Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

World War I Letters of Milo H. Main: October 29-November 4, 1918

October 29th, 2018

In honor of the centennial of World War I, this is the second series in which we follow the experiences of one American soldier: twenty-five year old Milo H. Main, whose letters are held in Spencer’s Kansas Collection. On Mondays we’ll post a new entry featuring selected letters from Milo to his family from that following week, one hundred years after he wrote them.

Milo Hugh Main was born in or near Pittsfield, Illinois, on November 21, 1892 to William and Rose Ella Henry Main. The family moved to Argonia, Sumner County, Kansas, in 1901. After his mother died in 1906, Milo remained in Argonia with his father and his two sisters Gladys (b. 1890) and June (b. 1899). His youngest sister Fern (b. 1905) was sent to live with relatives in Illinois.

As Milo reported to the Kansas State Historical Society in 1919, after graduating from high school he worked as a store clerk. He resigned in July 1917 and took a position at Standard Oil Company, possibly co-managing a gas station in Argonia.

Milo entered into military service on September 21, 1917. He served as a wagoner – a person who drives a wagon or transports goods by wagon – in Battery F, 130th Field Artillery. He was stationed at Camp Funston (September-October 1917) and Camp Doniphan (October 1917-May 1918). On May 19, 1918, he boarded the ship Ceramic in New York City and departed for Europe.

“This is Halloween night in the U.S.A.,” writes Milo in this week’s letter. He also describes some souvenirs he is sending to his family: covers or tops from bottles of French wine, a “pipe or cigar lighter made from the brass casing of a big shell,” and a “lighter…made of two round buckle ornaments from belts of German prisoners.”

 

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, October 31, 1918

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, October 31, 1918

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, October 31, 1918

8:P.M. 10/31 1918

“On Some Front in France.”

Dear Father and Sisters:- Am just recovering from the effects of a hot bath and new outfit of clothing. Am smoking a pipe of “Prince Albert” to help me regain my strength.

I wrote you two nites ago, but the evenings are long and am doing really to much bunk-fatigue.

Am enclosing that “cognac” cover which I forgot in my last letter, also one of the red and one of the white wines. I am serving at present. The red top represents a high class red white called “Margaux” and the yellow a 1914 white wine known as “Chablis.”

The wine harvest was good this season, but the “Frogs” [French] are experiencing a great shortage in wine casks and vats to care for it properly. The wine belt is principally in southern part of France. The making of wine is considered a profession of skill and experience.

Yesterday afternoon three “comrads” and I walked over to F. Bat. to see if I had received any mail recently. Was informed that none had been sent up to their advanced position yet.

On our little hike along the Front I was halted by two “Frog Soldats,” [French soldiers] whom sold me two souvenirs. One being a pipe or cigar lighter made from the brass casing of a big shell, it looks much like a small leather bound bible, and was engraved “Verdun.” The other was a lighter, and is made of two round buckle ornaments from belts of German prisoners. The wording on it is “Gott Mitt Uns.” Will mail them to you at the earliest time possible.

This is Halloween night in the U.S.A. and I for one, am quite sure the Yanks will start things rolling over No-mans-land here before morning like we did back home or even worse than on Sept. 26th at “Argonne Forest.”

We are anxiously awaiting Mr. Wilson’s reply to Austria-Hungary’s note.

Did you ever receive the check on J.W. Hall I sent home or the kodak pictures from St. Sylvain? Did I write you about the big R.R. 14in. guns near us? One is named “Reinne Elizabeth” and other “Joan of Arch.” Well, they were firing this noon. So great was the concussion in our kitchen that it jarred some of our canned goods from the shelves.

Well, as nothing much of interest has taken place in the past two days, I remain

Your son and brother,
Milo H. Main

Bat F. 130 F.A.
American Ex. Forces
% Regtl. Hdq. [Regimental Headquarters]

P.S. Am feeling fine to-nite (after bath). Tell Charlie Ford I take mine semi-weekly now instead of semi-annually as he and I did prior to the “World War.”

