Saunders County NEGenWeb Project


Refugee Drive

   In March, 1918, the first call for used clothing for Red Cross for the Saunders County chapter brought over 5,000 garments and shoes, which were shipped to N. Y.

   Miss L. Klotz acted chairman of the drive, Mrs. I. S. Barton as chairman of the packing committee. All branches of the county contributed liberally to the shipment. Great thanks are due to the chairmen and the committee for their splendid work.

   In September, 1918, another call came for clothing. The committees acted again, in March, 1919, still another call came, and again the people of Saunders County responded liberally.

   First drive, 500 garments, 26 boxes, 6,010 pounds; second drive, 35 boxes, 7,935 pounds; third, 102 sacks, 3,877 pounds.

   The work of packing, marking, and crating these goods was very hard work indeed, and great credit is due these ladies for doing this unassisted.

Civilian Relief

Joe F. BERGGREN, Chairman

   Under the sanction of the War Department, and in conjunction with it, during the early part of 1918, it was found necessary to establish and maintain in each county a department of civilian relief of the American Red Cross.

   The Saunders County Chapter of the American Red Cross duly inaugurated its department of civilian relief, and Joe F. Berggren was appointed chairman during the early part of June, 1918, and has directed this work up to the present time. Many difficult and momentous questions have presented themselves to this department for solution; every soldier and sailor, every soldier's and sailor's family, and every man discharged from naval or military service needs information about the War Risk Insurance Law and other legislation and regulations for the benefit of soldiers and sailors and their families and relatives; about how to keep government insurance from lapsing; when compensation is due and how to file a claim therefor; how to apply for arrears of pay; when the benefits of the civil relief act expire; disability compensation; after care of discharged men, and thousands of other important questions which have been presented to this department for legal advice and final determination, and the opportunity for rendering valuable services in this department will increase rather than diminish during the period of demobilization.

   The personal responsibility and sacrifice of time in this work has been great. However, the citizens of a republic must always be ready in the hour of need to serve their country, otherwise the Republic could not long continue, and it is in this spirit that the work of civilian relief has been conducted in this county.

Junior Red Cross

   "The purpose of the Junior Red Cross is to educate thru service. It capitalizes the energy stimulated by the events of the day for constructive and active patriotism.

   "The desire to serve did not have to be created in American children. Early in the war they began to demand a part in the national program. All about them, on street corners and in their homes, they saw signs of the great business of war--an exciting and absorbing business in which they had little or no share. Every one was helping to win the war; for the children there seemed to be no answer to the persistent query, "What can I do?" It was hard for an organization designed for grown-ups to see how children could help them. Clearly it was the business of boys and girls to go to school and learn there how to be good citizens when they grow up.

   ''The junior membership grew out of the efforts of many children to link themselves with the Red Cross in their school units. It gave the boys and girls of America an opportunity to render direct service to our fighting men and to war sufferers among our Allies."

   The Saunders County Chapter School Committee, composed of F. E. Alder as chairman, Katherine Mengel as secretary, and W. H. Kirchman as treasurer, were appointed by Mr. A. Z. Donato, chairman of the Saunders County Red Cross Chapter. The Chapter School Committee immediately organized the schools of the county, appointing a Branch Chapter School Committee, consisting of a chairman, vice-chairman, secretary, and treasurer for each organized unit.

   "In this way the school children and their teachers were mobilized into a great service army, whose aim is primarily an educational one. This army proposed not only to help win the war, but to continue its activities in time of peace. Its every effort is directed to the highest ideals, which the Red Cross struggled to attain years before the war. These entail active participation in community, national, and world citizenship; the integration of the spirit of sacrifice and service into all school work; the promotion of personal health; the betterment of community conditions, especially community sanitation; the spreading of health education thruout the county by means of instruction in first aid, elementary nursing and dietetics; the care of birds and useful animals; the preparation of supplies by those who have time and services to give; the development of ability to aid in disasters wherever found in this and in other countries; the teaching of conservation and the inculcation of habits of thrift. It has been and is the purpose of the Junior Red Cross to teach these things to the children, because in them is found the highest interpretation of the word "Patriotism," which the children can understand."

   To this end the children and teachers thruout the county held themselves ready to promote the interests of our country in every possible way. When the Junior Red Cross was first organized it was universally supposed that their chief activity would consist in making garments, bandages, etc., for use overseas, and many of the schools actually did a great deal along that line. It soon became apparent, however, that this sort of work was probably the least important of all the work the children could be called upon to perform. The Senior organization was doing that work better and were able to fill their quota at all times without assistance. Other opportunities for service, along lines adapted to the capacities of the children, kept them so busy that in the end they had done as much, in proportion to their years, as their elders,

   The Christmas Red Cross Roll Call campaigns of 1917 and 1918 were accomplished largely by the children and teachers acting under the supervision of the county chairman of those drives. The children actually made a house to house canvass securing thousands of dollars in membership dues for the Senior Red Cross. During the Roll Call of 1918, box socials, and various entertainments were given by the school children of the various districts and the proceeds thereof amounting to $1,824.66 were also donated to the Red Cross Chapter.

   They also assisted the county food administrator in the distribution of cards and other material designed to encourage conservation of the food and fuel supply. In this campaign the children canvassed the entire county. In every home, "kitchen" and "window cards" were left, and written pledges secured from members of the family to follow the rules and regulations of the Food Administration.

   Besides the services mentioned above and others equally important in helping to win the war, such as taking a "hog and cattle census" of the county, making garments for refugee children, etc., Junior Red Cross members undertook many activities of an educational nature. They put special emphasis on such subjects as "How to Keep Well," "First Aid to the Injured," "History and Work of the Red Cross," etc., in the school room.

