World War I in Lawrence: Douglas County men leave for training

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.

Another round of the military draft resulted in several more Douglas County men leaving for training on May 14, 1918. The Journal-World reported the huge crowd that paraded to the depot to see them off:

“Five thousand citizens gathered at the Union Pacific station yesterday evening to give farewell greetings to the eighteen Lawrence and Douglas county drafted boys who left for Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis to start active training in preparation for their arduous duties on the battle fields of France in a few short months. The automobiles filled with citizens began arriving at the station by 7:30 o’clock and by the time the parade reached North Lawrence the cars were packed in a solid amphitheater mass from the station to the store buildings west of the station park. The K. U. band which followed the police in a motor car at the head of the parade could be heard distinctly before they reached the bridge and the citizens who had already assembled at the Union Pacific station lined up along the road to the station over which the boys must pass. When the head of the parade finally reached the station the K. U. band drew up at one side and the two local state guard companies came to attention, forming a lane through which the drafted boys marched up to the station platform with uncovered heads. … They immediately scattered among the crowd and in a few minutes each of the boys could be seen surrounded by small groups of relatives and friends. There was considerable excitement at first in the rush to find a particular relative or friend but the troop train was twenty minutes late so that everyone got to say good-bye. … The Lawrence and Douglas county boys boarded the train at all the entrances and then walked back through the train to the end car which had been attached for them. When the train pulled out the boys hung out of the windows and shouted their last farewells until they get furloughs before going to France to fight to take of their share of the burden.”


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