7811 Davenport Street, Omaha, NE
Omaha Post 1 American Legion
Omaha Post 1 American Legion
7811 Davenport Street, Omaha, NE
OMAHA POST #1
DedicationTo those brave young souls who walked the streets of Omaha getting members for a veterans' organization which "they thought" would be called the American Legion; and to the thousands of members of Omaha Post Number 1 who have carried on that tradition. The national organization of the American Legion dates from February 15, 1919. On April 8 of that same year the first meeting of what was to become the World's Largest Legion post was held m Omaha. This was not the first meeting to be held by a Legion post -that honor going to George Washington Post No.1, District of Columbia, which was organized just thirty-two days before the Omaha post. Omaha, however, was up among the leaders in organizing and now, for membership, clubhouse, activities and morale, is second to none.
It is entirely fitting, therefore, that this post of 18,814 members (official figures when this history was finished) representing practically every unit in the armed services, has written down its history for the satisfaction of members past, present and future. In accordance with this idea the work on this history was started early in 1947 and the result of that work is now before you. Many hands and heads have been utilized to compile this history and many records, pictures and anecdotes have gone into its composition. Thanks are especially due to Richard Seelye Jones for his "History of the American Legion;" Frank B. O'Connell for his "History of the American Legion in Nebraska;" Past Department Commanders Theodore W. Metcalfe and William Ritchie, Jr.; Past Post Commanders Thomas C. Quinlan, Allan Tukey, Walter S. Byrne, Sam Reynolds, William F. Bruett and Robert J. Webb; Posters Jack Jesse, Robert B. Larkin, J. J. Isaacson; past and present presidents of the Auxiliary; Miss Helen Nolan of the World-Herald to these and a host of others my thanks for their invaluable assistance.
This history does not intend to discuss policies or aims of the Legion, national or local. These have been discussed at length by more able voices. The resolutions and actions will be set forth to speak for themselves-just as the record of the Legion speaks for itself. No organization is perfect and the Legion has perhaps made mistakes, as in baseball we must take the percentages to determine the value.
All possible care has been taken to get the facts correct, names spelled correctly and exact dates. The records of the early days, however, are sometimes sketchy, and if a name is spelled wrong it is because that is the way I got it. Some dates must be approximated, since, never having been recorded, it was necessary to depend upon the memory of the early members. Memories become a little faded in twenty years or so. Your indulgence is requested for mistakes. It is my hope that the readers have as much enjoyment reading this history as I did writing it.
"Who started the American Legion? Nobody and everybody. It sprang from the comradeship of arms, one of the strongest ties that bind men together. A veterans' organization of men of the first Great War was inevitable. Hundreds, probably thousands, had talked of such a thing. A few of those who talked possessed the enthusiasm and chanced upon the opportunity to convert the idea into action."
A History of the American Legion. Richard Seelye Jones.
The first veterans' organization of World War I was set up experimentally by the Very Reverend Charles H. Brent, senior chap- lain of the A. E. F. It was entitled "Comrades in Service" and had the limited approval of General Pershing. Some progress was made, but it did not catch the imagination of the troops, always prone to look askance at chaplains' work except under fire.
The opportunity to initiate a veterans' organization came when there was considerable worry generated by the breakdown in morale, the AWOL's and the like, following the Armistice. Twenty officers met in Paris on February 15, 1919, primarily to adopt morale-building programs for the army. The results of this meeting became much more lasting, as it was here that the idea of the Legion was born. These twenty officers represented almost as many different organizations. More than any others, they may be considered the founders of the American Legion.
Lt. Col. Francis R. Appleton, 2d Army.
Lt. Col. G. Edward Buxton, 82d Division.
Lt. Col. Bennett G. Clark, ex-35th Division (then with 88th).
Lt. Col. Ralph D. Cole, 37th Division.
Lt. Col. D. J. Davis, ex-28th Division (then with GHQ).
Lt. Col. Franklin D'Olier, QM, SOS.
Col. William J. Donovan, Rainbow Division.
Lt. Col. David 1VI. Goodrich, GHQ.
Major T. E. Gowenlock, ex-1st Division, then with 1st Army Corps.
Col. Thorndike Howe, A. P. 0. Department.
L t. Col. John Price Jackson, Peace Commission.
Major Delancy Kountze, GHQ.
Lt. Col. R. L. Llewellen, 28th Division.
Captain Ogden Mills, ex-6th Division, then with G-2, SOS.
Lt. Col. Benjamin Moore, 82d Division.
Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr, 1st Division.
Lt. Col. R. C. Stebbins, Third Army Corps.
Major R. C. Stewart, 1st Division.
Lt. Col. George A. White, ex-41st Division (then with GHQ).
Lt. Col. Eric Fisher Wood, ex-83d Division (then with 88th Division).It Started in Paris
On the evening of February 16 Colonel Roosevelt invited the other officers to dinner at the Allied Officers' Club, Rue Faubourg St. Honore. At this dinner he broached to them the proposal that they undertake the formation of a veterans' organization. His idea was accepted with enthusiasm. Thus Roosevelt of the twenty officers mentioned above, probably contributed most to the idea of the Legion and certainly most to the energy and hard work that made it come to life.
Two organizations meetings were scheduled; one in France for the A. E. F. and another in the United States for those troops who had returned, or who had never gotten across.
