Clark County in the Great War: How Local Industry Supported the War

By Sherri Goudy

“War, huh, yeah – what is it good for, absolutely nothing…” Though the lyrics often get stuck in my head (thanks Jacki Chan), war has both positive and negative effects on our world.  The bad includes death, famine, destruction, displacement of people, spread of disease, and any number of social and psychological problems.  But, war can also create opportunity and change that can be evaluated as a positive outcome.

As we have discussed in previous posts, WWI created jobs, helped women become accepted in the workplace and military, and became a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement.  These are clearly positive developments amidst the tragedy of war.  In this post, I want us to explore the local contribution to the war in Clark County, Ohio and some of the industries which saw an increase in demand during the Great War.

One of the most obvious contributions to the war was the increase in manufacturing of military necessities.  From tanks and planes to guns and ammunition, factories across the United States evolved their product lines to produce for the war.  In April 1918, the Springfield Daily News published this article and photo of the “First tank over here… to join forces over there.”

Photo 1 April 29 1918 pg 7 SDN - Apr 20 2018 - 10-19 AM - p1 (002)

In Springfield, this article from April 14, 1918 talks about the “Eleven Gun Boring Machines” made locally at the Springfield Machine Tool plant.

Photo 2 April 4 1918 of 14 SDN - Apr 20 2018 - 10-09 AM - p1 (002)

An industry that some may not consider when thinking about the war effort is the production of musical instruments.  The Rudolph Wurlitzer Company located at 20 S Fountain Street in Springfield prided itself on manufacturing bugles, fifes, and drums.  This ad proudly states “Our Boys in France are Using the Wurlitzer Bugle, Fife and Drum. For over 55 years our bugles have been used in the United States Army and Navy. Today our boys in France and thousands of home guards in our own country are responding to the call of the Wurlitzer bugle.”

Photo 3 April 21 1918 pg 4 SDN - Apr 20 2018 - 10-12 AM - p1 (002)

The rise of the housing market was also a huge industrial advancement because of the war.  In Springfield, there was expected to be a boom in prosperity as a result of the diverse industries and postwar prosperity.

Photo 4 May 5 1918 pg 7 SDN - Apr 20 2018 - 10-28 AM - p1 (002)

In my last post, we discussed Liberty Bonds and how each local citizen could support the war and contribute by lending a portion of their income to the Government.  This Real Estate ad from April 20, 1918 starts off by telling the reader that their first obligation is to “Stand by the Flag – Buy Liberty Bonds.”  Their second obligation is “to plant a garden and raise food for your family” when you buy a parcel of land in Northern Heights.

Photo 5 May 5 1918 pg 19 SDN - Apr 20 2018 - 10-44 AM - p1 (002)

The industries that prospered during the war did in fact create opportunity for prosperity. Although World War 1 brought about huge negative effects and loss of life, there is no denying that industry boomed and the American economy was permanently transformed as a result.

What do you think? Please share your feedback by contributing your comments, and as always let us know what you want to read about next!




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