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Harrison County Iowa Genealogy

Letters from Our Soldier Boys
Messages to Homefolks by Followers of the
Flag at Home and on Foreign Service

This is the newspaper’s standard heading for the letters that were printed as found in the clippings.

Arthur Johnson Tells His Mother, Mrs. Alfred Johnson, About a Hun Attack

France August 17th, 1918

Dear Mother

I received your letter a couple of days ago, also some papers last night. I read them until 10 o’clock in the morning and the news of the fighting in those towns and woods that you read about. I was through all those towns but we had to fight to get them.

One night about 11 o’clock we heard the German trains and auto trucks. We knew they were preparing for something. At three o’clock in the morning they came over with 7 hour barrage, and they went back with a good many less men than when they started. Those dead boches were Prussian guards and our patrol had to pick them up and bury them. One of them measured over seven feet tall. They haven’t tried anything on that sector since. We are not allowed to tell where we are as it would be giving the enemy information. The only ones that can tell are those who haven’t seen the front and have a shell proof job. The boche are hot on our trail. They sent up paper balloons when the wind was in the right direction We picked some of them up and they had paper on which was written, “Hello now out for a rest. When you go back again there will surely be something doing. I do not see much about any other division except the Rainbow division, in the papers. We know where they are and doing all the time.

We are in a nice town but the YMCA is four miles away. The boys on the firing line do not have to sleep in dugouts now, because they are advancing and find better sleeping quarters. Tell Boy we get all the cigarettes and smoking we want.

You wrote that Fred Berry was on the Kaiser Wilhelm. I came over on the Susanehanna, a German ship and the Kaiser Wilhelm (Baron Steuben) was in the bunch.

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France September 8th.

Dear Mother:

I received your letter dated August 6th, also two from Aunt Mollie, and one from Aunt Gussie and Harry. If Ralph had stayed with the 41st division I would probably have seen him about three weeks ago. I see by The Observer he is with the First division. They passed us the other morning, but not the whole division. I hope they will send all the men in Camps over there across, as they can get the proper training from men that have been to the front and have had actual experience.

France is full of Americans. We are now in our little tents waiting for orders. There is not one of the Omaha boys with me, but our Company has a good bunch of boys. There are a few German airplanes on this front, but when they see our airplanes coming they beat it back.

Well, the boys are all feeling good and ready to go after the boche again. I see by the paper that Arthur Logan is in the tanks. That is a good job. Where is he? I thought we were going to get a 10 day furlough, but we didn’t get it. Some of the other divisions got it this time. Well I must a quit, I would like to write more, but time is precious at this moment. So goodbye to all and be good.

P.S. Try and get the Boston Globe and you can see what the 26th is doing.
Arthur Johnson
Co I 103 Inf. American E F 26th Div.

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The following letter received this morning by Mrs. Jake Weiss from her husband:
France Nov 5, 1918

Dear Hattie:

This is sure a fine day and I just got through shaving. Feel pretty good. The was news looks good and it seems like it may end most any time and I hope so. Suppose the weather is pretty cold there now, any way at nights. It seems good to be sleeping in a bed again. Haven’t ever run across anybody that I know and haven’t received any newspapers from home, but suppose there is alot with the company for me. We had a good time Halloween homemade candy, cookies and apples and it sure was a treat. I made a mistake when I said I was riding on the train Halloween. I ought to write Rude a letter and I also owe letters to Ann, Laura, John Hanneman and Stephany. Hope everyone is well and everything is fine. Suppose the farmers are shucking corn or starting to. Did the dry weather hurt the corn any? It won’t be long until the holidays, just a little over three weeks till Thanksgiving and seven weeks till Christmas. Not much chance to be home by Christmas even if the war ends tomorrow. But hope I am home before spring and even before they start to put up ice this winter. We can’t all be the first to go home, but we all hope to be one of the lucky ones. I believe it is better to be with fellows you don’t know or haven’t known all your life when you go battle. It was hard to see them killed and wounded when you have only known them a few days, but when new men come in all the time it takes it off your mind. How was the last Liberty Loan in Woodbine? Have all the churches got one? She ought to have one. How are the little ducks and pigs? Tell Hamer and Phillippi hello and all the folks down at your place. New is pretty scarce, hardly know anything to write, only this is a mighty fine place. I believe I am heavier than I was when I was home the last time. Might not be right now, but have been heavier and will be again when I leave here. Will probably be back with the company by Thanksgiving and I really believe the cannons roar will be over by that time.

