Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

World War I Letters of Milo H. Main: March 11-24, 1919

March 18th, 2019

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 his letter of March 16th, Milo writes about having “a light touch of the” flu, driving across France to his new post, and “renting a furnished room with two big feather beds and a stove.”

 

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, March 16, 1919 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, March 16, 1919

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, March 16, 1919 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, March 16, 1919

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, March 16, 1919

M. Main.
Bat. F. 130 F.A.
35 Divn. A.E.F.

March 16th 1919.
Bonnetable, France.

Dear Father and Sisters:-

Have recieved four letters from you during the past week.

Well, we are here in southern France, but have not gone thru the classification camp at Le Mons yet. It will probably be our next move as it is only 40 kilometers from here.

Will be at least 30 days before we get out of this Frog eating Land of France.

Yes, I had a light touch of the “Flu” but, I took the champagne in time to prevent any serious illness. Sure am feeling fine now. Have seen all the boys here recently and all are well.

I was quite fortunate in my trip from Ernecourt to Bonnetable. Came overland in the 130 F.A. Auto Convoy. Four days in making the trip. Sure saw all the best wheat and wine districts of France. We ate and slept in good hotels thru-out the journey. Four days making the trip, always stopped in a good city for the nite. Saw more keen women those four days than ever before except in Paris.

Have the Col.’s mess, (10 officers, staff) in a French home here. The madam is cooking. The best mess ever. I am a there on putting away this real food. I even serve it Frog style now. Sure a fine home we have mess in. Also a fair daughter of 22 yrs.

Will enclose a card of one of the better lookers.

Three of we O.M. boys rented a furnished room with two big feather beds and a stove in it. Gas light too. Col. ordered all men in Bat. [Battalion] not to room out like this. But we are not under the direct command of anyone so are keeping it quiet. The officers wanted me to wait table every day, but no, I convinced them that I would not be able to care for everything properly alone so they retained my side pal from Texas who takes it day about yet with me. Not much to do in dining room for 10, but I don’t like to work any more. My day off, I lie in the feathers, (not hay), until 10:A.M.

Will close by assuring you not to take any stock in Gov. Allen, nor any of his newspapers,

I am
Your son,
Milo Main.

 
Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

World War I Letters of Milo H. Main: February 18-24, 1919

February 18th, 2019

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 letter, Milo discusses a harrowing experience he had in battle the previous September. “About 4 A.M. [the Germans] put over a real barrage,” he writes. “It was then I found partial safty [safety] from flying fragments in an old gun position. Had I staid out as Randall did I would no doubt of got mine.”

 

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, February 18, 1919 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, February 18, 1919

2/18 1919
Ernecourt, France.

Dear Father and All:-

Your letter of 1/26 rec’d [received] yesterday evening. Cannot understand about our home-going mail. Some have not heard from the A.E.F. for three weeks. Possibly due to Christmas mail in States.

Also received clippings about 35th Divn [Division]. Gov. Allen has some poor line of dope [information] on us, especially the 60th Brigade of Artillery. We can tell the truth about the Argonne if we ever come home (1).

Yes, I remember Gov. Allen, he “mootched a square [meal]” off the mess next day after we left the big push.

Yesterday the 35th division passed in review before Gen. Pershing and Prince of Wales. To be sure Gen. complimented all the troops. He only wants a Presidental vote from us in 1920. But he will be S.O.L.

Will close, promising to write before we leave for Russia.

I am your son,
Mike

(1) One of the clippings may have been a lengthy January 14th article from the Wellington Daily News that reported on a talk given by Governor Allen in Topeka the same day. Allen talked about “the experiences of the Thirty-fifth and Eighty-first divisions” based on his time with the units while he was in France with the Red Cross. “Quite informally and in his inimitable style,” the article stated, “Governor Allen began his story of the deeds of Kansas men in the great war for humanity…The story held the audience almost breathless at times. At other moments they cheered or laughed. It was a story that Kansas had been waiting for.”

 
Feb. 20th 1919
Ernecourt, France.

Dear Father and Sisters:

Last night I received one letter from you under date of 1/24, also one from W.E. Hankins (1), and Roy McClure (2). Roy’s address is Rumelange, Luxembourg.

The clipping you enclosed about the return of the 35th and 89th divisions is quite true. Don’t think we will leave here until Mar. 15th now.

Mrs. J.W. Reams (3) surely was getting very old and feeble. Fine old lady to be sure.

The article about Ralph Randall is quite true, I can vouch for his statement, for I was Johnny on the spot. It was about 4 o’clock on the morning of Sept. 24th after our arrival late the night evening before. Ammution [ammunition] trucks had been bringing up high explosives all night and Jerry [Germans] had been sending us a few reminders of war all night, but about 4 A.M. he put over a real barrage, it was then I found partial safty from flying fragments in an old gun position. Had I staid out as Randall did I would no doubt of got mine. After the boy was shot up he was brought in this old gun position for 1st aid and it was there that I gave the Lt. Dr. and Red Cross boys one of my blankets to wrap him in. He was rushed to hospital soon, same as several others were that morning. It was early that night that I was sent to mud hole by one of the Hun’s [Germans’] big shells. Some concussion I witnessed.

