WW1 Daybook

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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

Hints for Housewives Anti-Suffrage Pamphlet

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

This pamphlet was distributed by the Saint Paul Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage with the purpose of informing women that they didn't need the right to vote to live happy and meaningful lives. The interior contains cleaning and cooking tips for housewives, interspersed with anti-suffrage statements such as "You do not need a ballot to clean out your sink spout. A handful of potash and some boiling water is quicker and cheaper." Anti-suffragists, who were men and women, gave many reasons women should be denied the vote, such as a lack of understand of political issues and lack of physical strength to enforce the laws they pass.


From St. Paul Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage. Votes of Women can accomplish no more than votes of Men. Why waste time, energy and money without result? [,,,] The great advance of women in the last century - moral, intellectual and economic - has been made without the ballot, which goes to prove that the ballot is not needed for their further advancement along the same lines. Women, standing outside of politics, and therefore free to appeal to any party, are able to achieve reforms of greater benefit to the state than they could possibly achieve by working along partisan political lines. The basis of government is physical force. It isn't law enactment only but law enforcement that protects society, and the physical power to enforce the law is neither possible nor desirable for women. No one can afford to be neutral regarding Socialism or Feminism and no one can do anything, directly, to advance these movements without helping lay the axe at the taproot of Christian civilization.

Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P1518

The Funeral Service of Enoch Schodall

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

This is the Gold Star Roll file of Corporal Enoch Schodall of Minneapolis, who was buried on this date. Schodall had died on November 13th, 1918 from injuries received in battle. Schodall had gone "over the top" twice and came out alright in the end, but his third attempt on September 29th did not end the same. Schodall suffered an injury to both of his legs which resulted in a double amputation. After the amputation, Schodall suffered from blood poisoning which ultimately caused his death. A letter was written to Schodall's mother by the Chaplain who buried him, describing the service and where her son's final resting place was. After Schodall's death a poem was discovered under his pillows by a nurse that he had written about his last experiences when he went over the top.


Trench Shovel from France

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

United States Army trench shovel with a pointed steel blade and a "T" shaped wood handle secured by riveted steel straps. The shovel is stamped "U.S." on the blade strap and handle and has the remains of olive drab and reddish paint. Scratched on the blade is "ARGONE [sic] FOREST / NOVEMBER / 15th / 1918". Stamped on the back of the handle strap is "370 CO A". The 370th United States Infantry (part of the 93rd Division), was made up of African American troops from Illinois and fought under French command during World War I.


The Band is Back Together

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

In this letter to his parents John Berquist, a saxophone player in the Army band, writes that he is still "in existence". Since the signing of the Armistice Berquist finds himself playing along with the rest of the band again and that they have been playing a considerable amount in the last week.


“Somewhere in France”
Nov, 14, 1918
Dear Folks at Home,
Just a few lines to let you know I am well and still in existence. […] Well, we are back playing again. We've been playing considerably lately, and expect to play right along now the way everything looks. […]
In Haste

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


"Shorn Close of Military Poser" and "German People Will Get Food" - The Daily People's Press. November 13, 1918

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

"The Hardest, Grandest, Finest, Worst Experience Anyone Could Have"

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

Willard W. Bixby was an ambulance driver with the Red Cross in Italy. In this letter to his family, Bixby writes that this war has been the hardest, grandest, finest, worst experience anyone could have. He also explains that even though the war is over, his work is not done yet. Bixby tells his family not to expect him back until after the first of the year because of all the work the ambulance men have yet to do.


Nov. 12, 1918
Dearest Family,
As you can imagine there is so much to tell that I would be cheating the R.C. if I tried to use enough paper. To say that this has been the hardest, grandest, finest, worst, experience anyone could have is just a short way of saying what it really was. As all my experiences are of the past and I have only time to write of the present I will leave them 'till another time. Of course you have read of our grand advance, the thousands of prisoners, the first three days of heavy fighting and then the mad pursuit of the enemy and when I tell you I was the first ambulance to pass over sector of the Piave you may know I was there. I was there that’s all and at times I was there when I wished to heaven I was some place else but now that it is “toute finito” I think I have seen and done the biggest thing in my “poco” life. Well, to make a long story short our section was cited and again I am recommended for the Croce de Guerra. While the war is finished there is still a lot of good we ambulance men can do as the conditions of the people in this evacuated territory are not of the best and there is a lot of work getting the poor unfortunates back where they can have proper medical care and attention. […] The thing I can't understand is why this thing of the last two weeks hasn't put me under the mat. Here I am, little me, with nothing worse than one of my colds while three of our huskies are in the hospital. One almost died of pneumonia and one of the others is in a pretty bad way. Tell Doc Campbell about it will you and he said I shouldn't go. Why I wouldn't have missed it for 10,000 dollars. [...]
All love and kisses.

