Commemorating the First World War Centennial in Kansas

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“They Shall Not Grow Old”

Just in case the word hasn’t reached some sources yet, the Peter Jackson WWI documentary, “They Shall Not Grow Old,” is getting an encore screening this coming Monday, January 21st. If you missed the previous showings, here’s another opportunity to see it; if you want to see it again, here’s the opportunity. more

“They Shall Not Grow Old”

Perhaps you were in the audiences yesterday for the first U.S. showings of They Shall Not Grow Old.  If not, this writer will humbly recommend it to you, if for no other reason than to see it for the rarely seen film footage of World War I, the voices of British soldiers looking back on their experiences in the war, and for the technical work that went into the film. more

They Shall Not Grow Old

They Shall Not Grow Old is a documentary produced by New Zealand-based Sir Peter Jackson, of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and his high-tech studio Wing Nut Films, in collaboration with the Imperial War Museum.

The film footage used is entirely authentic to the war, but the speed has been re-regulated and the images digitally cleaned, improved and colorized, with stunning results. The soundtrack is taken from interviews with British veterans that were recorded forty or fifty years ago. The run time is 99 minutes and the theater version is available in 3-D.

Yesterday there was a one-night showing at theaters in the U.K. which fulfilled the objective of qualifying the piece for film awards, and due to the high popularity the run has been extended.

BBC One will broadcast the non-3D version in HD on November 11th. There is no word yet on when it might be shown in the U.S., either in theaters or on public television.

You can watch the trailer and learn more at IMDB here or read a review from The Guardian here.

Michiline Resco Pershing

Gen. John J. Pershing (1860-1948) was the consummate professional soldier – utterly dedicated to duty. He didn’t marry until his forty-fifth year, to Helen “Frankie” Warren (1880-1915), the only daughter of the wealthy and prominent Sen. Francis Warren of Wyoming. The Pershings had four children in the space of six years, all while Pershing’s career took the family to Japan and the Philippines. Back in the U.S. they settled at The Presidio of San Francisco. Pershing was sent off to temporary duty at the Mexican border, leaving the family at The Presidio, where Helen and their three daughters died in a fire at their residence. Surviving was six year old Francis Warren Pershing (1909-1980). more

Memorial Day + 150

There are several towns that claim to be the home of Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was first called.  But it was a hundred and fifty years ago this Saturday–May 5, 1868–that a specific date was set aside for the  remembrance of the military dead.

The decoration of Civil War dead, in both the North and the South, was already taking place.  It was the Commander-in-Chief of the northern veterans organization, the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), that established the recognition that comes at the end of May to remember those veterans that have passed on, whether on the battlefield or after a life which included service to their country.  That commander, General John A. Logan, declared that such recognition would come on May 30, 1868.

Logan’s order went out to the members of the G.A.R.:


I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose, among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their death a tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the Nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation’s gratitude,–the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

II. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

III. Department commanders will use every effort to make this order effective.

By command of:

Adjutant-General. more

Centennial Countdown to the Great War: August 1917

It’s August 1917.  As the World War enters its fourth year, there’s no end in sight.  Pope Benedict XV makes a peace proposal, which President Wilson rejects after conferring with the other nations at war with Germany.  Former Secretary of State Elihu Root returns from a mission to Russia designed to keep Russia in the war.  An attempted coup by the commander-in-chief of the Russian Army fails, but the Provisional Government is weakened and the Bolsheviks are strengthened.  Recently arrived American troops parade in London.  The Allied offensive on the Western Front, after initial success, bogs down in the mud of Flanders.  Italy attacks Austria-Hungary again at the Isonzo River.  On the Eastern Front, the German Army advances in Romania to the south and moves against the Baltic port of Riga to the north.  In the United States, racial tensions flare as African-American troops are based in segregated southern cities and a deadly race riot breaks out in Houston.  The Senate passes a proposed Constitutional Amendment prohibiting the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquor.

