A.F. Parker (x2)
See also the Letters Home
FROM TEKAMAH'S SAILOR BOY - Karl Braun
On board the Kansas
August 17, 1917
Dear Folks at home:
I am finally on board the
battleship Kansas. It is great and I like it fine. We
arrived yesterday having received notice Saturday on which
ship we were to be stationed.
The "feed" is fine on board
and everything is so clean. I will try and tell you
something about the ship, the one we are on. It has four 12
inch guns, twelve 8 inch, the largest be 22 feet or more in
length and they are all controlled by electricity, and obey
the slightest touch of the controller.
The band consists of 22 men
but to hear us you would think there were 40 for every man
has a fine lip and can blow the tar out of things. Our band
is sure enough a bunch of fine fellows and our leader is a
dandy. We play the first thing in the morning about eight
o'clock, at noon and in the evening.
We had chicken for dinner
yesterday; it was sure good. There is a piano next our our
compartment and every time we hear it play it sounds so good
as it reminds us of the dear ones at home. They keep us busy
at drilling. Also we have our watches to stand along with
the rest of the crew. My watch is from eight to twelve p.m.
one night and from 12 o'clock midnight to 4 o'clock AM the
next night. Then from 7 to 8 p.m. our watch is to pass
ammunition to the big guns at the above hours and at any
other time we are Red Cross attendants. Westand (sic) our
watch in the magazines room and have sandwiches and coffee
also can sleep at times. I am getting so I can sleep on a
pile of rocks and get a good sleep. I am now used to getting
up at all times of the night though they give us plenty of
We get one bucket of fresh
water a day in which we wash ourselves; one half bucket is
issued at 6:30 A.m. and another at 6:30 p.m. We always have
to say "Sir" to all gold stripes of officers every time you
address them on board ship and when on land you have to
salute every time you meet one. There is a moving picture on
board ship and after supper you can do as you like.
Inside our ship everything
is painted white. All brass shines like gold; it sure is
clean. All rooms are sterilized. Great attention is paid to
cleanliness. There are fans everywhere which blows fresh air
in and old air out.
I have seen all kinds of
flying fish, sharks, see weeds (sic), and jelly fish, also
big porpoises. Life on a ship like this is great and I have
never been sick This morning a wave broke over the forcastle
(sic) and soaked us all. When the ship is in port we go
swimming and it is great to be rocked by the waves. I sure
would like to see you all and the rest if Tekamah folks but
the "darn Germans have to be licked. I would like to tell
you more about the ship but I know it wouldn't get by the
censor so will not write.
The Kansas has been around
the world once and has fourteen silver cups won the her men
in all branches of athletics and naval training
Sept. 13, 1917
WITH OUR BOYS AT CAMP
The Journal takes pleasure
this week in publishing the following letter from Orville
Ward, a Tekamah young man with Company F, of the Fourth
Nebraska at Camp Cody, Deming, N.M. Corporal Ward's note
will give us a personal touch with the new camp.
We received your much
welcomed papers in very prompt order on Sunday morning.
Although gone from near home but a few days all of the boys
at Camp Cody are anxious to get the home papers. Nothing
sounded so good as to hear the newsboys calling the Bee and
World-Herald but a short time after our arrival at Deming.
Company F and the other
companies in the train, a train of twenty- seven cars,
arrived in Deming at ten a.m. last Wednesday. We were soon
taken in the same train close to our camp. Everything was
ready for us. In less than an hour the entire train with its
baggage was unloaded and at our camp. The camp ground was
all laid out, a large kitchen at the head of each company
had everything ready for the kitchen utensils to be placed
in order and in a short time we had our tents up and the
cooks had things arranged in the kitchen so that we had our
dinner quite as prompt as usual.
There seems to be nothing
that we do not have at this camp. Places of amusement,
stores where we can buy light refreshments and the Y.M.C.A.
are located near each division so that we have to walk
hardly a block to any one of them. It is a camp and a large
camp town all in one.
As to the health the
government has certainly done everything sanitary. Every bit
of waste is burned, water is of a good quality and is
supplied from four hydrants at the head of each company
street. At the rear of each company street is a fine shower
bath. You may be sure that in the heat of the day those
shower baths feel good down here.
