After World War I ended, the Veterans of 1917 and 1918 felt that the comradeship of camp and ship should be perpetuated in useful civilian activities and service to God and country. After the Paris Caucus, a more representative conference of veterans met in Saint Louis. The fall of 1919 was the date of the first National Legion Convention at Minneapolis, from which emerged The American Legion. This largest Veteran organization includes veteran membership of seven major wars, all fought on foreign soil.
The Veterans of Indiana played an important role which eventually led to the selection of Indianapolis as the site of the National Headquarters of The American Legion. A group of veterans in Indianapolis met and organized the Legion Post No 4 in Indianapolis in February, 1919. This was the first post to be organized in our Hoosier State. Other groups of veterans scattered throughout the state began meeting and soon there was a statewide conference in the House of Representatives on April 24, 1919. Raymond springer of Connersville was made Chairman and became the first State Commander in June, 1919.
History of The American Legion, Dubois County Post 147
In the late winter and early spring of 1919, after Germany had signed an armistice with the Allied Powers on November 11, 1918, the overseas forces began to trickle back to God's country and resumed their place in the life of the community.
By this time, the newspapers began to carry issues of proposed organizations of World War Veterans. The ex-servicemen of Jasper, gathering in groups on the street corners or at the drug store, began talking of forming an organization, but were a little doubtful how to proceed.
It was in the summer of 1919 that the magic word "American Legion" began to be mentioned in these groups. It was at one of their duscussions in the drugstore of Victor Salb, a discharged soldier, that it was decided to call a meeting of ex-servicemen for the purpose of forming a home Post of the American Legion.
A note to that effect was published in the Jasper Herald. Postmaster John P Huther had offered the use of an "upper room" in the Post Office building for the meeting. On the designated evening, a group of about fifteen ex-servicemen answered the call and decided that the American Legion, recently founded in Paris, was the group most likely to succeed.
The first writing of the American Legion in the Jasper Herald was made in its issue of October 3, 1919, under the heading of "Dubois County and Her Soldiers." An editorial urges the holding of a county-wide reunion---a gala "Welcome Home" celebration which had been promised the boys when they left for camp. The editorial, among other things, says that we have been talking about patriotism and patriotic sentiment. Here is a chance to think about it on a large scale. Get the boys together and unite them forever in the American Legion, an organization of discharged soldiers, which the press in all parts of the country heralds as the leading spirit of American Patriotic Sentiment. A "Welcome Home" celebration is one effective way of getting the boys organized.
The next issue, October 10th, announced in headlines that the celebration would be held on October 17th. An editorial headed, "The American Legion," urges that every man who was in uniform in the World War to join that organization. It goes on to say, "The American Legion will be built as a solid rock of support in all movements calculated to suppress Bolshevism and promote Americanism.
The October 24th issue announced Governor Goodrich as the principal speaker. On October 31st a lead article announced the plans and principles of the American Legion.
Along comes the November 7th issue with detailed plan under one headline and another announced that, "Legion is Organized by Soldiers." The article said: "An epoch-making chapter in the history of Dubois County's Veterans of the World War was written Tuesday night when Post 147 of the American Legion was founded.
The charter members who assembled Tuesday night, October 31, 1919, in the Post Office were:
Claude Line, Dr. L.A. Salb, Victor M. Salb, Albert T. Rumbach, Ambrose J. Kuebler, Ray FLorey, Dr. J.F. Casper, George K. Manos, Adolph E. Haller, Othmar Eckerle, Othmar G. Sprauer, William E. Morgan, Alex Eckstein, Dr. Eugene Sturm, John M. Wucher, Vic F. Sturm, Linus G Bohnert, Theo. H. Dudine.
Under another heading, "Welcome Home Our Boys." the great homecoming celebration held on the first anniversary of Armistice Day is described as a "splendid tribute by the entire county to veterans---American Legion makes big strides forward. Governor addresses returned soldiers."
Under a subhead, "American Legion scores." the Herald said: "The American Legion, Dubois County Post #147 received an appreciable advance as a result of the celebration. Capt. Richard Waller of Evansville, a state organizer, explained the object and principles of the Legion. Capt. Waller's speech bore good promise as 115 men enrolled immediately and many men promised to join at the next meeting.
The issue of November 24th describes the rapid progress made by the Legion and lists the names of all who joined up to that date, all being considered charter members.