Jacob M Weiss

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Letter From Horace Davis

October 14, 1918

Dear Mother,

I was given my Christmas coupon this evening. You can not send me anything unless you use the coupon. You can use it is you wish, but do not get excited and think I am begging for one. Have been issued winter clothing so am quite comfortable now. Bought myself a sweater tonight. It cost me 38 francs so I quess I will keep warm.

We think the war will be soon be over.

They have quite a bit of wild game here. Saw an antelope and a wild hog hanging in a butcher shop and they have lots of rabbits and wild fowl. Do they hear from Charley Wilson and Verde Kiger? I wonder if they are up near the firing line. Uncle Sam has sure got some men over here. I sometimes wonder how they keep tabs on them. It is sure some undertaking. You cannot imagine what it is until you see it. I saw my old classmate Dale Eshleman this evening. He was in the hospital but is alright now. I think I’ll bring a French chicken home with me. They don’t look as good as they are pictured.


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Letter From Homer Cissna

Sunday, October 6th

Dear Mother and Brother:--

I will write you a few lines. I ought to have a written before, but they ran out of paper at the Y.M.C.A. and haven’t got any yet. Finally I went out and bought some, but it costs like blazes over here, everything else does too, except at the canteen, and they generally don’t have much but tobacco. I am well and feeling fine. We were out to the rifle range three days last week. Tell the boys it isn’t any fun; it means work from daylight till dark. When we came in from off the range we had our super before we left. It took about two hours to hike it and we were hugnry when we got in and six or seven of us went into French store and bought a small can of jam or jelly and a good thick piece of bread. The bread was fresh and still warm and it sure tasted good, but it cost two and one half francs about 50 cents in our money. I hired my wash done last week. I would let somebody else do it once. They seemed to get blacker every time I did it. It cost me a franc and a half but they were clean and white. A fellow feels better when he puts them on.

We don’t get much war news here. The papers have only one or two sheets to them and generally not much in them. We have Germany on the run and she had just as well quite because she will have to in the end. It is awfully hard to write and say anything and not say something against the rules. I went on a berry detail last Sunday and we picked enough blackberries that all had a big piece of blackberry pie – some treat. But I’ll tell you Mother it would be a great treat to come home and have for breakfast some pancakes like you make. I have had one or two since I have been here, but they are not like yours. Well tell everybody hello and that I think about them if I don’t write.

From Pvte. Homer S Cissna, Co F 330th Inf. American E.F. A.P.O. No. 762, France.

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As will be seen in the following letters from Jerome and Cecil Aughey, who are in France, Woodbine was represented in the first American troops that went into action and will have something to tell when they get back home. Here are the letters:

Somewhere at the front near the top row in France, Nov 7, 1917

Dear Dad:

I received all your letters today in a bunch, ten from you, two from Charlotte, one from Florence and one from Grandma; also the papers and magazines. It will sure keep us reading for some time to get through this bunch. It sure puts new life in a fellow to hear from home. I was talking yesterday with some of the fellows from the Company and they said we had a lot of mail come since we left, but I did not expect to get it till I got back to the Company. I also got the box you mailed us the last of September, and it is O.<. some of the contents are broken some but they are eatable; tell mother her cookies are the best ever. Say, Florence the cartoons you send from the Nonpareil and Bee surely affords great amusement for the boys in the company, as well as myself. However, I am afraid that “Scoop” would not stand much of a show over here if the Bochs got after him.

I have a cold again this winter and it has settled in my chest; nothing serious, otherwise I am feeling fine and dandy and am getting along fine.

