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Madison County During World War I


Our Hometown Heroes


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Source:  Alton Evening Telegraph, March 18, 1919

The family of Lieut. Elden S. Betts have received a letter from Brigadier General Frank Parker, of the First Division, in which is included a copy of the general order issued October 16, 1918, in which Lieut. Betts is given highest praise. The letter to Miss Betts, his sister, follows:  "First Division, February 1, 1919.  My Dear Miss Betts:  Your letter of December 11 has reached me, and I have sought diligently for further details concerning your brother's death. I can give you now all that is known definitely. First, Lieut. E. S. Betts was killed on October 9, 1918, just north of Hill 240, while commanding the machine gun company of the 16th Infantry, in the desperate fighting that took place on that day. He is buried near the spot where he fell, not far from the town of Exermont. While he was still a lieutenant in the machine gun company of the 18th, I as brigade commander, transferred him to the 16th Machine Gun Company (16th Reg. of Infantry) to command that country, while awaiting his Captaincy for which I had recommended him. You may feel proud of your brother. He had from the beginning attracted my attention as a splendid type of our American manhood. I am sending you a copy of a British citation which will be a testimonial to his character and record. All honor to the brave men who with heart, brain and body gave the great effort that was the hardest to give. May our country never fail to recognize in its proper proportion the services of such men as Elden S. Betts, who with perfect courage and complete self-effacement sought the posts of honor nearest the enemy, and did the dying with no thought other than duty fully done. All honor, my dear lady, to you and to the other members of the family of Elden S. Betts. It is surely such families that will carry our nation through future hours of trial. Very faithfully yours, Frank Parker, Brig. General U. S. Army.  Headquarters 1st Infantry Brigade, American Expeditionary Forces, France. October 16, 1918. General Order No. 13.  The Brigade Commander cites the following officer for the motive hereinafter given:  First Lieutenant Elden S. Betts, commanding M. G. Co., 16th Infantry. Officer of the finest personal and military qualities, has, from the beginning of the operations of the First Division, until killed while leading his company in the desperate fighting between the Argonne and the Meuse on October 9, been conspicuous for his courage, zeal, efficiency and loyalty, consistently setting the finest example to his subordinates, and possessing at all times the complete confidence of his superiors.  By command of Brigadier General Parker.  (Signed) J. W. Crissy, Major, Infantry, U. S. A. Brigadier Adjutant."


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 12, 1919

Mrs. John Berg has planted a tree, adorned with an American flag, in front of her premises, 723 Alby street, in honor of Elden Sprague Betts, who was born in the house. Captain Elden S. Betts was killed on October 9, 1918 at Hill 240, while leading the Machine Gun Company of the 16th Infantry of the First Army Corps of the regular army in the terrible battle of the Argonne Woods.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 10, 1921              Church to Dedicate Tablet in Memory of Soldier Killed in World War
Members of the St. Paul's Episcopal church will dedicate a tablet in memory of Elden Betts, one of the Alton soldiers who was killed in the World War. The tablet will be placed in the church, near the altar. It is planned to dedicate the memorial tablet on Oct. 9th, the third anniversary of the young officer's death. He was killed in action on Oct. 9, 1918. Elden Betts was the son of P. L. Betts of Twelfth street. At an officers' training camp he was commissioned a lieutenant, but by distinguished service rose to the rank of Captain. Many testimonials of his bravery and heroic death have been received from members of his company.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 13, 1921
The body of Lieutenant Elden Betts, one of the Alton soldiers killed in the war, will not be returned to Alton. Members of the family, when asked by the government if they desired the body returned, decided to let it remain in the military cemetery in France where it was buried. P. L. Betts, father of the young officer, who has had military experience, said they had decided it more feasible to let the body remain in France because there it is in a military cemetery, which will always be kept up as the resting place of the bodies of men who died in the service of their country. A memorial service for Lieut. Betts will be held in St. Paul's Episcopal Church on October 9, when a memorial tablet, presented by his father, will be dedicated.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 20, 1918

