Journal-News, Sunday, Sept. 2, 1990
Local men volunteered for World War I service
(This is the first in a four-part series concerning the mobilization of troops for World War I.)
By Jim Blount
Mobilization for a possible war is not a new experience for Butler County men and women. Some seniors can recall the local response 73 years ago when President Woodrow Wilson declared that "the world must be made safe for democracy."
What would become known as World War I began in the summer of 1914, triggered by the June 28 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne.
Most Americans — with ancestral ties to one or more of the European combatants, and apparently shielded from war by the Atlantic Ocean — were confused spectators at first.
Aug. 4, President Wilson declared the United States to be neutral in the war.
But events gradually drew the U. S. into the war, the most dramatic involving the rights of U. S. citizens and companies to travel safely on the seas and to conduct business abroad.
German submarine warfare influenced U. S. public opinion in favor of the Allies, highlighted by the May 7, 1915, sinking of the Lusitania, a British ship, with the loss of more than 1,200 lives, including 128 Americans.
Jan. 31, 1917, Germany proclaimed unrestricted submarine warfare and Feb. 3, the U. S. severed relations with Germany after a German sub sank an American liner near Sicily.
Wilson decided to arm for self defense all U. S. vessels passing through war zones on March 13 At the time, the Germans were said to have about 120 submarines in service.
Finally, Good Friday, April 6, 1917, the U. S. officially entered the war when Congress declared war on Germany. That same day, George M. Cohen wrote a patriotic song, "Over There", with its prophetic line, "the Yanks are coming."
Three days earlier about 150 male students at Hamilton High School petitioned the Hamilton Board of Education to provide voluntary military training at the school.
Later in the month, the school board approved awarding a diploma to seniors who had enlisted in the army, providing their grades were above passing and they would have met graduation requirements if they had remained in school.
The school board also voted to give high school pupils credit for working on farms or contributing to food supplies needed for the war effort.Meanwhile, about 65 Butler County men were part of Company E, Third Ohio Infantry Regiment, a National Guard unit. It had been sent to the U. S.-Mexico border in September 1916, part of a 150,000-man force commanded by General John J. Pershing who also would direct Americans in Europe during World War I
Company E left Texas March 21, 1917, to return to Butler County, but a presidential order March 26 held the unit in federal service. It returned to Ohio when war was declared, assigned to guarding railroad bridges and other war-related facilities.
Captain Wesley Wulzen of Company E opened a recruiting office April 11 on High Street in Hamilton, announcing that the unit needed 75 men to bring it to war strength.
Also in April, Butler County men started joining the Officer Reserve Camp at Fort Benjamin Harrison at Indianapolis.
Among those listed at the camp in the spring and summer were Paul Bast, Miles Hendricks. Sidney Dodsworth, Alfred Welliver. Theodore Bock, Hugh Waugh, Horace P. Beldon, Don W. Fitton, Campbell Card, Harry E. Frayer. John A. Hyer, Robert M. Sohngen, David M. Smyers, and Marquis Zeller, all of Hamilton; Lawrence M. Leonard and James H. Young from Oxford; and H. C Boykin Jr., Harold F Browne, Paul J. Crane, William R. Crane, Mark E. Denny, Albert S. Fenzel, Edward E. Miller, and William J Miller from Middletown.
By the end of May 1917 a total of 130 Hamilton men were reported in the U. S. armed services.
But the wheels already were turning for a draft and soon hundreds of Butler County men would join the ranks.
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Journal-News, Sunday. Sept. 9, 1990
World War I draft took about 1,000 local men
(This is the second in a four-part series concerning the mobilization of troops for World War I.)
By Jim Blount
Six weeks after the United States declared war, Congress approved a draft system which would call nearly a thousand men from the Hamilton area into World War I.
When the U. S. declared war April 6, 1917, there were about 200,000 men in the army, including 65,000 National Guardsmen.
Under the Selective Service Act, approved May 18, more than l0 million men were expected to be registered within two and a half weeks
Major-General John J. Pershing — named to build the army and command the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) against Germany and other European enemies — envisioned a million-man army overseas by May 1918.
But it would be nearly five months after the war decree when the first draftees left Hamilton under a mobilization that was met here with displays of patriotism.
