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Joel Talbot Arthur

Submitted by: Wanda Arthur {Great-great-niece}

Joel Talbot Arthur snipJoel Talbot Arthur born around 1891. Joel Arthur served in World War 1 with the United States Army . The enlistment was in 1918 and the service was completed in 1918.

Story of Service

Joel Talbot Arthur was born June 17, 1891, in the Greshamville area of Greene County, Georgia. Named for both grandfathers, Joel Ruark (pronounced “Rooks” at the time) and Talbot Arthur, he was the fifth of seven children born to Seaborn Arthur and Mary Eugenia “Jennie” Ruark Arthur. Just three generations removed from a great-grandfather who had owned 900 acres in neighboring Oglethorpe County, Joel was born into the downtrodden, post- war South in which cotton was still king but little cash was in circulation. Sharecropping had evolved, whereby poor farmers, black and white, worked land owned by others in return for a place to live and a minor share of the harvested crop. Such was the plight of the Arthur family for several generations.

In 1900, the Arthurs lived on a rented farm in the Greshamville District. At that time, according to the census, nine-year-old Joel was not attending school and was unable to read or write. The cotton crop, a Georgia sharecropper’s sole means of survival, as well as other demands of the farm, rendered schooling an intermittent opportunity when there was nothing else to do. As with most sharecropping families, the Arthurs moved frequently, forever seeking to improve their lot in life. At some point during the time period 1901-1902, Seab Arthur moved his family north, crossing over into the adjacent county of Oconee and settling on a tenant farm near the town of Watkinsville. Seab died there, January 31, 1906, leaving Jennie with 19-year-old Lenora, 14-year-old Joel, 10-year-old Grady, and 5-year-old Gladys.