Sylvester J. Dryden

Sylvester J. Dryden was born 6-APR 1897.  His father was Louis Dryden.  His mother is unknown.  He lived at 558 Washington in St. Charles.  On his draft registration, his occupation was listed as a police officer with the City of St. Charles.  He entered the service 15-DEC 1917 and went overseas 15-APR 1918.

Sylvester served in headquarters company 370th Infantry.  The 370th, 93rd Infantry Division is one of few African American regiments that served in combat in World War I and notably was the only regiment commanded entirely by black officers.  Few people know about this unit of young black men, which served alongside 1st Army during World War I. The regiment fought in the battle of St. Mihiel, Argonne, and Soissons.  The division was nicknamed the “Blue Hats” and would wear the distinctive blue helmet patch denoting the wearing of French equipment during the war. The Germans called them the Black Devils because they fought furiously.

Immediately upon the 370th’s return from France, the black communities of Chicago began fundraising to erect a monument to the 370th Regiment, “Black Devils.” The monument was completed in 1928 and dedicated on 11 November, Armistice Day.

Sylvester returned home to St. Charles Missouri and resumed his job as police officer. His spouse was Jessie Victoria Jenner Dryden.  They had one daughter: Rose.  They lived on Lewis Street in St. Charles according to the 1930 Federal Census.  He served the City of St. Charles for 22 years wearing police badge number one.  He registered for the World War II (Old Man’s Draft) in 1942. In 1950 they lived on Gallaher in St. Charles.

Sylvester J. Dryden died on 2-OCT 1953 (aged 56) and is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in St. Charles MO.

Please contact the St. Charles County Veterans Museum Oral History project at or call 636-294-2657 for more information and lets’ talk. We want to hear from you because we know…Every Veteran has a story.