Adolph Louis Betz, an Alton boy, bore the part of a hero in the fighting at Chateau Thierry in France, when the Marine Corps went "over the top" and taught the enemy its first valuable lesson, that American boys could and would fight, and were hard foes to meet. The Recruiter's Bulletin, a Marine Corps publication, issued to stimulate interest in that branch of the National defense, has the following special mention of the identity of Adolph Louis Betz of Alton, who is described in the Bulletin as being "Corporal Adolph Louis Betz, Alton, Ill., enlisted in the Marine Corps at St. Louis, Mo., April 1917, and received recruit training at Paris Island. His mother, Theresa Betz, lives at 2614 State street, Alton, Ill. Then the Bulletin goes on to say:  "When the first wave went over (at Chateau Thierry), Corporal Adolph Louis Betz, Alton, Ill.; Sergenat Guy C. Stickney, Bothwell, Wash.; and Privates Ora J. Easton, Bloomington, Cal.; Omer A. Rice, Valley, Neb.; Fred J. Dewitt, Momence, Ill.; and Frank A. Reed, Wauneta, Neb., were separated in the underbrush from the rest of the force. They discovered an enemy stronghold which was decimating the attacking body, and without awaiting the orders they rushed a fortified position, captured the guns and an officer and 21 men." The word of the heroic action of her son will probably be the first that will be given to his mother, as it takes a long time to write letters home, and Adolph Louis Betz is not exactly the kind of a lad who would write home and do much in the line of praising himself.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 6, 1918

Lieutenant Fred E. Haeberle of the United States Navy has been signally honored, it has just been learned by his Alton friends. He is somewhere at sea doing his duty, probably in conveying U. S. troops to France, but the action of a great national organization has become known to him, and the gift this organization sent him has been received somewhere at sea, and will be justly treasured by Lieutenant Haeberle, a former Alton boy. The Daughters of the Revolution of the national organization made the gift, and among the engraved words are the information that the cup presented to him by the above organization for "Excellence in Seamanship and in International Law." No further particulars accompanied the information from the East, but evidently the young man has been doing something recently which attracted the attention and admiration of the above organization, and of course his many Alton former companions and friends will be pleased to hear of his success.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 2, 1919

Friends have learned of the arrival in New York City of Lieut. Kendall Hopkins, son of Mr. and Mrs. George Hopkins of St. Louis. The young officer was recently decorated with a Distinguished Service Cross, and some time previous received the Croix de Guerro. Hopkins enlisted in the flying corps early in the war and was among the first Alton boys to go across. In this country he made some excellent flights, and going abroad distinguished himself in various ways, attracting the attention of Washington. He was a member of Eddie Rickenbacker's aerial squadron. Hopkins is a well-known member of an old Alton family, and is a grandson of Mrs. George K. Hopkins of Henry street. Some time ago his parents, Mr. and Mrs. George Hopkins, went to St. Louis to reside. In all his letters to home folks, Lieut. Hopkins had very little to say of himself. They knew generally that he had been very active and had an important party in the war, and they are now greatly pleased at the recognition that has been given him in the award of this decoration for distinguished service.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 28, 1918

William Kaeshammer, member of the United States Navy, a gunner of a crew assigned to help protect merchantmen, is home from the war on a ten-day furlough. A few years ago Willie was a mischievous boy in Humboldt school, ready to play tricks on the teacher and get into all kinds of mischief. Today, he is a wonderful hero on East Sixth street, where his grandfather, Col. James P. Pack, lives. Willie had listened to tales of deeds of valor by his grandfather, based on Civil War experiences, until he became fired with desire to emulate his grandfather, and in old age, to be able to tell his grandchildren of his deeds. So Willie enlisted, got into the navy, became accurate enough at firing a gun to be qualified for appointment as members of a crew onboard the merchantman Santa Maria. The ship had 22 gunners onboard, including Willie. Off Fairhead Island, near Ireland, Willie says his ship was submarined. He brought home a piece of the torpedo to prove it. He went into the cold water, February 25, after his ship was submarined, and he was picked up by a trawler. He went to England, then wrote home, but said nothing of his experience. He came back to Philadelphia and he was given a ten-day furlough, then came home, surprising his family. Col. Pack had to take a backseat today. Great a hero as he was, he was never sunk by a submarine, and he has to let the boy tell the story. East Sixth street, where Willie lives, is in high fettle now that Willie is back for a ten-day furlough.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 1, 1919

