Elmer Herrold Kell was born on March 1, 1892, in Signal Mountain, Tennessee, the son of Thomas M. and Mary H. Kell. His siblings included sisters, Edith and Bessie, and brother, Russell. The son of a farmer, he worked as a carpenter in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, before enlisting in the United States Navy for service in World War I. He served as a 4th Class Cook aboard the US transport ship Nansemond before his death from influenza on April 1, 1919 in Norfolk, VA. He is buried at Chattanooga National Cemetery in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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