Category Archives: World War I

#66 Rev. Emmanuel Jones, Scout Master

Continuing on from the last post, this well-known evangelist, Reverend Emmanuel Jones, accepted a call to the Christian Church in Kinsley and assumed the duties in September, 1917.  According to the Kansas City Globe:

“He is considered by the members of his congregation here (Emerson Park Christian Church) to be one of the hardest working pastors ever in charge of that congregation, and the people of Kinsley must get ready to follow the lead of a busy man.  Mr. Jones had demonstrated by his work that he is a financial genius, a quality foreign to the average preacher.  During the two years of his ministry here the burden of the church debt has been practically wiped out, while at the same time extensive improvements have been made in the church property.”  (July 30, 1917)

Rev. Jones did prove to be a very busy man.  On Sundays he conducted Sunday school, morning worship, Junior Endeavor group and evening worship, and Wednesday evening there was a prayer service.  He also took on the duties of Scout Master.

But Rev. Jones was not destined to stay long in Kinsley.  Six months after his arrival, the Kinsley Graphic reported that Rev. Jones went to Topeka to a meeting about work in the army camps (March 21, 1918).  Then we read in May, how Mrs. Jones stood in for her husband and delivered the graduation address at the Nettleton School for its two graduates.  Mr. Jones was absence due to a trip to Kansas City where he “made application for work in France in the Red Cross organization and hopes to go overseas soon.” (May 23, 1918, Kinsley Graphic)  The next week he was “called back to Topeka to appear before the War Personnel committee, for examination for overseas work.”  (May 30, 1918, Kinsley Graphic)

Before he left, he took his scouts on a camping trip.  Scouts Robert Wilson (see Post #44) and Harry Ott turned in this report of the campout for the June 6 issue of the Kinsley Graphic.

We left town at 4 p.m. last Friday afternoon.  We met at the Scout room and loaded the equipment on a truck.  We all walked  to the south bridge and then down the river about a mile where we pitched our camp and gathered fire wood for our fire and we went into the river and dug holes deep enough to jump in the next morning at 5 a.m.

After which we had supper, consisting of pork and beans, bread and butter and cocoa, after which all the boys washed his own dishes; then we had over one hour drilling and while we were drilling several boys from the town came out to see our camp.  Rev. Jones, our Scout Master, talked to them for quite a while and we wondered what about, of course we did lots of guessing.  Then we played catch the spy and the boys were caught.

At 10 p.m. we were chosen in groups of four for the night duty beginning at 10:30.  Each group was to watch for one hour and half.  Between 11:30 and 12, the alarm was sent out that the enemy were trying to get our grub.  The first one to try to get through the line tripped over a rope we had stretched around their mess tent and we captured him and found him to be one of the boys that the Scout Master had talked to earlier in the evening.  A few minutes later two other boys were caught after a close call in breaking the first trench.  They left about 1:30 but never-the-less we had our guards out all night.  Some of us had only about two hours sleep but it was well worth it.

The call came at 5:00 a.m.  After a wash we had breakfast at 5:00 a.m.  Wheatena (Scout Rations), ham and eggs, coffee and bread and butter.  We had our flag raising and then drill, also the tests for second class and eight of the boys passed, some of them 100 per cent.

Dinner at 11:30.  We had stewed and fried chicken, dumplings and bread and butter and spuds.  Then we had inspection and for the twelfth time we went in swimming to prove that Scouts stand for“be clean.”

The tents were taken down and carried to the road and two boys were left in charge while we walked to town, getting home about 2:30.

We sure had the time of our life and shall be sore to lose our Scout Master when he leaves us but we are planning for another before he goes. 

There was no report that the boys got to have another campout with their Scout Master.  They did make up a fund to purchase a watch for Rev. Jones, who left to work overseas for the Y.M.C.A  in August, 1918.

(To be continued)


#65 Rev. Emmanuel Jones, “The Singing Evangelist,” Speaks at Liberty Day Celebration

Another article in the same Kinsley Graphic newspaper (April 6. 1918) printed the text of Reverend Emmanuel Jones’ Liberty Day.  He was the pastor of the Christian Church and well known for his speaking ability.  I wanted to share his address with you, but thought I should try to find out a little more about him.  Several long hours of research has revealed a very interesting life story.  I warn you, it will take a few paragraphs to get him to Kinsley, World War I, and this speech in the South Park.