Deming is located in about
the center of a sandy desert basin between to mountain
ranges. To the boys who know such fine soil and vegetation
as eastern Nebraska it seems very bleak. At five o'clock in
the afternoon of our arrival we were given a little touch of
what a wind on such a desert can do. It came very quickly
and caught some of the boys just about half through staking
their tents. Rain soon followed the wind and dsand (sic) and
it turned off very cool for the evening. As to the weather
other than the winds which take spells for an hour or so
each day, is not much warmer than at home except for the
dryness. The nights have been cool and everyone shows
appreciation of that by the way they sleep. So far all of
the Company F boys have stood the change of altitude and
climate very well.
We wish to thank the Old
Settlers for their kind telegram to us last Friday. It makes
us feel that we are not so very far away from home as yet.
The boys all send regards.
Very truly yours,
Co. F 4th Neb. Camp Cody, Deming, N. Mex.
A Letter from Their Son - Hildreth Ellis
September 20, 1917
Deming, N. Mexico
Well, I received my camera alright but no letter. Why
don't you write once in a while. Dennis and I were over to
the mountains yesterday. One range of mountains is just
fourteen miles from camp. We took water and stuff with us
and walked over and back. We killed rabbits and cooked them
in an empty house. There was a stove and everything in it.
They just pull up and leave, it looks like for they leave
everything they have. In every place we came to they had a
well about 65 or 70 feet deep but no water in them. They had
gasoline engines to the pumps, but they never even took the
engines. Stoves and everything was left in the houses.
Nearly all the houses were made of dried mud and rock made
up to form like a cement block. We came across quite a few
that were old and had tumbled down. They are sure funny
looking places. Say, the jack rabbits look as big as coyotes
and they only run a short ways and then set up and look at
you. The country is all sand and not a drop of water in the
country. There are all kinds of dead cattle scattered around
the counter that have died from the lack of water. We never
saw a man all the time we were out. But we did see a lot of
centipedes. They look just like a caterpiller (sic) but they
have a thousand legs and a shell. Where every one of those
touch you your flesh begins rotting just like leprousy (sic)
and it is awfully hard to cure. Well, when we reached the
mountains there was not a tree on them but the cacti was
sure thick. The mountain itself is all granite. We saw a
little shack up on the side and we started to climb. We sure
did climb before we got there. We started looking around and
under the floor we found all kinds of shoves, pumps,
sledges, and all kinds of mining tools. We looked them all
over and then started out. Again we followed up a little
pathway, up the side of the mountain a ways and then we
found a wooden platform with a square hole in the bottom
just about big enough for a man to go through. Under it was
a shaft of a mine. We could not get down that way so we went
on up higher and came to a shaft going back in the mountain.
We followed this up away and then came to a big hole going
down. Now this was all cut right out of solid rock. We
started down and came to another tunnel. We followed it
aways and then we came to theend (sic) we found picks, drill
and all just like the miner had just left there. It had not
been used for a long time. In the vein he was following was
a rock that contained gold. It looks just like a green rock,
some being yellow, green and pink. We kept going down and
the end of each tunnel we found this same kind of work. We
went down one, for three hundred feet, and was not to the
bottom yet but we started out. Say, it sure looked funny
down in there. It is all rock, all around and just a big
holegoing (sic) straight down in the rock. When we got to
the tunnel we started up and found another shaft with tracks
coming out and a pump. They had hauled a lots of it away for
we saw a road leading away from the dump with deeps ruts
like lots of wagons had gone over it. We got some of the
rock and it sure is heavy. We reached the top of the
mountain about eleven o'clock and it is pretty scenery from
up there. Our camp is right out in the mile of a prairie. We
got back to camp half past nine.
I saw Buddie today and he is feeling fine. We are getting
four hours of drilling each day. We had a little shower here
tonight. Our company was on guard last Friday night but I
got an easy post. I was inside guarding a safe with about
$1,500 in it and all I had to do was sit in a big office
chair and keep from going to sleep. I had lots of ice water
and had it easy. I only had to do it four hours, from 10 to
12 and from 4 to 6 in the morning. And then the boss came
and started to work and so I did not need to stay any
longer. He opened the safe and showed me what I had been
guarding. Say, it sure was some sight of money before me.
