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:  https://www.kansasww1.org/the-topeka-anti-draft-conspiracy-the-arrests/ )

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

June 15, 1917

  • Kansas had oversubscribed its $20,000,00 quota for the Liberty loan.

June 19, 1917

  • Western Kansas women were canning Russian thistle and other tumbleweeds for greens.

June 21, 1917

  • Company A, Topeka’s national guard unit of the Kansas Engineers, was ordered to active duty.
  • Topekans gave diamonds, pianos–anything which could be converted into money–to the Red Cross drive.
  • Charles I. Martin was appointed brigadier general of the Kansas National Guard.

June 25, 1917

  • Ogden Flats, east of Fort Riley on the Kansas river, was chosen as a site for a U.S. Army cantonment.

June 26, 1917

  • The first U.S. troops landed in France.

June 28, 1917

  • Kansas Mennonites told the War Department they would serve but not fight and asked assignment to agricultural work.

July 3, 1917

July 13, 1917

July 18, 1917

  • Kansas has one enlisted man for every 143 persons and ranked seventh among the states.

July 20, 1917

  • Allen, Chase, Ford, Douglas, Kearny, Montgomery, Ottawa, Woodson and Wyandotte counties escaped the draft because they exceeded enlistment quotas.
  • Winning With Wheat, a film produced for the Kansas Council of Defense, was being shown at all theaters in the state,  It was a modern version of the Biblical parable of the sower.
  • The Belgian Mission visited Topeka.

July 25, 1917

  • The Atchison Saddlery Co., received an army order for 2,000 harness sets and 8,000 horse collars.

July 28, 1917

  • Gen. Vladimir Roop, Russian, visited Topeka.  A military parade was staged for him.