Robertson County TX
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War Activities of Robertson County 1917-1919
Submitted By Seldon Bain Graham Jr. whose father wrote, War Activities of Robertson County, Texas 1917 - 1919, in June 1933 as his Master's thesis in history at the University of Texas.
These electronic pages may not be reproduced in any format by other organizations or individuals. Persons or organizations desiring to use this material must obtain the written consent of Seldon Bain Graham Jr.
Volunteer Jo Ella Snider Parker re-typed this work for online display.
Almost every family in Robertson County had a member or a friend in the military service before the close of the war. This caused the people at home to become vitally interested, and to feel that there was something that they could do to help win the war. With few exceptions the people did everything within their power to aid the cause, so that the boys on the firing line might have the very best of everything. The people realized as never before that the conflict was not only between the armies but also between the peoples who stayed at home.
When the United States entered the World War, and began the preparation to create a powerful army, steps were taken to mobilize the material resources of the country. Perhaps as never before the people in all walks of life played an important part in winning the war. With almost the whole world involved in the conflict it became very necessary that every citizen, from the oldest inhabitant to the small children, have a share in the work. The people at home had aided in past wars, but never before had the United States attempted and completed such a well organized system for providing and equipping the army and navy.
Robertson County did its part as a cog in the vast machine that helped to win the war. The county had a well organized and efficient Local Board, and an active County Council of Defense. Well organized campaigns were carried on to promote the sale of Liberty Bonds and War Saving Stamps. The Red Cross, Food Conservation, and various other war activities found men, women and children ready to respond to the call of their country.
2. Local Board
The Local Board became one of the best known, as well as one of the most powerful agencies for carrying out the provisions of the Selective Service Act of May 18, 1917. The duties of the board were burdensome but they performed them without complaint and with efficiency. The board was made up of men from all vocations, but this added to rather than detracted from its effectiveness in carrying out the instructions of the War Department. More physicians were appointed on the board than individuals selected from any other profession. This was perhaps due to the large amount of medical work required of the board.
When the Robertson County Local Board was created some work had already been done by the local county officials. Under the supervision of Sheriff G. W. Davlin, a registrar had been appointed for each of the seventeen voting boxes. Through the press in the county much publicity had been given concerning registration, and on June 5, 1917, a total of 2,525 men registered at the various voting places in the county with 793 claiming exemption. Not one man in the county between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-one who was subject to registry failed to comply with the law.
In June, 1917, Governor James E. Ferguson appointed Seth P. Burnett, Calvert, Texas, Ben C. Love, Franklin, Texas and Dr. A. J. Sharp, Franklin, Texas, as members of the Robertson County Local Board. All three men accepted their appointments, and at once assumed full responsibility for carrying out the provisions of the Selective Service Act. Mr. Burnett became president, Mr. Love secretary and Dr. Sharp assumed the duties of making the physical examination of the men called into service. Mr. Gus Kellogg gave part time service without remuneration until the board was permitted to employ Miss Katy Wilson to assist in the clerical work. Dr. J. W. Black of Hearne, Texas also assisted with the physical examinations when the work became too heavy for one man to handle.
On September 18, 1918, the Governor of Texas appointed George E. Brown and B. E. Satterfield members of the Robertson County Local Board to succeed Seth P. Burnett and Ben C. Love, who had resigned. These two men qualified and took over the work at once. Dr. Sharp continued to serve until November 11, 1918 when he was succeeded by Dr. S. J. Alexander of Hearne, Texas, who served for a short term. Mr. Love and Dr. Sharp, then, both resigned to enter the service, the latter entering the Medical Corps as a commissioned officer, but the former being prevented from entering by the Armistice.
The duties of the Local Board were numerous. Their chief task, however, was to provide the raw material for the military forces as directed by the War Department, and especially to have men ready when the call came. It was necessary to determine serial and order number of each registrant. Another huge task was to classify all the men who had registered in the county. Questionnaires were sent out to all registrants who had not entered the service, in December 1917. This enabled the Local Board to classify all registrants and determine who should be put in deferred classes. After this work was completed the chief duties were to have the men examined and ready to send to training camps when the call came for the various drafts.