The high command did not exactly break out with enthusiasm at the request to have delegates from various units ordered to Paris to form a new veterans' organization. They were more or less committed to "Comrades in Service," besides which it was good policy to keep men away from Paris. With or without authority, however, sufficient delegates arrived to form the caucus. Some came as orderlies, some as bearers of important documents, some just slipped in, and one man even had orders to buy some rat poison for the company cook. March 15 was opening day. After the first two days of getting acquainted, the caucus grouped under division banners in the Cirque de Paris, a sizeable amusement hall. Here a temporary constitution was adopted which so impressed Bishop Brent that he announced that "Comrades in Service" would merge with the new organization.
The name was a most important thing. Maurice K. Gordon moved to adopt "The American Legion." Alexander Wootcott, a medical corps sergeant, objected to the name as "savoring slightly of silk stocking." He subsided suddenly, however, when a 1st Division Delegate remarked, "I fought alongside the Foreign Legion before Soissons, and if the fat medico thinks those babies are sissies he is just nuts."
There had been an "American Legion" prior to the war devoted to preparedness; in fact, several of the delegates at the Paris caucus were former members of this organization. It had disbanded when the government requested the records for its own use. The 97th Overseas Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force had been recruited from the United States and wore "American Legion" on its badge. This unit courteously waived its rights to the: name. Various' groups had been called Legion or American Legion, but none was still in existence. The name was adopted.
After man "native son" arguments, St. Louis was chosen as the most suitable city for the second caucus because of its central location.
In St. Louis, then, on May 8, 1919-1,100 delegates, including seven from Omaha. Met at the Shubert-Jefferson Theatre. Each delegate and each outside organization was given one vote, with one important exception. The Soldiers and Sailors Council, a radical out- fit controlled by the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) was not allowed to vote. From the first, the Legion set its face sternly against communism and kindred creeds.
The name "American Legion" was adopted as it had been in Paris, and the American Legion Weekly was authorized, with George White as its first editor.
More "native son" arguments held up for a while the selection of Minneapolis as the site of the first annual national convention.A Masterpiece of Simplicity
The preamble to the constitution, a masterpiece of simplicity, brevity and American idealism, was adopted at St. Louis and has stood throughout the years, the only change being the addition of the letter "s" to the word "war" when it was voted to open the membership to veterans of World War II. Adoption of the constitution was held over till the convention to be decided with other important questions.
Thus was the Legion born, a lusty infant, at times obstreperous but always honestly attempting to do its best for the good of America. It was destined after many trials and tribulations to have a great share in influencing the character and history of our country.1919
The initial meeting of what was to become Douglas County Post No.1 and later Omaha Post No.1, of the American Legion, was held in the municipal auditorium on Tuesday evening, April 8, 1919. Colonel J. M. Banister presided as temporary chairman over the meeting with an attendance estimated at twelve hundred. Considerable telephone work by Robert J. Webb, former bandmaster of the 6th Nebraska Band, had succeeded in Founding up several former members of the band, many of whom came from some distance. This band gave several selections, after which the meeting was called to order and J. H. Jaske was appointed acting secretary.
Colonel Banister gave a short address on the bravery, spirit and accomplishments of the American military man, and went on to set forth the object and purposes of an organization proposed for veterans of the World War .He likewise explain the methods to be employed in the selection of various candidates for offices and committees.
Mayor Edward P. Smith of Omaha was introduced arid delivered a short address of welcome, inviting all present to attend the Welcome Home Parade for veterans to be held on April 21.
The name of the new post was unanimously approved as Douglas County Post, American Legion. The officers were to consist of a President, Vice-President and Secretary-Treasurer. To assist these officers there was to be an executive committee of twenty-one members, which committee was to draft and present to the organization a constitution and by-laws.
The following men were selected for the nominating committee: H. F. Elsasser, Glen Osborne, Ted Landale, Ted Metcalfe, and Glen Musgrave, Ralph J. Coad, Victor Hallquist, Chester L. Arnold, H. B. Lemere, W. W. Mick, Frank Building, Clifford Fox, John Kerns, Hird Stryker, Jack Berry and Herbert Roussey.
Allan Tukey explained the origin of the organization, adding that a national caucus would be held in St. Louis May 8 to 10, and that it had been planned to have a state representation on the basis of two delegates for each congressional district. He further explained that the organization would be non-partisan and non-political. A motion by Tukey was carried favoring a state meeting to be held at some convenient location, preferably Lincoln, as soon as possible. This would enable each county to send delegates to initiate the state organization. Furthermore, at this meeting, delegates to the St. Louis caucus could be selected. A tentative representation of three men per county was suggested and approved pending the further decision at the state meeting.McGuire Tells Principles
T. J. McGuire, introducing himself as "Former Private McGuire HQ. Co., 3d U. S. Infantry," gave a short address on the building up of the organization, its principles, purposes and proposed accomplishments, setting forth that the organization should have two broad principles patriotism and the welfare of those who had served in the World War.
Upon suggestions and motions by Ed McCarthy and McGuire, the present organization was set up as temporary until the service men had been demobilized. Officers and committees were likewise to be temporary.
The Nominating Committee read its report, naming the following candidates:
For President: Hugh Robertson, Col. J. M. Banister, and Allan Tukey.
For Vice-President: R. B. Howell, P. T. McAvoy, and Ralph Coad.
For Secretary-Treasurer: John T. Kerns, Jr., T. J. McGuire, and H. F. Elsasser.
Upon motion additional candidates were named from the floor:
For President: R. J. Madden, Dr E. C. Henry, Charles F. Baumguard, T. J. McGuire, Emmett Hannon, John G. Maher, Carl Peterson.
For Vice-President: Jack McCarthy.
