Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Demas Lindley Sears Papers, 1916-1983

Finding aid created by
Cheney J. Schopieray, January 2019

Summary Information
Title: Demas Lindley Sears papers
Creator: Sears, Demas Lindley, 1894-1988
Inclusive dates: 1916-1983
1942-1946
Extent: 1.5 linear feet
Abstract:
This collection is made up of 158 letters, 8 speeches and writings, 36 documents, 25 ephemeral items and currency, 5 pamphlets or booklets, 43 newspaper clippings, 26 lithographs, and 99 photographs by or related to Lieutenant Colonel Demas Lindley Sears. The bulk of the collection pertains to his service as a mid-level intelligence officer in the U.S. Army's 37th Infantry Division during World War II. A small portion of the collection reflects his service in the 8th Ohio Infantry Regiment during the Punitive Expedition of 1916 and in the First U.S. Cavalry during World War I.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Gift, 2019. M-7099.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Preferred Citation:

Demas Lindley Sears Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

The collection is arranged in the following series and sub-series:

  • Correspondence
  • Writings and Speeches
  • Documents
  • Printed Items
    • Ephemera and Currency
    • Booklets and Pamphlets
    • Newspaper Clippings
    • E. J. Dollriehs Lithographs
  • Photographs

Biography

Demas Lindley Sears was born in Bucyrus, Ohio, on February 6, 1894, to parents Rufus Victor Sears (1860-1941) and Sallie Sears (1861-1939). Demas L. Sears earned his law degree from Ohio State University in the spring of 1916. In June of the same year, he joined the Headquarters Company of the 8th Ohio Infantry Regiment, to serve in the Punitive Expedition against Pancho Villa. He became First Lieutenant (June 3, 1917), temporary Captain (August 5, 1917), and Captain (June 24, 1920) in the First U.S. Cavalry. Sears married Lura Belle Grigsby (1891-1967) on September 25, 1917, and the two had at least one child, Frances G. Sears (1922-2005).

Following the war, Demas worked as an attorney, first with his father's firm Sears & Sears, as an assistant U.S. attorney in Toledo, and then with the firm Doyle, Lewis & Warner. He practiced with Doyle, Lewis & Warner from the late 1920s until his retirement in 1980.

Demas L. Sears served in the Ohio National Guard, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was recalled to active Army service on October 5, 1940, and became an intelligence officer with the 37th Infantry Division. Under the command of Maj. Gen. Robert S. Beightler, the 37th Division trained for around a year and half before sailing for the Fiji Islands on May 26, 1942. As Assistant Chief of Staff (G-2), Sears coordinated intelligence activities in the Division. They continued training at Fiji and Guadalcanal before joining the Marines on New Georgia in July 1943. The 37th Division served in heavy combat, helping capture the Japanese Munda airfield. They rested at Guadalcanal before taking over perimeter defenses on Bougainville in November 1943. The 37th assisted with road construction and their patrol work included defending against Japanese attacks in March 1944. They remained on New Georgia, where they trained for the Luzon campaign, until January 1945, when they landed at the Lingayen Gulf. Their combat in the Philippines included the capture of Manila, the capture of Baguio, and service in the Cagayan Valley. The unit left the Pacific in November 1945 and Demas L. Sears was formally discharged on April 20, 1946. In the course of his service, Sears earned two Legion of Merits, a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, an Air Medal, and a Purple Heart.

Demas Sears spent his later years involved in local organizations before his death in Toledo on January 13, 1988.


Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection is made up of 158 letters, 8 speeches and writings, 36 documents, 25 ephemeral items and currency, 5 pamphlets or booklets, 43 newspaper clippings, 26 lithographs, and 99 photographs by or related to Lieutenant Colonel Demas Lindley Sears. The bulk of the collection pertains to his service as a mid-level intelligence officer in the U.S. Army's 37th Infantry Division during World War II. A small portion of the collection reflects his service in the 8th Ohio Infantry Regiment during the Punitive Expedition of 1916 and in the First U.S. Cavalry during World War I.