The Local Board had charge of the second registration, on June 5, 1918, when all young men who had attained the age of twenty-one since the first registration were required to register. They also supervised the third registration under the Act of August 31, 1918, which required all male citizens between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, and thirty-two and forty-six, to register on September 18, 1918.
Secretary of War Baker called a conference of representatives from the various states to meet in Washington on May 2, 1917, to discuss the problem of national defense, and to urge the co-operation of all the people toward a common end. Provision had been made for a Council of National Defense by an amendment to the Army Appropriation Act of August 29, 1916. Mr. J. J. Hirch represented Governor James E. Ferguson at this conference, and submitted the plans adopted by the members of the conference. These plans provided for national, state and local organizations throughout the nation.
No record exists of any serious attempt to form a Robertson County Council of Defense until the summer of 1918, when an organization was completed at Franklin, Texas. The following article, which was taken from The Central Texan, gives a brief account of this organization:
The Robertson County Council of Defense continued to be active until after the close of the war. A local council of Defense was organized in Franklin, Texas, September 8, 1918, which was a unit of the county organization. Hearne, Calvert, Bremond, Easterly, New Baden, Hammond and Benchley organized Community Councils of Defense, which worked in co-operation with the county, state and national organization.
On September 14, 1918, the Woman’s Committee of the Robertson County Council of Defense was organized at Calvert, Texas, with Mrs. W. T. Corby as Chairman, Mrs. P. T. Norton, First Vice Chairman, Mrs. W. C. Taylor, Second Vice Chairman, and Miss Emily Dunn as Secretary and Treasurer. No record is available of any activities of this organization.
The duties of the County Council of Defense were of various types. In addition to the duty of co-coordinating the war activities in the county, efforts were made to encourage patriotism by sponsoring patriotic meetings. Another important function was to investigate cases where citizens or aliens were reported to lack the necessary patriotism in carrying out the war program. One man from Easterly, Texas, worth twenty-five thousand dollars, refused to join the Red Cross. Another said he did not care who won the war, and refused to buy anything. Usually after a friendly talk, or a letter from the Council, such a person contributed his part to the cause. Sometimes their refusal had been caused by the way in which they had been approached.
Mr. R. D. L. Killough resigned October 12, 1918, as Chairman of the Robertson County Council of Defense, and Mr. R. M. Duffey, who was at the Chairman of the local Council for Franklin Independent School District, was appointed to fill the vacancy. Mr. Duffey continued to serve until the work was completed.
The necessity for large sums of money to carry on the war against Germany and her allies made it essential to float loans in the form of bonds, and to sell these bonds to the average citizen as well as the people of wealth. Since the average individual is a borrower and not a lender it became necessary to convince the people that it was their duty to make the loans even if they had to be made at a great sacrifice.
The first Liberty Loan of two billion dollars was offered by Secretary McAdoo in May, 1917. On May 26, 1917, County Judge W. M. Johnson called a meeting of the citizens of Robertson County at the court house in Franklin, Texas, to enlist the aid of the citizenship in putting on a Liberty Loan campaign. Speeches were made by leading citizens, and Ben C. Love, K. W. Gilmore, and John H. Lomax were appointed as a committee to direct the campaign in the county. The first two hours’ work of the committee netted approximately seven thousand dollars, largely in sums of fifty and one hundred dollars. Almost every one approached took one or more bonds. People continued to buy bonds until subscriptions were closed on June 15, 1917.
In October, 1917, the Second Liberty Loan of three billion was offered to the public. This loan was to bear interest at the rate of four per cent, which was one-half per cent higher than that of the previous loan. The banks in Robertson County served as distributing agents with the aid of Judge W. M. Johnson, who was appointed by the Federal Reserve Bank to conduct the campaign. The bonds were offered to the public on the installment plan. The banks also offered to loan the money for outright purchase and hold the bond for security. The people responded liberally, and Robertson County soon went over the top.
Judge W. M. Johnson was again appointed by the Federal Reserve Bank to conduct the Third Liberty Loan drive. The first mass meeting in this campaign was held in Franklin, April 17, 1918. Mr. Johnson introduced a number of prominent speakers who spoke to an enthusiastic audience.