Emmanuel Jones was born in Wales in 1872 and immigrated to Canada and here in 1891.  He became a naturalized citizen and a minister/evangelist.  He had relatives around Scranton, Pennsylvania and was living in Omaha, Nebraska in October, 1905.  After much digging, I found mention of him traveling to Wales during the Welch Revival of 1905-06.  If you’re like me and have never heard of this, it was a Christian revival led by evangelist Evan Roberts in Wales.   His revivals impacted thousands of people and turned then to prayer and godly living.
 Evan Roberts and revival in Wales, 1905

The Scranton, Pennsylvania newspapers reported Rev. Jones as a visiting evangelist from North Dakota in the fall of 1910.   They report that his fine, baritone voice had made him “known though out the country as “The Singing Evangelist….His specialty or peculiarity as a preacher is that he sings most if not all of the sermon which he has to deliver.  An idea of his method can be inferred from the chanting of the Doxology in any church.”

In Rev. Jones’ Nov. 22, 1910 revival address “…he pointed out that it was much more preferable to be noisy in a church than to be sleepy…a preachers loses nothing by entertaining occasionally with a stroke of humor….The average congregation may be divided into three classes, the workers, the shirkers and the kickers.  The workers do all the work of the church.  The shirkers are recruited from the workers when they begin to shirk the work of the church,…and the shirkers soon degenerated into kickers.” (Scranton Republican, 11-23-1910)

Reverend Jones left Pennsylvania to evangelize in the west.  On May 28, 1914 he was pastor of the Baptist Church in Wahpeton, ND when he married Margaret Miller in Kansas City.  In the wedding announcement Rev. Jones is described as a Welshman who “has the fervency and zeal so characteristic of his countrymen.”(Wahpeton Times, May 28,1914).

The article stated that Margaret was the State Supervising Deputy for the State of North Dakota, for the Royal Neighbors of America, Fargo, ND and Kansas City.  The Royal Neighbors of America was founded by nine women in 1895 at a time before women could vote, own property in many states or even have control of their own money. Neither women nor children were generally considered insurable. This large fraternal order thought differently and offered insurance. (I wish I had time to do a little research about the early feminist organization.)

After he was married, he served several churches in the Kansas City area:  Armourdale Christian Church (1914), Grandview Christian Church (1915) and Emerson Park Christian Church in Argentine Christian Church (1916-1917).  In October, 1917, Rev. and Mrs. Jones came to the Kinsley Christian Church.

I wanted to share what Rev. Jones’ said as it represents a speech by a local person in support of the war and Liberty Bonds.  In times of war, patriotism runs high and this speech certainly exhibits that.   Try to imagine the whole town turned out for the parade and the gathering in the park to hear patriotic speeches.  This is before people had radios and televisions in their homes.  Speeches were a form of news and entertainment.  The weather must have been good as there was a contingency plan to meet at the Palace Theater if it were inclement.  There is no record that a band gazebo existed, but there may have been.  Or maybe the people sat in the wooden stands built at the park for ballgames and horse races.  There were U.S. flags everywhere and the crowd has sung patriotic singing.  Rev. Jones is the second speaker of the day.

