World War I

February 13th, 2012


WORLD WAR I (1917-18)
The Great War, as contemporaries called it — was the first manmade catastrophe of the 20th century. Historians can easily identify the literal “smoking gun” that set the war in motion: a revolver used by a Serbian nationalist to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand (heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian throne) in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. This war marked the first use of chemical weapons, the first mass bombardment of civilians from the sky, and the century’s first genocide.  True to the military alliances, Europe’s powers quickly drew up sides after the assassination. The allies — chiefly Russia, France and Britain — were pitted against the Central Powers — primarily Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey. Eventually, the War spread beyond Europe as the warring continent turned to its colonies and friends for help. The sinking of the Lusitania on May 7, 1915 by a German U Boat causing the death of 1,153 passengers and crew including 128 Americans tilted the sympathies of the United States towards the Allied forces. Finally, after the release of the Zimmermann Note – a secret telegram between Germany and Mexico requesting Mexico to join the war as an ally of Germany against the United States should the United States decide to enter the European conflict, the tension between the United States and the Axis Powers heightened until April 6, 1917 when the United States entered the war siding with the Allied Forces with President Woodrow Wilson calling on Americans to “make the world safe for democracy.” The result of the war which lasted for 1,500 days before the official Armistice was declared on November 11, 1918 was nine million people dead on the battlefield.
Information affecting the local residents in relation to the war overseas was shared through The Record and Star. In its April 6, 1917 edition it reported that recruiting officers from the US Recruiting Station located in Williamsport were in Watsontown enlisting men for all branches of the service – cavalry, coast artillery, infantry, hospital corps, recruiting service, signal corps, quartermaster’s corps, as well as the various army bands. Men between 18 and 21 years of age did not need a parents’ consent and men under 35 years of age were accepted. The government had instituted a draft to increase numbers in the armed forces and according to May 25, 1917 edition of The Record and Star the Northumberland Committee of Public Safety met in the banquet hall of the Masonic Temple, Sunbury, Wednesday afternoon, pursuant to the instructions from Governor Brumbaugh, for the organization of the draft with almost every town and township in the county represented. Watsontown was represented by Ralph P. Russell, J.I. Higbee, Wm. Field Shay, Mrs. J.H. Wagner and Miss Hawley.  Before adjournment Deputy Sheriff Adams presented to the audience the plan for the military registration for the selective draft. The registration was set for Tuesday, June 5, 1917, between the hours of seven o’clock AM and nine o’clock PM, and was conducted at the various polling places. The assessors of Watsontown, Geo. B. Bucher of the first ward and Wm. Banghart of the second ward served as registrars, and each assisted by two competent men of their wards who were good penman.
Four individuals from the Watsontown vicinity made the ultimate sacrifice including Helen Fairchild, William Messinger, Clyde Mowrer and John A. Hartman.
The front page of the June 27, 1919 edition of The Record and Star listed those people from Watsontown, Dewart, McEwensville and Delaware Township who served their county in the military during World War I include:
Dr. F.R. Adams               Geo. H. Garnhart         Lloyd McCarty            John F. Sprole
Harry M. Albright           Albert Goodlander       Carl McWilliams          Walter Stahl
Henry C. Aunkst             Benj. T. Goodlander    Wm. L. Messinger*      Lester J. Stahlnecker
Woods D. Balliet            Emerson Greenlaw      Raymond Metzger       Edgar Sterner
Chester Bardole              John L. Gressitt            Robert Metzger            Clarence J. Straub
Leslie Bardole                 Ned A. Grier                Raymond Miller           Edward B. Straub
Chas. T. Baker                Charles Gruver            Reber Moore                Ralph N. Straub
Edgar Berger                   John H. Hanson           Clarence A. Moser       Herald Sullivan
Chas. C. Bersinger          John A. Hartman*       Myron Mosteller          Harry C. Thornton
Arthur Bracht                  Philip F. Hartman         Clyde Mowrer*            Earl W. Trick
Amos B. Bryson             Fuller D. Hartranft       Abraham Moyer          Bowman J. Ulrich
Clarence J. Bucher          Fred Hoffman              Wm. C. Mull                Harry B. Ulrich
Harold Bucher               Myles Hoffman           John J. Oakes              Ned F. Wagner
Robert L. Bucher            John A. Huff               Russel Patterson           Roy Waltman
Harry L. Byers                Samuel A. Jones          W. Van Pearson           Woods Waltman
John D. Cooner              Harold R. Keim           Myron W. Peifer          George Weber
Edward Crawford           Edward Kelly               Clarence L. Phillips      Henry R. Weber
John L. Crawford           George A. Kline           David R. Ranck           Clyde Wenrick
Charles Cronrath             Claude Knowlton         Edward Ranck             Joshua S. Whitmoyer
Robert Dawson               Guy Koons                  Wm. F. Ranck              Ellis C. Winters
R.W. Deihl                      Wilbur C. Kramer        Donald Rearick            Ralph C. Winters
Carroll H. Deitrick          Charles Kreisher          Dewey J. Riffel           Albert R. Winterstein
Herbert DeLong              Chas. D. Kremer          Luther Riffel                Seymour J. Wolfe
Clyde Eyster                   Forrest R. Krumm        Howard D. Rogers       Oakley A. Womer
Helen Fairchild*             Lester C. Laidacker      Fred W. Rombach        Arthur C. Yeager
George Fisher                 Glenn O. Lantz            Thos. A. Schroeder      Ralph Yeagle
George Frey                    John Levan                  Richard Shaffer           Ambrose Yoder
Donald E. Foresman       Delroy Lewis               Horace Sheffer            Howard Yoder
Homer A. Gauger           Edmund Lohr              Willard Shook              Charles S. Young
Lester Gauger                 Selburn K. Martin        Archie D. Smith           Elmer J. Young
Wm. C. Gauger               William Marshall         Walter E. Springer        Thos. H. Zettlemoyer
In addition, a number of individuals who lived in Watsontown following World War I and were active members of the American Legion Post include:
Walter Arner                   Rev. John L. Herbster LaRue McClintock       Merle D. Schooley
Wilbur H. Clapp             Harry W. Sellers          Herbert McCormick     Cecil G. Stager
Sidney Gudykunst          Frank Maneval             Wm. L. Moore             Charles A. Stevenson
Chester Garnhart
 [The Record and Star, April 6, 1917, pg 1; May 25, 1917, pg 1; June 27, 1919, pg 1]
Last Modified: 01.28.12

3 Responses

  1. Nelle Fairchild Rote Says:

    Just for your information, Helen Fairchild was a
    US Army Reserve Nurse.
    I have seen her written about as a Red Cross nurse, but that is not correct.

  2. Blanch Yeager Olson Says:

    My name is Blanch Olson, and I was born in Watsontown on 10/10/21. My father was Ralph Yeagle of Watsontown. I know he served in WW1. I would appreciate any information that anyone might have. Thanks.

  3. Blanch Yeagle Olson Says:

    Sorry for the misspelling in 2 above. My name is Blanch Yeagle Olson.

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