When the question of electing officers came up, after considerable discussion, it was decided that the honor of serving as the first Commander of the Post should be offered to Dr. E. Strum, who had served as a Captain in The Medical Corps: but the doctor declined, giving as his reason the fact that he had been a commissioned officer. "If you make me your Commander," Dr. Sturm said, "The boys will say this organization is the same old army stuff, and the brass hats are telling us where to head in. "
The Doctor's refusal was accepted, and the precedent he set was followed for many years before a commissioned officer was named to head the post. Thereupon, Victor Salb was named Commander: Albert Rumbach, Vice-Commander: Othmar Sprauer, Second Vice-Commander: Linus Bohnert, Third Vice-Commander: Alex Eckstein, Secretary (Adjutant): Otto J. Schaaf, Treasurer: S. Guy Norman, War Risk Insurance Officer, Executive Committee: Carl Moenkhaus, Leo Housing and Homer Pickhardt of Huntingburg, Claude Line, Adolph Haller, Ambrose Kuebler and John H. Wucher of Jasper.
The Charter of Dubois County Post was signed by Franklin Collier, the First National Commander and Lemuel Bolles, Nation Adjutant; and hangs in the present clubhouse of the post together with the list of all charter members.
The temporary officers mentioned above were officially endorsed at the first regular meeting of the Post on November 24, 1919. A resolution was adopted at this meeting to start a drive for a memorial building, under a state law authorizing such action.
Permanent headquarters were set up in the Haberly Building at a rental of $6.50 per month and arrangements made to purchase a set of colors, record books, etc. A list of all men of the county, who died in service, was sent to State Legion Headquarters.
At the December 15th meeting a call was issued to all men who had a claim against the government because of their to file their applications with the Adjutant. Arrangements were made to furnish a club room, and authorized the entertainment committee to hold dances and other entertainment for members and ladies. The first dance was held January in the old Opera House and was well attended.
A House Committee, consisting of Adolph Haller, Dr. J. F. Casper, O. G. Sprauer, ray P. Lorey and Othmar Eckerle, was appointed.
In the meantime, Huntingburg Post #221 was organized, and the members from that city who were charter members of Dubois County Post #147, were transferred to that Post.
The erection of a building for National Headquarters at Indianapolis was endorsed.
Cletus Krodel was named Athletic Officer. The Post voted to co-operate with the Dubois County Historical committee by securing a copy of the service record of every ex-service man and to co-operate with the K. of C. in sponsoring the Chautauqua.
Such was the beginning of an organization, which has been a big factor in the civic and social life of the community, throughout the fifty years of its existence. There is hardly a worthwhile movement for the advancement of the community: education, religion, charity, amusements, etc. in which the American Legion did not lend its full share of responsibility, pioneering in many and always willing to cooperate in those started by other organizations.
From its very beginning the American Legion took upon itself the proper observance of Memorial Day and Armistice Day. It also charged itself with the responsibility of looking after the interests of the relatives of the men who died in service and the men who incurred disabilities. It distributed the certificates at an appropriate time which the French government awarded to the Gold Star families.
From the first year of its existence, it recognized the threat which Communism offered this country and sponsored many pictures and lectures warning against this threat. The same is true of its opposition to all other "ISMS" which are contrary to the principles of Americanism.
When the Adjusted Compensation or so called Bonus Lay was passed, volunteer members assisted every ex-service man in filling out and filing the lengthy application. The Post also secured medals for those who applied.
In the matter of contributions of the Post has aided financially every application for funds which the community has been called upon to raise, as well as in sale of war bonds and other patriotic drives. It climaxed its generosity with the donation of $15,000.00 to the Memorial Hospital of Dubois County.
Another major accomplishment of the Post was to sponsorship of the campaign to raise funds for the purchase of the block between Main and Jackson and 11th and 12th Streets, generally known as the Brewery Lot, for a public park. The movement was started at the Legion meeting held May 10, 1922, which was attended by representatives of the other civic organizations and resulted in the present beautiful Memorial Park.
In the field of entertainment the Post has a record of providing good, clean entertainment: dances, parties, outings and an annual Carnival which has been the delight of the kiddies and a source of revenue for the Post's numerous charities.
The Post has provided a meeting place as well as financial and moral support including sponsorship of a troop as well as a pack of Cub Scout of the Boy Scouts of America. It also has been a good husband to a helpful Women's Auxiliary and father to a Sons of the Legion squadron. For many years the Post acted as host to the combined scout troops and cub packs at an annual scout Sunday breakfast. Since 1928 the Post has sponsored American Legion Baseball and in 1933 won the state championship.
Sponsorship of chautauquas, minstrel shows and other home-talent theatricals are among the major entertainment projects of the Past. Card parties, bingo's, etc. have been held from time to time in conjunction with the Auxiliary to raise funds for various civic projects. During the dark days of the depression, the Post sponsored a community garden which provided work and food for many jobless and needy people of the county.
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