Thursday, February 28, 2008

Soldier Boys Depart - Part 1 (1917)

Columbia City Post ~ Saturday September 22, 1917

Soldier Boys Depart With Throng Waving Farewell.

Forty-seven picked young men from Whitley county left Thursday morning over the Panhandle railroad for Logansport and from there to Louisville, Ky., where they will enter Camp Taylor for training in the new national army. The scene enacted in this city Thursday morning will linger long in the memory of all who witnessed it, and the sadness of the parting which was felt in this community was experienced in other county seats from one end of this broad land to the other. Three hundred thousand more American soldiers entered training camps to prepare to enter the mighty conflict which is sweeping the world.

The business houses of this city were closed and the people turned out by the thousands. Soon after 7 o'clock the selected men commenced to arrive in town and by 8 o'clock hundreds of machines were here from all parts of the county. The public square was decorated with flags, and emblems were flying from nearly every window in the court house. Stores were decorated with flags and bunting and to all appearances, a stranger might have judged that the people were turning out for some gala day celebration.

But it was not an hilarious crowd that gathered here. It was rather a serious, sober gathering of people whose hearts were heavy and whose thoughts ran deep. Every little ways there was a machine load of people and some of the ladies were crying, and they were gathered around the town in groups. There was not much conversation and it was only now and then that you could hear anyone laugh or talk in a loud tone. The serious business at hand and the uncertainty of it all affected the stoutest heart and men everywhere were moved by thoughts of the departure of the young men.

The school children, marching by classes, with the little folks from Miss Mary Raber's room in the west building leading the procession came down Van Buren street at 8:30. The band had gone up to meet them and marched behind the Troop of Boy Scouts who were under the command of Clarence Feist. One of their number marched in the center of a double line, carrying a big flag, the band followed, marching four abreast, and then came the school children.

As the little folks marched down street, each carrying a flag, a spectacle was presented which no one could forget. The boys and girls were serious, like the crowd. There were big flags and little flags and each child had one. The teachers marched at the head of their respective classes. The children from the E. L. McLallen building marched up and joined the larger procession from the west school and high school buildings. The procession halted north of the court house and the old soldiers, veterans of the civil war, fell in line, taking their place at the head of the procession.

The forty-seven men who were to leave were at County Clerk Otis E. Plattner's office Thursday morning at 8 o'clock to answer roll call. They also answered roll call Wednesday morning and evening. Before they marched out of the east side of the court house, the men were presented with a little gift from the businessmen of this city. The gift consisted of a small kit containing a brush, a comb and a metallic mirror, which will not rust. The latter is polished on both sides and it cannot be broken.

[There is an entire column devoted to the speech given by Attorney D. V. Whiteleather, which is being omitted here. . . ]

As the boys marched out onto the east steps of the court house, they halted and L. E. Pontius photographed them, together with the conscription board, composed of Dr. D. S. Linvill, County Clerk Otis E. Plattner and County Sheriff James M. Bodley. The young men removed their hats while the picture was being taken, and a fine, manly looking lot they were. As they marched down the steps, the casual observer was lead to believe that the men who were about to leave were the least disturbed of all.

The procession then moved down the east side of the court house, turned east on Market street to Whitley and thence south to the depot. The band played lively marches most of the way. The big crowd followed, walking in the streets, and getting down there most anyway to get there. The people thronged around the depot. Boys climbed on top of buildings and box cars near by and one fellow even got up on top of the big water tank. The crowd extended more than three hundred feet along the track and the automobiles were there by the score. The size of the crowd was variously estimated from 2,500 to 5,000 and nearly everyone agreed that it was larger than the crowd here Old Settlers Day.

The soldiers mingled with the crowd and there was a good word for all of them as goodbyes were said. They all displayed remarkable self-control; even in the face of heart-breaking scenes and their cheerfulness had much to do with brightening up the situation. The soldier boys were called to assemble at 9:25 and answer to roll call. Phil Farren blew the assembly call. The five corporals, Walter L. Blain, Gale Raber, John A. Pence, Edgar Lorber and Walter J. Miller, who had seven men assigned to them which composed their squads called the roll and kept their men together so as soon as the train pulled in they were all there ready to load in the car. Firmer R. Born was in charge of the contingent and Sidney Ort, of Churubusco, was his assistant.

Continued in Soldier Boys Depart - Part 2, which includes a photograph of the men.

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