Archive for the ‘WWI’ Category

I Wonder if the Kaiser’s Sleep is Sound

March 9, 2010


By Berton Braley.

I wonder if the kaiser’s sleep is sound,
Or if in dreams that startle him awake
He hears dead voices issue from the ground
and sees the ghosts of fallen hosts that shake
Their grisly fists before his staring eyes;
I wonder if about the imperial bed
He does not feel a force malignant rise
— The living curses of the murdered dead!

I wonder if the kaiser’s sleep is sound,
Or if in eerie stretches of the night,
He faces God in terrible affright.
The God he has blasphemed, the God he crowned
With Prussian bays for Prussian deeds of hate!
I wonder if he finds true rest in sleep
While little children moan and women weep
Because his lust for empire waxed too great!

He drew the sword and drenched the world in blood
He plunged mankind in agony profound;
I wonder if, amid this crimson flood,
The kaiser’s sleep is sound!

The Pittsburgh Press – Jun 13, 1917


Now ends the year that well began
In peace, upon the First of Jan.
Do You recall those days of Feb.
And now that it begins to ebb,
When submarines arose to bar
The way to peace? The month of Mar.,
When war upreared its grisly shape,
Or Wilson’s burning words, in Ap.?
That epoch seems so far away —
The martial song that rose in May,
The marching feet, the fifer’s tune,
The loan we made our land in June;
The men that went again to school
To learn the art of war, in Jul.;
The fight upon the Profit Hog
That waxed so hot in days of Aug.;
The crops that ripened as we slept,
And blessed us in the month of Sept.,
The Germans, so surprised and shocked
To find our boys across, in Oct.;
The coin we gave, the clothes we wove,
The sox we knitted, all through Nov.;
We’ve struck some mighty blows for Peace
Within the year that ends this Dec.!

–Ted Robinson in Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The Daily Times – Dec 11, 1917

Corn Contest: Seed Corn and WWI

March 9, 2010




Corn See Contest Successful in Every Way. Ames Expert Awards Prizes Offered by Carroll Merchants. Cash Prizes by Carroll Banks For Sweepstakes Prizes.

The seed corn contest Saturday was all that its promoters had hoped for. A lively interest was roused in the matter of gathering see, the number of exhibits at the contest in the Citizens club room was large and many enthusiastic farmers and farmers’ boys were present at the assignment of prizes Saturday afternoon. The attendance of teachers at the afternoon meeting was good, indication an interest in the schools of the county. And to complete the success of the undertaking the address delivered by J.W. Jarnigan of Des Moines, editor of the Iowa Farmer, was instructive and entertaining.

The Citizens club deserves much credit for getting behind the contest and supporting the efforts of the school authorities in such a wholesome manner. The business men of Carroll contributed handsomely to the prizes awarded by the Ames expert and throughout the contest for several days efforts were made by the president and secretary of the club to stimulate the workers in the country.

There was but a small crowd in the afternoon till the teachers meeting at the school building was over. Then the club rooms were well filled and the meeting listened to the address of the speaker of the afternoon. Mr. Jarnigan told his hearers that he would talk about something so common that only few had ever thought about it. He proceeded to tell them about corn, describing it botanically, giving its history and process of cultivation, its products after manufacture and a whole lots of things about corn that people never thought before. The main object of his interesting talk of three quarters of an hour being to call attention to the small things about us, the things that we do not notice, but which reveals a world of interesting, useful things. The address was replete with interesting bits of knowledge, and sage advice, all told in such an entertaining manner that listeners did not realize that they were receiving instruction from a teacher in the wider field experience.

Prof. Wilson of the extension department of the State college deserves much credit for the manner in which he promoted the seed corn campaign and saw that it was carried to success. Prof. Wilson is an expert in the seed corn line and has done much to carry along the work first started by Prof. Holden in the state. He has been over the state quie generally and says that there is plenty of corn fit for seed, but fears that farmers are not giving sufficient attention to gathering the same. On account of the large per cent of soft corn in the fields he believes that more care than usual should be exercised in gathering seed corn.

Prof. Wilson is conservative in his estimate of the corn procured in the state this year. The average per acre will not be so great, though the acreage is large. After extensive observation in this section of the state he is of the opinion that at least one third of the crop is affected by the frost, that is, a third will be soft.

Image from Carroll County, Iowa GENWEB

Exhibits were presented by the following from the different townships, and the winners of prizes are indicated:

Jasper Township: Oscar and Loyd Peters, (1st prize) Roy Lawson, (second prize), Harry Reid.

Sheridan Township: Lusher Higginbotham, Ruth Lasher, Agnes Harris, Roy Harshbarger, Freddie Seeden, Henry Schleismann, Daniel Lasher, (2nd prize), Harry Sievers, Alice Lasher, Emery Sievers, Josie Williamson, Earl Lasher, (1st prize), Robert Shaw, Edwar Schaeffer, Alice Lasher.

