Celebrating History-April 27, 1918

Congress had finalized draft regulations regarding its quotas for draftees to be sent to training to go fight the Great War. In an article on the front page of The Havre Plaindealer’s April 27, 1918 issue, stated the change was “so that men needed in agriculture or industry won’t be drafted from one district while workers in non-essentials are draft free in another.” The quota was based on the number of Class 1 draftees who met physical requirements and not the number of men who had signed up for the draft.
While Montana was among the greatest number of young men going off to war and buying Liberty bonds and other patriotic duties, it was lagging behind in forming war savings societies. Hill County’s quota was for 62 societies, but had only 13. Maybe it was because those in Hill County were giving all of their savings to the Liberty Loan drives, as announced in a couple of paragraphs in the “Of Local Interest” social pages:

“The open air gathering planned to mark the close of the third Liberty loan drive in Hill county, scheduled for Thursday evening, had to be abandoned because of inclement weather. A. L. Ritt, county chairman of the loan committee, expects to announce in a few days the result of the drive in this county.

“Liberty loan meetings held over the county the past two weeks have been marked for the enthusiasm and patriotic spirit shown. The final meeting was held at Chester on Wednesday evening, at which speakers from this and other points made addresses, and music was furnished by the saxophone orchestra of Havre.”

The U. S. Food Administration’s ad on the front page this week was about potatoes. Even the staple potato couldn’t get away from the patriotic fervor of the day. The ad says:

“Every time you eat a potato you are helping put a dent in Kaiser Bill’s crown. “Spuds” are called “Irish” potatoes because they are real fighting material. The “spud” is fighting at home while the wheat goes away to the trenches in France.
“Potatoes can be prepared for eating in as many different ways as there are patriotic women in Montana. A “spud” can be camouflaged by a clever woman inti it will look like anything from a porterhouse steak to a toothpick and water. And it will always taste a little better than it looks. The Hibernian brand of potato is about the most versatile member of the home garden crops.
“There are potatoes in plenty in Montana. They are priced moderately this spring and they are of good quality. There is no surer way of saving wheat than by bearing down heavy on the “spud” plate with your fork. Wheat is the most vital food in the whole war. The presence or absence of wheat in France at a critical time may spell “m-u-d” for either the allies or the boche.
“It is up to us to save wheat for our boys “over there”. And the answer is just:

Well, that warms the cockles of this Irish-American girl’s heart. However, the following article sends a shiver through my Germanic heritage and makes this American’s blood run cold:

“State Couucil of Defence Forbids Language
“The state council of defense Monday ordered that use of the German language in public and private schools cease in the state, and in the pulpit. Preachers using German must hereafter use English or remain silent. German books and histories must be thrown out of public and private school libraries. John G. Brown, a Helena attorney, was hired as special prosecutor for the council to see that these orders are obeyed. The council also ordered that every ablebodied man in the state go to work at some useful task at least five days a week, what ever his financial condition be. A long list of books, German and in other tongues, that are under the ban, will be issued and their disuse enforced. Librarians, school officials, ministers, etc., who disobey the order are warned that punishment will be severe.
“Governor Stewart presented a communication anent the request of the state council, as voiced in a resolution adopted at the last session, asking for the removal of Rev. W. J. Oldfield as a member of the Musselshell county council. The commission set forth Mr. Oldfield’s endeavors on behalf of the Red Cross and the several bond campaigns, indicated that he was wholly patriotic and thoroughly loyal and therefore the governor asked the council to rescind its request.”

The article is complete with misspellings. Considering Montana’s largest immigrant population was from Germany, this ostensibly made a lot of criminals out of normal law-abiding citizens. Keep in mind there was no law stating that immigrants must learn English, and no moral or ethical basis to assume a bunch of long-standing community citizens of Germanic heritage speaking their native tongue was speaking treason simply because the listener couldn’t understand them. Case in point, Mr. Oldfield, who must have had some enemies in Musselshell County, but whose actions spoke louder than the claim filed against him. And this would continue for the duration of the war: neighbors turning in neighbors for perceived infractions of the ridiculous “orders” set forth by the Constitution violating Council of Defense.

German aliens were required to register with the state, and this entry was found in the “Of Local Interest” section:

“There is a total registration of 1,493 German aliens in Montana, according to a summary issued Monday. Of the number mentioned Hill county contributes fifty.”

It didn’t take long to find someone to temporarily fill the position recently vacated by the departing Reverend Hilgendorf of the St. Paul German Lutheran Church. In the “Of Local Interest” section it was announced:

“Rev. A. Jordon of Chinook will supply the pastorate of the Evangelical Lutheran church in Havre until a successor has been chosen for Rev. Mr. Hilgendorf, recently resigned.”

The Society column was not without the patriotic doings of Havre’s women. Red Cross knitting parties were organized and two doctors were “doing their part” concerning the Great War.

“Departing Member Honored.
“There was a large gathering of Masons and Eastern Star members at the Masonic Temple Tuesday evening to participate in the farewell party to Dr. A. L. Ward, a valued member of both orders, who left Thursday for Fort Riley to accept a captaincy in the medical corps of the army. During the evening Dr. Ward was presented with a wrist watch, appropriately inscribed, as a token of the esteem in which he is held by his fellow lodge members. Following the presentation dancing was indulged in until a late hour, when light refreshments were served.

“Mrs. A. A. Husser of Hingham spent Sunday in Havre, leaving that evening for Camp Funston to visit her husband, who is in the medical corps of the army.”

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