How is Genevieve getting along? Bet she is some girl now.

Will close for now, only hoping you have received some of the many letters I have written since returning from Paris.

Assuring you I am well and have any kind of a tonic here in this cafe necessary for perfect health and happiness.

I remain
Yours truly,
Milo H. Main.

(1) Born in Missouri around 1870, W. E. Hankins was living in Sumner County by 1895. He was a longtime resident of Argonia.

(2) Milo has mentioned Roy McClure in several previous letters. Biographical information about Roy can be found in the blog post featuring Milo’s letter of July 24, 1918.

(3) The Argonia Argosy reported on January 23, 1919, that “Mrs. Rebeccah A. Ream, aged 78 years old, who has been living alone on her farm 9 miles southeast of Argonia since the death of her husband about four years ago, was found dead, Tuesday morning by Emery Young, a neighbor, who had gone to her home to see her about a colt she had asked him to break for her. When Mr. Young knocked on the door it swung back and he saw Mrs. Ream sitting in a chair by the stove dead.”

 
Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

World War I Letters of Milo H. Main: February 11-17, 1919

February 11th, 2019

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 letter, Milo discusses rainy winter weather, an upcoming review (i.e. formal military inspection), and souvenirs for his family. “Say Father,” he writes, “how would you like a pair of wooden shoes to wear around the house? Sure a trick, the way these French go in and out of their wooden foot wear.”

 

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, February 16, 1919 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, February 16, 1919

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, February 16, 1919 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, February 16, 1919

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, February 16, 1919

2/16/19
Ernecourt, France.

Dear Father:- This is Sunday afternoon in a little village in France. The day is dark and rainy, but very warm for this time of the winter. Practically all the snow has melted now. This is my day off duty so am wandering about in hip-rubber boots when I venture out side. But have passed most of the day teasing a little French girl here.

Our division passes in review before Pres. General Pershing and Prince of Wales to-morrow. Date set for last Friday for review, but was postponed on account of General Pershing’s aide’s death.

Say Father how would you like a pair of wooden shoes to wear around the house? Sure a trick, the way these French go in and out of their wooden foot wear.

Got up early this morning, 9:30. We had American issue ham and French eggs. Eggs are 7 francs per doz. or about $1.40. It puts the flavour into them too. French can buy them for about ¼ that price. But Oh! you Yanks, we Frogs for your francs!

Don’t know a thing about our future Army life to-day. The review may bring orders.

Am feeling fine save I need a little exercise, I remain

Your son,
Milo H. Main.
Bat F. 130 F.A.
c/o Regtl. Mess.

P.S. Letter from you under date of Jan 14th just received. As to Geo. Devin (1) the last account I had of him was at Rupt, when I went on the Front near Verdun and he was at the said small town, then a rear-echelon. He had just returned from the Front having gone up with a team on one of our pieces or guns. He was there on Oct, 17th when I went up. He was complaining about severe pain in right side, and was taken from there to hospital shortly there after. Since his departure, I have made inquiry at both our Regtl. [Regimental] Hospital and [our Rgtl.] Personnel section, but I was informed that his service record was sent to some hospital with him and therefore their record of him ceased.

(1) Milo previously mentioned George Franklin Devins in his letter of December 24, 1918; additional biographical information about him can be found in that blog post. George served with Milo in Battery F, 130th Field Artillery. In late 1918, he was apparently in the hospital suffering from shell shock received from a high-explosive shell during the Battle of the Argonne Forest. According to U.S. Army Transport Service passenger lists, George sailed from Brest, France, on January 24, 1919, aboard the Vermont.

 
Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

World War I Letters of Milo H. Main: February 4-10, 1919

February 4th, 2019

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 letter, Milo describes how he survived some severe winter weather. “Yesterday morning it started snowing again,” he wrote, “and by noon it was a ‘Royal Kansas Blizzard.’ And last night it was some cold, but don’t worry about me, for I was in the hay for true. Big Texan fighter and I were buried up in hay-mow under boo-coo blankets in the hay. Kept as warm as pair of ‘Kittens.’ Many of boys slept on on hard floors and no fires.” Looking ahead, Milo writes that he hopes to “have the pleasure of eating July 4th dinner with you.”

 

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, February 8, 1919 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, February 8, 1919

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, February 8, 1919 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, February 8, 1919

Feb 8th, 1919.
Ernecourt, France

Dear Father and Sisters:- Rec’d June’s letter of Jan 10th, and [sister] Gladyse’s under date of Jan 17th both this morning. They were delivered to my bed early this morning at 10:45 with one from J. Jackman (1), who is still Overseas and well, also another from Wellington.