The Flag

“When you see the Stars and Stripes displayed, stand up and take off your hat.  Somebody may titter.  It is in our English blood to deride all expression of noble sentiment.  You may blaspheme in the streets and stagger drunken in public places and the bystanders will not pay much attention to you, but if you should get down on your knees in the street and pray to Almighty God, or if you should stand bareheaded while a company of old soldiers march by with their flag in the breeze, some people would think you are showing off.  But don’t you mind.  When Old Glory comes along, salute and let them think what they please.  When you hear the band play ‘the Star Spangled Banner’ while you are in a restaurant or hotel dining room, get up, even if you rise alone, stand there, and don’t be ashamed of it either.  For all the signs and symbols since the world began there is never another so full of meaning as the flag of this country.  That piece of red, white and blue bunting means five thousand years of struggle upward.  It is the full-blown flower of ages of fighting for liberty.  It is the century plant of human hope in bloom.  It means the answered prayer of generations of slaves, of the Helots of Greece, of the human chattels of Rome, of the vassals of feudalism, of the serfs of Russia, or the blacks of America—of all who whipped and cursed, have crawled from the cradle to the grave through all time.  Your flag stands for humanity, for an equal opportunity to all the sons of men.  Of course, we haven’t arrived yet at that goal.  There are many injustices yet among us.  Many senseless and cruel customs of the past still cling to us.  But the only hope of righting the wrongs of men lies in the feeling produced in our bosoms by the sight of that flag.  It stands for no race, it is not like an Austrian, Turkish or German flag – it stands for me—men of any blood who will come and live with us under its protection.  It is the only banner that means mankind.  It stands for a great nation on earth free from the curse and burden of militarism and devoted to the arts of peace.  It means the richest, happiest, youngest people on the glove.  Other flags mean a glorious past, this flag a glorious future.  It is not so much the flag of our fathers as it is the flag of our children and all children’s children yet unborn.  It is the flag of tomorrow.  It is the signal of the ‘good time coming.’  It is not the flag of your king, it is the flag of yourself and for all your neighbors.  It has a power concealed in its folds and swatters abroad an influence from its fluttering.  That power and influence mean that in due time slowly and by force of law, yet surely as the footsteps of God, the last ancient fraud shall be smitten.  The last unearned privilege removed.  The last irregularity set right.  The last man shall have a place to work and a living wage.  The last woman shall have her rights of person and of citizenship, and the last and least of children shall be sheltered and trained and equipped by the sovereign state, and so have their right to live.

Don’t be ashamed when your throat chokes and the tears come as you see it flying from the mast of a ship in the Bay of Gibraltar or the Port of Singapore, you will never have a worthier emotion.  That flag is the cream of all religions, the concentrated essence of the best impulses of the human race; reverence it as you would reverence the signature of the Deity.  By hundred and by thousands the wretched victims of the old world caste are streaming westward, seeking here the thing that flag stands for—opportunity.  It stands for the quick against the dead, the youth of the world against its senility.

How would you like to have the power of militarism take your favorite horses from you and grind them into sausage meat to feed your sons on the battle field.  This has been done in Germany and is being done in Germany this very day.  How would you like to see that same power harness your wife and daughter and hitch them to a plow and compel them to do the work of the dumb beast in the field.  How would you like to have that same power order you and your wife and your children out of your own home and instruct you never to set foot within your own dooryard again.”

(Rev. Emmanual Jones’ story to be continued)


#64 A Long Cherished Flag

Another article from the April 11, 1918 Kinsley Graphic caught my attention as it tells about a flag that was carried in the Loyalty Day parade mentioned in my last blog.  This is another case of wondering what ever happened to that flag?”  Hopefully it found its way to a museum.  The article in the Kinsley Graphic begins:

“One of the interesting features of the patriotic demonstration Saturday was the appearance in the parade of the company flag of Co. C, 27th New York Infantry.  This flag is now in possession of Mr. Floyd Wellman, of this city.  David Lester, an old soldier, resident here for many years, was in Company F of the 27th New York Infantry and was personally well acquainted with its history.”

Mr. Wellman was a well-respected, long-time citizen of Kinsley. He was born September 8, 1854 in Steuben County, New York.  He moved with his parents to a farm southwest of Kinsley in 1886.   When his father’s died in 1891, he and his mother moved into Kinsley where he was elected township trustee, a position he held for many years.  He worked caring for the roads.

David Lester was active in the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) and was probably riding in one of those automobiles at the front of the parade.  Perhaps the flag was flown or carried by a G.A.R. member or Mr. Wellman.  Lester is best-known as the creator of the Civil War Monument in Hillside Cemetery outside of Kinsley.  He was 74 years old when he made the monument out of cement in 1917.  It is on both the Kansas and National Historic Registries.

But back to the story about the flag in the Graphic.

“The old flag is in fairly good preservation still and is carefully treasured by Mr. Wellman and only brought out on important occasions.  There is no record of the flag prior to its coming into possession of Co. C.  It carries 26 stars.  This would indicate that it was made after the admission of Michigan to statehood in 1837 and prior to the admission of Texas in 1845.”

The flag may have looked like this one below, but there is no way of knowing for sure.

The article goes on to tell the known history of the flag.