Wheatland Township: K.M. Hansen 1st prize.

Arcadia Township: Elsie Stieper (1st prize, 2nd sweepstakes), Viola Sieverkrubbe, Evelyn Schroeder, Raymond Alter, Roy Rickers.

Maple River Township: Eleanor Jons, (1st prize).

Grant Township: William Beidler, (1st prize), Hilda Lappe, (2nd prize), Clarence Lappe, Robert Stephan.

Glidden Township: School district No. 8, (1st prize).

Richland Township: Gerald Dankle, (1st prize), George Dankle, (2nd prize), Lyle Dankle, Hazel Dankle, Basil and Selma Brand.

Pleasant Valley Township: Carl Schumacker, (1st prize).

Roselle Township: William Schwaller, (1st prize, 1st sweepstakes), Helen Overmoehle (2nd prize), District No. 5.

Washington Township: Julius Schroeder, (1st prize).

Warren Township: Herman Musfeldt, (1st prize), Lester Rowedder, (2nd prize), Arthur Gruhn, Lester Ginzen.

Eden Township: Hildegard Roth (1st prize), Irma Sandrock, (2nd prize), Delbert Morgan, Cluryl White.

Newton Township: Carl Sandrock, (1st prize), Kenneth Renshaw, (2nd prize), Merle Pomeroy, Virgil Renshaw.

Union Township: Alfred McCabe, (1st prize), Miles Smouse, (2nd prize), Irene Bolger, Walter Whalley, Joe Baker, Orton Cretzinger.

The Carroll Herald – Oct 24, 1917

“Can You Lend Me Fifty Dollars?” says my Uncle Sam to me.

March 8, 2010



“Can you lend me fifty dollars?” says my Uncle Sam to me.
“Well, Uncle, I don’t know,” I says, “I’ll have to go and see.”
“You’ll have to go and see?” he says, sarcastical and dry.
and I didn’t feel too cheerful when I looked him in the eye.

“Now, son, you listen here,” he says, “I’ll give it to you straight.
I know, — you’re in a hurry. Better let the hurry wait.
There’s things I’m going to tell you,– or try to, anyhow.
If you never done much thinkin’, you better do some now.

“I brought you up in freedom, I allowed you’d have the run
Of the fairest, finest country that ever got the sun.
I gave you school and readin’ as much as you could learn,
And never asked an hour of your service in return.

“You had it soft and easy; you didn’t have to fight;
And you looked on peace and plenty as if they was your right.
‘I took a chance to raise you,’ I said, ‘he won’t forget.
Some day he’ll do me credit.’ And this is what I get.

“I ask a little favor that you can do for me, —
So small I hate to ask it, — and, you’ve got to go and see!
I’ve strove with men and angels for the honor of our name, —
To make it stand for somethin’, and keep it clean of shame.

“I always planned to give you a country and a flag
You could call as good as any, and you wouldn’t have to brag.
If you figure so to keep them, I only know one plan
That’ll stand all kinds of acids, and that’s to be a man.

“So you better think it over and show what you can do.
I can use about a billion. So long. It’s up to you.”
Now I guess, unless I’m willing to be charged up as a loss
And thrown into the discard, I’ll have to come across.

The Carroll Herald – Oct 24, 1917

The Carroll Herald - Oct 24, 1917

Now, All Together.

By Grantland Rice.

Would you like to kick in on the world’s greatest cinch?
Would you like to belong when the cheering rolls in?
Would you care to deliver a punch in the pinch
That will help out a game which your country must win?
Would you like to be known as a quitter, or worse?
Or have you a vision of triumph beyond?
Would you like to help wipe out the Prussianized curse?
Then go out and dig for a Liberty bond.

We have come to the break in the world’s greatest game —
The rally is on that was long overdue,
And the score that shall wait at the end of the frame
Is up to the fellow at bat — meaning YOU.
The battle is on where a few lusty drives
Will clear up the future which waits on beyond.
Would you like to belong when the BIG DAY arrives?
Then go out and dig for a Liberty bond.

The Carroll Herald – Oct 24, 1917


By Berton Braley.

If you hate oppression and lust and shame
If you hate the fiend with his eyes aflame,
If you burn with wrath at the word and deed
Of a crew of pirates whose only creed
Is the law of might and the rule of force
And death to all who oppose their course;
If an anger terrible scars your brain
At children murdered and women slain,
At crimsoned seas and at blackened sod
All done in the name of a Prussian God;
If you hate these things and you cannot go
To fight the cruel and ruthless foe
You CAN be loyal, you CAN respond
You CAN come forward and “BUY A BOND!”

