It is obvious that Pulaski County, as such, had no existence during the War
of 1812. However, it was during this War that there occurred at the site of
what is now Mound City, at that time known as "The Mounds," due to the
various mounds found there, the only known massacre of English speaking
settlers in the territory of this county. At time of the massacre, only two
families were living where Mound City now stands. One family was named
Clark, the other Phillips. They had come from the state of Tennessee
following the earthquake of 1811. The family of Clark consisted of only
himself and his wife. The Phillips family was composed of Phillips, his
wife, a son and a daughter both of whom were nearly grown, and a man named
Kenady who had ingratiated himself into the good graces of Mrs. Phillips,
whose husband had had occasion to return to Tennessee on business.
On a day in the fall of 1812, Mr. Phillips being absent from home, there came a man from Union County named Shaver. Mr. Shaver stopped at the cabin of the Clark family with the intention of buying a jug of whisky which it seems Clark manufactured and sold. Mr. Shaver found that Clark had company in the persons of 10 Creek Indians who lived in the lower part of Kentucky. These Indians were outlaws from their own people because of some outrages they had committed against their own tribe. Mr. Shaver expressed apprehension to Clark about the Indians, but was assured that they had been there before and meant no harm. The Indians asked for food and were told by Mrs. Clark that if they would grind some corn on the hand mill she would prepare a meal for them. They ground the corn and ate a hearty meal. Five of the band then left and went up the river to the cabin of Mrs. Phillips. Soon a signal was given and the massacre was on. Only Mr. Shaver, of all the people assaulted, was able to escape though badly wounded. He made his way back home and soon a band of settlers came to seek vengeance, but were unable to locate the Indians. They found the bodies of the victims and gave them burial. The body of the Phillips girl was not found and there was speculation that she was carried away.
Following the War of 1812, the Indian menace was removed or largely abated
and settlers began to come into the southern end of the State, until 1818 a
Territory. Some of them were veterans of the War of 1812. Among the trees of
the wilderness that was Johnson, then Union, later Alexander, and finally
Pulaski County, they erected their cabins and began to dream of the glories
that should be. All apparently were ambitious to build up a thriving,
prosperous, and populous city. Numerous town sites were platted and the
great city of the Midwest was builded over and over again in their dreams.
Never again in the history of our continent will settlements be made with
the hardships, inconveniences, and dangers that the early settlements in
Southern Illinois faced. Modern methods of transportation have removed the
most of them. No longer do people trek into new regions afoot, in oxcart,
horseback, or on slow barges. Rather they swiftly enter by rail, steamer,
automobile, or even by air. No longer do they wait patiently for week after
week for even a slight trickle of news but even before the papers are on the
press the news is on the air. Especially is this true of news which is
considered important to the people in general.
When the Mexican War began in 1846, just three years after the organization of Pulaski County, Col. C. H. Webb and William A. Hughes immediately raised a company of volunteers to fight in the War. The former was elected Captain of the Company and the latter First Lieutenant. There were 105 men in the Company which was mustered into the service at Alton, Illinois. This band of the bravest and best in Pulaski County was in but one engagement, the battle of Buena Vista. Through changes the Company was officered on the day of battle as follows: Captain, William C. Woodward; First Lieutenant, John Bartleson; Second Lieutenant, Aaron Atherton; Third Lieutenant, William Price. Before the start of the battle Col. Bissell rode up to the Pulaski Company and said to Lieut. Price: "You are too old to go into this engagement; you will remain in camp." Lieut. Price, nearly 80 years old, stood proudly erect and said, "Col. Bissell, I came here to fight. If my time has come, I just want to die for my country on this battlefield." As the company went into the action, Lieut. Atherton, seeing that Capt. Woodward had only a short sword gave his to the Captain, saying, "You can take this; I know better how to use a gun!" The last seen of Atherton alive he was defending his prostrate friend Lieut. Price. Swinging his heavy rifle as he had often swung a cradle in the wheat fields of his farm, he fought to the end taking many a Mexican soldier with him. Of the 105 men who went to Mexico only 42 returned. Sixteen, including every officer down to the Second Sergeant were killed in this engagement. The others died of wounds and diseases. The official name of this company, Company B, Second Regiment, Illinois Volunteers. On the return of the 42 survivors of this company in 1847 they were welcomed joyously at a public gathering. Speeches were made and a poem, all but two stanzas of which is apparently and regrettably lost, was read by J. Y. Clemson. The two that have been preserved follow.