For Secretary-Treasurer: John Shannon, Verne Moore, George Howling. .
For Executive Committee: Ted Metcalfe, W. H. McNichols, Robert J. Webb, John H. Riha, Hird Stryker, R. J. Madden, Glen Osborne. C. L. Arnold, Jack McCarthy, Emmett Hannon, J. T. Kerns, Jr., L.
G. Morty, John J. Shannon, Paul Holliday, E. A. Killingsworth, Hugh Birmingham, T. J. McGuire, Hugh Robertson, Larry Nygaard, Paul J. Walsh, Walter Byrne, John B. Potts, Jess Ratchford, George Sugar- man, Allan Tukey, George Insler, Victor Hallquist, Ensign Moss, Earl W. Porter, Ralph Coad, William F. Bruett, D. J. Smitherow, Leo Crosby, William Hetherington, A. C. Stokes, Dr; E. C. Henry, John Kilmartin, E. E. Kiplinger, E. L. Bridges, John Labertew. George C. Matthews, Herbert Roussey, Paul Hayes, J. M. Banister, Samuel Cotner, J. C. Travis, E. H. McCarthy.Ballots Counted by Moorhead
The method of balloting was explained, including the fact that the election returns would be handled and tabulated by Commissioner Harley Moorhead at the County Court House.
The eligibility of Yeomanettes and Marinettes was discussed at the meeting but no action was taken, the general opinion being that they would form an organization of their own.
The first meeting of the new post was then adjourned to meet again in the near future, time and place to be announced.
When the election results were tabulated, the first officers of Douglas County Post No. 1 were:
President: Allan Tukey; Vice-President: Ralph Coad; Secretary- Treasurer: H. F. Elasser.
Executive Committee: Ted Metcalfe, Robert J. Webb, Hird Stryker, R. J. Madden, C. L. Arnold, John J. Shannon, T. J. McGuire. Larry Nygaard, Walter Byrne, Victor Hallquist, Earl W. Porter, Ralph Coad, Leo Crosby, E. E. Kiplinger, E. H. McCarthy.
It is believed that additional members, probably six, were elected to the executive committee. Unfortunately, however, the secretary- treasurer neglected to note their names and at the present time no one is absolutely sure who they were.First Executive Meeting
The first meeting of the post executive committee was held on April 29. Here it was announced that the State Convention would be held May 3 at Lincoln. Five delegates and nine alternates were selected from post members:
Delegates: Hugh Robertson, Victor Hallquist, Ray Madden, Hird Stryker, and T. J. McGuire.
Alternates: George Hawley, Jack Barry, Bud Cohn, W. H. McNichols, Edmund McCarthy, Cy Harris, J. Clyde Travis, Paul Walsh. Walter Galloway.
Delegates to the national caucus at St. Louis were to be named at the state convention. With no money in the treasury the executive committee decided that the delegates, not over eight in number, were to receive railroad and Pullman fare and fifteen dollars for hotel expenses. Then, to correct the money deficiency, the members of the executive committee agreed to lend up to $500 to the treasury. $210 was subscribed immediately and it was decided that this would be sufficient for the time being.
Tukey Heads First State MeetingTemporary Chairman Allan Tukey called the first state meeting to order at 2:30 . m. May 3rd in the Hall of Representatives in Lincoln. The Nebraska Branch of the American Legion, later changed to American Legion, Department of Nebraska, was founded at this meeting. John G. Maher was elected first state commander and Hugh Robertson of Omaha became treasurer. All officers were to serve on a temporary basis until the state convention, which was to be held in the fall just prior to the national convention. A motion was carried authorizing an executive committee of 202 members. Only thirteen were elected at that time, however, two of them being Allan Tukey and T. J. McGuire. Twenty-four delegates to the St. Louis caucus were elected. Omaha members being T. J. McGuire, Hugh Robertson, Allan Tukey, Ray Madden, Hird Stryker, Robert Webb and Ralph Coad.
Meetings of the executive committee of the post were held approximately every two weeks in those early days-the gathering place generally being the Chamber of Commerce hall. The first membership committee was appointed with C. L. Arnold as chairman and two other members. This committee was empowered to call on eight other posters to assist them. At another meeting the offer of the Forest Lawn Cemetery to set aside a plot was accepted. The post took part in the dedication. At the fourth meeting, held on June 17, '783 members were reported, with about forty-five more registering daily.
Allan Tukey looked into his crystal ball at the above meeting and raised the question as to whether t h e American Legion should take any action as an organization .in any riots or out- breaks that might take place in the city III the future. After much discussion it was decided that for the present the American Legion should not take any active part in case of anticipated trouble. No resolutions were made concerning labor trouble at that time, al- though the labor unrest was discussed. C. L. Arnold relieved H. P. Elsasser in June as secretary- treasurer.
At the second post meeting a motion of John J. Shannon officially confirmed the name of Douglas County Post, American Legion. Hugh Robertson, state secretary, gave a resume of the state organization and Hird Stryker reported on the Allan Tukey St. Louis caucus at this meetingAdopts Douglas County Post
Ray Madden's motion was approved and the executive committee was increased by twelve members, selected from the following nominees; Charles McLaughlin, M. E. Herskind, Arthur Huntzinger, C. E. McCormick, Evart Goodin, Will Bear. Edwin Banister, Walter Hoye, Harry Holley, Yale Holland, F. H. Milliner, William L. Leary, Oscar Boysen, Ralph Stevens, Dr. A. I. Lindquist, John Baldwin.