"The national colors were seen in profusion in all parts of the city and the spirit of patriotism, enhanced by the world war crisis, made the observance of the day more marked than ever," said a news report of Memorial Day events.
Hamilton's parade May 30 included veterans of the Civil War (1861-1865) and the Spanish-American War (1898).
On a more somber note, a Journal editorial observed that "Memorial Day 1917 is observed with a patriotism that comes with fuller appreciation of its significance - and a realization that before another May 30 the bodies of American sons inevitably must lie at rest in European battle grounds."
Emphasizing that point was a May 31 newspaper report that British war casualties for the month totaled 5,902 officers and 106,331 men.
Saturday, June 2, bells throughout the city signaled arrival of the supply train, 40-piece band and mounted scouts of the Third Ohio Regiment at the fairgrounds. That afternoon at the courthouse, the soldiers participated in a program designed to stir patriotism among potential draftees.
The draft process began with national registration day Tuesday, June 5, when 3,481 men between the ages of 21 and 31 were registered at neighborhood voting places in Hamilton between 7 am. and 9 p.m. Exemptions were claimed by 1,904 men.
Throughout Butler County, 8,346 registered with more than half (4,626) claiming exemptions.
That same day federal investigators were in Hamilton checking on a draft resistance meeting the previous night when a 21-year-old Hamilton man was charged with "making an anti-draft and an un-American speech."
Eight days later, local officials were ordered, according to the Journal, "to have prepared at once a complete list of all persons who registered in Butler County for military service on Registration Day and have the same conspicuously posted so that everyone may ascertain who registered and who did not."
"This is part of the plan to sift out the slackers and those writ, refused to register," the newspaper reported.
Later that mouth Gov. James M. Cox, a native of Jacksonburg in Butler County, appointed draft boards, including John M. Beeler, John F Mayer, Dr. P.M. Fitton, and C. B. Atkins on the Hamilton board and E. L. McCalley, G. D. Lummis, John Naegele, and W. A. Shafor on a county panel.
Nationally, about 2.8 million men would be drafted and trained at more than 30 camps and cantonments. Slightly more than two million Americans went to France with 500,000 there by May 1918, a year after approval of the draft.
The Hamilton draft board registered 8,883 men between June 1917 and November 1918. A total of 400 local men were drafted in 1917 and 590 in 1918.
But the 990 draftees were not the only Butler County men who served in the war.
Enlistees and National Guardsmen brought the total to more than 1,200 men from Hamilton and surrounding areas, according post-war reports. The total for the entire county was estimated at more than 2,400 young men.
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Journal-News, Sunday, Sept. 16, 1990
Lottery raises anxiety of World War I draft
(This is the third in a four-part series concerning the mobilization of troops for World War I.)
By Jim Blount
The anxiety and uncertainty of the World War I draft peaked for Hamilton area men between the ages of 21 and 31 years during the final weeks of the summer of 1917.
The U. S. declared war April 6, approved a selective service system May 18 and held draft registration June 25.
But it wasn't until July 20 that draft-age men began to learn their fate. That day in Washington, D. C., Secretary of War Newton R. Baker drew numbers in a national lottery to determine who would be required to take physical examinations.
The first number drawn was 258, which here was assigned to Logan C. Rice of Main Street in Hamilton.
Throughout the day, as more numbers were drawn, newspapers posted handwritten bulletins on store windows in the downtown area. The local routine was duplicated during later drafts calls in an era before radio and television.
Physical examinations for potential draftees began Aug. 9 at the YMCA on N. Second Street. That first day 42 men were cleared for induction. By Aug. 20, those who had passed the exam and waived exemptions reached 146. Notices were mailed Aug. 30 for an additional 700 men to be examined.
Saturday, Sept. l, the local draft board named 20 men who were to be the first to report for service four days later.
The 20 left Wednesday, Sept. 5, and 162 were in the second contingent leaving Thursday, Sept. 20. Meanwhile, 13 draftees left Middletown Sept. 5, and 100 more Sept. 19. In addition, 14 Hamilton volunteers departed Monday, Sept. 10, from Cincinnati.
About 2,000 people gathered at the Pennsylvania Railroad station on S. Seventh Street, near High Street, Wednesday morning, Sept. 5, as Butler Aerie 407, Fraternal Order of Eagles, sponsored a farewell. The 20 men were housed overnight at the YMCA, where the local draft board was located.