In a short time the county had gone over the top, due to the enthusiasm of the directors and patriotism of the citizenship. “A Grand Patriotic Rally” was planned at Franklin for April 27, 1918 to celebrate the success of the campaign. A crowd estimated at eight thousand people attended this celebration. After the speaking and musical program was concluded, the graduating class of the Franklin High School raised the “Honor Flag” sent by the Federal Reserve Bank as a testimonial of the county going over the top in raising its quota for the Third Liberty Loan.
In October, 1918, the Fourth Liberty Loan of six billion dollars was put on the market. The quota for Robertson County was set at $367,000, and by October 21, 1918, more than two-thirds of the amount had been subscribed. With the banks taking the lead the county soon went over the top.
In April, 1919, the Fifth Liberty Loan of four and one-half billion was put on the market in Robertson County. This loan was better known as the Victory Loan. The people were slow to respond to the drive in this campaign as the war was over and many of the boys had returned home. The banks were taking applications on the installment plan as they had in the other campaigns. This campaign closed May 10, 1918.
5. War Savings Stamps
The purpose of the War Saving Stamps and Certificates was to make it possible for the people with limited means to invest in government securities. This would not only raise money for the government, but it would also encourage thrift and patriotism.
On September 17, 1917, Congress passed a law authorizing the issuance of two billion dollars in Thrift Stamps, valued at twenty-five cents each at maturity. When a person bought enough to equal five dollars at maturity he was issued a War Saving Certificate. This would cost the purchaser a few cents over four dollars.
Mr. F. A. Lipsitz of Dallas was appointed director for Texas. The state was divided into counties, with a man as chairman in general charge, and a woman in charge of the women’s work. Mr. W. C. Crane of Franklin, Texas, was appointed Chairman of the Robertson County War saving Stamps Committee. Mrs. Roy Killough was in charge of the women’s division.
The quota for Robertson County was set at $549,080, which was twenty dollars per capita. On December 5, 1918, the sales reported amounted to $228,424.98, or $8.32 for each person in the county. Some counties sold a much higher per capita than Robertson County, while many counties did not do so well.
One of the features of the War Saving Stamps campaign in Robertson County was the work by the children of school age. Thrift clubs were organized in many of the schools in the county, and much interest and enthusiasm was created. Before the club organized in the Franklin Public School had been in existence a month, the children had purchased more than seven hundred dollars in Thrift Stamps.
6. Red Cross
The American Red Cross was the only volunteer society of the United States which the government had authorized to render aid to our land and naval forces during the early days of the war. The activities of this organization extended to all parts of the United States, and received the active support of both old and young. No other organization had better support than the Red Cross, due to its unique work and its appeal to the average individual. The Junior Red Cross enlisted the interest of the younger people, who in turn stimulated the interest of the older people.
On June 18, 1917, the Franklin Branch Chapter was granted a charter as an auxiliary at large, working as such until January 1, 1918, when it was made a Branch Chapter, with a total membership of 690 seniors and 1,390 junior Red Cross members. Other communities in the county organized chapters, and were also active. During the summer of 1917, both Calvert and Hearne made applications for authority to form Red Cross auxiliaries for the purpose of securing members, and making hospital supplies and surgical dressings.
On June 23, 1917, a Red Cross “Rally” was held on the court house lawn in Franklin, and addresses were made by prominent citizens. Much interest was manifested. With the towns in the county taking the lead, branches were organized in many rural communities. Easterly had more than a hundred active members in the branch organized in that community.
On January 18, 1918, a petition for authority to form the Robertson County Chapter of the Red Cross, with headquarters at Hearne, was presented to the Southwestern Division of the Red Cross in St. Louis, bearing the following signatures: Rev. E. A. Ingram, S. M. Gibson, Miss Julia Marquess, Mrs. Margarete McCrary and Dr. W. S. Parker, Calvert; Mrs. C. C. Langford and K. W. Gilmore, Franklin; Rev. J. R. Darby and L. B. Holbert, Bremond; and H. H. Shultz and W. A. Wilkerson, Hearne. Authority was granted to form the organization and on January 22, 1918, a meeting was held at Hearne and the following officers elected: Dr. W. S. Parker, Chairman; Mrs. W. C. Anderson, Vice Chairman; Miss Ina Lipscomb, Secretary; S. M. Gibson, Treasurer; W. C. Crane, Chairman of Finance Committee; L. V. Holbert, Chairman of Extension; Mrs. R. C. Allen, Chairman War Work; Dr. W. H. Cummings, Chairman of Home Service; B. E. Satterfield, Chairman, Junior Membership; Rev. T. R. Morehead, Chairman of Publicity; Dr. W. S. Parker, Chairman, Nursing Service; and Dr. W. H. Cummings, Chairman, Military Relief.