Dues were set at one dollar a year, the first report of the treasurer showing a balance of forty-nine dollars.
Letters requesting a charter began to come in to the state head- quarters, Allan Tukey sending in a request from Omaha: which arrived the same day as one from A. B. Cram of Tecumseh. The Omaha letter managed to reach the hands of the state commander first and Omaha was assigned number one, number two going to Tecumseh. The names signed to the charter request were: Allan A. Tukey, Ralph G. Coad, Chester L. Arnold, J. M. Banister, Hird Stryker, T. J. McGuire, W. S. Byrne, John J. Shannon, Ted Metcalfe, E. E. Kiplinger, R. J. Madden, Robert J. Webb, Leo J. Crosby, Edwin C. Henry, L. W. Nygaard.
On August 6 the executive committee accepted the resignation of C. L. Arnold as secretary-treasurer. A committee of three, Tukey, Byrne and Webb, was appointed to hire a paid secretary-treasurer who would devote all his time to the post. Apropos of this, Dr. Henry reported that the campaign to raise money was well under way. The membership committee, headed by Earl Kiplinger, outlined plans for a dinner at the Paxton Hotel for paid members. This was to be held on August 21 and followed by a huge membership drive. Five teams competed, each headed by a membership committee.Hammond First Secretary
The executive committee appointed a new secretary-treasurer on August 13. He was E. K. Hammond, who was to devote all his time to Legion work. At this same meeting colored veterans were urged to form a separate post, and all assistance was offered to them.
Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., one of the original Legion organizers, had lunch with members of the executive committee on September 4, before the post meeting. He gave a short speech before the meeting, complimenting the post on its energy. One hundred seven were elected as delegates to the state convention.
At the above meeting a resolution was passed supposedly settling for all time the officer-enlisted question:
"That any delegations representing Douglas County Post of the American Legion at any state or national convention shall, for a period of one year from September 4, 1919, be so constituted as to its delegates, that not over forty per cent of the voting strength of the delegation be in the hands of formerly commissioned offers in the United States Army, Navy or Marine Corps."Legionnaires Aid in Riot
The alleged rape of a white girl by a Negro precipitated ominous rumblings throughout the city. On September 28 the rumblings be- came more distinct. A crowd began to gather around the courthouse, in the beginning more curious than threatening. According to Allan Tukey, post commander, prior to 6 p. m., a squad could have stopped everything, and prior to 8 p. m. a platoon. But neither was available and the police seemed unable to cope with the situation. Chief of Police Eberstein attempted to talk to what was fast becoming a mob. Mounted in a window embrasure he beckoned the crowd to come closer. When they approached, however, some misguided soul turned the water hose on them, thinking the chief was being attacked. This cancelled any hope of compromise, and the mob, incited by a wild-eyed demogogue, became rapidly unmanageable. Mayor Edwin P. Smith, attempting to reason with them, was seized and beaten. But for the decisive actions of Hird Stryker and Ben Danbaum, Chief of Detectives, he would have received serious injury if not death.
Setting fire to the courthouse, the mob seized the Negro accused of the crime. The mob frenzy rising above bounds, he was hanged to a lamppost and his body riddled with bullets. After being cut down he was dragged through the streets behind a car, then burned. The mob then dispersed after making plans to clean out the Negro district the following night.
City officials met with prominent businessmen, some of them Legionnaires, at midnight this same night. Allan Tukey, as commander of the Legion, was asked what the Legion intended doing. Tukey replied that the Legion was not a police organization but that its members were committed to maintain law and order. Tukey further advised city officials to send a request for troops immediately since it looked like the following night, Monday would be critical.
The same group met Monday morning at 7 a. m. to find that General Wood with troops from Illinois would be on his way immediately. To preserve law and order till' the troops arrived; Allan Tukey agreed to call on individual Legionnaires to volunteer as special deputies.Meeting to Discuss Riot
A special meeting of the executive committee was held on September 29 to discuss the riot. The following resolution was adopted:
"WHEREAS the basic purpose of the American Legion is to uphold and, defend the Constitution of the United States of America, and to maintain law and order, and
WHEREAS an emergency exists in the city of Omaha today,
THEREFORE the Douglas County Post of the American Legion through its Executive Committee hereby pledges itself to the restitution and maintenance of law and order in the city of Omaha and calls upon its members individually to volunteer immediately as special deputies, in support of the legally constituted authorities of the city, in the carrying out of this pledge.
A proclamation signed by members of the post was distributed shortly thereafter:To the People of Omaha
The undersigned have been active during the last few days in helping to organize and perfect a volunteer organization, composed largely of American Legion members, for the purpose of furnishing the city assistance ill tiding over the present emergency.
The horror of Sunday night, unparalleled in the history of Omaha, has brought home to the people of this community, in a terrib1e manner, the necessity for prompt and effective realization and assumption of the duties of citizenship by all members of society.
Our present organization is perfected and stands squarely for the enforcement of law and order without fear or favor. It will re- main in existence subject to call of General Wood during his command of this city, and for a reasonable time thereafter. The purpose of this statement is to correct an opinion, prevalent among a large number of Omaha's citizens, that members of the American Legion intend to constitute a permanent police reserve, and that the members of the American Legion can be depended upon on any and all occasions. This is riot the purpose of this organization. The people of Omaha must thoroughly understand that we do not propose to underwrite their citizenship. The duty of maintaining order in Omaha is the duty of every citizen; and the people of Omaha cannot expect the American Legion to do double duty as citizens if other individuals continue to follow their ordinary avocation without making any effort to change the present situation. In other words, it, is up to you, Mr. Citizen, to see that your own house is put immediately in order
Intelligent and responsible citizens can be heard on every hand arousing or palliating some one phase or the other of the reign of lawlessness on Sunday last. We, representing a soldier organization, are of the opinion that there can be no halfway measures when it comes to the question of upholding the law. You must either be for it or against it. That principle is not subject to limited or divided allegiance. It is up to you, Mr. Citizen.