If you love your country, your home, your flag,
If you would not witness that banner drag
In the dust of failure; if still you care
For what is lovely and true and fair;
If freedom isn’t an empty word
But a thing you love; if your heart is stirred
By though of a world made safe and free
For the sake of common humanity;
If these things seem worth while to you,
This is the service taht you can do.
Though you may not battle “across the pond,”
You CAN save money and “BUY A BOND!”

The Pittsburgh Press – Oct 10, 1917

Memorial Day 1919

May 24, 2009

memorial cartoon 1919



…Lieut. Wm. Jensen who delivered a fitting eulogy on the departed comrades of the lae war. He said:

“On this Memorial Day we honor the living by honoring the dead., and a great nation — America — today breathes words of tribute for those who gave their lives on this and the other side of the water, in the late war, that Liberty, Justice and Right might prevail.

“Those who died before leaving the training camps, occupy graves in local cemeteries, but a large portion of those who answered the call of their country in 1917 and 1918 sleep on the battlefields of the Argonne, Alsace and Juvigny. Their graves have been marked by the government and eventually cemeteries will be laid out for those whose relatives prefer that they sleep near where their heroic service cost them their lives, while others will be brought back to America for interment.

“What I may say here today as a tribute to the honored dead of the late war, will soon be forgotten, but their deeds, their service to God and country, will live as one of the brightest pages in American history.

“Today we can best picture the scenes at the first Memorial service after the Civil war, for this nation has again made an offering on the altar of country and in the cause of humanity. Words of mine cannot do full justice on an occasion  like this. How I wish I could bring a message of their undying devotion to you today. What a consolation it would be to the fathers, mothers, wives and sweethearts if they buy knew how heroically these sons of America died, never faltering in the face of danger.

“Today we sympathize with the bereaved, and our thoughts are of them. As the years go on, our Memorial services will have a greater interest, for now we have the memory of those of another war to keep green. You may rest assured my friends that they are not forgotten in France today. American soldiers together with the citizens of France will strew their graves with flowers and our chaplains will pay fitting tribute to their memory. While there are hearts sad today within the hearing of my voice, still they are comforted and reconciled in the thought that those near and dear to them made the supreme sacrifice as heroically as the patriots of old who gave us through their blood, this great country, the gathering place of the flower of every nation, and which was blended into beautiful types of manhood, who demonstrated their patriotism on the field of battle. As the years drift by, we the living, have a solemn obligation to perform. We must not forget the bereaved ones, but rather let us today pledge ourselves to the great task of honoring those of every home where a Gold Star appears. Words and flowers are little in the way of compensation unless we, through deeds show our undying devotion to those who made the supreme sacrifice. As we go forth from here today let us be true to God and country, and then we will see and do those things which will make those bereaved, happy, in the thought that the sacrifice was not in vain.”…

Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) May 31, 1919

WWI Letters: PENN Boys Training at Camp Hancock

May 12, 2009
Camp Hancock, Augusta, GA

Camp Hancock, Augusta, GA

Camp Hancock,
Augusta, Ga., Sept. 15, ’17.

Editor Messenger:

I now take the pleasure of dropping you a few lines, the first chance I have had, as I was sick since arriving in camp.

I am feeling fine again and getting ready for drill Monday, as wew start in Monday on our drill schedule, having camp in tip top shape.

The boys that were at the border last year say they would rather be in Texas to drill than here, the sand here is very dirty, when you get through drilling you look like a negro.

The weather has not been very hot here since we have arrived and we had one or two very cool nights.

We had another innoculation the third day we were here and most of the boys felt the effects of it.

Co. F is getting its first guard duty tonight since arriving. We expect to get 16 weeks of training before going to France.

There is talk of making up another rainbow division of the Pennsylvania troops and if they do we expect to go in a month or two.

The boys are all anxious to go to France and all are in the best of spirits.

Please remember me to the people in Indiana.

Yours sincerely,

Indiana Weekly Messenger (Indiana, Pennsylvania) Sep 20, 1917

Dear Editor:
I received the paper and am glad to hear of what takes place in old Indiana. We are going on a six-mile hike tomorrow after inspection and expect it to be a corker as it is very hot here in the day time. The evenings are very cool and a fellow sure does feel like creeping under the blankets.

The boys are getting down to business now. They are organizing a football team and going into it in the good old style. Boxing is an every day performance in camp, for as soon as there is an argument it is settled with the boxing gloves.

The boys never get rusty at handling a gun for we get enough physical exercise, double time and drill in eight hours to realize what real soldier life is like.

The continuous drilling that we receive every day certainly is getting all the boys in good health and our muscles are getting as hard as bricks.

The reorganization will take place Monday and we expect to receive our additional one hundred men from the 18th regiment.

The 10th regiment had their last regimental parade this evening as it will now be known as 111th.

The boys are all making a mad dash for their mail now, so I will join them and bring this brief note to a close.