They were sent to Cincinnati on the regular 11:26 a.m. Pennsylvania train, and from Cincinnati at 1 p.m. over the Baltimore & Ohio on a special train direct to Camp Sherman near Chillicothe, where they became part of Company E, 330th Infantry, commanded by Colonel Kenzie W. Walker.
The draftees were identified as Edward Wiegand, Leslie Byerline, George J. Brunner, Fred Rybolt, Andrew C. Brunning, Joseph Zwiefelhoefer, Alfred H. Howard, Fred E. Holescher, Robert Stoeckel, Raymond Wieland, A. H. Buckley, John H. Young, Norman Coates, Mark Schneider, A. M. Lowitz, Albert S. Trunck, Louis Nardella, Joseph Niehaus and Edmund T. Huber.
A similar farewell was held Thursday, Sept. 20, at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad station at S. Fifth and Henry Streets, as 162 draftees embarked for Camp Sherman.
There also had been a parade the previous Saturday, Sept. 14, when, according to a newspaper report. "Hamilton hearts swelled with pride" as many "of the 5,076 men who registered Sept. 12 were seen marching through the streets to the strains of patriotic music. One could scarcely find standing room on the streets" along the line of march, the report said.
American forces were segregated during World War I and it was reflected in local draft procedures.
For example, it wasn't until Monday, Oct. 29. 1917, that the first black draftees left Hamilton for Camp Sherman.
The 22 men were honored the previous night during a patriotic service at Payne AME Church. At 7:30 a.m. Monday, the men marched from the YMCA to the B&O station in a parade sponsored by the Hamilton Commercial and Industrial Association.
The black inductees, according to a newspaper list, were Stanley Davis, Boykin Mose, William Lawrence, Conway Chinn, Clarence Sampson, Oscar Hubbel, Eugene Posey, George Riley, Lee Anderson, David Weatherow, Forest Nance, William James, Harry Clay, William Smith, James Thompson, John Dennis, George McGee, Carl Smith, James Tullis, Best Burkett, Mose Roberts and Leroy Baugous.
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Journal-News, Sunday, Sept. 23, 1990
Army train visit generates war interest in 1917
(This is the last in a four-part series concerning the mobilization of troops for World War I.)
By Jim Blount
Less than two weeks after the United States entered World War I, an army supply train visited Hamilton.
The 1917 event — billed as a training exercise — also was staged to encourage enlistments and boost civilian patriotism as the nation prepared to send its fighting men to Europe for the first time.
The train was part of the Third Ohio Regiment, which had been a National Guard unit until a few weeks before the U. S. declared war Friday, April 6.
"For the first time since the Civil War a real army supply train passed through the city of Hamilton Tuesday afternoon," said a newspaper in reporting the April 7,1917, visit.
The report said "the sight was a new one to practically every Hamiltonian and the people crowded the streets and thronged about the wagons, examining them closely to see what was in them."
World War I would be the war when submarines, tanks and airplanes would be introduced, but the Third Ohio wasn't that mechanized. Instead, its supply train was pulled by mules.
Horse-drawn vehicles were still commonplace in Hamilton in 1917.
In fact, there were only about 3,330 automobiles in Butler County then, including about 1,750 in Hamilton.
And, the mule train traveled over mostly unpaved roads, an improvement that would be delayed in this area by the war's demands on men and materials.
"There were 15 of the regular army supply wagons in the train, four hardy Texas mules to a wagon, with 15 extra mules; 25 men, including three officers, who rode at the head of the column," the Journal reported. "In addition to this, the train carried one regular kitchen wagon and enough rations for four days."
The caravan had left regional headquarters in Cincinnati that morning and arrived at the coroner of East Avenue and Grand Boulevard about 4:50 p.m.
Its arrival was announced by the ringing of Hamilton fire bells and the blowing of many factory whistles.
"At the south end of Hamilton, the column was met by a delegation of citizens and Mayor J. A. Holzberger," the Journal noted.
Led by civic leaders and a local band, the army train paraded through Hamilton, going north on East Avenue to Ludlow, west on Ludlow to South Front Street, north on Front to High Street, east on High to North Third Street, north on Third to Heaton Street and east on Heaton to the fairgrounds, where the men and animals camped overnight.