 

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

World War I Letters of Milo H. Main: October 22-28, 1918

October 22nd, 2018

In honor of the centennial of World War I, this is the second series in which we follow the experiences of one American soldier: twenty-five year old Milo H. Main, whose letters are held in Spencer’s Kansas Collection. On Mondays we’ll post a new entry featuring selected letters from Milo to his family from that following week, one hundred years after he wrote them.

Milo Hugh Main was born in or near Pittsfield, Illinois, on November 21, 1892 to William and Rose Ella Henry Main. The family moved to Argonia, Sumner County, Kansas, in 1901. After his mother died in 1906, Milo remained in Argonia with his father and his two sisters Gladys (b. 1890) and June (b. 1899). His youngest sister Fern (b. 1905) was sent to live with relatives in Illinois.

As Milo reported to the Kansas State Historical Society in 1919, after graduating from high school he worked as a store clerk. He resigned in July 1917 and took a position at Standard Oil Company, possibly co-managing a gas station in Argonia.

Milo entered into military service on September 21, 1917. He served as a wagoner – a person who drives a wagon or transports goods by wagon – in Battery F, 130th Field Artillery. He was stationed at Camp Funston (September-October 1917) and Camp Doniphan (October 1917-May 1918). On May 19, 1918, he boarded the ship Ceramic in New York City and departed for Europe.

In this week’s letters, Milo speculates about the potential end of the war. Despite being on the front, Milo also tells his family “[I] am also satisfied with my present position. For my duties are few, boo-coo of good eats, and cozy little hut to sleep in, as well as, a big fire-place and plush settee to read and write by.”

 

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, October 24, 1918

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, October 24, 1918

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, October 24, 1918

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, October 24, 1918

Oct. 24th 1918
“On Some Front in France.”

Dear Father and Sisters:-

This is one very dark nite and more especially when you take a little stroll after 8: P.M. thru this Forest.

For two days it has not rained but, is sprinkling lightly now. The past two day have been like Indian Summer.

I have not seen any of the home boys for a week now – as they are back in the rear for rest but, can say for my self that I am feeling fine and in want of nothing. Believe me U. Sam gives the boys at the Front the first choice of every thing that is issued. In the line of tobaccos we get Bull Durham, Star, and Boot-Jack; and in clothing the best of wool in underwear, sox, shirts and gloves.

We now have a second-cook in the O.M. kitchen from K.C., a former Armour Packing Co. salesman. He undoubtedly is related to Will Segebartt (1) for actions and resemblance you would think him a brother to old “Bill.” And for a lively time we sure have been having it, to-day I have laughed so much I fairly ache. The other two of our force are fine fellows, one a drug clerk from Topeka and, the other a dry goods salesman from Texas. Quite a combination for an O.M. crew but are serving the good eats and having a pleasant time with it. Our old chef from K.C. transferred to our Regtl. Band [Regimental Band] a short time ago.

The day has passed without much activity on this section of the Verdun Front and only a few big cannon can be heard to-nite in the far distance.

The Kaiser and Prince Max of Baden don’t create much excitement with their peace dope [inside information] among the A.E.F. But beyond the chance of a doubt it will be “Over” by Christmas if the A.E.F dope don’t fall short.

I wrote J.W.A. (2) a few lines last nite, must ans. Aunt Nan’s (3) letter sometime. She says she has never received a letter nor post-card from a cross the “Pond” yet.

Tell A.A. Cone (4) that I would like to attend Lodge some Monday eve. I have many Masonic friends with the A.E.F. all the way from the 3rd° to the 32°!

Are you keeping my Woodmen dues paid up promptly? A.A. will see that I don’t go suspended but don’t impose upon his good nature. Am not thinking of “Going West” for I hold a “Return Ticket” for one able-bodied “Yank” to the U.S.A.

Hoping all are well and enjoying the many comforts of home, I remain

Your son and brother
“Old Mike.”
Milo H. Main.
Bat. F. 130 F.A.
American E.F.
% Regt. Hdq.

(1) According to his World War I draft registration card, William Jess Segebartt was born in Argonia on December 31, 1891. In 1917 he was working as a farmer in Sumner County.

(2) Probably J. W. Achelpohl, a storeowner in Argonia who was Milo’s former employer when he worked as a clerk. He has been mentioned in some of Milo’s previous letters.