Yours respectfully,
Camp Lee.
October 6, 1917.

To a Friend in Old Pa.
(By Corp. Geor. G. Flury, Co. D. 8th Pa. Infantry.)

Far away in the South-land,
In the land of Cotton and Pine,
Where the banjoes ring and darkies sing,
I’m thinking of a friend divine.
You remember the day we parted,
In the State we love so well,
When the sun goes down in Dixie, Friend
My thoughts go back to you.
‘Tis great to feel in Dixie,
That you’ve a friend in Old Pa.
That’s why, just at twilight, Friend,
My thoughts go back to you.
when things go wrong in Dixie,
And I’m longing for Old Pa.
I take my pipe, and serenely smoke,
Till my thoughts drift back to you.
Pennsylvania heard the call of Columbia,
So she sent us to fight and save,
When o’er the dark blue sea I’m sailing, Friend,
My thoughts will go back to you.
When the Kaiser gets his whipping,
By the boys from Old Pa.
When the U-Boats sink in the deep blue sea, Friend,
Then I’ll come back to you.
P.S. — The foregoing poem is very popular with the boys.


Indiana Weekly Messenger (Indiana, Pennsylvania) Oct 11,  1917

Name:George G Flury
Home in 1920:    Overseas Military, Germany, Military and Naval Forces
Age:   20 years
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1900
Birthplace:     Pennsylvania
Relation to Head-of-house:     Sergeant
Father’s Birth Place:     Pennsylvania
Mother’s Birth Place:     Pennsylvania
Marital Status:     Single
Race:     White
Sex:     Male

This is the casualty list from The Washington Post, Tuesday, October 1, 1918:

(This was posted by an unnamed person on rootsweb, link includes the whole list)




FLURY, George G., Wrightsville, Pa.

Name: George G Flury
Home in 1900: Wrightsville, York, Pennsylvania
Age: 9/12
Birth Date: Aug 1899
Birthplace: Pennsylvania
Race:     White
Ethnicity: American
Gender: Male
Relationship to head-of-house: Son
Father’s Name: Abe M
Father’s Birthplace: Pennsylvania
Mother’s Name:     Mary
Mother’s Birthplace: Pennsylvania
Marital Status: Single
Residence : Wrightsville Borrough, York, Pennsylvania
Household Members:
Name     Age
Abe M Flury 26 [Sep 1873]
Mary Flury  24 [Jun 1875]
George G Flury  9/12 [Aug 1899]

*George was still single in 1930, living with his parents.

*W.J. Stack: I haven’t found anything else on him, but since I don’t have a first name, it is hard to search for him.

“The Average New Yorker” Becomes a Canteen Worker

February 26, 2009
Sterling S. Beardsley

Sterling S. Beardsley


New Yorker Wins French Cross for Untiring Efforts in Red Cross Canteen Service

PARIS, July 28. — The services that the average New Yorker, over the military age, rendered at the front in France, have been recognized by the French army in the award, announced today, of the Croix de Guerre to Sterling S. Beardsley, a New York cotton broker. Beardsley served for nine months with the American Red Cross as a canteen worker in the fighting zone. Marshal Petain was the signer of his citation.

Captain Beardsley gained the nickname of “The Average New Yorker,” in the press dispatches. The idea conveyed was that Beardsley’s situation in life at the time America entered the was was about the average of thousands of New York business men. He was a broker, over forty-two, had been twice refused by the army, had a wife and two children. He bought liberty bonds, contributed to the welfare organizations and joined in various “win the war” activities.

But somehow this work did not suffice him and so he obtained a commission with the Red Cross. He sailed for France in January, 1918. Two months later he was in the midst of the biggest offensive the German armies had ever attempted — the Somme drive of March, 1918.


*CLICK the Red Cross passport letter for larger image.

Beardsley had never made a cup of chocolate or performed any kitchen labor in his life. But the night he reached the front on top of a rolling soup kitchen he started to scour pots and pans. He explained that he “just figured out” that the yought to be clean.

That night the enemy airmen came over where his soup kitchen was set up and he had to sleep in a damp rat-infested wine cellar. Next day he set to work to make coffee, cocoa and soup by the gallon. Two weeks later when he took his clothes off for the first time since his arrival he realized that he had become a first class soup chief.

He stayed at his soup kitchen in Compiegne for two months. Then he had orders to move to the Marne. He set up his kitchen in Chateau-Thierry. Forced out of there, he went on to another town where he found a hospital full of wounded with insufficient medical staff. He scrubbed floors and aided the doctors at operations and served soup and coffee from his canteen “on the side.”

