Clark County and WWI: Patriotism and Support Immediately after the Declaration of War

by Sherri Goudy

On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed as he stood before Congress, “The world must be made safe for democracy!”  Just 4 days later, Congress and the House agreed and declared war on Germany.  Following a continued period of neutrality since the onslaught of WWI in 1914, the United States was immediately thrust into the war. Although no troops had been trained and no preparations had been made for this shift, Americans rallied behind Wilson, who went on to lead what was at the time the largest war-mobilization effort in our nation’s history.

The change in attitude seemed to happen almost overnight. Wilson had run for election and reelection on a platform of strict neutrality.  Even as the war became increasingly gruesome, and Americans lost their lives with the sinking of the Lusitania and later events, and even as Americans voiced public outcry at these horrific tragedies, Wilson remained steadfast.  But all that changed in the spring of 1917 with the interception of the notorious Zimmerman telegram.  The British intercepted and decoded this telegram sent from the German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmerman to the German ambassador to Mexico proposing an alliance with Mexico against the United States. When Wilson learned of this plot against the US he immediately proposed that the US should start arming its ships against German attacks and authorized the State department to make public the contents of the Zimmerman telegram.

Within a month of this revelation, the US formally declared war against Imperial Germany.  The headlines in Springfield read “State of War is Declared” and the full text of the War Resolution was published.

War Resolution

For the next few weeks, the entire nation banded in support of the United States position against Germany.  Springfield published headline after headline, daily, informing the citizens of Clark County, Ohio about national and local contributions to the war effort.  Every man, woman, child from every background and every age could contribute and was expected to do so.  They couldn’t let their country down.

The US immediately began to financially support its allied nations in their war efforts as well.  The front page of the Springfield Daily News two days after the declaration of war was made read, “Huge Loan Pledged to Allies.”  Wilson was pledging $5 billion to “assume share of common burden” with its allies.  He was ready to roll out his war program which included this loan to allied countries to help “replenish their treasuries against the drain of their military and naval efforts in the common cause against Germany.”

Wilson ready to issue bond

Wilson ready to issue bond text

Even political cartoons reflected the sentiment of financial support to the “Allied Democracy.”  On April 10, 1917 the Springfield paper published this cartoon featuring Uncle Sam wading into the ocean, with billions of dollars to loan.

PC There's plenty more where that came from $$$

Another part of Wilson’s war program included raising their military forces to a million men, and there was no shortage of support for this plan. Locals began to enlist immediately.  The day the declaration hit headlines, there was an article in the Springfield Daily News – “Local Boy Admitted to American Navy.”  “Dewey T. Walp…passed the preliminary examination for entrance to the navy at the local recruiting station recently.”  And further down, the article reads, “A number of applicants have signified their intention of becoming sailors of the seas during the last few days.”

Local Boy Navy

Wittenberg University also participated in this effort to increase the number of enlisted men. C. G. Heckert, the President of the University said that “any member of the senior class who is drafted to the Federal army or who enlists in the service, will be granted a diploma upon application.”

Wittenberg seniors enlisted will get diploma

Women also wanted to contribute to the war effort.  This headline from two days after the Declaration of War reports “American Women Eager to Make Sacrifice for Country.”

US women report for war

This article states that as many as 3 million women were preparing for some sort of service to the United States including “nursing, to take the place if necessary of men called from farms and factories, to serve on street railways and railroads, to drive trucks or do clerical work, to prepare bandages and surgical kits, to do guard and patrol duty, to care for the nation’s food supply or to fill the places of professional men, such as doctors, dentists, and chemists, who might be called to war.”

One of the organizations which was helping to educate and mobilize women was the National League for Women’s Services.  This national program had members in big cities, such as Columbus, which in turn came to towns such as Springfield to organize women there, as this article from April 11, 1917 shows.

Women organize

The actions of local men and women to enlist and organize were crucial to the support of the war effort and to making President Wilson’s war program effective.  But what could the everyday citizen do?  From conserving food, war bond drives, and displaying flags, locals had plenty of ways to demonstrate their patriotism.  But immediately after the declaration, there were two major events that happened in Springfield, Ohio which banded all of Clark County together.

