Celebrating History-February 23, 1918

The Havre Plaindealer’s February 23, 1918 issue was full of news related to the Great War. Dr. H. C. Culbertson of the United States Food Administration was scheduled to speak before interested community members on March 5 regarding the world food shortage and what Americans could do to help alleviate the shortage. Two letters from local men were published among the national war news.

“The Plaindealer is in receipt of a letter from Private Wm. J. Lorimer, who went with the first draft from Hill county, describing his trip across the briny and safe arrival in France. Mr. Lorimer, who has a ranch thirty miles north of Havre, has numerous friends in Havre and Hill county who will be glad to know of his safe journey over a perilous route. In his letter Mr. Lorimer praises the work of the Y. M. C. A. in providing home-like surroundings for the boys “over there” but states all the boys want letters from home. Mr. Lorimer’s address is Co. I, 163rd U. S. Infantry, Somewhere in France, Via New York.

“Nagasaki, Japan, Jan. 14, 1918.-Dear Folks: We finally landed in Japan after living on the ship in the harbor 25 days. We are nearly all quartered at the Nagasaki hotel (170 of us) this is a first class hotel and their dining room service is hard to beat. We may be here 60 days, can’t say just how long. I am quite sure though that when we leave here we are going to Russia again. Nothing would suit this bunch better than to get these orders.
“Haven’t got a letter from any one since I left St. Paul, the Russians must be holding it up at Vladivostok.
“We are organizing foot ball and base ball teams and we also have a good gymnasium, so time is not very heavy on our hands.
“The weather is fine here, oranges are still hanging on the trees, and green vegetables are coming in right along.
“The mail for the States close within an hour and I want to get this out on the next boat so will have to stop writing. Good bye,
“Lieut. F. M. Niskern,
“Russian Railway Service Corps.
“Nagasaki Hotel, Nagasaki, Japan.”

The Russian Railway Service Corps, numbering 350 men, was a quasi-military organization formed by President Wilson at the request of the Russian government operate the Trans-Siberian, Chinese Eastern and Ussuri Railways. Russia was embroiled in civil war after the Mensheviks overthrew the tsar, and President Wilson saw an opportunity to protect American interests in Russia to defeat Germany, namely American military equipment stored on the rails in Vladivostok and Murmansk. Other objectives in forming the Russian Railway Service Corps was to help the Czech Legion in Russia out of the country and fight for the Allies as the Legion was sympathetic to the cause, as the American Government didn’t trust the Bolsheviks because they had made a separate peace treaty with Germany. Another part of the mission was to help the Russians organize their new government, with the goal of capitalism the ultimate result. Shortly after arriving in Russia, the Russian Railway Service Corps, under the command of Colonel George Emerson, went to Nagasaki due to unsettled conditions, mostly due to marauding bands pillaging and plundering, with the Cossacks in particular having an affinity of commandeering trains along the rails.

In Havre, life went on and two entries in the Society column mention George Washington themed parties, as our first President’s birthday was observed on February 22.

“Birthday Party.
“On Friday afternoon Mrs. Earnest Hayes entertained seventeen little folks in honor of her daughter’s fourth birthday. The decorations were all symbolic of George Washington and games of all kinds were played as amusements, followed at a late hour by a tempting lunch. Mrs. Hayes as assisted by her sister Miss Ligori Healey. Those invited were Marjory, Lucile and Dorothy Case; Mary Hamilton, Mary Beth MacKenzie, Katherine and Elanor Fuller, Katherine and Janette McCarthy, Georgia Pyper, David Almas, Wilbur Ferguson, David Sprinkle, Billie Roper, Stewart MacKenzie, Janette Grimmer, Billie Ryan and Richard Spooner.

“Twenty-Ninth Anniversary.
“Mr. and Mrs. Henry Spooner celebrated their twenty-ninth wedding anniversary on Tuesday evening.
“The rooms were profusely decorated with the national colors and emblems and place cards relative to George Washington’s birthday were used on the dining table. Places were marked for eleven guests and Mr. and Mrs. Spooner were the recipients of congratulations and good wishes from all present.”

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