Journal Six O’Clock, Lincoln, Nebraska, Monday,  July 28, 1919


PARIS, June 13. Mrs. Belmont Tiffany, of New York; Sterling Beardsley of New York and Palm Beach, and James Oliver and Mooney Wheeler of Pittsburg, worked then days and ten nights at a Red Cross canteen with practically no sleep caring for retreating French and British soldiers and the mass of civilian refugees who streamed through Compiegne during the early days of the German offensive.
Beardsley, whose duty it is to organize Red Cross units in the field and get them started in full operating order, had just arrived in the neighborhood of Compiegne on the eve of the enemy’s drive. He was organizing a canteen at a certain place north of Compiegne. Oliver and Wheeler were with him to take over the outfit after he had established it.

Mrs. Belmont Tiffany was visiting that section of the front and inspecting Red Cross and Y.M.C.A. units when Hindenburg’s blow fell.

Had to Change Location.

In the first stride forward the Germans occupied the place where Beardsley had intended to open his canteen, and a large supply of stores, as well as several motor trucks and automobiles fell into the enemy’s hands. Beardsley, Oliver and Wheeler got away in an automobile, donated to the Red Cross by Mrs. B.D. Spillman of Warrenton, Va., and it was that car that they used for the ensuing two weeks in bringing up their supplies and in distributing them. It was the only piece of rolling stock that the Red Cross had in that region, as the roads were so choked with troops and guns it was impossible to get other machines up from Paris or elsewhere.

Mrs. Belmont Tiffany had been at the front and narrowly escaped being hit in a German bombardment with long range guns. She was taken back to Compiegne by the French staff officer accompanying her on her trip, and there she met Bear[d]sley, who was organizing his base supply station there as a canteen. Mrs. Tiffany volunteered to help him during the rush and her services were eagerly accepted, as Oliver and Wheeler were then only others on the job.

Canteen Sign Hung Out.

A counter was improvised, long stables were set up with boards on boxes, and benches were made, and then the Red Cross canteen sign was placed outside. Hot coffee and sandwiches made from French and American bread and potted meats were served all day and all night, as troops on the march were continually traversing the town and refugees from the territory over which the enemy was advancing were streaming back.

Mrs. Tiffany wielded a hammer and a saw as well as Beardsley in their amateur carpentering to make their storehouse into a canteen. Then when it was ready for business she presided at coffee and sandwich making and in pouring the steaming hot beverage from big pitchers.

Meantime, Beardsley stocked up the automobile with cigarettes, chocolate and tinned goods and toured in various directions out of Compiegne, distributing these articles to the weary soldiers.

Beardsley covered the districts near to the town in the day-time, and then ran up nearer to the front, in the Noyon-Lassigny region, at night. He was practically always under fire from the enemy’s six-inch guns, as the Germans were continually sprinkling roads and villages far behind the lines with shrapnel and high explosives.

On one occasion Mrs. Tiffany was riding with Beardsley as they were carrying coffee as well as sandwiches, and she had to hold the big tub steady as the little automobile skidded around shell holes in the road.

They stopped directly behind a French battery of seventy-five which was emplaced in hastily dug gunpits, directly at the edge of the road. They served the gunlayers and officers with coffee and sandwiches and distributed cigarettes and chocolate, which the French gratefully received. The battery, they were told, had been falling back for eight days, stopping two or three times in every twenty-four hours to shell the advancing Germans. They had not lost a gun, but had suffered heavily in casualties among the gun crews.

Gets Shell as Souvenir.

Mrs. Tiffany stooped and picked up the brass shell case of one of the projectiles which the battery had fired, but the French lieutenant in charge bade her throw it away. Then he snapped out an order and his crew rammed home a shell in the breach of one of the pieces. The lieutenant beckoned Mrs. Tiffany to approach the cannon. Then he showed her a lever and motioned her to move it.

She did, and the wonderful little gun barked viciously; the barrel leaped back in its oil bath recoil absorber, and a three-inch shrapnel projectile went screaming northward four thousand yards among the enemy. The lieutenant picked up the smoking, oily metal case of the projectile just fired, which had been automatically ejected from the breech. He scratched the date, the place, the number of the battery and his name in the brass with his diamond ring and handed it to Mrs. Tiffany as a souvenir.

“I suppose we will be called up on the carpet eventually because we distributed some supplies which were intended only for Americans to French and British soldiers and to women and children — poor French refugees from the country where the fighting was going on,” said Beardsley. “These troops certainly appreciated something to smoke and something to eat when I handed over the chocolate and sandwiches. Frequently they were not permitted to halt at all. Then we would stand at the side of the road and their officers would let them deploy into single file so we could hand everyone of them something.

Cared For Women and Children.

“The poor women and their tiny children coming back were not forgotten either. We gave them some milk chocolate which we happened to have and also evaporated cream and condensed milk for the infants. Some of the poor people were almost starving, as they did not have time to save a thing in many cases. Others, however, seemed to have salvaged everything they owned except the actual real estate. They had huge bundles of bedding containing clocks and pictures and similar articles, and they drove along with them their sheep, goats, cows, pigs and chickens. Of course, they were all attended by innumerable dogs.

