Princeton Times

Mercer County Memories

November 30, 2012

Mercer County Memories: Defense Department records track Mercer's WWII losses

PRINCETON — Continuing our look at Mercer County history, courtesy of Kyle McCormick’s “History of Mercer County,” (Charleston, W.Va., 1957) and Benson J. Lossing’s “Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence,” which is a copy of the 1848 original provided by Dr. O.J. Bailes, we look at the history of those who served and died in World War Two for Mercer County.

According to the U.S. Defense Department records, 173 men from Mercer County died in World War II. The list includes 94 who were killed in action; 12 who died of wounds; one died from injuries; 53 who died from non-battle causes; and 12 who died from unlisted causes.

There were also 29 men from Mercer County who lost their lives in WW II in the Navy and the Marine Corps, who are listed as combat war injuries. There are 11 who are listed as non- combat dead in these same service arms.

Among those who were killed in the Navy was Lt. (JG) Edward Max Price, Princeton’s first graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He lost his life when the USS Lexington (aircraft carrier) sank in the Pacific in 1942. A destroyer of the Navy the USS Price was named for him.

Going to the Lossing book, we come to the story of John Penn.

Penn was born on May 17, 1741, in the county of Carolina Virginia. His education was limited to two or three years in a common county school in his neighborhood. His father died when he was about 18 years old, leaving him the sole possessor of a competent estate.

Penn was fortunate to be a relative of the celebrated Edmund Pendleton and to reside near him. He took advantage of the use of Pendleton’s library which helped him to decide on the course of studying law. At the age of 21 he was admitted to the bar in his native county, where he rapidly rose to prominence.

In 1774, Penn moved to North Carolina, where he began practicing law. Due to his eminent abilities and decided patriotism, he was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1775, taking his seat in October.

He served three consecutive terms, during which he voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence.

In 1780, British General Charles Cornwallis started marching north from Camden South Carolina. Penna resident of the western portion of North Carolina was given almost absolute dictatorial powers by the North Carolina legislature to defend the state. He successfully defended the state through harrassment of Cornwallis’s army, which combined with the British defeat at King’s Mountain forced him back to South Carolina. Penn performed his duties with admirable ability and skill and received the thanks of the legislature and the general benedictions of the people.

In 1781, Penn retired from public life resuming his law practice. In 1784 he was appointed by Robert Morris the treasurer of the Confederation as a receiver of taxes for North Carolina. He only held the office for a few weeks before resigning and returning to the practice of law.

In September 1788, Penn died at the age of 47.

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