Commemorating the First World War Centennial in Kansas

The 353rd ‘All-Kansas’ Infantry Regiment

The 353rd Infantry Regiment, 89th ‘Rolling W’ Division, was established at Camp Funston, Kansas on September 5th, 1917. The initial strength was 2,974 men, all draftees from Kansas, so the regiment was named ‘The All-Kansas’. The 89th division was under the command of Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood (1860-1927), the famous Apache fighter, the former CO of Teddy Roosevelt in Cuba and who, along with Teddy, had been a spokesman for the ‘Preparedness Movement ’in the U.S. and one of the founders of the ‘Plattsburg’ Camps for the training of future officers in 1916.
Over the course of the next few months we will follow the progress of the All-Kansas men as chronicled in the History of the 353rd Infantry Regiment, 89th Division, National Army September 1917 – June 1919, by Capt. Charles F. Dienst and associates, published by the 353rd Infantry Society in 1921.

Kansas Hymn – Dedicated to the “All-Kansas Regiment” – 353rd Infantry
Words and Music: Lillian Forrest
©March 4, 1918 by Lillian Forrest E 418751

O Kansas, ’tis of thee,
Sunflower State so free,
I sing in praise;
State where brave soldiers fought,
State where homesteaders wrought,
For all thy domain sought,
In freedoms ways

Thy goal is starward still,
Upward through any ill,
Standing the test;
Thy faith when storms smite thee,
Or when wrongs dare to be,
Aimed at thy loved country,
To fight thy best.

Thy colors to the world,
For equal rights unfurled,
Never shall cease;
May thy great past show thee,
Thy best days yet to be,
Kansas and Liberty,
Peace, lasting peace. 

Click here to read the rest of the verses and listen to a MIDI performance of the music.

Lillian Forrest (1869–1950) was the daughter of Joseph (1840-1875) and Elisabeth (Ehrhardt) Forrest (1840-1920), both of whom were from Macon Co. Illinois.

There’s some mystery about Lillian’s birth year and place of birth. Starting with the 1930 U.S. Census she is reported as having been born in Kansas in 1873 and her gravestone bears the dates 1873 -1950. However, she was recorded on the 1870 U.S. Census as 1 year old, and the family was living in Pratt County Illinois.

At some time before 1875 the family moved to Vicksburg, Jewell County Kansas. As an adult Lillian lived in nearby Jewell City. The U.S. Census records consistently report her occupation as house to house sales. There is no record of a marriage. Lillian wrote articles for the weekly newspaper The Jewell County Republican, and penned a history of Jewell County, but there is no record of any other music composed by her.

In 1915 Kansas Governor Arthur Capper started a movement to proclaim an official state song. There were non-binding contests and bills were introduced in the legislature in 1916, 1921, 1923, 1927 and 1945. Early in this process Lillian’s Kansas Hymn was in the running, competing with My Golden Kansas, Hymn to Kansas and The Call of Kansas. However, the ultimate winner was Home on the Range (original title: My Western Home) which became enshrined in statute in 1947.

In the final go-around, Lillian’s piece didn’t stand a chance. Considered a classic western or cowboy song, performed by Bing Crosby (three times), Frank Sinatra, Gene Autry, Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, Willie Nelson and even Bugs Bunny (among many), Home on the Range was written in 1872 by a Kansan about his sod house near Smith Center..

The All-Kansas regiment had a hot war, fighting in both the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Offensives. The regiment was inactivated in May 1919, then constituted in the new Army Reserve on June 24th, 1921. No longer exclusively Kansan, it had units from Nebraska and South Dakota as well. Recalled to active duty in 1942, the 353rd  fought in the later stages of WW2 in Europe. It was inactivated in December 1945.

3/353rd Change of Command

Since 2004 certain training battalions have been badged to the 353rd Infantry, the most recent of these being the 3/353rd, currently based at Fort Polk. LA.




James (“Jim”) Patton BS BA MPA is a retired state official from Shawnee, Kansas and a frequent contributor to several WW1 e-publications, including "Roads to the Great War," "St. Mihiel Tripwire," "Over the Top" and "Medicine in the First World War." He has spent many hours walking the WW1 battlefields, and is also an authority on British regiments and a collector of their badges. An Army Engineer during the Vietnam War, he did work for the US World War 1 Centennial Commission and is affiliated with the WW1 Historical Association, the Western Front Association, the Salonika Campaign Society and the Gallipoli Association.


  1. roger culbertson

    looking for information on ,my grandfather carey harve culbertson ser num2177226 from his dog tags also just reframed his companys photo

    • Marc Earl Benson

      There is a Cpl. Carey H. Culbertson listed as being in the 353rd Infantry. He was wounded on November 3rd 1918

  2. Marc Earl Benson

    My Grandfather Cpl. Earl Benson was in the 353rd Infantry. However he was from Arizona and not Kansas. The book on the History of the 89th Division by George H. English Jr. mentions there was a scattering of people from other states. He was in the 353rd Infantry and was wounded on November 5th 1918 during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Thanks for keeping all of the men of the 89th Division alive. Marc Benson

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