"The archway standing in the entrance is the ruined church. Around it the open graves, violated by the Hun in his lustful search for gold. On a hillside under the cemetery were our dugouts, and now there is no thunder of shells, only a heart throb."
Madison County During World War I
Letters Home (Alphabetized)
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 21, 1918
(From Rupt, France) - Mrs. Paul E. Armstrong of 259 Madison avenue has received a letter from her husband telling of his experiences in part, since leaving Alton. Armstrong, writing on Thanksgiving day from Rupt, France, says in part: "Now that we are allowed to write about the past I will try to tell you of my experiences since leaving the States. To begin with, we left Camp Devens July 15 and went to Boston, Mass., where we boarded a ship and sailed the next morning, amid the blowing of whistles of fireboats and ferryboats. We sailed for two days, convoyed by American destroyers and arrived in Halifax. We stayed in Halifax for two days, then sailed for England, convoyed by a British destroyer and a British cruiser. There were twenty-three ships in the convoy. Halifax is the place where the big explosion occurred, and killed so many people. We could see where houses had been blown up over a mile away. It looked like we had reached the battle field already. On our second day out, an American soldier died onboard one of the ships in the convoy and was buried at sea. The boats stopped and the band on our ship stopped playing, and all the men removed their hats while the body was being lowered to its watery grave. On July 28 we were met by six more American destroyers. On July 30 at 3:15 p.m. we had our first experience with the German U-boats. The battles lasted for about twenty-five minutes, and the American destroyers were right on the job. They dropped a number of depth bombs and raised one of them. The British cruiser put the finishing touch to it by making a direct hit. There was more firing, and they reported they had gotten two of them. July 31 we saw the first sight of land, after being on the water sixteen days. We docked at Liverpool and hiked to a rest camp called Knotty Ash. We got an ovation all the way there from the English people. We stayed there two days, just long enough to get cleaned up, and left on the train on a seven hour ride to another camp called Mourn Hill, Winchester. Here I was close to Palmer Hawkins, who was but four miles away in an aviation camp, but we were not allowed to leave camp so I did not get a chance to see him. From here we went to Southampton and crossed to La Havre, France, on a steamer called Charles, which was formerly the old Harvard that ran from New York to Boston. At La Havre we marched to a rest camp. Here we got our first glimpse of the war. The camp had been bombarded by airplanes the day before, and we saw much wreckage. Next day we left this camp and boarded side door Pullmans, marked '40 somes and 8 chaveaux.' That means 40 men and 8 horses. The box cars are about half as big as ours at home. Well, they packed thirty-two of us in the car for a three-days and three nights' ride through France to a little town just outside Bordeaux, called Pent de Le Maye. Here we stayed at a chateau, which was the best we had since we left the States, and we slept in a barn on the floor. Here we received the guns that we took into battle. Here I was made a mechanic. On September 5 we left for an artillery camp called Camp de Sogue. There was where we got our real training. We fired day and night and barrages. We didn't mind that for we were anxious to get out of there and into the firing line. This we soon got, when we were transferred to Dugny, France, about three miles from Verdun. Going from there to the front in an indirect way, we dug in for the first time. It was some experience to hear the big shells go whistling over your head, and then hear the explosion of it only two or three hundred yards away. The next thing was the ringing and blowing of the gas alarms. When you were just about to take off your gas mask, Fritz would send over another one. But finally we got ready and opened up on the Germans with the first American guns and ammunitions that was fired in this war. They were 4.7 (four point, seven) and they did some damage when they landed. We were on the Wovre section, and fired our first shot on a town called St. Hilare. We were between Verdun and Metz, and this was on the Metz drive. We stayed on that sector until the armistice was signed. On that day the order came down to cease firing at 6:20 a.m. The Germans kept right on firing up to the last minute. But some of our regiments fired up to 10:59 1-3 a.m., so that made up for what we lost out on. After five days we came back to Rupt to the billets to get cleaned up and rested, and we have been here ever since. I hope we will soon be on our way home."
BAREUREUTHER, CARL A.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 8, 1918
Mrs. P. C. Dempsey of 1317 East Fifth street has received two interesting letters from her brother, Carl A. Bareureuther, who is in the Signal Corps, Co. C, 105th F. S. Battalion, with the American Expeditionary Force. Both letters are signed "Somewhere in France," under date of August 19 and the other August 23:
"Just a line or two to let you know that I am well and feeling fine and dandy, and doing good," is the pleasant greeting Bareureuther gives his sister in the first letter. "I am writing this letter in the front, and surely do enjoy it very much. In the front there is lots of excitement, I mean the roar of the big guns. I surely am getting lots of experience over here, some that won't be forgotten for a while. I am learning as much as I can and doing as much as I can to help win this great war, and always do my bit and always intend to until this thing is over, and then I can come home with a good, clean name, and live in honor and peace and hapiness the rest of my days. This, I hope, will not be long, and I am praying for the day to draw near when I can set my foot on the soil of the good old U. S. A. again. The people over here are very nice and kind, and I surely appreciate it very much. But I wish you could see this country. It surely looks a fright. It is all shot to pieces except in a few places, and they don't look very good."
In his second letter, young Bareureuther writes:
"Just a line to let you know I am still at the front and like it fine and dandy. I surely do wish I could be up with Phil at Brussels helping him with his apples. Oh well, I guess that will be next year, and this is hoping that it will be. Well, I like it very much over here except for one thing, and that is the body lice and mosquitoes. They sure are thick over here, believe me. We have to change clothes as often as possible on account of them. I am getting fat and strong and this outside work surely agrees with me. I get plenty to eat and good things, too."
BERRY, THOMAS (CORPORAL)
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 16, 1918
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 8, 1918
(From somewhere in France) - The family of Lieut. Eldon Betts in Alton have received two letters from him, written in France. He is First Lieutenant in the Eighteenth Infantry, Machine Gun Company No. 1, in charge of a platoon. Extracts from his letters tell of some interesting experiences in trench life. The Telegraph has been given copies of two of his letters, extracts from which are as follows:
"January 25. Well, here I am, sitting in a dugout in the line with double sentries posted, and the rest of the men sleeping with their clothes on. The adventures we had coming up to the front would fill a book. They include one afternoon, when after marching all day in a pouring rain which soaked us to the skin and then froze, one of our mules and carts overturned in the canal and we had to drag the poor brute out by the tail, must to his disgust. After arriving in the town where we were to billet, we discovered a mistake had been made, and no billets provided, so we had to plow around in the rain for an hour and get the exhausted men and animals under cover. In effecting the relief in the trenches, the Boche dropped a few shells on the road just behind us, but we came through without a scratch, and are now on the job. My dugout is a good, bomb proof one, with board floor, sides and ceiling. It has room for 12 men, a Sergeant and myself, but we have to go outside to change our mind. The food is carried up three times a day from the field kitchens, so we do not go hungry, and we can surely say we have running water in the trenches. Some places it is knee deep. Tonight about 10 p.m. the sentry called us and we all tumbled into our shoes (which is how we dress), and ran out fastening pistols, gas masks, etc., as we went. The signal rocket had gone up that an attack or raid was in progress, and for half an hour bedlam let loose. The Boche soon discovered the steady roar of my guns and began shelling us, but no casualties occurred, only one man with a slight shell scratch. The men are a fine lot, not a chicken heart in the bunch, although several shells almost lifted them off their feet. This is my first experience under actual fire, and I will never forget it. Neither will I ever be thrilled as I was again, I suppose."
"February 7. Today I went back behind the lines and had my first bath for 38 days. Tonight I am back in my comfortable dugout. I have two dugouts: one very uncomfortable; both bodily and for one's peace of mind, as Fritz is within 400 yards. The other is for rest, back over a mile. Here we can undress at night. In the other one, one never undresses, except perhaps take off your shoes for a while in the day time. Every so often I change from one to the other, but now I am 'sitting on the world,' as the soldiers say. One of my best friends here is a Lieutenant Gibson, who was in the next company to mine at Fort Sheridan, though we didn't meet there at all. I have a new orderly who owned a Studebaker back in California. He is so good that I will have to 'camouflage' him so the other officers will not try to get him. The bane of trench life [referring to body lice] crawled on my person while I was unbathed. Though I felt his company, he didn't bother me much. Our regiment is a very famous one in American history. At the rest position I have my own kitchen where I feed my detachment. The magazines you send are very, very welcome, as one must have something to divert the mind in the 'long watches of the night.' I suppose the day is not distant when I shall see some of the Alton fellows here. So far have never seen a person I knew."
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 25, 1918
(From France) - Adolph Betz, the young Altonian who is in the Marines and who in the early fighting this summer distinguished himself so greatly that he received write-ups in the U. S. Marine Journal and the Saturday Evening Post, but who in a later engagement with the Huns was wounded severely, writes from a Red Cross hospital in France that he is now able to be out of bed and is getting along all right. He has been in the hospital several weeks, but no information has been received here of how he was hurt or the nature of his injuries. About those things he has nothing to say. The letter, which his sister, Mrs. Fred Plumb of 2616 State street, received this morning, is short, and he complains of not getting any mail for a long time, but adds: "I guess I will get a wagon load after a while." In part, the letter says: "I am out of bed now, but my arm is pretty stiff and sore. This is Miss Baxter's (the nurse) day off, and I am trying to write this myself. It is the first attempt I have made of the kind since being brought here, but it is an awful hard job, as I can scarcely move my elbow at all. We sure get fine treatment in these Red Cross hospitals. They take excellent care of us; give us cigarettes every day, and some days they give us ice cream or cakes or fruits. There is a band playing out in the yard, and Sis, it surely is one fine band. Give my love to mother, and tell her not to worry about me. Kiss the kids for me and give my best to all friends." It is thought that Adolph must have been very severely wounded and that possibly after a while he will be invalided home. Until others give the information concerning his injuries, and how he was performing when he received them, nothing will be known here. "Mum" appears to be the first word in his dictionary.
BOYNTON, WILLIAM P., ATTORNEY
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 5, 1918
(From Port au Prince, Haiti, West Indies, October 24)
John D. McAdams today received an interesting letter from Attorney William P. Boynton, dated "Port au Prince, Haiti, West Indies, October 24. Attorney Boynton now signs his name as "Private William P. Boynton, 63rd Co., U. S. Marines.
"If you will jack up your recollection a trifle," writes Boynton, "you will remember having read this alluring phrase in the Marine recruiting ads, 'Join the United States Marines and See the World.' Well, I've seen a bit of her since shaking your mit back there in Alton in the month of June A. D. 1918. I figured to put in three months training at Paris Island, and then beat it out for the land of the 'Clown Prince' and Kaiser Bill. But the powers that be decreed that I am to remain here at Port au Prince, in the Republic of Haiti, ss., for some time at least.
If you lived down here you wouldn't care a rap about your winter's coal supply. It makes a fellow hot under the collar, the weather, and this is not getting to France. But the essence of a good soldier is to keep his mouth shut and obey orders. It is easy to do the latter - cause I'm a married man - but you know how difficult the former is for a lawyer! Port au Prince is the capital of Haiti. It has about 100,000 inhabitants. It was around in this neck of the timber that our old friend, Christopher Columbus, ran his bark aground, when he started for the 'East' by going 'West' in the days of long ago. The French, I am told, colonized the island a long time ago, by importing a large number of negro people. These folks, in the course of years, multiplied 'after their kind,' to borrow an expression from Moses, and killed the French. Later, more French came, but shared a similar fate. Today most of the natives are blacks. There are a number of French here, and many 'Creoles,' They have a law here that no foreigner can own land in Haiti. But from what I have seen, thinks I to myself, 'Who the devil cares?'
Haiti is somewhat like our old friend, Mexico. Peace today - war tomorrow. They hold an election, and some gink with a pull is chosen 'President de somebody,' and presto, the other side starts a revolution and things begin to revolt at a great rate. They would come out of the hills - which same are numerous and mighty hereabouts - and hold a regular 'shootin fest.' Your Uncle Samuel got his dander up over this some few years ago, and decided to clamp the lid on said festivities. And he did it in regular old U. S. style. He sent in a brigade of U. S. Marines, and they soon had the matter well in hand. They rounded up the natives and took away their guns and pistols, and taught them the way of righteousness, and today 'all is quiet along the Potomac.' But the U. S. is keeping a goodly supply of Marines here on garrison duty. It is up to me to do this for a while. How long, the Lord only knows, and he will not tell. I had hoped to be in France long ere this, but then somebody has to do the job here. And in the army were all 50-50.
This is a great place. The kids run around in their 'birthday rags' until they are about 8 or 10 years old, when they don a shirt and consider themselves 'all dressed up,' and 9 times out of 10, 'with no place to go.' They use burros to carry the stuff on. that is what the women folks don't pack on their heads. Easter bonnets never worry the men folks down here. The women folks would have no place to wear them, I mean the masses. There is of course the 'classes' to be considered. There are some very wealthy ones, too, people engaged in sugar and fruit industries.
I was walking down town the other afternoon on 'Liberty,' as the boys say. I was walking down 'Rue du Centre,' same being French for Center of Main Street. It reminded me of the good old independence days of the U. S. Revolutionary period, for the street wife 'rife with people pressing restless up and down.' I heard a commotion back of me, and fearing an attack in the rear, did a right about face stunt in double-quick time. Then it was to laugh. There was a fire on, and the native 'Fire Department' was going into action. The first outfit to pass me was what might be called a hose cart, for want of a better name. It was about as big as the little 'red wagon' Mayor Beall used during his first administration, with prisoners on the street cleaning stunt. Well, they had perhaps about 25 feet of hose in this rig. It was not wound up on a reel, but carded on a pipe framework about like we used to wind fishing line on a piece of cigar box lid, when we were kids. You can well imagine what effect such a bending of the hose would have upon its efficiency, taking into consideration the heat of this climate. With the cart were three or four firemen, respenient [sic] in their regalia, consisting of a tin helmet and a red flannel coat. Sure, the coat was buttoned all down before and had brass buttons from stem to stern. They had a sort of hop, skip and jump movement as they ran behind the cart. There were several of these outfits and they kept coming along at intervals of about 5 minutes. Finally, I heard a big gong ringing to beat the band, and looking down said 'Rue du Centre' I saw the real, honest-to-goodness Fire Department. It was a Tin Lizzie painted a brilliant red, and making about 20 knots an hour along the paved streets. Now recall that this street looked very much like West Third street on Saturday pay nights. The people were as thick as fleas on a lousy pup. Everywhere were men, women and children carrying baskets or bundles of some sort on their heads, not to speak of the numerous long-suffering burros that serve as 'jitneys.' And through this seemingly impassable street went the 'Red Henry' for the bonfire. How the devil it missed mussing somebody up is beyond me. And just here a funny thing happened. The big chief, who was about 6 feet 4, built like a steer and possessed of a face like unto a bucket of tar, was rigged out in green pants with yellow stripes down the East and West edges, a red coat with brass braid and buttons, and his mighty dome of thought surmounted by a colossal brass helmet, topped off with a big eagle, which seemed about ready to spread its wings and beat it. Well, what happened was this: Mr. Helmet fell overboard. Said chief came near going up in smoke. He yelled and bellowed at the chauffeur, and finally that important public official was made to understand that something was wrong. At any rate, bye and bye, here came the red runabout back for Mr. Chief's headgear. That recovered, away they went to the fire, which I presume had burned itself out in the meantime. We get fine wheat flour bread here, baked by the Marines. It's good, because it's made from flour ground by the Stanard-Tilton Milling Company at Alton. Nuf sed. Haiti is no place for a joy rider. Gasoline costs 80 cents a gallon in five gallon cans. The native workmen, common laborers, get one dollar a day, Haitian, or what in U. S. money would amount to twenty cents. Haiti is an interesting old place. All about are old French forts with great cast iron cannon, some still pointing seaward as if guarding the island from invasion. But for the most part they lie on the ground, partially buried in the debris that the flight of years has strewn on them. Port au Prince is beautifully situated between two mountain ranges. The rich valley that compasses the site of the capital is well supplied with mountain streams that furnish an abundance of clear, pure, cold water at all times. A great deal of sugar and coffee are raised here. And there is an abundance of fruit such as bananas, oranges, pineapples, coconuts, and grapefruit, which is wonderfully fine and cheap. The days are extremely hot. The tropical sun is sure some source of heat down here.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 1, 1919
(From Port au Prince, Haiti) - The Telegraph has received the following letter from William P. Boynton, who tells some of the sights and scenes and history of the island where he has been in service in the Marine Corps, and from which he is coming home very soon:
Port au Prince, Republic of Haiti; February 14, 1919
To: Mr. Paul B. Cousley, Alton, Illinois, U. S. A.
