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Madison County During World War I


Miscellaneous News and Stories (arranged by date)


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Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 8, 1917

Benno Leonhardt Steber [sic], aged 37, for twelve years a soldier in the German army, today renounced his native country while he secured his naturalization papers in the office of Clerk of the City Court, A. G. MacDonald. Steber said that Germany was not to be compared to the United States in the way the citizens were treated. He said he would never fight again for Germany. There, a man who is a soldier is a hero for the hour, but at the close of the war the government makes no preparations for caring for him. He said, "Me for the United States." Steber has been in the United States for ten years. He was born in Munich, Germany. For some time past he has held the position of landscape gardener at the Western Military Academy, where he is employed at the present time. The crisis between the United States and other countries has caused a boom in the number of persons securing papers. Yesterday Simon Hamperger, aged 63, a native of Austria, took out his first papers. Arthur James Harrington, a native of Cork, Ireland, has also taken out his first papers. Usually only two or three of these naturalization cases come before the city court at a time. The indications are this time, however, that there may be as many as twelve or fifteen.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 13, 1917

Friends in Alton have been wondering about August B. Luer, who formerly conducted a market in Alton, but who went to Germany for a visit before the war in Europe broke out, and has been staying there. While he is a native of Germany himself, he married an American born woman, and both of them are there. It is reported that Mr. Luer is conducting a meat shop for his father at the old home in Germany. He could not come back to the United States now because of the great danger attending making a trip, and in addition it would be a very expensive trip for him to make. He is a naturalized American citizen and would therefore be exempt from military service in Germany, but his citizenship, and that of his wife, might be embarrassing for them in case actual hostilities breaking out between Germany and the United States. Doubtless, the relationship he has in his native city would be able to safeguard the former Altonian from any trouble that might come from his being an American citizen.






Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 30, 1917

The discovery of an old record makes a great deal of difference to one man, who finds he is of draft age instead of being beyond the draft age, and he is in somewhat of a mental stew about it. Joseph W. Weeks, known as "Willis" Weeks, a well known real estate man in East Alton, tried to register today in Edwardsville, seven weeks after the regular registration date. A peculiar circumstance arose Saturday which caused him to find out that it was necessary to register, and he hurried off to Edwardsville today, taking along several witnesses for the purpose of vouching for his story so he could register with the sheriff. Weeks said today that he thought he was past thirty-one, but that he discovered Saturday that he was only part thirty and was liable to be held for violation of the registration act. It is possible that the matter might not have been known had members of the family not given the information to the public, but Weeks said he was a loyal American citizen and felt that it was his duty to register at once and correct the error. He will now be liable for service in case the number given him should be one of the numbers drawn at Washington. Weeks' father told him he was born in 1885, Feb. 19, and he took his father's word for it. On Saturday a christening certificate from the German Lutheran Church at Staunton was accidentally found by Weeks' wife in an old trunk, which had not been opened for eight years, since a fire which the Weeks family had in Alton eight years ago. It gave the date of birth at 1886. Mrs. Weeks hurried to her husband, and he made arrangements to go to Edwardsville this morning where he registered. He has asked the Alton registration board to furnish him his number as soon as possible so that he may know whether he was called.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 28, 1917

Mrs. C. E. Combrink received a silken handkerchief, in two corners of which were embroidered the British and the French flags. The flag was sent by her young son, Lieut. Combrink, and was made by disabled French soldiers who do the work as a means of making a living.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 21, 1918

Relatives in this city yesterday received a letter from Corporal Thomas Mooney, an Alton boy, who is at Camp Taylor, in which he says officers of the camp have practically prepared everything for the reception of the new soldiers who are expected to arrive Sunday and Monday and Tuesday from all over southern Illinois and points Indiana and Kentucky. The Alton boys who yet remain at Camp Taylor and the Madison, Calhoun and Jerse4y counties, have arranged to be at the chutes to give the lads "from home" a warm welcome when they arrive. Such a proceeding will aid materially in keeping lonesomeness and homesickness away from the newcomers until they "find themselves." This will take a few days, after which the newness and strangeness of the military life will begin to disappear gradually, and the recruits will take up the duties of their new life with vim. Thousands of trained soldiers, mostly from Kentucky and Indiana, have been sent away from Camp Taylor to other camps in the United States in the last few months, and many Alton and Southern Illinois boys have been transferred elsewhere also.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 23, 1918