Willard W. Bixby and Family Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. A/.B624


"World War Ends" and "Germany Surrenders All Her Rights and Signs the Armistice" - The Minneapolis Morning Tribune. November 11, 1918

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

Unfinished wooden noise maker has a ratchet wheel attached to a handle at one end, and a pawl extending the length of the noise maker. Printed in pencil on one side of pawl is "Lucia May Worrall / November 11 1918 War Ends."


Raymon Bowers was an Army soldier from Minnesota stationed in France in the Ordnance Repair Department. In this letter from December 1st, 1918, Bowers describes the excitement in Paris when the armistice was signed on November 11th, explaining that when the official announcement came in everyone left work immediately to go participate in the celebrations which lasted for days. It seemed that everyone was out celebrating, Bowers writes "For over four years France has refrained from any celebrating and it seemed to me that all the pent up energy accumulated during four long years of suffering was expended in those couple of days." After his writing about all the excitement that the signing of the Armistice brought Bowers grew more serious. He, like all of the other Americans in France and other countries abroad, was unsure when he would be able to return to America.


Dec. 1, 1918
Dear Miss Palmes,
[…] I spent very nearly two months in Paris + best of all I was there when the Armistice was signed. We were to go the front the 1st of Nov: but signs were so plain of an immediate end, that orders were held up + the result was that instead of going there we were returned to our organizations. I wish I was an author I could describe to you how Paris went wild over the Armistice. The day it was signed I was working in a French factory on some large guns. They got the news officially at 11 A.M. Immediately the shops closed + every one left for Paris. As we walked down to the subway things had already started rolling. Flags + bunting galore- singing + dancing + all kinds of noise. By night the main strs (sic) were so packed that passage was almost impossible. Never in my life did I see such actions. Every soldier and civilian seemed to be out + all trying to out do the other in noise + celebrating. […] Well enough of the Armistice- The big question now is “When will we get back”? You know as much about it; so ill not try to prophecy. It may be much sooner then we expect: it may be longer no one knows. […]
Sincerely Yours
Raymon Bowers

Citation: Raymon James Bowers Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P111

Destruction Everywhere

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

Lester Allen McPheron was a soldier with the AEF in France. His journal describes in detail his experiences on the front lines at the end of the war (specifically Oct. 22- Nov. 11). McPheron gives an enlightening view of the destruction when he states “when we started over the top we had 60 men in our platoon, Now we only had 14 the rest being killed or wounded”. In his reflections on Nov. 10-11, McPheron writes about his division hiking back toward the front lines on Sunday Nov. 10, (after a few days recovering several miles back from the front line), to prepare to go back "over the top" on the morning of Monday Nov. 11. Then, “at 6 am Monday morning orders came in that they would cease firing at the 11 hr of the 11 day of the 11 mo". Thus, McPheron's “division which was the 90th was on the front lines when the Armistice was signed.”


[…] Now when we started over the top we had 60 men in our platoon now we only had 14 the rest being killed or wounded[.] […] About noon our kitchens began moving up to the town and about 3 Oclock (sic) the Sgt 4 other men and I started out to find them on our way over we passed a lot of dead Germans who were laying along the side of the road where they had been thrown so as to open up the road for our trucks to pass, we went on for a mile or so where we found our kitchens in a woods where we got a good cup of coffe (sic) the first I had had in 5 days. […] I will never forget that hike as it was very difficult to travel after dark over a battle field full of shell holes without any light [.] We had gone about a mile when it began to rain and all the boys who had there [sic] rain coats left put them on I did not have any so had to take the rain[.] We went on for about 2 hrs and came to a small village which was full of dead Germans these Germans must of been dead for 5 or 6 days as the smell was something awful, we kept going stumbling along threw (sic) the mud and water which was over our shoe taps and at last we came to a wood. […] We stayed there one day and at 1 Oclock (sic) on Sunday morning which was now the 10th we rolled our packs and hiked all the rest of that night and all day Sunday towards the front lines and took up our section in a woods for we were going over the top again Monday morning. At 6am Monday morning orders came in that they would ceace [sic] firing at the 11 hr of the 11 day of the 11 mo and our division which was the 90th was on the front lines when the armistice was signed.