This is Valentine's Day, but as I am rather shy on the things we usually mail out on such occasions, I am going to do the next best thing - write you a letter. This will, in all probability, be my last appearance so to speak, as I expect word to shove off for the states most any day now. I wrote you a rather lengthy letter the latter part of December, giving you in detail something of the history of the Republic of Haiti. Since that time I have been around quite a bit and have talked to some of the boys from more distant points of the island, and thought, perhaps, a description of scenes might be of interest to you. The Island of San Domingo, sometimes spoken of as Haiti, and by the Spaniards called "Hispaniola," was discovered by Columbus, December 6, 1492, and it is still here. This island is the second largest, the richest and the most fertile of the Antilles. It is interesting, for the reason that here was founded the first European settlement in the new world. San Domingo City, the capital of the Dominigan [sic] Republic, is the oldest European city in the Western Hemisphere, and within its borders repose the remains of Columbus, the great discoverer. Columbus first landed, so they say, near the present site of the Mole St. Nicholas, and having taken possession of the new land in the name of Spain, sailed easterly along the coast. Mole St. Nicholas is at the extreme west of the island, and about seventy miles from Cuba, commands the famous "windward passage" and the sea approaches to Panama, Jamaica, and the greatest countries to the south. Deep enough to float the greatest ship in the world, and large enough to harbor a huge navy, it stands at this time, no more used than when the great sailor moored his caravels in its mighty basin, on his wondrous journey westward. The Haitians, like the "dog in the manger," can not use it themselves, nor will they permit any other power to possess it. Many a time the United States has tried to get it as a coaling station and naval base, but always without avail. At a spot where now stands Cana Haitien, where our company first landed when we came here from the states, the flagship of Columbus - the Santa Maria - was wrecked upon a coral reef. The wreckage was taken ashore, and a fort or tower was built therefrom. He left forty men in charge, and continued his voyage along the northern coast of the island, and visited various harbors and bays now known as Monte Christi, Puerta Plata, and Samana, before returning to Spain. Traveling eastward, Cape Carbras is rounded, and one enters the magnificent Bay of Samana, 36 miles long by 7 to 9 miles wide. This body of water is also of special interest to us Americans, for the reason that at one time the United States was about to purchase it for a naval and coaling station. On the northern shore of the bay, the first blood was shed by Europeans in America, for a landing party sent ashore was attacked by Indians, and several were killed. Opposite this historic spot, and a league from shore, lies the Cayo Levantado, a small limestone island about 3 miles long by 1 mile wide, for many years a great stronghold for the old buccaneers who infested the West Indies. Here may be seen the ruins of old forts, houses, and other buildings of the pirates, all of them out from the solid rock. Ten miles up the bay in Samana, said to be the loveliest spot in San Domingo. This town nestles at the foot of great verdure-clad hills, and is everywhere surrounded by immense coconut groves, fruit orchards, and well-tilled lands. The people speak English, French dialect and Spanish. Pineapples here often attain a weight of 20 to 25 pounds (Joe Crivello kindly take notice!), while the naval oranges are unsurpassed. The valley of the San Juan River a few miles inland is ....[unreadable] .... a number of years ago, as laborers, when Samana was leased by an American company. These people never cease to brag that they are of "Yankee abstraction," as they put it. They use a great many bulls, that have been broken to ride, known generally as saddle bulls, but which these Yankee offspring call their "bicycles." It is to laugh to see them riding about. Bullfights are prohibited, but cock fighting is the national short pastime and amusement, and everywhere men and boys are to be seen carrying cocks under their arms. Some 16 miles or more distant from Samana and the bay is San Lorenzo. This is a beautiful spot, and was formerly owned by a Boston firm, who established an enormous banana plantation there. The estate is called Cana Honda. At one time it contained a railway, shops, numerous buildings, and all modern appliances. Through mismanagement, competition and other causes, the estate failed, and is now deserted and overgrown. It is the abode of vast flocks of wild ducks and snipe. The hunting there is said to be unsurpassed. Many a time and oft I have longed for John Mac to be down here to take a hunt with me. The next year, Columbus returned to the West Indies, and visited Cape Haitien, and found his fort destroyed and his men massacred. The story is that they mistreated the natives to such an extent that the latter exterminated them. From this point he turned eastward, and landing near Puerta Piata, built several stone buildings, among them a small chapel and called the settlement "Isabella," in honor of the Spanish Queen. This is said to have been the first settlement in the new world. It proved very unhealthy, however, and within a few years was entirely deserted. A few crumbling ruins are now all that remain, and they are overgrown and hard to find among the brush and jungle. While Isabella was short-lived, other settlements were made, and in 1496 Bartholomew Columbus, a brother of the discoverer, founded the City of San Domingo, which later gave the island its name. For many years the island remained in the undisputed possession of the Spaniards, but in 1795 they ceded it to France by treaty. After the downfall of Napoleon, and the restoration of the Bourbons, the eastern portion was returned to Spain, the portion now called the "Republic of Haiti," remaining as a colony of France. In 1822 the Spanish district placed itself under the Haitien rule, but resumed its autonomy after the revolution of 1843, and fearing conquest by the Haitiens, it voluntarily went under the Spanish crown in 1861. Two years later, the Dominicans revolted against Spanish domination, and in 1865, just about the time of our Civil War ended, Spain relinquished her attempts to retain her once great colony, and the Dominican Republic became an independent country. The island contains nearly 29,000 square miles, and is nearly as large as the State of Maine; one-fourth larger than Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut combined, and only a trifle smaller than Ireland. But I am sure my friend Pat McGuire would never take this place for the land of St. Patrick, never in the world! The Republic of Haiti occupies about one-third of the island on the west, and the Dominican Republic embraces the remaining two-thirds. The Haitiens speak a French dialect and French laws and customs prevail. The Dominicans speak Spanish and are Spanish in manner, appearance and temperament. The Haitiens are opposed to foreigners and discourage foreign capital, business and professions, while the Dominicans welcome outsiders and offer every encouragement to foreign investors, business men and industries. You can guess the result in development of these two countries. Although quite recently the Haitiens are becoming more tolerant in this respect. The population of Haiti is nine-tenths black. On a dark night, you can see that one-tenth of the people is about all one can locate, without a searchlight. The country is backward and retrogressive, while the people of the Dominican Republic, on the other hand, are progressive, keenly alive to the importance of sanitation, industrial improvements and developments, and less than one-third of the population are negroes. The principal rivers of the Dominican Republic are the Yaque of the south, or the San Juan River, which rises in the mountains near the Haitien frontier, and flows south into Barahona Bay; the Colorado or Yuma River rises near Santiago in the northern part of the republic, and flows easterly into the Bay of Samana. Lake Eariquillo is a fresh water lake with no visible outlet, and contains in its center a good sized island - Cabritos - an island within an island. Can anyone beat it? The highest mountain is Mount Loma Tina, nearly 11,000 feet above the sea, and the highest in the Antilles. Between the northern and southern mountain is a great, level, elevated plain, the "Vega Real" while the southeastern portions of the country consist principally of rolling meadow or ______ lands. Only a small portion of the Dominican Republic is under .... [ unreadable] ...being covered with dense forests containing valuable woods, such as mahogany, Spanish cedar, satin wood, abony [sic], logwood, and lignum-vitas. While on the interior mountain sides are vast forests of long-leaf yellow pine. People have told me of being in these forests and seeing great mahogany trees five feet in diameter, with merely the larger limbs cut off, and the trunks rotting away for lack of means to transport them from the forest. Think of it!! It was from this island that gold was first obtained from the New World. Columbus found the natives wearing gold nuggets as ornaments, and when in 1493 he entered the mouth of the Yaqui River, the Spaniards first discovered the yellow metal in its natural state. For over 400 years gold has been taken from the sands and streams of this land, and even today the native women frequently wash out from six to seven ounces of gold a week. The mother lode has never been discovered. Suppose we get up a search party and get busy. Silver also occurs in considerable quantities, manganese, lead, tin, bismuth, and nickel are found. There are deposits of alum and valuable clays at various places. Petroleum exists in large quantities at Azura, which is located along the southern coast, and some 70 miles west of the city of San Domingo. This old town was founded by Don Otego Velasquez - who later settled Cuba. It dates back to 1504. Here at one time lived Hernando Cortes, the conqueror of Mexico; Pizarro, who raided Perne; and Balboa, who first looked upon the great Pacific Ocean. This old place will doubtless become a great oil center in the near future. The first well drilled spouted for over 70 feet. With gasoline retailing at 90 cents a gallon, there is sure a fine chance for the business to prosper. Not far distant are fresh water lakes - Limen and Rincon, which contain both fresh water fish and salt water fish - take your choice! Near Lake Enriquello there is a mountain of pure rock salt. Amber is found at Samana, and precious stones have been found at various places. San Domingo City is without doubt the most historic city in the West Indies. As one passes through the narrow entrance to the harbor, he sees an old time-worn fortress, with Moorish tower, erected in 1509. A great old stone wall surrounds the town, here may still be seen half-ruined churches and old buildings which did service in the time of Columbus. One attractive old ruins, much larger than the more modern houses, was the one-time residence of Diego Columbus, son of Christopher, and a former viceroy of the colony. Near the custom house dock is an old narled cellm [sic] tree, to which tradition says Columbus at one time tied his boats. Entering the city, one passes beneath the great arched gateway in the city wall, with arms of Castile and Leon cut on the keystone. Along the main street one sees old houses with ornamental doorways, bearing the coats of arms of such famous families as Balboa, Alvorado, and Ponce de Leon. In the plaza stands a splendid statue of Columbus, with its great bronze arm pointing forever westward. Without question the most interesting building in the city is the old fortress cathedral, which stands on the southern side of the plaza. Begun in 1514, it was not completed until 1540. Within the walls of this old church repose the bones of Christopher Columbus. The old bells hang outside the building proper, in ancient towers built for that purpose. The Spaniards removed the supposed remains of Columbus to Havana in 1765, when the island was ceded to France. The casket, however, bore no inscription, and it is now conceded to have been that of Diego Columbus, his son. In 1877, while repairs were being made in the cathedral, another casket was found near the altar, which bore the following ancient Spanish inscription, "Discoverer of America, First Admiral and Illustrious and Famous Don Christobal Colon." This old edifice is full of historical interest. In medieval days it served as fortress as well as church. In the great tiled roof may still be seen a cannon ball, fired from the guns of Sir Francis Drake, the Englishman, who besieged the city in 1589. The various altars within the building are very beautifully faced with silver and gold plates, and everywhere may be seen splendid carvings in native woods, richly decorated with gold. In one of the rooms is the "Door of Pardon," or "Puerta del Partdo," as the natives call it, and persons fleeing from justice or even as escaped criminal was at one time safe who reached this doorway. Reminding one very much of the old "Cities of Refuge." In another of the chapels there is a very ancient painting presented to the cathedral by Ferdinand and Isabella, and brought to the city by Columbus himself. Another painting is by a pupil of Murillo. Still another chapel contains a series of paintings of the twelve apostles by Velasquez, and above one of the beautiful golden altars is a "Virgin" by Murillo himself. Another chapel has a great domed ceiling of Moorish tiles from the Alhambra in Spain. Here is the altar of "Ave Maria," on one side a beautiful statue of Queen Isabella, and on the other an equally fine one of Ferdinand, copied from the originals in the royal chapel at Grenada, Spain. Perhaps a dozen or more old churches are to be seen throughout the city. A noted one is that of San Francisco, standing back of the house of Diego Columbus. Beneath the great altar lie the remains of Bartholomew Columbus, the founder of the city. This massive structure is now but a ruins, where climbing vines and rank tropical vegetation all but hide the crumbling masonry. There is the town of Higney - a place founded by Ponce de Leon. From here may be seen the distant shores of Porto Rico, to the east. Villa Duarte, not far from San Domingo City, contains the ruins of the first settlement of San Domingo, and the crumbling remains of the ancient Moorish tower erected in 1496, and in which Columbus was at one time confined in chains. In the midst of a sugar plantation is the old chapel built by Bartholomew Columbus. Eastward from Azua, the town where the petroleum abounds, is the little town of Baui, founded in 1746 and the birthplace of General Maximo Gomez, the liberator of Cuba. Jeremie, a small town, and port from which sugar and coffee are exported far to the westward of the island, is noted largely as the birthplace of Alexander Dumas the elder - the great French writer. It is said that he was often asked about his "negro blood." On one occasion a rather impudent fellow asked Dumas out in company if it were true that he had negro blood in his veins. Dumas is said to have replied: 'Yes, I have. My great-grandmother was a full blooded negro. Her great-grandmother was an ape. So you see my ancestors began where yours left off!' Then there is the Island of Tortuga, northwest of, and a part of the Republic of Haiti. This is truly a "Treasure Island." Twenty-one miles long, by nearly four miles wide, it was for over 30 years the haunt of pirates and buccaneers, and is said to contain more buried treasure than any other spot in the Spanish Main! They used a sort of jerked or sun-dried beef of Tortuga, known as "bucan," - hence the name "Buccaneers." The 65th Company, which lately came over here from Cape Haitien, members among its such as Alton boy, Will Hartnett, who formerly worked at the Standard Mill. Hartnett is a splendid young fellow, and is making a fine record in the Marine Corps. He gave me a most interesting account of "Sans Sonel," or the "Black King's Castle," near the Cape. This is a wonderful old ruins. It was built by a Haitien named Henry Christopho early in the nineteenth century. In 1811(?), he having defeated the French, proclaimed himself king, and with his black queen, formed a native Haitien nobility. His own children constituting "princess of the royal blood." Do you follow me? There were dukes, counts, barons and chevaliers. Each and everyone, an ex-slave, or the descendent of a slave, and as black as the "ace of shovels." "King Henry," he is known, ruled in state. Nine royal palaces, eight royal chateaux, coaches and horses without number. Retainers and servants till you couldn't shake a stock at 'em, as "Chicken Lawrence" would say. Bodyguards and all the fixings of honest-to-goodness royalty. But you must hand it to King Henry for putting on dog, when he built Sans Souci - the most magnificent and beautiful and without question the most wonderful creation in the West Indies. The castle is located at the head of the fertile Millot Valley. Back of it rises in imposing grandeur, marvelous, verduro-clad hills, down which pour in sparkling beauty, never failing streams of pure, clear water, which irrigate great tropical gardens, a scene indeed hardly to be surpassed. Sans Souci is now, alas, but a mere skeleton of its former grandeur. I have not seen it personally, but have looked at numerous pictures of it, and have talked to a number of the boys who have seen it. The description of this wonderful place given to me by young Hartnett is by far the best I have ever heard. Great terraces extend from the gardens to the massive stairways leading to the building proper. Its roofless walls, arched entrance, its marvelous halls, chambers, cellars, and rooms bespeak the grandeur that once was there. Everywhere are great bronze cannon, while the floors of the huge place are litterly covered with cannon ball, and old rusted flint-lock pistols and guns. Hartnett said his company camped for one night in the old court or ballroom of the castle. Our friend, "King Henry," was some contractor and builder in his time, Paul. Aside from this wonderful castle, on a lofty mountain top, some twenty miles inland from Cape Haitien, he built the fortress of La Ferriere. I have a very good picture of it, and will be glad to show it to you when I get home. Perhaps the building of the Great Pyramid itself did not cost more in the sacrifice of life, if not in labor, than the erection of this structure. Every stone was hauled to this mountaintop by human hands! Every piece of artillery, and there are hundreds of them rusting in the weather there today, was dragged up to the summit by gangs of ignorant slaves under the cruel, pitiless urging of a half-savage king! And when finished, here was stored over $30,000,000 worth of grain, food, ammunition, flints, bullets, powder, clothing, tools and treasure. The walls of this wonderful stronghold tower upward from the mountaintop for a hundred feet! One wonders and marvels how it was ever built! A wide, deep moat, spanned by a single drawbridge, surrounds the place. Within the structure, enormous galleries, one above another, may be seen, and ....[unreadable]...of all sizes and dimensions, with their rusty and corroded muzzles, fill the place, and frown down upon the surrounding countryside. Henry finally, fearing capture by the French who had sent new and greater armies to Haiti, committed suicide by shooting himself in the head with a silver bullet. A story was just told to me the other day by one of the boys, who had been to a distant village. He said sometime ago the "city fathers" grew weary of so many natives going about in their birthday clothes, and they passed the "one-piece garment act." The natives then hunted up an old gunny sack, cut a hole in the bottom, and cut off both corners, and slipped it over their heads, and there you were - law complied with, and everything hunky. But on windy days the "one-piece garment" was unreliable. So said "city dads," gathered together and passed a second law, known as the "two-piece garment act." Then the natives got another gunny sack, cut off the corners, thrust their legs through the holes, drew up the sack and tied a bit of old rope amidship - and there you were, a second time. Can you beat that for the simple life? But I must stop now, for it is time for supper. Am sorry to hear that John Mac is ill, and trust this will find him much improved. Remember me to all the force at the Telegraph office. Am expecting word now most any days, granting me permission to leave this land of wonders and get back to God's country and the county of Madison. With best wishes to you and yours, I am, as ever, Yours in the struggle, Wm. P. Boynton.
BRANDENBURG, MILTON F.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 1, 1919
(From somewhere in France) - The Yankee spirit in the midst of the carnage and travails of war is exemplified in a letter written two weeks before the signing of the armistice to Edwin C. Brandenburg, former president of the Washington board of trade, by his son, Sergt. Milton F. Brandenburg, who has been in France a year. Dark forebodings flashed through the mind of the father as he read through the epistle, until he came to the last sentence. The letter reads: "I dislike very much to have to write this letter to you, but the time has come when I must ask your advice on a matter of great importance to me, the complication of which has caused me nights of restlessness and many a day of anxiety. You will understand when I tell you that many a happy home has been wrecked, and in fact even human lives upset by similar troubles, and that is why I haven't written you about it before, but now I feel that you should know at once, as it means such a great deal to me. Even though I am in France, I dare not communicate the state of my mind to any of my friends here, so go to you. I know I am asking a good deal of you, but your loyalty more than warrants it, and I am going to ask you and expect you to tell me from deep down in your big heart if you think that Jeff will ever be as tall as Mutt?" [Note: refers to a newspaper comic strip created in 1907, which included Augustus Mutt, a tall dimwitted racetrack character, and half-pint Jeff, an inmate of an insane asylum who shared Mutt's passion for horseracing.]
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 14, 1918
(From somewhere in France) - Mrs. L. Calhoun has received an interesting letter from her son, Clarence Calhoun, from "somewhere in France," stating that he was going with the American forces into Germany. "By the time this letter reaches you," writes Calhoun, "I will be in Germany. My next letter to you will be from there." Calhoun has been in France since July 1917, and has been in the struggle from the first, so far as the American forces were concerned. "I was at the front when the last shot was fired, and I was also at the front when the first was fired," writes Calhoun. "It seems like a horrible dream. I am thankful that I have been spared through all the dangers. I think that a mother's prayer and a kind Providence were responsible that I escaped with such few scratches. I do not think that I will be able to come home very soon."
CLARKE, GEORGE L. (REVEREND)
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 16, 1918
The Y.M.C.A. bureau, which has charge of the securing of men to fill places in the war work service of the Y.M.C.A., has been telling of some of the experiences of Rev. George L. Clarke, formerly of Alton, who is said in the report to be right in the front line trenches. A visitor there in the interests of the Y.M.C.A. tells of visiting Dr. Clark in the front trenches. Quoting parts of the letter, it says: "After a supper of chocolate, war bread, and canned beef, the six of us secretaries were ordered to the cellar of the 'Y," together with 50 soldiers who happened to be in the old shell torn building, as the boches [Germans] were beginning again to shell the town. We took candies, a big basket full of canteen supplies, to last us in case we should have to be dug out later, overcoats and blankets. We fitted our gas masks on to be sure they were working well, and then settled down or tried to, in the dungeon, and here I saw the first real service of the chief 'Y' man - the Rev. George Clarke, pastor of the Presbyterian Church at La Grande, Oregon. A real man among men who had not left his post for fourteen days. He entered the cave last and noticing that the soldiers were very quiet and perhaps a bit anxious, he said cheerily, 'Well boys, let's sing the Battle Hymn of the Republic,' and then he read them some good poems and talked to them. We expected to have to stay all night, but in an hour a sentry called 'all out,' and out we gladly went. We were up the next morning at 'une bonne heure,' and after breakfast at the officers mess, Clarke and I started off for the trenches, each of us ladened with about fifty pounds of canteen supplies besides our gas masks, carried at all times at 'Airte,' and helmet, etc. For two hours we pursued a tortuous way among the various lines of trenches and connecting trenches, stopping frequently to dispense our popular wares among the boys, some repairing the trenches, some building new ones, some on sentry duty, some sleeping in the dugouts, some manning guns and watching for German heads. If they had no money we gave them what they wanted and took their names for a charge account. Frequently they would say they owed the 'Y' so much and would pay up voluntarily. They would rather cheat their mothers than the 'Y.' As we entered the front line trenches we suddenly ran into Secretary Baker and accompanying officers. I stepped aside as well as I could, saluted and said, 'Good morning, Mr. Secretary.' As they passed I heard one of the officers say to the Secretary, 'You see Mr. Secretary, the "Y" men are right up in the front line trenches with the boys.' When we returned to the outskirts of the town and sat down for a few minutes to rest on some smashed carriage in a shell hole in an old orchard, I asked Clarke what he was and what he did back home. 'Give you three guesses,' he said, and I said, 'Minister.' 'First time,' he said, 'that any one had guessed right.' We had gotten very close to each other during these hours and we offered up our prayers right there for guidance and help - guidance for the work right at hand and help in the shape of more big, strong, capable, sensible, unselfish (consecrated) souls to come at once to meet the awful shortage."