Ohio Governor James Cox proclaimed that all Ohioans could unite and do something to show support to President Wilson during this crisis.  He issued a “Proclamation of Sacred Service” on April 11, 1917 to all the citizens in Ohio to gather and “lift their hearts and voices to Almighty God, that we may be divinely guided.”

Cox sacred service proclaim

Prayers, meetings for support

Above the headline for the day of the Sacred Services which read “English Guns Blow Teuton Trenches to Bits” and “What Prussian Autocracy Must Meet in Fight with Uncle Sam” were solemn sentiments asking for “Divine Guidance” and asking that the “God of Battles” still watch over the American people in the face of war and brutality.

Prayers headline topper

A few days after these services were held in Springfield and across the state and country, the “Patriotic spirit of the city” culminated in the planning for a mass meeting and parade.  Everyone was in full support of the war effort and this parade, and in fact the city expected more than 10,000 people from all over the country would come to Springfield to participate.  No one could be excluded from this patriotic demonstration, so stores and shops closed early to ensure their employees could be among the participants.

Parade and programs

Parade ad store will close to participate

The paper reported that the parade “surpasse[d] any event ever held in the city.”  More than 5,000 marchers attended, including “practically every organization, class, sect, and nationality in the city.”

Saturday Patriotic Parade

Men, women, children – every citizen came out and supported the war and Wilson’s shift from neutrality to “all in.” The attitude of the nation was reflected in the address given at that mass patriotic meeting at Memorial Hall “And now the testing time has come.  You are here tonight, men and women, who carry in your veins the mingled strains of the blood of many nations, and tonight you unite in a single-minded loyal devotion to our common country.”

Saturday Patriotic Parade, children

The great war “over there” suddenly became our war, and the nation seemed to fully support this. But what brought about this change? Was it really the attitude of every American to support this gruesome, bloody conflict?  We will discuss this further in our upcoming blog posts.

If there is a topic related to Springfield and Clark County in WWI that you want us to write about, let us know!  We want to tell the stories you want to learn more about.

Joining the Great War: A Reflection on Clark County in WWI

by Sherri Goudy

Hi everyone!  Welcome to the first post for the Heritage Center’s WWI Exhibit, and my first ever blog post!  I am an AmeriCorps member, serving local historical organizations in counties across Western Ohio.   I have been working with the Clark County Heritage Center since September, and I did a lot of the research for the WWI exhibit. I found so many great stories that defined what it was like to live in a town like Springfield, Ohio 100 years ago, during the midst of war. So without further ado, let’s dig in!

“The Great War” – it was one of the most horrific events that the US and the World had ever seen.   It changed the way wars were fought forever. Textbooks taught us about this change in tactics and we learned the names of the countries involved and famous people who led, fought, and died during this war.  But what about the everyday American who lived in “Yourtown,” USA? How did the war impact the town where we live and the people who lived there?  As the entire nation pauses to reflect on the centennial of our entry into World War I, many museums and historic places are providing answers to these questions.

Here at the Clark County Heritage Center we opened our WWI Exhibit “Global Conflict, Local Experience: Clark County Joins the Great War” a few weeks ago.  We found so many great stories through our research, and unfortunately we couldn’t present all of it in our exhibit.  So we are going to explore some of these stories that deserve to be shared through regular posts over then next year or so.  Topics will include local reaction to the entry into the war, ads and political cartoons, and articles about the patriotism that men, women, and even children demonstrated as they were asked to contribute their skills and make sacrifices for the greater good of our country.  The focus of our posts for the coming months will center on the entry into the war, which correlates to our current exhibit’s theme. Next year, we will change the focus of our exhibit to include our involvement in the war and the aftermath of the war, and our posts will evolve to discuss those topics as well.

