Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Great Kickapoo River Flood of 1978 - Part II


The Flood of 1978 started to recede in La Farge on Sunday, July 2nd.  As the floodwater’s crest on the Kickapoo River moved downriver, the communities south of La Farge also felt the wrath of the flood.  Boats were the only mode of transportation on Viola’s Main Street, just as it had been for the floods of 1935 and 1951.  A partial dike system in Soldiers Grove failed during the crest of the flood there, devastating the downtown business district.  A new bank building in Soldiers Grove was nearly ripped in half, exposing the interior and the vault walls.  Almost every business and home in Gays Mills was inundated with floodwaters when the Kickapoo’s crest reached there.  Further downstream the villages of Steuben and Wauzeka also suffered heavy damages before the flood finally abated on Independence Day.  Every field of corn, tobacco, grain, and hay located on farms along the river from Wilton to Wauzeka were lost to the floodwaters.
In La Farge, the houses that had floodwater in them (some for the first time ever) included Gerald Anderson, Stanley Potter, Elmer Storer, Catherine Norris, Eva Clements, John Sokolik, Bob Sokolik, Ron Gabrielson (renting the JaDoul house), Reynold Waddell, Jim Campton, Gib Stevens, Harry Lounsbury, Ethel Burt, Maxine Kennedy, Bob Erickson, Lucille Yarolimek, Vera Campton, Bob Jacobson and Les Gillett.
Business places in La Farge that were inundated with floodwater included the La Farge Cheese Factory, Nuzum’s, Gary’s Texaco Station, Caucutt-Olson Plumbing, La Farge Epitaph newspaper, Jeffer’s Truck Sales, Kickapoo Antiques, Major’s Appliances and Nelson’s Garage.  Also suffering damage from the flood were the Town of Stark hall and shed, the La Farge village jail, and the new village hall and firehouse.
When Village President Ted Erickson met with state and federal officials a week after the flood, a list of 38 homes and 23 businesses in La Farge damaged by floodwaters had been compiled.  The total cost of the flood damage in La Farge approached $200,000.  That figure did not include agricultural losses located within the village, as several fields of tobacco and corn crops were lost to the flood.   
The school’s bus garage, located on Main Street in the old Fulmer’s Garage building suffered heavy damage from the flood.  The school buses had been moved out of the garage as the floodwaters rose and were kept in the parking lot at the United Methodist Church for nearly a week after the flood as repairs were made to the school bus garage floor.  Later, the school district also had more costly damages at the schoolhouse when a water main, weakened by the heavy rains, broke causing the elementary wing to be completely flooded.  
Floodwaters kept area roads and highways closed for days.  Water covered the old portion of Highway 131 at Seelyburg for nearly two days and caused major damage to the road.  (Whitey Barclay lost 27 pigs to the floodwaters at his Seelyburg farm.)  Highway 131 south of La Farge was closed for two days and almost one hundred yards of the highway were washed out below the new bridge at Lawton’s.  In addition, the sewer plant at La Farge was inoperable for more than 24 hours at the height of the flood and raw sewage was dumped directly into the river’s waters.  Many people boiled village water for drinking during the flood, but a DNR check on the village’s water supply on July 5th indicated there was no contamination.
Interesting stories and happenings abounded in La Farge as people had varied reactions to the great flood.  What happened to Roger Andrew’s tractor was one such story.  Roger had cattle on pasture along the east side of the Kickapoo River.  As the floodwaters filled the pasture, the beef cattle soon clustered on a disappearing high spot.  Roger drove his John Deere tractor over to the stockyards east of Calhoon Park and started to drive through the floodwaters towards his herd of cattle, hoping to guide them back toward higher land near the old railroad bed.  However, the tractor dropped into an unseen ditch and stalled out.  Eventually, Roger had to be rescued by a crew in a boat and his tractor slowly disappeared under the rising floodwaters.  Ironically, the cattle ended up swimming across the swollen river and found high ground on the west side of the pasture.