It is further up to you, Mr. Citizen, by your individual aid, and moral support, to the prosecuting authorities, to insure the successful prosecution and conviction of those guilty of the lawlessness and anarchy, which engulfed Omaha Sunday night.
Signed: Allan A. Tukey, Clinton Brome,
Amos Thomas, Charles F. McLaughlin,
Hird Stryker, John Kilmartin, T. J. McGuire, E. E. Kiplinger.
The call for volunteers resulted in about 400, mostly Legionnaires but with the addition of some Home Guards, enrolling and being divided into platoons. No weapons were available at first, but later some rifles were secured from the Central High and Creighton armories. One set of rifles had bayonets but no ammunition and the other ammunition with no bayonets. Platoon leaders were given a choice. Platoon members were sworn in as deputies and organized to patrol the city. Many wild rumors were floating around and anything was expected. On Monday evening a rain, providentially very heavy; dispersed what rioters had gather. For two days the platoons patrolled the city and kept down violence. Only a few arrests were made, mostly individuals found with stolen arms obtained from pawnshops, which had been broken into Sunday night. Headquarters remained in the city council chamber where dreary hours of waiting were at one time enlivened by a troop of entertainers from one of the theatres.
After two days General Wood arrived with troops to take over from the weary Legionnaires. A thorough investigation convinced the General of the origin of the trouble. "It was a plot by the IWW for widespread destruction in the city," he declared. "Only the American Legion and later the troops stood between the rioters and destruction."For UMT in 1919
The emergency force was made a permanent fixture at the December 13 meeting of the executive, committee. A force of one thousand volunteer could be called and ready within an hour for emergency riot duty. Names of squad and platoon leaders with their telephone numbers were placed in the homes and offices of every member of the emergency force. ;
At the meeting of October 7, 1919, the post went on record in favor of compulsory military training, one of the first Legion posts to do so. The following resolution announced their stand:
"RESOLVED that the Douglas County Post of the American Legion instruct its delegates to the state convention to favor a plan of compulsory military training."
At this same meeting thirty-seven additional delegates were elected for the state convention, making a total post representation of one hundred forty-four. First State Meetings in Omaha
The first annual convention of the Nebraska American Legion was held in Omaha October 10 and 11. Sessions were held in the City Hall, which Allan Tukey had persuaded the city fathers to turn over practically into the convention. Most of the 110 posts then organized sent representatives. Earl M. Cline, commander of the Nebraska City post, was elected department commander; William
Ritchie, Jr., and Clint Brome were placed on the executive committee and Hird Stryker and E. K. Hammond were on the committee to set up a constitution in conformity with the one to be adopted at the national convention.
One month after the state convention, the national delegates assembled in Minneapolis. This was the first national convention and brought together the delegates from the A. E. F. caucus, the St. Louis caucus and additional delegates from every state in the Union. Nebraska sent twelve delegates and the same number of alternates, seven of the twenty-four being from Omaha: Allan Tukey, Hird Stryker, and T. .J. McGuire, E. E. Kiplinger, E. K. Hammond, Sam Reynolds and Dr. E. C. Henry, all of whom served on committees.
The most important business of the convention was the adoption of a constitution. This done, eligibility in the Auxiliary was deter- mined and Indianapolis was settled on as national headquarters,
The energy and organizing ability of Allan Tukey were recognized when he was elected national vice-commander by a large majority. Later he was sent to Washington as chairman of a special committee on the Legion's military policy. Henry L. Stimson, former Secretary of War, was a member of this committee.D'Olier First National Commander
It was decided at Minneapolis that the chief officer of the Legion should be called commander and Frank D'Olier was the first man elected to this office.
Back in Omaha a new question came up in the executive committee meeting of November 17, that of splitting into smaller posts. This question was destined to be the cause of much controversy. Then, as now, most of the members were in favor of having only one large post, contending that the resultant economy would payoff in benefits. Opponents of unity said that small posts were more clubby and friendly.
The Army and Navy Club came up for discussion at the meeting of December 16 and the post guaranteed one-fourth of the operating expenses provided such expenses did not exceed four hundred dollars.
Rendered necessary by misconstruction on the part of some people and newspapers in Omaha, a speakers committee was formed to appear before various organizations to inform them of the exact stand of the Legion on questions of the day.
On December 31, at the end of the first nine months of its existence, the treasurer's report showed receipts of $8,268.23 and expenditures of $6,866.98, leaving a balance in favor of the black side of $1,401.25. Douglas County Post was off to a good start. Thirty-four hundred and sixty-one members belonged to the post.First Annual Meeting in 1920
The first annual meeting of the post was held at the auditorium on January 2. Allan Tukey as commander presided. In conformity with the national organization, the name had been changed from president to commander and from vice-president to vice-commander. Commander Tukey announced that this was the first of the annual meetings, held for the purpose of receiving annual reports from the officers, taking up other matters of interest to the post, and electing new officers for the coming year.