One of the most captivating things about our research is that it didn’t just paint a picture of life in Clark County, Ohio.  We came to realize that what was happening here was happening all over the US.  Although our posts will show examples from Clark County sources, you can turn to your local newspapers and WWI propaganda and see similar ideas.  One of the main attitudes Americans wanted to remain neutral, and didn’t want any part of the European Conflict.  However, industrialization and the demand for goods internationally made isolationism impossible.  Springfield newspapers published articles daily about the increasingly volatile relations between the US and Germany (see photo 1).


Then, on April 3rd, 1917 President Wilson’s Declaration of War was published in the Springfield Paper (see photo 2).


3 days later, after both the Senate and House had voted to endorse the declaration of war against Germany, the United States formally entered the First World War.  During the months that followed, Clark County participated in patriotic meetings, food rationing, Red Cross support, and the draft. The local newspapers published articles and advertisements promoting women in the workforce, men to register, and proper ways to display a flag.  There were also ads to promote a “business as usual” mentality (see photo 3).


By the summer and early fall, the draft for troops was in effect and training camps had been built in “record time” (see photo 4).


Training camps prepared these soldiers for combat, but it was important to maintain “everyday life” as well.  As the holidays approached and soldiers were still in training at Camp Sherman in Chillicothe, efforts at home included preparing care packages and letters to boost morale.  Although newly drafted and enlisted soldiers had not seen the battlefield yet, the impact of war had made its mark.

The topics mentioned above are just a few of the subjects we will discuss more thoroughly over the coming months. If there is something you’d like to see us present, please send us a comment.  We want to tell the stories that matter to you!

I Found it in the Archives Contest

archives21The Clark County Historical Society is sponsoring a local I Found It In The Archives essay and video contest to raise awareness for archives and to show how the items and information found in the nation’s archives touch peoples’ lives. We are seeking entrants who have found something special in our collections here at the Heritage Center in our library and archives.

Did your research here help you break through a brick wall? Did you uncover a really awesome story worth sharing? Was there a particular record, document, photo, or artifact that meant a lot to you? If you answered yes to any of these, you’ve got a great entry in the making!


To Enter: between June 1-30, 2015, we ask that you submit either:
• A 400 word essay describing your quest for information and explaining why finding it has made a difference for you, along with a color photograph of you, OR
• A video of no more than 2 minutes in which you describe your quest for information and explain why finding it has made a difference for you. Please also include a color photo of you with your video submission.

This downloadable  entry form and waiver must accompany your entry and can be submitted with the essay or video as an attachment to You may also mail your entry and the entry form and waiver to our offices at the Heritage Center: Clark County Historical Society ATTN: Archives, 117 S. Fountain Avenue, Springfield, Ohio 45502.

Essays and videos of the finalists in this competition will be posted online for a public vote on our Facebook page. The entry with the most votes will be declared the winner and will receive a prize package:

  • One year annual family membership to Clark County Historical Society.
  • One year family membership to the Clark County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society.
  • Heartland, our museum exhibition catalog and county history.
  • Behind-the-scenes tour of the Clark County Historical Society’s collections area and archives.


You may submit only one entry.

You may submit your entry by email to or mail your entry and entry form and waiver to:

Clark County Historical Society
ATTN: Archives
117 S. Fountain Avenue
Springfield, Ohio 45502

Your entry becomes the property of the Clark County Historical Society. We reserve the right to post your essay and photograph or video online. Materials will not be returned.


Entries must be received by June 30, 2015.

Finalists will be notified by July 8, 2015, and their essays or videos posted online for a public vote.

The close of online public voting will be August 1, 2015. The winner of the competition will be notified on August 4, 2015.

The winning entry will be sent on to compete in a statewide competition. The statewide winner will be hosted at the Society of Ohio Archivists Fall Conference during the first week of October 2015.

WHERE is it Wednesday for October 1, 2014

On October 1, we shared a photo of a building on our Facebook page to see if anyone could guess what it was.

Where could this be?

                                                                              Where could this be?

Apparently we chose a very recognizable place because there were many guesses and nearly every one was correct! The castle-like structure sits high on the hill at 901 W. High Street and was originally the home of industrialist P.P. Mast and later became “Castle Knoll,” the Knights of Pythias nursing home.

