HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN COUNTY KENTUCKY
charles m. meacham
Into the European War; Patriotism at Fever Heat; Christian County’s 3,000 Soldiers Registered in 1917; The World’s Greatest Struggle; The Glorious But Dearly Bought Victory.
THE WORLD WAR
On February 2, the German Kaiser notified the American Government that American ships would not be allowed to furnish supplies to England, and that ships would enter the war zone at their peril. President Wilson replied, refusing to recognize the right of the German Government to take such action, and the issue was sharply joined. On February 5, Ambassador Bernstorff was given his passports, and President Wilson sent a message to Congress, stating that two years of German aggressions had cost two hundred American lives, and that sixty-four Americans, taken from ships captured by Germans, were held as prisoners. He asked that their immediate release be demanded, and that steps be taken to enforce the demand. Diplomatic sparring followed. Germany was open to further criticisms. On March 4, the Democratic President was inaugurated for a second term. After the middle of March, Germany carried out her threat, and began the sinking of American ships that entered the war zone. Congress, in extra session, on April 6, passed a resolution declaring that a state of war existed. The country rapidly advanced to a war basis. War fever in Hopkinsville caused fifty new recruits to be added to Company D. Flags everywhere were hung out and the patriotism of the populace was intense. On April 19, a flag twenty feet long was unfurled by E. D. Jones and C. F. Jarrett, Confederate soldiers, over the Elks Club Building. The address was made by Robert A. Cook. On April 21, Capt. Henry J. Stites, with seventy men of Company D, left for Lexington, Ky. Gov. A. 0. Stanley issued a proclamation calling upon all Kentuckians to respond as patriots to any call.
WHEN PATRIOTISM RAN HIGH
When, in April, 1917, after a month of diplomatic sparring over Germany’s attempt to establish a war zone around England, into which American ships could not enter, President Wilson notified Congress that “a state of war existed,” and patriotism ran high. The full import of the declaration was not at once realized. The question of sending a great army to Europe was not at first regarded as a part of the program. Plans were made to arm the ships, to extend all necessary aid to the Allies and to prepare for a vigorous defense. Events moved rapidly. It soon became evident that the peace of the world was at stake. The year 1917, the fourth of the war, was the darkest hour before the dawn. France, with her back to the wall, was making her last stand. Belgium was already crushed and Russia had gone to pieces. Within thirty days after America entered the war, the country realized that help must be sent across the ocean. Even then, the drafting of an army of millions of soldiers from the walks of peace was not dreamed of. There were adventurous spirits who were quick to volunteer. Organized units of National Guards received many recruits, and others enlisted in the regular army, anxious to get a chance to go overseas. The chance soon came. It was to be a world war. Congress quickly passed laws that could mean nothing else. Then came the national draft law for the registration, subject to call, of thirty million men between eighteen and thirty-one years of age. They were promptly listed, and Christian County’s quota was three thousand. Eventually nearly two-thirds of them were called into service. All of the names were sent to Washington, after the unfit had been exempted, and by early in 1918, the drafts began to come in. The first call for Christian County, one hundred or more, was headed by John T. Beard, who had the honor to be the first man drawn. With blanched faces, the young men stood about the posters containing the names sent by wire, and looked for their names. The men drawn were summoned to appear before a board, who selected about half of them to be sent to camp. There was some latitude, the board trying to select those in better position to go. Volunteers would be called for, and sometimes more than the required number would stand up and answer “ready.” Those left over would be drawn upon to take the places of those who failed to pass examinations, or who died in camp, as many did. The drafts came every month, and grew larger as the months passed. Separate drafts were made for white and colored soldiers. As the calls came, one after another, all seemed willing to go, even when it was realized that go meant services in the bloody trenches of France. On other pages are recorded the names of the gallant boys who answered their country’s call. Some trained in camps were made officers and assigned to duty in the departments of their choice. The records, taken from official sources, tell the story in its details. They tell who went, where they went and how long they stayed. Some did not come back, others came wrecked in health and scarred or crippled in body. All marched away with heads erect and patriotism in their hearts. They returned as heroes, who had done their duty for their country and humanity.