The Correspondence begins with a telegram and four letters respecting the death of Demas and Lura Sears's child in August 1918. The remainder of the correspondence is made up of original and contemporary carbon copies of letters by Demas L. Sears between 1942 and 1946. The bulk of one hundred and forty three letters are personal letters from Demas "Pop" to his wife Lura "Mother" and daughter Frances "Baby," or from Demas to others, between January 1944 and December 1945.

Lt. Col. Sears was an engaging writer and he described everyday experiences with thoughtful attention to detail. Within the restrictive confines of military censorship, he was unable to share what he called "real news," but wrote about his living quarters, food, plans for his return home, requests for letters and photographs, and generally about life in the South Pacific. He sent his wife souvenirs, such as a Japanese rifle and an entrenching shovel. His descriptions of combat and war atrocities are vivid (see, for example, his letters from late February 1945, as the 37th fought to capture Manila).

Between April 2 and July 4, 1943, Demas Sears wrote a 46-page letter to his wife in a diary-like form. He kept the letter as an uncensored account of his time on the Fiji Islands and Guadalcanal (before departing for New Georgia). It is accompanied by a typescript of the letter, titled "From the Fiji Islands to Guadalcanal with the 37th Division."

Between March 8 and September 14, 1945, Demas also composed 10 diary-like letters, producing multiple carbon copies for Lura to distribute to particular family members. In the margins, Demas identified (by hand) March 8 and September 14 as the first and last of these "family bulletins," and provided his wife with lists of intended recipients.

A series of Writings and Speeches include one war date essay and eight postwar speeches. From the Solomon Islands after November 14, 1942, he reflected thoughtfully on the war as a "young man's war" (he was able to identify a total of 22 men out of 14,000 who had served in World War I) and the importance of maintaining U.S. military strength in peacetime. His speeches relate to his war experiences and his audiences included a Congregational Church Men's Club, a Memorial Day gathering at Bucyrus, an American Legion group, and others.

The collection's 36 Documents , 1917-1946 (bulk 1942-1946), include certificates and orders related to Demas Sears's commendations and awards; training materials; intelligence (G-2 Reports, copies of a captured and translated Japanese Sergeant's diary, summaries of the interrogations of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, a Japanese map of the Pacific, etc.), and other similar papers.

Seventy-one Printed Items include ephemera and currency, booklets and pamphlets, and newspaper clippings. Among the ephemeral items are three unique World War I-era holiday menus; a menu for a 1945 banquet in honor of Maj. Gen. Robert S. Beightler; admission and transport tickets; Japanese currency; two World War I-era record of service posters, and a manuscript note in Japanese. The five booklets and pamphlets are each listed in the box and folder listing below. Forty-three newspaper clippings pertain to Lt. Col. Sears's World War II service.

The printed items also include 26 lithographs of pencil sketches by Edward "E. J." Dollriehs of the headquarters battery of the 37th Division. His illustrations include buildings, airfields, military headquarters, portraits, and the wreckage of Japanese planes. Dollriehs identified each with captions; most of the images are from the Luzon provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Pangasinan, and Tarlac.

The Sears papers contain 99 Photographs . Fifteen images from the period of Sears's service in World War I include two panoramic photographs of the First Cavalry Regiment, one panoramic photograph of the headquarters staff of the 37th Division, and 12 snapshots and portraits. The collection also contains 84 photographs from Sears's World War II service in the Pacific, including individual and group portraits, snapshots depicting camp life; a series of aerial snapshots taken from a C-47 on a leaflet-dropping mission over the Philippine Islands; five photographs of a Kava Ceremony in the Fiji Islands; and a selection of confidential Signal Corps photographs.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Guadalcanal (Solomon Islands)
    • Intelligence officers--United States.
    • Ohio. National Guard. Infantry Regiment, 8th.
    • United States. Army. Cavalry, 1st.
    • United States. Army--History--Punitive Expedition into Mexico, 1916.
    • United States. Army. Infantry Regiment, 37th.
    • United States. Army--Officers--Correspondence.
    • World War, 1914-1918.
    • World War, 1939-1945--Fiji.
    • World War, 1939-1945--Intelligence service.
    • World War, 1939-1945--Pacific Area.
    • World War, 1939-1945--Philippines.
    • World War, 1939-1945--Solomon Islands.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Fiji.
    • Kava ceremony.
    • Luzon (Philippines)
    • Philippines.
    • Sears, Demas Lindley, 1894-1988.
    • United States. Army. Cavalry, 1st.
    • United States. Army--History--Punitive Expedition into Mexico, 1916.
    • United States. Army. Infantry Regiment, 37th.
    Contributors:
    • Dollriehs, E. J. (Edward J.)
    Genre Terms:
    • Aerial photographs.
    • Booklets.
    • Clippings (information artifacts)
    • Essays.
    • Invitations.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Lithographs.
    • Menus.
    • Military records.
    • Pamphlets.
    • Paper money.
    • Photographs.
    • Snapshots.
    • Speeches (documents)
    • Tickets.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   1  
    Correspondence [series]
    Folders   1-16  
    Chronological correspondence,  August 3, 1918-October 3,1918; May 28, 1942- October 19, 1945 ; and   May 31, 1983-January 10, 1997
    Folder   17  
    Manuscript letter to [Lura Sears],   April 2, 1943-July 4, 1943. With typescript copy of the same, titled "From the Fiji Islands to Guadalcanal with the 37th Division."
    Folders   18-20  
    "Family Bulletin" typed and carbon copy letters,   March 8, 1945-September 14, 1945.
     
