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August 19, 2022

8/12/2013 11:42:00 AM
Honoring his service and his memory
DeLores Neahring, second from right, receives the Purple Heart and victory medals given posthumously to Neahring’s father, Laurence Doten, pictured below, who earned the medals for his meritorious service in World War I.  Judy Wilson, Neahring’s daughter, is seated in the center.
DeLores Neahring, second from right, receives the Purple Heart and victory medals given posthumously to Neahring’s father, Laurence Doten, pictured below, who earned the medals for his meritorious service in World War I. Judy Wilson, Neahring’s daughter, is seated in the center.
This past Memorial Day, at Warrenton Oregon, Laurence Doten was honored for his valor, his courage, and his service to America.
Almost 60 relatives from four generations of Doten's family, ranging in age from a few months to 83 years, came to Warrior Hall at Camp Rilea to thank Doten for what he did for his country about 95 years ago.
Doten posthumously received a Purple Heart and World War I victory medals for serving on the Western Front in France during the war. As a private in the U.S. Army, he was shot in the left shoulder by what he called "one of Jerry's machine guns" on the first day of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive on Oct. 10, 1918.
Doten, who served with Company L of the 131st Infantry in France, also took part in the battles of the Somme River on July 4, 1918, the Albert Front in July 1918, the Somme River on Aug. 8, 1918 and Verdun on Sept. 26, 1918.
Judy Wilson, Doten's granddaughter, said that the ceremony was very emotional for her and her family.
"It was the culmination of a journey which began with a wish to honor him, his service, and his memory, and ended with a new understanding of his life and the sacrifices he made while serving his country," Wilson said.
A Stewartville connection:
Laurence Doten was born to Albert E. and Clara (Wooldridge) Doten at his father's farm in Martin County, Minn. on June 4, 1898. He was 5 years old when he moved with his parents and siblings to his mother's childhood home near Stewartville. Back then, the place was known as the Edward Wooldridge farm.
Doten's aunt, Emily, married John Fawcett. The couple had a son, Charles, who grew up to become Dr. Charles Fawcett of Stewartville. Hannah, another of Laurence Doten's aunts, married Henry King, the great great-grandfather of Jimmie-John King, Stewartville's current mayor.
After World War I:
After the war, Doten, still recovering from the wounds of war, took rehabilitation training at the University of Minnesota, where he received a bachelor of science degree in agriculture. He taught agriculture and shop for three years at high schools in Lamberton and Gibbon, Minn.
"My mother said she was told that teaching was not exciting enough for him, so he went to work as a United States immigration inspector, working the trains on the Canadian border (beginning) in 1929."
His tragic death:
Doten was 30 years old when he and another immigration inspector were shot and killed on a train near Emo, Ontario, Canada in August 1930.
Here's a portion of the story about the shooting of Laurence Doten from the Aug. 28, 1930 edition of the Stewartville STAR:
(Laurence) Doten, Immigration Agent on Canadian Border
Triple Shooting Affair Started on the Train Near Emo, Ontario -- Body Brought to States for Burial First of Week
Sunday, Mr. and Mrs. A.E. Doten of Sumner, received a message from Ranier, Minn., on the Canadian border, stating that their son Laurence, aged 30, had been killed.
Monday's daily press contained the story of the killing of Mr. Doten and another young man, Lawrence Jones of Warroad, and also the death of the murdered man from gun- shot wounds.
Messrs. Doten and Jones are United States immigration inspectors, and were on a train on the Canadian National Railway, near Emo, Ontario, when the killing started, and the bandit was Emerick Frenette of Ft. Francis. The story as told by George E. Ireland, the conductor of the train is as follows:
He met the bandit in the vestibule between two coaches.
"I've just killed one man and if you don't do as I say, you'll be the second," the bandit told him, while trying to conceal handcuffs which dangled from an arm.
"He told me," continued Ireland "that he wanted to go to Winnipeg and ordered me into the day coach, where there were quite a few passengers sleeping. After getting me to roll a cigarette for him, he made me sit a few seats away from him and facing him.
"Doten was sitting opposite as the train neared a siding. He got up and stretched when he was shot down.
"The gunman then took me to the vestibule of another coach. At this point Inspector Jones appeared at the entrance of the coach and asked where Doten was, I couldn't speak. Then the desperado shot him."
Frenette then marched Ireland through the train at the point of a pistol but did not molest the passengers.
He forced Ireland to take him to the engineer's cab where he ordered Engineer J.R. Russell to move the train, which had stopped. The air brakes had been set from the rear by trainmen after passengers had given the alarm.
Frenette then ordered the engineer, brakeman and fireman out of the cab and started to rob them.
He refused to take the engineer's watch, saying "I used to be a railroad man myself."
Frenette fled, pursued by police and citizen (posses.) He was surrounded in a farmhouse at Barwick, Ontario, whose owners he had evicted. Many shots were exchanged (with) Frenette daring the police to "come in and get me." Finally the house was set on fire and Frenette was shot as he ran out. A handcuff was still on his wrist.
In the hospital he told police he had "lost both his job and his girl" and was "desperate."
He expressed regrets for the killings, but said he had heard "American officers were quick to shoot."
Mrs. Doten, the wife of one of the murdered men, is in the Sanitorium at Cannon Falls, receiving treatment. Miss Agnes Doten of Sumner, a sister of the young man, recently went to Ranier to keep house for her brother and take care of his two children, one only a couple of months old.
The remains of Mr. Doten were brought to Faribault by train, and from there to Cannon Falls, by hearse, where the burial took place. Mrs. Doten's home is in Cannon Falls.
Funeral services were held this afternoon at the home of Mrs. Doten's parents near (Kenyon.) Those from here attending are: Dr. and Mrs. C.E. Fawcett and H.E. King.
Wife dies soon after:
Clara, Doten's wife, was in the Mineral Springs Tuberculosis Sanitarium in Cannon Falls when the couple's daughter, DeLores, was born. Clara died at the sanitarium a few months after her husband was killed.
Clara's obituary stated, "During the summer of 1929, Mrs. Doten's health failed so that it was necessary for her to spend the following winter at Mineral Springs Sanitarium, Cannon Falls, Minn. Since then her struggle for health has separated her from her family for a great deal of the time, but with an unfailing hope, both planned for a future that was not to be. During the weeks previous to (Doten's) passing, he had made plans by which he might have his children with him during the period of his wife's convalescence, but after a few days of rejoicing in their presence, he bade them a final farewell."
When Wilson was a little girl, she asked her mother what it was like to grow up without a mom or a dad.
"She always explained that her grandparents and her Aunt Agnes (Auntie) were very good to her and she couldn't miss something she never had," Wilson said. "She was only a month old when her father died and 10 months old when her mother died."
A telling discovery:
About two years ago, Judy Wilson's nephew found in the attic a framed certificate signed by President Woodrow Wilson given to Laurence Doten for injuries Doten received in World War I. Judy Wilson's family made copies of the certificate and of Doten's service records and, after discovering that the Purple Heart had been reauthorized in 1932, discovered that Doten would have been eligible to receive a Purple Heart had he still been alive at the time.
The family also produced birth and death certificates proving that Wilson's mother, DeLores Neahring, was next of kin so that Doten could receive the awards posthumously.
In June 2012, the family received the official notice that Doten would be awarded the medals.
"They arrived the following August," Wilson said. "Initially, we were hoping to surprise my mother with the medals at Christmas time (2012), but decided to plan an award ceremony in the spring...We surprised our mother with an award ceremony on Memorial Day."

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