Not all of the patriotism and courage was shown by those who went to battle. Many a mother saw her only son march away, with a proud smile on her face, while her mother heart was filled with anguish. The young wife kissed her husband good-bye, proud that he was not a “slacker.” The people, left behind, bought bonds and thrift stamps, the women made bandages and Red Cross supplies, the doctors gave up their work and tendered their services to their country, even the churches posted honor rolls of their members who had gone to the front.
Then came the reports from the front. There were long lists, with here and there the name of some mother’s boy in Christian County who had died with his face to the enemy. More bonds were sold, more prayers were offered, more boys marched to battle, more money was poured into the exhausted treasuries of Europe, and then came the glorious end of it all, when on a November day the white flag went up, and the world was safe for democracy. Then came the sad news that even in the last desperate charges some Christian County boys had died in achieving victory. Another year and the boys came marching home, covered with glory, to take up their work where it had been laid down. A glorious chapter had been written in the history of Christian County.
Scores of young men of Christian County early in May volunteered and left for officers’ training camps, or for active service in the regular army. Their names all appear in the official roster of the soldiers taking part in the war, with their ranks.
On June 5, 2,887 young men, between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-one, registered for war service in the county.
The first quota of bonds for the county was taken, with enthusiasm everywhere shown. The issue was $400,000.
Dr. J. H. Rice, Jewell W. Smith and C. R. Clark were named as an exemption board for Christian County drafts. County Judge J. W. Knight calls for volunteers for July 4, in advance of drafts.
On July 13, there were flag raisings at sixty school houses in the county, with speakers sent to each of them, making patriotic addresses.
July 16, President Wilson made the first call for troops, 687,000, under the selective drafts; 14,236 of them from Kentucky. The draft was made in Washington, and 120 were drawn for Christian County. Of the entire number, 56 lived in Hopkinsville.
Early in August, seven young men in training camps were commissioned, viz.: Capt. Thomas G. Skinner, Capt. William T. Radford, Lieut. Ellis J. Melton, Lieut. Henry L. Bass, Lieut. Robert L. Wright, Lieut. Herschel A. Long, Lieut. Harry W. Ware.
The examining boards were kept busy all summer, as call after call was made. The lists were examined and those physically fit were classified and held subject to orders.
An organization of Four-Minute Men was formed, to speak between acts at the theatres and on other public occasions, on the subject “Why We Are Fighting.” Charles M. Meacham was placed at the head of this organization, to assign the speakers.
Christian County’s first quota, of thirty-nine young men, were chosen and sent to Camp Taylor, September 19, viz.: Ernest Cravens, Raymond E. McGraw, Barney Carroll, Israel S. Kanepsky, ThomaF D. Griffey, W.
Garnett Fields, John Smith, Milus J. Cooper, Claude E Grau, Thomas T. Cunningham, Ernest L. Sharber, Fred Cain, Eugene Carter, E. Trice Wailer, Millard F. Gilliam, Oscar Porter, Walter W. Wright, Hiley Cobb,
Newton M. Moss, Gordon Sheppard, Reggie L. Jones, Lawrence Draper, William E. Price, Claude E. Barnes, Charles Ira Wood, Thomas J. Bryant, Russell Hester, James E. Laffoon, Estell Vanractor, Lucian A. Sadler,
William Reese, Marion Rutland, Lucien McGee, Charles W. Griffin, Robert B. Wailer, Samuel P. Elgin, C. H. Henderson, William P. Hayes, John T. Wall.
The daylight saving adjustment of the clocks went into effect April 1, 1918, the clocks being set forward one hour.
A telegram came, March 30, to Miss Sallie George Blakey, chairman of the Surgical Dressing Class, for 250 absorbent pads for the army. She assembled her unit and shipped them in forty-eight hours.
Out of three thousand men in Christian County of draft age, only forty, who failed to fill out questionnaires by April 22, were reported, thirty-five colored and five white.
Mrs. A. J. Culver donated a mule to the Red Cross funds. It was sold at auction.
William Jones, gassed in action, was the first Hopkinsville soldier reported injured. He was in an artillery company.
Phil H. Brown, negro editor, of Hopkinsville, appointed director of negro activities for food administration in Kentucky.