“The 27th assembled at Elmira and as mess halls were scarce, school houses, churches and the larger residences were used.  F. W. Morrow, uncle of Mr. Wellman, had a large house and moved his family to the upper story and Co. C, had the use of the lower floor for a mess hall.  Floyd Wellman was a little chap of seven years and the company took a great liking to him and kept him with them most of the time while in the city.  The regiment was mustered into the service of the United States July 5th, 1861 and dated May 21.  They fought in thirteen major engagements and many small battles, and returned to Elmira and were mustered out June, 1863.  The remnant of Co. C, again visited the Morrow family and renewed their friendship with Floyd.  Most of them re-enlisted and as they were to be scattered, they decided to leave their old company flag with Mrs. Morrow until such time as they could reclaim it.  It remained in her possession for a number of years and was not called for.  Finally she sent it to her nephew, Floyd Wellman, of this city, who cherishes it as one of his most prized possessions.”

Although the following tidbit is quite far afield from WWI or the parade, I can’t help including it on this blog.  An article in the Kinsley Graphic (November 30, 1922) told how Floyd Wellman loaned his mother’s scrapbook of Civil War era articles to the editor who found a picture of Abraham Lincoln in it, and wrote the following:

“Floyd related a story of the greatest fight it was ever his pleasure to witness between two women.  A few days after the assassination of Lincoln a Union soldier who had lost an arm in the war was on the streets of Elmira, New York, selling pictures of Lincoln.  Stepping up to a woman, the soldier requested her to buy a portrait, to which the customer replied, she would not have it in the house, but if he had a picture of Booth, the assassin, she would buy enough of them to cover the walls of her home.  The soldier told another lady concerning the remark made by the first woman.  Accosting the offender, the second lady, hit the one who made the remark, between the eyes with all her might, and a real fight, stripped of the propriety of Marquis of Queensbury rules ensued. Floyd was eleven years old at the time, and remembers the incident as though it were but yesterday.  He bought one of the pictures.”

Again, I ask help wondering whatever happened to that picture and scrapbook?”



#63 Loyalty Day Parade Marks the First Anniversary of the Great War

On April 2, 1917, President Wilson asked for a declaration of war against Germany.  One year later a Loyalty Day Parade to promote the purchase of Liberty Bonds was held on Saturday, April 6, 1918. The Third Liberty Loan Act sold liberty bonds to cover the war expenses of the United States. In effect, the bonds were loans from citizens to the US Government which would be repaid with interest in the future.
 Door Hanger                                  Grand Army of the Republic, May 20, 1914, Kinlsey

The week one hundred years ago had started out on Monday morning with the Boy Scouts decorating the doorknobs of homes with a Liberty Bell paper door hanger.

A parade was quickly organized for Saturday.   The mayor asked the stores to close from 10 – 1 o’clock.  People were encouraged to decorate stores, homes, and floats with flags and other patriotic materials. The parade formed at the high school and went through town and on city streets, ending up at the city park south of town.

“The old soldiers (Grand Army of the Republic Civil War veterans) and their wives in automobiles lead the way, and were followed by the Boy Scouts, Beck’s Boy Band, the Home Guard, the young people from our city schools, and citizens in floats and automobiles.  The band played patriotic airs during the march.  The Boy Scouts marched in open order with a large flag stretched between the men.  The stretcher-bearers carried a small dog on their stretcher and covered him with a Red Cross blanket.  More than 500 school children were in the line of march.  They sang patriotic songs at intervals.  Some were fantastically garbed, but the group that attracted special attention was made up to represent Belgian refugees.  They looked the part.” (Kinsley Mercury, April 11, 1918)

According to the Kinsley Graphic published on the same day, “The procession was taken out of its assigned line of march to pass the home of Mr. Goldschmidt, who had expressed regret that he was unable to view it, and the band stopped in the yard and played for him.  It will be another pleasant memory to all of us as the days pass.”  The poignancy of this gesture to a respected businessman of the community becomes clear when printed a couple columns over in the same paper is Fred Goldschmidt’s obituary announcing his death on April 9.
   Goldschmidts Hardware Store (1901) with detail of Fred 1860-1918) who came to Kinsley 1885.

The parade terminated in the city park south of town.  “Mrs. C. W. Beeler stood on the platform and led the singing.  Rev. W. G. Baker was the first speaker.  He explained that being a new-comer he deemed it advisable to make his stand on the war clear.  He stated very emphatically that he was a loyal citizen and for the vigorous prosecution of the war.  He was followed by Rev. Emmanuel Jones, whose topic was ‘The flag.’  He urged that at all times and in all places every citizens show his respect for the flag and our patriotic airs by standing uncovered when the flag is passing or the national airs are played or sung…. W. T. Williams was the last speaker, and delivered a stinging denunciation of all forms of disloyalty to this government.