"On arrival at the fairgrounds, the commanding officers quickly arranged the wagons in two lines and the mules were immediately unhitched and allowed to graze on the nice fresh grass," the newspaper said.
"The commissionary department got busy at once and within 10 minutes after the wagons arrived at the fairgrounds, there was a roaring fire in the stove and preparations were being made to give the men something to eat.
"While on the trip, the men eat only two meals a day, breakfast and supper, and when evening rolls around they are all very hungry," the report said.
"The men all slept in the wagons last night as there is enough room left in the wagons. When the entire regiment is on the move, the men sleep in tents as all the wagons are filled completely."
The newspaper said the journey through Hamilton was made "to keep the animals hardened and to keep the men up to an efficient point."
The supply train left at 5 a.m. Wednesday, April 18, on its way to Dayton, where it would remain until Friday before returning to Cincinnati.
Fifteen months later, the Third Ohio would join the fighting in France.
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Journal-News, Sunday, Sept. 30, 1990
Opera House lottery sponsor ends up winner
By Jim Blount
The possibility of winning a $100,000 opera house, a farm in Butler County, a residence in Hamilton or money lured about 12,ooo participants to an unusual local lottery in 1871.
The top prize was the Globe Opera House at the southeast corner of High Street and Journal Square. The Globe building — which later was converted to the Robinson-Schwenn Store and then Mabley & Carew — now houses the Dollar General Store.
The lottery — then illegal under Ohio law — was announced in November 1870 with the drawing scheduled for Dec. 31.
During those months, the lottery sponsored by Peter Schwab, a local brewer and businessman, had to compete for newspaper space with a contested local election, involving alleged fraud: an embezzlement charge against a county official, a series of tax rases regarding illicit whiskey production and sales; and a sensational murder, the shooting of Thomas Myers during a downtown card game.
Despite the local distractions, the widely-publicized lottery was reported to be receiving ample coverage in out-of-town newspapers, prompting "an unusual demand for tickets."
The Hamilton Telegraph quoted a local politician, "who just returned from New York" as reporting "that that city and Chicago will take more than half of the entire number of tickets."
The newspaper said the lottery — at $5 a ticket — had such appeal because of the "men of sterling integrity" who were associated with it.
The newspaper also said "as a rule, lotteries, gift enterprises and such like schemes, by which sudden wealth is to be acquired, are to be severely let alone, unless the person taking stock therein desires to still again illustrate the truth of the adage — the fool and his money is soon parted."
The Hamilton lottery gained credence because the county sheriff, county auditor and county probate judge agreed to appraise the properties which were prizes.
Also, three men — from Hamilton, Liberty Township and Ross Township — were named commissioners of the lottery. The Telegraph described them as "men of well-approved integrity."
The appraisers valued the Globe Opera House at $100,000, a Ross Township farm at $26,910, a Fairfield Township farm at $15,890, and a house on South Second Street in Hamilton at $8,000.
Strangely, none of the many advertisements or news stories explained how the property had been obtained, why it was being disposed of or how the anticipated $175,000 income from ticket sales would be spent.
Then Dec. 29 — two days before the drawing — newspapers announced a postponement and changes in prizes. Eliminated were the two farms and the house because, the commissioners said, "creditors have threatened to dispute our title."
The new list of prizes substituted $40,000 worth of cash awards, including one of $20,000, one of $5,000, five of $1,000, eight of $500, and 60 of $100.
The drawing scheduled in January also was postponed, but no reason was reported in local newspapers.
The controversial drawing was reset for Saturday evening, Feb. 25, 1871, at the Globe Opera House, but some last-minute changes in procedures were made.
"At a meeting held by the commissioners just previous to the drawing," the Telegraph said, "it was ascertained that only 12,000 of the 35,000 tickets had been sold, and the question of another postponement was discussed."
Instead, the sponsor decided to "take his chances on the tickets unsold," the Telegraph reported. "All of the unsold tickets went into the wheel for his benefit and his risk," giving him almost two out of every three chances.
When the results were announced, the sponsor won the opera house, the $20,000 prize and several of the $100 awards, plus pocketing most of the $60,000 from the sale of tickets.
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