On June 6, Americans went into battle, and attacked northwest of Chateau-Thierry, on a front of two and a half miles. Distinct gains were made in two days of fighting, many prisoners taken and a definite check made to the German advance towards Paris.
Misses Pansy Jenkins and Emma Hunt, Red Cross nurses from Christian County, arrived overseas in June. Miss Jenkins returned in July.
On June 20, American deaths reported: all causes, 3,367 in the war. Soldiers killed in battle to date, 940; marines, 191.
The latter part of June, the Americans captured Belleau Woods, after three days of fighting. Early in July, another smashing advance of two miles was made.
In July, much patriotic work was done by the Red Cross organization of Hopkinsville by the following workers: Mrs. F. P. Thomas, supervisor; Misses Susie Stites, Mary Cook, Mary Danforth, Mary McPherson, Mary Cloud, Mary Rice, Mary Goldthwaite, Lula Moseley and Mesdames J. 0. Cook, J. H. Rice, G. A. Johnson, A. W. Wood, E. P. Barnes, F. L. Friedman, Sallie Warfield, Tillie T. Thomas, W. H. Cobb, Saul Sacks, Archie Higgins, Bailey Wailer, Jouett Henry, J. W. Downer, M. H. Nelson, Garner Dalton, R. E. Cooper, J. H. Ware, R. M. Wooldridge, J. L. Harvey, L. H. Davis, B. E. Jones, W. T. Tandy, Mattie Roper, T. C. Underwood, E. C. Frye, J. C. King, P. W. Kitchen, Cora Manson, S. U. Woodridge, George T. Callis, J. L. Freedman, and J. C. Johnson
Order that electric street lighting be dispensed with, on moonlight nights, was issued to save fuel.
By July 20, these doctors from Christian County had gone to the front:Capt. F. P. Thomas, Capt. R. L. Woodard, Capt. Austin Bell, Capt. J. G. Gaither, Capt. W. W. Durham, Lieut. Randolph Dade, Lieut T. D. Rudd,
Lieut. R. F. McDaniel, Lieut. 0. F. Miller, Lieut. Ben. F. Eager, and Lieut. Earl Thomas and Lieut. J. L. Barker, of Pembroke; and Lieut. Stanley Stroube, of Edgoten. Sugar control was tightened, and no one could purchase sugar in the county without a certificate from the food administrator. Miss Betsy Ware volunteered for Red Cross work, and was assigned to a naval hospital at Norfolk, Va. President Wilson vetoed an act fixing the minimum price of wheat at $2.40 a bushel, an increase he said that would cost the people $387,-000,000.
Congress empowered the President, in July, 1918, to take over the control of the telegraph, telephone, radio, and cable systems during the war. The radio was then in its infancy.
Word received that Capt. Joseph G. Stites was in a hospital in France, suffering from a gassing received in action.
A sandwich sale, for the benefit of the French and Belgian children, held in Hopkinsville the first Monday in August, netted $50, which was turned over to Mrs. Charles M. Meacham, chairman of the Relief Work Committee of the Woman’s Council of National Defense.
A letter from Joe M. Kelly to his father, M. P. Kelly, under date of July 30, 1918, told that his ship, the U. S. transport Tippecanoe, off the coast of France, had been torpedoed and the crew taken off in life boats, and all rescued but one man. Kelly was in charge of the gun crew.
WOMEN IN WORLD WAR
The following Christian County women and girls saw active service in some capacity during the war:
Miss Alice Anderson, of Hopkinsville; Miss Alice Anderson, of Pembroke; Miss Alice Radford, of Hopkinsville; Miss Alma Payne, Pembroke, canteen work in France; Miss Alma T. Cary, army nurse, in France; Miss Emma Hunt.
Miss Patsy Jenkins, Miss Betsy Ware, Miss Sallie George Blakey,
Cleveland, Ohio; Miss Lucille Lander, nurse at Nashville.
RENDERED SERVICES IN WASHINGTON
Misses Grace McReynolds, Bertha Turner, Lena Thacker, Ruth Harris, Rosalie Green, Mary Green, Martha Green, Lila Green, Annie May Brasher, Mary Starling and Miss Garnett, of Pembroke.
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