Pope Benedict XV

Pope Benedict XV, who ascended to the Papacy as the World War broke out in Europe three years ago, has made a peace proposal to the warring nations.  In a letter dated August 1 and addressed to the King of England, the Pope offered a seven-point plan for peace: (1) that “moral force . . . be substituted for material force of arms,” (2) “simultaneous and reciprocal diminution of armaments,” (3) establishment of a mechanism for international arbitration, (4) recognition of “liberty and common rights over the sea,” (5) “renunciation of war indemnities,” (6) evacuation of occupied territories, and (7) arbitration of rival claims regarding Alsace-Lorraine, Poland, Trieste and the Trentino.  The Papal Secretary delivered the proposal to the British government with the request that it be transmitted to the governments of France, Italy and the United States, all of which lack diplomatic relations with the Vatican.  The proposal was received in the United States on August 16, and after conferring with the Allies President Wilson politely but firmly rejected it.  In a reply expected to be substantially adopted by the other nations at war with Germany, he said that “every heart that has not been blinded and hardened by this terrible war must be touched by this moving appeal,” but that the object of the war is to free the people of the world from the power of the German government, “the ruthless master of the German people,” and that no possibility of peace exists as long as the present German government is in power.  In an interview with the Associated Press on August 31, British Minister of Blockade Lord Robert Cecil expressed satisfaction with President Wilson’s reply, indicating that no further reply from Great Britain would be necessary.  At the Vatican, Pope Benedict expressed his admiration of the “lofty sentiments” of the President’s note but made no attempt to conceal his disappointment that his effort to bring about an end to the war had apparently failed to bear fruit.

Elihu Root

Former American Secretary of State Elihu Root, returning from his mission to Russia, addressed a welcoming luncheon in Seattle on August 4.  Ending what he termed “a long and fatiguing journey to a new sister republic,” he said he could not talk about what the mission had learned until it had submitted its report to the Department of State, but he expressed “the greatest sympathy and the greatest admiration for that young democracy, now struggling to solve problems within a few months that this country has been struggling to solve for 140 years — and has not solved.”  Upon its return to the east coast, the Commission submitted its report to the State Department.  It stated “the unanimous opinion of the mission that the Russian people have the qualities of character which will make it possible to restore discipline, and coherent and intelligently directed action, both in military and in civil life, notwithstanding the temporary distressing conditions . . . which are not the result of weakness or fault in the Russian people but are the natural and inevitable results of the conditions under which the people were held before the revolution, the misgovernment of the bureaucracy, and the astounding suddenness with which the country was deprived of its accustomed government.”  The report urges continued support of the Provisional Government and encouragement that it continue the war, stating that this is “the only course by which the opportunity for Russia to work out the conditions of her own freedom could be preserved from destruction by German domination.”  It recommends “substantial aid to Russia . . . both in supplies and in credits,” and asserts that “the benefit of keeping Russia in the war, and its army in the field will be so enormous that the risk involved in rendering the aid required should not be seriously considered.”

Prime Minister Kerensky

Alexander Kerensky, the new Premier of Russia, formed a new cabinet on August 6.  Kerensky will continue as Minister of Defense and Mikhail Tereshchenko remains Foreign Minister.  From August 25 to 28 (August 12-15 on the Russian calendar), Kerensky convened a national conference in Moscow.  In an attempt to represent all shades of opinion, he invited representatives of a wide variety of organizations and social bodies, all of whom were given free rein to express their views.  Kerensky told the conference that Russia is “passing through a period of mortal danger,” in which it confronted threats from both left and right.  He warned that any attempt to bring down the Provisional Government would be repressed “by blood and iron.”

General Kornilov

General Lavr Kornilov, who began the month as the new commander-in-chief of the Russian Army, ended it as the leader of a failed coup.  Convinced that the Petrograd Soviet was the most dangerous threat to the Provisional Government and that the government itself was too weak to counter the threat, he moved troops into Petrograd at the end of August and demanded the Soviet’s dissolution with the apparent intention of establishing a military dictatorship.  The effect of his attempted takeover, however, appears to be the opposite of what he intended.  Although Prime Minister Kerensky was quick to put down the leftist disturbances in Petrograd last month, he continues to consider the workers and soldiers of the Soviet an important part of his coalition.  Thus in an equally swift response to Kornilov’s threat from the right, he denounced Kornilov as a traitor and permitted the Petrograd Soviet to be rearmed.  It now appears that the Kornilov threat has been defeated, but at the cost of strengthening the position of the Soviet and of the Bolshevik faction within the Soviet.

Hauling a Field Gun Through the Mud at Langemarck

In Flanders, the major Anglo-French offensive that began July 31 at the Ypres Salient succeeded in driving the Germans from Pilckem Ridge, but came to a halt on August 2 due to flooded streams and waterlogged ground, aggravated by years of artillery bombardment that had destroyed what little natural drainage existed in the lowlands of Flanders.  After ten rainless days, the decision was made to continue the offensive.  As the attack began on August 16 the heavy rains resumed, requiring duckboards to be laid across the flooded fields.  Two days later, when the attack was called off due to the condition of the ground and the continued bad weather, the village of Langemarck had been captured.  Meanwhile on the North Sea coast, the crews of the battleships aboard the German High Seas Fleet at Wilhelmshaven are becoming restless.  It has been over a year since the Battle of Jutland, the last time the fleet was at sea, and boredom is setting in, aggravated by poor rations, stern naval discipline and extended shipboard confinement.  On August 2, four hundred sailors from the Prinzregent Luitpold marched through the streets of Wilhelmshaven calling for an end to the war.  There was no violence and the sailors were persuaded to return to their ship.  Their leaders have been arrested.

The war continued without respite on the Russian and Italian fronts.  On the Isonzo River, the Italian Army mounted another offensive against Austria-Hungary on August 18.  It occupied the Austrian stronghold of Monte Santo and beat back an Austrian counterattack on August 28.  The Italians gained six miles of mountainous terrain but are experiencing a growing number of desertions.  On the Eastern Front, the Russian offensive ordered last month by Kerensky has already turned into a major defeat for the Russian Army.  On August 8 the Russians were able to halt an Austro-Hungarian advance and stage a counterattack at Kowel, the site of the Russian breakthrough last year under General Brusilov.  This time, however, the Russian attack failed to gain any ground.  To the south in Romania, a counterattack by the German Ninth Army under General Mackensen gained five miles and took 18,000 prisoners.  In fighting beginning August 6 at Marasesti, however, the Romanian Army has halted any further German advance.

American Troops in London

The Americans are now arriving in Europe in substantial numbers.  On August 15 a contingent of American troops interrupted their training to parade through Westminster, in the heart of London.  From the Horse Guards Parade to Trafalgar Square, to Piccadilly, to Grosvenor Gardens, to Buckingham Palace and the Mall, to Westminster Bridge, millions of Londoners turned out to cheer the new arrivals.  For security reasons, no advance announcement of the parade was made until the night before, so the enthusiastic turnout was truly spontaneous.  As the parade approached Whitehall, Prime Minister Lloyd George adjourned a meeting of the Cabinet and went with his colleagues to the War Office.  There, accompanied by Foreign Secretary Balfour, Chancellor of the Exchequer Bonar Law, Minister of Munitions Churchill, First Sea Lord Admiral Jellicoe and other dignitaries, they greeted the Americans from the War Office windows.  At Buckingham Palace King George, joined by Queen Mary, Queen Mother Alexandra, and Commander of the Home Forces Sir John French, stood at the gate and saluted the passing Americans.  After the parade the American soldiers retired to Green Park, where hundreds of tables were covered with white tablecloths and hundreds of waitresses served lunch as Londoners looked on through the iron railings around the park and from windows in nearby clubs and residences.

