May 1st, 2009
CLYDE F. MOWRER POST # 323, AMERICAN LEGION
Late in the summer of 1919, the veterans of World War I began to talk of organizing a post of the American Legion. After several street corner meetings, it was agreed to meet in the council room of the borough building on Thursday, September 12, 1919. The chairman for the meeting was Harry C. Thornton. After a general discussion by the enthusiastic veterans present, the chairman appointed a committee to secure more information on the organization of a post, the requirements for securing a charter and other details and to report back on Thursday, October 3, 1919. The records are not clear as to who exactly was on this committee, but apparently they were efficient, for at the meeting, called by Chairman Thornton, he introduced Comrade Carl Hecht, a member of Wallace W. Fetzer Post, American Legion, of Milton, who stated that the first order of business was election of officers. Dr. Edward F. Rabe was elected the first post commander. Fred C. Huffman was elected post adjutant, and Abe Moyer as finance officer. These officers were installed by Comrade Hecht.
Application was then made for a charter. It was necessary to select a name for the new post and in keeping with the by-laws of the national organization that no post should be named for a living person, the names of three men who lost their lives in the war from Watsontown were presented and the name of Clyde F. Mowrer was chosen. Application for a temporary charter was made and upon its receipt later that month it was noted No. 323 had been assigned to the new post. A permanent charter was received in November 1921 with 121 charter members. The official charter was dated October 10, 1919 thus instituting the Clyde F. Mowrer Post No. 323, American Legion in Watsontown. The Post continued to meet in the council chamber of the Municipal Building during November and December of 1919 but on January 1, 1920, a meeting room was rented on the second floor of the T.K. Smith building on the southeast corner of Main and Third Street where they continued to meet until April 1, 1923. On April 1, 1923 the Post moved to its new quarters in the Municipal Building, paying a monthly rental of $15. At a special meeting held October 22, 1954 a secret vote was taken on buying the Middlesworth property for a Post Home. Comrade Luther Middlesworth had offered his home to the Post as the Post’s official home at the price of $15,000, $3,000 down, balance to be paid at $1,000 per year at 4% interest. The result was 40 votes for and 7 against the purchase. A park was created on the area south of the Post Home in 1961 and a new field piece arrived transported by Louis M. Fromme as the focal point of the park.
In November of 1923 the ladies auxiliary of the legion post was organized and received a charter. The first annual clambake was held at Gudykunst’s Grove near Allenwood in 1926. In 1927 the Post was asked to maintain Memorial Park by the Park Commission on behalf of the community. In January 1935 the Watsontown Memorial Park Commission turned the park over to the borough for the sum of $1.00 and then name was changed to the Watsontown Park. On June 28, 1928 the Post voted to purchase the Dentler cabin along the river north of Dewart at the price of $1,850.00 which they used for meetings and picnics until it was sold in March, 1956 to Mrs. Irene Shivley for the sum of $2250.00.
A large field piece was secured from the Aberdeen Proving Grounds near Baltimore through the efforts of Lt. Carroll H. Dietrick late in the summer of 1932 and transported courtesy of The Watsontown Door and Sash Company to Watsontown Memorial Park where it was placed near the World War I Memorial Stone. This field piece was returned during World War II at the request of the ordinance department.
In April of 1939 the cemetery association donated to the Post a plot of ground on the north side of the old section for the purpose of erecting a memorial to the World War I veterans. The memorial stone was purchased and erected later that year at a cost of $1,400.00.
In 1949 the ladies auxiliary of the Post arranged for a large stone with a plaque containing the names of the four people who lost their lives during World War I from Watsontown and the names of the fifteen people from this area who lost their lives during World War II to be placed in the Watsontown Park. Pink dogwood trees were planted in a semi-circle around the stone. The names on the plaque for World War I are Clyde F. Mowrer, Helen Fairchild, John Hartman, and William Messinger. For World War II the names are Elmer Beck, C. John Christenson, Carroll Dickerman, Earl Dutrow, Schuyler Frey, Paul Gardner, William Grey, Montgomery Slifer, Roy Watson McWilliams, Harvey Huff, Emory High, Allen Schell, John R. Thomas, Kenneth B. Smith and Hurley Mausteller.
In 1960, the death of Runkle T. Burrows, the last Spanish American War veteran in Watsontown was reported.
At the 17th district meeting held at Post 44 on June 19, 1969 Post Commander Robert S. Bastain was elected district commander, the first time Post 323 has been so honored. He was installed July 19, 1969 at the convention in Pittsburg.
The national organization was founded in Paris, France at the first caucus of members of the American Expeditionary Force on March 15-17, 1919 and on May 9, 1919 at a meeting in St. Louis MO they adopted “The American Legion” as the organization’s official name. The Legion’s draft constitution is approved, and so is its preamble, which begins: “For God and Country, we associate ourselves together …” The preamble, with its heartfelt dedication to freedom and democracy, is still recited today at official gatherings of The American Legion. The American Legion’s charter has been amended four times to allow veterans of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the veterans of Lebanon, Grenada and Panama hostilities to join the Legion. The American Legion has been instrumental in numerous political and social changes including the creation of the US Veterans Bureau (forerunner of the Veterans Administration), the GI Bill of Rights (signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt on June 22, 1944), as well as putting pressure on the government for a full accounting of POW/MIAs of Vietnam.
The membership of the Post went from an all time low of thirty-seven in 1925 to an all time high of 586 members in 1969.
