Local Historian Discusses
Tallahassee in World War I
On November 12, 1918, north Florida resident Frank Drew wrote to his son Herbert, an officer in the American Expeditionary Force in Europe, to say, "Everything has been in a delirium of joy over here." He was referring to the fact that an armistice ending World War I had been signed the day before.
Florida historian Dr. Joe Knetsch will describe the experiences of local residents and military units in Europe and the capital city’s role in the war effort on March 9, at 7:00 p.m., at the historic Governor Martin House. His talk, "Tallahassee and Leon County in the Great War," is sponsored by the Tallahassee Historical Society and is free and open to the public.
Although Florida was still an undeveloped frontier and Tallahassee was a sleepy southern town, more than 42,000 men and women went to war. Because most of the state’s population was located in north Florida, many recruits came from the capital city and its environs.
"Sadly, Europe during World War I was a slaughterhouse for soldiers," says Knetsch. "But Tallahassee played a vital role of support by spearheading food and supply drives, and it joins other Florida communities in having stories about heroes. A colleague and I have identified more than 120 monuments statewide that recognize WWI veterans and their accomplishments."
Well known for his wide-ranging research, Knetsch has published nine books and more than 200 other publications on an array of topics dealing primarily with 19th- and 20th-century Florida history. "I developed an eclectic knowledge of state history as the Department of Environmental Protection’s expert witness relating to land treaties, surveys, ownership rights, and navigable waterways. It was only natural that I would study the historical events that often gave rise to claims and disputes."
The historic Governor Martin House, also known as the deSoto Site, is located at 1001 deSoto Park Drive. For additional information, call (850) 893–7644.