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 31, 1918
Lieut. James Coleman, who before entering the service of his country conducted a dental parlor in Alton for the practice of his profession, writes an interesting card to The Telegraph, testifying to the fact that the world is not so wide after all, or that Altonians do a lot of traveling. The note was as follows: "Just a diary of one week's travel and to give you a little interesting dope to show Alton has a few boys wandering around Europe. December 1, Liverpool. Met Jimmy Buck, Alton glassblower. December 3, Winchester, England. Met Jimmy Morgan, mess officer at American rest camp. December 5, Rouen, France. Met Claude Green (Y.M.C.A.), used to be with Brokaw Eden Co. December 7, Tours, France. Met Millard Ash, just out of cootie machine [referring to the trenches, where men often acquired body lice]. Everyone looked fine - I mean the boys, not the cooties. Go to St. Aigon tomorrow to get assignment. May meet some more, at least I hope so."
COPPINGER, LUCIEN (LIEUTENANT)
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 11, 1918
The Misses Biggins of 903 State street have received an interesting letter from their nephew, Lieut. Lucien Coppinger, which was written on his birthday anniversary, October 13. The letter was written from "A Hun Officers' Club" that had been captured but a few hours before. The interesting letter, in part, follows:
"France, October 13. A Hun Officers' Club
October 13, it seems, can never be spent at home; how much I would like to be there this Sunday afternoon, you well know. But after home there isn't a place on earth I would rather be than here, on ground held by American troops, which twelve hours ago was under the Hun yoke. We went into the line a few days ago, hit them hard, and after several days' fighting threw the Hun back ten miles. In fact, he is still going with the Lone Star division enjoying the chase immensely. The Indians of which my old platoon formed part, did splendidly; exposed on the flank, they fought like tigers. Had I only been with them, the pleasure of the occasion would have been complete. We are getting breath today, preparing to resume the chase. Some of my old friends went down, but I am in the best of condition, so don't worry about me. The village we are in is in fairly good condition. They got out so fast, all they had time to destroy were a few stores. We are quartered in an officers' club, with German decoration nauseating us at every glance. The village church was the Hun stable, and there are rings in the altar where horses were tied. In the woods where the machine nests were, young Huns chained to their guns with the chains welded on, fought until good American ammunition ended their unhappy lot. Well, tomorrow we go after them again, and then again, and some day long before another October, victory will turn our eyes toward other shores, where that is which of all things on earth is the loveliest - home, and you. As ever, Lucien."
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 31, 1919
Lieut. Lucien Coppinger has sent from France a sketch of a section of the battlefront, made by one of the soldiers in his detachment before the signing of the armistice. The sketch is in ink, and is on a postcard. It shows, on a dark background, the remains of a church wrecked by the Germans. On the back of the card on which the sketch is made, Lieut. Coppinger wrote the following: "One moonlight night when we were advancing toward the Alsce, a soldier of mine stole out of the dugout against orders, and sketched these ruins in their pallid sheathe of moonlight. Shells were dropping at intervals, and our great guns in the rear - waiting for the morrow's thunder when the 36th was again to strike the Hun - were silent. On the slope of Blanc Mont, where our infantry were in fox holes, many a wistful eye watched the flickering stars, and the moonlight that on the night following was to be their shroud. The archway standing in the entrance is the ruined church. Around it the open graves violated by the Hun in his lustful search for gold. On a hillside under the cemetery were our dugouts, and now there is no thunder of shells, only a heart throb. Lucien." The sketch with description written by Lieut. Coppinger are on exhibition in the window of Crivello Bros. store on Piasa street.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 11, 1918
Mr. and Mrs. M. A. Crivello have two letters, one each, from their son, Gaspar, who is with the aviation branch of the naval service in Ireland, and he writes many things of interest to be seen in that country. He says the war news they get is very exciting in the camp, and that they get many papers. "These Irishmen," he says, "don't know how to print a paper. On the front page they print nothing but advertisements, and on the inside pages there is a little news and more advertisements. A good old U. S. A. paper like the Alton Telegraph sure looks good to me. Londonderry is a large city and a very nice place. All of these old Irish towns are mighty interesting, and are filled with historic spots. In his letter to his mother, he sends a program of a big entertainment given the night before for soldiers and sailors, and tells her he is taking lots of snapshot pictures of scenes and persons in that country, which he will later send or bring home. He says over there the Irish, and everybody else, believe the kaiser will agree to America's terms very soon, no matter what the terms may be. He tells also of getting a letter written by his sister, Miss Josie, three months after it was postmarked in Alton, it was seeing America first, he thinks, and then visited the principal cities in Europe before finally calling on him. He is well and wants letters from Alton; also wants Alton papers. His address is Gaspar F. Crivello, U. S. Naval Air Station, Lough Foyle, care of Postmaster, New York City. In closing, he says "Ireland - forever - but not for me."
DEGERLIA, THOMAS S.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 18, 1918 Graphic Description of Argonne Battle in France
(From somehwere in France) - Mrs. Mary DeGerlia of 1260 West Ninth street has received a letter from her son, Thomas S. DeGerlia of Co. F, 147 Infantry, under date of October 5, from "Somewhere in France," in which he tells of the heavy fighting he has been in. In his letter, DeGerlia writes: "I will drop you a few lines to let you know I came through the battle all right. I thought many times you were going to have to hang crepe on the service flag. You can't imagine how close you came to collecting $10,000 from the government. We sure had some fun, and I have learned more about war in the last ten days than I could have learned out of books in my whole life. We went 'over the top' about 6 o'clock one morning, and never came back for five days. We drove the Germans back for about 10 to 15 miles. It did not seem so far while we were going, but when we started back we sure had some walk to get back where we started. I told you all about camping in the woods, so won't bother about that. We left the woods one evening and went up to our front line trench. Our artillery put over a six hours barrage, and believe me it was some barrage. Our guns opened up at 12 o'clock midnight, and you couldn't hear a thing for noise. They had everything from one pounders to 12-inch navy guns. They sure did some job too. We had a big woods to capture. The French said it could not be done, but we went through like a dose of salts. There were dead Germans and machine guns laying all over the woods that our barrage had killed. When we got started into the woods we ran into snipers and machine gun nests, but it did not take long to clean them out. Of course, they knocked off a few of our men, but not many. They had machine guns up in trees and every place else. We got a big bunch of prisoners out of the woods. We got most of them out of dugouts. We captured a lot of German supplies in the woods too. They were sure fixed up fine. I guess they thought they were going to spend the winter there, but they changed their minds when our big guns opened up on them. We went through the woods the first day, and they looked as though a cyclone had hit them, trees were shot down and holes all over. There were but very few leaves left on the trees. We camped for the first night just outside the woods, and of course, it rained. All we had to cover with was a rain coat, for all we took with us was a rain coat and a few eats. We nearly froze the first night. Another fellow and I got in a shell hole and slept about one hour. We woke up wet, and our feet were so cold we could hardly stand on them. But we got up and tangoed around for a while and got our blood pumps working O. K. again, and then took turns running around the shell hole. We kept that up until morning and then we started forward again. There was a town about a mile ahead of us that we were going to capture, and so we got in combat form and started out. We did not get very far until German machine gun nests and snipers opened up on us. But we had fairly open country to fight in, and we cleaned out the nests and knocked the snipers off and took the town before noon. We got another bunch of prisoners out of it. Our men just got out with the prisoners when the Germans commenced to shell the berg. We were lying on a hillside just to the left of the town and watched them ruin it. It sure was some sight. It was a fairly good town before they opened fire on it, but two hours later it was nothing but a big bunch of ruins, with only a church steeple left standing. We ate our last bit of eats we had with us, and started out again from there on. I would have sold our life for a lousy sou (?). We started up over a hill and run into machine gun nests and everything else. It was there that we had the first casualty in our company. We were all lying down while bullets landed on all sides of us, and most of the fellows had holes shot through the sacks on their backs. One Alton boy, named Wohlert, got one through his heel, but it was only a slight wound, but put him out of the fight. We got orders to dig in, and you ought to have seen your son make a hole in the ground. Most of the fellows had little shovels or picks, but most of us did not have anything. I got out my mess kit and used everything in it. I would dig with my knife, fork or spoon, and throw out the loose dirt with the lid. I had a small hole dug when some of the fellows commenced to shout with joy. I looked up and saw an airplane coming over real low. We all thought it was an allied plane coming to help up, but when it got right over our ... and about the same time it opened heads I saw a big, black cross on it, fire on us with a machine gun. Now that was some sensation. Two bullets landed right at my head, and I sure thought I was going to be in the way of one, but none hit me. He flew over then came back, and opened up again. I was lying on my stomach trying to get in a mousehole, when he sent four bullets right along side my leg. One of them cut a hole in my leggings. That made me mad, so I sat up and grabbed my gun. I still think that Fritz has five holes in his machine. After he passed and we got dug in, we had to retreat and dig in again for the night. Of course, it rained again that night, so we passed the night 'cussing' and walking around. The next morning is when the battle started. We took the town and were on top of a hill and the Germans had a perfect range on us with their big guns, and they gave us everything they had. There was a woods right in front of us, and another town. We took the town three different times before we could hold it. We had advanced out of range of our guns and right into 'Jerrys.' We dug in about 40 times. Shells were landing all around us. Machine guns were shooting at us and everything else. It was there that another Alton boy got hurt. Charles Kuhn got hit with a piece of shrapnel, and our commanding officer got killed with a shell. I was about 20 feet from him when a shell landed right under his head and blowed the top of it off. I won't try to tell you all that happened, but will say that Sherman was right. There were shells bursting all around us and a few of our men got knocked off and a bunch got wounded. I have never figured out yet how any of us got back alive. We dug in that night and it rained again. I was so tired that I laid down in the bottom of a hole with about six inches of mud and water and went to sleep. I had a pretty fair dream, but I forgot what the dream was the next day when shells started to bursting again. We would take the eats out of dead men's packs and take their canteens if they had water in them. I saw fellows get their legs blown off and everything else, but I had got used to that. About noon the next day I got gassed, but not very serious. My lungs are a little sore yet, but I think I will be all right before long. I got a small cut across my hand from a piece of high explosive too, but outside of that I am all O. K. We got relieved the night I got gassed, so I never missed anything. I sure saw some sights, though. I do not know if our advance was considered much of a military feat, but it sure was a hell of a fight with everything in favor of the enemy. Of course, I can't judge the battle, for it is my first, but personally I think it was as good as they make them over here. We captured one town up on top of a big hill that it cost the French 40,000 men to hold 20 minutes, back in 1914, or that is what they say.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 7, 1918
Mrs. Sophia Demuth has received a letter from her son, George Demuth, who wrote on November 6th. He wrote that he had been ill for some time with grippe and indigestion, and made his letter short on account of not feeling extra well. In speaking of his illness, Demuth wrote: "I have sure got the homesick blues, for there is no place like 'Home Sweet Home' to me, so always reserve my bed as I don't think it will be long before I will be back, as we Yankees have sure got these blue flatheads on the run. So mother, don't worry, as I will be back soon. I am sure we will eat Christmas dinner in Berlin. When I am not fighting flatheads, I am looking for cooties." On October 26th Demuth wrote: "Our company has returned after working hard with the Engineers for two weeks. The other night we worked out on No Man's Land for three hours, being under heavy shell fire all the time. We had to build a road so the large tanks could go ahead of the infantry to cut the barbed wire entanglements, so our boys could advance. We have sure got the flatheads shouting for peace, but we no compra." The writer's address is War, George Demuth, 105th Am. Tn., Co. C. A. E. F.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 17, 1918
Friends in Alton this week received many messages from local boys who are either in camp, in Europe, or are just departing for foreign fields. Word has been received that Philip Dilling, who has been making his home in California for some time, will leave shortly for France. Dilling is the son of Herman Dilling of Monroe street.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 26, 1918
(From the front lines) - Ralph Dixon has received a letter from his son, Walter, in which he tells of just having spent 30 days in the front line trenches, and having gone over the top. He had been receiving much mail from home folks, 24 in the 30 days, but had no time for writing. "On the morning of the 26th of September we went 'over the top,' and took part in a big drive and pulled through O. K., receiving a few scratches that didn't amount to much. We took a position the French had been trying for two years to take. The kaiser seems to take good care of his men and furnishes them with material to make concrete dugouts, lots of lumber, sheet iron to make everything as shell proof as possible, but even with all this we went through." In his letter he speaks of a soldier named Haycock, who was killed in going over the top. Joe Camp, of the North Side, is in the same squad with Dixon, and Camp, who was reported dead, is said in this letter to have been all right on October 7.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 11, 1918
Mrs. Mary Drulard of 529 State street has received a letter from her son, John Drulard of Co. L, 132 Infantry, from "Somewhere in France," under date of October 15:
"I am in the hospital at present," writes Drulard. "I am not wounded. I got mustard gas, but not bad. It just put my lungs on the bum for a while. I will soon be back on the lines and get it back on some poor 'Dutchman,' and make him pay for it. It won't be long before the kaiser will be following. We went over the other day, and they came out, calling 'kamerad, kamerad,' with their hands up. I always thought the 'Dutch' were good fighters until I got over here, but they are not.
Drulard enlisted in Co. M, 5th Illinois Regiment, as a National Guard, on July 5, 1917. He was only 15 years old when he went in. He sailed for France on May 11, and has been in the front line trenches several times.
ELLIOTT, IRWIN I.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 31, 1918
(From somewhere in France) - Private Irwin I. Elliott has written his mother, Mrs. M. P. Elliott, of Belle street in this city, telling her that his leg is getting along all right but that he was very bad while it lasted. Elliott was in the hospital for eight weeks and now everything is O. K. Elliott also wrote of meeting George Huddleston, a boy who formerly worked for Edward Mack. Huddleston did not know Elliott, but the latter recognized him as being from Alton. Elliott wrote that it was like meeting a relative to meet an Alton boy. The boys met in a Y.M.C.A. hut, and with Huddleston was another boy named David Elliott from Georgia. Elliott wrote that the muddy conditions, due to rain, make their stay in France undesirable. He also wrote that he would rather be in England than in France, as in England he could talk to everyone, while the French cannot understand the American boys, even if they do talk with their hands. The boys who studied French are the ones getting on the best with the French people. He closed with wishing his mother a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. The letter was written on the 20th. Elliott is with the British Expeditionary Forces.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 3, 1918
"We are sleeping on real beds, and have a lot of time for tennis," Elmer Faulstich has written to his father, J. C. Faulstich. Faulstich and Wm. Feldwisch left Alton several months ago to enter the radio service. They are studying at Harvard University now. By special permission they are allowed to sleep out of the army barracks. The two Alton young men, with a number of others, have rented a flat and live together. They are given time off from Saturday noon until Monday morning.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 11, 1918
Mrs. William Fischer, of 633 Alby Street, has received a letter from her husband, William Fischer, who is with Co. L, 35th Regiment T. C., A. E. F., in which the young soldier tells of being laid up in a regiment with a badly burned foot. He does not tell how the accident occurred, but writes that he is improving:
From La Bochelle, France, Sunday, October 20th, 1918
My Dear Wife:
This is another lonesome Sunday. We just had dinner - some good eats too. We had steak, mashed potatoes, stewed peas, bread and coffee. It sure tasted good, for it was the first I had eaten in nearly a week. In my last letter I was telling you about burning my foot. Well, it turned out to be a pretty bad burn. I have been in the Regiment hospital nearly a week now, and have been out of bed twice. This morning the foot looked pretty good, so I think I will be sent to quarters in a few days, although these beds are the softest thing I have laid on since I left home. We have plenty of cigarettes to smoke, but don't think there are any nurses here to feed us with a spoon, for this is just a first aid station for the 35th Regiment. I read four of your letters that were brought to me this morning, and one from Brother Joe's wife. They sure did cheer me up, for it will be a week tomorrow since I had mail from you. I am glad you got your souvenir ok. I guess mother got hers, for I sent them the same day. In Nettie's letter she sent some pictures of father, mother, Artie Erwin and their two children. They sure did look good. I want some good homemade candy for my Christmas box, but don't sent it until you get the coupon from me. Well, dear, it's about time for them to change the bandages on my foot, so I will close for this time and write again tomorrow.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 27, 1918
(From somewhere in France) - Philip Flori, manager of the Flori bakery, yesterday received a letter from his brother, Frank, who has been in France for some time. The letter was dated October 23, and at the time the writer was well, but anxious to know if the new draft had taken the other brother, Mike. There are three of the Flori brothers in France now - Frank, Joe and Aloysius. Frank says in part: "I think this new draft will make the kaiser open his eyes when he sees all the men Uncle Sam has. Last night I met Harry Gerner of Alton. Talk about being surprised! We both just stood and looked at each other for several seconds, unable to say a word, but we had a real conversation together for an hour or two afterwards. He left Camp Taylor before I did, and the ship he came over on took a different route to the one I did. He left the U. S. by way of Canada, and arrived in Liverpool two weeks before our ship did. And now we are together again. I have a hunch that I will soon see brother Joe. I don't know his address over here, but something tells me I will find out very soon." He thinks the war was about over when he wrote, and that the new draft was unnecessary. He sends his best regards to all Altonians and wishes them to know that Alton is in his mind much of the time, and that he will hike straight for Alton as soon as the kaiser is licked and army released.
FORREST, PAUL and WILLIAM (brothers)
Source: May 15, 1917
Mrs. Edward Forrest is receiving letters every week from her two sons, William and Paul, who enlisted in the U. S. Cavalry, and are stationed at Ft. Bliss. Both have improved greatly in health and strength since becoming members of the U. S. Cavalry. William celebrated his 21st birthday by enlisting. His brother, Paul, who was a Telegraph carrier, was so anxious to follow his brother that the mother gave her consent, and the two brothers went together. Paul Forrest will be one of the youngest soldiers in the army. The mother, in speaking of her two sons doing service for Uncle Sam, says she was perfectly willing to do her part by giving up her sons, though it does leave a big vacancy in the home.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 16, 1918
(From somewhere in France) - Mrs. Harry Getsinger Sr., received a letter from her son, Harry, this morning. The letter was written from somewhere in France on July 22. He said he was working hard but did not say he had been put in the trenches as yet. Harry said nothing about the capture of 14 prisoners. A rumor has been current about the city for a couple of weeks that he had taken 14 prisoners by himself. If this is the case, he said nothing about it.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 25, 1918
Deputy Sheriff Harry Getsinger and wife received a letter this morning from their son, Harry Getsinger, written October 17 and mailed there October 25. The letter was a full month after being mailed in reaching this country. It told of the safety of the writer, though it said he had been in the front line for some time and was writting in a Hun dugout from which the enemy had just been chased. He said it was the first time in five weeks he had found time to do any writing. No matter what you may hear about me, I'm all right, was the reassuring words he gave his parents on October 17. He wrote he had not seen or heard from any Alton boys.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 30, 1918
Dr. L. M. bowman this morning received a letter from Corporal Harry Getsinger, who is now probably with the Army of Occupation in Germany. Harry is well, but does not know how that fact happens. He was in the front line trenches and going over the top at intervals for sixty-three days; frequently during those days he faced machine gun fire, gas bombs, bayonet charges, and became expert at dodging bombs dropped from Boche airplanes, and he came "through without a scratch" except the scratches caused by cooties, he says. Physically exhausted, he and his companions were when the Armistice was signed, but undaunted and fully determined to keep the Huns going. He has no idea when the boys will be returned to this country, but like all of them is hoping it may not be too long delayed. They have accomplished what they were sent to do, and now nothing on earth is so desirable to them as the sight of home and home folks. He sends regards to all Altonians. He is a son of former Deputy Sheriff and Mrs. Harry Getsinger.