Both newspapers rated the day and the drive for Liberty Bonds a success.

 “In mentioning the parade we feel that considerable praise is due the patriotic people of our little city and especially so since the fact is known that the whole show was planned and arranged in a day or so.  It was one of the best parades it has ever been our pleasure to witness and to see the youngsters out of school cheering and waving flags for their Uncle Sam was a sight we shall long remember.  Every department of the big event was successfully carried out and those who were in charge are to be congratulated.” (Kinsley Mercury, April 11, 1918)

“The patriotic demonstration in this city Saturday was most satisfying and satisfactory to those who had it in charge, and to the people as a whole, who saw in it the answer to the pro-Hun who still insists this country has no business in the war.  This demonstration shows we are not arguing the question.  We are in, and we propose to fight it through with all the resources of our country.” (Kinsley Graphic, April 11, 1918)


#62 Easter Sunrise Service at the Christian Church

The local newspapers printed the Easter services’ orders of worship before and after Easter Sunday, March 31, 1918. The one I found most interesting was the Easter sunrise service at the Christian Church in Kinsley (April 4, 1918, Kinsley Graphic).  The war certainly changed the content of this church’s worship service.   

“At six-thirty Sunday morning we gathered in His name, and realized that another resurrection day had dawned.  The old, old story awakened in us the hope of the sorrowing ages, and stirs anew the pulse of life.  All things spoke gladness, as softly the breeze fans gently against our cheek, and the bright sunlight tells us that this was Easter Sunday morning, the day our Lord gave back to mankind life, “listen comes the pealing bells ‘there is not death’ all is love and life.”

The theme for the morning was “service”.  Miss Ollie May McCormick spoke about the individual life to the young people.  A little research revealed that Miss McCormick of Wichita, at age 23, became the youngest state organizer for the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.  At age 25, she made a 3-day visit to Kinsley and spoke at a high school assembly, at boys’ and girls’ meetings and to the Mother’s Club.  She is described as “a wonderful speaker and dramatic reader.”

The article goes on to say:

“A double flag service was presided over by the Boy Scouts, wherein Miss Forest Slater gave the Cross story, followed by Miss Blanche Manuel on ‘Our Flag.’” (Miss Slater and Miss Manuel were local teenagers.)

“Dr. P.A. Pearson in well-chosen words gave the history of the Red Cross and presented the flag.

Service, was the key word of Col. F.D. West’s message when the service flag was unfurled.  And the following boys had been given to serve their country:  George A. Goodwin, Harvey Lancaster, Andrew Barbee, Estell Penticuff, Earl Humphres and yesterday morning another of our boys, Ivan Reeder, entered the service.  One by one the stars will be added our flag.”

In my other reading and research I found that the school and other churches also had service flags where a star was sewn on for each man that went in the military.  I wonder what happened to those service flags?  I only found three pictures of these organizational service flags on the internet. The one below was created at the University of Texas which accounts for the large number of stars.

#61 Easter at the Naval Training Camp

(continued from #60)

Robert Earl Britton’s long letter to the editor of the Kinsley Graphic continues below.   One hundred years ago, Easter Sunday fell on March 31, one day earlier than it does this year.

“Now folks, you have noticed the fact that boys that have gone into the various training camps, have with very few exceptions gained in weight or in case of overweight, reduced to the normal.  Well I noticed it and didn’t understand why it was, but the reason is very plain now as we have witnessed the change in ourselves.  Bitner and Julian have gained twelve pounds each.  Lovett eight and myself fourteen, this change took place in thirty days.

 The fact that the laws governing health are rigidly enforced and strict attention is given to sanitation are the cause of this notable change.

Our ‘chow’ comes at regular hours with a well-balanced menu.  Today it is above the average, due to the Easter celebration.  It was this:  Vegetable soup, celery, head lettuce with salad dressing.  Baked chicken with dressing, roast pork pan gravy.  Mashed potatoes, asparagus tips with drawn butter.  Hot mince pie, coffee and all the bread and butter we wanted to fill in.

The hours for sleep are regular, taps at 9:05 o’clock and reveille at 5:15. 

