Washington County’s role in WWI explained

DOUG LOYER  Special to the Times
Cyrus Moore of the Southern Ohio History Center leads these WW1 reenactors through drills.

DOUG LOYER Special to the Times Cyrus Moore of the Southern Ohio History Center leads these WW1 reenactors through drills.

The Castle in Marietta provided a free event Saturday at the armory on Front Street to give the community an opportunity to learn more about what the country, and locally, what Washington County went through during World War I.

The living history event was held at the exact location where a hundred years ago, soldiers from Company B 7th Ohio National Guard left for Camp Sheridan in Alabama for training to go abroad.

The armory was also the location where the Washington County American Red Cross women came to sew, knit and make comfort kits in the war effort. In Washington County, the Salvation Army and other civic groups and local business leaders also made massive efforts responding to the county’s needs during the war.

The event included re-enactors in WWI uniforms and women dressed in Red Cross attire from that era. Also, the Salvation Army, the Washington County Historical Society, armory Square, state Centennial Committee and Washington County Veterans Service Commission were present.

“We’re portraying what went on in Marietta 100 years ago in October of 1917,” said Kyle Yoho, Education Director at The Castle. “A lot of activity was going on. Company B of the National Guard that was made up of Marietta soldiers was leaving to go to Camp Sheridan to begin training and then be sent to France.”

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Yoho said the local American Red Cross at the time met on the second floor of the armory and was making a lot of essential comfort items for the soldiers.

“We are representing the women of Washington County during WWI when the Red Cross was here,” said Jane Young, a volunteer at The Castle and a real nurse. “They encouraged women to come and work in the work room at the armory.”

The local Red Cross started in Marietta in 1917, explained Young. Its membership increased quickly. When the United States got involved in the war, there was a huge upswell of people wanting to help American soldiers overseas.

The women came to the armory and made surgical dressings and comfort kits, which included items like a razor, pens, paper and items a soldier could use. Women also sewed and knitted. They made sweaters, socks, slippers and other clothing items.

There were also groups from Beverly, Lowell and other localities in Washington County that also sent items. When collected, items were then sent on to Cleveland, then to Washington D.C., for shipment overseas in a well-coordinated effort, organizers said.

“Everyone, had a neighbor, son, a husband or nephew that was fighting in the war,” said Young. “It was very, very personal and a great community effort.”

“It’s nice to be a part of this living history event. It’s good to raise awareness as to what was happening in the world in WWI,” said Jessica Cyders, of Athens, curator at the Southeast Ohio History Center. “WWI has sometimes been called the forgotten war and we are trying to make sure it isn’t forgotten.”

Cyders said she thought Saturday’s event in Marietta was beautifully organized and featured a wide variety of activities and things for people to see. She liked that the event showed some of the civilian aspects of WWI such as the Salvation Army and American Red Cross. She felt that was important because it shows that WWI wasn’t just the men serving overseas, but was a national effort and the women were very integral.

“I really like this kind of event,” said Teghan Sharp, with the Southeastern Ohio History Center, “not only because we’re at the armory, which has a of historical significance, but also because we’re reenacting events that we read about all the time in history books.”

Cyrus Moore, also of the Southern Ohio History Center and an AmeriCorps member, lead a group that was reenacting WWI soldiers.

“I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,” said Moore. “It’s really good to have local events for the centennial of the National Guard getting ready to go to France in WWI and it feels great to be here at the same building they used 100 years ago.”

Captains Aaron and Wanessa Moore, with the Marietta Salvation Army, gave eventgoers coffee and donuts just like the Salvation Army was famous for 100 years ago. They also shared a lot of interesting history, stories and images from the effort during WWI.

“Salvation Army women were actually in the trenches with the soldiers in the midst of it,” said Capt. Wanessa Moore. “I think it’s really important for us not to forget what happened for us to be here today.”

“We’re really proud to be a part of this,” said Capt. Aaron Moore. “The Salvation Army was heavily involved in WWI. We’re glad be able to emulate and relive the past and the service that the Salvation Army offered to the soldiers as the donut girls on the front lines.”

Aaron added that the Salvation Army met the pressing needs of the soldiers that were defending the nation.

“What they did inspires me to do what we do in the community. Here we are 100 later and still serving and trying to make a difference in the lives of those that we come in contact with.”

Aaron grew up in the New York City area and discovered that his great-great aunt was a commanding officer here in Marietta in 1929. He is a seventh generation Salvationist and can trace his lineage back to the founding in 1865.

“We’re here to let everyone know what we’re all about,” said Sarah Bird, office manager and board secretary for the Washington County Historical Society. “Today, we’re selling prints and books to raise funds for the society.”

The mission of the Historical Society is to collect, preserve and study all items pertaining to the history of Washington County and educate the public. The society invites the public to stop by at 346 Muskingum Drive from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The society keeps details on historical information, genealogy and photography.

Boardmember Regina Goodnite of Marietta also mentioned that the society is trying to raise funds and get more volunteers in its effort to restore the historic Anchorage in Harmar.

The armory Square Inc., a non-profit organization that supports the armory, was selling bricks for the Veterans and Community Walks of Honor that is located on the armory property. armory Square President Judy Phillips said profits go toward restoring the armory. For more information about ordering bricks, go to WascoInc.org/walk-of-honor.

Ken Sams and Betty Moore-Rosser, of Athens, really enjoyed the event Saturday.

“This is great seeing the reenactment,” said Moore-Rosser. “Some events are not this close, so we didn’t want to miss this. I’d like to dig more into the WWI history. Many don’t realize the sacrifices that people made.”

On the web

For more history, events and information:

* The Castle Web: MariettaCastle.org

* Southeastern Ohio History Center Web: AthensHistory.org/

* Website to order bricks: WascoInc.org/walk-of-honor

* Washington County Veterans Service Commission: Washingtongov.org/index.aspx?NID=162

* The Salvation Army Facebook: The Salvation Army – Marietta Oh

* Washington County Historical Society Facebook: Washington County Historical Society

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