We left Sommedeiue on Feb. 6th and are here in Ernecourt, a small French town about 70 kilometers from our last home. We established an O.M. in a French home as this place was not vacated during war, only being subject to air raids.

We had champagne and cold, yes beer galore last tonight. But learn this P.M. that one caught drinking intoxicating liquor in 130 F.A. he goes to Labor Battalion and remains Overseas until the last of A.E.F. returns home. So, I am to drink behind the barn from here on out.

You mentioned Miss Hills name again thru Elmer Bringer (2). You folks apparently, take the case more seriously than I. Quite true she is a nice girl, but Old Mike has not lost any girl, nor is he looking for any.

Yesterday morning it started snowing again, and by noon it was a “Royal Kansas Blizzard.” And last night it was some cold, but don’t worry about me, for I was in the hay for true. Big Texan fighter and I were buried up in hay-mow under boo-coo blankets in the hay. Kept as warm as pair of “Kittens.” Many of boys slept on on hard floors and no fires. But the Colonel is to have best quarters for mess and men at O.M. always.

Bringer will never know what hard-boiled “duds” are until he has been “Overhere.”

They say the move from Somme deuie was our first step homeward. Hope it proves to be true

Coming here, I passed thru the Battle torn St. Machiel and passed directly across those Hindenburg concrete and stone Front line at Saint Machiel. It is terrifying to pass thru such a devastated district. It was a beautiful city at one time, but it now bears signs of hand to hand fighting in the heart of the city. We were in reserve at that last fight there on Sept. 12. but did not get into action there.

Weather is moderating considerable now, but am inside all the while so don’t mind the weather.

Sorry [sister] Gladyse was offended about not receiving any mail from me, so will address this letter to her.

Trusting all are well at home and that I may have the pleasure of eating July 4th dinner with you.

I remain
Most sincerely
Your son and bro.,
Milo H. Main

130 F.A.
Bat F.
A.E.F.

(1) According to his World War I draft registration card, Sumner County native John Earl Jackman was born on August 3, 1893. In 1917, he was working as a mechanic in an Argonia shop that possibly belonged to his father. Other documentation shows that during the war John served in Company I of the 349th Infantry regiment, 88th Division.

(2) According to his World War I draft registration card, Sumner County native August William Elmer Bringer was born on December 12, 1894. In 1917, he was working as a farmer near Argonia. Other documentation indicates that during the war Elmer served in a Fire Truck and Hose Company in the Quartermaster Corps. The Argonia Argosy reported in late January 1919 that Bringer was stationed at Camp Travis, Texas, but was home on a brief furlough. In a January 23rd article, the newspaper mentioned that Bringer “is one of our soldier boy’s [sic] that we are justly proud of.” He “was too late to get ‘over there’ but is doing his bit for Uncle Sam in Camp.”

 
Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

World War I Letters of Milo H. Main: January 21-27, 1919

January 21st, 2019

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 letter, Milo writes that he is “feeling fine to-nite for I took my Saturday plunge this afternoon. Slept until 11:30 this morning, in fact I do about every other morning. Am fat and lazy. I want to reduce to about 140 when I get back in “Civy” [civilian, non-military] clothes.”

 

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, January 25, 1919 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, January 25, 1919

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, January 25, 1919 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, January 25, 1919

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, January 25, 1919

M. H. Main
Bat. F. 130 F.A.
A.E.F.

Jan. 25th 1919

Dear Father and Sisters:-

It affords me great pleasure to write you of the fact of attending a Masonic Club meeting in the historic and battle torn city of Verdun. Am enclosing a program of the occasion and will proudly state that I am a member of this A.E.F. Masonic Club now. They were about 300 Masons there, most of them R.R. men from Chicago. Will send program under seperate cover as it is to big to enclose.

Wild rumors out that we are starting home in the next 60 days. Nothing official yet.

Am still here in Chateau de Verdun in little city of Sommedeiue about 7 kilometers from where I was stationed on 11/11.

Am feeling fine to-nite for I took my Saturday plunge this afternoon. Slept until 11:30 this morning, in fact I do about every other morning. Am fat and lazy. I want to reduce to about 140 when I get back in “Civy” [civilian, non-military] clothes.

Weather has been clear and cooler for past 10 days. Sure great to be without the rain. Ground has been frozen for 4 days now, but no wind like Kans.

Have not had any mail for about 7 days now, time for a bunch to come in.

Will close for to-nite.

Trusting all are well at home, I remain

Your son & brother,
Milo H. Main

Bat. F. 130 F.A.
A.E.F.
c/o Officers Mess
Regt. Hq.

P.S. Must write Fern [Milo’s sister in Illinois] to morrow (1/26) I owe her two letters

 
Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant