Ethel Forgan was the daughter of David and Agnes Forgan. Her father was born in St. Andrew’s Scotland, and was the president of the National City Bank of Chicago. Ethel Forgan and two other young ladies volunteered for duty in France during World War I to help the wounded. They would be supervised by Mrs. Benjamin Lathrop. All three were “excellent motorists.”
Ethel Forgan left for New York accompanied by her parents on February 3, 1918. The two Farwell sisters were accompanied to New York by their mother, Mrs. Grace Farwell. On February 22, 1918, the Chicago Daily Tribune reported that the “three had arrived in Paris and were engaged in work of the American Fund for the French wounded.”
Ethel Forgan and Vernon Booth were more than friends. Vernon was already in France and was a member of the Lafayette Flying Corps. He was a nephew of Mrs. P. A. Valentine and a cousin of P.D. Armour III, John Lester Armour and Patrick Valentine, Jr. Vernon Booth had enlisted in the French Aviation Corp in 1917, after being rejected by the American Air Force. (You have to wonder if he knew Kenneth McLeish and if she knew Priscilla Murdock.) He was a graduate of Harvard and in 1918 was about 24 years of age.
On April 27, 1918, Ethel Forgan and Vernon Booth were married in the Church re de Berri, in Paris. The took a 12 day honeymoon trip to Cannes. On their return Chauncey McCormick “entertained the couple in a wedding breakfast, at which were present Miss Mary Withers, Miss Sara Farwell, Miss Ruby McCormick and Richard Danielson.”
Lieutenant Booth was a war hero. He shot down three German aircraft and on June 25, 1918, while flying over enemy territory, was attacked by German war planes. His plane was set on fire but that fire was extinguished as his plane fell. A “poisoned bullet” shattered his leg, but he was able to land his plane in “no man’s land.” “He had the presence of mind, despite severe burns, to extinguish the fire and land between the lines forty yards from the enemy trenches. He set fire to his plane and regained the French lines through a heavy barrage of machine gun fire.”
Lt. Booth was taken to the Scotch Woman’s Hospital north-east of Paris where he remained until he died. At his side was his bride, Ethel Forgan Booth. A single cablegram brought the message to Mr. & Mrs. David Forgan, who lived at 1112 Greenwood Blvd., Evanston, Illinois. It simply said “Vernon died today.”
He was buried at Royaumont-Asnieres-sur-Oise, France. He was decorated with the Medaille Militaire and Croix de Guerre with Palm and the Legion d’Honneur. Like Priscilla Murdock, Ethel Forgan Booth did not marry again for ten years. On December 26, 1929, she married Philip Lyndon Dodge of New York City. After the wedding they lived at 111 East 88th Street.
This story dedicated to all women who have served and suffered.