The home was built between 1880-1882 and was modeled after a castle in Italy that P.P. Mast admired during his travels in Europe. He chose the location for his “castle” on the highest knoll in the area, hoping to create a wealthy part of town on the west end. Mast brought over 29 Italian emigrants to work on the amazing woodwork and stonework inside and outside. (He also used local talent, including A.H. Mittendorf, a woodworker who was well known in the Dayton area). The first two floors of the home were the living area while the third floor was a ballroom. The woodwork in each room on the first and second floors was unique and intricate and the stained glass was brought in from France. Mast’s earlier home, built 1880-1881 at 910 W. High Street is right across the street and it was reportedly preferred by his wife Anna, who died in April 1895, a few months after a major fire at the “castle” across the street. Mast died in November 1898 and is buried alongside his wife in the Mast mausoleum in Ferncliff.

910 W. High Street

                                                                    910 W. High Street

Mast’s home was purchased by the Knights of Pythias and was rededicated as a home for the aged in October 1915. It remained the Pythian’s Castle Knoll nursing home until around 2005 when the home closed and the residents were transferred. The early records of the home (including the records of the children’s home) until about the 1930s are available in the historical society archives.

Ohio Pythian Home, mid 1980s

                                                          Ohio Pythian Home, mid 1980s

k of p brochure copyAnd now a bit more about P.P. Mast:
Phineas P. Mast was born on January 3, 1825 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. His family, which included seven siblings, came to Clark County and settled near Urbana in 1830. He attended Ohio Wesleyan and graduated in 1849. He returned to the family farm and entered the grain and produce trade and also taught school. He married Anna Kirkpatrick in 1850 and eventually relocated to Springfield in 1856. He formed a partnership with John H. Thomas (whom we mentioned in our WHERE is it Wednesday post a few weeks ago) and formed Thomas & Mast, manufacturing agricultural implements. He bought out the company in 1871 and established P.P. Mast and Company. Mast founded Mast-Foos Manufacturing Company in 1876, producing wind engines, pumps, plows, and mowers (he also had the P.P. Mast Buggy Company).

ppmast copy mast foos copy mast foos001 copy

mast foos002 copyfire1925 copy

pc0040120002-large copyMast envisioned a magazine that could help to promote his products and hired John S. Crowell to start the magazine and his nephew T.J. Kirkpatrick to serve as editor and thus, Farm and Fireside was launched in October 1877. In 1883, the firm known as Mast, Crowell, & Kirkpatrick acquired Woman’s Home Companion and later published American Magazine. (Several years after Mast’s death the company incorporated as the Crowell Publishing Company in 1906 and in 1919 purchased Collier’s Weekly and eventually merged with P.F. Collier Publishing in 1934 to become the Crowell-Collier Publishing Company).

MastCrowellKirkpatrick copyMast served on the Springfield City Council for 22 years, was mayor from 1895-1897, and president on the Board of Trade (later Chamber of Commerce). He was instrumental in the formation of the Clark County Historical Society (proposing the adoption of our name in August 1897). His home, life, and ventures are well represented in the historical society’s collection: trade cards, photographs, objects (Buckeye pumps, lawn mowers, a windmill), and magazines (we have nearly a full run of all the magazines published from the 1870s-1956 when Crowell-Collier closed). Many events of Mast’s life, career and his companies is recorded in the diaries of George Netts in the archives. Netts’s diaries span the years 1868-1933 and detail many major events in the history of Springfield.

George Netts diary entry from October 3, 1915.

                                                   George Netts diary entry from October 3, 1915.


Springfield Illustrated 1889

Beautiful Ferncliff: Springfield Ohio’s Historic Cemetery and Arboretum by Anne E. Benston and Dr. Paul W. Schanher III

Literary Category – George Netts Diary Collection – Transcribed 1868-1933

Health and Care Category – Pythian Home Resident Index, Pythian Children’s Home Resident Index

Photographic Category – Architecture – Residential by Style and Street Collection

Associations Category – Knights of Pythias Collection

Architectural Category – Private Homes Collection

Architectural Category – Ohio Historic Inventory Collection

Small Collections Category – Bartley Collection

Small Collections Category – Ballentine Collection

Commercial Category – Trade Card Collection

WHO is It Wednesday photo for September 24, 2014

We shared a photo of a serious looking you man on our Facebook page on September 24 to see if anyone could guess the name of the man he grew up to be.

