Kansas WW1

Commemorating the First World War Centennial in Kansas

Category: Family History (page 1 of 2)

Kansans of the Great War Era – Nellie Blanche Smirl

I am Coming Back to Kansas

© Nellie Blanche Smirl Sept. 7th, 1918 E 432374

When I have time to dream about you,
Pleasant mem’ries I’ll recall,
For I’ve lived in many places,
But you’re dearest of them all.
I can see the rolling prairies
And can breathe the fragrant air,
And Kansas-land shall be my home
When I get thro’ over there. ...read more

Local Stories, #1

In mid-May I created a post asking about local stories.  I’m delighted that one came our way as a comment to that post, but I’m also going to copy it and post it here with thanks to Mr. Larson and with hopes it may inspire a few additional stories!  From Erik Larson: ...read more

South Asian Americans in WW1

The US WW1 Centennial Commission is hosting a new website called Vande Mataram, which literally means “I Salute You, Mother” and is the title of a well-loved patriotic poem about India. The site is run by noted author Suruchi Mohan. Click here to visit the site. ...read more

Kansans of the Great War Era: Carl Barnhart

Carl, along with Mr. Charles Papenhausen, decided to enlist together April 21, 1917 in Kansas City, MO. Carl at that time was teaching at Hazel Ridge School which is about 2 miles south of where he lived.  Carl asked the school to be relieved of his contract. ...read more

Native Americans in the Great War – Pvt. Joseph Oklahombi

36th Division shoulder patch WW1 era

Joseph Oklahombi (1985-1960) was a member of the Choctaw Nation and an Oklahoma National Guardsman who served in Company D, 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry, 36th Infantry Division. He is recognized as one of the Choctaw Code Talkers but that story has been covered before. The 1st /141st later became the “Lost Battalion” of WW2, also another story. ...read more

Kansans of the Great War Era: Harry Frank Hunt

A descendant of Harry Frank Hunt published a book of his letters in 1998, and Gene Smith of the Topeka Capital-Journal wrote about the man and the book:

Long ago, far away and over there: Book chronicles Kansan in WWI

By GENE SMITH, The Capital-Journal

With the end of the contentious 20th century only 15 months away, World War I seems ancient history to most Americans. ...read more

The African American Soldier: Arthur A. Hill

Arthur Allen Hill was born on November 26, 1878 in Kansas — probably in Lawrence — to parents who had been born in Virginia, raising the question as to whether or not they had been slaves.  A city directory indicates that Arthur was a gardener before the war, but one who was college educated.  Census records indicate that fact, although there is no indication of where he attended college.  This was enough to qualify him for the officers’ training school, where he was commissioned a 1st Lieutenant.  He served in Company K of the 372nd Infantry, 93rd Division. ...read more

The African American Soldier: Lee J. Hicks

Of the Kansans who attended the officers training school at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, Lee J. Hicks was the only one who would be commissioned a captain — all the others were 1st or 2nd lieutenants.  Of 626 commissions given, only 104 were for captains.

Attending the training school required either being a college graduate or a non-commissioned officer.  In Hicks case, he was a graduate of the now defunct Western University at Quindaro.  From there he went to Tuskegee University, where he reportedly was the secretary to the brother of Booker T. Washington. ...read more

A Doughboy’s Christmas

There are undoubtedly many accounts of Christmas in the army, and many better than the one I’m about to serve up. I’m even sneaking in someone who is not a Kansan.

That would be my great-uncle, Homer S. “Jack” Shaffer (1893-1973), who with few exceptions like World War I, spent his life in the coal mining community of Vintondale, Pennsylvania.  Jack served in the Medical Detachment of the 305th Engineers, 80th Division–the Blue Ridge Division, with its motto, “Vis Montium”–“Strength of the Mountains.” ...read more

Kansas WWI Family Values, Part II

The remaining nine families to have four or more children serve during the war:

–Mrs. Mary McKee of Hazelton, Kansas, had six sons in the service.  Two of them, Oscar and Lawrence, were in the navy, and the others, George, Wallace, Robert, and Lester in the army. ...read more

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