If the war lasts very long, father and mothers and sisters of many Alton families will have to enlist in order to hold family reunions, said a gentleman this afternoon to a Telegraph reporter. He has been taking notes, and says that Alton has several families that will furnish three, four, and five sons to Uncle Sam in this war, and that it will be necessary to hold future family gatherings in war camps. Among those who are providing more than one, and as high as five soldiers, are the George Springman family, the Templeton family, the Ash family, the Kane family, the Hagan family, the Everett family, the Levis family, and the family of Officer James Lynch. There may be several others, but the names above are the ones given by the speaker to the reporter. He said further that Alton is not only going over the top in the matter of Red Cross, K. C., Liberty Loans, and other patriotic endeavors, but the matter of families furnishing several soldiers each.






Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 22, 1918

Col. A. F. Rodgers, nonagenarian war veteran, while downtown this morning, said to a Telegraph reporter:  "Man, those boys of ours are wonders. They are wizards; they are men grown up and from the ground up. Six months ago or a year ago they were raw, untrained, peaceful, fun-loving kids. Now they are soldiers who are walloping the best trained soldiers in the world, and doing it effectually. I read every line of the papers. I have been through the hell mill twice. I felt for the boys, and I have two grandsons among those boys in France, but I am worrying no more. The Americans are soldiers and they are conquerors and liberty or humanity will not perish from the earth as long as such boys and men live."  Col. Rodgers can see only with one eye, and he is so anxious to read all about the war that he is likely to tire that eye unduly, but he says the news from there is "exhilarating and will cure sore eyes or any kind of tired eyes." He is a veteran of the Mexican war and of the Civil war, and was one of the bravest fighters in either. That is why he is so pleased with the performances of American soldiers in this war.   [Read more about Col. Rodgers here.]





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 6, 1918

After being held in China for a year on account of having a German name, Jim Schlicher arrived in Alton on Sunday, and is now the guest of his step-brother, William Shine of East Broadway. The young man got his release in China the first of July, and left Shanghai on the Fourth of July, and arriving in the United States, came directly to Alton. Schlicher was a former well-known Altonian, who a few years ago became interested in hypnotism and who took up the work. He traveled with several parties, and finally landed in China three years ago. A year ago he attempted to leave Shanghai, but encountered trouble on account of his name. After waiting twelve months, he finally received his passports. Schlicher reports that the crops in China were never better than this year.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 11, 1918

Mrs. H. L. Black has received a postcard from Mrs. H. G. McPike, mailed in Naples, Italy. Mrs. McPike and her daughter are still engaged in relief work in Italy, and feel that they are doing their part in a foreign land where they had been staying for a number of years. Mrs. McPike writes in an interesting manner of the work that is being done there, and expresses for the Italians their utmost appreciation of the generosity of Americans who are sending supplies to be used in relief work among the war sufferers. The card is not all of the somber tings, as she tells of the beauties of the place where she is staying and the climate, but with it all she says her heart is in Alton with her Alton friends.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 27, 1918

A special request has been made through the local organization promoting the singing of the Star Spangled Banner tomorrow afternoon at 3 o'clock, that all church bells be rung and that factory whistles be sounded. Many plants will be idle tomorrow and the extent to which the whistle blowing would be observed was uncertain. It is requested by a national organization that the people sing the Star Spangled Banner at 3 o'clock Thursday afternoon, wherever they may be. After a full Thanksgiving Day dinner, you are to make an effort to surmount the difficulties of America's most difficult national anthem.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 18, 1918

A. M. Craig, formerly a foreman in the Western Cartridge works, has sent from the front in France a singular example of the effects of machine gun fire. There was a pair of German made shells taken from the belt of a machine gunner, who had been shot to pieces by the Allied fire. The shells are pitted by the indentations of the shots that had struck the shells. They would fail to pass the inspection of the Western inspecting force.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 7, 1918

