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.

August 2, 2017

  • Army City, a town for soldiers, was being built near Junction City.
  • Milk infection was responsible for typhoid fever epidemics in many towns.  The State Board of Health ordered vaccinations in Harper county, Herington, Leavenworth, Winfield, Coffeyville, and Augusta.  Leavenworth reported 12 deaths.
  • Henry J. Allen and William Allen White went to France in the service of the American Red Cross.  See the previous post:  https://www.kansasww1.org/kansans-of-the-great-war-era-william-allen-white/
  • The Washburn College Ambulance Co., the 347th, which was organized soon after the declaration of war, was sworn into service.  Most of the 120 members were native Kansans.  Dr. C.H. Lerrigo, Topeka, was captain.  See the previous post:  https://www.kansasww1.org/washburn-college-ambulance-company/

August 3, 1917

  • Ten carloads of seed wheat valued at $30,000 were shipped over the state by the State Council of Defense.
  • The Kansas State Historical Society was assembling a library for Kansas soldiers.  The books were collected by private donation.

August 4, 1917

  • Four French classes for army officers were opened at K.U.

August 5, 1917

  • The 35th Division, composed of the organized National Guard of Kansas and Missouri and 12,000 draftees, was mustered into federal service.

August 9, 1917

  • A remount station for 10,000 horses and a bakery to provide bread for 50,000 men were planned at Fort Riley.

August 10, 1917

  • The War Department announced that the regular army was at full war strength and that Kansas had filled its quota.
  • Congress passed the food and fuel control act.  Farmers were urged to plant more wheat and were called slackers if they refused.  The government did not advise as to soil requirements.  An increase of 1,000,000 acres was Kansas’ quota.  Wheat was selling at $2.10 a bushel.

August 11, 1917

  • Because of failure of feed crops, farmers in the Utica vicinity were filling their silos with Russian thistles.  Thistles had been cured for hay quite successfully.
  • Kansas dairy herds had increased 76 percent since 1910.  Over a million milk cows were registered.

August 15, 1917

  • Nine men who claimed agricultural responsibilities were denied draft exemption in Topeka.

August 17, 1917

  • Ogden, near Fort Riley, was quarantined because of a typhoid fever epidemic.

August 20, 1917

  • Coal operators, called to Topeka by Governor Capper to explain the abnormal price of coal, refused to show production costs.  They claimed a cost of $2.43 a ton, which he regarded as “exaggerated.”  It was revealed that the railroads bought coal for about $2 a ton while the public paid over $5.

August 21, 1917

  • A dispatch from Washington said bituminous coal prices were fixed by President Wilson for every mine in the country.  Prices for run-of-the-mine coal were $2.55 in Kansas.  Dealers in Atchison, Topeka, Hutchinson, and Fort Scott declared they were “on the brink of ruin.”

August 23, 1917

  • KU (University of Kansas) offered a five-hour training course in the fundamentals of aviation.
  • Kansas, a chestnut-sorrel war horse, was presented to Gen. Charles I. Martin when he left Topeka for Fort Sill.  (If you didn’t know who Gen. Martin was, he was the Adjutant General of Kansas from April 1, 1909 to September 30, 1917, and again from January 27, 1919 to January 11, 1923.)

August 24, 1917

  • Dr. H.J. Waters, K.S.A.C. (Kansas State Agricultural College) president, was appointed federal food administrator for Kansas.

August 27, 1917

  • The Kansas Grange and the Farmers’ Union asked for special consideration of exemption claims by farm workers.
  • Women went to work in the upholstery department of the Santa Fe shops, Topeka, taking the places of men who had gone to war.

August 31, 1917

  • A drive to rid army camps of vice was being made by the Department of Justice and city, county, and state officials.
  • The Union Pacific was spending $2,000,000 on roundhouses, tracks, and shops in the Junction City – Manhattan area.
  • A coal combine of Kansas City dealers was exposed, and their records were seized.

September 2, 1917

  • The 117th Ammunition Train left Topeka for a “Rainbow Division” mobilization point.  It had been organized during the summer by Lt. Col. Frank L. Travis, Iola.  The companies were from Kansas City, Rosedale, Chanute, Parsons, Manhattan, and Pratt. For more info, read:

KCK’s Rainbow Boulevard is a WW1 memorial

Monuments and Memorials: Rosedale Memorial Arch

September 3, 1917

  • Librarians from Kansas and surrounding states met at Kansas City, Mo., to discuss plans for raising their $1,000,000 quota for books and magazines for soldiers in France.

