Biographical / Historical
Edward Dugger was born June 6, 1894 in Finchley, Virginia. His father, William Henry Dugger was born a slave in 1845 in Mecklenburg County, Virginia but lived as a free man by 1870. His mother, Mary Jane Hepburn, was born in 1855. As the last of 8 children, Edward's family moved to Natick, Massachusetts, and again to Boston, MA, where he attended Boston English High School. After graduating in 1914, he enlisted in the United States Army which was resistant to welcoming African American soldiers. However, when President Woodrow Wilson declared war against Germany in April 1917, he created two all black units, the 92nd and 93rd Division (Colored), and sent the newly enlisted African American solder's to training camp. Dugger was invited to the first officer's training camp and graduated with the rank of first lieutenant by the fall of 1917. Before his first deployment, he married Madeline Mabray Kountze in June 1918. Kountze was a teacher who later studied law, became recognized for fighting against job discrimination, her extensive volunteer work, and her role as the former vice president of the local chapter of the NAACP.
Dugger saw action in St. Dié-des-Vosges, Marbache Sector, and Meuse-Argonne in the closing months of the war and won distinction for bravery before returning home in March 1919. After returning from the war, he became Captain of Company K of the 372nd Infantry. By 1930, he became the Commanding Officer of Company L of the 6th Massachusetts Infantry. In 1936, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and retired from the military.
He served on the Boston Police Force for 4 years and then joined the United States Postal Service in 1923, working until his retirement in 1938. Aside from his military and work experience, Dugger served as President of the Men's Community Club, which established the first Community Center, chaired the Citizen's Committee that brought the Boy Scout Troup #11 to West Medford in 1938, and became the first black member of the City Planning Board. Unfortunately, he had been sick for many years with polycystic kidney disease in addition to the mustard gas exposure from the war. On March 5th, 1939 at age 44 in the United States Naval Hospital in Chelsea, MA. He was survived by his wife and 6 children: Edward Jr. (1919). Barbara Anne (1921), Madeleine (1922), Portia Alma (1924), Cortland Otis (1926), and Ione (1931). Due to his contributions and dedication to the military and his community, on September 10th, 1939, the city of Medford honored him by naming a public park "Duggar Park". His daughter, Dr. Ione Vargus, gifted this collection to the Smithsonian Institute in memory of her father.
President Wilson declared war against Germany
October 12, 1917
Officer's Training Camp and First deployment as 1st Lieutenant
Married and shipped overseas
Honorably Discharged and Returned home
Joined National Guard as Captain
Joined the United States Postal Service
Promoted to Commanding Officer of Company K of the 6th Massachusetts Infantry
Appointed the first black member of the Medford City Planning Board
March 5, 1939
Died at U.S. Naval Hospital