In addition to the fees for membership and other donations, a large amount of money was raised for the Red Cross by benefit plays and other forms of entertainment. Also thousands of articles were made in the county and shipped to the National Red Cross headquarters for distribution. During the War, 19,935 surgical dressings, 199 knitted articles, 226 garments for refugees, and 1,525 miscellaneous article were made. Robertson County, with a population of 27,454, secured 3,614 Red Cross members in 1918.
The way the citizenship of Robertson County responded to the second Red Cross drive is clearly expressed by Editor F. S. Estes in the following editorial: Ex-Governor Tom Campbell, of Palestine, was here Monday and made an eloquent address to the Red Cross organization here. The entire county was represented at the meeting, and as Robertson County had broken the record in its donations, the meeting was a veritable love feast. Below will be found partial returns from communities. The totals are approximately correct, with the amounts still climbing.
Credit for this magnificent showing is not due any one section, but to a spontaneous, patriotic response from all our people to our beloved Red Cross organizations, and to our tireless county Chairman, W. C. Crane.
7. Food Supply and Conservation
On May 19, 1917 the Federal Food Administration was organized and placed under the control of the Secretary of Agriculture. By the Lever Act of August 10, 1917, President Wilson was given almost unlimited power in requisitioning food and supplies to carry on the war. Herbert Hoover was made National Food Administrator, and full power was delegated to him. He at once set about to organize and administer a nation-wide organization.
To assist him in this organization, Hoover appointed state, district, and county administrators. Mr. E. A. Peden was made Federal Food Administrator for Texas, and L. M. Hewett was named local District Food Administrator, with headquarters at Navasota, Texas. Judge B. E. Satterfield was appointed Federal Food Administrator for Robertson County. He began at once to arouse interest in food conservation and production. Meetings were held to discuss the ways in which the people of the county could help to win the war with food. Meatless and wheatless days were observed. The stores were closed early so that the merchants and clerks could grow war gardens. Even the school children, in the colored as well as in the white schools, pledged themselves to grow “War Gardens”.
In response to a call from Judge Satterfield, a rousing meeting was held at the court house in Franklin, Texas on Sunday, March 31, 1918 for the purpose of considering the question of food conservation. A large delegation assembled from Franklin, Hearne, Calvert, Bremond, Wheelock, New Baden, Mumford, Easterly, and almost every other community in the county. Dr. H. W. Cummings of Hearne was elected chairman to preside over the meeting. He at once appointed a committee to express suitable resolutions to express the sentiment and wishes of the citizens assembled. Hon. Scott Field of Calvert was Chairman of the Resolution Committee. Other members of the committee were Wm. McIntosh, Calvert; P. L. Brady, Hearne; Henry Mitchell, Wheelock; Maurice Gilland, Franklin; A. C. Walker, Bremond; and Paul Schultz, New Baden.
We, the citizens of Robertson County, in mass meeting assembled on this beautiful Easter Sunday, typical of the resurrection and inspiring promised of the Savior of mankind, in this, the darkest period of our country’s history, give expression to our views and sentiments in the following resolution:
First: We declare our undying devotion to the principles of our republican government--freedom, democracy and equality--and to preserve these sacred principles and our form of government we dedicate our time, our fortune, and our lives.
Second: We declare our unfaltering loyalty to our government, obedience to the powers that be, our support of the administration and our wise and patriotic president; and hearts’ devotion to the flag of our country, the one and perfect symbol of a reunited people.
Third: We still extend a friendly hand and greeting to all loyal foreigners whom we have invited to our shores, but we will neither tolerate nor permit any disloyal sentiment or act on the part of any one, and favor the imposition of extreme penalties for any such disloyalty.
Fourth: Our hearts are with our gallant soldiers at the front and our common allies, and especially with the soldier boys from Robertson County, and we are prepared to make any necessary sacrifice to sustain them in their heroic struggle against German autocracy and its allies, the enemies of liberty, of civilization and mankind, and to meet a present necessity from shortage of wheat and its products, we recommend that every merchant in Robertson County having wheat flour in stock tender to the government, through the food administration of this county, all such wheat products, at actual cost to them; but to prevent waste or damage to stocks on hand, we recommend that the merchants, before the same is accepted by the government, continue to sell in the usual course of trade under the rules and regulations of the food administration; and we further recommend that the merchants of Robertson County cancel all outstanding orders for wheat flour not now in transit, and that they make no further purchases of wheat flour until advised by the food administration that the necessity for such conservation of wheat flour no longer exists.
Fifth: Rededicating ourselves to the service of our country, to liberty and democracy, we are ready to exert all our energies and make all necessary sacrifices to achieve victory over our enemies, which alone can bring to the world the blessing of peace.
8. Legal Advisory Board
Under an Act of Congress, the Governor of Texas was given authority to appoint three attorneys for each county or local board district, to be known as the Legal Advisory Board. As many other lawyers as were needed might also be added to the board. The duty of this board was to give legal advice to any of the local war aid organizations and professional advice to registrants concerning the questionnaires. All the attorneys in Robertson County were placed on this board. They gave assistance to the registrants, and aided in filling out the questionnaires. They gave much of their time without remuneration.
9. Government Appeals Agent
Under regulations effective December 15, 1918, the governor was authorized to designate one or more persons to take appeals in case of dissatisfaction with rulings of the Local Board as to the Classification of the registrant. The District Board was located at San Antonio, Texas.
The Governor of Texas, following the usual custom, appointed Hon. K. W. Gilmore, County Attorney of Robertson County, as Government Appeal Agent for this county. His duty was to represent the government in cases of appeal from the decision of the Local Board. Any citizen had the right to have any case appealed if he believed that the Board had exempted anyone not deserving exemption.
10. Miscellaneous Activities
Soon after the United States declared war on Germany, Home Guards were formed in some of the larger towns in Robertson County. The purpose of the Home Guards was to teach some of the essentials of soldiery to those who were interested. Large numbers of men and boys might be seen drilling in the late afternoons.
Some funds were raised in Robertson County during the war for the Knights of Columbus and the Young Men’s Christian Association. The total raised is not known, but through the efforts of John P. Viviano, of Hearne, Texas, $30.50 was raised and sent to the national headquarters of the Knights of Columbus in November, 1917. Mr. L. A. Coulter, state campaign director of the War Work Council of the Young Men’s Christian Association, reported that Robertson County had contributed $1,330.00 to the Young Men’s Christian Association prior to February 15, 1918.
H. L. McKnight of Bryan, Texas was appointed district chairman for the United War Work Campaign for Robertson, Madison, Grimes, Montgomery and Brazos Counties. W. C. Crane of Franklin was made chairman of Robertson County to direct the work in this county. The purpose of this organization was to conduct only one campaign instead of seven to raise funds for the seven organizations doing work for the soldiers. The co-operating agencies were the Y.M.C.A., Y.W.C.A., War Camp Community Service, the American Library Association, National Catholic War Council, the Jewish Welfare Board, and the Salvation Army. Mrs. T. C. Westbrook was made district leader for women, and Miss Minerva McQueen was district executive for young people. Some very excellent work was done by this organization before its work was discontinued.
Immediately following the signing of the Armistice, a campaign was started to raise funds to erect a monument on the court house lawn in Franklin to be dedicated to the boys in service from Robertson County. The funds were to be raised by donations of ten cents from each citizen in the county that was interested in the project. Much interest was manifested, and the money was deposited in the bank to the credit of the County Judge. Quite a large amount had been raised when the failure of the bank in which the money had been deposited caused the project to be abandoned.
E. H. Crowder, Second Report of the Provost
Marshall to the Secretary of
War, 1918, p. 279.
Page Modified: 02 September 2014
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