Who could this be?

Who could this be?

Guesses included James Leffel and Jonathan Winters, but the newspaper clipping actually shows a young Harry S. Kissell when he was about 12 years old. Harry Seaman Kissell was born on September 25, 1875 to Cyrus Broadwell (C.B.) and Lucretia Caroline McEwen Kissell. Harry graduated from Wittenberg in 1896, studied law for a couple of years, and worked as a newspaper reporter before entering the Kissell Real Estate business started in 1872 by Harry’s great grandfather Emmanuel and grandfather C.D. Harry married Olive Troupe, the daughter of drug store owner Theodore Troupe and they had two children: Roger and Mary Lucretia (Mary Lu).

Olive Troupe Kissell

Olive Troupe Kissell

Olive, Harry, and Mary Lu Kissell during their 1st trip to the White House, 1924.

Olive, Harry, and Mary Lu Kissell during their 1st trip to the White House, 1924.

Harry’s involvement in the local community and beyond was extensive. In 1907 Harry helped to organize the National Association Real Estate Boards (he also established the Ohio and Springfield Board of Realtors). He was one of the original organizers of American Trust and Savings, which merged with First National Bank, directed the Clark County Chapter of the American Red Cross, served on the Ferncliff Cemetery Association, on the Wittenberg executive committee, and was a founder of Ridgewood School. Harry served as the first chairman of the Springfield Community Fund, helped establish the Springfield Rotary Club (which just celebrated 100 years). He was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, the Springfield Polo Club, Springfield Country Club, Springfield Chamber of Commerce, and Sons of the American Revolution. He was elected Most Worshipful Master of Mason in Ohio in 1910 and headed a half a million dollar effort to construct a Masonic Temple in Springfield.

KissellRotary1944 copyOne of his most notable ventures was the development of Ridgewood, which is discussed in great detail (along with a fantastic history of Springfield as a whole) in the book “Ridgewood in the Country Club District” by Tamara Dallenbach.
Harry was stricken by a fatal heart attack during a business meeting in Cincinnati on February 14, 1946. He is buried in Ferncliff Cemetery.

Harry Kissell's Residence on N. Fountain Blvd, 1939

Harry Kissell’s Residence on N. Fountain Blvd, 1939

Ridgewood Ad, 1921

Ridgewood Ad, 1921

More from the Kissell-Noonan Collection:

Harry Kissell, Age 12

Harry Kissell, Age 12

Harry Kissell, 1925

Harry Kissell, 1925

With Teddy Roosevelt (on his left) during Roosevelt's 1918 visit to Springfield.

With Teddy Roosevelt (on his left) during Roosevelt’s 1918 visit to Springfield.

With President Roosevelt, 1933

                                                              With President Roosevelt, 1933


Beautiful Ferncliff: Springfield, Ohio’s Historic Cemetery and Arboretum by Paul W. Schanher III and Anne E. Benston

Ridgewood in the Country Club District by Tamara Dallenbach, Orange Frazer Press, 2011.

Biographical Category – Kissell-Noonan Collection

Biographical Category – Harry Kissell Collection

Commercial Category – Kissell Ridgewood Collection


WHAT is it Wednesday artifact for September 17, 2014

On Wednesday, September 24 we shared a photo of an artifact on our Facebook page to see if anyone could guess what it was.

What could this be?

                                                              What could this be?

There were some good guesses: soap, coaster, hot pad, etc., but there were a few people who guessed correctly….this is a prescription pillbox from Schmidt’s Drugstore. The boxes had a hinged lid so as to prevent it being mixed up with other prescriptions since the instructions for taking the medications were included on the box lid.

Hinged pillbox with prescription instructions inside.

                                        Hinged pillbox with prescription instructions inside.