That could have been the end of the story of Roger Andrew’s tractor except that a crowd assembled in the Lions Shelter at Calhoon Park had witnessed the attempted rescue.  Many people came to La Farge that day thinking that the opening day of the 4th of July Celebration would happen.  Softball players and fans sat in the beer tent at the shelter (even though no beer was sold there) that day and watched as the tractor disappeared from view.  Soon a gambling pool was created as to when the tractor would reappear from the floodwaters.  Some time on the following day, Sunday, July 2nd, the tractor reappeared and a local softball player was a little wealthier with his lucky pick in the pool.
Members of the La Farge Fire Department had a hectic couple of days because of the flood.  Many members of the department had been called out after midnight on Friday night, June 30, when a downed power line knocked out power to the village for four hours.  Members of the fire department helped to provide alternate generator power to people using sump pumps to keep water out of their houses or businesses on that first night.  Later that night, firemen went to the Rockton area to help look for canoeists camped along the river there.  As the flood waters descended on La Farge the next morning, all of the fire trucks had to be moved out of the firehouse on south Silver Street.  Because the floodwaters made Highway 82 impassable to the west, two fire trucks from Viroqua came to the west end of the Highway 82 Bridge in La Farge.  The Viroqua trucks and crew would respond to any fire calls on that side of the river.
However, that evening, July 1st, tornadoes were spotted in the Viroqua area and the fire trucks and crew had to return to their hometown.  The La Farge firemen had to get a truck to the other side of the river.  Driving north with one of the fire trucks, La Farge Fireman Cecil Rolfe, looked for a way across the flooding river to get to the other side.  As he drove down 24 Valley Road, the roadbed, undermined by the heavy rains, gave way and the fire truck fell into a huge hole.  A wrecker had to be called to pull the damaged fire truck back to the village.  Many La Farge firemen remained on duty all of that evening after never having slept the preceding night.
The school gymnasium was used as a temporary shelter that Saturday night for some of the people displaced by the floodwaters.  Although finding cots for people to sleep on proved a problem, most people were happy to be high and dry on an air mattress with some warm blankets.  Other people who were chased out of their homes by the flood stayed in the KP Hall that night.  Many other people stayed with nearby family and friends.
Maxine Kennedy told me later that the Saturday of the flood in 1978 was the busiest day she ever had in her Main Street restaurant.  Part of the reason was that the A&W Root Beer Stand, that normally would have been open to serve food on that Saturday in July, was closed.  The popular root beer stand, owned by David and Kay Mick, had been struck by lightning during a weekend thunderstorm in mid-June.  The resulting fire caused considerable damage to the drive-in, so it wasn’t open to help feed the masses for the 4th of July Celebration.
When the Red Cross workers arrived in La Farge late that afternoon on July 1st, they immediately began handing out meal vouchers to be used at Kennedy’s Restaurant for people displaced by the flood and for the volunteers, firemen and other workers who were helping with the relief effort.  With the food stands not open at the 4th of July grounds, all those visitors also stopped at Maxine’s for a sandwich as well.  Maxine had to close the restaurant early that Saturday night because she ran out of food.
The 4th of July Celebration in La Farge actually did get going on Sunday, July 2nd.  Some events, like the tractor pull had to be cancelled (it took several days to find that swept-away eliminator in Norwalk) while others, like the Men’s Softball Tournament were changed to only include twelve teams.  (Mt. Tabor Bar won the men’s tournament, while the team from Valley won the women’s.)  A new event, the Mini-Marathon Race, was run on an altered course through the village, avoiding the muddy streets where the floodwaters had been.
The carnival hired for the celebration had quite a time getting to La Farge.  Most of the carnival rides were mired in floodwaters at Wonewoc, where they were set up prior to La Farge.  Eventually most of the rides and carnival stands made it to La Farge by the 4th of July.
The 4th of July weekend in La Farge became even more bizarre when there was a shooting over that time.  A man from Illinois was driving erratically and squealing his tires on the busy streets of the village, causing concern among local residents.  Several local people stopped the car and the man brandished a pistol, which he waved threateningly at them.  The man then sped out of town in his car with several local people in hot pursuit.  The Illinois man crashed his car into the ditch near Don Potter’s house east of La Farge.  Again the man pulled out his pistol as he departed his wrecked vehicle.  Don (Moose) Getter, using a shotgun that was in LaVerne Campbell’s car then shot the man to disarm him.  (Moose was not a village policeman at the time.)  The man from Illinois, who did not suffer a life threatening wound in the shooting was taken to Viroqua by ambulance guarded by sheriff’s deputies and later moved to the county jail.      

