WW1 Daybook

collections up close Blog

Collecting pieces of Minnesota's past for the future


The Minnesota Historical Society preserves and makes available a wide range of materials chronicling Minnesota's history and culture. The goals of the Collections Department are to collect and preserve; provide access and interpretation; and engage in education and outreach. This blog is a tool to share these stories and let people know what is happening in the department.

See Collections Up Close Blog Archive

All MNHS Blogs

Subscribe by e-mail:

 Subscribe in a reader

WW1 Daybook

"French Smash Jars Foe Line" and "Yankees Endure Murderous Fire" - The Daily People's Press. September 11, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 11, 2018

A Soldier's Temple Dues Postponed during Service

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 10, 2018

This letter was sent to Mount Zion Hebrew Congregation in Saint Paul from Lester Strouse, who was stationed at Camp Mills, in Long Island, New York. In it, Strouse thanks the Congregation Board for allowing him to postpone his temple dues while he is serving in the war. Strouse states that he hopes "to get back to civil life & resume my dues as soon as we have finished strafing the Kaiser."


Mr. O Wolf,
St. Paul, Minn.
Dear Sir: Your favor of the 4th, advising the Board had released me from dues during period of the war rec'd & I wish to express my sincere thanks for this action. Regret my finances will not permit me to do my share toward support of the temple now but hope to get back to civil life and resume my dues as soon as we have finished strafing the Kaiser. With best wishes
Lester J, Strouse
Co. D, 333 Mch. Gun Bn.
Camp Mills, L.I.
Sept 10, 1918

Mount Zion Hebrew Congregation Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, Saint Paul, Minnesota. P758


Granny Goes Flying part 4

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 9, 2018

This is a diary entry written during the war by Granville "Granny" Gutterson on this date. Granny spent most of the war stationed near Houston, Texas, at the San Leon Aerial Gunnery School. He was in the first class of students who were trained in bombing and aerial gunnery. After this, Granny was commissioned as an officer and taught at San Leon until November of 1918. In this diary entry Granny talks about all of his friends leaving for Hoboken, New York, to be sent overseas while he has to stay in America. Due to this, he confined many pilot instructors to the post for violating field rules, meaning none of them were able to go overseas either. Granny is anxious to go across and fight, even though it would mean losing a promotion, as he feels he's more expendable than others who have people depending on them.


Mon. Sept 9
[...] All my pals have left for Hoboken, and you know what that means. It sorta gets under my skin to have them go and me stay, and as the fellows say: "Granny's on the warpath. Watch your step." I feel just out and out "ornery". Yesterday I confined seven pilot instructors to the post for a week (six 2nd Lts. and one 1st Lt.) for violating field rules. To-day I stuck five more for a week each, (including the Assistant Officer in Charge of Flying and two State Commanders) so that keeps over half the staff on the post and parts of Hdqts. staff. I wish you could have heard them rave. I'm beginning to show some evidence of what I must admit is poor judgment, but it's the result of a bad case of "oversea" sickness. Everyone tells me I'm foolish, and that I'm giving up a good position and a chance at something better, but I want to get across. I've got an easy job since I've gotten things going so that there's not nearly as much work as at first, and anyone, almost, could take care of the work now. [...] Boy, I wouldn't have the face to face anyone after this mess is cleaned up and admit that I, a single man with no one dependent on me, had been an instructor or officer in charge of some work or field for a couple of years, while married men or men with dependents had "gone West," doing my work in France. [...] I'd rather be pushing up daisies in France when this mess is cleaned up than be on instructional work in this country. Surely, some one has to do it, but let those who want to, do it. I don't want to!

Gutterson, Granville. Granville: Tales and Tail Spins from a Flyer's Diary. Minnesota Historical Society. Minnesota History Center, St. Paul. D570.9 .G76


Postcard From a Soldier

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 8, 2018

This rectangular postcard was written to Oscar H. Olson in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on September 6th, 1918. The front of this postcard is of a colorized picture of soldiers sitting with a few standing. At the top left an image of an eagle carrying an American flag and shield. “Got our uniforms today” is written on the front. The back of this postcard has a handwritten message from Bob.


Well whats doing in St. P.
We are piling lumber & handling mules for a spell and its some work.
Co 24 161st Depot Brigade
Camp Grant
Write soon and often

Minnesota Historical Society Collections 1992.227.101


David Backus Gets a New Plane

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 7, 2018

According to today's diary entry, David Backus was having a difficult time with his new plane, which he calls a "Coo Coo". First, some control wires needed to be replaced, then later the pressure went out. Backus also mentions that they lost a man to the Germans.