Some of our volunteers in the archives recall that Schmidt’s Pharmacy, located at 63 W. Main Street, was the last of the locally owned drugstores that still mixed their own medicinal concoctions. The founders of Schmidt’s, Adam Schmidt, started out in business with Charles A. Smith around 1870 before forming his own store, Schmidt’s in around 1887.

Schmidt's Drugstore, located at 63 W. Main Street, Springfield, Ohio

Schmidt’s Drugstore, located at 63 W. Main Street, Springfield, Ohio, 1940, W. Huston Moores Collection

Some other items from our collection relating to local pharmacies include a cork compressor that pharmacists would use to size the corks properly for prescription bottles and a prescription “recipe” book used by Theodore Troupe at Troupe’s Drug Store.

Cork compressor

                                                                     Cork compressor

Prescription recipe ledger from Theodore Troupe's Drug Store.

                            Prescription recipe ledger from Theodore Troupe’s Drug Store.

The pillbox became a nickname for military guard posts that were used in WWI and WWII in Europe. The concrete pillboxes had holes from which weapons could be fired.

Dover Quad Pillbox, used in WWII, Dover, Kent. Source

Dover Quad Pillbox, used in WWII, Dover, Kent.                           Source

A popular fashion item also took it’s name from the pillbox: the pillbox style hat, which was popularized by Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy (and today by Kate Middleton).


W. Huston Moores Photograph Collection

Springfield City Directories

Commercial Ledger Collection

WHERE is it Wednesday for September 10, 2014

On our Facebook page on Wednesday, September 10, we shared this sketch of an early Clark County home to see if anyone could guess where it was.

Where could this be?

                                                              Where could this be?

This was a tricky one! It showed a sketch of a home from the 1875 Clark County Atlas, the home of Jacob Thomas. It was formerly located on the northeast corner of N. Limestone and E. McCreight at 1206 E. Limestone and it was the home of Jacob and Sophia Thomas, who came here from Maryland in 1851. Jacob Thomas and his sons owned quite a bit of land farther north on Limestone and it appears that the home pictured in the 1875 atlas was built around 1870 according to the Springfield City directories. The corner where the house was built was right on the corporation line for the city of Springfield at the time, so until the late 1800s it was JUST outside the city limits.

1882 Atlas showing the corner of Limestone and Cooper (later McCreight) where the home stood.

     1882 Atlas showing the corner of Limestone and Cooper (later McCreight) where the home stood.

The last Thomas in the home was Jacob’s son Thomas. The house was torn down around 1923 and was later home to a gas station and is now where Muffler Brothers is located on North Limestone.

Our archives didn’t yield a lot more information on Jacob Thomas, but one of his sons, John H. (J.H.) Thomas was a very prominent Springfield citizen. John founded the Thomas and Mast Company with industrialist P.P. Mast in 1855 and the specialized in Buckeye grain drills, seeders, and cider mills.

20130010060-large copy

John Thomas left the company in 1872 and in 1874 he formed the Thomas Manufacturing Company with his two sons, William and Findley. The company made a variety of products including hay rakes, steam engines, lawn mowers, pumps, disc harrows, bicycles, grain drills, and seeders.

ThomasAd copy

thomas cultivator copy IMG_1657 copy

We have a grain drill and a Thomas bicycle on display in the museum along with a few products from Thomas and Mast. John Thomas was a major philanthropist in the community, serving on city council and the Snyder Park board. He and Ross Mitchell gave a large financial gift that allowed for the establishment of the Mitchell-Thomas hospital on E. Main street, which was in use from 1887-1904.

MitchellThomasHospital1887_1904 copy

Mr. Thomas has the distinct honor of having THE tallest monument at Ferncliff cemetery.


Springfield City Directories

Beautiful Ferncliff: Springfield, Ohio’s Historic Cemetery and Arboretum by Paul W. Schanher, III and Anne E. Benston

Health and Care Category – Medical Collection – Mitchell-Thomas Hospital

Manufacturing Category – Thomas Manufacturing Co.

1875 Clark County, Ohio Atlas

1882 Springfield Atlas