s grandmother was Glidden’s older sister, and Johnson said her grandmother kept scrapbooks about her brother.
“[Glover] is a great researcher, and our family appreciates what he does. I learned some new things today,” she said. “[Glidden’s] story is important, and it’s important to remember the sacrifices these young people made in these wars.”
Mary Lou Hughes of DeKalb said although she enjoyed the presentation, seeing the photos and learning about what happened to the young service members is upsetting.
“I didn’t know anything about Clint Glidden before today, and I was impressed,” she said. “I’m glad I came, but I feel sad to hear about the kids who died and the Gold Star mothers. I want to go to Huntley Park now and find [Glidden’s] tree.”
Michael Rothamer also didn’t know Glidden’s story before Sunday. The DeKalb resident said that he thought Glover’s presentation was informative.
“It’s good to learn obscure facts about DeKalb’s history,” he said. “It’s interesting how long it took [Glidden’s] family to find out that he was dead, whereas now, it’s instantaneous. I think learning about these things enriches our lives, and learning about what happened in the past is important to keep our history alive.”
Moore-Moauro’s collection of World War I artifacts will remain on display at the Glidden Homestead until October.