[Note: Harry Getsinger Jr. was born January 15, 1894, and died in January 23, 1959 at the age of 65. He is buried in the Upper Alton Oakwood Cemetery. According to his obituary, he was a well-known Alton tennis star, and achieved fame during WWI by capturing a number of German prisoners.]
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 24, 1917
Mrs. Hattie Gill of Twelfth street received a letter from her son, Edwin Gill, this morning, stating that he has successfully passed the aviation examination, and will go at once to one of the instruction camps for the young flyers. Gill went out with the last contingent of drafted men, going to Camp Taylor. After getting into the camp, he applied for the aviation test and took it at Indianapolis. He expects to be trained at either Champaign or Indianapolis.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 25, 1918
Mr. and Mrs. William Gillespie received a letter this morning written on the 22nd of Oct. by their son, William Gillespie of Company B, Missouri National Guards. Gillespie gives no information about being "dead," but writes that he and George _ennifold are the only scouts who escaped injury. Recently it was reported that Gillespie had been killed, but information from Washington failed to confirm the rumor.
GRAY, JOHN G.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 31, 1918
Mrs. Thomas Lyons of West Ninth street has received a letter from her brother, Private John G. Gray, 348 Field Hospital, 312 Sanitary Train, 87th Division, in which he wrote that he was well, and for his sister not to worry about him. He stated that he was disappointed in not having seen any action, but that he supposed he should be satisfied in having the chance to have a good place to sleep in and plenty to eat. He says they get paid the first of each month. He is making a collection of souvenirs, which he will bring back to relatives when he returns. He did not state when his return would be.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 12, 1918
Miss Teresa Grossheim has received an interesting letter from her brother, John, who was one of the last contingent of 158 soldier boys to leave Alton. He is with the 4th Co., where all the Alton lads yet are, and says he likes the life, "and am liking it better every day." They are getting good treatment, good food, and plenty of it, and are working hard to become soldiers. He understands that all of the Alton boys in the last contingent are to be transferred to other companies in a few days, but he has been assigned to duty in Capt. Springer's office, and will remain where he is. He is an expert operator of a typewriter, and the officers discovered that he had abilities they need in the offices. He has been made a corporal and is the first and only one of the Alton boys going away last to be given a non-commissioned office. It means better pay and means that John is headed towards further promotion. He tells of meeting and becoming acquainted with Capt. Travers, the celebrated movie star, and he thinks him a very fine gentleman. He says he received a box of fruit from an Alton friend, and it "saved my life." Fruit, he says, is scarce down there and high priced. Apples cost 5 cents each, or three for 10 cents, and other fruits are higher. Mr. Grossheim tried to enlist in the marines and in the navy several months ago, but was rejected for some slight defect, imaginary or real, and now he is a corporal. It is an illustration of what perseverance and desire will do for a man. He is a son of Ex-alderman Grossheim, and a brother of Alderman Joseph Grossheim, the Red Cross chairman.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 22, 1919
(From Siberia) - Letters from Alton boys in Siberia are much like hen's teeth, but Philip Flori, manager of the Flori Bros. Home Bakery, received one this morning from a former employee, Cecil Haley, son of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Haley of East Fourth street. Cecil left here last May and was sent to Camp Fremont, Calif. In September he left San Francisco with many other soldiers for Siberia, and he says he is getting "fat and husky," and in good health. "I hope Joe, Al, Frank and Tony Flori are enjoying army life in France, and are in good health. I received a clipping from the Alton Telegraph the other day from home, about what Al thinks of French girls." He says he has been too busy to write since getting to Siberia, but does not breathe a word of hardships or battles press dispatches have been telling about. He feels sure, he says, that he will not be home until spring or early summer. He sends regards to all his friends, and especially mentions two policemen, Jake Newman and "Duke" Miller, to whom he wishes to be remembered. He signs his name "Sergeant C. C. Haley, Evacuation Hospital 17, American Expeditionary Forces, Siberia, via San Francisco." It is not known what part of Siberia he is, and the postmark on the envelope gives no information, as all it says is "Postal Agency, Siberia."
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 30, 1918
Mrs. C. L. Hargiss of 818 Union street today received a letter from her son, Cecil, 18 years old, who is serving in the United States Navy, stating that he has been across the ocean twice, conveying transports, that he is back again "in the good old U. S. A.," but that he expects to sail soon for Italy on a merchant vessel, to which he has been transferred. He said he had many interesting experiences, but because of the censorship he could not write about them. He expressed himself as very well contented with the life and very happy. "Tell my friends to come and join me and they will not be sorry," he wrote. The letter was written at Brooklyn, N. Y. Cecil enlisted in the Navy May 18, 1917, and has become a first class sailor.
HARRINGTON, W. J.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 4, 1928
That Eugene Blake, a grandson of Mrs. Lena Clifford of Bluff street is missing after battling in France, is information gleaned from a letter written by W. J. Harrington to his cousin, Miss Margaret Cremens of Bluff street. He says: "I made inquiries, as you asked about Eugene Blake, but so far I do not know where he is. He is missing, and I think he is wounded and in some hospital. Quite a lot of our boys are in hospitals; very few were taken prisoners. We are back here for a rest of at least 30 days, and it looks like we are once more in civilization. It has been a long, long time since we came in contact with any civilians, and I can assure it does feel good to be back here, for we surely had our share of it while we were in the lines. I just got through issuing clothes to the company, but did not have half enough to go around. Clothes don't stand any wear at all over here, especially in the trenches. The boys really need a complete new outfit every time they come out, but we are not located near our base of supplies and are limited, and we have to make out as best we can with what we have. I guess you have an idea about where we are. This division did some good work and has mentioned several times by papers in different countries during the recent push on the old Hindenburg line. some of the boys will never be able to tell the tale, but considering the odds that were against them, the Yanks came off pretty lucky at that." Harrington does not give the name of his division, but it is known to have many Alton boys in it, as he told in previous letters of the Alton boys there. He says he has not seen Jack Kenny or young Doran since coming back from the front, but things they got back all right. He says he feels like the war will be over soon, and many boys think they will be in the States by Christmas. The letter was written October 27, and the hunch he had that peace was about at hand proved a good one. Harrington formerly conducted a tailoring establishment in the Piasa building, and sends regards and best wishes to all Altonians generally, and all of his friends especially.
HART, WILLIAM (LIEUTENANT)
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 20, 1918
W. P. Hart, for several years a conductor on the city street car lines, and now farming about three miles from town, north of Upper Alton, has received a letter from his son, William Hart, who is in the aviation branch of the service, and is in training in an aviation field near Camp Travis, Texas. The young man tells a tale of a thrilling ride he had recently, and of his narrow escape from death. He went up in a machine to a height of 10,000 feet. When he noted the approach of a storm or big cloud disturbance below, he started to descend. In the meantime, a furious storm had developed below and about 8,000 feet above the earth. When his machine struck this storm belt it was turned upside down, and driven around madly by the winds. He traveled a long distance hanging head downward before he finally obtained control enough of the machine to force it towards the earth. After many attempts and much hard work because of the position in which he was, he succeeded in making a landing without being injured himself, and with very little damage to the machine, which it will be remembered was upside down. The young man pulled off a remarkable feat, but did not appear to think he had done much in as far as can be judged from his writing. He naturally felt considerable uneasiness as he plunged head down through the air, and all of the blood in his body rushed to his head, to make matters worse, but that he escaped at all is the remarkable part of the adventure. Clark is about 23 years of age and is well known throughout Alton and vicinity, and all of his friends will feel after reading of his exploit that he is qualified to fill the position of an "ace" in the air war being waged against the kaiser. He has been commissioned as a lieutenant.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 11, 1918
L. J. Hartmann has received an interesting letter from his son, Carl Hartmann, telling of conditions in the Field Artillery Camp at Camp Taylor, Louisville, Ky. In writing his father, Carl says:
"The best way I can describe the work here is that it is strenuous. We 'soldier' every minute of the day - not 'soldier' in the civilian sense of the verb, but just what it means in the army - good, hard work. We jump out of bed at 5:30 a.m., and it's one continuous program all day. The classes take eight hours a day - four in the morning and four in the afternoon - and they are all outdoors. The men are all supplied with woolen underwear and overcoats, and so far have stood the cold weather in fine shape. Besides classes, we have two rigid inspections a day, a period of calisthenics and end up the day by studying two hours in the evening. Lights out at 9:30. To make things interesting, the 'flu' epidemic took several of our cooks, and the rest were transferred to the quarantine area, so mess kits were issued and three batteries pooled their amateur cooks and messed together. The meals were better than the old regulars turned out. The last week our own battery was quarantined for measles, but we hardly felt it, as we are still confined to camp on account of the 'flu.' The school here is an enormous institution, and graduates from 200 to 800 officers weekly. There are about 10,000 candidates here now. Every day we see crowds of civilians coming in. Everyone is placed in an observation battery for two weeks, and if they stand the gaff there (mostly dismounted drill and guard duty), they go into a training battery where the real work begins. At the end of the fifth and ninth weeks, the 'benzene' treatment is applied, and the unfortunates are transferred to less advanced batteries or to the replacement depot. The lucky candidates get a week or two finishing in field range practice, and on the Wednesday after the last week are graduated as Second Lieutenants of Field Artillery. Then they are assigned, and allowed seven days in which to report. The program of turning out an officer in three months is a big one, and means that each candidate must 'be on the job' every minute of the day. Artillery embraces considerable technical subjects, such as material, field gunnery and conduct of fire, tactics, reconnaissance. Every candidate must hold a riding certificate, and most pass the necessary examinations on the anatomy, diseases, care and training of horses. We have to know grooming, harnessing and mounted drill - done according to regulations. Then there is signalling with semaphere, wig-way and buzzar, and every candidate must learn to send and receive in each one of these mediums. Military sketching is another important subject, and it's a common sight to see whole batteries out with tripods, slope boards and compasses, sketching the terrain. The batteries are self-governed after a fashion. The candidate officers and non-commissioned officers are changed every day, and it's up to them to preserve discipline. An honor committee handles all cases that call for punishment, and the offenders usually get what is coming to them. We have at present six officers as instructors - one of them a six months' service man. I read in the Telegraph that several Alton men are coming here. Glad to hear it, as I'm sure they'll like the work. Artillery is a wonderful branch and of more importance at the front every day. However, they must expect to work hard, and it might be a little difficult for them the first few weeks. Have been too busy to look up many Alton boys here. Spent some time with Martin Bristow, who is first sergeant in the ordnance company here and making quite a success of it. Major Parker Levis is camp exchange officer, and is a very busy man. Willis Korte, I hear, is a sergeant in his office. Looked up Percy Beall, but they told me he is now in the school here. David Sparks is in the 12th. During the last few weeks I was acting supply sergeant, and had the job of issuing the woolens and overcoats. Six hundred suits of underwear and 150 overcoats were turned out in a little over an hour. This would be a pretty good day's business in Alton, wouldn't it? The people at home that invest in Liberty Bonds have the satisfaction of knowing that their boys are getting the best food and equipment that money can buy. The peace news hasn't affected the morale here in the least. The men are working just as hard as ever, and their only fear is that they won't have a chance to get across before the scrap is over. But the colonel assures us that there is still a crying need for artillery officers, and we'll have an interesting time yet. Our battery has seven weeks of hard work ahead of it, and will probably finish at Camp Knox, where the whole school is to be moved. If all goes well, hope to spend Christmas and maybe New Years day in Alton."
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 6, 1919
William Hartnett, an Alton boy who has been serving in the Marine corps in the island of Hayti [sic], tells in a letter he has written to William P. Boynton, of fierce fighting that has been going on in that island with insurrectionists who have been paying dear for their attacks on the Marines. Hartnett, who has been discharged, was awaiting transportation home when he wrote Mr. Boynton, who was in the same place some time ago as a member of the Marine Corps. Hartnett says that during the uprising he was one of a detail in charge of a machine gun guarding a pass in the hills. After the natives had done much damage, they were caught in the pass, and Hartnett says that he killed 20 men with the gun. He said that airmen bombed the natives at another place and killed or scattered them. Killing of rebels is an every day affair in the islands, he wrote.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 9, 1918
C. J. Grossheim today received a letter from John Hoehn, who recently spent his holiday furlough in Alton with relatives. He was in a happy frame of mind when he wrote that letter, and "kidded" Mr. Grossheim on what will happen to him when he gets into a training camp later. "You may feel like a raging lion now," he says, "but a month's training will make you feel very much like a lamb." He tells of a ball given by Louisville citizens for the Camp Taylor boys, and he was one of twenty or more who attended. He says the hospitality of the Louisville people is wonderful, and they are doing everything possible to make soldier life pleasant for the boys, and at the same time are throwing all kinds of moral safeguards around the soldiers when they are away from camp.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 14, 1918
Lieut. Douglas Johnston has written to his parents, Dr. and Mrs. James Johnston, that the members of the heavy artillery which has been stationed at Camp Grant, Ill., would leave Tuesday morning on a 200 mile hike, the longest known since the Civil War. Lieut. Johnston has been stationed at Camp Grant in the heavy artillery since he received his commission. The men were headed for Sparta, Wis., where they will spend some time in target practice, the location being ideal for this form of military work. The men carried all their paraphernalia with them, and left without expecting to return to Camp Grant. Lieut. Johnston wrote enthusiastically about the intended trip.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 14, 1918
Mrs. Caroline Kaeshammer of 810 East Sixth street, yesterday received a letter from her son, William, who is in the U. S. Navy. The letter was written in France and mailed at a French port. He was one of the crew of the battleship Kansas, and has been helping convoy troops back and forth. From now on the work will be getting them back and getting supplies over to the Allies. He writes of the enthusiasm and of the undoubted gratitude of the French people towards everybody and everything American, and says too that he has seen the gold chevrons awarded to sailors who make a certain number of trips across seas in the line of duty. William Kaeshammer is the young man who was on a ship torpedoed by the Huns off the coast of Ireland several months ago, and was in the struggling water for several hours before rescued. That experience, however, did not serve to lessen his desire to do duty in the navy. It rather intensified his wish to meet submarines and help put them off watch.
KANE, F. A. (CAPTAIN)
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 11, 1918
In a recent letter to a friend, Captain F. A. Kane tells of having reached France on September 8, just one year to a day after he had been ordered into active service. He had enlisted some time before that, and waited for orders after being commissioned a Lieutenant. He says they made the trip across the ocean in double quick time. They sailed on a Tuesday and arrived in England the following Tuesday. They did a lot of hiking in England, a lot more of it in France; one hike in this last country being a 50 mile one. He says if anyone had ever told him a year ago that he would walk 50 miles in the dust or mud, as he did he "would have told them things." He says, however, he is satisfied; has his duty to perform, and is getting along very well, and is being treated well generally. He says: "Capt. Gentry was in a town near where our headquarters located the other day, and seeing a soldier with two service stripes on his arm, got to talking with him and soon learned he was from Alton, Illinois, and that his name is Leo Heintz, a sergeant. The Captain told him about me, and told me about him, and the next day I went over to see him. Little did I think when I bade him goodbye in Alton and told him 'I will meet you in France,' that my talk would come true. He looks fine. One day last week in a nearby town I was standing in front of a Y. M. C. A. building waiting for a truck back to camp when a Ford was driven up, and Lieutenant Frank Stowell of Alton stepped out. He also looks fine. Also last week one of the sergeants in this company was in a K. C. hut where he saw my name posted on the "inquiry" boards. The Chaplain of 333 wanted my address. I looked up the town he named, and found that 333 is located not far from here, and I will go over soon and see my brother, Luke, and the other Alton boys in that company. "I have done England and France, both by train and by foot. We passed through some very fine country and some very nice parts of France, and considering the condition of affairs here the last four or five years it looks very well. But boy, take it from me, they can say all they please about old Belle Street, Alton, Illinois in derogation, but it would sure look like a Garden of Eden or something like that to me right now." He closes by saying: "The news in all the papers just now looks encouraging. However, you can rest assured that as long as old Uncle Sam has a say in this matter (and France also) the only answer Germany can ge4t, or that the soldiers want her to get will be the same as Bulgaria - surrender unconditionally." He sends best regards to all friends and to all residents generally. The letter was written October 7th, before Leo Heintz had been promoted or about that time. Kane's address is Capt. F. M. Kane, 348th Infantry, A. P. O., 906.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 5, 1919
Two brothers, Emil and Thomas Kekich, 223 West 13th Street, met at Bourges, France, early in March, the first time they had seen each other in two years. The letter from Emil Kekich describing the meeting, received by his sister, Miss Mary Kekich of Alton, is in part as follows: "This is just to say that I'm with Tom - could you believe that - yes, he is sitting right near me, and will eventually add something to this pen. He just came yesterday and met me in an awful lucky way, as I was just about to go to Nice or Monte Carlo - then Capt. Woofter stopped me and told me that an order was going through to the effect that I was to go to a French university per an application I had already made. I thought I had missed out on the university stuff, but I didn't after all. This was on Saturday - Tom wandered into Bourges on Sunday night, but didn't find me until Monday morning - I was just planning on sending him a telegram to write me at such and such an address, when about 11 o'clock he walked in on me. I was certainly tickled to death, and surprised as well. We are both leaving for Paris in a couple of days, and will lspend a couple of days there together before he goes back to his division and I go to the school, the name of which I don't know yet. I know you will all be glad to see him when he returns home. He will surely be home by the end of May, and I will probably be home about the end of July."
KUHN, PAUL E.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 17, 1918
Friends in Alton this week received many messages from local boys who are either in camp, in Europe, or are just departing for foreign fields. One interesting letter comes from Paul E. Kuhn, who left with other Alton boys for Camp Dix on April 30. Kuhn writes that a contingent from Alton has the reputation of being the best behaved and best physically set of men yet arriving in that camp. Examination proved that 94 per cent of the contingent has perfect teeth. The contingent is the talk of the camp.
KUNZ, ERNEST or ERNSET
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 6, 1918
(From France) - Ernset [sic] Kunz, a member of the 23rd Machine Gun corps in France, has reversed the order of the old maxim, "Go away from home to get the news," and has written back to his home in Alton an appeal for "the latest information from the seat of war." In other words, Kuntz is on the field where war news is "breaking" fast and furious, but doesn't know what is going on. A letter received this week from Kuntz by his wife, manager of the Drake dairy lunch room on Market street, asks that she send him copies of the Evening Telegraph. "I am unable to get the war news here," he wrote. "Send me recent copies of the Telegraph as I want to hear the latest 'dope' on the war situation and also find out what the troops over here are doing." Mrs. Kuntz wrapped up a bundle of Telegraphs and sent them to her husband. Kuntz was a resident of North Alton when he enlisted in the U. S. Army. He has been in France the last seven months.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 31, 1919
Mrs. Ella Kyte of Rural Route No. 1, has received a letter from her son, Robert A. Kyte, who is in Convalescent Hospital No. 6 in France. In the letter, dated March 6, Kyte writes: "While I am thinking of you I will drop you a few lines to let you know that I am well. They have attached me to Base Hospital 77, and I don't know when I will get to come home now. I am going to start to cooking in the kitchen tonight. I suppose that this unit will stay over here for some time yet, but of course I can make the best of it. For that is what I came over here for, to do my part to win this year, and I think I have done my part so far, and can do more if needed. I do not think there were many of the boys that came into the service that saw fighting as soon as I did. I was in the army two months and two days when I went over the top. Believe me, it was sure hell to see the boys getting bumped off and not knowing when my time was going to come. I was tired and worn out and did not seem to care whether I got killed or not, and more than once I prayed that I would be bumped out of my worry. But at last I got what was meant for me, and it was bad enough as it was. I was sure to get off at that."