William T. Kaeshammer, known on east Sixth street in the Humboldt school neighborhood as Doodles Pack, is home, a veteran of the war with Germany. Doodles is wearing two gold chevrons on his sleeves to account for his foreign service. It was Kaeshammer who came home on day, told a remarkable story of a ship on which he was a gunner, being sunk by a submarine, and the story was not just exactly credited because no one had heard about it. A few days later his story was verified by the Secretary of the Navy, who issued special recognition to the gun crew, and complimented them for their bravery in staying at their posts of duty while the water was washing the deck at their feet. Kaeshammer is a grandson of Jim Pack, and it was the desire of the lad to surpass the feats of daring of his grandfather that caused him to enlist and get into the service of his country.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 22, 1919

Lieut. William Levis, for extraordinary heroism in action, has been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by Gen. Pershing, notice of which was received today. The Distinguished Service Cross is the second decoration the young man has received, the first one being a decoration from the French government, the "Croix de Guerre," which corresponds to the American decoration that has just come. The letter informing Lieut. Levis of the award being made reads as follows:


"Lieut. William Levis, Alton, Ill.  Dear Sir:  This office has been advised by the Commanding General of the American Expeditionary Forces that he has awarded to you the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in action near Bois de Aigrement, July 18, 1918. The Quartermaster General of the army has this day been directed to have the cross sent to you by registered mail."


The letter came from the War Department at Washington. Lieut. Levis, when asked today about the circumstances connected with the award of the Distinguished Service Cross, said that it came as a complete surprise to him. He had received the French War Cross some time ago, and had not thought he was also to get recognition from his own government. The award came to him as a very pleasant surprise. He modestly declined to talk for publication about the incidents that brought the award, saying merely that they were a series of happenings in his very first battle, at the time the Germans were crossing the Marne at Château Thierry, and the Americans stopped them.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 27, 1918

Since Stanley Lynch arrived home, some of his friends have been noticing the little piece of red, white and blue ribbon that he wears as the ribbon that goes with the Distinguished Service Cross. Speaking of the Distinguished Service Cross, Lieut. Paul R. Scott, who has been in France and is now at home visiting home folks, says that he noticed the decoration on Lynch and asked him about it. Lynch, he said, was unwilling to talk of it, saying it had been awarded to him, but for what particular act of heroism, he would not say. Lieut. Scott said, in speaking of the wearing of the ribbon of the Distinguished Service Cross:  "Such decorations are awarded only to those who have performed some signal feat of heroism, such as the army desires to honor. With the ribbon is the cross, but most soldiers do just as Lynch is doing, wear only the ribbon, leaving the cross in a place of safety and where it does not attract so much attention. Most of these crosses have been awarded posthumously to men killed in service while performing some daring deed, the majority of the awards being to men who did not live long enough to know they had been shown such honor."  Beside his Distinguished Service Cross, Lynch wears the cord on his shoulder that designates him as a member of a division which was given honors for gallant conduct in the battle lines. Lieut. Scott says that he believes Lynch is the first Alton man to be honored as he has been. He was probably the first Alton boy to be wounded. The young man is a son of Patrolman James Lynch, traffic policeman, and the boy is generally recognized as being a "chip off of the old block."


[NOTE: Stanley Lynch was wounded in action, and never fully recovered. He sought treatment in a hospital in St. Louis. Sadly, he died December 14, 1924, at the age of 32, after developing pneumonia while at the hospital. He was buried in the Alton City Cemetery. Lynch had been in the battle of Soissons in France.]





