Below are two groups of names. In the first appear those who served as associate members of the board thru the entire period of the war, and the second group gives the names of those that served when the number of applicants became so large that the first group were unable to handle them all.
Ashland: H. A. Bryant, E. C. Wiggenhorn; Cedar Bluffs: H. C. Hatterschied, J. H. Mackprang; H. Wehner; Ceresco: Fred Mostrom, Chas. Maixner, Gus. Johnson; Colon: J. F. Bastar, Geo. Mowers; Leshara: H. C. Obermuller; Malmo: Herman Lind, Frank Frana; Memphis: H. H. Ehler; Mead: G. Soderberg; Morse Bluff: E. E. Wolf; Prague: J. G. Hohl, J. J. Vlasak; Swedeburg: Frans Johnson; Touhy: C. C. Carek; Valparaiso: Jul Petermichel, J. B. Tomes; Weston: Frank Koudele, Ferdinand Pacal, Rudolph Novak; Yutan: Robert Parks, J. N. Peters; Wahoo: G. H. Simpson, J. H. Barry, J. F. Berggren, J. M. Galloway, E. E. Eliason, George Bartek, E. S. Schiefelbein, W. W. Wenstrand, Guy Johnson, H. J. Woodworth, Henry Pickett.
Legal Advisory Board--
When the first call for men under the Selective Service Regulations were made, there was no organization to which the registrant could go for assistance and advice in filling his questionnaire and preparing affidavits for exemption from military service if these were desired, nor was there any definite system under which these things were done. Each registrant was left to his own resources in seeing to it that his questionnaire was properly filled out and returned to the proper selective board.
As might be expected, most registrants were somewhat at a loss to know just how to proceed when they saw the great number of questions they were expected to answer and especially was this true of those registrants who were not very proficient in the English language. Naturally, the registrant, unable to proceed alone, but knowing that the questionnaire was sent him because the law required it and knowing too, that the law required him to answer, turned to a lawyer for advice and assistance.
The time allotted for the answering of these first questionnaires was a busy one for the lawyers of Saunders county and, there being no definite plan or system of procedure agreed upon among them, they were willing to admit before very many registrants had appeared, that the registrant was not the only one who was at a loss to know just what to do and when to do it. Nevertheless, all the questionnaires in this first call were filled and returned on time.
The Government, recognizing the difficulties under which the registrants and those who assisted them labored, and having learned how and where improvements could be made, amended the law and provided for a board whose duties were definetely defined. Systematic procedure was also provided for.
A short time before the second draft, A. Z. Donato, then county judge of Saunders county, received the following letter:
JUDGE A. Z. DONATO Lincoln, December 3, 1917.
Dear Sir: The following named gentlemen have been appointed as a Legal Advisory Board for Saunders county by the President of the United States:
Judge A. Z. Donato, chairman, Wahoo; B. E. Hendricks, Wahoo; Chas. H. Slama, Wahoo.
The duties of the members of this board are outlined in Sections 10, 14, 25, 28, 30, 45 and 203 of the Selective Service Regulations, a copy of which can be secured from the Local Exemption Board of your county.
It will be necessary for the members of the Legal Advisory Board and all other lawyers and laymen associating themselves as auxiliary members of such boards to take the oath outlined under Section 317 of the Selective Service Regulations. All such persons will then be qualified to administer the oath prescribed under Section 10.
I desire to especially call your attention to the fact that your board should take the initiative in organizing all the lawyers of the community as associate members, and that unless all of the members of the legal fraternity co-operate with the Legal Advisory Boards, the object of the regulations in this regard will be defeated.
Under the above quoted sections of the Selective Service Regulations the legal fraternity has been given a definite and important place in the general scheme worked out by the Government to insure that this great conflict in which we are engaged shall be speedily brought to a successful termination. The questionnaire will be mailed to all registrants commencing December 15th, and it is most essential that your board be fully organized for work by that date.
Knowing full well the fine spirit of patriotism so far displayed by the members of the legal profession in Nebraska, many of whom have sons in the service, I have no hesitancy in advising representatives of the President that the Legal Advisory Boards in Nebraska will be ready for business on the date designated.
Yours very truly,
On the same day that the foregoing letter was received, the following answer was mailed to the Governor:
HON. KEITH NEVILLE, December 5, 1917.
Governor of Nebraska,
Dear Governor: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of my appointment as chairman of the Legal Advisory Board for Saunders county.
With full appreciation of the responsibility of the office, I gladly accept the appointment, at the same time assuring you that the board in this county will do its duty.
On the same day the members of the Legal Advisory Board met and formulated a plan under which it was hoped registrants could be accommodated without much difficulty. The chairman of the board wrote every lawyer in the county a letter advising him of his appointment as associate member of the board, enclosing at the same time an oath of office which he was asked to take before a notary public and return at once. The response was unanimous; the legal fraternity of Saunders county promised to do their duty.
At seven o'clock in the evening of December 8, 1917, every lawyer in the county being present, the board and its associate members met in the county court room at the court house in Wahoo, and with the selective service law and a sample questionnaire before them, discussed in detail the provisions and the questions therein contained. When midnight came and the meeting was over, the lawyers felt quite well qualified to proceed.
When the questionnaires were sent out to the registrants by the local board, each envelope contained a letter from the Legal Advisory Board asking the registrant to come to Wahoo the day after the receipt of his questionnaire, to have same filled out. If this suggestion had been followed by the registrants a certain number of them would have been assisted each day, since only a certain per cent of the questionnaires were sent out each day. But it was soon discovered that on some days only a very few came while on other days so many came that the board found it almost impossible to take care of all of them. This went on until the afternoon of December 24, 1917, when at three o'clock the chairman counted 124 registrants gathered at the court house clamoring to be assisted before 6 o'clock P. M. Every lawyer already had from six to fifteen registrants in charge, so that it was absolutely impossible to apportion this 124 to the already distracted legal fraternity.
To relieve the situation the chairman drafted all available officials at the court house for immediate service and sent an emergency call to the banks of the city for clerical assistance. The response was so generous that all registrants were accommodated and the workers were assured a peaceful Christmas Day.
Immediately thereafter, associate members were appointed in every town in the county, and registrants were asked to go for assistance to some such member in the town nearest them. This plan was then followed to the end and proved much more satisfactory, tho even under this plan the greatest number of questionnaires fell to the lawyers and bankers of the county. Indeed, the bankers who served as associate members of the board deserve much praise for the manner in which they performed their duty.
The members of the legal advisory board and the associate members of this board served without pay; they devoted their time and their talents to this service, in many instances neglecting their own business to serve the Government; their task was an arduous one, but there is not one among them but would gladly respond again if ever the necessity should arise.