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Camp Howze Museum

Famous faces of Camp Howze

The story of Camp Howze had many participants over the course of its creation. Many civilians, politicians, and performers all played key roles in establishing the camp, maintaining morale, and providing the soldiers and prisoners stationed there with much needed distractions from menial army life. Due to documentation from newpapers, city documents, personal journals, pictures, and memoirs from family members, we are able to share the impacts and events of the civilians and renown people from Camp Howze

Charles WadeNelson

Infantryman and singer Charles Wade Nelson who served from Camp Howze in Italy.

Performers and Musicians from Camp Howze

Over the course of the war, many soldiers and service members had to go through rough conditions and rigourous training to get ready to face battle in the theaters of war. Morale and enthusiasm were vital to the war effort and had to be kept high. Celebrities like Joe Louis and The North Texas music group "The Moon Maids" were documented visiting Camp Howze to perform and lift spirits.

Being in a camp away from home and far from any old friends and family will leave most people melancholic or homesick. The young men who were shipped in from all over the country to Gainsville were no different. These young men were not only taken from their homes and families but they were also transplanted in a strange place with hundreds of people they may not have even known. One thing that each of these young men could take comfort in was knowing that they were all going through the samething together. Also, these young men could take comfort in the pleasing and lovely music that would come from some of the singers and performers who would pass through camp. Sometimes an outside performer was not even necessary.

Charles Wade Nelson

Infantryman Charles Wade Nelson was one of dozens of musically and vocally talented individuals who had a place and impact on Camp Howze. Not only did this young man from Fort Worth sing, he served in the infantry with his friends and was shipped across the seas to Italy to fight for freedom there. Before his adventure began with the army in 1944, Charles Nelson had become a prolific choral Bass-Baritone singer in his highschool and local competitive levels. At the age of 15 he was a singer in the bass section of UNT's university Choir, and was the lead Bass soloist by 17 years old.

Nelson, during his service in the army, met the love of his life at Camp Howze. Betty Jean Brown and Charles Wade Nelson were married in May 30th, 1947. They eventually had several children and many grandchildren. 

Nelsons voice was well known and had a huge impact on the world of choral singing. After his service in the army, Nelson graduated with a Bachelors degree in music, and eventually got a masters degree in Music Education, which he used to help mold future generations of singers. He taught choir in highschools and colleges across the state, and became the professor of music at both Lipscomb University and Texas A&M Commerce. His reach in music did not just spread to students, it also spanned across the world. Nelson was reported to have performed 2,300 times in nearly all 50 states, and atleast 14 different countries. He performed solo hundreds of times and some of his performances were in Dallas Texas, Atlanta Georgia, St. Petersburg Russia, and Vilnus LIthuania. 

The Moon Maids (North Texas Swingtet)

  The Moonmaids are a piece of North Texan and UNT history in the world of music. Starting out as the North Texas Swingtet, the members Tinker Cunningham, Katie Myatt, Mary Jo Thomas and Arline Traux set out to sing in 1943. They had gotten their start with the Fessor Floyd Graham's Aces of Collegeland. 


  The Moonmaids entered into a radio show contest in 1944 that they did not expect to win but were surprised when they were informed that they had indeed won the contract to sing with the Dallas Palace Theatre. However their schooling was more important to them than singing with bands and splitting their efforts. When the war started, the Swingtet set out to travel across the southern United States to sing at army camps and USOs all over. They joined with the Graham's Variety show and toured until Vaughn Monroe's talent agents caught wind of them and scooped them up in 1946, renamed the Swingtet as the Moonmaids after Monroes theme song "Racing With the Moon"  and went on tour with the group. 


  The group would tour across the rest of the United States and perform on many shows and even showed up in the movie Carnagie Hall. By 1949 the group had finished touring and had split up to carry on with the rest of their lives and start new endeavours. 

Joe Louis

Joe Louis, born in Lafayette Alabama, was the grandson of former slaves and the seventh of eight children in his family. Louis's parents were share croppers and struggled to make ends meet for their large family. Louis's father Munn, would be committed to an asylum when Louis was just two years old. Joe Louis struggled alot in his early life through financial and social hardships, aswell as poor education. All this adversity gave Joe Louis strength and grit and molded him into one of the greatest heavyweight fighters of his time. 

A few years after his fathers departure, the Louis family moved to Detroit where young Joe would get mixed in with some gang members. Louis' mom Lillie, would sign him up for violin lessons to keep him busy, but Louis had already been exposed to the world of boxing by one of his friends and would take the violin money to go train for boxing. Louis could hit really really hard, but at this time his skills were not up to par with the other competitors at the amateur level and his start was rough. Facing stiff competition from Olympian Johnny miller, Joe louis would train his skills harder and in 1934 he would win the Detroit Golden Gloves light-heavyweight title and the national Amateur Athletic Union championship.

Joe Louis' amateur career would rack up 54 wins with 43 coming by the way of knock out. His professional career was internationally succesful and raised Joe Louis from the 7th child of a share cropper to an icon of American will and determination. This image would only be built upon during his matches with Max Schmelling, after a grueling 12 round match against the German, Joe louis would fall in his first professional defeat of 1936. His rematch in 1938 saw Louis drop Schmelling with vicous lethality in  the first round after only one minute and thirty four seconds. This iconic fighter would be utilized heavily by the war efforts of the United States, Joe Louis travelled all across the continent doing exhibition fights and demonstrations for troops being trained for the war. While not seeing any combat himself, Louis would recieve the rank of Staff Sergeant. Posters of Joe Louis hung on street corners and shopfronts all across the country with the words "We're going to do our part... and we'll win because we're on God's side." 


Civilians and Government Officials.

Ed Gossett, was a Texas state congressman during the war period and was one of the major players that got the ball rolling on the project of Camp Howze. Ed Lee Gossett was born in Yellowpine Louisiana and moved to Texas with his family in 1908. They lived in clay county where Ed went to school and eventually attended college at the University of Texas at Austin and UT law school. After practicing law between 1927 and 1939 Gossett was elected to the Seventy sixth congress and took Texas' 13th District seat. On March 20th 1942, after correspondance between Gossett and Clifford McMahon, the beginning of construction on Camp Howze was announced by Ed Gossett. Five short months later Camp Howze would be fully constructed and ready to recieve its first divisions of recruits.