(3) Preliminary research indicates this was Nancy Main, a younger sister of Milo’s father William. Nancy Main was born in 1869 and lived her entire life in Pike County, Illinois. The 1910 census lists her in the same household as Milo’s younger sister Fern.

(4) Possibly Ashley A. Cone. Cone was born in Ohio in 1870, although his family relocated to Sumner County by the time he was ten years old. Cone worked as a mail carrier.

 

Mon. P.M. 10/28 1918
“On Some Front in France.”

Dear Father and Sisters:- I put out my “Sunny Monday” washing of 18 pieces this morning and have the afternoon and evening to write. I lost my set of sad [heavy] irons after we came down from the Alsace Front, will purchase a French iron when I go to the city again.

Wrote Aunt Nan and Miss Jo’ this week. Sorry to think I am so lazy about writting.

On this paticular sector of the Verdun Front it has been exceptionly quiet up to an hour ago. At that time “Jerry” [Germans] sent over some “iron rations” to our Battery- positions. “Believe Old Mike” he will regret it before the sun rises again.

Am certainly well pleased with our present O.M. position and accommodations, but the way the Yanks are advancing on our right and left we will be obliged to move up before many moons.

Am also satisfied with my present position. For my duties are few, boo-coo of good eats, and cozy little hut to sleep in, as well as, a big fire-place and plush settee to read and write by.

On the 25th inst. I was called into Regtl. Hdq. [Regimental Headquarters] and presented with the first “Overseas” furlough to be given in the 130 F.A. I refused to sign it at that time, thinking possibly there might be a big show staged for “Jerry” by the Yanks. Understand, that I have again been recommended for furlough soon. Possibly I will go this time for it is a break of 10 days with board, room, and transportation charges paid to a famous French resort where the many American Tourists spent their summers prior to 1914. No kidding, there are a bunch of officers here that sure are loyal to me, in fact, they treat me more like a son, rather than a solider.

I came up here on the 10/17 and have not seen any of the Argonia Bunch since. Am at liberty to go back to rear achelon where they are stationed but like it so well here I have never gone down for any thing. Always send by the P.O.’s chauffer for any little thing I need. He also carries my mail both ways.

Well- I guess I am a big expense to Uncle Sam and some of his officers. You should have seen my breakfast this morning. Angel-food (white bread) toast, creamery butter, Jap rice with “Monarch” brand preserved strawberries and pure cream, crisp and brown bacon, and good black coffee. In fact I’m a mean feeder at all times. We now have enough canned goods, fresh vegetables and fresh, frozen U.S. beef on hand to start a B.D. Shore store.

Feeling like a fighting man, I remain

Your son and brother
“Mike.”

Milo H. Main.
Bat F. 130 F.A.
American E.F.
% Regt. Hdq.

 

Tues. 8: P.M. 10/29 1918

As I failed to mail my letter this morning I will add a bit more to it.

Received the word at our Radio Station late last night that Austria-Hungary is crying to accept Pres. Wilson’s peace terms. Also rumored this evening that “Kaiser Bill” and his gang are thinking seriously of quitting their post. U.S. now means more than United States, “Unconditional Surrender.”

A Masonic friend with our Red Cross detachment and I walked down to our “rear achelon,” which has moved up with in 7 kilometers of us. My mission was to get more new clothing as you might know. Sure have some fine light weight woolen underwear, had drawn some extra heavy wear, but the weather here now is far warmer than in southern Kans. at this time. While down below, I met Warlow (1) and Aurthur Knox (2), all the boys are quite well and are located in a beautiful little camp. Was informed that my mail had been sent to Bat 7’s Hdq. at the Front. It will be forwarded here in the morning most likely.

Our Regtl. Commander sent his touring car to Nancy (a young Paris) this morning for eats and drinks. The car arrived a few minutes ago. It was ladden with any thing from wine to a fatted live goose. Also a basket of eggs, they are valued at more than a $1.00 per dozen now. The R.C. [Regimental Commander] stated at dinner to-nite that, we were feeding to much. Think he is right for some of Bat. F. Boys whom had not seen me for two weeks said I was getting fatter, so fat that I resembled a fattened porker, at that they envied me of my eats. My motto has never changed, Eat, drink, and be merry to-day, for to-morrow Jerry may have your number on one of his shells.

