Muscatine County, Iowa
Muscatine Journal & News-Tribune
Centennial Edition
31 May 1940

Section 7 - Page 18 & 19, Submitted by Shirley Plumb, July 19, 2012

Page 18

46 Made Supreme Sacrifice When County Sent 1,700 to World War

Muscatine County, giving willingly and freely in men, money and blood, played a glorious part in helping to turn the tide against Kaiser Wilhelm’s imperial German army during the first World War. Patriotism flamed high here when the United States entered the war against Germany in April, 1917, and residents manifested an intense interest in the progress of the fighting throughout the war. Citizens depended on The Journal to bring them the latest dispatches and files of this newspaper during that time reveal that there was an abundance of “big news” from the front.

Almost every day, particularly during the latter part of the conflict, dispatches flashed over the wires telling of deeds of daring and magnificent attacks made by the American troops against the gray-clad legions that had overrun Belgium and much of France. In every major battle in which American troops participated, soldier boys from Muscatine were in the hottest of the fighting. They helped smash at the Germans at Chateau-Thierry, Soissens, St. Mihiel, Belleau Wood and other battlefields of the war.

It was the series of terrific blows struck by the Americans in conjunction with their Allies that stopped Germany’s assaults and led to the turning of the tide in 1918. Assuming the offensive July 15, 1918, the Allied forces pressed the Germans steadily back across France into Belgium. Convinced that further resistance was impossible, the German authorities on Oct. 12, appealed to President Wilson for an armistice, and after a month’s negotiations the armistice was signed on Nov. 11, 1918.

More than 1,700 men from Muscatine County served in the army, navy, or marines during the war and of this number, 46 made the supreme sacrifice. Two Red Cross nurses also gave their lives in their country’s service during the war. Those was made the supreme sacrifice, according to an official list, were:

    Charles Abbott, Henry Angel, Byron Barber, Walter Becker, Edward H. Bitzer, Guy Melvin Blake, Edward J. Boitscha, George Brandt, Leland J. Caide, Leonard Carter, Gus Chimpanes, Henry F. Crone, William F. Danz, Clarkson R. Elliott, Frank M. Fisher, John Farnsworth, George W. Forster, Earl C. Freyermuth, Stewart Gravatt, Ledru H. Hendrix, Earl C. Hobert, Clarence Hysinger, Leonard James, Harold J. Kemble, George V. Loney, Albert A. Marticke, George Morris, Gerald E. Mull, Thomas Murphy, Arthur Nagel, Mark Ohaver, James P. O’Toole, Clyde E. Pickens, Franke Pike, Mansell L. Phillips, George Pulse, James D. Raver, Joseph W. Roelle, Harry Reese, John Rottman, Chauncey W. Schmidt, Delbert Shotwell, Bert Stickland, Elmer C. Tollefson, Charles Tough, and Vernon Wright.

Red Cross nurses who died in the service were Elsie Davis and Ella Noring.

Names of two of the Muscatine men who were killed in action in France were taken by local veteran’ organizations. They were Edward H. Bitzer, whose name now designates Post No. 27 of the American Legion: and J. Harold Kemble, whose name was chosen by Post No. 1565, Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Photos of John Harold Kemble and Edward H. Bitzer

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State Issued First Licenses to Motorists

Muscatine County residents who early in the 20th century were possessed of sufficient fortitude to drive one of the newly created “horseless carriages” at first registered their vehicles at Des Moines.

Car License numbers were not allotted by counties, but instead all licenses were issued from the state house until 1920, when the task of registration was turned over to the county treasurers. Muscatine County’s first allocated number was 74 and this was retrained until 1925 when it was changed to 75. A year later, in 1926, it became 64, then shifted to 62 before the present identifying number, 70, was given the county in 1930.

Figures at the office of County Treasurer Arthur J. Nicholson on motor vehicle fee collections reflect the great increase in the industry which has taken place within the past two decades. In 1920, motor vehicle fees totaled $ 79,374.78—only about half of the collections which were realized during 1939. But 1927, the figure had grown to $ 123,073.50, and last year it came to $156,429.95.

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Photo of Mrs. Edwards and Jacob Edwards ~ Since about the year 1855 the Edwards family has been identified with the history of Muscatine. Jacob Edwards was born May 24, 1836 while his wife, the former Maru Jane Jewett, was born July 18, 1838. They married Feb. 17, 1858 and came here about that time. Mr. Edwards died on May 7, 1900 and his wife lived until May 6, 1916.

