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 3, Page 12.


Named In Honor of War Hero; One of Most Active Organizations In County

Prominent among the civic organizations of Valparaiso, and taking a leading part in the activities of the patriotic groups of the city, is Charles Pratt Post, No. 94, American Legion, of Valparaiso.

Following the return of the majority of Valparaiso veterans from the World war, there came an agitation to retain the benefits of their association together and to continue their service to the nation.

A local group met at the Valparaiso public library building, and with it began the history of the post, with T. P. Galvin, former Valparaiso attorney, now of Hammond, as the first commander, and H. Carroll Schneider as adjutant.

Charter members of the post when the charter was granted on Oct. 2, 1919, were: Arthur Byron Smith, William V. Wilson, Reginald L. Felton, Kenneth J. Wolf, Gust Long, Earl V. Smith, Ora L. McNiece, Claude Beach, Dr. H. E. Gowland, Ralph Wilson, Floyd Sieb, Harry H. Hayes, W. E. Harris, L. C. Benham and H. C. Schneider.

Credit for getting the members' signatures is given to Byron Smith and W. E. Harris, now with the U. S. Army in California.

Commanders of Charles Pratt Post, No. 94, are: T. P. Galvin, 1920; O. F. Helvie, 1921; Byron Smith, 1922; Claude Beach, 1923; Louis O. Benham, 1924; Harvey C. Varner, 1925; Charles H. Gilliland, 1926; Achie Evans, 1927; M. B. Fyfe, 1929; Justin O. Shauer, 1930; G. D. Conover, 1931; Ezra Stoner, 1932; R. C. Shurr, 1933; Frank Ferguson, 1934; Herman O. Seipel, 1935; T. O. Dillon, 1936.

Membership in the post has varied from the fifteen charter members in 1919 to 350 in 1921, when many of the D. A. V. members attending Valparaiso university were affiliated with the organization. At the present time the membership is 220.

Charles Pratt Post has had six meeting places within its history. They were the Valparaiso public library; Armory hall; Knights of Pythias hall, the Lowenstine building on Franklin avenue, rooms over the Windle grocery, and the present location in the Henry building on East Lincolnway.

The local post was named after Charles Augustus Pratt, a Valparaiso man, who was killed in action in France, on November 3, 1918, eight hours before the Armistice was signed. A sergeant, first class, of Company A, 9th Infantry, Second Division, he took part in the battles of Verdun, Marne, Soissons, Toul, St. Mihiel, Mount Blane Ridge and Argonne Forest.

He was awarded the Croix de Guerre with two silver stars (France), and was cited for distinguished service performed at Soissons when in charge of a platoon of his company he showed great heroism and devotion to duty, and his gallantry in leading the platoon through shell and machine gun fire was a stimulus and incentive to his men.

Sergeant Pratt was a member of old Company L, of Valparaiso, and served on the Mexican border with the company in 1916. He enlisted on March 26, 1916, and was assigned to their regular army. He is buried in Meuse-Argonne American cemetery, Romangne-Sousmont Faucon, France, grave 17, row 8, block C.

Among some of the past activities of Charles Pratt Post have been; soliciting part time jobs for unemployed; securing gardens, projecting Fourth of July celebrations; distributing flag day codes to all schools of the city; raising funds for undernourished children; co-operating with Community Chest officials; promoting indoor baseball contests.

The Legion has also been instrumental in providing flower boxes on Lincoln Highway; promoting annual pet parades for the children; backing an immunization program; co-operating with Presbyterian church officials in Washington bi-centennial services; sponsoring Legion junior baseball games.

Other activities credited to the Legion are the staging of stage shows, such as "Miss Bob White," "Nothing But the Truth," "Katcha Koo," and the ever popular WLS Barn dance shows. The post also purchased 6,000 trees for planting, and was responsible for the Donkey baseball game staged at Brown Field when ball players played the game on donkeys.

Another outstanding achievement of Charles Pratt Post is the drum and bugle corps established in 1928. With the aid of local business to corps was outfitted with natty uniforms and gold helmets which present a showy appearance as the corps moves down the street. The corps attended the national Legion convention held at Louisville, Ky., in September, 1929.

A number of Legion conventions have been brought to Valparaiso through the post. At these parleys prominent Legionnaires, including State Commanders Raymond Springer, Ralph Gates and Dr. A. R. Killian, have been guests of the post. The post also staged a Fathers and sons night in 1932 which proved a huge success.

Since its organization the post has extended financial aid to veterans in distress and child welfare workers of the Legion have brought relief to many families.

One of the proud accomplishments of the local post is the Sons of the Legion post which was organized early this year with eighty-six members.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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