The state and national constitutions were read and adopted. The local constitution, prepared largely by Hird Sttyker, was read-and after much discussion and change, adopted. A clause of much interest was included:
" Any members who desire to form and constitute a branch may make application to the Post Executive Committee. The Post Executive Committee shall, subject to the direction of the post, make any regulations it deems necessary regarding applications for authority to form a branch. The said committee may grant or withhold the authority on any application except in case of specific direction by the post."
Officers elected for 1920 were as follows:
Commander Dr. E. C. Henry Vice-commanders Ted Metcalfe (Army); Larry Nygaard (Navy);
Lyman G. Wheeler (Marines).
Chaplain Dean Tancock
Executive Committee Josephine Chamberlin, Ralph G. Coad, Allan Tukey, Harry Montgomery, T. J. McGuire, Sam Reynolds, Hird Stryker, Walter Byrne, Clinton Brome, Robert Dun- lap, R. B. Howell, Dr. Charles Hall, Sandy Griswold, Jr., John H. Hopkins, E. E. Kiplinger, Dr. A. L. Lindquist, Charles Mc- Laughlin, Al May, Dr. W. H. Mick, E. W. Porter, F. E. Sheehan, William Ritchie, Jr., A. S. Pinto, Ray Madden, R. B. Wallace, Hugh Robertson, J. J. Shannon, Dr. H. C. Sumney, Jack Sullican, Morley Young.
T. J. McGuire had represented the Nebraska Department before the War Risk Conference in Washington. His report gave assurance that the well-eing of wounded service men was placed above all else at the conference.Two-Dollar Dues
Membership dues were at two dollars for old members and two twenty-five for new ones. The new members had the cost of a "button included in' their dues.
C. E. McLaughlin's resolution was adopted as policy. It is worth giving here in full:
"WHEREAS the newspapers have recently contained accounts of acts of violence by the American Legion in various parts of the country, and of attempts by members of the American Legion to take the law into their own hands, and
WHEREAS such conduct is directly contrary to the principles upon which the American Legion is founded, and
WHEREAS such actions by members of the American Legion is calculated to bring discredit upon the entire organization,
THEREFORE be it resolved, the Douglas County Post of the American Legion in meeting assembled, condemns any and all acts of violence, and any and all mob activities on the part of members of the American Legion, whether carried on individually or by posts.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, however, that the Douglas County Post of the American Legion deplores the apparent tendency on the part of the public and the press to blame the American Legion as an organization for the unlawful conduct of any and all service men who may be guilty of such conduct."Auxiliary Is Established
Until this time there had been no Auxiliary of the post. At the meeting on February 3 a committee was appointed to call upon Mrs. H. Malcolm Baldrige with the intention of having her form an Auxiliary unit.
The membership drive in full bloom, the executive committee decided to pay the expenses to the national convention in Cleveland to the one obtaining the most members; the second highest to have his expenses paid to the state convention.
The Post Intelligence Committee submitted a report to the meeting on April 15, stating in general that the war records of all Nebraskans in public office were being collected and filed. Just prior to the fall elections a complete report on each candidate would be issued to all members of the post on a standard form endorsed by the executive committee. This followed a pattern set by similar committees in state and national circles.
A special meeting of the post was held on May 11. The executive committee rendered the following report:
"In accordance with the decision of the Douglas County Post. American Legion, at a meeting held April 15, 1920, that the executive committee of the post render a report as to the advisability of branch. Posts being established in the City of Omaha, the executive committee hereby recommends there be established branch posts in the following districts: Benson, Florence, South Omaha."
This report was accepted. At a committee meeting on May 29 a further petition from Legionnaires living in the vicinity of 24th and Ames to form a branch post was accepted. Lack of sufficient interest cancelled the activity on the branch posts in Florence and 24th and Ames. The question of boundaries between posts was decided on June 27 by the ruling that there be no boundaries, the several branches being empowered to enroll members, irrespective of the location of residence.
Marshall B. Craig was given complete charge of forming and ad- ministering the post band on June 11, 1920. The Chamber of Commerce offered all assistance within its power, which offer was accepted with thanks.
Sixty-two delegates were elected to the state convention at the August 4th meeting. Morton Hiller and John Weed were automatically of this number due to their prowess in the membership campaign. All delegates were instructed to work and fight for the 'Bonus Bill' as advocated by the National Executive Committee. The convention met at Hastings and lasted for three days, commencing August 26. National Commander D'Olier attended and praised the work of the Nebraska Department. Samuel R. McKelvie, governor of Nebraska, echoed these sentiments, as did others. Further clarification of the Legion aims was brought out also by the national commander. .
Robert G. Simmons of Scottsbluff was elected to head the Nebraska Department for 1920-21. The Omaha men on his staff were Lyman Wheeler, Third Vice-Commander, and William Ritchie, Jr. and John Hopkins on the executive committee.
It was decided at the post meeting of September 10, to postpone indefinitely the attempt to procure the national convention for Omaha. A big fund would be necessary and none was available. Many members wanted the convention here, however, and their desire: were later to bear fruit.Post Adopts Orphans
Frederick W. Galbraith became the second national commander at Cleveland on September 29. He was the only national commander who did not serve a full term, being the victim of an automobile accident on June 9, 1921. John G. Emery was selected by the national executive committee to serve out his unexpired term.
Two French orphans were adopted by the post at the meeting October 8. This was in line with the policy advocated by the National Americanization Committee.
Practically the whole post, with wives and sweethearts attended the first annual ball held in the Auditorium on Armistice Day.