Your loving son,
FROM CAMP FUNSTON
Camp Funston, Kan.,
October 2, 1917
All preparing for the
arrival of the new recruits, which nearly double the
population of Camp Funston. Co. K of which the Burt County
men are a part will move again about the 5th to new
quarters. We have been moved all over camp since coming
here. All of the fellows are doing fine. Many have non-com
jobs and are taking to drill like ducks to water. Nebraska
men are the best looking men here. Am at present detailed to
the Fire Department. Don't know how long I shall stay. The
fire equipment is all of the very best and must be since all
buildings here are wooden. I went to Ft. Riley yesterday to
visit the machine shops. It is a beautiful place nothing
We have just been issued
our overcoats and they are of some asset. Had only one
blanket until last week and the weather has been cold and
The new Enfield rifles are
coming in now and they are certainly murderous looking
affairs outside of being a high class of workmanship.
Received several copies of the Journal and were very much
appreciated. All Omaha papers we get a day late. Barbers are
very much in demand here and very scarce. We have quite a
few in the making however. Tell the young ladies that most
of the fellows like candy. Everyone is getting adept at
washing his own clothes dishes and mopping. Many tadesmen
(sic) will be transferred to other departments within a few
days, very complete census taken with regard to occupations.
Well, I must close as I am
due for a shot in the arm at the hospital soon. Give my
regards to the fellows.
A. F. Parker
NOTE: The following is an interesting letter from A. F.
Parker, more familiarly known as "Spike" to the boys around
town. It is interesting because it is some descriptive of
the manner in which the boys of Camp Funston spent Christmas
January 10, 1918
Letter from A. F. Parker
Camp Funston, Kan
December 26, 1917
To the Journal:
Christmas was ushered in by
Reville (sic) at 6:45 with delightful weather, clear and
cold but no snow. Breakfast then the general policy policing
up the camp, was followed by company formation at 8'oclock
(sic) and the day was on.
We marched to the arena about a mile from the barracks to
witness and take part in the stunts, whcih (sic) were
started off in a series of handicap races. These were
mingled freely with music from the 355 Infranty (sic) band
and about a dozen other. These were followed by a number of
races and funny stunts peculiar to the army with more music.
Then were had a wild west show by the enlisted men. There
was plenty of real live broncho (sic) busting, most of it by
Arizona and Colorado men. Then came the tug of war by the
men of the 355 and the 354 Infrantry (sic) which was won in
jig time by the men of the 355 Nebraska in which Lije
Carpenter was especially noticeable for his height and
pulling power which seemed to be equal to a Missouri mule.
The winners were presented with $40 silver and Carpenter
with a white flag. The next event was some fancy roping and
steer bulldogging which lasted until the conclusion at noon.
From 12 to 1 o'clock came
the distribution of letters and Christmas boxes from home.
At one o'clock sharp we filed to the mess and and "stood
to". Our menu was Oyster soup, olives, turkey with dressing
and brown gravy, mashed potatoes. sweet potatoes, bread and
real butter, cranberry sauce, mince, cherry and pumkin (sic)
pie, several kinds of cake, assorted fruits, candy, cigars,
cigarettes and coffee...also sweet cider. After a little
shakedown we "fell in" at two O'clock rescued the wagon
train laden with Christmas presents and hauled by Missouri
mules they having been attacked by Indian braves from the
ranks. There was a hard battle and after the smoke had all
died down we had out Christmas presents donated by the Red
Cross and the various societies from all the states. There
were many feminine addresses which appear to be
unencumbered. The gifts were largely of a useful nature,
such as toilet articles, comfort kits and tobacco. We washed
up and stood retreat at five o'clock. Ate the leavings and
smoked and lounged until seven O'clock and then the big
fireworks were on. We marched to the neighborhood of Gen'l
Wood's residence and witnessed a very elaborate display of
fireworks on the rimrocks above Funston. Don't think
Carpenter was the only one who distinguished himself as
there was plenty of eats and turkey for all.
Burt county men were there
in good health and spirits. We have been under quarantine
about six weeks for measles but expect to be out on Dec. 29.