LAMM, ELDREDGE and JOSEPH (brothers)
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 25, 1918
A letter was received this morning from Eldredge and Joseph Lamm, by their parents, saying that they were well and had come safely through the fighting up to the time the letter was written.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 26, 1918
Mrs. E. H. Lamm of Upper Alton has received word from her two sons who were in the "Battling 138th," and were in the Battle of Argonne Woods, and from whom Mrs. Lamm had not heard from for eight weeks. Both the boys were safe, and reported as having gone over the top 5 times. The letter written by E. G. Lamm says: "Friday, October 18, 1918: Dear Mother, Joe just received your letter, and I have three or four from you, but never did have time to write you. don't have to worry about us, for we can take care of ourselves. Joe never got hurt very bad, just a splinter or two. But we went over the top and both came back O. K. I went to the hospital the fifth day. We were out with a little gas, and I was sick too, but I went back to the line and met them coming out. You see, it was not bad. I guess you have seen or heard all about what we did. Well, I sure will be glad when it is all over and we get back home. I think I will have all the war I want. This is our fifth time up. Joe just got the clipping that you sent about Sergt. Perry and Tappy. I think they were lucky as can be. I have a German pill that stuck in my pack and a German belt. I could have lots of things but I did not want them. I am just as fat as can be, and Joe is looking fine. Leo Willis and Vaughn got hurt bad in our last drive. Charles Page got his bad, but is still holding out. I got covered up once in a shell hole, but that is as close as I came to getting hurt, but I was sure sick. They sure did send some fast ones over. We sure are strong for sweets. Put up all you can."
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 31, 1918
Mrs. R. L. Smith has received a letter from her brother, Warren Lawless, which goes to show that the world is small after all, and that a man may go far and still feel he is at home. Lawless writes that he is trucking Arrow brand flour at the time he was writing the letter. The remarkable fact is that he worked in Alton for the Sparks Milling Co. before he enlisted in the army and he trucked Arrow brand flour in the mill where it was made. He enlisted as a volunteer in the army and was sent to France. A large amount of Alton made flour is going to France, and it happened that it fell to the lot of Lawless to be selected for trucking flour at the time the Arrow brand was being unloaded. He wrote that he felt very near to home and it was quite natural for him to be trucking Alton made flour, as that had been part of his work when he was working in the Sparks mill at Alton. Lawless is 33 years of age and would have escaped the draft, but that made no difference to him. He heard the call of Uncle Sam, enlisted in the war service, and he is in France working harder than ever he did when he lived in Alton, and he worked hard when here.
LEVIS, WILLIAM (LIEUTENANT)
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 17, 1918
Friends in Alton this week received many messages from local boys who are either in camp, in Europe, or are just departing for foreign fields. Mr. and Mrs. George Long Sr. received a message from their son, David, that he had left Camp Upton and was en route for overseas. He is a member of the Young Men's Sodality at the Cathedral, and is also a members of Alton Council 460, Knights of Columbus.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 25, 1918
A letter was received this morning from David Long by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. George Long Sr., who have been very much worried on account of having no word from their son in a long time. Long does not speak of any Alton boy, but says he had just come out of a 48 hour stay in the trenches. He says his company had been in the trenches for 40 days.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 11, 1918
Mrs. Mamie Lowry of 1709 Market street has received a letter from her son, Robert M. Lowry, who is with the American Expeditionary Forces in France, A. P. O. 766, telling how the boys at the front are living.
"It is almost 9 p.m., and I have just finished my supper, which was brought to me by one of the boys, as I was late in getting in from the front line, and we have to go a half miles to our mess. I am living in a dugout between two hills and two trees very near, with a little creek running just below it where I do my washing as it is too far to carry water only to drink. It is a very beautiful place, and the only sound I hear is the rumbling of a wagon once in a while and the chirping of birds. On my way back from the front yesterday, I picked a rose from German soil, now belonging to the Allies. I wish you could see this place where I enjoy the sights. I think we will all be glad when we get back to Alton."
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 11, 1918
W. C. Carpenter has received a letter from Charles H. Luft, who is at the detention camp, Ellington Field, Houston, Texas, written November 4, telling of life there. In part Luft says:
"I am fine and having a pretty good time. At the present time, I am in the detention camp. Everyone must spend fifteen days here, and believe me, it is a long time to a fellow in the camp. I have been here since Wednesday, October 30, and I am certainly counting the days. There are about 180 fellows in camp, and the place is completely surrounded with a barbed wire fence with a guard at the main gate day and night. I spent four hours guard duty there last night, and four hours yesterday. What would you give to see me walking back and forth across the gate in the early hours of the morning? Airplanes fly here day and night. At night, a giant searchlight is used, and the planes each have three lights. The air is full of planes, and when the light is turned on a plane, it looks as if it were silver plated. The planes dip, loop, climb, dive and do all sorts of air stunts trying to get out of the light. It is a very pretty sight, and very exciting. The camp is located about 20 miles from Houston, and 20 miles from Galveston. As a rule, the days are very warm and the nights cold, but the last two nights were fine. Start sending me the Telegraph as soon as you receive this letter."
LYNCH, JAMES JR.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 7, 1919
Officer James Lynch has received a letter from son, James, in which the young soldier, who is expecting to come home soon, tells of meeting his brother, William, in France, and his failure to recognize him at once. In the thickest French talking soldier he had difficulty in recognizing his brother he had not seen for so long. The letter follows: "I had hardly recognized him, in fact had to look a second time before I knew who it was when I met Willie here Wednesday last. You know when I landed in this vicinity (Isle St. Georges, France) about ten days ago, I immediately wrote him to come here if he could secure a pass, or if I could secure one, would look him up. I thought my chances for a pass were 'slim,' and afterwards found that passes were not issued to troops returning home, but luckily he secured a pass and came over. I met him at noon when I was returning from mess. I was walking down the middle of the road with my mess kit in my hand, my head down. My mind was wondering, just what I was thinking of I can't recall. He was standing on the curb, and as I came to him I threw my eyes up, then down again, and said to myself, 'I know that fellow.' I looked again and recognized him, and although you may try, you cannot realize how we grasped each other's hand, or the feeling that comes over one to meet a brother away over here. Willie looks fine and is in perfect health. He is big, weighs possibly 230 pounds, but it is all in his shoulders for he is very broad. He stayed with me until evening, when he had to leave to make connections at Bordeaux for his camp. While I was surprised to see him, I was more surprised to see him hold conversation with the French people, for he has a command of the French language almost as well as the English. I may get another opportunity of seeing him when I reach the embarkation camp. Well, not about coming home. The 'dope' is we are to sail the early part of April, and I expect to be mustered out at Camp Grant, Ill. The other day we were checked up on the camp nearest our home, and it appears Camp Grant is my final destination before being mustered out of the service. I expect to spend but very few days in an Eastern camp after reaching the states, and but a like number in Camp Grant, so you can see unsettled question is, 'When do we sail?'"
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 28, 1918
Writing under date of February 4, Stanley Lynch, son of Officer James Lynch, in the medical department of the 26th infantry in France, says that he had just received the box of Christmas things which had been sent him long before Christmas. The box included a supply of tobacco, and he expressed the greatest delight over receiving the gifts. He said that at one place (blotted out by censor) where he was stationed, he had no tobacco, and that Americans were offering the equivalent of $5 for a 5-cent package of American tobacco. He was put on easy street so far as tobacco was concerned by the Christmas box. He stated in his letter "so far as collections taken up in the states for tobacco are concerned, I would not advise anyone to give a cent, because we don't see much of their tobacco." In the box sent were some fruit cake, which he enjoyed, and some woolen socks sent to him, he said were just what he needed. The young man had not received a letter from home in over a month, and he was eager to get one.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 25, 1918
(From New York) - Stanley Lynch, son of Patrolmen James Lynch, who arrived in New York Monday, sent home as a convalescent unfit for first line duty again, has written his father another letter in which he gives some particulars of his injury and tells of his longing to revisit home soon. The young man was gassed at the battle of Cantigny, where Americans made their first good showing against the enemy, and was wounded at the battle of Soissons four days after the great Allied drive was started. "Dear Father: Guess you were surprised to know that I had arrived back in New York. Suppose you received the postcard I sent you as soon as I got off the boat. I have been marked to come back to the United States for about two months, but could not tell you in my letters. I was marked D class by the doctors, that is, unfit for front line duty. My wound is just about healed up, and I can get around all right, although I limp some, and will for time time, as my leg is some stiff. I was operated on four times since being wounded, but am nearly all healed up now. I was gassed during the battle of Cantigny in May and was pretty sick for some time, but did not want to say anything about that or the operations in my letters, as I thought there was no use worrying the folks at home. I was wounded in the battle of Soissons just four days after the long drive of July 18 started, and believe me if was sure some battle. We sure had the Germans on the run. I will have lots to tell you when I see you, as I am going to try to get a furlough as soon as I get to the hospital where I am to stay. We stay here only a short while. I had a fine trip coming across, with one submarine scare, but got through all right. Be sure not to worry about me, as I will be as good as ever in a short time. I wrote Willie a letter while I was in the hospital in France, and got an answer from him in a few days. He wanted me to get a pass and go to see him, wanted to send me money to pay my fare. He was stationed quite a way from where I was. I would like to have gotten the pass and come for a while as long as I am back here. Tell any of my friends hello for me, and in your next letter let me know if James has left for France. I hope he doesn't have to go, although I think the worst is over. Will send my address as soon as I am at a permanent hospital."
MATHIE, F. W.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 31, 1918
(From somewhere in France) - Miss Leone Linder of 906 McKinley avenue has received a letter from F. W. Mathie, dated Camp Anvours, France. Mathie is a member of Co. E, 2nd Training Regiment, 2nd Depot Division of the 83rd Division. In his letter he writes: "The flu must have been bad in Alton from the way the folks wrote. We have not been bothered much with it over here. Well, everything is over now and all we want to do is to start home. That's all the fellows have on their mind. I am getting tired of this country. A person back in the States has a different idea of France than it really is. Our country has got it on it so far that there is no comparison. I cam over on the Carmania that left New York September 1, and landed at Liverpool. We went to Southampton and then across the English Channel to Havre. From there we went to St. Astier, thence to Lemaus, from which place we started to the front. But the orders were changed and we hiked out to a camp in Belgium. Our company slept in a barracks about 20 feet from a camp of about 3,000 German prisoners. We hiked for a town by the name of Sonnerre, and stayed there three weeks before returning to this camp. I guess the next move will be for some port of embarkation. Some of the fellows seem to think it will be real soon. I only hope they are right. I am anxious to get back where I can see some good American people."
MATHIE, THOMAS W. (may be the same as F. W. Mathie ... newspaper misprint)
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 27, 1917
John Mathie has received his second letter from his son, Thomas W. Mathie, Wednesday morning, who describes Camp Taylor, where the young man is one of those training for the army, and having the appearance of a real city. It has fine streets, electric lights, water service and fine walks. The buildings are all large, 150x300 feet and two stories high. The boys sleep upstairs, and there is a large dining hall and kitchen downstairs. Each soldier has a cot with straw mattress and two blankets. The food, he says, is good and there is plenty of it. As far as one can see are buildings like the one described. The Alton boys in Co. E, 333rd Infantry, speak very highly of their commander, Capt. R. R. Cook. Mr. Mathie's son says to tell any of the Alton boys who are to come later not to worry about the place as they will be treated well and will like it. They have not received their uniforms yet, but expect them soon. They get permission in turns to go to Louisville each Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, also Sundays, as there are no drills on those days. The Alton boys were very agreeably surprised when their captain presented them with a player piano and a victrola, which was much appreciated, and they all arrived at one conclusion - that he was a real captain.
MAXFIELD, J. B.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 20, 1917
(From the U. S. Steamer, Massachusetts, at Philadelphia) - Some of Alton's Naval Militiamen are on the deep blue sea hunting for the enemy and all of the others expect to be assigned very soon, according to a letter written aboard the U. S. Steamer, Massachusetts, at Philadelphia, by the commanding Lieutenant J. B. Maxfield. The letter follows: "Lieutenant E. C. Paul, Alton, Ill.: Dear Sir: I want to thank you for the box of fine oranges you sent by express to the Alton Division. Some of the boys have been assigned to different ships. We are getting along very nicely, and all expect to go to sea very soon, as most of us now know what our assignments will be. We surely enjoyed the oranges - was a fine treat. Sincerely Yours, J. B. Maxfield."
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 22, 1918
E. J. Kleinpeter, director of the White Hussar Band, has received a letter from Harold Meyers, formerly a member of the band, and also connected with a grocery store in the North Side. He is now Lieut. Harold Meyers of the aviation corps, is a full-fledged flyer, and he is making long trips alone in his machine and is ready to begin his work of bomb dropping on the Kaiser in Europe. After referring to his friends in the band, Lieut. Meyers continues in the letter to Mr. Kleinpeter: "I was put to work at once, and take it from me it was on a real schedule. I was assigned to a flying squadron within two days after arriving, and had to report on the flying field every morning at 7 o'clock. In the afternoon we had classes in aerial gunnery and wireless. During the first two weeks in flying I was under dual instruction (instructor in front seat). At the end of about the second week, the time came for me to make my solo trip alone. I was the first one of my squadron to solo. When my pals heard the night before the great event was to take place, I was to take a ship alone the next day, they immediately got to work that night and staged a farewell party in Houston. Believe me, when I say it, it was some party. They had me make out a will and also tell them where to send my trunk. I still think they carried it a little too far, because they had me in a very doubtful frame of mind before morning. I never realized before then how good this old world looked to me. Well, at last the great morning came and I reported out to the field. It was an ideal morning for flying, with very little wind. After being strapped into a machine by a mechanic, I gave the word and was off on the greatest joy ride of my life. I think the good Lord must have been in the front seat and brought the ship down, because to this day I cannot figure out how I ever got that ship down without a smash. After my period in dual instruction, I was transferred to the first solo, where I stayed until I was able to make three point landings. After having finished first solo I was transferred to second solo, where I again had to stay until my air work was satisfactory. From second solo I was put into cross country and night flying classes. The cross country is the most interesting of all. It is in this class that you qualify as a military aviator. Some of the trips we made were very long and we had to fly them by instruments. The longest trip I had to make was to Lake Charles, La., and we returned, a total distance of 385 miles. During all this time we also had practice in bomb dropping, artillery observation, mapping, photography and formation flying. I am doing a stunt - flying in a little speed scout - which is supposed to do around 150 miles an hour, and take it from me, it is certainly some boat. I finished my gunnery and wireless a couple of weeks ago, and have been given a large class of enlisted men to instruct during my spare time. So far I have gotten along fine with my work and certainly do enjoy it. The work is hard and the hours long, but the way I feel at present I would not trade places with President Wilson. Up to the present time I have received very few letters from my friends in Alton, but have only been able to keep in touch with things through the Telegraph, which I have had sent to me. Please write occasionally and let me know how things are coming along. I wish you would let as many friends of mine as you can see this letter, so they will be able to recall me. Barracks No. 67. Lieutenant Harold Meyers, Houston, Texas.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 7, 1918
(Cablegram from France) - You may begin tallying for the White Hussars [Alton musical band]. One of their members who is flying in France has downed a Hun plane, and is after others of the like. The Alton lad who did that job is Lieutenant Harold Meyer, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Meyer, the North State street grocers. His brother-in-law, O. D. Lemonds, grocer at 1415 Central avenue, Thursday morning received a cablegram from Europe, of which the following is a copy: "Brought down my first Hun plane October 30. Confirmed; everything going fine. Don't worry." It was signed by the Lieutenant and that means he was well and all right yesterday evening. It was the general opinion of all who know Harold Meyer that he would not be over in the fighting zone very long, before he would attract attention by his work, and that opinion appears to be grounded on something substantial now, for it has been only a few months since he was home on a furlough, after having been pronounced "fit" by the officers of the aviation field in which he was trained and given his commission.
(From somewhere in France) - Mrs. Harry C. Miller has received a letter from her son, Harry Miller, who is with the 22nd Engineers, Co. H, in France, in which the writer tells of received the Telegraph, and of the pleasure of reading familiar names and new items. At one time he received ten Telegraphs, and the boys with him all had a merry scramble to see who could read them first. The news was old to Alton but fresh to the boys in France. He gave the Telegraph a big boost. Mrs. Miller had subscribed for the Telegraph when Harry was stationed at Fort Benjamin Harrison, but before the subscription expired her son was transferred across the water. Mrs. Miller did not cancel the subscription, thinking that some soldier at Fort Harrison would get the benefit of same. She was greatly surprised this morning when she received Harry's letter in which he wrote that he had not missed one issue of the Telegraph - every copy being forwarded to France from the Indiana camp. The forwarding of the papers gave evidence of the care with which the government handles the mail of their soldiers. In a letter Mrs. Miller asked her son if there was anything he wanted, and he replied with a big send off to his government, stating that the army was being supplied with everything needed, having their best of clothes and food available.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 15, 1918
(From Harvard University) - An Alton boy, James Morrissey, who enlisted in the navy some months ago, and who is now taking a radio course at Harvard, has written his father, E. J. Morrissey of Prospect street, that he has just completed his first examination, and says that he had the highest average in the class of 250 men. Friends of the young man will be interested in the news that another Altonian is making a name for himself in his chosen work. Morrissey is the eldest son of E. J. Morrissey, and was a former student of the Cathedral school. He is one of the many men from the Cathedral who volunteered their services to their country. He entered the navy as a private, and by his work gained entrance in the radio school at Harvard.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 1, 1918
Miss Ethel Million has received a long letter from Sergeant Will Murphy, a former well known Alton plumber, who has been in France since January, and who is a member of the engineering corps. He tells, among other things, of having spent several days in Paris with a squad of soldiers, and they had a good time, but as he was in charge of the others, his "good time" had to be curtailed somewhat. Paris is a large city and filled with most interesting people and sights, he says, and he is hoping he can get back there some time alone. Big Bertha, the German long distance gun, was dropping shells into Paris when he was there, and this caused more or less excitement. With all their shells very little damage is done, and there is a big waste of money, he says. "The Germans are only making the place more interesting to live in," is one of his remarks. "They had an air alarm almost every night, but the planes succeeded in getting over only once, so they too are harmless. Every time Big Bertha drops a shell into the city, someone will likely be heard to say 'Here's another present from kaiser Bill.' It costs $6,000 to get each shell into Paris, and so the people consider it a present of that much money made useless by the Germans, and they do not even listen anymore when the thing explodes. The barrage is a most wonderful sight," he writes. "You can look up into the sky and see them burst. They look just like sky rockets, but there is no string of sparks. But let me tell you the noise is something very different." He gives as a reason for not writing oftener the fact "that things are happening pretty fast with me over here, and I am doing the best I can." Mr. Murphy went to Hammond, Ind. in the Fall to do some plumbing work, and while there enlisted in the 25th Engineering Corps, Co. C. That was in October last year, and in January he was on the fighting ground.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 2, 1918
Mrs. George Falconer of Brown street today received a letter from her youngest son, Cuien Nichols, from whom she had not heard since last May. The mother and her family had given up long ago ever hearing from the boy any more, and they took it for granted that he had been killed in battle. The boy joined the tank corps and all last spring and summer he was busy "running the big tanks over the Germans." In his letter he says, "Gee, mamma, but it is sure lots of fun to run these tanks over the Germans." The mother was almost beside herself today with joy when she received the letter from her baby son. As it had been such a long time since she heard from him, she naturally had given up hope. The letter was altogether unexpected by the family. The son says that in all his long experience fighting the Germans from the big tanks, he has never been injured by bullet or shrapnel. He was seriously gassed at one time during the last summer and was in the hospital a long time as the result, but he fully recovered and was back on the job running the tanks over the Germans at the time the letter was written in the middle of October. The mother now feels that if her son was well up to the time the war was so near an end, that he is still all right.