The first of many committees to investigate a permanent hom4 for the post was appointed at the meeting of October 15. Sam Reynolds, John Kilmartin, Ray Madden and Earl Kiplinger constitute< this committee.Dues Increased to $3
Dues were raised to $3 on October 22, which amount is still standard in the post.
The last meeting of the year was held three days before Christmas at the City Hall. In order to assist those who were unable attend the election meeting, it was ruled that ballots should be mailed to all eligible members. At this same meeting a program prepared by Walter Byrne's committee was adopted for the coming year. This program was very complete and served as a model for future planning. It recommended:
A. The establishment of a sound financial basis and budget.
Dues must meet known overhead-rent, lights, salaries, etc.
B. The establishment of a Post Employment Bureau conducted
by the adjutant after study of similar enterprises of this nature.
C. The establishment of a Committee on Committees to deter- mine the qualifications of individuals, the committees necessary and by questionnaire-determine the post's desi1'es.
D. The compilation and publication of a Post Directory.
E. Appointment of a committee on observance of national holidays,
F. Preparation of an annual program of post meetings, speakers' topics, etc., and the establishment of definite dates for monthly meetings.
G. Adoption of an annual program of athletics and spectacular entertainments.
H. Bureau of Information to furnish news to the press, public and members.
I. Consideration of a plan of Legion commercial cooperation and patronage.
J. Preparation of a practical Americanization plan, including:
Speakers'. Committees, School Work, Naturalization Industrial Cooperation.
K. Adoption of a plan for comphensive cooperation with the social service institutions-Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, etc.
L. New membership committee and drive.Byrne for Commander
Walter S. Byrne was nominated for commander and with no opposition his election was declared unanimous. The other Officers: Vice-commanders (Sam Reynolds-Army), (Phil Downs- Navy), (Paul B. Fish-Marines) and Chaplain, Rev. Lloyd Holsapple. Fifty-three were nominated for positions on the executive committee. The minutes fail to specify, however, just who was elected.
The second year of the post's existence came to a close. Membership was 2,861-slightly below the previous year.
At the executive committee meeting on January 21, the first move was made to initiate a post paper. A committee was named to investigate the possibilities, with Leo Bozell (later replaced by Ted Metcalfe), R. B. Wallace and E. W. Sears as members.
Kendall Hammond tendered his resignation as Post Adjutant on February 14. The title Post Adjutant .had been adopted in place of Secretary-Treasurer as more applicable to the duties. After over a week of, investigation the executive committee selected Harry Rough from among the five applicants as most likely to fill the Hammond shoes.
Communists in Europe as a demonstration day had selected May 1, 1921, and the idea had been furthered by adoption in America by the I. W. W. and kindred organizations. To counteract this influence, the Legion established May 1 as Americanization Day and celebrated it with a huge parade in Omaha. Participants were originally the veteran and patriotic organizations, but the parade was later expanded to include all civic, commercial and industrial institutions. Behind Grand Marshal Amos Thomas were floats, bands, high school cadets and a host of others. This celebration stopped the communist demonstrations, at least in Omaha, and did a great deal to counteract the communist propaganda in Nebraska and neighboring states.
In August it became apparent to Earl Kiplinger that the post should be prepared to maintain a barracks and soup kitchen during the coming winter for the relief of needy ex-service men, and he made a far-seeing recommendation to that effect.Ritchie First State Commander
Fremont played host to the third state convention from September 29 through October 1. William Ritchie, Jr., became the first Omaha Poster to be elected state commander. The only other Omahan to be elected to official capacity was Sam Reynolds on the executive committee. As a special feature of the convention a committee consisting of Chancellor S. Avery of the University of Nebraska, Walter L. Anderson, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Lewis R. (Lum) Doyle, State Boxing Commissioner, after careful and paint's taking Investigation, announced that the title of "Nebraska's
Homeliest Veteran" was awarded to Glenn H. Coffey of Lincoln. The race was very close. Coffey later played heavy parts in the movies.
Frank A. Warner became the first Grand Chef de Gare .of the Grand Voiture of Nebraska, La Societe des 40 Hommes et 8 Chevaux.
The entertainment committee was functioning smoothly and more and better entertainment was being furnished. After a well-received concert by Mrs. Mary Jordan, wife of an army major, a boxing exhibition featured Bob Roper, former captain U. S. A., and Andy Schmader. This bout ran into difficulties when Schmader demanded more money before going on. Roper, a Legionnaire, offered to fight winner take all, but Schmader refused. This impasse was relieved when John Hopkins, Chief of Police and also a Legionnaire, suggested putting Schmader in the ring, locking the doors and informing the crowd he refused to fight. Schmader who then decided to go on with the bout also refused this generous offer. Two enjoyable results of the bout were recorded when Schmader took a terrific beating and the treasury profited to the tune of $1,000.
Hanford MacNider was elected national commander on November 2 at Kansas City. Mrs. Lowell F. Hobart of Cincinnati became the first national president of the Auxiliary. Joseph W. Breen was the first to receive the title of Chef de Chemin de Fer. He was a Pennsylvanian. The convention as a whole was uneventful.First Post Paper in 1921
November 9, 1921, was a momentous day. In the words of commander Byrne: "Today is born the new publication of the Douglas County Post-we are proud of it." The editorial staff consisted of Harry Rough as editor and every member of the post as assistants. So read the masthead. The first issue of the infant paper consisted of a respect1i1ble eight pages and promised to assist greatly in drives, memberships and records. This first issue announced the formation of the local voiture of "La Societe des 40 Hommes et 8 Chevaux." The charter had not yet arrived, but the sublime degree was given to the following "Poor Goofs" by Harry Clark and Tom Roberts, high moguls of the 40 and 8 in Iowa: John Kilmartin, J. J. Isaacson, Pat Boyle, Jack Weed, Jay Dudley, Lester Kinsey, William Mettlen, James Van Avery, M. L. Mackey, W. S. Peterson, D. B. Capron, 0. A. Kennedy. William Bruett, Carl Kraus, Harry Stevens, Harry C. Rough.
