A meeting was held in the South Cedar Precinct, at St. Matthew's Church, Cedar Bluffs, June 12, 1918, at which time the organization of the St. Matthew's Lutheran Auxiliary, East Side, of Saunders County Chapter of the American Red Cross was perfected. The following officers were elected:
Mrs. Hans Jurgens, chairman; Mrs. Helen Daberkow, secretary; Mrs. F. W. Daberkow, treasurer.
The ladies met weekly or oftener if quotas demanded it and turned in 134 hospital garments to the chapter and 78 knitted articles. Besides filling quotas and sewing they made quilts from remnants given to them by the county superintendent, and selling same for $80.60, which was turned over to the chapter.
The organization known as the St. Matthew's Lutheran Auxiliary, West Side, was perfected at a meeting held June 19, 1918, when the following officers were elected:
Mrs. Fred Huscher, chairman; Mrs. Knutzen, secretary; Mrs. Ella Brackmann, treasurer.
The ladies contributed 73 hospital garments to the output of the county and 94 knitted articles. They also made several baby quilts which they sold and turned the proceeds into the chapter funds. They had a membership of thirty.
A meeting was held at the home of Mrs. Chance Padget, June 22, 1918, at which time the organization of the Plainview auxiliary was perfected. The following officers were elected:
Mrs. Chance Padget, chairman; Sylvia Mays, secretary; Mary Lohry, treasurer; Mrs. Nora Clark, and Mrs. K. Johnson, chairmen of hospital supplies; Mrs. W. W. Dean, chairman of knitting; Mrs. Wm. Miller, censor.
Miss Sylvia Mays resigned in December, and Mrs. I. E. Armstrong was elected secretary.
Prior to the organization of the auxiliary the ladies of Plainview had organized a surgical dressing department January, 1918, which did very good work, turning in 5,334 dressings. Mrs. C. Padget was chairman.
New officers were elected in September, 1918, as follows:
Mrs. Grant Wagner, chairman; Mrs. I. E. Armstrong, secretary; Miss May Lohry, treasurer.
The auxiliary turned in 53 hospital garments and 63 pairs of sox for the knitting department.
The organization of Luther College Auxiliary was perfected at a meeting held at Luther College, October 27, 1917, and the following officers were elected:
Emma W. Peterson, chairman; Signe Peterson, vice chairman; Esther Lind, treasurer.
The members of the auxiliary were chiefly students at the college, and a great deal of work was done for the organization. They devoted most of their time to sewing and knitting. Being auxiliary to the Wahoo Branch, their work was credited to the Wahoo branch.
At the direction of the Saunders County Chapter an auxiliary to it was formed known as the South Center Auxiliary. The first meeting was held at the home of W. R. Sutton, September 25, 1917, and the organization was perfected. An election was held with the following as a result:
Mrs. V. Holm, chairman; Merle Sutton, vice chairman; Miss E. Bern, secretary; Anna Sutton, treasurer.
It was decided to hold their meetings every two weeks. 84 hospital garments were turned in.
The first meeting was held August 13, 1917, at which time the organization of the Valparaiso Branch was perfected with the following as officers:
Mrs. V. C. Hotchkiss, chairman; Mrs. M. Ahlquist, vice chairman; Mrs. Francis Bellows, secretary; Mrs. M. Mahaffey, treasurer.
Friday was agreed upon as the day to hold meetings, and they decided to do sewing as well as knitting. The different organizations were asked to sew at the Red Cross rooms on their Kensington Day, or every Friday. The ladies' first work was comfort quilts and then shoulder wraps.
Their willingness to help a just cause was shown by the 446 garments that were turned in, besides the knitted articles that came from the branch. The present officers are:
Mrs. Fred Wagner, vice chairman; Mrs. Pearl Petermichael, secretary; Mrs. A. D. Mahaffey, treasurer.
The first money raised for the chapter came from a dance given by this branch--the proceeds of which amounted to $43.85.
The introduction of the American Red Cross to Ithaca and surrounding neighborhood was made by Miss Alberta O'Kane and Miss Ona Wagner in June, 1917, at the request of the chapter officers at Wahoo. The membership then obtained was over one hundred, and that was the approximate membership in the community thruout the war period.
The Ithaca Branch was organized at the M. E. Church in August, 1917. Miss Alberta O'Kane was elected chairman, Mrs. G. W. Wertz vice chairman, Miss Ona Wagner secretary, Miss Martha Kraft treasurer. All these officers except the chairman left the community during the year, and the following were chosen to fill their places: Vice chairman, Mrs. J. M. Hall; secretary, Mrs. G. F. Wagner; treasurer, Mrs. Fred Ostertag. Soon after this meeting sewing was begun. The first year the work was hospital bed shirts with some smaller articles, after which the work was miscellaneous and was sent already cut out from headquarters. It is a matter of pride to the branch that no sewing was ever returned by the chapter censor to be remade. A great deal of the credit for this is due to Miss Hannah Anderson, who did all the cutting for the first year's work.