"We lost some noble men that day —
Men that were stamped in nature's mold;
For fame and country those they fell,
Not for the sordid love of gold.
"Conspicuous on that fatal day
Was a small band from Illinois,
Foremost they were in all the fray,
The gallant, brave Pulaski boys."
The Company was discharged from service at Camargo, Mexico, on June 18, 1847.
Pulaski County furnished two full companies in the Civil War. One of these
was in the One Hundred Ninth Regiment and one was attached to the Thirty
First Regiment. This latter was John A. Logan's Regiment. Besides these two
companies there were many other enlistments in other regiments and in the
Until the Civil War the large warehouse building on the Ohio River in Mound City, for from the outside the buildings appear as one, stood vacant. The Government took possession of it in 1861 and converted it into a military hospital. It was the largest U. S. hospital in what was then the West until after the close of that bloody conflict. After the Battle of Shiloh, 2,200 sick and wounded were cared for at one time. After the Civil War the building was used variously as a hotel, courthouse, stave mill, furniture factory, and, in fact, most everything save that for which it was intended by its builders until in 1916 a canning company bought it and erecting a processing plant adjacent to it began to use the old building for that purpose for which it was erected, namely a warehouse. It is at present owned and operated by the Ladoga Canning Company, Indianapolis. Indiana.
During the Civil War the government also took over the foundry at Mound City, which belonged to a man named James Goodlow, and used it as a storehouse for shot and shell. In 1863 some sailors were handling shells in the foundry when one exploded. This set off the others and the buildings were completely wrecked. Thus a promising industry passed from the local scene.
Because of the excellent harbor, the splendid equipment and the central location the Marine Ways at Mound City were found by the Government to be ideally situated for the maintenance of the fleet of gunboats which was used in carrying on the war in the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and their tributaries. Consequently the Government leased the Ways, paying a rental of $40,000 per year. Fifteen hundred men were employed in the building and maintaining of the fleet in this one yard. Not until 1874 were the Ways returned to their owners.
The gunboats were converted river steamers and in some instances ferries. Their construction was an interesting thing. Mr. R. H. Hawley, grandfather of Mrs. Averil Baccus, with whom he spent the last years of his life, told how it was done. Mr. Hawley, a young man in those days, served his country during the conflict as a civil-courier, i. e. a spy, and never had any military standing, yet he served his country well. His orders came from the naval commandant of this district. Consequently he was in position to know how the work of converting wooden river steamers into ironclad gunboats was done.
The steamers were built of the best of white oak. In converting to a gunboat, the interior arrangement of the boat was changed to accommodate the crew. Magazines were built into her and gun emplacements were made. To protect the boat and crew some three or four inches of iron plating was placed over the outside of the boat. However, before this was done, a two-inch layer of sponge rubber was placed over the boat and the iron on the outside of that. This was to give resilience to armor, absorbed the shock and enabled the ship to throw off the force of the shot or shell which came against her sides. Due to the necessity of vision, the pilot house was the least protected part of the boat and it took a brave man to pilot the boat in time of battle. Mr. Hawley said that on one occasion, having been to Paducah to deliver some secret orders to that portion of the fleet which was stationed there, he was returning to Mound City via gunboat which was fired upon by artillery from the Kentucky shore just above Olmsted. At the time he was in the pilot house with the pilot. When the shot began to come he said the pilot rushed down the stair to the lower deck and did not show his head again until the boat was anchoring at Mound City. Mr. Hawley had brought her in.
Several Pulaski County men served in the Spanish American War in various units of the armed forces. A full company was raised and readied for the war but due to the short time the conflict lasted, was never mustered into the service of the government.
