Famous DM/Polk Persons & Street Naming

The naming of Merle Hay Road & Fleur Drive

(From the DM Register - Famous Iowans)

Merle Hay --- WWI War hero --- 1896-1917

Scores of Iowans say Merle Hay's name daily. They usually are referring to the road from the Camp Dodge area into Des Moines that honors him, or the shopping mall named for the road.

Merle David Hay, a Glidden-area farm boy, was the first Iowan and one of the first three Americans killed in World War I.

Private Hay, 21, died in the early hours of Nov. 3, 1917, while serving sentry duty in the trenches near Artois, France, close to enemy lines. He may have been the first killed as 500 Germans conducted a surprise attack on inexperienced American troops.

Register File Cartoon ---
This cartoon by J. N. "Ding" Darling ran in the Nov. 8, 1917, issue of The Des Moines Register. An engraving of the cartoon is featured on the state monument to Merle Hay in Glidden.

Hay was found face down in the mud. He had been shot beneath his right eye. His throat was cut. The watch his mother had given him had stopped at 2:40 a.m.

Months before, 6-footer Hay had been a mischievous lad who liked to be out with his horse and buggy. He enjoyed smoking a pipe, roller-skating and attending movies. He loved his mother's sweet rolls.

Hay was a clerk at a Glidden farm implement store when Congress declared war on Germany in April 1917. He enlisted in May with seven other men from the Glidden area. He was on a ship to France three weeks later.

Hay was buried at Bathelemont, France, but his remains were returned to Iowa in July 1921. Thousands attended his funeral.

An 8-foot monument commissioned by the Legislature marks his grave at Westlawn Cemetery in Glidden. A 16-ton boulder at Merle Hay Road and Aurora Avenue in Des Moines also honors Iowa's best-known war hero.

In the early 1900s, Fleur Drive was called 21st Street. The roadway was renamed roughly 80 years ago in honor of Edward O. Fleur, a World War I Army commander from Des Moines who died in France in 1918.

Sponsored Links
Advertise Here!

Promote Your Business or Product for $10/mo


For just $10/mo you can promote your business or product directly to nearby residents. Buy 12 months and save 50%!


Zip Code Profiler

50310 Zip Code Details

Neighborhoods, Home Values, Schools, City & State Data, Sex Offender Lists, more.