HomeFinding Aids#9035 Alf Buerbaum Scrapbook

#9035 Alf Buerbaum Scrapbook

Alf Buerbaum Scrapbook

MSS #9035

June 1997

Abstract: Scrapbook maintained by Alfred P. Burbaum of Salisbury, NC containing materials and photographs relating to his service in World War I.

Online catalog terms:

Buerbaum, Alfred

Fort Caswell (N.C.)

World War, 1914-1918--North Carolina--Rowan County

World War, 1914-1918--Virginia--Newport News

Size: Less than one linear foot.

Provenance: Unknown. Arrived at Rowan Public Library before 1994.

Access: No restriction.

Copyright: Retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.


The scrapbook of Alfred "Alf" Paas Buerbaum of Salisbury, NC, contains materials relating to Alf Buerbaum's service aboard the transport ship Orthia in 1915 and his subsequent military service at Fort Caswell, NC and Newport News VA during World War I.

Alf Buerbaum was born on Sept. 6, 1893, the son of Theo Buerbaum, longtime bookstore owner in Salisbury, NC and photographic documentor of turn-of-the-century life in Rowan County. Alf Buerbaum continued to run his father's store for a number of years following the death of the elder Buerbaum and spent the last twenty years of his life as an employee of the Rowan Print Shop. Alf Buerbaum died at his home in the Empire Hotel on April 8, 1962. His wife, music teacher Michelle Browning Klepfer, had died July 5, 1936. The couple did not have children

On April 5, 1915 the transport ship Orthia left the port at Newport News, VA with a cargo of 650 horses under the care of Petersburg veterniary surgeon R. B. Friend. The horses, 41 of which were to die in the crossing, were destined for the allied war effort and had been ordered by the French government. Among the approximately 65 horsemen on board were seven young Salisburians who had volunteered to join the crew and help among the animals: Frank Yancey, Alex. "Dudley" Buford, Alfred Buerbaum, Ray Thompson, James Julian, Harold Watson, and Lamar Ramsay. (Ramsay, son of Dr. and Mrs. R.L. Ramsay, went back for a second run while James Julian stayed abroad for a while after this first trip.) At one point during the voyage and shortly after being in sight of the Lusitania, the Orthia changed directions for fear of German submarines. It wasn't until their ship had returned to Newprt News did the crew of the Orthia learn of the fate of the Lusitania which they had passed only two days before it was sunk. The Orthia docked in Glasgow April 21, 1915, and the boys from Salisbury stayed in the local YMCA while they checked the local sights before their return voyage.

The scrapbook contains a letter Buerbaum had written to his mother from Glasgow, telling her, "The good ship Orthia rocked us out of a good night's sleep" and, "I had 14 horses to take care of. All of them were nice, but after we landed them in Liverpool, the cleaning out was not so very nice." There are also postcards from Glasgow and cigarette cards, as well as clippings about the adventure taken from (apparently) a Salisbury newspaper.

Also in the scrapbook are photographs from Buerbaum's World War I service. There are pictures of Fort Caswell, NC taken in August 1915 that show a 12 inch mortar, the mess hall, tents, etc. Buerbaum, who served in the motor transport corps stationed in Newport News, Va. worked as an Army store clerk and clerical worker from August 30, 1918 through April 8, 1919. Buerbaum took pictures of his friends in the military in Newport News, as well as a sight or two about town (the dance hall, for example).

Additional materials in the scrapbook are Christmas cards dated 1919, a photo of Alf dated 1909, pictures of logging and Alf (?) shooting a gun marked "1907 where Badin now stands."

There are also loose materials with the scrapbook which apparently had been folded up and placed inside. Included among these items are Alf Buerbaum's draftboard notice; a programme of the annual B.P.O. Elks charity show (1922), a hometown minstrel show; and letters of reference for Buebaum from the late 1910s. There is also his North Carolina National Gaurd discharge notice and photographs of Buerbaum and four young women on holiday.

Folder List

Box 1. Scrapbook

Folder 1. Loose materials