The time is well occupied from reveille to taps, it being arranged so there is something to do every minute.  We have plenty of exercise in the form of company drill, physical drills with arms and various forms of athletics.  Also we are allowed a certain time to do our washing, each man being compelled to scrub his own clothes.

In regard to the sanitary condition of the camp, I will say nothing except that it is as near perfect as could possibly be.

I think the naval authorities must have heeded the old saying when they made the rules and regulations governing this part of it i.e. ‘cleanliness is next to Godliness.’

The moral standard maintained here is well up with that of any other one of the various camps, that is, judging from what I have read of other places and what I have seen here. 

I want to say a word here in praise of the army and navy YM.C.A. and the service which it renders.  Its value cannot be appreciated to its fullest extent by anyone other than those placed in the environment of camp life.  It is the cause of a higher moral standard being maintained and I can well imagine that to the boys over there in the trenches it is worth many times more than to us here, so keep the good work going.

With best wishes to all friends and acquaintances, I bid you a kind good-bye.    Robert Earl Britton




#60 Goat Island Naval Training Center

The next time Robert Earl Britton writes is on March 31, 1918 from the Naval Training Center on Yerba Buena (Goat) Island in the San Francisco Bay.  In the letter he relates the story of its name.

“Goat Island’s real name is Yerba Buena, it was named that by the Spaniards on account of a kind of a plant which grows here noted for its medicinal value.  This was in the early days of San Francisco, when the only means of communication with the outside world was by the sailing vessels which came in through the Golden Gate at intervals several months apart.

A trader by the name of Spear who lived on Montgomery street, dealt with the ships on their arrival here and established a very good friendship with the captain of one of the vessels and the captain, wanting to bring something to him for a present, crated up five goats and on his next arrival here presented them to Mr. Spear.  As he was a merchant and had no place for the goats he loaded them on a skiff and rowed over to Yerba Buena Island and turned them loose, went on with his business and forgot the present which he had received from the captain.       

About the time of the gold rush, there were it is said about 3,000 goats on the island.  This was the growth of the flock.  There was a good demand for meat at good prices at this time so the market men went over to the island and took goats as they needed them and sold them over the block, saying nothing to Mr. Spear and before he was aware of the fact his goats were all gone.           

Thus came the name Goat Island.  Spear Street in San Francisco was named after the same man.  The Island is repopulated with goats, almost as many, but we only have two legs.”

Britton also tells about the first month at the training center.

“Our stay in the detention barracks, being a thing of the past, I will again act as spokesman for the Edwards county boys and give you folks a brief idea of it.

The things which we were taught in the D. T. could only be spoken of under two headings, that of military discipline and hygiene. 

The military discipline we boys knew nothing about and consequently was much different from anything we anticipated.

If we should have acted on the impulse of the moment and let our tempers be master, I am quite sure there would have been a Gold Braid (commissioned officer) or two in the hospital suffering from bruises and black eyes.  However this feeling of resentment and anger gradually went away and in a few days we were all beginning to show more true respect for our superiors and now the majority think we have the best officers on the parade grounds in command of our company.  Naturally there was a cause for us to get angry and it is also true that the commander intended to get us in that temperament.  It was an object lesson, and after we had mastered the lesson he was much more considerate and kind.  The lesson was simply this, obedience, no matter how foolish the order may seem, obey it.  No matter how overbearing a superior is, respect and obey his authority without hesitation or a word except yes sir, no sir, or aye aye sir.

First your undivided attention, then strict obedience and you have the foundation of military discipline.  We boys have the foundation down pat and I am quite sure we will get along good with the balance of our training.  I will not go into detail regarding the various orders, rules, instructions, regulations, etc., as to do so would take considerable time and space.

Hygiene, or the science of health, its preservation, and the laws of sanitation, is a subject we boys were as most people of this country are, well informed on.

Although a great many people are more or less negligent in this, I think it is more neglect than ignorance and I can plainly see that neglect is a habit that will soon be forgotten by us boys in the navy.”

(To be continued in #61)

#59 More Edwards County Boys Join the Navy

In March 1917, Robert Earl Britton begins writing letter back to the J. M. Lewis, editor of the Graphic from the Naval Training Camp on Goat Island, California.  Robert Earl was born January 20, 1891 in Key West, Coffey County, Kansas to Robert H. and Mattie E. Britton.  He had 2 older sisters and a younger sister, Julia.  His father moved to Edwards County to farm.

