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 4, Pages 11-12.


From Earliest Days Sons of Porter County Volunteered For Service With Old Glory

The World War -- most terrible conflict since time began -- engulfed the greater part of the civilized world in August, 1914. In April, 1917, America entered the conflict on the side of the Allies, and in November, 1918 hostilities ceased. Four years and three months of constant warfare had inflicted a tremendous toll of lives, running into the millions, and had left a scar on the face of the globe which endless time can never erase.

Into the cauldron of death called the Western Front, America sent millions of young men, thousands of whom rest today beneath the poppies of Flander's fields.

Porter county played a definite part in the battering of the Entente into submission. More than 2,000 men and women of the county entered the service, and scores were killed in action or died of wounds in France, or met death in Army cantonments in this country during the pestilence of influenza which crept over the nation in 1918.

During the early part of 1917, when it appeared as though America would become involved in the war, patriotic citizens of Porter county began to give consideration to the party they would have to play. At a meeting of the Valparaiso Student Council held in Student Hall, Valparaiso university, April 3, 1917, the loyal support of the students were pledged to the president and a telegram to that effect was sent on April 4, 1917, to President Wilson. Patriotic enthusiasm was high and a parade of three thousand students was held on April 4, led by Mayor P. L. Sisson, Judge E. D. Crumpacker, Dean M. J. Bowman, and Prof. S. C. Hoover, all of whom gave patriotic talks at the court house square. Students sang "My Country 'Tis of Three," and "The Star Spangled Banner" and patriotism reached a fever beat.

On April 6, the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce at the request of Governor Goodrich issued a call through its acting president, Edmund J. Freund, for a meeting of farmers, stock breeders, grain dealers, fruit growers, bankers and others interested, to arrange for organized effort for greater food production and conservation of food supplies in Indiana. Speakers at one meeting were Prof. Earl Price, W. E. Pinney, C. W. Benton, George C. Gregg, A. J. Bowser and Prof. James Kilne, and plans were formulated for carrying out necessary conservation policies.

After war was declared there was a universal demand for a patriotic demonstration throughout the country and early in May a monster parade with four thousand persons participating was held in Valparaiso. It was the county's mightiest spectacle of pageants and was led by the Valparaiso band. Organizations participating were Women's Relief Corps and G. A. R.; Apollo Club and its Red Cross Division ambulance; Company L, Indiana National Guard; Boy Scouts, Phoenix Club, members of the Red Cross; store employes and clerks; employes of Specht-Finney company with the largest American flag in Indiana; pupils of the Gardner, Columbia and Central schools; the Valparaiso university student body, 1,000 strong, with the university band, and over 100 automobiles containing citizens and delegations from various organizations who were unable to participate in body. The Methodist church was crowded to capacity following the parade to hear the orator of the day, John Maynard Harlan.

The exercises at the church opened with the invocation by Rev. Thomas F. Williams, who followed by the choir under the direstion of Prof. O. E. Waver, singing "Columbia the Gem of the Ocean," and other patriotic airs. Mayor Sisson made a talk on this country's entrance into the war and the duties and responsibilities of the citizens of Porter county. Mr. Harlan thrilled the audience with his patriotic utterances.

On May 27 a flag raising by the Porter county employes of the Pennsylvania railroad was held at the court house and Rev. C. W. Baer pastor of Immanuel Lutheran church, made the principal address.

Company L, Indiana National Guard, under the command of Captain Ernest W. Thralls, was Porter county's home unit in the great drama. Hundreds of other Porter county men, however, served in nearly as many different outfits in France, Germany, Russia and throughout the far-flung battle lines of the great war. Porter county men also saw service in the United States marines, in the air service, as ambulance drivers, as welfare and hospital workers, and in scores of other occupations which went to make up the nation's complex wartime organization.