I am subscribing for the “Stars and Stripes,” and “Overseas” weekly paper edited by the Yanks for the Yanks which I will have sent to you. Every solider of this, the 35th division, has pledged to give at least 1 franc (about 20¢), to be distributed among the “poor” of France, as his Christmas celebration.

One sight on my way back to the Front this evening was a Yank lying in the breech of a huge gun polishing the rifles there in. Her name is “Reinne Elizabeth” and her sister gun is named “Joan of Arch.” They were firing at noon. The concussion was so great that you could see the side of our kitchen wall push in from the pressure.

Am enclosing the metal top from a cognac bottle. It is a French liquor used very much. So strong that it will eat the varnish off of the table. cannot say as to the effect on ones stomach, but has a powerful winding ability on ones head. Can truthfully say, I am drinking only beer and champagne.

I close to-nite feeling fine after my little hike this afternoon. Thinking such a walk would do me good daily.

Yours truly, Good Nite

Mike

(1) Alvin Lee Warlow, who Milo has mentioned previously. Biographical information about him can be found with Milo’s letter of October 9th.

(2) Milo has mentioned Arthur Knox previously. Biographical information about him can be found in Milo’s letter of July 7th.

 

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

The Influenza Epidemic at KU, 100 Years Ago: October 1918

October 16th, 2018

In the fall of 1918, at the height of American involvement in World War I, the United States War Department established the Students’ Army Training Corps (S.A.T.C.). The University of Kansas, along with colleges and universities across the country, contracted with the government to make its facilities available for officer training. KU agreed to provide education, food and housing for up to 2,500 men.

Photograph of members of KU's S.A.T.C. in front of Strong Hall, 1918

Members of KU’s S.A.T.C. in front of the Administration Building (Strong Hall), 1918.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 29/0/G 1918 Prints:
Military Service and ROTC (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Shortly after the first group of S.A.T.C. servicemen were sworn in on October 1st, the influenza epidemic that had been sweeping across the country and world arrived in Lawrence. In the S.A.T.C. barracks, where servicemen were living in very close quarters, the disease spread rapidly.

Photograph of KU S.A.T.C. barracks on Mississippi Street, 1918

KU S.A.T.C. barracks on Mississippi Street, 1918. Additional barracks were built between the
engineering buildings on the hill. Several of these temporary buildings were used as infirmaries
during the worst of the flu outbreak. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/89 1918 Prints:
Campus: Buildings: S.A.T.C. Barracks (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

The severity of the outbreak on campus, both in the S.A.T.C. barracks and throughout the university community, lead to the October 8th cancellation of all University activities and the quarantine of all students. By the time the epidemic subsided and the university re-opened five weeks later, on November 11th, it was estimated that there had been as many as 1,000 cases of flu on campus. As many as 750 had been ill all at once. Twenty-two students and ten members of the S.A.T.C. had died. Student enrollment was approximately 4,000 at the time.

Image of the front page of the University Daily Kansan, October 8, 1918

Front page of the University Daily Kansan, October 8, 1918. The student newspaper
announced the first closure of the university due to influenza. In an attempt to contain
the virus, a quarantine forbidding students from leaving campus was also imposed.
KU extended the closure and remained under quarantine for five weeks, finally reopening on
November 11th. University Archives. Call Number: UA Ser 9/2/1. Click image to enlarge.

In an October 18th letter to his son Herbert, E.H.S. Bailey (KU Professor of Chemistry, Mineralogy and Metallurgy, 1883-1933) describes efforts to treat influenza patients at the university.

Image of E.H.S. Bailey's letter to his son Herbert, October 18, 1918 Image of E.H.S. Bailey's letter to his son Herbert, October 18, 1918

E.H.S. Bailey’s letter to his son Herbert, October 18, 1918.
Call Number: PP 158. Click images to enlarge.

