Kansas WW1

Commemorating the First World War Centennial in Kansas

Month: September 2016 (page 2 of 5)

Aftermath: The 1919 Transcontinental Motor Convoy

One of the things often repeated by the National World War I Museum and Memorial and others is that World War I is the war that changed everything.  As a result, it is important to consider what happened after the war that came about as a consequence of it.

In the summer of 1919 the Army wanted in part to show off the machinery that helped win the war to the public.  A cross-country tour could accomplish this, and in addition it would demonstrate the need for better roads.   With this goal, they had no idea how bad some roads would be.  The convoy could also be used for recruitment purposes. ...read more

Unknown Enemy: The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1920

Where did it originate? 


Black and white photograph of Garfield School in Topeka, Kansas, serving as an emergency hospital, possibly during the Spanish Influenza epidemic. Date: Between 1918 and 1919

The Spanish Influenza outbreak started, not in Spain like the name would lead you to believe, but was traced to Camp Funston, Kansas. The Spanish Flu started in March 1918 and continued through June 1920. More than 25 percent of the US population became sick, and some 675,000 Americans died during the pandemic. If we take every combat casualty since the American Revolution to the Gulf War it would still not total the number of Americans killed by the Spanish Influenza pandemic. The flu spread to all corners of the world from the United States, Europe, Asia, Pacific Islands, and even the Arctic. Many sources refer to this viral infection as an epidemic, but generally an epidemic is slightly more infectious than predicted in a single region. This outbreak was officially a pandemic because the outbreak occurred in several regions across the world. It is becoming easier for epidemics to become pandemics due to globalization. The research of Spanish Flu has been beneficial to scientists, historians, and governments to develop a response to the threat of pandemics globally. ...read more

Kaw Valley Cornet Band

A consideration for programming or exhibits is whether or not to include some examples of the popular culture of the time.  Certainly music of the Great War era fits into this thought.

On August 2, 2015, a group of local musicians that make up the Kaw Valley Cornet Band held a concert of World War I music at Topeka’s Gage Park Amphitheater.  They thoughtfully recorded each selection, and posted them individually on YouTube. ...read more

Memorials to the Missing – Basra

Basra Memorial Panel

Basra Memorial Panel

During WW1 the British and their Indian Army were extensively engaged in today’s Iraq, which began with a strike in early 1915 to protect the Royal Navy’s principal source of fuel oil.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Basra Memorial to the Missing commemorates 40,626 members of the Imperial Forces who have no known grave and who were lost in the Middle East (excepting Gallipoli) and Africa from the beginning of hostilities through August 1921. Only the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme battlefield in France and the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium bear more names of the missing. ...read more

The Latino Soldier–Rudolph A. Negrete

A May 26, 1997 article in the Topeka Capital-Journal indicated that Rudolph (Rodolfo) A. Negrete was likely the only ethnic Mexican war hero from Kansas.  At this point, it’s difficult to argue the point.

Negrete was born in Mexico on July 27, 1896.    According to the 1997 article, his mother was killed in the Mexican Revolution, and shortly thereafter he and his father came to the United States.  They tried their hand at farming near Horton, but by 1915 they were in Topeka working at the Santa Fe shops. ...read more

Home Front: The Return of Private Davis from the Argonne

The Kansas artist John Steuart Curry captured a post-war moment in his native Winchester when the body of his high school friend, William Lewis Davis, was returned for burial.  Steven Trout captures this in an article published in Autumn 2008 issue of Kansas History.  ...read more

Monuments and Memorials–St. Mary’s College

Of the many memorials worth mentioning, one at St. Mary’s College in the town of St. Mary’s has to be listed.  While it is a tribute to those of the college that lost their life in the Great War, it specifically honors alumnus Lt. William Fitzsimons, the first American officer to die.  Fitzsimons was mentioned and commented on in an earlier post (“World War I and KU: A Reflection the 100 year Anniversary,” Becky Schulte, 9/7/2016). ...read more

Home Front: Base Hospital #28

Kansas City Star and Times Newspaper Clippings

Kansas City Star and Times Newspaper Clippings

The previous post on Ethelyn Myers refers to her service at Base Hospital #28, which was created through the University of Kansas School of Medicine.  This is a case where there is no sense in rehashing fine work already done.  Thanks to the KU Medical Center and the National World War I Museum and Memorial, an excellent history on Medicine in the First World War already exists online. ...read more

Kansans of the Great War Era: Ethelyn Myers

To no one’s great surprise, as war broke out, there was a demand for medical personnel, including nurses.  The call was answered by many.

In the Kansas City area, the University of Kansas School of Medicine organized Base Hospital #28, which was made up of medical personnel from the area, including 100 nurses.  Among them was Ethelyn Belle Myers.  She had been born in Cherokee County in 1889, and received her nursing degree from Christ’s Hospital in Topeka in 1914. ...read more

The African American Soldier: William D. Bly

Earlier posts referred to the Officers Training School for African American soldiers at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.  We listed the names of those from Kansas that attended the school.

One of those was First Lieutenant William D. Bly of Leavenworth, who was later promoted to captain.  Bly had been in the regular army for at least eighteen years, although tracking this is a bit sketchy.  There is a reference indicating his service started on June 20, 1896 (another source says 1899), and that he was in the Spanish-American War.  Perhaps someone can add information in a comment.  What does make sense, however is that those invited to the school either had a college education or had been a non-commissioned officer.  We might assume that Bly was just that in his long service, as the 1940 census says he completed his second year of high school.  He was clearly a career man, leaving the service on September 15, 1925. ...read more

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