Camp Logan

The recently instituted draft and accompanying nationwide mobilization has had the unintended but perhaps predictable effect of increasing racial tensions, especially in the South where cities are strictly segregated and many new Army bases are being constructed.  One such base is Camp Logan, the mobilization camp for the Illinois National Guard, which is under construction on the outskirts of Houston, Texas.  A Negro battalion of the 24th Infantry Division was sent last month from its base in Columbus, New Mexico to guard the construction site.  Tensions rose between the soldiers, who were unaccustomed to strictly enforced racial segregation, and white construction workers and other white citizens of Houston as the Negro troops encountered segregated streetcars, water fountains, and other facilities.  Violence broke out on the afternoon of August 23, resulting in seventeen deaths.  Houston has been placed under martial law and the Negro battalion has been sent back to its base in New Mexico.

The next day, in an attempt to retain custody and assert state jurisdiction, the Harris County District Attorney filed murder charges against thirty-four of the soldiers.  A resolution was introduced in the Texas legislature asking the Texas congressional delegation to attempt to have Negro soldiers removed from the state.  In Washington, without waiting for the resolution, Senator Morris Sheppard called on Secretary of War Baker and made the request in person.  On August 25 he and Charles Culberson, the other Texas Senator, presented a petition to the President and the Secretary of War signed by all Texas congressmen.  The petition reads “In view of the appalling tragedies involving the destruction of life and property which the presence of negro troops in Texas has caused and is causing, and in view of the imminence of further outbreaks involving possibilities too terrible to mention, we, the Texas delegation in the national House and Senate, earnestly urge that the negro troops be taken out of Texas and kept out permanently.”  Many other Southerners in Congress, most of whom refrained from raising the issue when the draft law was enacted to avoid embarrassing their fellow Democrat in the White House, are now voicing the same concern.

Senator Sheppard

Senator Sheppard’s other cause this month was prohibition.  He is the author and principal sponsor of a proposed amendment to the Constitution banning the sale of alcoholic beverages.  On August 1 the Senate adopted the Sheppard Resolution by a vote of 65 to 20, more than the necessary two-thirds.  It will become part of the Constitution if it gets a two-thirds vote in the House of Representatives and is then ratified by three-quarters of the state legislatures.  The proposed amendment would prohibit “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territories subject to the jurisdiction thereof, for beverage purposes.”  In order to ease its passage through the Senate and the House, Senator Sheppard added a provision that the proposed amendment will be “inoperative unless it shall have been ratified within six years of the date of the submission thereof to the States by the Congress.”

August 1917 – Selected Sources and Recommended Reading

Contemporary Periodicals:

American Review of Reviews, September and October 1917
New York Times, August 1917

Books and Articles:

Scott Berg, Wilson
Britain at War Magazine, The Fourth Year of the Great War: 1917
Winston S. Churchill, The World Crisis 1911-1918
John Milton Cooper, Jr., Woodrow Wilson: A Biography
John Milton Cooper, Jr., The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt
John Dos Passos, Mr. Wilson’s War
David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace: Creating the Modern Middle East, 1914-1922
Martin Gilbert, Churchill: A Life
Martin Gilbert, The First World War: A Complete History
Martin Gilbert, A History of the Twentieth Century, Volume One: 1900-1933
Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill Volume IV: The Stricken World 1916-1922
Ann Hagedorn, Savage Peace, Hope and Fear in America, 1919August Heckscher, Woodrow Wilson: A Biography
Godfrey Hodgson, Woodrow Wilson’s Right Hand: The Life of Colonel Edward M. House
Roy Jenkins, Churchill: A Biography
John Keegan, The First World War
David M. Kennedy, Over Here: The First World War and American Society
Ian Kershaw, To Hell and Back: Europe 1914-1949
Nicholas A. Lambert, Planning Armageddon: British Economic Warfare and the First World War
Arthur S. Link, Wilson: Confusions and Crises, 1915-1916
Arthur S. Link, Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era, 1910-1917
Robert K. Massie, Nicholas and Alexandra
G.J. Meyer, A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918
G.J. Meyer, The World Remade: America in World War I
Michael S. Neiberg, The Path to War: How the First World War Created Modern America
Daniel Okrent, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohbition
Edward J. Renehan Jr., The Lion’s Pride: Theodore Roosevelt and His Family in Peace and War
Jonathan Schneer, The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Lee Thompson, Never Call Retreat: Theodore Roosevelt and the Great War
Adam Tooze, The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931
United States Department of State, Report of the Special Diplomatic Mission to Russia to the Secretary of State, August 1917,
Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
The West Point Atlas of War: World War I
Woodrow Wilson,  Letter of Reply to the Pope, August 27, 1917,