Company K and Burt county men hope you all fared as well as
we did and sent best wishes to all. The American Bible
Society also presented each soldier of the Division with a
Kahki (sic) bound copy of the New Testament
A. F. Parker
Co K 355 Inf Camp Funston, Kan.
Craig News October 20, 1918
LEE JOHNSON Writes from a German Prison
Below we print a card and letter received by Joe Johnson
from their son Lee, which messages are self-explanatory. We
find that the prison at whcih Lee is confined is located on
the extreme east border of German; therefore he was taken at
least 500 miles from the place of his capture.
Camp of Strzalkonwo, bel Posen.
(Am. Pr. of War, in Germany.)
Sunday, Aug. 11, 1918
Dear Mother and Father:
How are you folks getting
along? I am getting along all right. My hand is starting to
heal up although it is pretty sore yet. This has been a nice
day. It rains here quite frequently. You might as well tell
Mr. Smith to discontinue sending the Craign newspaper as we
cannot get them here. Tell my friends there it is impossible
for me to write to them as we are limited to a card every
Sunday and and a letter the 1st and 15th of each month, and
of course you will get them.
Say mother, if you can and
I think you can send me something to eat such as hardtack or
crackers and candy and canned stuff, prepared breakfast food
or oatmeal; for we are allowed to use the stove for a little
cooking. But you will have to send this through the American
Red Cross. Hoping this finds you both well and happy.
From you loving son,
(Card written same date)
How are you folks getting along? I am getting along
allright. My hand is beginning to heal nicely. It seems
rather lonesome in the hospital; something new for me, but
there are 16 of us all together so that helps - but I dream
of home every night.
Johnson Family Letter 1918 (Origionally in Swedish)
September 7, 1918
Somewhere in France
Mr. Conrad Johnson
Lyons, NE, USA
Received your most welcome letter the other day and was sure glad to hear from
you as I hadn't heard from you for a long time, I got one letter from Chas.
Green too the same day.
Received Gustav's letter today also two letters from Jeannette. The pictures
of baby were cute, I think. Jeannette sent me one picture to of herself.
It sure makes a person feel good to get letters and when you get pictures it
makes you feel that much better.
We are in the trenches again now. Have been here over a week and don't know
just how long we have to stay here, as there is no relief in sight.
It has been raining here lately. The trenches were half full of water last
night, but today it is nice again, the sun is shining bright but it is cool.
It is awful cold here at night.
We do not have to go out much when it rains, only for our eats. We have our
gun mounted right here where we sleep. We are in a pillbox. You have probably
seen pictures of these pillboxes. It is a sort of a round dugout and one place
of it is open so you can put the muzzle of the gun through.
The Huns send over a barrage every once in a while, and of course our
artillery does the same thing. We captured a few Hun again last night,
also killed a few.
Well I suppose Gus will soon be in France too now. I don't think they train
them more than a week before they send them over. There is certainly a bunch
of our boys over here, and more coming over every day.
Jeannette sent me Ralph W. address today so I guess I'll write to him when I
get this letter finished.
I am glad the folks get my money alright. They will soon get it for two more
months. We haven't been paid for August yet, but we signed the pay roll last
Thursday so I think we will soon get it.
Gus said that you got put in class one too. Well, I don't see what Dad is
going to do when they take you out too, but maybe we will all be back home
before the spring work opens up, at least we hope that the dirty Huns will be
licked before winter is over. I think we got them on the run right now.
There are a few Hun planes flying around us again this morning, trying to
find out what we are doing, but don't think they will see much, because we
work at night and just before daylight we quit and put camouflage over it
until the next night. We sure do a lot of camouflaging.
Well, Conrad, I don't know what to write about only that I'm feeling fine and
hope you folks all the same. I'll answer Gustav's letter as soon as I find
time. It's awful hard to write letters here because we haven't much room and
besides I'm running short on writing paper. I'll have to get to a YMCA or
Salvation hut pretty soon.
Well, I must close, write again soon, tell everybody "Hello".
Pvt. Carl A. Johnson
Co. A, 341st M_g. Bn,
AEF via NY
Censored by G.M. Jackson
1st St. Def. USA