   During their vacation periods, for the past two summers, a large number of boys and girls, 606 in all, have been engaged in special home work including sewing, canning, pig raising, corn raising, etc. For a supervisor to have direct charge of this work the chairman of the Junior Red Cross acting with the county board of commissioners and the College of Agriculture at Lincoln appointed Supt. H. J. Freeborn of Wahoo. This work has been very successful, Saunders County has the unique record of holding first place in the state in this work for the summer of 1918, and at the state fair in 1919 our boys and girls carried off first prize in the state for a "Collective Club Exhibit."

   Of the schools applying for membership a large majority raised 25 cents or more per pupil; a few qualified for membership by making a pledge of service. Some districts made no application for membership but all teachers and children displayed a remarkable willingness to work. The records for September 1, 1919, show that 75 schools are organized with a total membership of 2,697. These schools have raised $1,312.76 of Junior Red Cross money, of which $998.08 have been spent, leaving a total of $314.68 on hand. Of this $998.09 spent for Junior Red Cross work, $472.00 were spent for Belgian relief; $400.00 for Junior home project work in Saunders County, and $126.08 for materials used in garment making, in carrying on the health campaign of 1918, and for numerous other incidentals.

   We feel that the activities of the Junior Red Cross have been well worth while and that the boys and girls are to be congratulated on the energy and spirit with which they did their work.

The War Library Fund

   In October, 1917, Wahoo was asked to raise $100.00 for the war library fund, besides donating books and magazines. Mrs. Wm. Ulcek acted as chairman and more than $100.00 was collected, as well as 8 boxes of books donated. The books and magazines were shipped to Camp Funston.

Christmas Boxes

   The quota for Saunders County for Christmas boxes for 1917 for the soldiers and sailors overseas was 500, but this quota was exceeded by 45. The packages, which came from the various branches and auxiliaries thruout the county, were assembled at Wahoo and shipped from there.

   The packages were all filled by individuals or from a special fund raised for the purpose, no chapter Red Cross money being used.

Report of Work by Branches

   Branch and Number of Articles--Ashland 104, Plainview Aux. 53, St. Matthews Luth. Aux., West 73, St. Matthews Luth. Aux., East 131, Cary High 350, Prague 449, Leshara 194, Colon 315, Swedeburg 382, Morse Bluff 442, Mead 500, So. Center Aux. 84, Wann Branch 182, Baptist Aux. 204, Pohocco Women's Aux. 178, Yutan 437, Memphis Branch 665, Cedar Bluffs 812, Malmo 925, Valparaiso 446, Marietta Aux. 130, Weston 962, Ceresco 672, Ithaca 476, Wahoo 2,049. Total knitting 6,380; total sewing 11,788.

Knitting by Branches

   Wahoo 2,481, Ithaca 251, Ceresco 292, Weston 434, Ashland 108, Marietta Aux. 90, Valparaiso 225, Malmo 488, Memphis 40, Yutan 225, Pohocco 285, Cedar Bluffs 478, Missionary Aid 48, Wann 41, South Center 79, Mead 104, Morse Bluff 98, Swedeburg 143, Colon 159, Prague 374, Cary High 2, St. Matthews, East 81, St. Matthews, West 97, Plainview 34. Totals--Sweaters 1,912, pairs of sox 2,355, pairs of wristlets 857, mufflers 569, helmets 199, wash rags 332, quilts 8, stockings 148.

Financial Report, June 1, 1917, to July 1, 1919

(Does not include War Funds)
     Membership dues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  $18,645.00
     Donations, General Fund . . . . . . . . . . . .  8,984.00
     Donations, Christmas Packages . . . . . . . . . .  225.00
     Donations, Rooster Auction for cutting machine . . 259.00
     Material sold, pins and magazines . . . . . . . .  360.53
     Chapter % from first war fund . . . . . . . . .  8,242.50
     Belgian relief . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13.85
     Repayment of loan by returned soldier . . . . . . .  5.00

   The Saunders County Chapter of A. R. C. collected and disbursed many hundreds of dollars during the late war period. This money was raised in the form of donations and membership fees, and earnings turned in by the branches, raised in their vicinity by entertainments, auctions, etc.


   The first money donated to the Saunders County Chapter of the Red Cross came from the P. E. O. Society of Wahoo, $25.00. Almost the first money raised by the chapter was in June, 1917, when a picture show was given at the Rex Theater, Wahoo, tickets selling for a dollar. This netted the chapter over $600.00.

   On the tour of Saunders County boosting for the Red Cross celebration, Harriet and Cecilia Klotz gave appropriate readings every place where there was a program given. They became so popular that they were called to places outside of our county to give programs for the benefit of the Red Cross.


   Closely allied with Red Cross Work, in fact one of its hardest workers and staunchest supporters all during the war, was Col. Jake Wernsmann of Fremont, who went all over the county wherever and whenever he was called to assist the several Red Cross chapters in making their fairs and bazaars a success. No sacrifice he could make in the interests of Red Cross or any War Work was too great, and when a Red Cross branch knew that Col. Jake, as he was affectionately called, was coming to help them in their work, they knew that its success was assured. No one in the county has worked harder or accomplished more than he, in Red Cross work. The money he raised thru the auctioning of that famous rooster thru the county is signal proof of this, the sales amounting to thousands of dollars. Col. Jake had many friends in the county before he engaged in this work, but his pure Americanism and unselfish devotion to the cause of R. C. made him dear to the hearts of every one in Saunders County.


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