The declaration of war against the German Empire on April 6, 1917, found the
United States without an adequate Army. Within a month of this date a
conscription bill boldly reciting the military obligations of citizenship
for those between the ages of 21 and 31 was introduced in Congress and had
become a law. In accordance with the terms of this law, the President of the
United States, by Proclamation, set June 5, 1917, as registration day, and
on that date men between the ages of 21 and 31 registered for military duty.
The law was administered, locally, by volunteer, non-paid, citizens. Pulaski County had one Selective Service Board. L. C. Perks of Mound City, G. J. Murphy of Mound City, and Dr. Charles Boswell of Mounds volunteered for and were appointed as the Pulaski County Board. These men assumed their duties soon after the first registration and served through the War and until all local boards were disbanded as no longer needed.
Pulaski County, like the balance of the United States, held its registration on June 5, 1917. The registrations were held at the usual polling places with volunteer registrars manning the polls. The registration cards were returned, by the registrars, to the County Clerk, who delivered them to the local board.
The total registration in Pulaski County was 1248 by precincts: Karnak, 68; Grand Chain, 98; Olmsted, 88; America, 28; Mound City, 250; Mounds, 249; Villa Ridge, 85; Pulaski, 81 ; Perks, 36; Wetaug, 38.
The registration cards were serially numbered by the board to await the national drawing for Order Numbers. On July 20, 1917, the first number was drawn from a bowl in Washington. This was number 258 and had been assigned to Walter Jiles, who then became Pulaski County's number one man. Number 458 was drawn second and this number had been assigned to James Olin Hayes of Grand Chain, who became number two man in the County, and 854 was the third number drawn and this had been assigned to Odie C. Wiggins of Villa Ridge, who became number three for the County.
The local board for Pulaski County immediately set about to assign the proper order number to each registrant and to proceed with the classifications as was required by the Selective Service Act and Regulations. Registrants were placed in one of five classes. Class V was the exempted class, and those qualifying for total exemption from military duty were placed in this class. This class included duly elected state officials, ordained ministers of religion, persons in the military service, alien enemies, resident aliens who had not declared their intention to become citizens, persons physically or mentally unfit for military services, persons convicted of crime, licensed pilots, persons discharged from the armed forces as an alien, citizens of a country neutral to the war, and certain citizens of Great Britain. Class I was made up of those who were found to be ready for immediate military duty. The deferred classes II, III and IV contained those who were considered not exempted from military duty but whose occupation was considered essential enough to defer their induction into the army until after the Class I had been exhausted. These classes contained the married men, the men with dependents, the men engaged in agriculture, the men engaged in essential industrial occupations, and the men holding certain elective offices. The question of deferment was not passed upon by the local board. A district board was established in E. St. Louis, Illinois, and all claims for deferments were referred to this board for determination. The district boards had original jurisdiction over all these claims for deferments and passed upon them, while the local board had only the power of recommendation, which were generally accepted by the district board.
Agricultural claims were based upon the amount of production maintained on the farm, and farmers with only a sustenance operation were not considered for agricultural deferments. Industrial occupations were based on the essential nature of the enterprises and in time group deferments were granted to certain industries, especially to ship yards. The detailed regulations issued were complex and the classification of registrants into the various classes was difficult, as the lines dividing them were very fine, for example if a "farm laborer was especially fitted for the work in which he was engaged" he was placed in Class II; if he were an "assistant, associate, or hired manager" he was put in Class III. and if he were the "sole manager, controlling and directing head" he was put in Class IV. This same graduation of responsibility and presumably expertness was the basis of deferred classification in industry.
After the local board and the district board had determined the proper classification of the registrants, they were ordered, in groups, to appear in Mound City for physical examination. The first group examination was of the first sixty-four men on the list. This notice was published August 3, 1917, and the registrants were ordered to appear August 7, 1917; the second list, published on August 4, 1917, was for 65 men to appear August 8, 1917, and the third list, published August 5, 1917, was for 65 men to appear August 9, 1917.
The physical examinations were held in the K. of P. hall in Mound City, with Doctors Boswell, Hargan, Whiteaker, Hudson and others doing the examining. The local examination was final as to the physical qualifications of the registrant subject however to appeal to a board which was established in Cairo. A registrant not satisfied with the local doctor's findings, or the Government Appeal Agent, likewise, could appeal to this board and the registrant would submit to another physical examination, de-novo, and the findings of this board were final. Registrants passing the local examinations were then ready for induction into the Army.