[George and Martha Falconer lived at 2610 Brown Street in Alton. According to the 1920 census, they had 3 sons, with Cuien as the youngest. By 1940 Cuien was married to a woman by the name of Clara, and had a daughter named Ruth. They moved to Springfield. Other spellings of the first name were Currien and Curran.]
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 5, 1918
(From somewhere in France) - Corporal Louis Noeve of East Alton, who has been in France since the first of July, has sent a letter to Miss Pearl Adams of Wood River, telling of some of his experiences. This is the first letter received from Noeve, and friends will be glad that he is all right. In the course of his letter, Noeve writes: "Tell all my friends hello, and that I am still all together. Have been over the top several times, had several close calls, but I tell you this old war is a great game, or in other words, real sport for we Yanks. We sure do chase the Huns from what little news we get. I don't think this war will last long. Will have lots to tell you when I get back."
OTT, EDWARD N.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 2, 1918
(From somewhere in France) - "We were heartily welcomed by the French people. When we left our ship and marched to the railroad station, through the narrow streets, we were showered with flowers. You could see women try to smile and cheer, and many shed tears of joy. I have not seen a house of wood. All are of stone. They have beautiful farms here. We are in the wine section of France. All you see is vineyards. As we were getting adjusted here, the day we came a train load of supplies passed through, and who did I see but John Waggoner. I shouted out 'Hello Hump' and he fell off that train as if he had fainted. He was certainly glad to see me. I was the first Alton boy he met here. He showed me around, and I met all kinds of fellows. He would tell them all about Alton, and I had to back him up. They feed us fine.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 1, 1918
(From somewhere in France) - France is a land of flowers, fragrance and hospitality where it has not been torn to bits by boche shells, according to a letter just received by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Raines from their son, Harold, former A. J. & P. freight agent at Alton, who is now a bugler in the National Army in France. "I have seen more flowers in a half mile's walk here than I ever saw in America all put together," he writes. The French are lovers of beauty and all homes are adorned with flowers and fancy shrubbery. The flowers are of all colors, and the effect is very beautiful, he says. Ferns are as high as his shoulder. The French people are very kind to Americans, and men, women, and children are anxious to do something to please an American. Girls hand us flowers and ripe strawberries, and Americans are cheered wherever seen. He says there are many Americans over there now; they are so numerous in fact that no one can miss seeing them. Harold is well, and sends his best wishes to all friends here and in Wood River and Godfrey.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 3, 1918
(From somewhere in France) - Mrs. Frank Walters of 214 Madison avenue has received a letter from her son, Corporal E. Ritchey of Company B, 138th infantry, from "somewhere in France," stating that he had not written for some time as he had been "too busy with the Germans." In fact, the letter was the first in ten weeks that Mrs. Walters had received from her son. In the letter Corporal Ritchey writes: "I have not written you for some time. We have been so busy with the Germans that I have not had a chance to write. I was through a pretty hard old battle, but came out all O.K. I am well and doing fine. We are up in the lines again, but it is a quiet sector."
ROBERTSON, A. P. and ARTHUR (his brother)
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 3, 1918
Mrs. P. B. Robertson of College avenue received a very interesting letter this morning from her son. Lieut. A. P. Robertson, who has seen much service, having been in the thick of the fight for the past six months. When he wrote, the young officer said it was the first time in four weeks that he had had a pen in his hand. He wrote that the men with him went "over the top" on September 29th, and have been going ever since. He wrote (the letter was dated on Oct. 27th) that the Allies had the Germans in the open and were having a clean fight, and that "we had them." He enclosed a pair of straps taken from one of the Prussian Guards, and was sending under different cover a pair of wooden shoes (the shoes have not yet arrived). Robertson's station was in a sunken road, 6 feet across and 50 feet long. As he was writing the letter William Gillespie walked into the station, looking hale and hearty (this is further good news for the parents of Gillespie, who at one time got word that he was killed). In speaking of Thad Vaughn, Lieut. Robertson wrote: "At the same time Vaughn and a shell got at the same point, and you know the rest." He further wrote, "I suppose you heard about Leo Willis. But it might have been worse." These boys are with the 138th. He wrote of having been presented with an army chevron, but does not give the date of reception or the cause of same. He had fought for six months when he received same. Mrs. Robertson also received a letter today from her son, Arthur Robertson, who is with the navy. He wrote glowingly of peace being declared, and of coming home soon on a furlough. He could have had five days at Thanksgiving, but the shortness of time would have prevented him from coming home. If he gets ten days at Christmas he will make the trip. He speaks of enlisting for another four years, and if he so desires his mother will not discourage him.
ROSE, BEN and HOMER ("MONK")
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 11, 1918
(From somewhere in France) - Mrs. Mary Rose, widow of the late Justice W. B. Rose, who has two sons, Ben and Homer, in France, has received two letters and a card from the boys, the first news she has received from them since getting the card announcing the safe arrival in that country of the transport which carried them over. The boys are both well, and say that France is a very beautiful country, and it is cool almost all of the time, except in the middle of the day, when it gets very hot for a few hours. "The French people are very kind to us - to all Americans - and their kindness takes the form of actions. Their talk we cannot understand, but we know from the smiles on their faces that whatever they are talking about it means friendliness for us. The women are doing all of the work we have been accustomed to seeing men do, and they are doing it well. They are stout, hard working people - these French women."
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 24, 1918
(From France) - Mrs. Mary Rose, widow of the late Justice W. B. Rose, this morning received a most cherished Christmas present in the shape of letters from each of her sons, Ben and "Monk," who have been in France for months. Ben is mentioned in today's casualty list as being wounded, but that happened long ago, and his letter tells his mother that he is almost well and will soon be discharged from the hospital. He was wounded by a shrapnel fragment and also was gassed, but his constitution and the good nursing soldiers get pulled him through. "Monk" is all right also, but has been in the hospital. Both boys will probably be among those sent from France as soon as possible, the policy of the War Department being to get the wounded and convalescent back to America as soon as possible.
RYAN, J. J.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 17, 1918
Friends in Alton this week received many messages from local boys who are either in camp, in Europe, or are just departing for foreign fields. Friends have received word from J. J. Ryan that he has arrived in France, having received his early training at Camp Lewis, Wash. Ryan was formerly operator at the C. & A. freight house, and is a member of the Young Men's Sodality at the Cathedral, and is also a member of Alton Council 460, Knights of Columbus.
SCHAEFFER/SCHAFFER, OSCAR L.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 2, 1918
(From somewhere in France) - Mrs. John Schaffer of 1228 East Fourth street has received a letter from her son, Corporal Oscar L. Schaffer under date of October 28, from "Somewhere in France." Corporal Schaffer states that he is well and that since his arrival in France he has been having a good time. "The French people are treating us fine," he continues. "Our company at present is quartered in a village which seems almost like home. Since I have arrived on this side of the pond, I have met lots of Alton boys. Most of them have been here for a long time. Harry Weiser is in the village here, but so far I have not been able to locate him. I have learned a little of the French language. Most of the boys talk by means of books, translating their language into ours. Everything in France is cheaper than in the U. S. A. I got a hair cut and a shave for one franc - 20 cents. But I would rather be back in the U. S. A. broke than be here with a million dollars. From the way things are now looking, we will be back, and when we do I am going to take it easy for a while, believe me. Tell all my friends hello."
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 17, 1918
Friends in Alton this week received many messages from local boys who are either in camp, in Europe, or are just departing for foreign fields....Last evening Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Scherer, of Jefferson avenue, bade farewell to their son, Joseph, who left to rejoin his ship in South Carolina, after a furlough in Alton, and this morning received a message dated May 14 in which their son, Cecil, told of sailing within 48 hours for overseas.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 30, 1917
(On the U. S. S. Neptune) - The parents of Harry Schlagg have received a letter from their son who is in the United States naval service, having gone away some time ago to take training. The letter tells of meeting some other Alton boys. The letter follows:
U. S. S. Neptune, November 20, 1917
My Dear Mother: Received your letter Sunday, and sure was glad to hear from you. Well I had the pleasantest experience I ever had I believe. About 50 men from the Neptune went ashore to play baseball. Well, there were quite a few ships in the harbor, and almost every one had a football team, and they had some pretty good games. The Vermont team beat the Connecticut team 29-0, and one game ended up 0-0. Well, I strolled over to where the Kansas team was playing and there who should I run into but (Leland) better know as Jerry Winkler, Bob Uzzell, George Heil and Wash McDonald. Well, we just sat down and talked of olden times, and it sure did me good to run into them and to think that in April none of us thought we would meet until after the war was over, and Sunday was my first day ashore since we came aboard the Neptune. Didn't hardly know how to walk on land any more, felt like the ground was swaying from side to side until I got used to walking on solid ground again. Well, I have told you all I know. So I will close. With love to all, as ever, Harry Schlagg. P. S. Bob Uzzell is on a sub-chaser, and today Bob's chaser came alongside of our ship, and Bob and I spent the afternoon together.
SCOTT, PAUL R. (LIEUTENANT)
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 5, 1918
(From somewhere in France) - Mrs. A. M. Scott received several letters today from her son, Lieut. Paul R. Scott, who recently went to France. On December 9 Lieut. Scott was ordered to France, and the letter this morning was the first that Mrs. Scott has received from him. In his letters he mentions that the weather in France is very cold. At times it has been 10 below zero, but there is no mention of snow. The mud, he says, is very bad, and the boys are covered with it. The one redeeming feature is that he expects to be busy from 6 in the morning until 9 at night, and as the work is interesting, he expects the time to pass very quickly. He has an 18 year old orderly from Milwaukee, and his roommate is from Minneapolis, and he doesn't feel so very far from home. He asks his mother to send him all the local news and clippings from newspapers. Although the food is excellent and the boys are all comfortable, all the boys like to receive boxes from home, and the majority of the boys would appreciate chocolate, raisins, figs, crackers and gum. The President's message was published over there, and they all think it the most just masis [sic] of settlement. On account of the rigid censorship, he was unable to tell of anything happening over there, and his letters are mostly of a personal nature.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 19, 1918
"If Alton young men who ask exemption from army service could only see what I see every day, and could be made to know how urgent is the need to overthrow the Kaiser, they would not hesitate for one minute to get into the service." This statement was contained in an interesting letter received last evening from Second Lieutenant Paul Scott, who is with the American field artillery on the battlefront in France. Scott says that he is in excellent health and that the morale of the American troops overseas is most commendable. He has seen and talked with many German prisoners. They appear delighted to be captured and are happy to receive the humane treatment accorded them. They express hatred of the German war lords, Scott says, even telling the American troops to "go get the Kaiser." Scott says that the folks back home should not "let down" in their united support of the government. There never was a time in the history of the world, he says, when it was so necessary that the home fires be kept burning.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 8, 1918
Lieut. Paul R. Scott's last letters had been so long delayed that his relatives were feeling anxious concerning him, but a letter written April 4 has just arrived. Mr. Scott said that he had been moving toward the front, and for two weeks had no chance to write or send mail. On the move, he said, they were often in the saddle all night. Among other things he says: "Another Lieutenant and I are living in an old kitchen. Just outside the door is a place where there are large flat stones where formerly women washed their clothes. We wash there ourselves now, as the place is deserted. Our Major is as fine a man as a man could be. He is always taking care of his men, and he is absolutely on the job. We have seen a lot of things the last two weeks we will not soon forget." Mr. Scott is a Battalion Intelligencer Officer in active service in France.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 12, 1918
(From somewhere in France) - Mrs. A. M. Scott has received a letter from her son, Lieut. Paul R. Scott, who is in service in France. He had not written for a long time, as he had been moving about through country that had been ravaged by the Germans. His impressions are vividly given, and the most outstanding one is his conviction that any race of people who would commit such atrocities as he reports having seen evidences of, should certainly merit condign punishment from Divine source. He speaks of the ruined villages and countryside, which had been laid waste by the Germans, and of the groups of graves marked to show that they are resting places of women, children and old men, not military men. He said that the reports of the atrocities committed he had heard before going there were more than confirmed by what he saw, and that he considered that not half of the horrors of German atrocities had been told.
SHANKS, JAMES R. (CHAPLAIN)
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 19, 1918
The Telegraph publishes this evening extracts from a letter written by Chaplain James R. Shanks, who had been in action at the front since July. He arrived in France just in time to take part in the now celebrated drive from the Marne, and was rushed into action immediately. As a result of a bit of service rendered, Chaplain Shanks had been recommended for promotion to a captain's grade. The letter follows: "Sunday, Sept. 15, 9:30 a.m. We held service in a French Y.M.C.A. this morning. A corporal led the singing. A sergeant and I spoke. I mailed some souvenirs last night. They came from a field once held by the Germans. They left suddenly - or rather came to us. Prisoners were brought in by droves. About half of them were Austrians, and they were a sad lot. Go with me in your imagination to a giant forest. In one part of it are French dugouts, trenches, barbed wire entanglements, etc. Between these and the Germans was once a forest of magnificent trees, but they are there no longer. Only blackened and twisted stumps are left. To live long in such a spot would try anyone. Out into what had been No Man's Land, a colonel and I walked far. I shall never forget it. Over the forest the sun was setting and the sky indeed looked peaceful. An occasional flash could be seen. Aircraft were active and anti-craft guns were spitting at their friendly enemies, who insisted on soaring above us. The colonel and I peacefully ate blackberries and looked for souvenirs. A major-general came over the shell-shot trail in his car, and we came stiffly to attention (by the way, stiffly is the word after rain, mud and marching). Engineers were at work on the road, and the laborers were singing as they worked, "There's a Long, Long Trail A-Winding." I looked up the road and noticed that as far as the eye could reach was that trail - over the hills, through valleys and into the beyond. It was getting dark. Batteries began to toss shells over to Jerry. Trucks writhed past. Drivers shouted at their horses. An occasional ambulance whizzed by with its load. We soon found our camp and slept, I with my head near a big tree. And I slept, oh, so soundly! It makes a difference which way the battle is going. October 15 - You will doubtless wonder why I haven't written, but writing has been out of the question. Today I shall attempt it though conditions are not ideal. You have been reading about the big push. I need add but little. We have a tale so harrowing as to make each separate hair pause and stand on end. There has been so much sorrow, so much sorrow. But there has also been sunshine. We have all suffered hardships, danger, deprivation and sometimes worst of all, suspense. But we are still smiling. We are Americans. The drive for me was unusually hard this time, as I was run down when I went in. Yesterday I left the regiment proper and walked a few miles back to the supply train where I could sleep. October 21 - You will be dreadfully shocked to learn that I am in the hospital. Joke! Let me explain. We have been in action and I have not been feeling tip-top for some time. I kept feeling more and more miserable till the doctor evacuated me to this hospital. It wouldn't have been so bad had I been able to keep warm, but we moved and camped in the woods which were, and are not dry. Food and water have little charm for me. Sometime back I got a touch of gas, which did not help me any, but which will not have any permanent effect. I'll be out in a few days. I cannot afford to be sick now. The rest is what I needed more than anything. We have been under fire almost continuously for three months. It gets on one's nerves after a while. Our regiment, I suppose, will go back. God knows they deserve it! I hope they get a long rest, poor fellows! Just give them rest, warm clothes, a bath, and delousing facilities, and they will be new men in a little while. By the way, this hospital belongs to Williamson's Fourth Sanitary Train (Chaplain Roy Williamson, also of Shurtleff College). He has been to see me twice. He has his work well in hand and everyone loves him. I heard sometime back that Prof. O. E. Baker had arrived safely in England. He made quite a hit onboard ship by giving lectures on Bible History.
SHEARBURN, CARSON R.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 20, 1918
(From Verdun, France) - Mrs. Bertha Green has received a letter from her friend, Carson R. Shearburn, Battalion C, 309 Heavy Field Artillery, dated Verdun, France. The letter was written four days before the armistice was signed, and Shearburn directs it from his "Hay Barn Home." In his letter he writes: "I will write you a few lines from my new home as listed above. Of course, by the time you get this, I may have a different one, as I change quite often. The Germans are now retreating so fast we are unable to keep in shooting distance with our heavy artillery. So we are camped near a town and are waiting for them to make a stand. The shoulder straps you find enclosed in this letter I got from a German's coat, but I didn't kill him. At least I don't think I did. But if I did it was when I could not see our shells drop. So I will tell you more when I see you. But believe me, we are giving the Huns all they want and have got more if they want it. From where I am I can see the Joan of Arc statue. Tell all my friends hello, and state that I am still on top and fine and dancy, but I would like to be back in Alton again.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 29, 1916
(From the Sandwich Islands [Hawaii]) - The world is not so wide after all, and Alton appears to be represented in all sorts of out of the way places. Every now and then word comes back of one Altonian meeting up with another somewhere in the world, and of having a jubilee together. Today a Telegraph reported was shown a letter written by Harry Sims, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Sims, the Washington avenue grocers, which recounts a meeting he had recently with another former Altonian. This last was Benny Legg, who for years lived in Alton. He was a glassblower, and was popular and prominent. Harry Sims is a member of the Coast Artillery in the Sandwich Island, one of Uncle Sam's boys, and he writes most interestingly of life among the Kanakas. "We have been experiencing the worst weather I ever saw," he writes his parents. "It has rained every day for the last thirty days, and it rained harder than I ever saw it rain in my life before. We have been going barefooted all the time and we did not have any drill during that time. The ground was covered knee deep with water, and all we had was a gunner's school." "You remember," he says, "what a little fellow Benny Legg used to be in Pietown [Upper Alton]. Well, he weighs 137 pounds now and has got some bay window on him. He has been working for Libby, McNeil and Co., and is running a store now. His son, Roy, is working for a millionaire and has nothing much to do except drive the auto. It is a fine job, and there is money in it. Benny sends his best respects to everybody back there, and especially to Charley Johnson and Bill Black." He tells that the big volcano near Honolulu is more active now than it has been in the last 12 years, and the red hot lava is now flowing over the top of the crater. An eruption is feared by the natives presumably. He tells about sending a package containing Sandwich Island money and some nuts and berries that grow there. It has probably been lost or sidetracked, as it has not yet arrived. Harry wrote a 26 page letter filled with interesting information, and this will be printed in part by the Telegraph tomorrow evening.