Saturday September-7-18.
Out 8:15 breakfast- we had a patrol 8:30 my Coo Coo out of order- had to change control wire. We sent out a protective patrol to [m...] a Sampson over [The...] B.C Flights. Lost one of our men Kent. shot down. they met eleven Huns Kent lagged on a turn. I went out on a patrol with Ned, just two of us rest [...] Went out on our regular patrol at five fifteen, Pressure went bad on me again, lost stick [...] finally caught my motor at 800 meters [...]

David Backus Collection. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 123.D.10.5B


Sabotage of Soldier's Supplies

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 6, 2018

Victor Johnson was now stationed near Nevers, France. In this entry on this date, he writes about how they will not have fresh meat or sugar for a while, due to a pro-German man in the states who poisoned the meats, put ground-up glass in the sugar and put copper shavings in the oats that were for the horses. Understandably, Johnson is not pleased.


Sept 6th 1918
Today we got some very nice news. No fresh meat for an indeffinet [sic] period the same with sugar on account of some Pro German Devil back home in the states who had poisoned the beef and put ground glass in the sugar also copper shavings in the oats for the horses. Sutch [sic] Dirty Devils should be eaten up alive by acid applied externaly [sic] if I had my way about it.

Victor O. Johnson Diary. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P1987


Minnesota Boy Dies in the Torpedoing of the U.S.S. Mount Vernon

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 5, 2018

First Class Fireman Gustaf Green was one of the 36 U.S. naval crewmen killed in the torpedoing of the U.S.S. Mount Vernon on September 5th, 1918. The U.S.S Mt. Vernon was torpedoed on a return trip from Brest, France, by German submarine when the ship was in a foreign war zone. Green had been returning from his tenth trip on a transport ship when he was killed. He was given a full military honors funeral in Brest, France, and the service was attended by Assistant Secretary of the Navy (and future President of the United States) Franklin Roosevelt.


Brest, France,
Ninth September,
Nineteen Eighteen.
My dear Mrs. Green:
Permit me to express my most sincere sympathy for you in your present sorrow on account of the loss of your son, Gustaf Oscar Green, fireman first class, who was killed when the U.S.S. Mount Vernon was torpedoed. I hope it may comfort you somewhat to know that he gave his life while on active duty for his country. This afternoon a service was held with full military honors before the bodies left French soil for the United States, which I attended with Mr. Franklin Roosevelt, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and a large number of officers and men. The French Navy was represented by their Admiral with officers and men of his force.
Most sincerely Yours,
H.B. Wilson,
Rear Admiral,

"Green, Gustaf O." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St Paul, Minnesota. 114.D.4.3B


Death of an Army Nurse

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 4, 2018

Army Nurse Julia Stenstad enlisted at Fort Snelling on September 4th, 1918. Due to the present epidemic of influenza and pneumonia, she was assigned and in charge of a large ward at the Fort Snelling Hospital. Stenstad took sick on October 28th, 1918, with pneumonia following influenza. Her family was there to comfort her when she died on November 5, but were not allowed into the room with her. A newspaper clipping is included about women's sacrifice and Julia's career in nursing.


"Stenstad, Julia B." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 114.D.4.6F

"Germans in Rapid Retreat on Fifty-Mile Front; Evacuate Lens and Other Places" and "Women Voting in New York Primary" - The Duluth Herald. September 3, 1918.

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 3, 2018

Nurses at the Front

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 2, 2018

Red Cross nurse Marion Backus sent this undated letter from France to her mother. She mentions that she has been "in on the three big drives so far this year" and that she thinks she will be on another in the future. Because of this, Backus writes about being kept busy with a high amount of patients. Based on her letters, she seems to be enjoying her work and the thrill of being close to the action.

Dear Mother,
I just got your last three letters today you forgot to put the number of the hospital on some of them so they took longer to come the latest was written Aug 21. […] I think I will be in Paris next week for a few days to get my winter clothes. I am still on night duty but like it as well as ever in the fact four weeks we have handled something 2,500 patients gas and surgical so have kept fairly buisy (sic) you see we have a personal of about 200 we have 470 beds of course a good many of them did not stay longer than one night and then were shipped on to the base. I think I have been real fortunate for I have been in on the three big drives so far this year and if there is another think I will be there. […] I am in what is called the war zone and we are not supposed to mention names of places up here.[…]
Lots of love to you and daddy

Citation: Marion Backus Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P1356


Subscribe to RSS - WW1 Daybook