Collinsville, Oklahoma
September 18, 2009
Local War Casulties

Two 1941 Collinsville Plane Crashes Claimed Early WWII Deaths
One Was British Student Pilot
Other Was Part Of Name Sake's Quest

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Ted Wright -- last update 9/18/2009 (WarDeaths.html)

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I normally consider past war related casulties as happening overseas, but a research request I worked on this summer led me to stories of two men that died within three & four miles of Collinsville in the early stages of World War II. In June 1941 (Joseph Quigley) and July 1941 (R.D. Harrison), both Spartan School of Aeronautics cadets, died in plane crashes during training flights west of Collinsville. -- Ted Wright

Friday, 4 Sep 2009
Subject: Re: Second Collinsville Plane Crash (1941)
I'm glad I could be of assistance in your quest. And I appreciate your background info on the reason for the search. With with your permission I would like to include some of your story along with the two crash stories on for the historical value. The veterans just put up a display in the library with photos of local citizens killed in action during the war but I doubt they are even aware others died right here at home for the war effort. -- Ted Wright

Thanks so much for the follow-up!
Your research means so much to me since it concludes perhaps a 30 year search for information on this crash.

The pilot (Joseph Edward Quigley) was my father's roommate (and football teammate) at St. Benedict's College in Atchison, KS. More importantly to me (Joseph Edward Ziemba), I was named after Joe Quigley.

Anyway, while I knew that Joe Quigley had perished in a plane crash, no one in my family had any details except that it had occured in the '40s...and that it was probably a commercial aircraft that went down on the way to Midway Airport in Chicago. My father (who passed away in 1973) retained a telegram from Joe Quigley indicating that he would be arriving in Chicago (my father's home) on a certain flight, but no date was included.

Over the years, I've searched microfilm for information on plane crashes in the Chicago area in the 40s, but never found anything that matched.

Now with more electronic information available on-line, we finally found the brief notice in the Chicago Tribune that I sent you. The only thing that didn't match was that his home town was listed as Vandalia, OH, and I knew that he was from Kansas City.

Next--I contacted the Collinsville, IL library thinking that was the Collinsville mentioned in the Tribune article. However nothing could be found in the newspapers there, so I began looking for other towns named Collinsville and found your location, as well as the Spartan School. The school did not have any records (military has them), so I turned to the library.

Although the library did not have older newspapers, they were kind enough to refer me to you--and I can't thank you enough!

As a final sidebar, earlier this year, I found out that my father will be inducted next month into his college's Hall of Fame. As such, I wanted to mention Joe Quigley at the induction ceremony and perhaps find his surviving sister and tell her about it as well. With the information you provided, I can now move forward with the search for his sister, but I can also close the chapter on what happened to the man that I was named after.

Thanks again, Ted!
Joe Ziemba (9/4/2009)
Oklahoma Archives Month: October
The Oklahoma Department of Libraries sends me 2 posters each year to promote "Oklahoma Archives Month" in October. One of the posters this year shows a pre-statehood Oklahoma map hand drawn by Lester Raymer (of Alva, OK in ~1939). I've enlarged a bit of that drawing to show our area below. The map is part of the 3.5 million documents in the Indian Archives of the Oklahoma Historical Society "concerning 67 tribes indigenous to Oklahoma or forcibly resettled within the boundries of the state."
For more information visit

As an additional followup on the veterans display at the Library, I've included a bit on two other war deaths: John Daniel (who died Sept. 26, 1918 in France - WWI) who the America Legion Post is named after and Joe Keith (who died Jan. 25, 1944 in Italy - WWII) who the VFW Post is named after. -- Ted Wright

Joe Keith (1942)
This letter to Joe Keith's family is one of two Presidential correspondences on display at the Collinsville Library during September 2009 (MIA/POW Recognition Month)
This page shows just a few of the many who have served and died in the service of the United States. There are Civil War veterans buried in Collinsville cemeteries and likely each war since.
Wilbur Just Airfield Comments
Added 9/19/2009
The articles from the Collinsville News concerning the death of two pilots west of Collinsville in 1941 was of great interest to me. My name is Wilbur Just. The airfield used for the training of those pilots was very near our home 2 miles West and 3 North of town. During those years the property owned by the Roof Family was leased by the government.

As a young boy, I remenber many mornings the arrival of about a dozen aircraft. They could be seen as they arrived from the South from the Tulsa Area. One air craftt flew about 50 feet above our home and I also witnessed a crash on the airfield when a plane upset upon landing. I do not believe any one was hurt.

Recently, I visited an Air Museum in Liberal, Kansas and was excited to see a training aircraft like the ones I think were used on the dirt traing field at the Old Roof Place.

Ira Butts, mentioned in the article, approaching the site of one of the crashes was the custodian at Eureka School in my time there. Ira Butts is the Grandfather of John Butts who passed away recently at Collinsville.

Keep up the good work......Wilbur Just of Clearwater, Kansas

P.S. When the war ended and the Government did not need the Roof property, Darrell Johnson turned it back into farmland.
See additional comments on the former air field & training flights at the bottom on this page.
Other Potential State-Side Air War Deaths?
Got these events to check further from my Bother Phil Wright (9/23/2009 from his research notes):

July 22, 1943 Richard Ross, Plano, Texas and William L Darby, Tulsa, plane crash.

April 19, 1945 No names listed 4 killed air crash.

Jimmy Banks lost at sea March 2, 1944