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 16, 1918

Eugene McCune, although he has been employed in the office force of the U. S. Army, has three Germans to his credit, and has taken as many more prisoners. He did not wait for his own company to go over the top, but went with an English company using an English gun. In her own way he tells of his deeds at the front. The letter was written from France on August 14 to Mr. and Mrs. H. E. Bishop. The young man does not tell in a boastful way of the deeds he has done, but merely tells of it in a straightforward way. McCune is a slight lad. He was one of the smallest men to be sent out of Alton, but what he did shows the caliber of the men Alton has sent to the front. The following is a part of the letter in which he tells of going over the top with the English. The drive was evidently one of these recently made by the British, probably the one in Pveardy. He says:  "On ________ I heard that there was going to be a big stunt, and I began to get restless again. I wanted more excitement, and about 11 o'clock that night put on my tin hat and my gas mask, and started for the trenches. I managed to find the place where the hop over was going to be started. But the officers were all English, and the officers told me I couldn't go. But I hung around and talked and talked, and finally he decided to let me go over the top. I got myself a rifle and a bayonet and waited for the zero hour. Early in the morning the bombardment started, followed by a heavy barrage. Then came the order, and we went over the top. Well, let me tell you right now that I was afraid because I never had an English rifle in my hands before, and I had been doing office work for a good many months without any training. I followed close behind, and soon saw my first man and shot him. That gave me a little confidence in myself, but the second man came upon me before I had time to shoot, and all I could do to save myself was bayonet him. It surely made me feel mighty queer and shaky, but I knew I had to go on. I soon saw a German lying in the grass ready to shoot one of our men, so I popped him off. I went on to the other men and stopped at a German dugout, and saw somebody down there and told them to come out. They understood what I was trying to say and came out, three of them. I made them drop their guns at the point of my gun and bayonet, and started them back for our quarters. At first I was afraid of the three men, but I began to feel proud of myself as I marched them in, but I've had enough. I don't want to go through that anymore. Our side had very few casualties, but I saw hundreds of dead Germans, besides the thousands of prisoners we took on that drive. In some places they are still going. I have been very busy for several days during the big drive helping in the First Aid dressing station. We worked one stretcher for 28 hours without stopping, and I was awful sick from the smell of medicine and nothing to eat, but things are more quiet now."


[After the war Eugene moved to Chicago. He later attended the Voice School of the Studio, and joined the Royal Male Quartet. He toured with the Quartet and was highly successful with singing.]





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 29, 1919

Lieut. Col. Frank Moorman of Edwardsville has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his services in France. So far as known, he is the only Edwardsville man who has won this particular distinction. The cablegram to him from Gen. Pershing says: "for exceptional service in a position of greatest responsibility, he displayed peculiar genius, combined with exact scientific knowledge in organizing, training and operating the radio intelligence service of the intelligence section, charged with the duty of intercepting and deciphering radio messages of the enemy. He acted with initiative and foresight, achieving great results. (Signed) Pershing."  The message tells the story. What the aviators were in the air as "eyes" of the army, Moorman's men were as its "ears." Moorman has been called to Washington to take a post in the service of the Supply Department. He entered the service originally in St. Louis, enlisting as a private.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 1, 1919

Hubert Paul, formerly of Alton, has been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism with the American Expeditionary Forces in Russia. Paul is a stretcher bearer, and with two of his comrades was awarded the decoration for heroism shown when they braved the gunfire of the Bolsheviki to rescue wounded comrades. After reaching wounded men, the stretcher bearers were forced to crawl back to their own lines, though carrying wounded men. Paul is 22 years old. He enlisted when 20 and received preliminary training at Camp Funston. After being transferred from there, he was sent with a contingent to Russia. He has a number of friends in Alton. While here he was employed in the freight office of the Big Four railroad.





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