You spoke of having a fine rain, well we have had one for a month and not let up. If it does not rain it snows and we have been wading mud nearly all the time and are wet about all the time. I wrote you in my last letter that Cecil and I were separated and were doing special duty instructing Infantry men in signal work. I cannot tell you what I would like you to know; you have been reading the papers and no doubt see that some of our men were killed and captured. Cecil is detached with that batallion. I haven’t heard from him for ten days, but expect he will get back to the company, sometime next week, and I think by the time you get this I will be back to our company, that is if I get back.

This is the last letter I will get to write you till next month, so don’t worry if our mail does not come along as regular as usual. I will write the very first chance I get.

If it would go through I could tell you of some very exciting battles we have seen in the air and otherwise; also the roar of the heavy artillery but it is of no importance if we cannot put in the details and that we are not allowed to do.

As I sit here in the Salvation Army hut writing one forgets the roar of big guns outside as the Victrola is playing “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” with violin obligato.

Say Dad, I sure would like to hear you play and be able to sit down and play some of those good old tunes wit you, kind a makes a lump come up in a fellows throat. I remember the last piece we played in Sunday School the last Sunday we were home was “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.” They have turned the record over and are now playing “Tell Mother I’ll Be There.”

Laying all jokes aside, there is no place like home, and just as soon as we get this bunch policed up I am coming back home. Dad, if you can keep your game leg going till I get back I will take the business over and give you a furlough. I ought to have a little stake with my allotment and Liberty bonds. I have signed the bonds over to you and will have them paid for in July and if I am not back by that time just put them in the bank for me.

I don’t know of anything special you could send for Christmas. They sweaters would come in handy, the ones with no sleeves and neck; don’t make them too tight in the arm hole or to heavy as we wear them under our O.D. shirts.

I guess we never think of candy anyhow I never hear the men talking about it.

We sleep in French houses or barns and have a camp stove that does very well; go to the French Forest reserve for our wood so you see we earn what heat we get. We have the regular Q.M. canvas cot and three O.D. blankets; yes, sometimes we sleep with all our clothes on to keep warm.

We got a general order in regard to stamps and we will not need postage any more. Tell everybody hello. Will write again as soon as I can.

Goodby for this time
Yours, Jerome, Co B.S.C.

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Dear Folks:

Well, I suppose you know long before this that I got a little knockout while I was up where Jerry plays. It was a rough old game this time and I sure did celebrate Sis’ birthday as never before. Then two days later I got a piece of schrapnel through the calf of my right “runner.” We were advancing on Jerry when I was hit. I walked back to the dressing station and have now finally reached the base hospital. I am feeling fine now and do not think it will be long before I can be up and around again.

I expect the home papers look fine now days. We are doing wonders up there. I wish I were near my company for I am sure there is lots of mail for me. We have not received any mail for about three weeks. But anyway, I can write to you and am getting along O.K.

If you will remember the details of the war during the last week or so maybe I can tell you more about it when I return.

Hope this letter finds you all well and happy. Tell everybody hello for me and when I get to walking about I will try to write up some of my back debts.


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Somewhere in France

Dear Folks:

Received three letters from you all in a bunch and sure glad to get them. Never wait until you hear from me, but write sa often as you can for them mean a lot to a fellow when he is so far away; and send me the papers when you can. I am feeling find and can leave the hospital soon, as I get over the mumps in nice shape and had no trouble whatever. Was glad to hear of your work in the Red Cross as we have got lots of their stuff and it is very handy. The Red Cross and the YMCA are the best friends a soldier has.

Did ou get both pictures of the regiment and the company that I sent you? I am very proud of both of them. Was glad to hear that the prospects for a crop is good as it will all be needed for food. I can’t tell much about the boys as I haven’t seen them but once since I came here. Write just as often as possible and tell Laura and others to do the same.

Pvt. Chas. L. Wilson

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July 10, 1918

Dear Folks:

AM at the YMCA this morning so willdrop you a line. I am feeling very good now but am not on any heavy work yet. It has been fine weather lately, hot in the day time but cool at night. I am studying hard on French and have learned quite a little. The best way is to get a kid to help you and you can learn the accent just right as it is very hard to get it out of a book. You would be much interested if you could see the stores here. There are many kinds and on some there are signs saying “English spoken.” As that of course helps the trade. Shoes, for one thing are very high, 50, 60, and 70 francs or about ten to twelve dollars. Clothes are not so bad as I have seen suits for $15, $18, $20. Many wooden shoes are worn. Those cost eight or nine francs per pair. Fruit and nuts are cheap and plentyful and a person can buy fine samples of either. Candy, chocolates and sweets are very scarce and expensive. The ice cream which is sold here does not tast much like ours at home. We get our news from the New York Herald published in Paris and we also have an Army paper called the “Stars and Stripes” which tells about Camp life. There has been some very hard fighting lately on the American and French fronts, but the lines are all holding in these places and have also made some advancement.

The Fourth was celebrated in both Paris and London with large track meets and nearly all of the small towns had some kind of a demonstration. In many places there were Americans, Italian and French flags flying together. I hope to hear from you soon.
Your loving son,
Pvt. Chas. L. Wilson, Co D 33rd Eng.

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Missouri Valley Boy Writes to His People About Going Over the Top.
Prisoners are Kids

France, Thursday, September 19

Dear Mother and All:

I will drop you a few lines this afternoon. It is raining and we are not busy. I received your most welcome letter yesterday and was glad to hear from you and that you were all well. This leaves me fine and dandy and I hope you are when you get this. I got the pictures of sweet little Morrell and his old pal Sport, and also so nice to Charles. I am so glad to get them. I was also pleased to get the picture of little Wilma and Bertly. They sure look cute and sweet. Tell Mrs. Masterson that I think Bertly is quite a man by now, and that I was more than pleased to get the pictures of both of them.

Well mamma, you wanted to know how I am getting along. I am getting along quite fine and please do not send me any money for I do not need it but I will see about getting some other articles sent to me. You wanted to know if I have been near the trenches. I have been to the front twice and it isn’t so bad. At one time we took 1,700 prisoners. They were mostly all kids, and they were hungry and tired. They said they were finished. They could not believe we were Americans. But the Sammies soon let them know who we were. You spoke about Claud Davis and Perry H being tired of the Army. By the time they have been through what I have they will be used to it. Don’t worry mamma, I will be all right and I expect to come home to you. I saw Bob Deal yesterday. He is in the 129th Infantry and he seems to like it fine. You spoke about the weather being so hot at the time you wrote and that papa had just finished putting up his hay. I am glad that the crops are all good. I wrote a letter to Aunt Dora last week and I thought about Mack. I got a letter from Stella this week so I will write her one this evening. When you write me tell all the good news and all of you be sure to write for I do like to get letters from all of you.

I will close for this time with lots of love.
Your son,

* * * * * * *

September 11, 1918

Dear Mother and all:

I am not busy this afternoon so will write youa letter. This leaves me fine. We have been having lots of rain for the last week. We had steak for dinner and we get plenty of other things to eat but I miss the good things at home. But mother every day brings me closer home. I know you are busy canning fruits and other good sweets. What about the melons this year? You wrote about the fried chicken you were having – that sure makes my mouth water. I know papa is busy these days and I’ll bet the girls are some chore boys by now. I’ll bet little Morrell is quite a little man by now. Be sure and send me a picture of Morrell and his dog. I have been looking for some pictures from home for a long time. You and papa have your pictures taken and send one to me. I will be so glad to get them. I am glad that you have heard from Charley and that he is well and fine.

The nights are quite cool and we make good use of our blankets and we sure sleep well. We have been moving around quite a lot lately so we have seen quite a lot of France and it is a very beautiful place. I was out with two of my pals picking blackberries and they are very fine. We make jam which goes fine with our eats. I will write to Charles soon and cheer him up. I know how he feels but I have got so used to it that it is home to me now, but when this is over I will have all of this life I want. You spoke about Claud Davis leaving for over here. Well give my regards to Mrs. Davis for it will be some change for the kid. At times the music we hear makes my ears ring. Give my best regards to all the neighbors and tell them I am the same old kid – fat and saucy. I will close for this time.

