Relatives of John F. Derby, for whom Frontenac American Legion Post 43 was named, are having a reunion weekend in Frontenac.

Relatives of John F. Derby, for whom Frontenac American Legion Post 43 was named, are having a reunion weekend in Frontenac.
A noon luncheon is planned today at the post home with local dignitaries as speakers, and the family will make a presentation to the legion. They will attend Mass at 10:30 a.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, followed by a brunch at Chicken Mary’s.
PFC John F. Derby, who served as a wagoner with Co. F 353 Infantry, 89th Division, was the first soldier from Frontenac to be killed in action during World War I. He was part of the Meuse-Argonne offensive that succeeded in pushing the Germans out of France. A total of 1,200,000 Americans fought in this battle, and about one of every 10 was killed or wounded.
Derby, only 19, was killed on Sept. 30, 1918. His grave was not discovered until seven years later, in August 1925.
Frontenac is a very special place for the family, according to Kris Cerone, Oceanside, Calif., family member who has done extensive research.
“Frontenac is the only place the Derby name lives on in the United States, and that’s in name only,” she said. “There are other Derbys, but they are not related to us. I thought I’d found more, and talked with a very nice woman who lived in the Poconos. We had similar family names, but our dates just didn’t match up. We said it had been nice being cousins for an afternoon.”
There was a man, Jack Hollingsworth, who’d been born a Derby, but “lost” the name when his parents divorced and he was given his grandparents’ name.
“He kind of knew that he was somehow related to the Derbys, but that was all,” Cerone said.
The two got in contact on the Internet “and by the second or third e-mail, I knew Jack was a Derby,” Cerone said. “A big reason we decided to have this reunion in Frontenac was so Jack could meet his cousins.”
Sadly, Hollingsworth became ill and died in early May. He will be honored with a “Remembering Jack Hollingsworth” poster with photos that Cerone put together.
“I am glad that we were able to get him some photos of his father, William Patrick Derby, before he died,” Cerone said. “We got his father’s Army  discharge papers, and from that Jack knew that they were both the same height and weight, and when he saw the picture, he noticed that they both parted their hair on the same side.”
Hollingsworth also made an earlier trip to Frontenac, and Cerone asked Duke Locke, Frontenac American Legion member, and his wife to show him around.
That included a trip down Wright Street to find the vacant space formerly occupied by the Derby home, and a trip to Sunset Manor to visit Frank Bozick, who had known the Derby family and been a playmate to some of the Derby children.
“Mr. Bozick looked at Jack, and without me introducing him, he said,  ‘You look like a Derby’,” Locke said.
Another cousin at the reunion is Bob McCormick, Roswell, Ga., with his wife, Kathy.
“My father had been kind of closed-mouthed about our genealogy, and on my own I was trying to find out some information,” McCormick said. “Then, out of the blue, Kris Cerone contacted me.”
He learned that John F. Derby was the nephew of his great-grandfather, James Joseph Derby.
McCormick’s brother, James Derby McCormick, was unable to attend the reunion.
“I guess he’s the only one with the Derby name left, and that’s just a middle name,” McCormick said.
McCormick has never been in Frontenac before, and will be happy to learn more about it and its place in family history, but he does have a regret.
“I was looking forward to meeting Jack Hollingsworth,” he said.