Citation: Lester Allen McPheron Journal. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P1789

France: Two Perspectives

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

Percy B. Christianson arrived in Brest, France, after thirteen days on a ship from the U.S. He describes first seeing land and all 3000 Marines on his ship were cheering at the sight. Then, silence fell as everyone contemplated what their futures would be in France; whether they would be going home or dying there in battle. Breaking the silence, everyone broke out into song ("The Yanks are Coming"). Christianson's brigade never ended up seeing battle because the Armistice was signed before they had reached the front.

On the morning of November 9, 1918, we awoke to see the shores of France. This was a sensation and memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life. We all crowded to positions on ship board, to get the best position possible to see this new land. [...] Cheers and cap waving burst out from all the Marines on board. It was not a cheer of happiness to see the shores of France. The love of life and the desire to reach a destination had been accomplished. We had been at sea for thirteen days in waters that were supposedly infested with German Submarines. If there had been any intent to sink our ship Henderson, our own U.S. Submarines and the GOOD LORD must have gotten us safely across the Atlantic ocean. Silence, now fell over all who looked, dreamed and wondered. Was this to be the land of life or death. Was this the beginning or the end. How long now, before we lay wounded or perhaps dead, like our comrades before us. Some one in the silence, broke it and said, "Oh, what the hell. We are here now. Lets break it up and get some singing going!" "The Yanks are Coming", broke out, first by a few, and then every Marine on board ship sang out. I often wonder to this day, how the French populace of Brest thought about the singing. They must have heard it. Here are thousands of American soldiers singing as they prepare to embark and face the quick move to the front lines of battle. [...]

Percy B. Christianson Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P2371

In comparison to Percy Christianson's joyous arrival in France, Victor Johnson describes the horrors of travelling through Verdun. On his journey to Brieulles sur Meuse, Johnson saw many dead Germans awaiting burial, and a sign that read "KEEP DEAD MEN OFF THE ROAD!". He commented, "Doesn't that sound encouraging". Brieulles sur Meuse was a commune in the Meuse department in Grand Est in Northeastern France. When he arrived there, Johnson writes that the Germans had left only five hours ago. He and the other men were put to work in clearing out the barricades the Germans had built in attempts to keep the Americans out.

Nov. 9th 1918.
Last night a few of us boys slept in a pile of barrack bags under a canvas tarp as we didn’t like the idea of packing up again in the morning. So we slept in heavy marching order (shoes + all) and just about froze stiff. We left Chippy at noon today by truck. On our way we passed through the Bellow Woods where they had some stiff fighting and it sure showed signs of it to. [sic] The roads were all shelled and truck riding was some rough. Along the road we saw a lot of dead Germans who had not been buried yet. Also signs which read as follows. KEEP DEAD MEN OFF THE ROAD! Doesn’t that sound encouraging [?] We arrived at Brieulles sur Meuse at 2.00 pm. A distance of 35 Kilos. This place the Germans left about five hours before we got here and now we are inbetween (sic) the Infantry + the Artillery. When we got there we had to build a kitchen in the old depot- and clear out a baracade (sic) of concret (sic) blocks which the Germans had built across the road to hinder the advance of the Americans who didn’t come that way at all. The rest of the afternoon was put in getting a place ready to sleep in to night (sic). The front line is now one on each side of the Meuse river which acts as no mans land. The machine guns are spitting out there messengers from Hell. We never know when they might turn them a little to the left. That would mean that we’d have to hunt our hole.

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

Granny Goes Flying part 7

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

This is a compilation of letters and diary entries written during the war by Granville "Granny" Gutterson. Granny spent most of the war stationed near Houston, Texas, at the San Leon Aerial Gunnery School. In this diary entry written on this day Granny describes receiving absentee ballots from home to vote in the 1918 senate election, which took place on November 5th, 1918. Granny also wrote mentions a "pink ballot", with a comment that "the sooner the state is voted dry the better.” Pink ballots were issued during the elections of 1918, allowing citizens to vote on prohibition.


Mon. Nov. 4.
Received some ballots from home to-day, but my vote had been mailed before the ballots arrived. Might have made a slight change in my ballot but not much. If I didn't know just whom to vote for, I didn't vote. Regarding the pink ballot, the advice from the family was appreciated but was unnecessary. May be far from being as good as I might be, but that's one thing that I have no use for, and think that the sooner the State is voted dry the better.

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



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