American Legion

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.
Post Commanders
Dr. Edward F. Rabe191919521985
Harold R. Stout192619591992
Last Modified: 12.27.22

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