The Great Kickapoo River Flood of 1978 - Part 1

The Kickapoo River flood of June 30 – July 2, 1978 was the greatest ever recorded at La Farge up to that time.  The high water mark happened on Saturday, July 1 as the depth of the Kickapoo reached 14.92 feet, nearly three feet over the river’s flood stage of 12 feet.  At its height, the flood poured 12,900 cubic feet of water per second through La Farge – another all-time record.  The 6.15 inches of rain that fell in torrents beginning Friday evening, June 30th and continuing through Sunday morning was the final impetus to unleash the havoc of the Kickapoo’s greatest flood.  Meteorological and political events leading up to the great flood framed the significance of the damage to the Kickapoo Valley in a special way.
            As was usual for that time, the record setting Kickapoo River Flood of 1978 once again splashed La Farge and the failed fiasco of the federal dam project back onto the national scene, culminating with the appearance of several local citizens on an October airing of the CBS Evening News.
            Most of the great floods of the Kickapoo Valley watershed are often a culmination of a series of weather patterns and the Flood of 1978 was no exception.  A wet autumn in 1977 had culminated in flash flooding along several La Farge area streams at the end of October.  With Otter Creek, Bear Creek, Elk Run and Camp Creek all flooding that fall, the Kickapoo River was soon out of its banks from La Farge and down river.
            Heavy snows in late November 1977 had been the beginning of a winter that featured heavy snowfall totals that continued for several months.  A big snowstorm in early January 1978 dumped over a foot of snow in some parts of the Kickapoo Valley.  Snow totals were above average for February and by March the heavy ice accumulation on the Kickapoo River at La Farge had barely started to melt.  The National Weather Service (NWS) predicted floods for the Kickapoo Valley from the melting of the snowpack later in March.  Although the river was out of its banks on several occasions, the spring flooding of the Kickapoo was moderated by an even snowmelt and less than normal rainfall.
            A week of rains in late April brought the river out of its banks for several days and filled all of the sloughs, swamps and other wetlands along the river.  In June, it seemed that there were major rainstorms every weekend and the river was usually out of its banks.  Weekend canoeing on the Kickapoo was a washout for most of the month.  For the two weeks before the big flood at the end of June, the Kickapoo River remained bank full or higher.  With nowhere for any excess water to go, the massive storms of June-July generated rainfall totals to trigger the greatest flood in the history of the river.
            The great flood arrived just as the community of La Farge was set to commence a four-day celebration of America’s Independence Day.  The 4th of July Celebration, sponsored by the La Farge Lions Club, was to offer a variety of events and activities for all ages.  In an effort to draw some of the 4th of July crowds back to the Village Park, where they had traditionally been held, the Lions Club rented a large tent to cover the Village Park Bowery.  (At the time, there was no permanent shelter over the bowery that consisted of a large pad of cement for dancing.)  The Lions Club had scheduled several dances and a fashion show to be held under the big tent during the celebration.
            On Friday evening, June 30th, many people were at the 4th of July grounds setting things up for the celebration.  A thunderstorm with heavy rain went through early in the evening and another a few hours later.  I had helped set up the big tent in the park earlier in the afternoon and had been instructed by the installation crew to drop the side poles to let water drain off the canopy if there was heavy rain.  When another heavy rain hit La Farge before midnight, I made my third trip to the Village Park to drain the water from the tent.
            Another heavy rainstorm hit the Kickapoo Valley after 2 a.m. and I was back to the park once again.  We were living in the Burt Apartments next to the motel in that summer of 1978 and when I returned home I noticed a group assembled at the nearby firehouse.  The La Farge Fire Dept. was assembling crews to search for canoeists who were camping along the river south of Rockton.  The NWS had already issued a flood alert for the Kickapoo Valley and the Vernon County Sheriff’s Department was moving everyone away from soon-to-be flooding streams and rivers.  I stumbled home to try to get some sleep before another storm came through.
