Private Joseph Sylvester Payne was born 25 March 1896 to Daniel Blackburn and Frances Willis “Fannie” Tubbs Payne in Perry County, Alabama. He registered for the draft on 05 June 1917 and was called for service in the summer of 1918. He would later go onto serve with the 11th Company, CP Pike S.R.D Infantry. On his way to Europe, he developed pneumonia and died at sea on 10 October 1918. He is buried at Oise-Aisne American Cemetery near Fere-en-Tardenois, France, Plot A, Row 30, Grave 6.
After the war, the French Government issued a memorial declaration for his family. This certificate was rescued by Purple Hearts Reunited on EBay. This is something normally out of the Foundation’s scope of rescue, but were drawn to the certificate and its meaning.
The certificate reads: “The Memory of, PVT Joseph S. Payne, of the Unites States of America, who died for Liberty during the Great War, with homage of France, President Raymond Poincare”.
With a little research, they were able to find PVT Payne’s Great Niece, Mrs. Judith Mills, who happens to be the family historian. The certificate was framed, along with a picture of PVT Payne and an official replacement WWI Victory Medal. It was sent to his family and arrived on Veterans Day 2015.