World War I in Lawrence: City experiences third military death since entering the Great War

Editor’s note: Local writer Sarah St. John compiles reports of what it was like to be in Lawrence 100 years ago during World War I.

In May, 1918, Lawrence experienced its third military death since the U.S. entry into the Great War. Relatives of Frank Crowder, 729 Missouri Street, received the tragic War Department telegram telling them that the young sergeant had died and that his body was being held in Hoboken, New Jersey. The family’s shock may have been compounded by the fact that they had just received, a few days earlier, a card that had been mailed stating that Frank had landed safely in France with the 110th Engineers. It was supposed that he had become ill after filling out his “landing card” in New York. The cards had been mailed from New York when news had been received there of the 110th’s safe arrival overseas.

Sgt. Crowder’s body arrived in Lawrence on May 22, along with the news that he had in fact died from meningitis on board the U. S. S. Great Northern, a military transport, while enroute to France May 9; his body had been returned to Hoboken and then sent on to Lawrence.

The somber funeral was held May 23 at Oak Hill Cemetery. “Three volleys fired over his grave by the members of the Kansas State Guard, the last wailing of the bugle sounding ‘Taps’ and Lawrence had paid its last respects…. The body was escorted to Oak Hill cemetery by the Kansas University band and a Lawrence company of the Kansas State Guards. A draped car occupied by the county officials acting as honorary pall bearers. All flags in the city were at half mast all day out of respect for the fallen soldier and in response to a proclamation by Mayor George L. Kreeck, issued yesterday, all business in the city was suspended for five minutes at 2:30 o’clock, the hour of the starting of the funeral procession.”


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