Women's Land Army of America took over farm work after men left for war.
Madison County During World War I
Women's Contributions to the War Effort
WOMAN PROCLAIMS HER WILLINGNESS TO GIVE UP HER SEVEN SONS AND SHOOT DISLOYAL NEIGHBORS
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 7, 1917
The telegraph office was invaded this noon by a welcome invader. Her patriotism was infectious and contagious both. She was a patriot from away back, according to her story, and she was ready not only to sacrifice all her family, but she was willing to go out and do some shooting on the side herself, killing off the disloyal people. The woman came into the office full of health and life, her hand swathed in a bandage to cover a great wound she had inflicted while cutting up a slaughtered hog. She lived out in Godfrey township. Though her hair is streaked with gray and she is no spring chicken, she is possessed of strength, will and courage. She told of going to call on one neighbor whom she suspected of disloyal sentiments, and she "laid him out" in good shape. She said that she told him how he had come to America without a pair of socks, and now he had a prosperous farm and all that went with it. She is in for organizing herself into a firing squad, after she sends her sons away to war, and she will devote her full time to considering it an open season for all disloyal ones in her neighborhood. No game laws would protect those she believes are not true to the country and its flag under which they have prospered and become wealthy, or at least they have made a good living, something they could not make in Germany. The woman refused to give her name, but a neighbor, who saw her, said that she was a woman of her word and he didn't doubt the sincerity of her declarations she made in the Telegraph office. She said that she had good reason for her remarks, as she had been annoyed by talk of some of the people living close to her. Waving the wounded hand, she replied to a query, "Would you shoot the disloyal among your neighbors," made by the reporter. "Oh, yes, just as quick as I would cut up that hog I butchered the other day when I carved my hand.
MOTHER HAS THREE SONS IN SERVICE
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 15, 1917
Mrs. Patrick Kane of Belle street, accompanied by her son, John, left today for a trip to San Antonio, Texas, where she will visit her son, James, who is in the aviation work. Mrs. Kane has given three sons to Uncle Sam's army, and is considered one of the most patriotic mothers in the city. One after another of her sons left to prepare for fighting for Uncle Sam, and each went with his mother's blessing. Mrs. Kane, though very hard hit, says for the boys to go if they are needed. Two boys enlisted, and one was drafted from Alton and went without a moment's hesitation. The eldest son, John, is of draft age, but has not been called. The fifth and youngest son is not old enough for service. Mrs. Kane is a widowed mother and has reared her children from the time she was left a widow when they were very small. Mrs. Kane will first visit her son, James, who is at San Antonio, Texas, but who expects to leave for France within the next ten days or two weeks. From there she will go to Little Rock to visit Lieut. Francis Kane, who is in the Medical Corps as a volunteer, and lastly before her return she will visit Luke at Camp Taylor at Louisville. Mrs. Kane and John expect to be away for two weeks or more.
GREAT RUSH TO JOIN GIRLS DRILL CLUB - COMPANY IS FORMED
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 15, 1918
Alton women have surpassed the men in their interest in local military matters, at least in the matter of membership. They have given evidence that they are regular "joiners" when it comes to linking up with patriotic organizations, and the Women's Home Guards Company has allowed them opportunity to outdo the Reserve Militia in numbers. The rush for membership in the newly organized Women's Home Guards of Alton necessitated the forming of a second company last night, when the first drilling practice was engaged in by the patriotic marching body. The original company, organized last week, comprised more than a hundred members. Last night one hundred additional women and girls, desirous of joining the company, presented themselves at the armory and enrolled as members. Most of the members of the first company wore natty costumes of white middies and blue shirts. The first drill was in charge of Sergeant Parsons of the Alton Reserve Militia. The women proved to be apt scholars in learning the maneuvers. They excelled even the initial efforts of the masculine military company in executing the various formations. The sudden growth of the company was a surprise to the young ladies who have been instrumental in perfecting the organization. It is planned to hold a weekly drill in the armory, the use of which has been obtained. With the membership doubled, it will be necessary to devote two nights each week to drilling practice, the first company participating on Monday night and the second company on Wednesday night. Sergeant Parsons will be in charge of the drilling on Monday nights, and Capt. J. A. Kieselhorst of the Reserve Militia will serve as drillmaster on Wednesday evenings. Tomorrow night the second company will have its first drill. The Home Guards is an organization for the stimulating of patriotism, and are not connected in any way with any state or national military authorities. Membership carries with it no military obligations or any possibility of being called into war service. The following ladies enrolled as members of the first company:
ALTON NEARLY FILLS SWEATERS QUOTA
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 17, 1918
Alton has nearly finished her quota of Red Cross sweaters for the fighting men of the country. The Alton knitting women were told that they must furnish 700 sweaters as their quota, and that most of those to whom the work was assigned have worked faithfully is shown by the fact that all but 59 of them had been turned in up to 10 o'clock Monday morning. The women in charge say they expect all the remainder to be brought in so the boxes can be packed and the entire quota sent away. In addition to the sweaters, there are a number of other knitted articles for which yarn was furnished and which have not been turned in. The Red Cross desired that the articles be turned in at once. The Knitting committee will be at the Library building Tuesday to receive these articles, and it is desired that they be turned in, completed if possible, tomorrow.