“At Compiegne they were placed on board trains for transport to the east and south of France. They insisted that their livestock go right along with them, and I was in many compartment giving out food and supplies in which mothers, babies and aged husbands and fathers were sitting and sleeping among their goats, pigs and chickens. The railroad authorities managed to persuade most of the people to part with their cows, but one woman insisted on taking an animal into the baggage car and riding with it.

“Trains used for bringing up troops to that district were filled with these refugees for the back haul instead of being sent back empty.”

San Antonio Light (San Antonio, Texas) Jun 13, 1918

Sterling Beardsley Before the War


That Is the Sobriquet Given a New York Broker.

New York, June 22. — Just because the members of the New York Cotton exchange have christened Sterling S. Beardsley, of the firm of E.F. Hutton & Co., with the ponderous title of “The Human Steam Roller,” there is no reason to doubt the confidential assertions that the stage lost a popular “matinee hero” when this gentleman declared for a life in the brokerage ring. For even in the present, while lending his aid to the efforts to boost cotton toward the eleven cent mark, Mr. Beardsley harbors Thespian ambitions, and along with one Mr. Shakespeare, holds firmly to the belief that “the play’s the thing.”

Today, in point of physical displacement, Mr. Beardsley holds the record of being about the biggest member of the Cotton exchange. In his Harvard days, likewise, he had a weighty influence in affairs of the student body. It is recorded, also, that he made one of his greatest hits in that period by appearing as Fatima in a certain amateur theatrical performance sponsored by the Hasty Pudding club.

The Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) Jun 22, 1909

*For more posts about canteen workers, click on the WWI category or the “Canteen Workers” tag.

From Soldier’s Mother to Canteen Worker

February 25, 2009


Her only son slain in France while serving as a lieutenant in the American forces, Mrs. Mabel Fonda Gareissen has left her home at No. 490 Riverside Drive, New York City, to be a Y.M.C.A. canteen worker. In service to the living, this Spartan mother has chosen her substitute for mourning. To make it more appropriate, she is to serve the canteen attached to the regiment of her dead son, Lieutenant Scott McCormick, for the colonel and other officers of the unit joined in a request that the Y.M.C.A. detail her there upon hearing of her determination to work in France.

Taking her place with the mothers of France who, though bereaved, have worked to aid the men, Mrs. Gareissen made the following explanatory statement:

“Our sons belonged to a peace-loving age. They had to leave loved ones, drop prospects of careers, and prepare for the most infernal war the world has ever known. They have done this without complaint, with a determination to put forth the best and highest within them. American mothers, no matter how their hearts may bleed, must rise to the leading of their sons. And if those idolized sons fall, still they must rise, keeping ever before them their sons who have gone up and up. In other words, they must be worthy of being mothers of the boys of today.”

Mrs. Gareissen’s son, Lieutenant McCormick, was killed on January 17 last by hand grenade explosion. Before attending the first Plattsburg camp for officers’ training he was in the employ of Edmonds & Co., bankers. When the United States entered the war he was among the first to resign his business connection for the training camp, where he was commissioned and sent to France among the earliest.

A few days after General Pershing had cabled the news of her son’s death, Mrs. Gareissen decided to go to France and filed her application with the Y.M.C.A. War Work Council for canteen work. She kept the fact from even her most intimate friends, among them Provost Marshal General Enoch N. Crowder, until a few days before she left for France.

The Coshocton Tribune, Wednesday Evening, June 26, 1918

Other posts about canteen workers:

Diary of a WWI Canteen Worker

Canteen Worker Goes the Extra Mile for a Wounded Yank

No Fillings for the Whangdoodle in Bloomers

This last one, you need to scroll down to read about her daughter, who was the canteen worker.

Charles A. Bonfils, Husband of Winifred Black aka “Annie Laurie”

February 11, 2009

In my previous post, “Diary of a WWI Canteen Worker,” the author of the diary excerpts mentioned Charles A. Bonfils.

This first article is just something sort of random,  but following are a few articles about his first wife, Winifred Black, who also wrote under the pen name of Annie Laurie.

Excerpt from “I Remember,” by Les Claypool, in which he writes about some premonitions he had during his life, including one regarding Charles Bonfils.

Declines Trip

In 1914 I was editor of the Kansas City Weekly Post. I was planning to take some time out soon to go to Europe with Charles A. Bonfils, editor of the Daily Post. I had made reservations and all other arrangements in so far as that was possible.

One morning, on the way to work, I had a strange feeling of depression. I had the feeling that I should not go to Europe. I told Mr. Bonfils that I was canceling out and he insisted on being told why.

“I can’t tell you why,” I replied. “I have a feeling that it would be dangerous for me to go to Europe at this time.”

