Dedicated to the memory of all the men and women of the Bridgnorth area who died during the two World Wars.
Oliver Johnson Schoolcraft was born in Herne Bay, Kent, in 1895. He was the son of Oliver Johnson Schoolcraft, an American clergyman, and his second wife Lily Rose Tupper.
By 1911 the family had moved to Springholme, Bridgnorth. Oliver Snr. was retired through ill-health. Oliver Jun. was a student - possibly still at the Bridgnorth Grammar School which he is known to have attended.
Oliver married Harriett Letticia Bourne at Portsmouth in 1916. The couple appear at some time to have been associated with the Pavilion Cinema in Droitwich. Harriett later lived at 87, Friar St., Droitwich. They had a daughter, Dorothy Thelma.
Oliver served in the Royal Navy as a Wireman - an electrician, normally drawn from the Torpedo Branch. He died aboard H.M.S. North Star on 23rd April, 1918 during the "Zeebrugge Raid". North Star was one of the ships protecting the force attacking the Zeebrugge Mole; it was sunk by fire from the shore battery. He is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.
The Leeds Times of 5th November 1892, reports the unusual circumstances of the Rev. Schoolcraft's first marriage:
IN THE MARRIAGE LOTTERY A CLERIC DRAWS A BLANK. A story of a clergyman's fruitless efforts to fit his wife for his own society and that of his friends was related in the Divorce Division on Saturday. The Rev. Oliver Schoolcraft, an American by birth came to this country in 1880 to study for the Church. He married at St. Helier's, Jersey, in June, 1881, having made his wife's acquaintance on the London streets. He did his best to reclaim her, but it turned out that she was utterly unsuited for marriage. He sent her to school to be educated, and lived with her from time to time, but she kept going away from him. In 1883 she went to America, and at Chicago she made the acquaintance of a man known as "WILD WEST BILL," a cowboy, with whom she lived as his wife. When at Heidelberg studying as an artist his wife went to a ladies' school at Hastings of her own free will. She ran away from school one night, and came to London. He at once wrote to her, and told her to come to Heidelberg. She refused, and remained in London, but finally came to Heidelberg. He did not live with her at once, but by her consent she lived in one part of the town and he in another. After a few weeks he asked her to live with him, but she refused. The reverend gentleman made her a member of a social club there, and acknowledged her as his wife. HER CONDUCT WAS EXCEEDINGLY QUESTIONABLE with the students of the university, and she was turned out of the club, and her ticket was sent back to her. He allowed her £15 a month, leaving himself £12 or a little more. He lived with her some time at Berlin, until she insisted that he should leave. He had never seen her since she went to America. Depositions were put in to the effect that respondent and co-respondent lived together in Chicago, and, no defence being offered, a decree nisi was granted.
This memorial has mostly been compiled from official sources. It would be good to be able to expand it with more personal material - memories, stories, photos, etc. If you have any suitable material or any corrections please contact Greg. For news of updates follow @BridgnorthHeros on Twitter.