The temporary organization was formed with the following officers:
Chef de Gare, John Kilmartin; Chef de Train, Harry Stevens; Treasurer, James Van Avery; Correspondent, Harry C. Hough.
A general meeting of the post held on November 16 received and unanimously approved a request for charter by the post Auxiliary. The first meeting of the Auxiliary aws held at Legion Headquarters on November 21. Charter members were:
Mrs. John Kilmartin, Temporary President; Mrs. Harry Rough, Temporary Secretary. Mrs. Adrian Mayer, Mrs. Frank Talbert, Mrs. Leo Crosby, Mrs. L. L. Kinsey, Mrs. William Ritchie, Jr., Mrs. Sam Reynolds, Mrs. Hird Stryker, Mrs. Paul Fish, Mrs. Anan Raymond, Mrs. Pat Boyle, Mrs. William D. McRugh, Miss Grace Hanna, Miss Minnie Isaacson and Miss Sidney Stebbins.
The two temporary officers were later made permanent at the first election.The Auxiliary Elects
The first officers elected were: President, Mrs. John A. Kilmartin; Vice-Presidents, Mrs. H. Malcolm Baldrige, Mrs. W. T. Page, Mrs. Sam W. Reynolds; Secretary, Mrs. Harry C. Rough; Treasurer, Mrs. Leo Crosby; Historian Miss. Margaret Kennedy; Chairman of Welfare, Mrs. Guy E. Graybill; Hospital Committee, Mrs. Frank Kennedy; Executive Committee-Mesdames W. D. McRugh, W. F. Bruett, L. L. Kinsey, William Ritchie, Jr., Hird Stryker, A. H. Mayer, Misses Minnie Isaacson, Sidney Stebbins, Grace Hanna.
The annual meeting having been changed to December, the 1921 session was held on December 3. The main event of the evening was the election of officers: Commander, Samuel W. Reynolds; Vice Commanders, E. E McKnight (Army); Rowland Thomas (Navy); J. R. Weed (Marines). Chaplain Rev. Lloyd Holsapple. Executive Committee; Malcolm Baldrige, J. R. Byerly, Josephine Chamberlin, Oscar E. Engler, Robert Hughes, L. L. Kinsey, A. H. Mayer, W. E. McMahon, Anan Raymond, Louis D. Swanson, Clinton Brome, James C. Collins, J. N. DeFrance, Art Fredericks, Kendall Hammond, M. M. Loomis. Harry Mooney, Walter Oakes, Hird Stryker, J. C. Van Avery, William Bruett, Leo Crosby, H. H. Dudley, Fred Heyn, J. J. Isaacson, Ted Metcalfe, William Mettlen, Earl Porter, Harry Stevens.
Jay Dudley became the second Chef de Gare of Voiture 206 of the 40 and 8.
The third year of the Douglas County Post ended with a membership of 2,220, again a smaller number than the preceding year.1922
James Milota was secured to act as managing editor of the Douglas County Legionnaire early in January, Harry Rough remaining as editor. In the second issue under the new management the paper broke out with a new nameplate and the announcement that Eddie Rickenbacker had joined the post. Eddie said that, since he had gotten such a good start toward his career in Omaha, he should support the Legion post there, rather than in Detroit, where he headed a large automobile firm. Going all the way, he also signed up for the 40 and 8. In company with Sam Reynolds, he was the thorough victim of the fiendish 40 and 8 wrecking crew.
A thorough reorganization of the post was announced at the general meeting held January 27. A membership committee was formed consisting of the three vice-commanders, under who was a Post Organization Committee with twelve members. The post member- ship was then divided into twelve groups with one member of the Organization Committee at the head of each group. Members were assigned to groups by lot to avoid favoritism. New members were to be assigned to groups in the same way. Each group was to elect a group membership committee and lay plans to obtain new members. This system was expected to bring many l1ew faces to the enrollment desk.
In line with the membership drive Walter Byrne sent forth the challenge that his daughter, Betty,aged.2 years 11 months, was the youngest member of the Auxiliary. This challenge was immediately met by William McMahon whose daughter, Margaret May, was a full- fledged member at twenty months, and by Allan Tukey with a six months' old member, Catherine Ann. Walter Peterson who enrolled his daughter immediately after birth permanently closed this contest. The youngest member, Ramona Susan, was born on May 11 at 6 p. m.
Post committees for 1922 covered many activities:
Membership-Vice-Commanders McKnight, Weed and Thomas. Co-chairmen with every poster a member; Welfare-Rev. Lloyd Holsapple, chairman, with four new members appointed by the post commander each month; Band-H. H. Dudley, chairman: Veterans' Bureau-M. M. Loomis, chairman; Speakers' Bureau-A. C. Falconer chairman; Club House and Quarters-Robert Hughes, chairman; Legionnaire -Ted Metcalfe, chairman; Athletic -Malcolm Baldrige, chairman; Americanization-Anan Raymond, chairman; Hospital- Walter Oakes, chairman; Funeral and Cemeteries-Arthur Fredericks, chairman; Allied Organizations-J. N. DeFrance
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