Mr. Bonfils went on as he had planned. In a short time World War I broke out in Europe and it made travel in Europe a serious problem. Although he normally had adequate funds and his brother, the late F.G. Bonfils, was a millionaire, Charles was stranded in Europe and had to wait quite a while for funds and his travel plans on the continent were stymied.

Valley News (Van Nuys, California) Mar 12, 1965

This is what I found about his wives, Winifred being a rather interesting person to read about:

Winifred (Sweet) Black Bonfils

Winifred (Sweet) Black Bonfils

Winifred Black Dies in Frisco
(Assoiciated Press)

San Francisco, May 25. — Mrs. Winifred Sweet Bonfils, 73, veteran newspaper woman, who wrote under the names of Annie Laurie and Winifred Black, died at her home here Monday.

Though ill for several months Mrs. Bonfils had continued her daily newspaper columns and her friends said she died as she would have wished, “Still in the harness.”

After spending her earlier years in Chicago, New York, Washington, Massachusetts and Denver she came to San Francisco 34 years ago. She had been connected with the Hearst papers for 37 years.

Mrs. Bonfils was born in Chilton, Wis., the daughter of General Benjamin Jeffrey. She attended school in Chicago and Northhampton, Mass., and married Orlow Black in June 1892.

After his death she married Charles A. Bonfils of the Denver newspaper family.

Greeley Daily Tribune (Greeley, Colorado) May 26, 1936


Click on the above news clipping  from the  May 26, 1936, New York Times for full size to read more details about her life.

Read a 1935 TIME article about Winifred online HERE.

The TIME article mentions that Winifred and Charles had been separated for years. Evidently, he waited till she died to remarry rather than divorce?

Bonfils funeral services pending

DENVER (UPI) — Funeral arrangements were pending today for Mabel W. Bonfils, widow of a one-time assistant publisher of the Denver Post.

Mrs. Bonfils died Sunday at her home following a long illness. She was 85.

She worked in the advertising department of The Post prior to her marriage to Charles A. Bonfils in 1936.

Greeley Daily Tribune (Greeley, Colorado) Jam 20, 1976

Canteen Worker Goes the Extra Mile for a Wounded Yank

February 10, 2009


[By United Press]

Mainz, Jan. 28. Manna from on high is the only staple comparable to the ice cream which was assembled in a place which had neither ice nor ice cream components, all for a wounded American soldier whose fevered mind dwelt continuously on that favorite throat cooling dish of his native land.

A young woman canteen worker of the Y.M.C.A. wrought the miracle with the aid of the wounded soldier’s buddies, after the boy had confided that he had only one wish in the world, for a dish of old-fashioned vanilla ice cream. He was in the emergency ward of an obscure hospital, far from city comforts such as freezers or ice, and he admitted “I guess I’m a nut, but I lay awake nights thinking how good it would taste I know I can’t get it up here.”

The Y.M.C.A. canteen woman knew he couldn’t, too, as she turned away. Condensed mild she had in her canteen, and sugar she could get from the army commissary, but there wasn’t any ice, and there weren’t any eggs. She tried to put the thought away from her in the rush of work back at her canteen, but the young soldier’s wistful face lingered before her.

“Think it will freeze tonight, boys?” she asked some of the Yanks who came into the canteen. She told them the story of hte boy who wanted just one thing, a plate of old-fashioned, home-made ice cream. “I think I’ll put some water outside tonight, and see if it will freeze, though that won’t be much good without eggs for the cream,” she finished.

“That will be all right, we’ll tend to the eggs, half a dozen of the boys assured her. And they did. Two of them walked over 20 miles that night from one village to another, making almost house-to-house canvass for eggs, and coming back, tired but triumphant with them at dawn. It had been a crisp, winter night, and the water that the Y.M.C.A. worker had put outside had frozen solid in its bucket. She made a rich custard, and the boys froze it for her by turning a smaller bucket around and around inside a larger one full of cracked ice. Then she carried it  to the boy in the emergency ward. He lay rather paler and quieter than he had been the day before, but his smile was just as quick.

“Ice cream? No!” he said. “Don’t wake me up, I’m dreaming.”
He couldn’t eat a great deal of it, after all, only a few spoonfuls, but it seemed to satisfy him completely.

“It tastes just like that I used to freeze for Mother on Sundays,” he said. “Maybe you wouldn’t mind writing a letter to Mother for me? Tell her — Oh, well, just tell her I had some ice-cream.”

Sheboygan Press (Wisconsin) Jan 28, 1919

Diary of a WWI Canteen Worker

February 3, 2009


Her Diary Shows What These Noble Creatures Are Doing.

(To the Editor.)

Washington. — Here are a few extracts from a girl’s diary that take you right to the hospitals where our fellows are suffering so bravely. She is an American Red Cross canteen worker, and the story appeared in the Paris edition of the Red Cross Bulletin.