The letter reads in part:

We are certainly “in it” here now. The city is fairly free from Flu but there are occasional fatal cases. Dr. Jones has been quite sick for a week, but is resting a little better today, and taking a little food. He was worn out with too much medical work. At the Barracks Hospital, there have been 5 deaths, and everybody is as busy as he can be. Two of the women in my dept. are conducting the Dietary for 270 men in the hospital. New ones are constantly coming in and old patients are discharged. It is fine, the way in which everybody takes hold. We all send all the sheets, and pillows and pajamas that we can spare, and a lot of the college women are acting as red cross nurses.

The University did not start until Oct. 2, and then after 4 days a quarantine was declared, and now it has been extended until Oct. 28, so no Univ. classes until that time. The prompt action of all the state and Univ. authorities, has saved us a lot of danger, and many deaths, I feel sure.

These and other documents and photographs about the influenza epidemic at KU are currently on display in Spencer’s North Gallery. Be sure to stop by and explore them between now and the end of October!

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services

World War I Letters of Milo H. Main: October 1-14, 1918

October 8th, 2018

In honor of the centennial of World War I, this is the second series in which we follow the experiences of one American soldier: twenty-five year old Milo H. Main, whose letters are held in Spencer’s Kansas Collection. On Mondays we’ll post a new entry featuring selected letters from Milo to his family from that following week, one hundred years after he wrote them.

Milo Hugh Main was born in or near Pittsfield, Illinois, on November 21, 1892 to William and Rose Ella Henry Main. The family moved to Argonia, Sumner County, Kansas, in 1901. After his mother died in 1906, Milo remained in Argonia with his father and his two sisters Gladys (b. 1890) and June (b. 1899). His youngest sister Fern (b. 1905) was sent to live with relatives in Illinois.

As Milo reported to the Kansas State Historical Society in 1919, after graduating from high school he worked as a store clerk. He resigned in July 1917 and took a position at Standard Oil Company, possibly co-managing a gas station in Argonia.

Milo entered into military service on September 21, 1917. He served as a wagoner – a person who drives a wagon or transports goods by wagon – in Battery F, 130th Field Artillery. He was stationed at Camp Funston (September-October 1917) and Camp Doniphan (October 1917-May 1918). On May 19, 1918, he boarded the ship Ceramic in New York City and departed for Europe.

In the letters from these two weeks, we catch up with Milo after not hearing from him during the previous month. (He says that “the last letter I wrote you was dated Sept. 28th,” but that letter is not in Spencer Research Library’s collection.) Milo describes being on the “Argonne Front near Verdun” for ten days: “We sure put over some barrage on the night the big drive started. We, the Yanks regained in 27 hours what the French and British had been fighting for for four years.” Back behind the lines, Milo writes that “all are glad to get where they can’t hear the huge cannon and don’t have to wear steel helmets and carry gas masks.”

 

October, 6th, 1918.
Somewhere in France but, soon Everywhere in Germany.

Dear Father and Sisters:-

This Sunday afternoon I received nine letters from you, dated: Sept. 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 10th, 11th, and two the 9th. Also one from Fern [Milo’s youngest sister, living in Illinois] and Ruth. I certainly appreciate hearing from you so often and keeping me in touch the local news. Sorry tho’, that I don’t write to you oftener. The last letter I wrote you was dated Sept. 28th on the “Front.”

Last night we arrived in a little French village, Hargeville, and started our O.M. in the Mayor’s home. Some place too, it is built like most French buildings, of huge stone with tile roof but, it is about 150 ft. by 150 ft. square complete with home, horse, cow, sheep and poultry apartments under the one roof. And too, a small threshing machine driven by a tread mill.

I was up on the Argonne Front near Verdun ten days. Beleive me we sure put over some barage on the night the big drive started. We, the Yanks regained in 27 hours what the French and British had been fighting for for four years. One of the Enemy’s strong points, a hill, with an arsenal and a city 7. stories deep, we dug out a cut wide enough for 12 railroads and many feet deep. The German’s thought it impossible for it to ever be taken for it was fixed up modern. I visited the under ground city personally and found it equipped with electric lighting systems, water works and railroad leading up from the rear. They left in such haste that their morning meal was left on their tables uneaten and liquor half drank. American can milk and jams were found on their tables like it was later discovered in a German canteen we captured. The only souvenir that I am carrying at present is a blouse button off a Jerry’s [German’s] blouse. He is now located in a permanent rest camp. Many of the boys are loaded to the hubs with German helmets and other articles of the Dutch. After we advanced, the cook and I were ordered to stay behind with our Mess Equipment but, I stole up with in sight of the fleeing enemy more than once.

