Small city, big contribution: Ironton, Ohio, and the Great War
By Joe Unger
via the Huntington Herald-Dispatch newspaper (WV) web site
Ironton, an Appalachian city of 12,000 in 1910, is nestled on the Ohio River in an iron-rich region. In 1917, the Ohio National Guard had a detachment, Company I, 7th Ohio National Guard, hailing from the city. Mustering into federal service on July 15, 1917, the strength of the company was 60 men, commanded by Capt. M.W. Russell. The training was strenuous in the hikes through the Appalachian Mountain foothills surrounding Ironton. It is stated that:
Brig. Gen. James T. Dean"Arrangements were made to use the Lawrence Street Public School Building as a barracks, and immediately intensive training was begun to fit the boys for the strenuous overseas service. Long hikes were taken over many hills surrounding Ironton, and through the benefit of these and the close order work, the company soon began to take on a very military aspect under the able officers mentioned above. While two-thirds of the boys were raw recruits, before many days had passed, they bore the ear-marks of old time veterans. The work on most of the boys was entirely different from any they had ever engaged in, but nevertheless, they plunged right into it, never thinking of their blistered feet and aching muscles, but thinking only of the joyful day when they would take a crack at the heinous Hun. It was only for this reason that they withstood the unaccustomed training so splendidly" (Role of Honor of Lawrence County, OH, Miller, 1919).
In September 1917, 16 boys from Company I were sent to Camp Perry, Ohio, to begin the process of transfer to the famous Rainbow Division. The balance of the company entrained for Camp Sheridan in Montgomery, Alabama, arriving there on the 16th of October 1917. These men were transferred to Company A, 148th Infantry, 37th Division. In May 1918 the 37th was sent to Camp Lee, Virginia, and received equipment for overseas service. Company A participated in all of the combats of the 148th Infantry, including the front lines of Baccarat and the Pannes, the Meuse-Argonnes offensives, and the Ypres-Lys offensives. It was in this latter campaign that the 148th had its crowning achievement, it was the first Allied unit to cross the Scheldt River in Belgium on Nov. 2, 1918. This dangerous crossing, under murderous machine gun and artillery fire, inspired the regimental motto: "We'll do it!"
After the war, the men of Company I returned home to Ironton, and marched in the Decoration Day Parade in 1919. It was their victory parade. Other WWI soldiers and airmen, all Irontonians, marched through the streets of the city: Brig. Gen. James T. Dean, Brig. Gen. George Richards, Brig. Gen. James Ancil Shipton, many lieutenant colonels, and its most famous son of the Great War: Capt. William C. Lambert of the Royal Flying Corps, the second-highest scoring American ace with 22 1/2 victories (see "Bill Lambert, WWI Flying Ace" by Sam Wilson).
Read more: Small city, big contribution: Ironton, Ohio, and the Great War
The large stained-glass window in the Washington County Courthouse in Abingdon, Virginia. (David Crigger/BHC)
100-year-old stained-glass window honors local WWI soldiers
By Robert Sorrell and Dalena Mathews
via the Bristol Herald Courier newspaper (VA) web site
An antique window that can only truly be appreciated from inside the Washington County Courthouse was installed a century ago in honor of local soldiers who fought in World War I.
The courthouse is 150 years old and has been through several transitional periods that have an important place in the county’s history. The original courthouse burned during the Civil War and was later rebuilt at the same location, and a Confederate statue, installed in 1907, stands in front of the building’s front entrance. After World War I ended, the county decided to add it as a unique tribute to recently returned soldiers.
In March 1919, the Washington County Board of Supervisors approved the manufacture and installation of a one-of-a-kind window to honor the service of local soldiers and their role in World War I. The window replaced a second-floor door, according to documents provided by the Washington County Historical Society.
A newspaper article said the board’s reasoning for the project as “a tribute to our boys who left the country for the recent war and to the ladies who did their bit to make the world safe for democracy.”
The window — made of Tiffany-stained glass — was installed on July 4, 1919, as part of the town’s Independence Day celebration.
Read more: 100-year-old stained-glass window honors local WWI soldiers
Five Questions for Chris Isleib
"I wouldn't trade the incredible time I've had with this team for anything."
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission
Publisher's note: Chris IsleibAs the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission shifts its mission to focus exclusively on the construction of the new National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC, there is also a shift in staffing. Among those who will, sadly, depart the Commission team is long-term Director of Public Affairs Chris Isleib. Isleib has been with the Commission on long-term loan from the U.S. National Archives, and will return to the Archives on the first of August. Chris's trademark contributions to the Commission web site were multi-question interviews via email with a wide assortment of individuals inside, outside, and around the Commission, and across the world. As what may be (but we hope isn't) his final contribution, Chris has a chance to interview one more important person about his tenure, and his personal experiences as part of the Centennial Commission team—himself!.
Tell us about your work as the Director of Public Affairs for the Centennial Commission. What did you do? What were your responsibilities?
I consider myself the luckiest person in the world -- with the best job in the world. I wouldn't trade the incredible time I've had with this team for anything.
Overall, my job has been to tell the story of America & World War I -- the human accounts of personal experiences, the sweeping history of our nation's role 100 years ago, the amazing commemorations that people have hosted across the country, and the new National Memorial that we are building here in Washington DC.
Read more: Five Questions for Chris Isleib