Nellie Elizabeth (Stocks/Hempelman) Fontillas

Wisconsin Woman Trains Luzon Guerrillas

[Associated Press Wirephoto from Signal Corps]

AMERICAN WOMAN LEADS FILIPINO GUERRILLAS--Mrs. Elizabeth Fontillas, formerly of Eau Claire, believed to be the only American woman in the Philippines to lead a band of guerrillas, reviews a small section of her troops at Paete Mountain Headquarters on Luzon Island. Her husband, Captain Angel Fontillas, whom she married eight years ago in California, stands at the head of the formation (in background). He is Executive Officer of the unit.

Former City Woman Helped Lead Filipino Resistance to Japs
Unreported Since '41; Picture Gives Clue
An Army Signal Corps photograph, serviced by the Associated Press late Wednesday, gave the first clue to the whereabouts of an Eau Claire woman who, apparently, has been helping direct Filipino guerrillas in warfare against the Japs since Pearl Harbor. 

She is Mrs. Elizabeth Fontillas,  formerly Nellie Elizabeth Stocks, who has three brothers and other relatives residing here. Relatives received word of  her present activities with amazement. The news came as a shock since they did not know whether or not she was alive. They could give no explanation as to how she achieved her present position in the guerrilla bands, nor to the  work of her husband, who is also an American citizen. They went to the Philippines in 1937. Last heard from in August 1941, that time she told relatives not to write again, as all officers' wives were being moved to the interior or possibly to the United States. A Christmas gift sent to her in 1941 was returned here in February 1942, without reaching her. 

No Reply to Red Cross
In October 1943, the Red Cross attempted to secure information as to her whereabouts and a form was completed and submitted in November. There was no reply. 

Three brothers are residents of Eau Claire: C. R. Stocks, 709 Margaret Street, owns the Stocks Electric Company on South Barstow Street. Petty Officer Second Class, Vernon Stocks, 220 Maple Street, returns to Eau Claire on a Navy leave Friday. Staff Sergeant Glen Stocks, who was severely injured in a land mine explosion in Africa two years ago, is at a hospital in the United States.

Four Children in Service 
Mrs. Fontillas has six children, four by a previous marriage are all in the service, one of them prisoner of the Japanese since the Pearl Harbor attack. Her former husband, Thomas Hempleman, also makes his home in Eau Claire. They were divorced about 15 years ago.

The children in service are Robert Hempleman, 24, United States Navy for the past four years; Wayne Hempleman, 22, United States Navy, captured by the Japanese in December 1941 and still a prisoner of war; Cadet Nurse Alice Joy Hempleman, 20, at a hospital in Utah; and Corporal David Hempleman, 18, with the Army in France. 

Went to Manila in 1937 
She married Captain Fontillas in 1933 at National City, CA while he was a Petty Officer in the United States Navy and also a band leader. Approximately two years later, he retired from naval service. In 1937, they went to Manila and then to San Narcisco, Zambales, Philippine Islands to make their home. They have two children. 

Captain Fontillas was called back to Navy duty shortly before Pearl Harbor. 

Born in the town of Washington, Eau Claire County on April 26, 1902, she attended grade school there and at Altoona. Her parents, both dead, were Samuel F. Stocks and Anna Marie Stocks. Mrs. Fontillas attended Eau Claire Rural Normal School here when it was in the Courthouse Annex.

While she was married to Hempleman, she resided in Milwaukee for several years.