The following is reprinted from the Centennial Countdown to the Great War  blog published by Dennis Cross. Read the original post and access an archive of previous posts at: more

100 Years Ago in Kansas

In the mid-1950s the Kansas State Historical Society published The Annals of Kansas, 1886-1925.  It appeared in two volumes, with the first published in 1954, the second two years later in 1956.

The Annals are an almost daily account of life in the State of Kansas. Most entries are only a sentence or two and deal with organizations meeting somewhere within the state, special events, crimes, and more.  For the World War I years, they provide snippets of life on the home front.

The following was compiled by Kansas WWI Committee Member and Kansas State Historical Society Museum Curator, Blair Tarr.

February 19, 1917

  • “Maj. Gen. Frederick Funston died at San Antonio, Tex.  He was born November 9, 1865, at New Carlisle, Ohio, and came to Allen county with his parents in 1867.  He lived in Iola for many years and attended the University of Kansas.  He became a botanist and worked as a special agent for the Department of Agriculture in 1891,  He took part in the Death Valley expedition of 1891, was later sent to Alaska where he paddled a canoe 1,500 miles down the Yukon river, and wrote a paper entitled, “Botany of Yakutat Bay, Alaska.”  Funston fought for 18 months with Cuban insurgents, 1896-1897, and rose from captain to lieutenant colonel.  When the Spanish-American War broke out he was made colonel of the Twentieth Kansas Regiment, which distinguished itself in the Philippine insurrection.  He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for action at the battle of Calumpit on April 27, 1899.  In 1901 Funston planned and carried out the capture of Aguinaldo, Philippine guerilla leader.  This won him the rank of brigadier general in the regular army.  He was stationed at San Francisco during the earthquake of 1906 and was given much credit for handling the emergency.  General Funston was in command of the U.S. force that was sent to hold the city of Vera Cruz during the United States intervention in Mexico.  Shortly before his death he was sent to Texas in charge of soldiers on the border.”

February 24, 1917

  • The Legislature and state officers held memorial services for General Funston.

March 10, 1917

March 14, 1917

When the Legislature adjourned four days later, this is what they had accomplished:

  • Required approval of the Public Utilities Commission to build bridges or dams across navigable streams or rivers.
  • Required approval of the State Board of Health for building vaults or mausoleums.
  • Provided for the adoption and regulation of the city manager form of government by cities wanting it.
  • Regulation of streetcar traffic.
  • Provided for condemnation and appropriation of land by oil and pipeline companies.
  • Authorized counties to levy taxes to pay for extermination of grasshoppers.
  • Prohibited the sale, giving away or advertisement of cigarettes or cigarette papers.
  • Provided for a Kansas Water Commission to investigate and control flood prevention, drainage, water power, and irrigation.
  • Set the minority age of both men and women at 21.
  • Created the office of State Fire Marshal.
  • Provided for the protection of game birds.
  • Authorized the State Board of Health to make regulations for control of diseases.
  • Made it unlawful for any person to have intoxicating liquor in his possession and prohibited the transportation of liquor, except for medicinal uses.
  • Provided for compensation for injures workmen.
  • Provided for an eight-hour day in lead and zinc mines.
  • Created a State Highway Commission and prescribed its duties.
  • Provided for distribution of federal funds for vocation education.
  • Established a State board of Administration to manage state institutions.
  • Established a State Industrial Farm for women.