Hundreds upon hundreds of Porter county men were chosen for service under the provisions of the selective draft act. On April 30, Governor Goodrich appointed Sheriff William B. Forney, County Clerk Gust Bornholt and Henry Kinsey Brown as the conscription board for Porter county. Early in May it was announced that Governor Goodrich had appointed George F. Beach, Joseph L. Doyle and Dr. H. E. Cowland to take over the duties of the exemption board. Two thousand and twenty young men were registered from Porter county by the draft board under the conscription call. Center township, in which Valparaiso is located, furnished 834 men, and of this number Valparaiso furnished 735.

Months before that fateful April day in 1917 when congress declared a state of war to exist between this country and Germany, the United States had been preparing for the inevitable struggle. The nation had realized that Germany's program of unrestricted submarine warfare was bound to lead American into war.

On June 5, a parade of all young men of conscription age, Company L, Indiana National Guard and the Boy Scouts was held in Valparaiso, the committee in charge being Mayor P. L. Sisson, Charles Wark and E. J. Freund. The young men received an ovation and were cheered along the line of march. Four hundred and eighty-three were drawn on the first call for the National Army and of this number 119 left for Camp Custer on August 26 for enrollment.

Valparaiso was given a touch of military life when Valparaiso university authorities signed a contract with the government for the training of soldiers in various vocations, principally automotive mechanics and driving. Upwards of 1,200 men were sent here for this training. A number of barracks were constructed on the university grounds at Brown Field for the housing of the men. The camp proved of considerable interest to the citizens who were given plenty of entertainment by the boys who maintained a fine band, a football team and conducted prize fighting contests from time to time. On patriotic and other occasions the soldiers took a prominent part. Highways throughout the county were used by the men in the training of automobile drivers. At many intersections signs were erected with French names. Herman Schierich was commander of the camp, which was known as Valparaiso University Training Detachment.

On several occasions premature news that the armistice had been signed caused Valparaiso citizens to celebrate. The soldiers from the university also came down enmasse and took part. Finally when authentic news was received the celebration eclipsed any ever held here. Many of the rural districts also joined in the jubilation.

And while men and women of Porter county were serving overseas, a patriotic citizenry "kept the home fires burning."

Four times Porter citizens over-subscribed liberty bond quotas, buying a total of $1,936,500 in bonds as compared with a community total of $1,793,230.

In addition Porter county citizens contributed their mite to various relief agencies. A drive for funds for the Y. M. C. A. in November, 1917, resulted in total subscriptions of $9,232.15. In June, 1917, the Porter County Red Cross, which had been asked to contribute $10,000, raised $20,852.29. In May, 1918, a second drive with a quota of $10,000, raised $22,000. Drives by the Knights of Columbus and Salvation Army both resulted in over-subscriptions.

While the war was on, a movement was started throughout Indiana to form companies of Home Guards. A company was organized in Valparaiso with Rev. John Newsom as captain; W. W. Bozrath, first lieutenant, and Roy Pierce, second lieutenant. The roster of the company contained the names of many of the leading citizens of Valparaiso.

Shortly after the war was declared Judge H. H. Loring, of Porter circuit court, appointed A. N. Worstell, J. D. Stoner, E. L. Morgan, Charles Marshall, George C. Gregg, H. W. Abbott and Mrs. Maude N. Johnson as Porter county's council of defense.

Before American entered the war women of the county aided in the humanitarian task of preparing bandages for the soldiers of the Allies. Mrs. J. W. Williams was chairman of the committee on hospital supplies, and Miss Myra Pinney was in charge of the class making surgical dressings.

During the war, Porter county people were reminded time and time again that "food will win the war." Charles Link of Valparaiso, was food administrator during the war period. He was assisted by E. J. Van Alter, train-master on the Valparaiso and Northern railroad. Particularly in the early stages of the war Food Administrator Link was obliged to issue repeated warnings to hoarders and war profiteers, and at times the law had to be invoked to successfully enforce the food administration laws.

Sugar was sold in one and two pound lots at times, and various substitutes were used instead of flour. There were "meatless" days and "gasoline" days. Several instances were recorded of where motorists who took their cars out on Sundays had them smeared with yellow paint.

All in all, every patriotic Porter county man and woman did his or her part to achieve the ultimate victory.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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