September 4, 1917

  • The Washburn Ambulance Co. was ordered to Camp Pike, Little Rock, Ark. For more info, read:

Washburn College Ambulance Company

  • Lt. William T. Fitzsimons, graduate of St. Mary’s College and a physician from K.U., was the first American officer to die in battle in France in World War I after the United State entry.  He was killed by an airplane bomb.  (Correct date of his death appears to be September 7th). For more info, read:

Monuments and Memorials–St. Mary’s College

September 5, 1917

  • Kansas women signed war service cards to show the government what work each was doing, whether at home or away.
  • The first five percent of men called under Selective Service reported to the 89th Division at Fort Riley.  They had either previous military training or experience in cooking.  men from eight states formed the division, and Kansans for the most part were assigned to the 353rd Infantry, which became known as the All-Kansas regiment.  Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood was the division commander.

September 6, 1917

  • Osage county coal operators told the Governor that they could not operate at prices fixed by the government.

September 7, 1917

September 15, 1917

  • A.K. Longren, a pioneer airplane builder and aviator of Kansas, went to Denver to be associated with the Buck Aircraft and Munitions Co.

September 22, 1917

  • Meade county Mennonites, asking exemption, cited Scriptural authority against bearing arms.

September 27, 1917

  • C.G. Stevenson, Pratt, was appointed trainmaster of the division of railroad men the government was sending to Russia.

October 5, 1917

  • The W.C.T.U. (Women’s Christian Temperance Union) had made 2,000 comfort bags for U.S. Navy men during the summer.

October 6, 1917

  • A contract for ten cars of rabbits for the government was being filled by Koon Beck, Hutchinson.

October 12, 1917

October 13, 1917

  • Several hundred Kansas farm women were helping sow wheat, cut hay and husk corn.

October 17, 1917

  • Anna Held, French comedienne, sold Liberty bonds from the steps of the State House.

October 18, 1917

  • Kansas had 525 cases of typhoid fever in September.  The State Board of Health had given 9,000 free shots.

October 19, 1917

  • The federal food administration ordered Topeka, Wichita, Salina and Hutchinson mills to requisition their wheat from government headquarters at Kansas City, Mo.  The government said it would have to take control of wheat at country points because of a shortage.  The Kansas Grain Dealers Assn. opposed the move and believed many independent mills would have to shut down.
  • Scarlet fever epidemics were reported from Cowley, Butler, Dickinson and Leavenworth counties.

October 23, 1917

  • Atchison was made a terminal wheat market by the federal food administration.

October 27, 1917

  • Fifty thousand Kansans launched a food conservation campaign and secured pledges from 1,200,000 persons.

October 30, 1917

  • Public presentation of side-arms to 626 Negro commissioned officers was made by Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood at Topeka.
  • An acute coal shortage caused many towns to close power plants and deny service to all but essential businesses.  Topeka sales were limited to two tons per customer.

October 31, 1917

  • Nine hundred Negroes arrived at Fort Riley for training.  Not a single request for exemption was made by Kansas Negroes.  At Manhattan plans were made for a social center after General Wood said:  “Manhattan will not have done her full duty until quarters are also provided for colored troops.”

November 4, 1917

  • Kansans were asked to contribute to the recreation building fund of the 353rd Infantry, the all-Kansas regiment at Camp Funston.

November 5, 1917

  • A sugar shortage caused Topeka bakeries to quit making pies, cakes and cookies.

November 7, 1917

  • Camp Funston had 30 cases of spinal meningitis, with six deaths.
  • Junction City’s waterworks capacity was doubled.  The town had been included in the sanitary zone surrounding Fort Riley.
  • Mother – daughter canning clubs had put up 424,000 quarts of fruit and vegetables; 128 clubs in the state had 8,094 members.
  • Kansas joined the national movement for meatless Tuesdays and wheatless Wednesdays.

November 9, 1917

  • Alta Vista was rationing coal and sugar.  Sugar sales were limited to 25 cents worth per family.

November 10, 1917

  • Rye bread, brown bread, nut bread and oatmeal gems were being served at the Pittsburg Manual cafeteria on wheatless days.  Pie crust was made from a rye flour and corn starch.