Monday — Worked at the canteen from seven until midnight, then went to the hospital. Heard wounded had been coming in all evening.

Tuesday — At the hospital at ?:20 in the morning. Doctor said there was nothing I could do since I am not a nurse. But I went into the wards. What did that doctor mean by “nothing to do?” The men were hungary — hadn’t eaten for days, some of them. Met the Red Cross chief. He rushed at me, handed me 2,000 ($400) and said, “go buy food and rolling chairs — there isn’t one here.” I bought 500 francs worth of eggs. Met some girls from the British Ambulance, and they offered to help. We hard-boiled the eggs, made 100 litres (quarts) of coffee, 100 of chocolate, and hundreds of sandwiches of eggs, jelly, ham. Two men cut ham and bread for twenty-four hours at a stretch.

Wednesday — Three men in front of hospital wounded. Helped was them — took all my nerve. Blood is ghastly and I know what blood sickness means. Edith slaved all night in operating room.

Thursday — Frightfully tired. Soldiers marvelously patient. Don’t understand how those girls stay night after night in operating room. German shells still whistle over, but haven’t hit this hospital yet. Must be an accident. Wrote ten letters for poor devils who may never dictate another. Wonder why I haven’t cried once.

Friday — Wrote some more letters and helped in operating room. Don’t know how I stood it. At night couldn’t stand up, hardly. Slept in a blanket just a few yards from a gun.

Saturday — Evacuating wounded, thank God. Feel hollow and haven’t strength of a fly. Feel at last as if I’d done something. Want to get back to the same work when I get rested enough.

Charles A. Bonfils

Charles A. Bonfils

Two air raids, a high explosive shell bombardment, a shrapnel storm which he through bareheaded, an attack of “three-day fever,” and a high probability that he is inhabited by cooties, all within his first week, made Charles Alden Bonfils, a Red Cross worker, feel that he’s “almost a veteran.” Mr. Bonfils had been rejected by every branch of the service because of color blindness, but when the Germans’ “big push” started he couldn’t stay out of the fight — said he “just had to get in somewhere.” So he signed up with the Red Cross “as stretcher bearer, casualty searcher, or anything, just so he got to help.”

Red Cross Verification from Passport Application

Red Cross Verification from Passport Application

He did.  This extract from a letter to a friend in the Central Division of the American Red Cross tells a bit of it:

“I came here a week ago today. Went to work in the hospital yard the moment I arrived, serving hot chocolate, cigarets and chocolate bars to the wounded as they came in, ambulance after ambulance of them. Worked from noon all night and till 10 next morning.

“Was sent at 10 at night to a place nearer the lines. Dozens of wounded lay or sat along the road. I had just reached the end of the line when a series of explosions began. I thought it was our own guns, about a hundred yards back of us, that had been splitting our ears, but a low cry of “shrapnel–schrapnel” went up from the wounded, and told me what it was. I had left my shrapnel helmet in the car. I tried for a moment to find it, but gave it up, and helped get the wounded into an old farm house.

“I worked all night. Next day, when I’d had two hours sleep, they packed us off to a place still nearer the front. The boche threw high explosives at us, trying to locate a battery not far away. They set fire to an ammunition dump, and for a quarter of an hour we were dodging exploding shells. That night they were afraid the Boche might bombard the hospital, so we were all sent back.

“Airplanes had been hovering over us, dropping ‘messages,’ and we had a hard rainstorm. Had the ‘three day fever’ but got out the second day. Think I have cooties, and begin to feel a vet? already.” — Red Cross.

—-Buy Bonds!   Buy Bonds!—-

The Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) Oct 10, 1918

In case the link for “bosch”  goes dead again, here is the definition from wikipedia:

Bosch (derogatory)

Term used in World War I, often collectively (“the Bosch” meaning “the Germans”). From French slang alboche, from Allemand (“German”) and caboche (“head” or “cabbage”). Also spelled “Boche” or “Bosche”.


Here is a later news article about Red Cross workers going to the front lines, and it mentions Charles Bonfils as well. By the way, all spellings are as they were in the original articles, so they are not my typos.


PARIS, Aug. 8 — An American Red Cross unit accompanied the Rumanian troops in their advance on Budapest, according to advices received here today. The fighting was severe, the hospitals at Cradoa and Mara alone receiving 1200 wounded.

An American special train of fifteen cars went to the front from Bucharest loaded with surgical supplies. Another train of eleven cars has been sent to the Transylvania front and a third has been sent to Bessarabia. Major George Treadwell of Albany, N.Y., Major E.E. Hurd of Bound Brook, N.J., Major J.B. Bayne of Chicago, Captain Charles Bonfils of Denver and Lieutenant Homer Ingersoll have charge of these units.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Aug 9, 1919