March 27, 1917

  • Anna Folkland, fourth grade pupil at Wichita, was suspended from school for refusing to salute the flag.

March 28, 1917

  • The Deutscher Verein Assn., Atchison, disbanded “until the international situation is clarified.”

March 31, 1917

  • Governor Capper appealed to the people of Kansas to mobilize every possible source of food supply and, in addition, to observe the greatest economy in food consumption.  With the nation nearing war, Kansas faced a food shortage, and wheat prospects were poor.  The Governor urged a vegetable garden in every back yard, a potato patch in every vacant lot, and an extra half-acre of potatoes on every farm.

April 2, 1917

  • President Wilson asked Congress to declare that a state of war existed between the United States and Germany.
  • Telegraph offices in many Kansas cities and towns were deluged with messages against war, addressed to the President and congressmen.

April 3, 1917

  • Armed guards were placed around the pumping station of the Wichita Water Co. following advice from federal agents that German spies were in the city.  This was an example of the wave of spy-hunting which swept the country.
  • At KU, 150 girls enrolled in Red Cross training classes.

April 5, 1917

  • Missouri troops were guarding railroad bridges as far west as Manhattan on the Union Pacific and southwest to Hutchinson on the Santa Fe.

April 6, 1917

  • Congress formally declared that a state of war existed with Germany.
  • Loyalty day was observed by parades, pageants, and patriotic speeches.  Governor Capper spoke at Topeka; a fife and drum corps of Civil War veterans paraded at Dodge City; ten thousand children marched in a parade at Wichita, and at Neodesha employees of the Frisco railroad sent up a large flag attached to a kite.

April 7, 1917

  • The State Board of Agriculture urged immediate mobilization of 70,000 school boys, age 15 to 20 years, to get maximum food production in the state.

April 9, 1917

  • Food prices soared.  Sugar at Topeka went to $9.50 per 100 pounds and flour to $3.00.  Prices of lard, butter, eggs and soap advanced.  Potatoes went up 25 cents a bushel.
  • President Henry Jackson Waters, K.S.A.C. (Kansas State Agricultural College), said the country’s visible food supply would be gone before another harvest. He urged that grain used for liquors should be held back as feed for livestock.
  • Because of the national emergency the State Board of Administration urged state schools to hold simple, dignified commencement services.

April 11, 1917

  • The Kansas State Bankers Assn. met at Kansas City.  Members agreed to handle government war loans without interest.

April 12, 1917

  • Compulsory military training for every able-bodied male student at Washburn College was adopted by the faculty after a petition by 200 students asked that military training be made part of the college course.  Intercollegiate athletics were abolished.

April 13, 1917

  • Governor Capper began a nation-wide fight for prohibition during the war.  He wired President Wilson, urging the use of food materials in manufacturing liquor be prohibited.  He asked Governors of all states to take similar action.
  • Dr. Henry J. Waters, K.S.A.C. president, was named chairman of the State Council of Defense, composed of prominent Kansans appointed by the Governor.
  • The Blue Goose, a Bennington club and smokehouse where recruiting officers gathered, was dynamited by fanatics who believed Europe’s war was “not our business.”
  • Towns, schools, clubs, churches, lodges, and individuals adopted French orphans.  It cost $36.50 to support an orphan for a year.

April 16, 1917

  • Four thousand acres at seven state institutions were being put under cultivation in line with the governor’s “food drive.”
  • Washburn college offered three courses in Red Cross training.
  • The price of wheat went to $2.74 on the Topeka Board of Trade.

April 17, 1917

  • The State Council of Defense met at Topeka and declared war on extravagance, luxury, unused land, gophers, chinch bugs, Hessian flies, hog cholera, bad marketing facilities, market gambling and grasshoppers, and urged that a census be taken on resources and needs of every county.

April 18, 1917

  • Public school students who enlisted or who were recruited for food production or defense work would be given credit for a year’s work, the Superintendent of Public Instruction announced.