There was very little social activity in the community during the war, and that little had to do with the soldiers or some patriotic movement. The Ithaca Branch had part in two of these events. The first was a reception to the first contingent of drafted men. It was held jointly with the Young People's Association of the Evangelical Church, in the church. After a program, comfort kits that had been made by the Red Cross and filled at its solicitation by relatives and friends of the boys, were presented to the guests of honor. Several hundred people were then served ice cream and cake on the church lawn. Altho it was not the intention of the committee, there was some profit above expenses, and this was divided between the Red Cross and the Y. P. A. The only other event that need be recorded here was the community flag-raising, which took place in June, 1918, at which the branch conducted a refreshment booth and assisted in the general plans. Sixteen of the workers in their uniforms also took part in the parade at the Fourth of July Celebration, which the County Chapter held in Wahoo in 1918.
Knitting was begun in the fall of 1917. Mrs. Lona O'Kane acted as knitting chairman all during the activities of the branch along this line. Her mother, Mrs. Anna Danley, was the oldest of the knitters, Mrs. Eric Charling, Mrs. Johanna Anderson, Mrs. Mary Henry, and Mrs. Melville Shields were among the other older women who brought as a gift to their country an art learned in childhood. Mrs. Krueger was the swiftest knitter in the group. It may seem hardly fair to mention names when some who could give only a few hours work did so as gladly and with as great a sacrifice on their part as those who gave many hours.
In the summer of 1918 a workroom was opened in the school house. At the opening of school it was moved to the Charling Building downtown, and there maintained until the close of the sewing.
The Christmas drive for members was made in 1917 by the branch officers, and in 1918 by Miss Henry and Miss Sudik, two of the teachers in the Ithaca school. The war fund drives were conducted the first year by a committee composed of A. J. Olson, R. M. Railsback, and N. O. Youngstrom; after that, in accordance with the plan adopted by the county, by the board of education, who were F. C. Hanke, R. M. Railsback, and Miss Alberta O'Kane.
At the election of officers held in October, 1918, Mrs. N. O. Youngstrom was chosen chairman, Mrs. J. M. Hall, vice chairman; Mrs. G. F. Wagner, secretary; and Mrs. E. L. Robinson, treasurer.
In so large a field there were only sixty who did any sewing or knitting at all, and some of these could only give time for a garment or two, so that the output of the branch, which was always up to its quota, reflects great credit on the faithful few. The spirit of the workers was to get the garments made rather than to earn credit hours, so at the beginning no very accurate records were kept. Nevertheless, over 5,000 hours (credit hours, not hours of time actually given) is a conservative estimate of the work of this branch.
The following workers received their certificates for 800 hours' work and wear their honor pins: Mrs. Lona O'Kane, Mrs. T. G. Kelly, Mrs. J. M. Hall, Mrs. J. F. Olson, Mrs. Barney Martin, and Miss Alberta O'Kane. Mrs. Ostertag, Mrs. Robinson, and Mrs. J. W. Danley were also recommended for this honor by the chairman, but did not apply for their certificates.
To these and others who served their country and her men at arms, the signing of the armistice meant a change of interest from the men in the service to the men, women, and children who had also suffered both here and abroad, and supplies for their relief filled the remaining months of activity.
Altho knitting needles and sewing machines are now resting from Red Cross work, it is to be hoped that the great spirit of the Red Cross, which came to Ithaca in the days of war, may remain thru the years of peace, to be a blessing to the community itself and to help it in its service to the rest of the world.
The Wann Branch held their first meeting August 31, 1917, in the Wann church, and the following officers were elected:
Mrs. D. Grimes, chairman; Mrs. Ed. Esty, vice chairman; Ellen Alida Peterson, secretary; Irene Wilson, treasurer.
Much credit is due Mrs. Grimes for the record of this branch, for she was chairman of membership drives in the Wann community; and acted as chairman of the sewing department, having cut over 500 yards of material for workers herself. Not only were they enthusiastic in sewing and knitting but in raising money as well.
Giving a box social February 2, 1918, they took in $181.55. The branch retained $50.00 of this, with the county chairman's consent, for running expenses of the branch.
A sale by the branch in July, 1918, netted them $954.65. At a farmer's union sale $180.00 was taken in; which was donated to the branch.
Mrs. C. Tarpenning was chairman of the surgical dressing department, which turned in over 5,000 dressings.
The other work turned in by the branch was hospital garments, refugee garments, and knitted articles which totaled 182.
In the elections in 1918 the officers elected were:
Mrs. D. Grimes, chairman, Mrs. Lena Miller, vice chairman; Irene Wilson, secretary and treasurer.