Old Hometown

Local writer Sarah St. John pulls from the Journal-World archives to compile reports of what it was like to be in Lawrence decades ago.

World War I in Lawrence: ’60 per cent ask army exemption’

In spite of a big storm affecting the western part of Douglas County, the Journal-World reported that 1,621 men had turned out for the military draft registration on June 5. It was considered possible that a few in the storm-affected area had missed the registration, but all in all, the event ...

World War I in Lawrence: Draft registration day is scheduled

More information became available in late May, 1917, on the draft registration day scheduled for June 6. According to an official front-page announcement in the Journal-World, “EVERY MAN between his twenty-first and thirty-first birthdays, MARRIED or SINGLE, except those actually in the army, ...

World War I in Lawrence: City Commission declares ‘Registration Day’ holiday

Military recruitment following the U.S. entry into the war had been slow but steady in the Lawrence area. On May 14, 1917, the Journal-World reported that all Lawrence National Guard organizations had been ordered to recruit to war strength, giving companies authority to recruit 50 more men in ...

World War I in Lawrence: Students leave school for the war effort

In mid-April, 1917, the Journal-World reported a “raid of newly enlisted students and student farmers” on Dean Olin Templin’s office. Sixty students had filled out university withdrawal cards, and 35 of those were approved by noon that day. Most of the student had joined the military, but ...

World War I in Lawrence: Governor asks for schoolchildren’s help

On April 30, 1917, the Lawrence Daily Journal-World reported that Governor Arthur Capper had sent a letter to all Kansas schoolchildren, asking their help in “doing their bit toward winning the war.” Addressing them as “Dear Friends,” the governor made an urgent call for students to ...

World War I in Lawrence: Gardening movement gains momentum

In the months leading up to the U.S. entry into the war, there were a few articles in local newspapers mentioning the high cost of living and suggesting ways to combat it. On March 1, 1917, Lawrence’s Mayor Francisco began to organize groups in an attempt to use the city’s vacant lots for ...

World War I in Lawrence: KU faculty reacts to the war

More than a month before the U.S. entry into the conflict, the “European War” was on the minds of faculty at the University of Kansas. On March 2, sixty-three members of the KU faculty signed a telegram to President Woodrow Wilson, pledging “their support in any measure which may be ...

World War I in Lawrence: Red Cross worker recalls a battle

In June 1916, nearly a year before the U.S. entry into the war, Lawrence resident and Red Cross worker Charles Griesa left for Europe, where he began working with the ambulance corps.Griesa wrote frequent letters home, and in spite of censors, his family was able to piece together enough ...

World War I in Lawrence: Local Red Cross chapter grows

According to figures compiled by the Red Cross, national membership in the organization grew from 107 members in 1914 to 3,864 in 1918. The Red Cross chapter in Lawrence had formed before the U.S. entered the “Great War,” and a week before President Wilson’s announcement, a small ...

World War I in Lawrence: Suspicion of German Americans

The entry of the United States into the “Great War” signaled an abrupt change in the treatment of German Americans in the Lawrence area. In late March, 1917, the Lawrence Journal-World reported that after 39 years in this country, local resident David Passon was “as thoroughly an ...

Historical accomplishment: Museum director stepping back after more than 4 decades

As she looked at a print from Kansas Territorial Days displayed in the Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum, Martha Parker pointed to man in the photograph.“That man’s grandson hired me for my first teaching job,” she said. From her birth 88 years ago to Les and Florence Demeritt on a ...

World War I in Lawrence: Community reacts to start of war

“One subject and one only is now a topic of conversation in Lawrence.”On April 6, 1917, whistles were sounded in Lawrence to alert residents to the long-expected news: At 1:11 p.m., President Woodrow Wilson had signed a congressional resolution declaring a state of war between the United ...

Exorcising the Lawrence Massacre’s historical ghosts

On Aug. 21, 1863, the rumbling of equine feet accompanied the dawn in Lawrence, Kansas. Before a swarming mass of pro-Confederate bushwhackers rode William Clarke Quantrill, once a resident of Lawrence himself. The guerrilla chieftain let his Missourians loose — hundreds of them — on the ...

A stitch in time: Lawrence resident creates quilt to benefit Watkins Museum

Mary Boucher can trace her fascination with Lawrence history back to the year she settled here, 1975. It was, coincidentally, the very same year that the Watkins Museum of History — the old building at 1047 Massachusetts St. used to house a bank and mortgage company owned by the storied ...

100 years ago: Journal-World struggles with skyrocketing paper costs

*Dear Readers: I have enjoyed preparing the Old Home Town column for the print and online Journal-World for over six years now. Although I will no longer be on the newspaper staff as of August 1, I wish to thank all those who have participated in this discussion of local history. Your ...