            Early the next morning (Saturday, July 1st) a knocking at the door woke us from our short night’s slumber.  Fellow Lions Club member Brent Waddell had just driven in from Fairview Ridge and said that he had never seen the water on Otter Creek so high.  Brent was one of the Lions’ members in charge of the tractor and 4-wheel drive pull to be held later that day.  The pulling eliminator for the event was to be rented from a business in Norwalk and Brent wasn’t sure if the pull could be held with the looming flood threat.  When he called the Norwalk business about the eliminator, he found that Norwalk had suffered a terrible flash flood overnight and the eliminator had been washed away along with several other vehicles kept on the property.  The pulling event was definitely off for that day.
            We decided to drive north to see how high the water was at Rockton.  As we were crossing the Jug Creek Bridge, we saw Ole Gabrielson walking towards the highway from the river.  Ole had walked down to look at the river at Bridge 12 and saw the floodwaters form a cap on the river before rushing over the banks.  He was soaked nearly from head to toe and he told us that the waters on the Kickapoo River had come over the bank so fast that they overtook him as he scrambled to higher ground.  Behind him, we could see the mouth of Jug Creek rapidly filling up with floodwater.
            When we continued on upriver and crossed the new Highway 131 Bridge at Rockton, we could see nothing but water below us.  We stopped into the Rockton Bar and asked owner Dean Hamilton how bad the flooding was.  Dean told us to drive up the river and look at the bridge above Rockton.  As we descended the hill towards the bridge we were amazed at what we saw.  The bridge (Bridge #10 today) had railings on both sides that reached nearly ten feet above the roadbed.  On that morning less that a foot of the railings remained above the swollen river’s waters – nearly eight feet of water was flowing above the bridge!  Shaken, Brent and I hurried back toward La Farge.
            When we returned to La Farge, we saw that Andrew’s flat was rapidly filling with water next to the river.  We stopped at Nuzum’s and helped with the efforts there to move merchandise and material to higher spots in the building to avoid approaching flood waters.  Items were carried upstairs in the Nuzum’s shed and after an hour or so; most of the work was done.  The floodwater was just beginning to cross Highway 82 between Nuzum’s and the river, so Brent and I headed up Main Street to help at other businesses.  When we arrived at Jeffers Truck Sales, it dawned on us that my apartment was in the path of the flood and quickly drove there.  Carolyn was in full flood-mode and had moved the vehicles to higher ground as the front yard was filling up with water.  She came out the front door with our little Chihuahua, Tinker, in her arms.  Carolyn’s parents came from Viola to help, but soon had to head over the hills and back downriver as the flood moved downstream to their hometown.  They took little Tinker with them and the friendly little dog got to hang out in Viola for a couple days with other flood refugees from that river town.
As we were beginning to put things up, Dean and Rudy Hamilton arrived with pickups and a crew of helpers, offering to move our things to higher ground.  They had already secured several garages and sheds in town where the material could be kept, so the process began immediately to move everything out of the apartment and truck it off for storage.  When our apartment was done, we started on the apartment next door.  Then it was over to Burt’s house, Maxine Kennedy’s, Earl Geddes’ place and on down Snow Street. 
            Other trucks and then boats helped in the moving of items, to the upstairs in some houses and off to the storage garages in others.  When we got to Harry Lounsbury’s house, some concerns arose as nobody had seen Harry anywhere that morning.  Dode Erlandson and I warily entered the house to check on him, but Harry was away from his home, safe out of the flood’s way.

            The floodwaters continued up Main Street all the rest of that day, until finally stopping between the La Farge Co-op gas station and the old post office building.  The water started to recede a little later in the afternoon, but another torrential thunderstorm came through in the early evening.  That storm caused even worse flooding on Bear Creek, and the floodwaters in La Farge stayed at near record levels through most of the night.  (Ironically, the floodwaters never did enter our apartment, although reaching right to the doorsill on a couple of occasions.)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Remembering Glenn Jones

Lots of changes came to America after the conclusion of World War I.  Even though the United States was only involved in “The Great War” for a short time at the conclusion of the conflict, the effects on the country were great.