April 19, 1917

  • Many tractors in the state were equipped with headlights and operated on a 24-hour schedule as part of the increased food program.

April 20, 1917

  • Kansas became the first state to furnish its full quota of men to the U.S. Navy.

April 23, 1917

  • Governor Capper wired President Wilson asking that the federal government regulate the price of foodstuffs, seize the seed held by speculators and guarantee the farmers a minimum price for his products as well as fix a maximum price for the consumer.
  • The U.S. Marshal for Kansas was directed to order enemy aliens to turn in firearms and to arrest violators.

April 25, 1917

  • Corn went to $1.67 per bushel on the Topeka board of trade.

April 26, 1917

  • Governor Capper asked 300,000 school children to help the war effort by growing garden crops, raising chickens, feeding pigs and increasing dairy products.

May 1, 1917

  • J.P. Carey, division superintendent of the Union Pacific, was appointed military supervisor of Kansas railways.

May 12, 1917

  • Men at officers’ training camp, Fort Riley, drilled with brooms and mops.

May 15, 1917

  • K.U. offered special war-time correspondence courses to men in service camps and defense work.

May 19, 1917

  • Dr. H.A. Dykes, Lebanon, secretary of the State Board of Medical Registration and Examination, was seriously injured by a bomb received in the mail.

May 21, 1917

  • Enlistment of hundreds of men and the federal literacy law, which stopped immigration from Mexico, had caused a serious labor shortage affecting the railroads and the increased crop production program, the State Labor Commissioner announced.

May 22, 1917

  • The Thirteenth U.S. Cavalry, after four years’ service on the Mexican border, returned to Fort Riley.

May 25, 1917

  • An army medical school was established at Fort Riley.
  • William G. McAdoo, Secretary of the Treasury, spoke at Topeka for the Liberty Loan drive.
  • The State School Fund Commission voted to buy $50,000 in Liberty bonds.

May 27, 1917

  • Heads of 18 colleges met at Topeka and unanimously endorsed compulsory military training.

May 31, 1917

  • One hundred tractors were plowing in Scott County in an effort to increase the wheat acreage one third.
  • Four Topekans were arrested by federal authorities, charged with being ringleaders in a plot to hinder draft registration. Two persons from Kansas City, one from Lawrence, and one from Olathe were also arrested.  (See Thom’s previous post: )

June 4, 1917

  • Joseph L. Bristow, editor of the Salina Journal and chairman of the Public Utilities Commission, refused to retract his charges of “grab and plunder” and said he would not keep quiet about excessive contract prices for munitions and cantonments.  Bristow had written in the Journal on May 26 that there were “hundreds of contractors, salesmen, manufacturers and railway officials . . .  out to get their share of the $7,000,000,000 authorized by Congress for financing the war.”  In answer to a statement that “this is no time to be knocking the government,” Bristow retorted:  “This is no time to be robbing the people.”  Later the Kansas City Star said of him:  “Bristow made life hard for those who believed public funds were legitimate plunder.”

June 5, 1917

  • Registration day for male citizens born between June 6, 1886, and June 5, 1896, inclusive, was marked by parades and patriotic speeches.

June 6, 1917

  • Frank A. Werner, editor of the Axtell Standard, was forced to apologize for alleged unpatriotic remarks and to kiss the American flag while the band played the Star Spangled Banner.

June 8, 1917

  • The Santa Fe bought $5,000,000 in Liberty bonds.

June 12, 1917

  • Kansas State institutions faced a serious food problem.  Appropriations did not cover rising food prices.  Potatoes were eliminated from the bill of fare.  All delicacies and many necessities had to go.

June 14, 1917

The Military Sisterhood of Kansas was chartered.  Its purpose was to aid families of service men and to send the men articles not considered necessities by the government.  (Note:  Papers of the organization can be found in the Archives of the Kansas Historical Society [ ] and some letters and papers can be found at the National World War I Museum and Memorial [ more

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