Glad to tell, all the Argonia bunch in the Artillery came out with out a wound. No wonder tho, for “Jack” Gen. Pershing was in command.

Please send me a copy of the chaplain’s letter, as our 2nd class mail matter has been delayed for many weeks.

Shows, yes, when in or near the larger cities we visit them quite often.

Mighty good to hear of Rollie Holt’s (1) successful operation.

There are some beautiful French women here, more tho in the largest cities but, as to many of the Yanks marrying them, I have my first one to see that ever had a thought about it.

Perfectly alright with me if you give the Pike Bros. all my old clothing.

I will not need my leather vest, heavy underwear, or any candies as Uncle Sam looks after that for us “Overhere” much different than in the States. We will be issued heavy wool under wear in a few days. Had a leather vest, but, let a friend have it, will get another later on, and candies, I have been sick this afternoon from eating so much cholates [chocolates] and smoking Roi-Tans [cigars].

The boys at O.M. to-nite have been singing so, one could hardly think. All are glad to get where they can’t hear the huge cannon and don’t have to wear steel helmets and carry gas masks. Think we will be motorized now, if so, it will be months before we get in the lines again.

Please send my Liberty Bond to the Guthrie Consistory in Care of Frank H. Den, Sec. at Guthrie, Okla.

Ruth sent me some kodak pictures of her and her chums eating water melons, sure made my mouth water (for the melon).

Have talked to all the “Argonia Bunch” since leaving the Front and can vouch for the good health of them all. We will do our ____est to be home soon.

I remain
Your son & brother
Pvt. Milo H. Main.
Bat. F. 130 F. A.
American E. F.

(1) Rollie Hillard Holt was born in Sumner County on May 12, 1901. Most records indicate that he served for roughly seven months in Co. A, 110th Military Police in the Kansas National Guard at Camp Doniphan. He was honorably discharged from the army in December 1917/January 1918 on account of disabilities. Holt was the focus of several stories in local newspapers during the spring and summer of 1918; on September 9, The Wichita Beacon seems to have reported on the operation referenced by Milo.

Rollie Holt, the seventeen-year-old boy who was recently sent by Judge Sargent to the federal penitentiary charged with being criminally insane, has been brought back to Wichita by Sheriff Sarver and was this morning released from custody under bond, pronounced cured, according to his attorney. Holt was arraigned in the District Court six weeks ago for setting fire to several buildings. He entered a plea of guilty in Judge Sargent’s court at his first trial, but the judge refused it, entered him in the case as not guilty, and found him criminally insane. After being in Lansing prison for several days, an operation was performed upon Holt and he is now pronounced cured from his mental disability.

 

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, October 9, 1918 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, October 9, 1918

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, October 9, 1918 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, October 9, 1918

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, October 9, 1918 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, October 9, 1918

Wed. Oct. 9th ’18.
“Somewhere in France but, soon Everywhere in Berlin.”

Dear Father and Sisters:-

To-day the boys “Overhere” are anxiously awaiting Pres. Wilson’s reply to the Kaiser.

Received four letters from you this A.M., one containing the clipping about Lt. Wooley (1), an officer that F. Bat. boys hated to see leave their organization. The letters I received to-day were dated; two 9/18, 9/19 and 9/20 also six when we were up in the “Lines” or on the “Front” dated Aug. 12th, 16th, 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st.

Wish that you would have explained about the J.W.A. (2) deal.

I received a letter from Raymond Flory (3) yesterday stating that he was in Eng. [England] yet, but expected to cross the Channel soon.