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“Tomorrow night will see the dissolution of the old Hershey Hose Company, while at the same time in the Relief Headquarters on Bleeker Street, the Relief Hose Company will hold a private auction of the company’s effects to members only.” –Muscatine Journal, Jan. 6, 1871

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County supervisors named the following appointive officers: Soldiers” Relief Commission, S. M. Wise, three years; holdovers, John Long and T. K. Chase. Overseer of the poor, J. E. Coe. Superintendent of the county home, Charles Kleindolph. Janitor of heating plant, H. B. Freers. Janitor of the court house, H. L. Jones and Mrs. F. A. Grooms. –Jan. 4, 1922

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Immediately Wanted - A quantity of Harrison Money, in payment of debts due me for eating, sleeping, and drinking; also for debts of other contraction. Should persons indebted to me fail to accept of this offer, they may expect to pay in Van Buren Money. I have quit tavern keeping and money I must and will have. A word to the wise is sufficient. James Parmer –1841.

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Emmancipation of Slaves - A provision has been adopted by the Virginia Reform Convention in Committee of The Whole, prohibiting the Legislature of the State from passing any law for the emancipation of slaves. –June 21, 1851

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Page 19

Texas Poet Laureate Links Journal to Exciting Event of Her Early Wilton Days.

“The Muscatine Journal will ever be associated in my mind with quite the most exciting event of my childhood,” writes Mrs. Grace Noll Crowell, of Dallas, Texas, former Wilton resident, now poet laureate of Texas, in a letter congratulating The Journal on its 100th anniversary. Mrs. Crowell, who was named the American Mother of 1938, and honored nationally in exercises centering around Mother’s day that year, spent her early years in Wilton.

Won Declamation Contest

The event of her childhood days which is recalled in the letter was the winning of a temperance declamation contest at Wilton, which brought with it the right to compete in a county contest in Muscatine. While in Muscatine she was a guest at the home of John Mahin. Her letter follows:

    “I am happy to send you my sincere good wishes and hearty congratulations upon the occasion of The Journals centennial year.

    “A daily newspaper is a powerful force in any community when it is clean and fine and fearless. That is the way I remember The Muscatine Journal as being when I knew it, and I am sure that you still carry the same high banner of service for a people as did your predecessors: and that you measure up to the highest standard of journalism.

    Guest at Mahin Home.

    “The Muscatine Journal will ever be associated in my mind with quite the most exciting event of my childhood. As a little girl I studied ‘elocution.’ I was taught to do all sorts of strange contortions known as Delsartean, with which to accent my speech, and I must have won a prize in a temperance contest at Wilton and was thereby chosen to represent our town in the county contest. And wonder of wonder! When I arrived I was taken to the home of the editor of The Muscatine Journal. Should King George ask me to visit him today I couldn’t not possibly be more impressed and thrilled. Never had I seen as elegant a home; never had a twelve year old girl been so well entertained. The editor and his family with innate courtesy made a little bashful country girl feel at home—quite important.

    “Always I have remembered that experience with delight, and the editor I still think of as ‘a gentleman and a scholar,’ which he truly was.

    “Then imagine my horror and concern when I heard in a day or so that his beautiful home had been dynamited, allegedly by the liquor interests. That gorgeous home with its rare pictures and books blown to bits! I recall having a half frightened and guilty feeling as if my temperance speech might have been a contributing factor to that terrible disaster. Then I learned that it was the great editor’s fearless stand for what he thought was right that had brought his house down upon his head and not my piping voice after all.

    An Exciting Trip.

    “The trip from Wilton to Muscatine in those days was as exciting an adventure as a national tour is today. Twelve miles with a horse and buggy was nothing to be put aside lightly, and a train ride over the little bumpy track was the height of luxury and pleasure.

    “Now this little note started to be a mere congratulation, and that I might tell you I hope that The Muscatine Journal will go on to farther and brighter heights for at least another hundred years. One can scarcely imagine that great community up there without it. Its people would indeed be bereft without the high and faithful service you render them daily. Please, do not think I am growing old because of my reminiscence—that couldn’t be, could it? I simply cannot think of The Journal without seeing the girls that I used to be, honored by a great editor—or so I felt his kindness to be. Print as little or as much of this letter as you care to print, and please send me a copy of the paper so that I may read what others have said in your honor.

    “I have just returned from a ‘reading tour’—without the Delsartean gestures, I assure you, and am off on another tomorrow, so whatever mistakes you see in this letter please correct them for I am writing far too hurriedly to do a good job.

                “Truly my best wishes,
                “Grace Noll Crowell.”

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