SONDELS/SONDLES, GUY A.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 30, 1918
Guy Sondels, an Upper Alton boy, a son of Mr. and Mrs. L. W. Sondels of Main street, has written his parents that he went over the top eight times on four different fronts and has been injured only one time. He no doubt holds the high record of all Alton boys for actual fighting against the Germans. The letter to his parents follows: "Base Hospital No. 22. Dear Home Folks: At last I received mail from home and certainly was glad to get it. This was the first mail I have received for over three months. I have several souvenirs to bring home - an iron cross, a German belt and ring, and several other things. Will bring them home if I can just hold on to them that long. I sure have been having some real experience - over the top eight times on four different fronts and came out with just one wound - pretty lucky, isn't it? I am in a quiet sector now in this hospital, and guess I will be here for a while. Am ward master in one of the wards. Cannot write more just now. Am getting along fine and hope everybody at home are all O. K. also. With much love to all, Guy A. Sondles, Co. A, 167 Infantry, Hospital No. 22, A. E. F."
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 17, 1918
(From a hospital in France) - Charles Southard of Co. M, 132nd Infantry, writes from a hospital in France, and in the letter he tells of being wounded through the left shoulder a month before the day the letter was written. He writes on November 11, Armistice Day. The young soldier says that he sees occasionally an Alton boy - Ben Girth - who is on the hospital corps, and is the only home folks he has seen since he left his company after being wounded. He thought he would soon be out of the hospital. "I know there are lots of Alton boys over here, but I have not seen any of them," he remarked. He hoped the war was over, as he said significantly, "France is some place all right, if you like it. It rains ten months of the year, and snows the other two. I do not like to spend a winter over here. I wish that you would send me some newspapers over here, as it gets lonesome. We have lots of books here. We get them from the Red Cross, but the home paper is the best that a fellow can get. I guess I will eat my Thanksgiving dinner in the hospital." His address is Charley Southard, Co. M, 132nd Infantry.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 26, 1918
(From somewhere in France) - Miss Eva Shearlock received a letter yesterday from Emery Southard of Wanda, who is with the 129th in France, telling of heavy fighting which the writer had been in and how he had come through. Southard wrote that he had been "over the top" eight times, and came through all O. K., with the exception of a slight gas attack. Friends and relatives had not heard in weeks from Southard and were very much worried until the letter was received yesterday.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 18, 1917
(From somewhere in France) - Letters received from David Sparks of Alton indicate that he was on duty with the ambulance section in which he is a member, at the time the French captured Hill 304 and Dead Man's Hill, in the Verdun neighborhood. A series of letters he had written and mailed have been received by Alton relatives of the young man, who is seeing some of the horrors of war in Europe, and is describing what he sees in a fashion that is vivid and thrilling. One letter, which we will quote, was preceded by others telling of the bombardment of the work of the ambulance drivers, the dangers that beset the machines from shell holes, and from the big shells that are dropping in unexpected places. He seems confident that the Germans do not shell the hospitals deliberately, and that the shells which strike ambulances are not aimed at them, but are sent from guns too distance for the ambulances to be seen. He speaks in one letter of sleeping eight hours with tremendous shelling going on all the time. Occasionally an unusually bit one would rouse him from sleep, but he would be so weary from work and lack of sleep that explosions of great shells made no difference to him. He relates how his musical ear enables him to distinguish between an "arrive" and a "depart" shell. He explains "flopping" to avoid shells that come your way. He said in a letter of August 14: "Boche shells do not explode until they have entered their destination and consequently throw a fountain up and out. This leaves a space close to the ground for a few yards about, which is safe. If one is lucky enough to be close to an arrive and plaster flat quickly, he is all right. Last night, for instance, a shell struck six or eight feet from the A. A. boys who were standing beside their machine. They were not touched. Our men stand high above a shell, there being no danger at all. They go for latitude, not altitude. So with my big one of yesterday morning. But believe me, there are times when I haven't any knee joints at all. I can collapse quicker than any trick drinking out you ever saw in your life. The only thing between me and the ground is a vacuum. There is considerable of a knack in telling the difference between a depart and an arrive. Especially if there are a great many shells in the air at once. The main thing is that an arrive has rather more of a whine than the hollow, sharp hiss of a depart. But mostly I am pretty glad for a pair of fiddle ears where it comes to a question of when to get down. Little niceties in the sense of pitch help. But you, dear, blessed people, you must just laugh at all this. It is to make you feel safe, not to worry you. The first thing that I learned at the front was that it takes a powerful many shells to touch one man. And just because a bit of something hits a man, it doesn't kill him. KILLING FROM ORDINARY SHELL FIRE IS ALMOST A NONENTITY. Except if regular attacks, shells are not mean to kill people; they are only to tear up roads and knock down houses. Of course, people get in the way of shells as they do of motor cars. But that is fate - absolutely. The only shells with which we come in contact are stray things from eyes too far away to see a Red Cross. That is our chance. But that chance is, actual account, perhaps 80 per cent better than those in artillery and infantry. Except on trips we are quite safe, for the hospital is never deliberately shelled. Getting along with the things here is as second nature as crossing Olive street at 6 o'clock. We forget everything, and you must too. Today has been quiet. Not a shell within hearing. I have not been out. Just a happy, lazying around, a little work on my machine, and writing this. It was pouring rain this morning, and we were served breakfast in bed at half past eight. The horrors of war I call that." "Friday Afternoon, August 17, 1917: I went on for twenty four hours front duty, beginning at 5 o'clock Wednesday afternoon. Four or more cars are sent out from the base at that time each evening, and go to the central posts do secours just in rear of the French batteries to await calls from the outposts. We work five posts along the front, and go out in succession according to number. The usual tour of duty is twenty-four hours front, the same time idle, and twelve hours rear evacuation (carrying wounded from our base hospital to the large neighboring towns). So really our percentage of time in danger is very small, and there is plenty of time for sleep in the back of the cars between calls. Our cars are ... [unreadable] ...(couches are stretcher patients; assis, slightly wounded, able to sit up). A Ford can only take three couches or single assis. Moreover, our stretchers are suspended upon springs and are infinitely easier for the blesses than the rigid ones of a Ford. On a whole, Fiats have made the most perfect ambulances in the French service. The first part of the evening waiting at M------- was very gloomy. There was a heavy rain, and it was exceedingly cold. We could have no light, and the shelters (abries) were full. Two of the cars went out, and the remaining four of us dined about twice on the ever-present canned beef, hard dog biscuits, and a scrap of chocolate. Then Wagner and I turned in on the scant comfort of a twelve-inch wide ambulance seat. At half past two came a call for C-------. C------- is the worst post in France. There were no stars - only a slight drizzle of rain. Five ton camions came booming out of the dark shidding half sideways. At half past two the drivers of wagons are always asleep and on the wrong side of the road. There were times when Wagner had to walk ahead to feel the road and call to me to follow. Shell pits jump up to meet you nights like that. Mr. Norton had started out earlier on an inspection four with the Chief. We found them half way to C-----, ditched. Farther on was another of our cars with both front wheels smashed in a shell hole. They had been running away from heavy fire. We were out on the desert then. There were a few Boche shells, and our guns seemed half asleep. Flashes came just often enough to leave us blinded completely. About all I can remember of seeing was the sad, bare land shown red through the fire for a second, and then a picture of the dark made impenetrable by the red, dancing spot left on my eyes from the sudden glare. Once we hit something soft lying in the road. It was a horse - probably. The C------- at the entrance to the narrow few yards long out that leads from the road to the poste, I had to wait for the passage." "Friday, August 24, 1917: I have been very uncertain and frightened this past week. The infantry attack began last Monday morning, very early, .... [unreadable] At 4 o'clock I went up with one of the cars to help reap the sad half of front _____. ...... [unreadable] On Monday the roads were quiet enough, though very crowded by ammunition trains and all the other ___ ____ that as attack means. The _____ artillery was so busy with out trenches that roads made little difference. I drove steadily through the night until 7 o'clock. Then my _____ let go and I got a few hours sleep. Tuesday morning early I found the trouble and got started again. Things were bad enough that day. All the dead had not been buried, and the roads everywhere was in chaos. That ____ C.______ was particularly bad. There were horses and horses along it that had been dead long enough to be unpleasant. Sometimes there were only halves and quarters and bits of horses. Dead horses are pretty bad because there is so much of them. The worst shell holes and cuts in the road were filled in on a foundation of splintered wagons, and what horses were convenient. One held four wagons and six horses - a 42-centimater did that. Farther front were legs and arms - sometimes a whole trunk - lying lose. By evening, the graveyard across from M ------ had a new line of ditches, and things were in much better condition along the ways. The roads also had been largely repaired. At dusk I drove to C---- to spend the night and replace Astlett. Along the stretch before the Boche lines were a good many fresh shell holes, but there was not a shot as we passed. Later, we were standing before the abrie at C---- when three high explosives fell and burst on the very place where we had stood. Its shock was great enough to jar out the candles in a room quarried out of a stone cliff. But this is enough blood and thunder for one evening, and I shall finish tomorrow. Does it seem strange to you so far, far off, that I should be perfectly peaceful and happy tonight just for no reason at all? I am. I believe that nothing in the world can make any difference to emotions. They just come. Sunday afternoon: It is all such a sort of blur, the rest of last week, and I am so sleepy. I was on front duty again yesterday and last night, and had no time to write. After all, one day was like the other, and the big thing is that we licked the Boches clean. Tuesday night at C---- was awfully sort of queer. We came in out of the shell fire to a long room not quite high enough to stand upright. It was quarried out of rock mostly, and the uneven floor was all drippy from puddles which had leaked out of the roof. Mostly, it shook and shook from the big shells which came close, but they all seemed very far away, and one felt very safe. Along the walls of the place were racks which held open stretchers on which the .....[unreadable] ...By and by I got a stretcher and lay down with a little drip, drip of water on ___ in two or three places. As I grew drowsy, it was like a queer dream. The mumble of voices, the few dray figures walking about, the damp air, the rumble of the shells, were all such a ridiculous mess. I finally remember the rip, rip of the home ____ which the surgeon was making on his leg case of the night, I woke up from the racket which a badly wounded man was making. He must have been bellowing with pain, and ____ came out only such a funny, ____ sound. The badly hurt one went on shouting, and he made another one start, and I went back to sleep until 5 o'clock. Then we brought those two in and some more. The road was all shot to pieces where the Boches can ___. I tried to go fast, for it was ____ light and I was dreadfully afraid. But they all bellowed so, I hadn't the heart. So we just plugged along in first order all the rough stretches, and I think it was about the bravest thing I have done. Wednesday I was on front work more, and Thursday was rear evacuation. I was off most of Friday, and yesterday was on the front again. Last night I stayed at S---- in a place much the same at C----, but worse. A man slept between me who had been gassed, and he snored and snorted all night like a steamboat whistle. Gas affects you that way. It is like a very bad cold in the head. The air was very bad and most of the soldiers had been eating garlic and drinking rum. But I slept well enough. I lay on my stretcher until we were relieved at eight, and listened to the last stand of the attack which went on this morning. When we got back to camp, we found that the Boches had fallen back a kilometer on an eighteen kilometer front. The French had attacked an important town. I guess the war won't last much longer. P. S. The ambulance sections of us here were given an army citation for bravery and good work. One of our boys lost two fingers and half his hand, and another in the American Ambulances an arm. Our boy has the Croix de Guerre, and I guess the other will perhaps receive the Military Medal. Nothing ever touched me. David.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 9, 1918
Ed Stafford of Alton has broken into the class of "aces." He is not a really and truly ace, but at the camp in Louisiana where he has been taking instructions he is known as an ace. In a letter home he tells how it happened. He was alighting at the flying field from a trip, when he struck a cow and killed it. Fortunately he was not injured, and the plane was only slightly damaged. The cow was one that had broken through a fence and ran on the flying field. Stafford is expected to arrive home the latter part of next week for a ten day furlough.
STRUIF, LEO J.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 11, 1918
(From the front lines in France) - The residents of Paris, and in fact the residents of all of France and of Germany and England, who read Paris published papers, know that Alton has abolished the teaching of German in the schools. This much is known through a letter just received by Augustus Crivello of the Crivello Bros delicatessen store of this city, and written by Leo J. Struif. He says: "I saw in the Paris edition of the New Herald the other day where the schools of Alton have excluded the study of German. Well, that is all right; nothing like being patriotic." Leo read the news in the front trenches, and he tells also gleefully and gratefully of the delivery to him of a box of fine eatables and smokes sent him by Gus Grivello in March. This box was delivered to him in the front line trenches also. He wrote the letter on paper that does not bear the Y.M.C.A. or K. of C. imprint, and explains that they are put up near the front line, and that these organizations do not supply stationery on the "battlefields," as it were. [He writes] "Yesterday and today were beautiful ones. The sun was shining all of the time and all of us appreciated that fully. Most of the time it is raining here; anyway it rains nine of ten days as a usual thing. The only discord today or yesterday was the singing of shells over our heads - a fellow soon gets used to that, and the shells even sing us to sleep at night. A year ago if I heard the report of a rifle or revolver, I would wonder if someone were getting hurt, but now I do not think of it at all. In regard to the French women and girls, I am through with them before I started. They are 'pas biene' [translates 'not well']. I wouldn't trade one of the Alton girls for a dozen French women." He says one cent pieces are called "clackers" over there, and two cent pieces are called "bunker plates." He is well and sends his best wishes to Altonians generally. The letter was written April 12.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 19, 1919
(From Germany) - A letter arrived today for J. B. Crivello, written on the banks of the River "Ryan" in Germany, by Leo Struiff of the Marines, in which he says he does not expect to get home before July, if then. "I am enclosing," he says, "a short record of the 2nd Division, which may be of interest to you. Among other achievements not told in that reprint are the capture by the division of one-fourth of all the prisoners captured by the A. E. F.; also one-fourth of the artillery taken by the entire army in Europe. We suffered also one-tenth of all the casualties of the entire army. I claim we have some record. Even at that some of the other divisions claim theirs is the best in the A. E. F., which claim causes trouble sometimes, especially if made in a cafe where there are Marines. It is too bad that Charles Maguire and Ed Kniery were killed. Well, they died a glorious death on a field of honor. Both were as fine men as you could ever find anywhere. I always felt I was going to pull through and am very thankful that I did. There was one time I had a feeling that I was going to be hit. That was the last time we made a drive in the Argonne, and I did get hit, but the wound was not very bad. It is a good thing, Joe, that we cannot foresee the future. I feel this way when I glance backwards one or two years, and realize what happened since. If we could foresee what is ahead of us, it would make cowards of some of us and heroes of some others." With the letter came a poetic history of the "Devil Dogs," the name given American Marines by the Huns. Leo sends regards to all Altonians.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 14, 1919
Augustus Crivello today received a letter from Leo Struif, son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Struif. He had just completed a 14-days furlough, which he spent in Lyons, France, and is back in Germany with his Marine mates. He is well, and a photograph of himself, which he sent with the letter, is surely that of a fine looking and perfectly healthy man. But - He is wearing a mustache in the photograph, and the mustache is RED. It is wonderful what the French climate will do to an Illinoisan. The members of the Struif family are all of the brunette type, and that red mustache is an interloper. He asks, "What do you think of my red mustache? Some class I claim. And now ain't it awful?" He is well, and sends regards to all Altonians.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 21, 1919
(From Mailly, France, December 16, 1918)
My Dear Parents:
We came, we saw, we conquered. One William Hohenzollern, the arch criminal of the 20th century, who, for four years made a specialty of murdering old men and women, and butchering innocent babes, is a fugitive from justice. Having ruined Germany, like the cowardly skunk that he is, he fled from Berlin at midnight and is now skulking behind the walls of a Dutch chateau, undoubtedly a sadder, is not a wiser man. If you remember in my letter of Sept. 29th, I predicted that the war was rapidly nearing an end. The indications pointed to an early collapse of Deutschland at that time, for our boys were taking thousands of prisoners and most of them were glad to get behind our lines, where safety was assured and plenty of grub was in sight. The great debacle came at last, on November 11, and at 11 o'clock a.m., when the last shot was fired and silence reigned from the sea coast to the Swiss frontier, there was a wild celebration started along the lines. Even the Boches [derogatory slang term for a German soldier] so far forgot themselves that many of them joined in the uproar, proving that they were heartily sick and tired of the whole cursed affair, and delighted that it was over at last, even if they couldn't sing their old time favorite "Deutechland uber alles" with the same confidence that they had when they started on their grand march to Paris. Yes, Herr Hohenzollern, ex-kaiser, and would-be world dominator, who had the sublime audacity to assume a partnership "mit Gott" in governing this little plant of ours, has ceased his saber rattling and bellicose attitude, at least for the present. Involuntarily, but with exceeding haste, he decamped, and the place of his abode where he plotted and schemed for a quarter of a century to corral the whole globe and all there is on it, over the water and under the water, now knows him no more. Bill's gigantic program is wiped out, gone glimmering through the eternal shades of light, and like Alexander of old, he won't have an opportunity to sigh and ____, because there are no more worlds to conquer. Bill is now recuperating in Holland, but it seems he is persona non grata in his retreat. The wise Dutch fear that they are quartering an elephant, and secretly would be very glad to get rid of him and the satraps [world leaders who are heavily influenced by larger superpowers] that accompanied him to Amerogen, Napoleon said that from his fighting experience he could safely state that the Lord was generally to be found on the side of the strongest battalions, so if Bill's "Goit" started with him in 1914, when his battalions were the strongest then, he must have deserted when Uncle Sam's khaki clad Kaiser hunters hove in sight and turned the scale so far as numbers were concerned. Yes, Bill has escaped and the "clown chintz" for the time being, but there are avenging angels on their trail. There are men in Europe who do not take much stock in that quotation that "Vengeance is mine, I will repay saith the Lord." I do not believe that an international court, if one is convened by the Allied governments, will ever get a chance to try Bill for his high crimes and misdemeanors. I prognosticate that some Belgian or French destroying angel will put his light out before they get hold of him. As Boby Burns said: "The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley," and Bill's plans to round up all mankind and compel them to fall down and worship him or exterminate them with big doses of "sch(?)recklikeit" has proven a rank failure. Don't be surprised at any time to read in the newspapers that Bill's exit from this mundane sphere which he undertook to boost into a higher stage of civilization with his peculiar brand of "kultur," was exceedingly sudden and that he perished with his boots on.