            When the German leaders signed the armistice on November 11, 1918, the actual fighting ceased, but it also ushered in a contentious time of “making peace” after the war.  American President Woodrow Wilson had laid out a plan for the post-war world in his “Fourteen Points” speech to Congress in January 1918.  Wilson sought to do away with practices that could lead countries into war – such as abolishing secret diplomacy and having treaties be “open covenants openly arrived at”.  President Wilson also advocated for the creation of a “League of Nations” to preserve peace and insure justice for all.
            When the Paris Peace Conference began after the war ended, Wilson was an active participant and became the first American President to travel to Europe.  Although the leaders of the victorious Allies (Great Britain, France and Italy most notably) sought retribution from and punishment for Germany and the other Central Powers, Wilson petitioned at the Paris conference for justice and lasting world peace.  To this end, the formation of a “League of Nations” became a part of the Versailles Treaty.
            In America, the country had to realign the nation’s economy and social order from a wartime footing back to what it was before the 1917 entrance into the war.  Often, it is hard to go back to where you were before – especially on a national scale.  Indeed, some of the American troops stationed in France and the Western Front did not return to their homeland.  Instead, several thousand American soldiers joined with British, French and Japanese forces in fighting in Russia’s Great Civil War from 1918-1920.  The military invasion that invaded Russia was supposed to stop the Communists from taking control there, but the venture proved unsuccessful.
            Back in America, the Russian venture stoked fears that Communists might come after the United States next and fostered a time of mass hysteria known as the “Red Scare”.  Government agencies were created to look everywhere for “Commies” and any disruption were blamed on the “Reds”.  And there were plenty of disruptions in the United States after World War I.
            Labor strife was rampant in America as the country shifted back to a peacetime economy after the war.  During the war, higher wages and benefits had kept the workers of American factories working long and hard to support military and other wartime needs.  Workers did not want to loose what they had which led to strikes across the country.  The police went on strike in Boston and the National Guard was called out to maintain order.  A failed strike against U.S. Steel left 18 workers dead in bloody confrontations.
Racial friction also intensified after the war ended.  During the year after the Armistice, 70 African-Americans were lynched in the United States, including 10 Black soldiers in uniform.  A six-day race riot in Chicago in the summer of 1919 left 38 dead.
  A reemergence of the Ku Klux Klan appeared in America in the 1920s.  The newer KKK was anti-black, anti-foreigner, and anti-Catholic in philosophy and was no longer just an organization of the American South.  The new Klan spread into the Midwest and even the Kickapoo Valley.  (Check my earlier two writings of the “Local History Notebook” published in September 2016 where the KKK in La Farge is discussed.  These can also be found on my history blog.)  
The observance of Memorial Day also changed after World War I.  In 1868, General John Logan had issued an order that May 30th should be set aside as a day of remembrance for those soldiers who had died in America’s Civil War.  The order by General Logan specifically called “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades”.  Forty years later, America was still celebrating “Decoration Day” at the end of May, but now had a new group of fallen soldiers to remember.  New names were added to the honor roll of fallen warriors that were read in the cemeteries of La Farge.
Soon after the war ended, young men in the military began to return to their hometowns.  Most of the earliest to return were still stationed in training camps in the United States awaiting ships for the crossing to Europe.  By early 1919, some of the men who had been on the Western Front were also returning to the Kickapoo Valley.  One of the boys from La Farge never came back.
Glenn Jones was the son of Reverend D. G. Jones and his wife.  Reverend Jones was the minister for the church at Potts Corners and the family lived on Weister Creek.  Glenn attended high school in La Farge as a “boarding” student (rural students at that time were not part of the school district in La Farge and had to pay tuition to attend.  Many of them boarded in the village while attending school.), beginning in 1912.  He can be seen in the front row of that iconic photograph of the 1912 LHS Football Team, staring with wide eyes from beneath his leather helmet.  Glenn also participated in other sports while attending school in La Farge.  He was an active and well-liked student.
In his Senior year at LHS, Glenn Jones participated in the local LHS oratory contest and was a member of the cast of the LHS Senior Class Play performed for the community at the Opera House on Main Street of La Farge.  A month later, at the end of May 1916, Glenn joined fifteen of his Senior classmates for the La Farge High School graduation ceremonies, also held at the Opera House.
A few weeks after that commencement ceremony in 1916, there was this item in the “Local News” section of the La Farge Enterprise newspaper, “Glen Jones, Floyd Rittenhouse and Layton Perkins were Yuba callers Saturday.”  It is supposed that some young ladies of Yuba may have been the impetus for the visit.
Later, Reverend Jones and his family left the La Farge area where he preached at other churches in Wisconsin.  Glenn probably went with his family when they moved, but he may have remained in La Farge.  When America entered the war in the Spring of 1918, Glenn Jones joined the military.  He trained at Camp Grant, a huge American military training facility located near Rockford, Illinois.  Glenn Jones was a member of the 47th Infantry, Company E, which was formed in May 1917 and organized in June at Syracuse, New York.  The unit was fighting on the front lines of the Western Front in France by July 1918.  In the six months of his time in the service, Glenn Jones attained the rank of corporal.
In the October 10, 1918 issue of the Enterprise, mention of the La Farge lad was made in the “Local News” column, “A report has been circulated that Glenn Jones had been killed in France.  At this writing confirmation of this report has not been received.”  Several months went by, including the Armistice signing to end the war, before La Farge’s newspaper could get the confirmation about Glenn Jones.
“Mr and Mrs Geo. Burnard received a card Wednesday from Rev. D. G. Jones of Pardeeville, which stated that their son Glenn was killed in France sometime between the 3rd and 13th of August.  The report had reached them sometime ago that he was missing but nothing definite was learned until this time.  The sad news of Glenn’s death is a severe blow to his parents and relatives and they have the deepest sympathy of their many friends in this village.” – from the La Farge Enterprise, “Local News” section, January 2, 1919 issue.
The United States lost 50,280 men in World War I including La Farge’s Glenn Jones.  Glenn Jones was killed in action on August 7, 1918 while cleaning out a nest of machine gunners with hand grenades in the Argonne Forest region.  He was wounded with a shot to the leg and died before he could be evacuated.  The body of Glenn Jones was buried in a military cemetery in France alongside his fallen American comrades.

The body of Glenn Jones was later returned to the United States on August 4, 1921 and was buried with full military honors at the National Cemetery at Arlington, Virginia.  The La Farge V.F.W. Post 9075 was named after Corporal David Glenn Jones to honor La Farge’s only World War I veteran killed in action. 

THE GREAT WAR

This year America is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the United States entering The Great War.  That catastrophic conflict had been raging in Europe since the summer of 1914, starting shortly after the assassination of Austria - Hungary’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo.  The Central Powers in the conflict included Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Turkish Empire.  The Allies were comprised of Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, several Balkan nations, Russia, and Great Britain.
            For three years, the United States tried to remain neutral and stay out of The Great War.  President Woodrow Wilson even ran for re-election in 1916 on a campaign theme of “He Kept Us Out of War!”  In that 1916 election, Wilson was returned to the White House by the narrowest of margins, winning over New York Governor Charles Evans Hughes by a tally of 277-254 in the Electoral College.
            However, within a month after his inauguration, President Wilson went before Congress and asked for a declaration of war against Germany.  Wilson said, “The world must be made safe for democracy”.  April 6, 1917 was the date when America joined in the conflict.  America soon undertook preparations to join the Allies in what we now know as World War I.  The country called for men to join the American military and that call soon reached the Kickapoo Valley and La Farge.
            In researching through copies of La Farge’s newspaper from that time, the La Farge Enterprise, I was startled by how many young men went into the various branches of military service.  Of course, Congress passed a Selective Service Act in May 1917. A month later, nearly three-quarter of a million names of men were selected in a draft to serve in the military.  Many men had already volunteered for service, including dozens from La Farge.  Women joined the Nurses Corps of the Army and Navy as well as taking administrative jobs with the government.  Many young ladies from La Farge left town to help with the war effort.