Robert enlisted in the navy in December, 1917 with three other friends from Edwards County.  I want to tell you a little about them as they seem to stay together and will be mentioned in Robert Earl’s letters in the future.

First of all there was Everett L. Bitner who enlisted at the same time with Britton.  Everett was born September 13, 1893 in Colorado to Ira and Ella Bitner who moved to Edwards County to farm.

Then there was Raymond Clarkson Julian of Fellsburg (born February 28, 1894).  He became Robert Britton’s brother-in-law when he married Julia Britton on New Year’s Day, 1916.  One year later, she sadly died in childbirth on January 24, 1917 at age 22.   Their baby, Evan Ray Julian survived and I believe was taken in by Julia’s parents when Raymond enlisted in the navy in December, 1917.  Later when he got back from the war he would remarry and Evan would live with him.

William Howard Lovell enlisted with Julian.  Lovell had been born on May 1, 1893 in Mississippi to William A and Florence S Lovell. I tried to find out a little about him and did see that in the 1910 census his father was in jail.  I don’t know what brought him to Kansas, but I believe he was working as a farm laborer around Trousdale, Kansas when he enlisted.

On March 3, 1918 Robert Earl Britton wrote his first letter back to the Graphic.

“I am taking the privilege of writing to you at this time regarding our trip and welfare since our departing from Kinsley and our friends and loved ones.  (Everett L.) Bitner, (Raymond C.) Julian, (William Howard) Lovett and myself were assigned to the same section in the Pullman, the same table in the diner and on our arrival here to the same company, (B, 7).  We left Kansas City at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, February 23.  It was rather a touching yet a thrilling sight that crowd of cheering boys, and weeping mothers, sisters and sweat hearts that filled one wing of that spacious union depot.”
(Might have looked something like dedication day of the Union Station in Kansas City, 1914.)

“We were routed on the Union Pacific via Denver and Ogden then Southern Pacific to San Francisco.  On the entire trip the boys were in the best of spirits.  There was not a hamlet we passed through that we were not reminded of the fact that there was someone on the road to Berlin via San Francisco and Panama.  Out in Brigham Young’s state at Ogden we were taken by an early morning surprise and marched thru the main streets in double rank formation carrying a lot of flags and giving an assortment of yells, but our ranks were broken up in a hurry when we went by, or rather came to, a shorthand school. Just a few “hello boys” from the students “Fair Sex” and we marched in and took possession for half an hour while the professor and teachers enjoyed the fun with us.  From there to the depot we were a happy looking bunch and at our departure there were perhaps a hundred pretty girls standing by “at attention.” As the train rolled on around the great salt lake.  The next event was that “Wild Cat Country” where the women go to get a divorce known as Nevada.  John Barley Corn is still prospering in that vicinity although he didn’t get rich off us because first the most of us didn’t use it and next because Uncle Sam would not permit it.  The last morning of our trip and dawn of a day long to be remembered by us who entered the raining station on that day, was a very beautiful sunshiny morning.  At daybreak we were descending the west slope of the Sierra Nevadas down into the beautiful Sacramento valley.  Those beautiful little mountain valleys covered with green grass, vineyards, orchards and peach blossoms.  Then as we descended into the wide fertile valley at the Sacramento proper we spied our first big ripe oranges hanging in those big busy trees with the dark green foliage.  Then came the mud flats and then San Francisco Bay.  We passed through San Francisco and to Goat Island then into the detention barracks where we will remain for three weeks.

The last cheer the boys gave was in the ferry building at San Francisco for the atmosphere changed when that gold braid stepped up and ordered a salute and a snap at this fellow and at that, it was really amusing to note the change in the countenance of the bunch.  So far I like it fine and I assure you the Edwards County boys are of the best of spirits and are well satisfied with the part they are taking in the service of their country.  We are making sailors out of ourselves as fast as we can.  We look the part already.  Mr. Lewis you are right.  Speak a word for us to our mothers, sisters and sweet hearts and tell them we like candy, cake and cigars, which we do not get much of here.  The next time I write I am going to give you a sketch of the first three weeks in the U.S.N.T.S. at the D. B. 

Sincerely yours, Robert Earl Britton  U. S. N. T. S., San Francisco, California, D. Company, B,  7.”

This picture of an unknown WWI sailor was taken by the Belpre photographer, W. O. Durstine.  Perhaps it is one of these four men who lived in the area.