After the first three examinations had been completed the local board published a list of those accepted for the military service and those exempted and those deferred, giving in each case the reason for the deferment or exemption. This list appeared in the Pulaski Enterprise, August 17, 1917. This list also contained the names of those registrants who had made claim for occupational or agricultural deferment. On August 31, 1917, a list of those men selected for military service was published in the Pulaski Enterprise.
On September 5, 1917, Pulaski County's first group of inductees entrained for Camp Grant, Illinois, on the Big Four train. This group was Ray Armstrong, Mound City; J. R. Wright, Mound City; Henry Darragh, Mound City ; Clarence Dusch, Mounds; and Fred Hoffmeier, Ullin.
On September 18, 1917, a group of 38 men left Mound City via Big Four for Camp Taylor, Kentucky. The night before, a great patriotic demonstration was held in Mound City. A parade through the streets was held and stirring speeches were made by Judge W. A. Wall, Attorney C. S. Miller, County Superintendent of Schools Miss May Hawkins, and by H. Reiling. This was the first large group to leave the County. A special train carried the men with a group from Alexander County and groups were picked up at each County Seat on the way north.
On October 4, 1917, a group of 20 men left Mound City, for Camp Taylor, Kentucky, via Big Four, to make the third contingent to leave under selective service. After this date the group departures became regular, as did individual departures in selected branches of the services.
One of the Early Draft Calls of World War I
J. C. Mench, Y.M.C.A.; L. C. Perks, Dr. C. J. Boswell, and G.
Second Row: Ward Corzine, George Hardesty, Carl Mclntire, Charles Crippen, Elijah Duckworth, and Seth Reed.
Third Row: Coleman, James Edwards, Jones, Charlie Vonnida, Harry Welting, and Henry Wiesenborn.
Fourth Row: George Knupp, Robinson, Gilbert Ervin, Mat Fallenstein, and last is unknown.
Fifth Row: Clarence Taylor, Werner Schnaare, Walter Pauls, and Ernest Bagby.
Out of this group Duckworth was killed in action, and Crippen was either killed or died as his name is on the monument.
Prior to the enactment of the Selective Service Act, many young men from Pulaski County were already enlisted in the various branches of the Armed Forces. Many men from Pulaski County had enlisted in Company K, Illinois Militia, and had gone with General Pershing to the Mexican Border. At the declaration of war this outfit was sworn into Federal service and was placed in the 130th Infantry which became a unit in the 33rd Division AEF. This outfit saw much service in France and was a part of the first Army of Occupation in Germany.
In all, a total of 468 men from Pulaski County were in the Army, Navy,
Marine Corps and other branches of the service during the period of 1917 to
1919. Many served with distinction overseas and some made the supreme
According to the records of the Pulaski County Memorial Association, the men killed in action from Pulaski County were: Frank Cannon, Barney Crouch, Elijah Duckworth, Dave Fitzpatrick, Orin Koonce, Loren Lence, Boyd Metcalf, John Miller, Ray Palmer, Louis Phares, Virgil Taylor, and Otis Turbaville
And according to the same records the men who died while in the Armed Services were: Sherman Bell, Stephen Carney, Chas. Crippen, Floyd Derr, Geo. Lampley, Robert Meals, Silas Moore, Roy Morket, Thomas Price, Henry Reece, Geo. Ross, Ralph Vick, and Nelson Willis.
After the end of the fighting and after demobilization most of the men from Pulaski County returned home, to their former work, and life again resumed its normal, even keel.
Unlike the situation in World War I, the United States had already prepared
an Army prior to the declaration of War. On September 16, 1940, a Selective
Training and Service bill became a law. Shortly thereafter, on October 16,
1940, the first registration, in peace time, in the history of the United
States took place and every male citizen between the ages of 21 and 36
registered for service in a peace time army.
Profiting by the experience gained in World War I the machinery for the registration was the same, that is, was done in the polling places by volunteer registrars under the direction of the County Clerk.