    Writings and Speeches [series]
    Folders   21-23  
    "On a recent Saturday night..."   November 14, 1942
     
    Congregational Church Men's Club,   February 1, 1946
     
    Presentation of American Legion Charter,  April 5, [1946]
     
    P.T.A.,   May 13, 1946
     
    Notes for Memorial Day Address, Woodlawn Cemetery, Bucyrus, Ohio,  May 30, [1953]
     
    Notes for Armistice Day Talk, Jackson, Miss.,  Undated
     
    "Ladies and Gentlemen: It is an honor and a pleasure..." (2 copies)
     
    "Deacon Story Walter Weller etc. So on this occassion [sic.]..."
     
    Documents [series]
    Folders   24-31  
    Chronological Documents,  April 18, 1917-[after April 20, 1946]
     
    Japanese Map, [Pacific Ocean],  [World War II era]
     
    Printed Items [series]
     
    Ephemera and Currency [subseries]
    Folders   32-33  
    Christmas Dinner  1916 , Headquarters Co., 8th Ohio Infantry menu
     
    Thanksgiving Dinner  1918 , Troop D., First U.S. Cavalry menu (2 copies)
     
    Thanksgiving Dinner  1919 , Headquarters Troop, First U.S. Cavalry menu
     
    Testimonial Banquet Honoring Major General Robert S. Beightler and Ohio's Own Division, Columbus, Ohio,   December 16, 1945 , menu and program
     
    Invitations and Admission ticket,  World War II era (3 items)
     
    Army transport ticket,  World War II era
     
    Japanese Government currency (6 items)
     
    Manuscript note in Japanese
    Folder   : Oversize Manuscripts  
    Record of Service posters (2 items)
    Box   1  
    Pamphlets and Booklets [subseries]
    Folders   34-37  
    Ohio State University Monthly, vol. IX, no. 6  (March 1918)
     
    U. S. Navy at War: Second Official Report by Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King,  [1945]
     
    Major General Robert S. Beightler's Report to the State of Ohio on the Activities of the 37th Infantry Division, 1940-1945 . s.n.,  [1945]
     
    Welcome Home 37th Division Victors,  [1945].    [Note: A Division shoulder patch is affixed to the cover of the Program.]
     
    Pacific Counterblow : the 11th Bombardment Group and the 67th Fighter Squadron in the Battle for Guadalcanal : An Interim Report, Wings at War Series, no. 3,  [1945].
     
    Newspaper Clippings [subseries]
    Folders   38-41  
     World War II era
    Box   2  
    E. J. Dollriehs Lithographs,  [World War II] [subseries]
     
    Photographs,  [World War I and World War II eras] [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Alternate Locations

    The Japanese map of the Pacific Ocean is located in the Clements Library's Map Division.

    Bibliography

    Major General Robert S. Beightler's Report to the State of Ohio on the Activities of the 37th Infantry Division 1940-1945. s.n., [1946].

    The Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the World War, 1917-18. Columbus, OH, USA: The F.J. Heer Printing Co., 1926: v. 15, 15400.