Your son, Lee

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Armed Forces, France, Nov 12

Dear Folks:

Well, here we are again back in the company. It has been just sixteen days since I wrote you last and right now I want to tell you I wrote the first opportunity I have had since to write. I told you in my last letter that I had left Jerome, have been detached on special duty; Jerome is not back yet. I cannot tell you what has happened in the last sixteen days but when I get home you shall know all. I don’t know whether Jerome wrote you anything while I was gone or not, anyhow I suppose you have been reading the papers.

I received mail this morning, the first I have had in five weeks. It was sent to Jerome and when I got back it was sent to me. I also received the papers and magazines and it needless to say that I was tickled to get every bit of mail and I know Jerome was, the best of all was the box you sent us, the cookies were good, the fudge was goody good. The first peanuts I have seen since I crossed the bloody pond. The fudge was of course a little hard but we couldn’t expect it to be just as you made it some weeks ago. Nevertheless it was all dandy, there isn’t anything like having a good father and mother who will do things for you. I remember at times when I was at home I used to think that you were a little hard on me but since I got out and see the other side of life, I realize now that everything was done for my benefit. Since I have had to see the training I got at home I certainly appreciate the fact that I got it at the right time and not after it was too late.

I know now, Dad, that you knew what we were running up against when we joined the Regular Army and I am certainly glad I had someone to look after me at home when I needed it.

We have a good company, good officers, everyone of them will do their best for you if you will meet them half way. Of course, as you told us there are things that come up that are hard to take, but nevertheless when you stop and look on both sides they are always for the best. A man cannot have a picnic all the time. I am well and happy, I haven’t got a thing to kick about, everything is going good. The weather has turned cold, I have a cold on my lungs but you know I always have a cold on my lungs in the winter. We are in billets over here, have a stove and plenty of wood, so you see we are well fixed. We are getting good eats – that is as good as can be had in the position we are in, nothing like we had in Brownsville, but believe me a man won’t get slim on the grub we get.

I got fourteen letters today besides the papers. It sure puts new pep in a man when he gets a letter from home. You asked about the sweaters, yes, we drew sweaters but they are too heavy to wear under our shirts and we cannot wear them outside the blouse.

I wrote you in my last letter that my allotment and Liberty bonds took $30 per month of my pay so I want you to do my Christmas shopping for me, I don’t have much to spend and there is nothing here to spend it for anyhow.

About the photos, we can have them taken but we are not allowed to send them back to the States. I don’t know why but suppose there is a reason, older heads than mine issued the order.

Do you realize folks that it will soon be seven months since we left home and Thanksgiving will soon be here? Time does fly – well it can’t fly too fast for me; I want to get back and see you all!

Well folks this is about all I can think of that I can write at this time, write when you can and I’ll write again soon.

With Love, Cecil.

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Edward L Deal writes His Cousin Mrs. Paul Weston
About Some Serious Fighting and Privations

France August 28th, 1918

Dear Cousin:

Received your letter yesterday just after I got back to the Company. You know that I had to take a vacation for my health down to the hospital. You asked me about celebrating the Fourth of July. We started in the night of the Fourth and kept going until the big Dutch shell put me on the bum – that was about July 30th. I saw more fireworks and heard more noise that I ever want to see again. I have seen lots of good Germans over here – they were all dead.

I haven’t heard from Bob but once since he came over here. I guess he is on the front somewhere. We never get a furlough here except when we are sent to the hospital. You ask how we cook out here; well it is easy enough to cook if we have food to cook, and the Dutch do knock our kitchen to pieces. We advanced in the front wave for forty-eight hours without a thing to eat and all the water we had was what we got out of a little old river. The worst of it all was that we run out of tobacco. I tell you when your smoking gives out on you it makes you feel pretty blue. There was plenty of it back of the lines, but we advanced so fast that our grub detail could not find us; then the machine gun fire was hell too and shells everything else.

Tell Mr. Smith that I am coming back and tell him all about war when this is over. I don’t think that little old rumpus he was in amounts to much beside what I have over here.

Tell all the folks back there hello. Goodbye

Your cousin, Edward
Corporal Edward J. Deal
I Co. 169th Inf.
American E.F.
To Mrs. Paul Weston

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