            By May 1918, the men of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) were fighting on the front lines in France.  The influx of American soldiers into the bloody trench warfare of the Western Front during that summer of 1918 saved the day for the Allies.  Young men from La Farge were there in France during the summer and fall of that year as the tide turned against Germany.
            The La Farge Enterprise published letters from local lads who were in military service in every weekly issue during that time.  Some of the letters were from men stationed at various military training bases in the United States.  But other letters sent back home by local lads were from the front lines and are astonishing in their stark descriptions of the horrors of war.
            George Steinmetz, a 1917 graduate of La Farge High School, wrote of his experiences in the war in a letter published in the Enterprise in early October 1918.  George wrote:
            Somewhere in France – July 28, 1918
            Dearest of Folks at home: - I don’t know just when I wrote you last, but think it was less than a week ago.  I have a hard time keeping track of time any more.  We are so busy trying to keep up with the Dutchmen that we have no time for much else.
            I am tired and sleepy, but otherwise I am feeling fine.
            There are four of us in a little dugout about six feet square and the roof high enough for me to bump my head when I sit up.  We usually fix a place like this to sleep in and to duck into when we are not firing, but are being fired at.  This happens occasionally.  We all despised digging until after our first hard battle, and after that we were all perfectly willing to dig in.  Not because it is more comfortable but a great deal safer.  Whenever we get a chance to fire though every one of us are out and working for one doesn’t notice being fired at when he can fire back.  If we keep them running like they are now the war will soon be over.
            Gee, how I should like to eat at home Christmas.
            George Steinmetz then goes on in his letter to boast how his battery unit is one of the best in the AEF as determined by their combat experiences.  He writes that both French and American “high authorities” had praised his unit’s fighting skills.  Steinmetz concludes his letter to his family by writing, “I will close today.  Do write often.  I know you do but I don’t get them regular.  With lots of love to all at home every one of you.  Your own boy, George”
            Another letter sent home and published in the same issue of the Enterprise was from Glenn Blakley, who had been wounded in fighting on the Western Front.  Blakley wrote two letters home, one to his parents and another to his brother, Delbert Blakley, letting them know about his battle wounds and reassuring them about his health.  Glenn Blakley wrote,
            France, August 7, 1918
Dear Folks at Home:  Am stopping on my way back to the base hospital for a day or so, so will write a few lines to let you know that I am o.k. and as you can tell by the writing haven’t lost all of my arms, legs and my head.
            I got it Monday morning in the left hand with a piece of shrapnel and a very small piece of it in my right knee, but that one will be well in a week at least.  My hand will get o.k. too as I have had my operation on it and still have all my fingers.  Guess there is a couple of little bones broken but as you know my broken bones always heal o.k.
            I will be sent on down to some base hospital within a day or two and can then tell you what hospital I am at and give you my new address so I can get mail again.  Guess it will be sent on to me anyway but of course there will be some delay.
            I will try to tell you somewhere near where I was if the censor does not cut it out.  I was on the front that was between Soissions and Chateau-Thierry but of course it was back of both of these towns at that time for, as you will remember we had captured both of those towns long before that date.
            Am going to close for today but will write when I get where I can give you my address.  Love to all and drop Kampfs and Aunt Francis a line and tell them.
 I am, your son, Glenn.
            At the end of Glenn Blakley’s letter to his parents, mention is also made of another letter written to his brother Delbert and dated August 12, 1918.  In that letter, Glenn wrote, “that the center was shot out of his left hand and that the two center fingers would probably be left stiff.  He says that the wound to his knee is slight but that it would be two or three months before his hand would be well”.   

            Both of the letters from George Steinmetz and Glenn Blakley written from the Western Front were published on the front page of the La Farge Enterprise.  Further back in an October issue of the La Farge weekly was an ominous item located in the “Local News” column.  It read: “A report has been circulated that Glenn Jones had been killed in France.  At this writing confirmation of this report has not been received.”