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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.

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WW1 Daybook

"So Little We Are Allowed to Write"

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 20, 2018

In this letter written on September 19th, 1918 to his parents, Eber Berquist, mentions how he isn't allowed to talk about what he is doing/where he is. The letter was more so that his parents still knew he was okay rather than telling them about his daily routine. When he enlisted, Berquist was a saxophone player for the Army Band.


Somewhere in France
Sept. 19, 1918.
Dear Folks,
Will write you a few lines you know that I am well and everything O.K. I received my first mail over here last week and it sure seemed nice to get a letter. […] I surmise that this last draft has taken quite a few more men, So I suppose old Parker’s is getting quite empty now. […] As there’s so little we are allowed to write will have to wind up. Hoping to hear from you very soon.

Eber Berquist Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P2786


Maurice Masterson's Letter to His Father

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 19, 2018

Corporal Maurice E. Masterson, resident of Barnesville, Minnesota, was a member of the 151st Field Artillery, 42nd "Rainbow" Division. In this letter to his father Masterson talks about the destruction that he has seen and his thoughts about christianity being a failure. He also mentions his thoughts about upcoming peace moves by others because of the recent peace move by Austria. Corporal Masterson was killed in action on November 1st, 1918.


Sept. 19th, 1918
Dear Father,
As we pulled out of the (censored) district and I gazed out upon that vista of total destruction the thot that came over me was this. "Is Christianity a failure? No, but masonry and architecture are all shot to hell!" Pretty much the truth too, for only once besides have I seen such complete havoc wrought by shell fire. And I might truthfully apply the same statement to my own case. I've never yet been gassed or wounded, tho I have had "spare parts" otherwise shell fire fragments bounce off my frame. My nerves however, are a thing of the past, literally all "shot to hell". A rest will put me back soon, but we can't think of rest as long as fair weather holds out. Too many Huns to hunt and the hunting is too good. [...] The recent peace move by Austria will no doubt be followed by other moves. It will be interesting to note how the thing is handled. Some there are who will herald any sort of peace. Others on our side cry blindly for a continuation of the war with no thot of an end. They are as dangerous as the first. To my mind there is no reason for the allied cause to adopt vandalism as a plank in its platform. The insane demand for a peace from Berlin should be silenced. We need not conquer the German capitol, but the German will. As a soldier of the first line I know the terrible cost of this game to every soldier of the line. We are willing to pay the price as far as good need arises. Beyond that, for the war of conquest or the mere glorification of arms we have not one drop of blood we are willing to shed. [...]
Your loving son
Corp. M.E. Masterson
F. Battery 151st. F.A.

"Masterson, Maurice E." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota 114.D.4.4F


Letters to the Local Paper

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 18, 2018

In this short letter to his sister, Ruth, Paul Thompson mentions that he and the other YMCA secretaries had been urged to write letters to a newspaper from their home towns about the work of the YMCA. The newspaper that Paul chose was the Ripon Press, though he sent the letter to several Minneapolis papers as well. Thompson even sent copies to other family members in the event they wish to forward it to newspapers to spread his statement that he had submitted.


35th Letter
Roma, li 18 Sept, 1918
Dear Ruth,
This week to my surprise a letter arrived asking each secretary to write a letter to at least one home paper about the work of the YMCA and I at once took advantage of it. I wrote a letter to the Ripon Press and sent the three dailies of Minneapolis a translation of the clipping in Il Tempo [...] I care especially about the Rippon paper and if it don't appear I suggest that you write them and send them a copy of the statement as my letter might get lost. [...]
In haste,
Paul J. Thompson

Paul Thompson Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. A/T475 4/19-8/19


Preparedness or Ineptness? American Troops in Battle

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 17, 2018

Private Frank Fox from Duluth, Minnesota was killed in action on his second day at the Front. In the aftermath of the Battle of St. Mihiel Fox was hit by shrapnel while in the trenches. His mother, who filled out the Gold Star Roll, believed that the lack of training and desire to simply get bodies to the Front is the reason for her son's death as she notes that he had only began training for the front lines at the beginning of September.


He always claimed to be well cared for in service but was rushed to the front with practically no training (notice dates). He was killed instantly the 2nd day at the front.

"Fox, Frank L." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St Paul, Minnesota. 114.D.4.3B


"Austria Extends Peace Invitation" and "Americans Make Great Progress" - Freeborn County Standard. September 16, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 16, 2018

POWs of St. Mihiel

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 15, 2018

POWs of St. Mihiel

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 15, 2018

Private Linton Skobba was captured on the last day of the Battle of St. Mihiel after going over the top of the hill toward the German line on September 12th. He died in a German POW hospital in Kreuznach from wounds received in action the day he was captured. A comrade who was captured with him wrote to Skobba's parents when he was released to tell them of the circumstances surrounding their son's death.


"Skobba, Linton C." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota 114.D.4.6F

"Yanks Wipe Out St. Mihiel Salient, Reach German Border, Capture 13,300 Prisoners, Gain 12 Miles in 24 Hours" and "Yanks Drive Foe Back to Wontan Line" - The Minneapolis Morning Tribune. September 14, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 14, 2018

Battle of St. Mihiel

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 13, 2018

Sergeant Jacob Gorgoschlitz of Saint Paul, Minnesota, died on this date while leading the first wave of an attack of the German trenches in St. Mihiel, France. After coming over the first line trenches, he was shot in the forehead and died instantly. In a telegram that was received by his parents after his death by a friend in the military David Huxford, Gorgoschlitz predicted his own death before they had went into the attack.


"Gorgoschlitz, Jacob J." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 114.D.4.3B

Theodor E. Hawkins' Draft Registration Card

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 12, 2018

This draft registration certificate was issued to Theodore E. Hawkins from Fulda, Murray County, MN when he “submitted himself to registration on this day in 1918. This card was issued “in accordance with the proclamation of the President of the United States” and was signed by registrar John Hyslop.


Minnesota Historical Society Collections, 1996.226.1


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