The Moro Council of Defense has enlisted the Federal authorities in running to earth some acts of lawlessness that have been perpetrated in that community. United States District Attorney Edward C. K__ts of Springfield, Ill., has promised the fullest cooperation of his department, and a thorough investigation is assured. The climax came Friday evening when some culprit smeared red paint on the side and front door of the Moro Presbyterian church. The paint was mixed on the granitoid steps and walk leading to the church. That the culprit was fully informed as to the best way to perpetrate such acts is indicated by the fact that in mixing his paint he took the precaution to mix with it a goodly quantity of cayenne pepper. This was to thwart the efforts of blood hounds, should any be placed on the trail, as it is claimed the presence of the pepper prevents the hounds from successfully following the trail. The motive back of the desecration of the church property is said to be the fact that the church has also been the center of a goodly portion of the patriotic endeavor of the citizens of that section. John Burjes has been one of the prime movers in the organization of the Council of Defense. One evening last week, as Burjes was reading by a window, some one shot at him from the road passing his house. The bullet lodged in the frame near where Burjes was sitting. This incident has aroused the community, and coupled with the church episode, some of the residents feel certain that some citizen is giving vent to  his pro-German sentiments. In fact, many of the Moro residents connect the two affairs directly because of the extreme activity of Burjes along the line of patriotic endeavor. The affairs are to be probed to the bottom by the Federal authorities.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 7, 1919

Charles Steizel Jr. and Miss Drummond, a sister of Mrs. J. H. McPike, met in Paris, France, a short time ago, and of course the meeting was a surprise and a pleasure. This information came the other day to Mrs. McPike in a letter from her sister, who is doing canteen work in France for the U. S.  She said someone came into the canteen a few days previous to her writing the letter, and she heard a welcome "Hello, how are you?" The person giving the greeting was Charles Steizel, the well-known young musician, son of Mr. and Mrs. C. F. Steizel of this city. He has been "Over There" for some time, but his relatives did not know where to locate him. They knew he was for the war and wanted to do his bit in some way, although he could not qualify as a regular soldier, and no one is surprised that he found his way to the war zone. He is in charge of the Y.M.C.A. entertainment work for soldiers in Paris and vicinity, and is making a good job of it. Miss Josephine McPike, daughter of J. H., is also over in France doing canteen work for the Y.M.C.A., but the Altonians had not all met the last news received from there. Miss Josephine arrived in France but a short time ago, and she may be assigned to some distant field from Paris.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 18, 1919

An interesting decision has been made in the case of the estate of Mr. and Mrs. Frank E. Tesson, two victims of the Lusitania sinking, has been made in New York courts by which the heirs of Mr. Tesson share the estate left, and the heirs of the late Mrs. Frank Tesson, two children of hers by a former marriage, do not share in it. The mother, Mrs. Emily D. Tesson of 541 East Sixth Street, and Mrs. Lillian Josephine Makinney of the same number, are well known residents of Alton. The point at issue was whether, when husband and wife died at the same time, which survived the other, and therefore inherited the property of the other. The courts have held in such cases that, man being stronger, would naturally make more effort to save his life and would survive the wife. Following this reasoning, the courts held that Mr. Tesson died last, even if only a few seconds after his wife, and therefore his wife's heirs could not claim the property that was left. Mrs. Frank Tesson left two sons, William and Charles Atkins of 2411 West Brown street, Alton, who would have been her heirs had the court ruled that Mrs. Tesson lived the longer. Frank Tesson and his wife lost their lives May 7, 1915, when the Lusitania was submarined by a German. Their bodies were never recovered. The estate Mr. Tesson left was $29,201.37. At the time of his death, he was on a mission to Europe for the Wanamaker firm of Philadelphia, in which he held a position of high trust and confidence. No will was left. Partial payments have already been made to the mother, Mrs. Emily D. Tesson, a brother, John W. Tesson of St. Louis, and the two sisters, Mrs. James D. Makinney of Alton and Mrs. Bertha A. Montgomery of Philadelphia. A considerable sum remains for distribution among the heirs, and a hearing on the petition of the trustee for final distribution and discharge from trusteeship is set for July 8, before Surrogate John P. Cohalan. If no objections are then filed, all heirs will receive their full share of the estate before the end of next month.




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