The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 2, Page 21.


Porter County Red Cross Was Launched During World War; Aid Given Locally

Porter county's Red Cross organization was born during the world war. It received its charter April 26, 1917. At once it took early action in making arrangements to render the fullest service possible during the progress of the war. Chairman Lewis E. Myers attended the Red Cross Council at Washington on May 25, 1917, which was addressed by ex-President William Howard Taft, Secretary of War Newton Baker, General John J. Pershing and Herbert Hoover. Mr. Myers wired Lucy D. Putnam, secretary of the Valparaiso chapter, that the president had proclaimed the week of June 18-25 as Red Cross week and one hundred million dollars was to be raised throughout the country by contributions that week.

He suggested the Valparaiso chapter make preparations for soliciting subscriptions so that Porter county's allotment would be fully subscribed. At a meeting of the chapter it was decided that a campaign for membership be carried on in connection with the national drive for funds. The membership drive met with great success, the local membership being increased to over 800. The amount asked by the National Council of the Red Cross as Porter county's contribution to the Red Cross drive was $10,000. An active preliminary campaign was conducted, several meetings were held and the Red Cross county officials made every effort to exceed the county allotment.

The response for contributions was most generous and an example which showed the sentiment animating every part of the county was disclosed by an incident which took place at the Red Cross drive meeting held at Chesterton, where Arthur J. Bowser, who gave a son to the war, had already given $100 worth of free printing, headed the Chesterton subscription list with $100 and his example was followed by similar subscriptions from six other Chesterton citizens: J. H. Ameling, J. H. Busse, Dr. C. O. Wiltfong, H. F. Carlson, Charles L. Jeffrey and E. L. Morgan. The grant total of subscriptions for the Red Cross drive in Porter county was $20,853.29, which was an over-subscription of more than 100 percent.

First aid classes were started under the direction of the following committees: Dr. Simon Young, chairman; Dr. C. H. DeWitt, vice-chairman; Mrs. L. E. Myers, secretary; Mrs. M. F. Parker, Mrs. E. W. Chaffee, Miss Myra Pinney, Miss Clara Gulbranson, L. F. Bennett, County Superintendent Fred H. Cole, and Dr. C. O. Wiltfong, of Chesterton. A committee on hospital supplies with Mrs. J. W. Williams as chairman was appointed and Miss Myra Pinney was put in charge of the class making surgical dressings. The Northern Porter County Red Cross organized at Chesterton with Dr. C. O. Wiltfong as chairman; F. M. Goldsborough, vice-chairman, and E. L. Morgan, treasurer. They acted in full cooperation with the Valparaiso chapter and made an excellent record during the continuance of the war.

Preparations on a broad scale were made throughout the county for the second Red Cross war drive, which took place in May, 1918. Prominent in these preliminary activities were Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Billings, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis E. Myers, L. D. Bondy, Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Foster, Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Morris, W. E. Pinney, Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Boucher, Leon Wheeler, W. J. Henry, Charles Wark, Herman Sievers, Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Benton, Henry Kinsey Brown, Dean M. J. Bowman, Mrs. and Mrs. O. P. Kinsey, Mr. and Mrs. H. H. Loring, Rev. J. M. Gelston, Mr. and Mrs. P. L. Sisson, Miss Myra Pinney, Mrs. H. B. Brown, Rev. F. R. Briggs, Rev. C. W. Baer, Rev. E. J. Mungovan, Rev. T. F. Williams, Dr. R. D. Blount, Mrs. Inez Cunningham and Mrs. E. W. Chaffee.

The Red Cross drive in May proved a big success. The allotment for Porter county was $10,000, but the contributions received amounted to more than $22,000. Until the close of the war Porter County Red Cross was a busy organization, making regular shipments of sweaters, socks, wristlets, scarfs, tray cloths, napkins, pajamas, and hospital supplies, numbering many thousands of pieces.

A continuous program of home service has been carried on for the benefit of the ex-service men and their families. A few types of services are as follows: Furnished assistance in securing of bonus, compensation claims, hospitalization, affidavits in many forms and vocational training; obtained foreign service buttons, victory medals, duplicate discharge papers and located lost relatives; supplied food, clothing, fuel, medical and dental aid when necessary. It has also aided in the distribution of government cotton and flour.

Porter county people had reason to feel the need of the Red Cross when a tornado hit the south end of the county on May 26, 1917, devastating a strip one mile wide, and sixteen miles long. Building in the towns of Hebron and Kouts and surrounding vicinity were destroyed or badly damaged, and valuable forest and orchard timber blown down, livestock killed and farm products destroyed.

Two persons were killed, a dozen injured, and twelve families suffered loss of their property. The loss to realty was estimated at $70,000 and to personal property, $12,000.

A total of $2,000 was raised locally, and the Red Cross appropriated $3,000 from its contingency fund. This $5,000 was distributed upon the recommendation of the Red Cross among forty families. No part of the money was used for emergency relief or overhead expenses. The expense of emergency relief had already been paid by the Red Cross, which also paid the expense of the case workers.

The steady growth in first aid and life-saving activities conducted by the Red Cross during the past and the number of persons trained to serve their respective communities through these essential and humanitarian services is a measure of public interest in this Red Cross service.

During 1932 and 1933, the Red Cross delivered to Porter county a total of $11,743.80 in various articles as follows: 8,544 sacks of flour, $4,272; 8,000 yards of cotton cloth, $960; 749 dozen garments, $5,302; 420 blankets, $525; 238 yards sheeting, $23.80; 570 sweaters, $570.

From 1925 to 1934, the Red Cross had a membership of 3,471 during that period, in which the national organization received $1,735.50. On this basis it would require sixty-seven years to send in by way of membership dues to the National Red Cross what Porter county received through the national society in twenty months.

Funds have been raised through the Porter county chapter for various disasters. The latest achievement was the raising of some $1,300 for the flood sufferers in the eastern states early this year. Porter county exceeded its first quota by nearly $500, and the second quota by several hundred dollars.

Considerable praise for this fine showing is due to M. Earl Dinsmoore, county superintendent of schools, who is county chairman of the organization. With the assistance of Miss Audrey Shauer, county assistant superintendent of schools, the Red Cross organization locally revived, and its membership increased from 355 in 1934 to 1,413 in 1935.

Two women who have rendered yeoman service to the Red Cross in the past were Mrs. M. F. Parker and Mrs. J. E. Harding, who served as secretaries of the local organization.

Local Red Cross records reveal that four persons are life members of the Red Cross. They are W. O. Burniston, E. E. Cunningham, Mrs. Ina Cunningham and Mark L. Dickover.

A history of the Red Cross membership roll since 1917 reveals the following members enrolled: First Christmas roll, 1917, 4,817; second Christmas Roll, 1918, no record; third roll, 1919, no record; fourth roll, 1920, 932; fifth roll, 1921, 1,319; sixth roll, 1922, 753; seventh roll, 1923, 637; eighth roll, 1924, no record; ninth roll, 1925, 50; tenth roll, 1926, 793; eleventh roll, 1927, 791; twelfth roll, 1928, 566; thirteenth roll, 1929, 134; fourteenth roll, 1930, no record; fifteenth roll, 1931, 225; sixteenth roll, 1932, 196; seventeenth roll, 1933, 323; eighteenth roll, 1934, 355; nineteenth roll, 1935, 1,413.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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