We have sure been having a live time at O.M. here in this French home. Am sitting before a bright fire in big fire place this evening after taking a hot shower-bath and donning a new suit of Uncle Sam’s woolen underwear. Also have been keeping my hide filled with hot-cakes, beef-steaks, French and Swiss cheese, Pumpkin-pie, apples and hazel-nuts galore. Wait until I step out in my new uniform which I am expecting to-morrow. The lady of the house insists that we meet the fair village queens of her city. Sure a whole show to be in a French home. While we were eating breakfast this A.M. the pheasant [peasant?] was threshing with his one-horse threshing machine not 30 ft. from the dining room-door. I started to come in this big-building last night and instead of getting in the living apartment I found my self in the cow dept. All the farming here is done inside. One pheasant was threshing with two big 600 lb. hogs yesterday. (I mentioned in my last letter about their machines being driven by tread mills). This life back of the Lines sure beats being up there where the rats (larger than cats) run relay races with the “Cooties.”

Am enclosing part of a cigarette box which I picked up in the underground city of Jerry’s [Germans] when up there last time on Front.

We, this Regt. were exceptionly fortunate in this last drive we made. Our “Lost in Action” will not exceed Sam Scott’s heirs (4). It will be some months before we go up again. The reason I will tell you when I get home. Want to go and see the Co. L. tomorrow.

Don’t become alarmed about “Old-Mike” if you fail to hear from him for weeks. For the trouble lies between him and the A.E.F. mail service. Am getting fatter than ever since we got back out of the Line.

Did you ever receive the check on J.W. Hall that I cashed for Roy Overhere and mailed home?

The home “Bunch” are all here and feeling fine. Warlow (5) is also guilty of taking a hot shower-bath in P.M. He’s a case.

Thanking you for writing so often, which I can not express myself how I enjoy the letters, I remain

Your Son & bro.,
Pvt. Milo H. Main.
Bat F. 130 F.A. American E.F. (over)

P.S. Thanks for the tooth-picks and gum.

P.S. Am enclosing Christmas card package coupon
Sun. 13th. Are on our way after the retreating Huns [Germans].

(1) The referenced clipping may have appeared in The Wichita Daily Eagle on September 17, 1918: “Lieutenant William Wooley who has been in France since March with members of Battery F, which he joined over a year ago, has returned to the United States where he will assist in organizing batteries at Camp Mead, Maryland.”

(2) Probably J. W. Achelpohl, a storeowner in Argonia who was Milo’s former employer when he worked as a clerk. He has been mentioned in some of Milo’s previous letters.

(3) Possibly Raymond Flory, mentioned in several of Milo’s previous letters. Biographical information about him can be found with Milo’s letter of June 2.

(4) This appears to be Sam C. Scott, one of Milo’s former coworkers; both were clerks at J. W. Achelpohl’s store in Argonia. According to his World War I draft registration card and other documentation, Scott was born in Michigan on May 22, 1881. By 1918 he was married to Ollie May Westrup.

(5) Alvin Lee Warlow served with Milo in Co. F. According to his World War I draft registration card, Warlow was born in Sumner County on December 8, 1893. In 1917, he was farming in Argonia.

 

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

World War I Letters of Milo H. Main: September 3-9, 1918

September 3rd, 2018

In honor of the centennial of World War I, this is the second series in which we follow the experiences of one American soldier: twenty-five year old Milo H. Main, whose letters are held in Spencer’s Kansas Collection. On Mondays we’ll post a new entry featuring selected letters from Milo to his family from that following week, one hundred years after he wrote them.

Milo Hugh Main was born in or near Pittsfield, Illinois, on November 21, 1892 to William and Rose Ella Henry Main. The family moved to Argonia, Sumner County, Kansas, in 1901. After his mother died in 1906, Milo remained in Argonia with his father and his two sisters Gladys (b. 1890) and June (b. 1899). His youngest sister Fern (b. 1905) was sent to live with relatives in Illinois.

As Milo reported to the Kansas State Historical Society in 1919, after graduating from high school he worked as a store clerk. He resigned in July 1917 and took a position at Standard Oil Company, possibly co-managing a gas station in Argonia.

Milo entered into military service on September 21, 1917. He served as a wagoner – a person who drives a wagon or transports goods by wagon – in Battery F, 130th Field Artillery. He was stationed at Camp Funston (September-October 1917) and Camp Doniphan (October 1917-May 1918). On May 19, 1918, he boarded the ship Ceramic in New York City and departed for Europe.