In Pulaski County 1825 men between the ages of 21 and 36 registered in compliance with the law. A local board of three members had been organized consisting of H. C. Moore of Mounds, chairman; L. J. Beisswingert, Mound City, secretary; and John Scanlin, Ullin, member. Like World War I, the registration cards were numbered serially by the board to await the drawing in Washington. On October 29, 1940, the Secretary of War drew out the first number, 158. This number had been assigned, by the local board to Charles Leo Stoner of Wetaug, who thus became Pulaski County's first man subject to induction into the armed forces. The local board then started to classify all registrants. The intent and purpose of the Selective Training and Service law was to train an army and for that purpose each man to be inducted was to serve one year in training.
Registrants were placed into one of four classes. The law did not provide an exempted class as did the law of 1917. Class I-A were the men who were found to be subject to military training under the law and regulations. Class II, subdivided into two groups. Class II-A men necessary to civilian activities of community or nation, Class II-B men necessary to the National Defense Program; Class III-A men with persons dependent upon them for support; Class IV was subdivided into Class IV-A men in military service or who had finished their year of training; Class IV-B certain duly elected Public Officials; Class IV-C aliens; Class IV-D duly ordained ministers of religion; Class IV-E conscientious objectors, and Class IV-F men physically and morally unfit for service in the armed forces.
After the initial classifications, by the local board, the first man to be inducted under the law was George Mclntire of Mound City who left Pulaski November 25, 1940, after he had volunteered for induction. Since the classifications were for peace time service only those men, who in the opinion of the board, using the rules and regulations as a guide, could be best spared from civilian activities were classed in Class I-A and inducted.
After the declaration of War, by the United States, on December 8, 1943, the rules and regulations were changed and stricter rules of classifications were prescribed, and the business of the local board became that of furnishing an army in war time.
The local board, expanded to five members, has had several changes in personnel, John Scanlin resigned and was replaced by C. S. Rife of Pulaski, who later resigned and was replaced by H. E. Wilson of Villa Ridge; L. J. Beisswingert resigned and was replaced by J. C. McCormick of Olmsted; and Henry Wiesenborn of Grand Chain and E. C. Holcomb of Ullin were appointed to bring the board membership up to five.
Since the first registration other registrations were held in Pulaski County and registration is a continuous affair, as men now become 18 years old they are required to register.
The number of men now in the armed forces, from Pulaski County, is not, for military purposes, available for publication, but the names shown on a shaft dedicated in Mound City on November 11, 1943, have reached the number of 340 from Mound City alone, nearly as many as served from the County in World War I.
Several have been killed in action or taken prisoner. The list up to November 1, 1943 is:
Jesse Herbert Gurley of Karnak, Dec. 7, 1941 — USN Pearl Harbor on U. S. S. Arizona.
Frank Massengale, Ullin, Dec. 7, 1941 — USN Pearl Harbor, on U. S. S. Arizona.
Arthur Vincent Ledbetter, Ullin — Marine, aboard cruiser Houston, either killed or captured.
Donald I. Titus, Mounds, captured in Philippines.
C. W. Harrell, Mound City — Army, New Guinea, Dec. 9, 1942.
Raymond Richards, Olmsted — Army, Pacific area.
Ensign Chas. Madison James, Mounds — U. S. S. Vincennes, Sept. 13, 1942, in Solomons.
Bernie Nelson, Mound City — Army, Feb. 21, 1943, Guadalcanal in gasoline fire.
Billy C. Laws, Mounds, April 9, 1943, North Africa.
Talmadge L. Phenix, Grand Chain, May 1, 1943, North Africa.
Frank Louis Sharp, Villa Ridge, Nov. 27, 1943, Italy.
The people of Pulaski County as a whole have been a people who appreciate the blessings of peace. However, like most of the people of our great country they are proud of their heritage of freedom. Consequently, when they are convinced that that heritage is endangered they are ready to take up arms that "government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."
This spirit has been demonstrated over and over as parents have seen their sons, wives their husbands, children their fathers enter the service of their country.
With sad hearts and smiling faces
They have watched their loved ones go
Forth to fight our country's battles
Die or conquer country's foe.