And now I must relate, briefly, the story of my wanderings since I stood on the top deck of our big transport after embarking at Hoboken in the early morning hours of March 14th last, and waved my hand in adieu to the Goddess of Liberty in New York Harbor, as she faded from my vision. With 3,500 young and gallant fellows in the full bloom of young manhood on board, some of whom I grieve to say will never see the Goddess again, after an uneventful voyage our good ship landed at Brest on the 26th. From there we traveled in little French box cars, each one of which was labeled "40 Hommes, 8 Chevaux," (which translated means 40 men or 8 horses), to La Courtine, where we were encamped for some time, and then set out on our long journey across France to the battlefront. We reached Rennes, a fine large city, and after some delay moved on to Tours, another large city. From there we journeyed southeastward and arrived in the big and beautiful city of Lyon. After some days spent there, we got orders to move northward to Vitry le-Francois. Our next trip was to Chanmont and from there we were sent to the general headquarters of the First Army Artillery, which was then located to Bar-Sur-Aube, about 30 kilometers northwest of Chaumont. This was in April, and I was assigned to Battery B, 54th Coast Artillery, but I was detailed to do office work at headquarters and remained there until June, when as our Army was making preparations for the big drive in the St. Mihiel salient, I was ordered to active service with my battery. About the first of July we moved to Haussimont, where our whole regiment was stationed. Haussimont is a hamlet of about a dozen of stone tile-roofed, one-story houses, and there was a large American replacement camp there at that time. It was only a few kilometers in rear of our front line trenches, and the Roche air raiders had it under surveillance, for we had not been there very long when they began to come over and take photographs of our positions. At that time they were the masters of the air at the front, and came and went as they pleased, because our flyers had not reached our lines in sufficient numbers to attack them successfully. When they located us with the aid of the photographs, they began to come across our lines every night and rain down bombs, but luckily for us our big anti-aircraft guns had come up and were in place to give them a warm reception. They dare not come down close enough to effectually use their machine guns on us, as our big guns would surely get them, so they had to content themselves with staying up several thousands yards, for after all it is safety first with the Boche, every time, and throw their boms down on us from that height. We always got sufficient warning of their coming, for the alarm was given at the front and telephoned back to our quarters, and then we would get mighty busy and beat it for the dugouts, or lie out in the adjoining woods until they went back to their own territory. Night after night they sailed over us in large numbers and rained bombs, bombs and then some more bombs, but we were concealed, laughing in our sleeves at their vain efforts to locate us and put us out of the fighting. On the night of July 28, they nearly got our whole outfit. They stole a march on us by going up probably two or three miles and then suddenly dropping down over us, and as no alarm had sounded, before we could reach the dugouts their murderous missiles were falling in our midst. If there was a man in our bunch who didn't say a prayer that night, it was because he didn't know how to appeal to the Almighty. We tumbled out of our quarters, but they got three men of our battery and blew up a big French aerodrobe just in rear of Haussimont. An incendiary bomb set it afire and thirty-five machines were destroyed. The whole country was lit up by the conflagration, and your 4th of July big fireworks displays couldn't hold a candle to it. Of course, our anti-aircraft guns worked to a finish and finally drove them away. They then went over the town of Somme Soues, a few miles from Haussimont, bombed it and killed a number of old men, women, and children. One of the French guards at the aerodrome was blown to atoms by one of the bombs, and about a dozen houses were burned up in Somme Sous. Considering how we were exposed as a result of the dirty sneak they made on us in the dead of night, we considered ourselves very fortunate to escape with the small number of casualties. None of our men were killed outright, but they were so badly wounded that they will never be fit for military service again. Our battery took part in all the heavy fighting on the St. Mihiel front, our big guns being moved forward constantly and hurling death and destruction to the enemy, but the Fritzies fell back so rapidly with our gallant doughboys of the infantry at their heels, that we could not keep up with them. However, the big bend in our battle line was soon mopped up and our line straightened. I was with the 54th until about the middle of August, when a call came to man the batteries of the 43rd regiment, which had been in some of the hardest of the fighting and had lost heavily. I was one of the men called on, and soon found myself among the big guns again as a member of Battery C of that regiment. By this time we had reached the line close to Verdun, and our headquarters were at Souilly. It is a small, shell torn village about ten miles south of that city. The Huns having retreated so rapidly our artillery commander decided that we could rest on our laurels a while, as the field artillery seemed to be all that was required to wipe out the rest of the Boches. We were ordered back to Souilly, and were in camp there when on the 12th day of October my Captain ordered me to report for duty at General Artillery, First Army headquarters at Bar-le-Due, for office work, and I was there when the armistice was signed. Meantime, Battery C had fell back to Haussimont, and so did not get a chance to fire a last salvo at the Huns on that fateful morning that ushered in the dawn of peace. Old Uncle Sam won't have to pay that $10,000 insurance, and I want you to save the policy for me as a souvenir of the greatest conflict in the world's history.
So you see, my dear parents, I have seen my share of the great world war. I have traveled over a good part of France since landing at Brest, which is a great seaport, and as you know, the same where President Wilson landed. I regret to say that I have not met an Alton boy since I have been over here. I have been in Rennes, Angiers, Tours, Nevers, Lyons, Troyes, Bar-le-Duc, Nancy, Vitry-le-Francois, Chalons, St. Dizler, and a number of other places. I remained at Bar-le-Duc until December 5th, when the joyful news came that our regiment was listed for return to the States. Hastily packing my kit, I bade a hasty farewell to my office companions and hiked to Haussimont in a motor truck, but when I got there I was disappointed. The regiment was then on its way to St. Nazaire for embarkation, and my battery had left the day before. Reporting to the commanding artillery officer at Haussimont, upon learning of my predicament, he ordered me to report to the Adjutant General at Mailly, and so I had to hike out again with my kit for a long ride in a motor car, and when I got there Mr. Adjutant put me to work in his office, and so here I am at this writing. There is a lot of office work here, and whether I will be able to get permission to hike again in time to join the battery before they sail for home I am unable to say, but I am going to try mighty hard. I want to see Paris before returning, if possible, as I have not been there yet. It is a difficult matter to get a furlough to visit that city. It may be that our battery will be detained at St. Nazaire for some weeks awaiting transportation. If so, and I can get permission again to join it, I may have time to go to Paris and spend a few days there, then reach the port in time to sail with them. Battery C is composed entirely of New York men, and so will quite likely be mustered out at Camp Merritt. It has a good fighting record, and I think I was the only western man in it. Splendid, true to the core and brave comrades are these boys, and I have formed some warm ties of friendship amongst them, which it will be hard to sever when the final parting comes at muster out. When I reach New York I expect to spend a week there with Cousin Phil, who I know is an expert at showing a fellow the sights of the big metropolis. Then I will endeavor to stop over at Carlisle, Penn., just to say hello to Cousin Maud, whose husband is over here in the aviation service. Well, now, you ought to be weary reading this long winded epistle, so I will cut it out and say adieu with this refrain:
Keep the home fire burning, Let the fatted calf be slain; Dear mother, put the kettle on, I'm coming back again;
Your Bonnie boy has done his bit, And never more will roam, When he lights his little kit, At home, sweet home.
Very affectionately, your wandering boy, Bonnie,
Battery C. 43rd Artillery C. A. C., American P. O. 707, A. E. F., France
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 14, 1918
(From Quantico, Virginia) - Mrs. Lillie Tribble of 520 Easton street has received an interesting letter from her son, Ernest Tribble, who is in the heavy Browning machine gun school, overseas depot, at Quantico, Va. In his letter Tribble writes: "The talk is that we are going to get eight days liberty for Christmas. So if we do, I will come home. I don't know what they are going to do with the duration men. You know all Washington is upset over it. But I don't think we will have to stay in over three months. It costs the government about $20,000 a day to feed and clothe this camp, with the other expenses, so there is no reason why they should hold us any longer than they have to. I'll bet there wasn't any place in the United States that had a better dinner than we did Thanksgiving. In the first place, our mess hall had 18 big turkeys. So we had all the turkey we wanted, besides peas, corn, potatoes, gravy, celery, sweet pickles, chow-chow, cranberries, dressing, pie, cake, pineapple, apples, oranges, coffee, and a cigar on top of that. The rest of the stuff I can't remember. Why, you could not put a dish down after you took something because you couldn't find room. We have not done anything for a whole week but sleep and write letters."
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 21, 1918
(From Arcadia, Florida) - George Sauvage has received an interesting letter from Otis Unterbrink, son of Mr. and Mrs. H. H. Unterbrink, who is located at Arcadia, Florida. Otis is now a sergeant, and has charge of the propeller work in two flying or aviation fields, the Dorr Field and the Caristrom Field. He is enjoying the work greatly, he says. Air planes are numerous and cadets are flying around from 6 o'clock a. m. until 7 p.m. There are 127 Curtis planes and 16 scout planes in the field near Arcadia, and 300 cadets learning the flying game. He says he is occupying the officers' quarters with other officers, and that it is "sure a swell place." They have a tennis court in front of the house and play tennis every night. They also have good jazz band music frequently during each week, the band being sent out from Arcadia to give the military entertainment. He encloses two pictures - snapshots - which are attracting considerable attention. One shows a lot of machines in formation flying through the air, some of them being at a height of 3,500 feet. It is a remarkable picture to be taken from the ground, and shows up the machines perfectly. Another one of the pictures shows two or three ox teams and wagons and several men and women walking alongside the wagons or trailing behind. He says: "This picture was taken three miles from any house and the ox cart way is the way they travel down here. The people you see are what they call Florida Crackers, and they travel about as fast as the oxen, which is traveling some, believe me." He is well and likes the climate.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 25, 1917
(From aboard the U.S.S. Kansas) - The sixteen Alton Naval Reserves who are still aboard the U. S. S. Kansas are expecting to be sent with the Asiatic fleet at any time, according to advice that has been received from them. The following is part of a letter received from Robert Uzzell, one of the Alton boys who went with the reserves. "We took the fourth physical examination aboard the U. S. S. Kansas (in Sick Bay) on the 18th, and two more men were rejected, leaving now only 16 men aboard the Kansas, the two rejected being sent back to U. S. S. Massachusetts. Thirteen of our men are aboard the U. S. S. Massachusetts. We do not know as yet where we are going, but the bulletin board in the city state that we are to be sent shortly on the Asiatic fleet, which will take in China. There are many funny things happen aboard. August Kaesheimer was caught smoking on some gasoline cans on main deck the other day. One night the Alton boys had a pajama parade in the pajamas given us when we left Alton. So many funny things happen that I could not relate all of them. One Jack (young kid) cried this morning of homesickness. We are learning the real way of donning a sailor's uniform. One of the boys said that the Alton people wouldn't know us when we get home. I have been pretty lucky. Wanted to stick with the Alton bunch, and so lost my rating when I left the Massachusetts by doing it, but got it back. Am now yeoman to wireless operators." The Alton Naval Reserves are getting a strenuous workout from the word that is coming back to Alton. They are being put through the paces aboard the U. S. S. Kansas. From early in the morning until almost sundown, the boys are being given a thorough workout. John Ward, one of the Alton boys, wrote home: "We get up at 5:30 o'clock in the morning, mess at 7:30, drill to 10:45, turn to at 1 o'clock, and drill to 4:15. Believe Sherman was right."
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 1, 1918
George Walters, who is at the Fort Wayne aerial school near Detroit, has written his mother that he is having a great time, and on the date that he attained his twenty-first birthday, which was also last Wednesday, he wrote that all of the boys (he among them) were crazy to get into the air and then over to Germany to get at the Germans, and that he hoped they would bomb Hindenburg. The young Alton flier tells of a banquet given in a Detroit hotel by a lady physician, Dr. A. Victory Seymour, and of a wonderful and "sweet" talk she made to "her bird boys," and in which she offered a thousand dollars for the bombing of Hindenburg. The great army of young birdmen pledged themselves to get Hindenburg, or some other German burg, and young Walters' recital of the enthusiastic time at the banquet is good to read. He closes his letter with the lines that he thanks the Lord that he is going to have a chance to do his part toward whipping the Germans, and tells his mother that he is in good shape, feels fine, is being cared for, gets good meals and sleeps in a good bed. Young Walters is a real patriot. Being too young to get in through the draft, he made many trials to get somewhere, finally landing in the flying squad, where he will be probably given a good account of himself.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 25, 1917 (see letter from Robert Uzzell)
(Aboard the U.S.S. Kansas) - John Ward, one of the Alton boys, wrote home: "We get up at 5:30 o'clock in the morning, mess at 7:30, drill to 10:45, turn to at 1 o'clock, and drill to 4:15. Believe Sherman was right."
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 8, 1918
(From somewhere in France) - John Wegner of Wood River, one of our boys who is doing his bit somewhere in France, writes his sister at Wood River that he is receiving the Telegraph, and that when a paper comes in, that ten men, all of them from Alton, devour it and that when they get through the paper looks like a rag. In writing his sister he says that ten papers cam in a bunch the other day, and that the ten men went after them and gleaned the news from home, and that it was a feast for them. Wegner writes his sister that he is happy and well, and thus far everything they have sent over to him, even some cakes, though they arrived hard as hard tack, went through all right.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 23, 1918
(From Camp Shelby) - Harry Weiser has written his father from Camp Shelby that they expect to leave that camp in six or eight weeks, but he doesn't know where they are going - whether overseas or not. There is a lot of talk about the destination, but nothing sure. He sends several pictures of himself and one of them shows how expert he has become with a clothes wringer. Another shows him laundering plates, and all show him smiling. He says it rains every Saturday and Sunday - those being the only two days the soldiers have off. He says that is getting them used to any hardships they may meet up with after they get over there. He has lost but very little weight, but what flesh he has always had has solidified, and he now feels like "Solid Muldoon" must have felt in his best days. He is well and says all of the other Alton boys are also, and all are pleased with their work, except possibly when it comes to kitchen police work. This work is something entirely different to anything most of the ever did - hence the objection to it. [Note: The Solid Muldoon was a "prehistoric human body" unearthed in 1877, near Beulah, Colorado. Named after either the legendary wrestler William Muldoon or the location of its discovery. It was later revealed to be a hoax. Source: Wikipedia.org.]
WHITE, JOSEPH EARL
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 4, 1919
Mrs. Hannah Gaffney of Alton has received a letter from her son, Joseph Earl White, telling of his being shipwrecked on the steamer J. M. Guffey, in mid-ocean, and being rescued after having been lost at sea for 20 days. White wrote the letter aboard the USS Guffey as he was nearing the port of St. Johns' Newfoundland, and it was mailed at that port. White is a member of the United States Naval Forces overseas. He served on one of the destroyers at Base 18. He was a member of the crew of the oil tanker, J. M. Guffey, which belongs to the Gulf Oil Company, and named in honor of Col. J. M. Guffey, a prominent oil man of Pittsburg, Pa., who was one of the founders of the Gulf company. The tanker was on a trip across the ocean when she hit an ice field off the Newfoundland coast. The Guffey was at first reported sunk, but later received assistance and the crew was rescued by a British freighter after they had abandoned ship and were floating on huge ice cakes. White, true to sailor traditions, is very modest in his statements regarding his hardships as well as thrilling rescue, and as a consequence gives only a short account in his letter of the history-making episode. The letter of White to his mother is as follows: "My dear mother: I suppose you have heard of us being shipwrecked in mid-ocean, but we finally made port. We were lost at sea for 20 days. We lost our rudder and our boilers blew up. We were reported sunk. We got assistance in time. We hit an ice field and got lost. The 16th we were salvaged by a British freighter and towed. We had a big hole in our bow. We run out of fuel and food. I am so cold at present I can scarcely write this letter. We are nearing port at St. John's. We left the ship when the captain commanded us to go. We were on big blocks of ice, but I am alive, thank God. I will write later. Don't worry. I am safe now. If you wish to know more about it, write to the American consul at St. John's, Newfoundland, about the Guffey."
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 1, 1918
(From hospital in France) - Mrs. George Madsen and Miss Marie Willis received a letter Thursday from their son and brother, Corporal Leo Willis, who is in a hospital in France. This is the first letter received from him since his mother and sister received a cablegram announcing that he was injured, but not seriously, and for them not to worry. Corporal Willis writes a very cheery letter home, saying that he was injured in the leg and that he had a sore arm, but wrote he was getting along in fine shape and was getting the best of care. He gave generous praise to the Red Cross for its share in the care which the injured soldiers receive. The letter was written October 3, telling that he had been injured on the 27th of September. At the writing he had not been removed to a base hospital, but expected to be within a few days. He spoke of being taken off the field by three companions, one of whom was Walter Stiritz of this city. Willis and Stiritz have been together since joining the National Guards at Alton. Willis does not tell the extent of his injuries, but relatives and friends are confident that he will be all right on account of being able to write six days after the accident.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 18, 1919
Wohlert receives letter from sweetheart - William Wohlert, an employee of the Duncan Foundry, yesterday received a letter from a young woman. The young woman who wrote the letter was not Wohlert's wife, and though the letter is couched in the most tender, endearing language, Wohlert's present wife is not angry. The letter was written to Wohlert while he lay in a hospital in France on December 2, last. At that time, thousands of miles of ocean and thousands of miles of land separated the two people, Wohlert and the young woman who wrote the letter. But before the letter reached Wohlert, he was assigned to a ship to be brought home, he having almost fully recovered from the effects of gas received while battling the enemy. The young soldier came home, and shortly afterward was married. And yesterday, the letter, which was addressed to the hospital in France, came to Alton, more than nine months after being written. But Mrs. Wohlert is not angry. She it was who wrote the letter. When she wrote the letter she was the betrothed of the young soldier who lay in a hospital in France. When the soldier received the letter, she was his wife. When she wrote the letter she was Miss Pearl Gray, and she is now Mrs. William Wohlert, and any man may receive a letter from his wife, even if she wasn't his wife when she wrote it. Wohlert declared last night that he has received a hundred letters since returning to America on January 6, which were addressed to him in France. Delays in postal service caused the letter written nine months ago to arrive only yesterday.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 21, 1918
(From somewhere in France) - Mrs. Emma Tueller, of 718 East Fifty street, received a letter from her son, Joseph Youngblood, this morning, after a silence of several months. The son tells that he has just been discharged from the hospital in France, and tells his mother that he will probably be on his way back to the good old U.S.A. by the time this letter reaches her. Youngblood tells his mother that he was down and out, that the Huns got him and he was taken to Base hospital A in France. He says he asked the nurses not to write to his mother of his injury, because he did not want her to worry. Youngblood says in his letter that the Stars and Stripes waving in Germany is payment enough to him for all of the suffering that he has gone through, and that now that the Huns are defeated, his one wish is to get back to his home in Alton and have a family reunion with all of his people. Mrs. Tueller believes that her son will soon be opening the door at his home and it will be a happy reunion when he returns, as she feared he had made the supreme sacrifice in the great struggle.
ZERWEKH, PAUL (LIEUTENANT)
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 24, 1917
City Attorney Paul Zerwekh received his call to the air last night, when notice came to him that he had passed the aviation test successfully, and that he is to proceed to one of the training camps within a few days notice of the camp appointed for his training to be named. Zerwekh took the aviation examination a week ago, and he has been arranging his affairs since that time, being confident that he passed and accepted for the aviation service. The city attorney had first been exempted by the local board on the ground that he was a public officer, but later decided to request that his exemption be set aside and his name appears in the certified list of name published today. In order to avoid the necessity of causing an election to be held to fill his place, he has arranged with C. L. McHenry, who recently passed the bar examination, to serve as acting city attorney during the time he is gone, or until an election may be held at which the vacancy could be filled. A city election to fill the vacancy would cost nearly as much money, it is probable, that the salary of the office would amount to, and it is desired to avoid this unnecessary expense. The City Council will be asked by the Mayor to approve the selection of an acting city attorney, to represent Mr. Zerwekh. In case the city attorney should fail to come up to requirements in the aviation service, he would return home and resume his position. Mr. Zerwekh was notified today that he would be expected to be at the aviation school at Champaign the 15th of December to take up his work.
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 11, 1918
Lieut. Paul Zerwekh has written to Magistrate Patrick Maguire and in the letter he tells of being transferred to Ft. Sill, Okla., where he was put on duty for pilot for observers. He takes an observer aloft and he runs the machine while the observer practices at making views of the country, preparatory to being used in France to correct the shell fire of big guns. Lieut. Zerwekh says that there is nothing terrifying about being so far up in the air, and he enjoyed the experience he had when he took his first observer aloft. _____ he had been alone and had no time in his cross country flight to observe much as his machine kept him busy, but when he had a companion he had opportunity to see more. He wrote his mother, Mrs. Woll, that he was transferred from one camp to the other by airplane, carrying his suitcase with him, while his own airplane was sent on by train. He rode 5 miles in 55 minutes.
Copyright Bev Bauser. All rights reserved.