WOMEN OF ALTON CALLED UPON TO MAKE INFLUENZA MASKS FOR SOLDIERS
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 9, 1918
The women of Alton are called upon now as never before to show their patriotism and love of their soldier boys, by going to the Surgical Dressing Headquarters in the Elks Building, every afternoon and on Wednesday evenings, until the 5,000 quota for influenza masks is completed. The supervisors were disappointed yesterday at the very small attendance, and announce that the quota cannot be filled in record time unless there are more workers. The workers yesterday accomplished much, and are to be congratulated, but thirty women cannot do the work of 130. All the influenza masks now being made are being sent out in small shipments to Camp Grant, where they are being used. The 5,000 are needed at once, and to date only 1,000 are completed and sent out. Four hundred and eighty were sent yesterday, and today are doing their duty in the hospital at Camp Grant where our soldier boys are suffering and dying in great numbers. The women of Alton are asked and pleaded with to forego their house cleaning, social activities, and automobile rides for a week or so, and go to the Elks Club and make masks. After housecleaning is done and the weather makes automobiling unpleasant, the help of the women will not be needed. Our soldiers will be dead or the dreaded influenza will have made great inroads into the vitality of the men who recover. No camp has been protected. Every soldier's life is threatened. Women, come tonight, tomorrow, Friday and Saturday and on until the masks are completed. The 5,000 masks must be out this week to do good. The work is light and pleasant, and all the workers need is a white apron, white headpiece, needle, scissors, and thimble. At least a hundred workers should be present Thursday at 1:30, and work until 4 o'clock. The work room at the Elks will be open tonight, and the women who are employed and who cannot come in the afternoon are urged to be present tonight. The night workers will go at 7:30 and remain until 10 o'clock.
MRS. GOFF IS GREATLY WORRIED - FAILURE TO HEAR FROM HUSBAND CAUSING ANXIETY
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 27, 1918
Mrs. Rose VanPreter Goff is greatly worried at the continued failure to obtain news of any kind from or of her husband, Lieutenant R. B. Goff. It has been many weeks since he wrote, or since she received any letter form him if he did write, and Mrs. Goff is in a very nervous state over the matter, as her husband had always been a very prompt correspondent since going to France. He frequently sent a cablegram to the home folks, and they feel that if everything was all right with him he would have sent such a message on the day peace was declared or the day after. However, the cables are not able to attend to the work offered by the government itself, and it is said that all cablegrams are from six to ten days late after being filed before being sent across. Lieutenant Goff probably filed a cablegram and it is waiting its turn for transmission.
YOUNG BRIDE FARMS WHILE HUSBAND SERVES IN MILITARY
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 30, 1918
Last September W. H. Rohrkaste, a young farmer living between here and Edwardsville was called to the colors, and he departed leaving a bride of a couple of months, and his farm work all undone. He returned Friday from Camp Forrest, Ga., where he has been located for some time, with an honorable discharge, and from his neighbors it is learned that a more surprised and delighted soldier never returned to any home. His bride had not been loafing on the job during his absence. She too had been helping in the war, and he found that she had sowed about forty acres to wheat, had the corn cut and shocked, and had husked a good deal of the shocked corn herself. In fact, he found all the farm work in "apple pie" order, and as far advanced as if he had been on the job himself. Mrs. Rohrkaste, it is said, did most of the work herself, but she hired the corn cut.
MOUNTAIN OF CAKES FOR THE DOUGHBOYS
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 5, 1919
Returned soldiers, sailors and marines will have an opportunity to make up for lost time at the Homecoming for servicemen at Wood River, Thursday. Two hundred cakes, maybe more, will be provided for the ex-fighters. A great celebration is being planned for the boys, and one of the features, the biggest and best perhaps, in the opinion of the former fighters, will be a great quantity of cake. Sunshine, angel food, devil's food, ginger, coconut, fancy and just plain cakes, cakes of all kinds and descriptions will be there for the boys. There will be cakes to tickle even the most exacting palates. One of the organizations which is promoting the celebration is the Wood River Woman's club. All members of that club will furnish a cake. All members of the Red Cross unit at Wood River will furnish cakes. Then women who are members of neither of these organizations have been asked to furnish cakes. Plans for the celebration are going forward, and genuine homecoming will be given the discharged servicemen. Thursday morning to any of the following places: Ratz and Riggs and Owl Drug stores, Princes and University candy stores.
MORE BEADS NEEDED FOR SOLDIERS
Alton Evening Telegraph, December 16, 1919
More beads are needed for wounded soldiers. Last week the Telegraph published a call for the women of Alton to turn over any beads they had no further use for, and they would be taken back to the Ft. Sheridan hospital by Harrison Webb to be given to soldiers there. The soldiers use the beads for making fancy articles, to while away the time. All the soldiers in the hospital are men who are getting over the effects of being shot or otherwise hurt in the fighting line in France. Beads are hard for the soldiers to get, and it is the desire of Harrison Webb to take back a big supply of them when he goes to Ft. Sheridan again to undergo the final operation on his leg, in the hope of making a good leg out of the one that was smashed up by a German shell. Any kind of beads of any color, size or shape will be much appreciated. Anyone having beads to give to the wounded soldiers may send them to the Telegraph office. They need not be removed from the cloth or strings on which they may be. The soldiers will attend to that, and it will give them more work to do. The ladies of Alton and vicinity are invited to look over their old clothes and hunt up any beads that may be no longer serviceable to them.
Copyright Bev Bauser. All rights reserved.