Charter Members were:
Harry M. Albright Chas. C. Gruver Robert B. Metzgar Russell Smith
Robert Armstrong Sidney Gudykoons William Middlesworth Walter Springer
Henry C. Aunkst Ralph C. Harlan Ray Miller John Sprole
Chester Bardole Fuller Hartranft Reber Moore C.G. Stager
Roy Baylor Chas. Hauver Abe Moyer Walter Stahl
Charlotte Bergenstock Myles Hoffman Dr. G.W. Muffly Lester Stahlnecker
Edgar Berger John Huff William Mull Warren Stahlnecker
Chas. Bersinger Fred C. Huffman Ellston Myers Edgar Sterner
Arthur Braucht Paul Joe John J. Oakes Harold Stout
John Brown Harold R. Keim Myron Peifer Donald E. Straub
A.R. Bryson Dr. S.C. King Walter Phillips William E. Swoope
Harold F. Bucher George Kline Dr. Edward F. Rabe Harry C. Thornton
Robert Bucher Guy Koons Edward Ranck Earle Trick
Wilbur Clapp Claude F. Knowlton William Ranck Bowman Ulrich
John D. Cooner Wilbur Kramer Geo. M. Raup Fred Ungard
Bruce Crawford Chas. Kremer Donald E. Rearick Charles Voris
John Crawford Russel Kressler Phillip Rhoades Ned Wagner
Robert Dawson David C. Kuhn Dewey Riffel Geo. Weber
Carroll Deitrick Lester Laidacker Luther Riffel Clyde D. Wenrick
Herbert DeLong Delroy Lewis Fred Rombach Wm. R. Wetzel
Adam Diehl J.W. Lindauer Allen Schroder Joshua Whitmoyer
Benj. Elliott Ralph E. Lyons William Seaman Ralph R. Winters
Donald E. Foresman James Marshall Richard Shafer Raymond Wintersteen
George B. Frey William Marshall Mary E. Sharpless Ralph Witmer
Homer A. Gauger Alonzo Mausteller Thomas Shoemaker Seamor Wolfe
Lester Gauger Lloyd McCarty W.R. Shultz Oakley Womer
William Gauger Carl McWilliams Archie Smith Howard Yoder
Albert Goodlander Frank McCormick Emerson Smith Charles Young
Benj. Goodlander Herbert McCormick Joseph Smith John Zettlemoyer
Ned Grier Archie McNier Oliver Smith Thos. Zettlemoyer
Those serving as Post Commanders are:
1919 Edward F. Rabe 1952 Elwood B. Frantz 1985 —
1920 Edward F. Rabe 1953 Harry W. Sellers 1986 Donald L. Minier
1921 Edward F. Rabe 1954 Malcolm W. Delsite 1987 James Croft
1922 Charles S. Young 1955 Fred J. Dingle 1988 Charles F. Derr
1923 Ralph E. Lyons 1956 Harry W. Sellers 1989 Lee R. Robbins
1924 Wilbur H. Clapp 1957 Elwood L. Bobb 1990 Glenn E. Bryan
1925 Fred C. Huffman 1958 Harry W. Sellers 1991 Lee R. Robbins
1926 Harold R. Stout 1959 Theodore E. Geiger * 1992 John W. Bower
1927 Philip Rhoads 1960 L. LaRue Yost 1993 John W. Bower
1928 Cecil G. Stager 1961 George W. McCormick 1994 John W. Bower
1929 Ned F. Wagner 1962 Robert E. Harpster 1995 Richard A. Everetts
1930 Warren Stahlnecker 1963 Otho Folk 1996 Kenneth D. Weaver
1931 Charles C. Gruver 1964 Harold Nuss 1997 Kenneth D. Weaver
1932 John A. Huff 1965 Harold D. Folk 1998 John W. Bower
1933 Edgar Sterner 1966 James C. Young 1999 Richard A. Everetts
1934 William F. Ranck 1967 Dean E. Kuhn 2000 Richard A. Everetts
1935 Clyde F. Wenrick 1968 John E. Gast 2001 Richard A. Everetts
1936 Albert R. Stover 1969 Robert S. Bastian 2002 Eugene E. Kline
1937 Fuller D. Hartranft 1970 Edwin P. Harrison 2003 Edward Netzband
1938 Thomas H. Zettlemoyer 1971 Robert W. Joe 2004 Justin D. Blakeney
1939 Oakley A. Womer 1972 Charles L. Hartranft 2005 Edward Betz
1940 Robert Kurtz 1973 Ronald E. Zarr 2006 Edward Betz
1941 John J. Oakes 1974 Franklin R. Fisher 2007 Justin D. Blakeney
1942 L. Delroy Lewis 1975 Donald O. Gross 2008 Frank Miller
1943 Howard Yoder 1976 Jack Conrad 2009 Tony Day
1944 Donald F. Foresman 1977 Barry P. Heiser 2010 Tony Day
1945 Fred Ungard 1978 Clarence T. Folkrod 2011
1946 Harry C. Thornton 1979 Ray K. Raup 2012
1947 Mark Berkenstock 1980 Ray K. Raup 2013
1948 Herman LeVan 1981 Howard E. Smith 2014
1949 A. LaRue Plotts, Jr. 1982 David B. Plotts 2015
1950 S. Morris Moser 1983 Kenneth Kinney 2016
1951 Elmer C. Long 1984 John W. Zarr 2017
* S. Ardell Emsweller had been elected Post Commander in 1959 but resigned early in the year and Ted Geiger was elected for the remainder of the term.
Last Modified: 01.19.12