Celebrating History-January 26, 1918

I wish I could have been at the Robert Burns Supper 100 years ago and celebrated my Scottish heritage.  The Selkirk Grace is as follows:

Some hae meat an canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.

You can't say enough about a group of people who not only celebrate haggis, but have a resounding musical entry and a long, entire poem about the stuff with a toast to boot!

The Great War and its impacts on life in the United States was featured in The Havre Plaindealer’s January 26, 1918 issue. Pleas to conserve food in the home as well as increase crop production and plan for growing your own fruits and vegetables continued as did news from Red Cross chapters throughout the nation. Young men of draft age were answering the call of duty, and Havre was no exception.

“Five more of Havre’s estimable young men left Wednesday for Great Falls, where they enlisted in the service of Uncle Sam. They were Claude Darnell, Eugene O’Neil, Bryan Barrickman, C. A. Butler, and Ray Unselt. The first three named joined the 26th engineers corps, Mr. Butler in the medical corps, and Mr. Unselt in the coast artillery.
“Yesterday morning two other Havre boys, John M. May, Jr., and Bob McCutcheon, departed for the Falls to enlist in the 26th engineers crops. It is expected that this corps will go to France within the next two months.”

As young men of draft age were signing up and leaving communities, those over the draft age were needed to fill gaps on the home front.

“Home Guards Corps With 1400 Members Being Mustered
“One thousand, four hundred men between the ages of 31 and 40 are urgently needed by the government to form a home guard corps as an auxiliary to the regular army, a notice from the Spokane army recruiting headquarters says. The men will be used as guards of public utilities and other property in the vicinity of their homes, it is announced.
“An official order advises recruiting officers against directing disparaging remarks toward drafted men or making invidious comparisons between drafted and enlisted men with the idea of stimulating activity in recruiting. Instances in which these methods have been resorted o by recruiting officers have reached the department, the notice states. The department will tolerate no reflections of whatever character against drafted men, the notice adds.”

Those living in the United States as aliens but were not yet naturalized citizens, and whose country Congress had declared war against, were required by recent Congressional enactment, to register as an alien enemy beginning on February 4, 1918 and no later than February 9, 1918. Those persons were to report to the nearest post office, as postmasters were appointed to act as registrars of this program. In Havre, the postmaster was Exelia Pepin. Further:

“The term alien enemy as defined in regulations and U. S. statutes includes all natives, citizens, denizens or subjects of a foreign nation or government with which war has been declared, being males of the ages of 14 years and upwards, who shall be within the United States and not actually naturalized as American citizens. Females are not alien enemies within the present statutory definition. Failure to register subjects an alien enemy to imprisonment for the duration of the war, or to deportation.”

The United States had declared war on the German Empire on April 6, 1917, so the law was specifically directed at German males. I personally find the exclusion of German females to comply with the registration to be somewhat amusing; as if a German woman can’t be a spy. A strong anti-German sentiment had been spreading for a while in the United States, but it took a while to reach the Havre area. Up until relatively recently, Lutheran services were delivered in German in Havre, and two or three years earlier, there had been an effort to form a German ethnic club of sorts, where those of Germanic heritage could get together and celebrate their culture. After war was declared, there was no mention of German-speaking Lutheran services, and certainly no effort to practice any German customs that had not been accepted and embraced by other cultures such as Christmas traditions. Although, during the height of anti-German fervor, some households in America took their beautiful German Christmas ornaments and either threw them away or smashed them as a show of patriotism.

But it was OK for those of Scottish heritage to celebrate their roots, and what a fine thing that was! For those of us with Scottish ancestry, January 25th means Robert Burns Night, or Bobby Burns, or Robbie Burns. Doesn’t matter, the day is meant to celebrate Scottish poet Robert Burns, and Havre’s Scotch put on a real party.

“Appropriate Exercises Held at Lyceum Last Evening
“The Scotch of Havre and northern Montana gathered in large number at Lyceum hall last evening to celebrate Bobby Burns day. Elaborate preparations had been made for the event, which was the best of its kind every carried out here. Below is the program as rendered.
“Address and Welcome-President Johnnie Griffin.
“Selection-Prof. Thayer and Orchestra.
“Dance (Highland Fling)-Misses Janet MacKenzie, Helen Dewar and Annabel MacKenzie.
“Burns Selection-Mrs. N. C. Abbott.
“Song-Mrs. H. F. Schwartz, Jr.
“Address-Rev. Father McAstoker.
“Recitation-Miss Alice Weber.
“Dance (Highland Fling)-Master Ted Buttrey and Miss Amy Dexter.
“Song-Mrs. H. Tyrell
“Selection-Prof. Thayer and Orchestra.
“Dance-Little Roddie Chisholm and Margaret Griffin.
“Recitation-Mrs. Ruby Dexter.
“Selection-Miss Helen Brown.
“Selection-Mr. and Mrs. P. A. Brainerd.
“Address-Rev. P. H. Case
“Selection-Archie Frame.
“Auld Lang Syne-Prof. Thayer and Orchestra and Audience.”

I would have enjoyed this show of Scottish pride. Traditionally, the day is celebrated as a Burns supper, and guests would have been greeted with the bagpipes playing, a welcoming speech, the Selkirk Grace, then a soup course, the Piping of the Haggis where the haggis is brought in on a platter with the bagpipes blaring, followed by the Burns poem “Address to a Haggis”, followed by a toast to the haggis and then the main course. After the main course has finished, a series of toasts takes place including “A Toast to the Lassies” by the men followed by the “Reply to the Laddies” by the women. The evening finishes with Auld Lang Syne, written by none other than Mr. Burns himself, and a beloved tune to the days of yore. It would be wonderful for celebrations such as this to have a resurgence in Havre, to celebrate our heritage.

Of course, we can’t forget the Society column, so here is an entry from that section of the Plaindealer:

“Eastern Star Social.
“From the standpoint of popularity no events occurring in Havre excel the informal dances and social hour given by the ladies of the Eastern Star following the regular meetings of the chapter. After the meeting Tuesday evening of this week a crowd that taxed the dance hall in Masonic Temple was present and enjoyed a most delightful time until the midnight hour.”

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