EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.
By R.L. HEMINGER
The Hancock County record in World War I, which was engaging the attention of the whole community just 50 years ago, has been chronicled in a volume entitled “Hancock County in the World War.” It was written by Irvin Geffs, who was editor of the Findlay Courier at that time. It is a 117-page book, replete with pictures and accounts of all that happened in those stirring days a half century old.
“This little book is dedicated to the memory of the soldiers and sailors who laid down their lives in order that peace might come again to the earth and to those who have lived through the perils of the mighty conflict,” reads the dedicatory statement.Two of the major matters dealt with are the raising of the local funds for the Liberty Loans and the work of the local chapter of the American Red Cross.
The first Liberty Loan campaign was conducted in April 1917, just after war had been declared. It was a national effort to raise funds with which to prosecute the war and Hancock County joined whole-heartedly in the movement. J.C. Donnell, president of the then Ohio Oil Co., was named chairman of the campaign. The county had been assigned a goal of $546,300 and a total of 601,400 was subscribed. In the second Liberty Loan drive, the sum of $886,250 was raised against a quota of $789,700, under Mr. Donnell’s leadership.
The third Liberty Loan drive came in April 1918. Mr. Donnell had been called to Washington as a leader of the National Petroleum War Service Committee and was succeeded as Hancock County chairman by Arthur E. Eoff, cashier of the American National Bank. A quota of $815,100 was assigned Hancock County and $1,043,950 was subscribed. Mr. Eoff continued as chairman in the fourth Liberty Loan drive and a total of $1,714,350 was raised. The quota was $1,525,650. The fourth loan effort came in October 1918.
A fifth and final local campaign was conducted in the spring of 1919, when the county was assigned a quota of $1,250,000. This was exceeded by a substantial sum under Chairman Eoff’s leadership. Mammoth street parades opened each of the Liberty Loan campaigns in the community.
Author Geff’s history says the Arlington bank was always the first “over the top” with its quota and Van Buren township in southern Hancock County was usually the first to raise its quota. The work and activities of the Red Cross are described in much detail, with many pictures of the various participating groups.
A chapter of the Red Cross was organized, the county medical society taking the lead in helping to organize the chapter in the spring of 1917. Dr. W.F. Dickens-Lewis, then pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, was named permanent chairman; Mrs. Harry B. Hull, vice chairman; Dr. Nelia B. Kennedy, secretary; and C. J. Oller, treasurer.
The first board of directors consisted of the following; Dr. Dickens-Lewis, Dr. John M. Firmin, Dr. Nelia B. Kennedy, Mrs. E.V. Bope, Mary L. Margerum, J.M. Reed, of Liberty Township, W.E. Houck, Dr. John V. Hartman, Mrs. N.L. MacLachlan, Mrs. C.J. Oller, Mrs. Nelson Turner, Dr. C.F. King, of Mount Cory, Mrs. M.A. Darbyshire, of McComb, A.E. Dorsey, Arthur D. Patterson, Dr. R.D. Lee, of Mount Blanchard, Mrs. C.R. Wagner, of Arlington and Miss Ethel Shoemaker of Mount Blanchard.
Committees were named, including one on membership. W.S. Mascho was named chairman of this group and a drive for members in the fall under the leadership of C.F. Coykendale, general secretary of the YMCA, brought in 10,100 members.
The Findlay Elks lodge turned over its new building on South Main Street to the Red Cross for a headquarters. The lodge building had just been completed as the war started and it provided unusually well-adapted facilities for the Red Cross activities. The headquarters continued to be located at the Elks throughout the war.
At the close of the war, Dr. A.H. Linaweaver prepared an appreciation scroll which the Red Cross presented to the Elks in recognition of the order’s action in making its new lodge home available for the work of the chapter. W.E. Crates, the chairman, and all members of the board signed the scroll.
Many groups were formed during the war among churches, lodges, and other societies to provide dressings, garments and many other items which the local chapter made available wherever needed in the war program.