In this week’s incomplete letter, Milo writes about “thirteen days on active service on some Front.” He mentions going through the “experience of shell fire and gas,” describing it as “great” and possibly masking the true horror and terror of the situation.

 

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, September 8, 1918 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, September 8, 1918

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, September 8, 1918 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, September 8, 1918

Sept. 8th, 1918
On Active Service Somewhere in France.

Dear Father and Sisters:-

Same excuse as before for not writting. (Moving and taking in the sights.

Well, I [illegible] 13 days on active service on some Front. Was at O.M. and I tell you it sure is great to go thru that experience of shell fire and gas. We thought it great sport to shell “Old Jerry.” [Germans]

Since coming back from the Front I have seen all the Argonia Bunch whom were in the 130th. Rosco Wilson (1) I met in a little town back from the Front.

Also passed thru the town where Roy McClure (2) is in. He is back from the Front for Rest. It was the wee hours of the night when I came thru and failed to see him. Also got to see Foster Stuart (3) yesterday. All the boys are in good health, fat, and enjoying the sport.

While traveling around we have no O.M. So I have been a man of leisure since leaving the Front. And believe me, I am sure seeing France. Took in about 6 good towns yesterday. Plenty of beer to drink at every stop.

[pages 3 and 4 missing]

ending by Xmas. Heavy betting to that effect.

Tell L.T. Smith (4) I got his little message alright. Tell him he is loosing out on a liquid used to keep the Yanks’ slats from caving in, it is call beer, a big bottle for a Franc 17¢. Also good Champagne for 8 to 15 F.

As far as ever Wagoneering any, I never did nor expected to but it was thru a friend that I was promoted to that for the additional pay only. There are several crooks & turns in military business to learn. Am 1st Class Private now since the rank of Wagoneers has been discontinued. It pays $33. + 10% oversea increase. Also my $7.50 O.M. bonus.

The Colonel wanted me to take charge of the O.M. just before we left the Front. But I told the “Old Man” “No”. But would do the buying and still manage the dining room. I want to take it as easy as possible for I crave “bunk fatigue.”

Yesterday, Merle Phillippi (5), Jess Oyler (6), and I left camp for a little trip, (we had it). We had not gone far, until I heard a voice scream out “Oh Mike,” it was old Jess Skein (7). Well he joined us and we made several other

[rest of letter missing]

(1) According to his World War I draft registration card, Roscoe Wilson was born in Colorado on January 19, 1890. He was employed by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, working as a clerk. During the war he served in Co. L, 139th Infantry Regiment.

(2) Milo mentioned Roy McClure in his letter of July 24, 1918. Biographical information about him can be found in that blog post.

(3) According to his World War I draft registration card, Foster Stewart (elsewhere spelled Stuart) was born in Wellington, Sumner County, Kansas, on December 27, 1888. When his father, John T. Stewart, died in 1905, the Wellington Daily News called him the “richest man in Kansas.” A strongly-worded condemnation in the newspaper in August 1917 argued that the Stewart family’s wealth and influence had protected Foster from punishment, despite running afoul of the law several times. During the war, Stewart served in Co. M, 139th Infantry.

(4) Lewis T. Smith was a postmaster in Argonia.

(5) Milo mentioned Merle Phillippi in his letter of August 11, 1918. Biographical information about him can be found in that blog post.

(6) According to his World War I draft registration card and other sources, Jesse Ralph Oyler was born in Gentryville, Gentry County, Missouri, on January 23, 1894. Previously a student at the Wichita Business College, Oyler was working as an auditor in Wichita in 1917. During the war he served in Battery F, 130th Field Artillery with Milo.

(7) According to his World War I draft registration card, Jesse Barlow Skean was born in Prairie City, Illinois, on January 19, 1887. Other sources indicate that Jesse spent his childhood in Illinois before his family relocated to Wichita around 1910. By 1917, he was farming in Argonia. During the war, Jesse and his brother Byron served in Co. C, 110th Field Signal Battalion. Their brother Russell served in Russia.

 

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant