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
- Capt. Phil Billard of Topeka, was given a $3,000 appropriation by the Legislature to establish an aviation school at Topeka. See the earlier post on Billard: https://www.kansasww1.org/aviators-philip-billard/
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.