To Strengthen a Nation:
Are you ready to have some fun?
We are here tonight to celebrate the American legion being 100 years old this year.
As the Commander of the McPherson American Legion I feel it is important that we hear some of the history of both the national American Legion and our Post.
We have to thank the Veteran of WW I. Is there anyone in the audience that was in this war?? I think the last living one just recently passed away.
I am just a few minutes away from enjoying the WWI music with Tom Nelson.
I promise I will be short but it is important that we hear some of the history
The military organization of McPherson County which formed the nucleus of the first men going to World War I was old Company D. WWI started in 1914 but the United States didn’t get into the war until 1917. Upon entraining for camp at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, they were placed in the 35th Division and later went to France.
The boys that were drafted from McPherson County were sent to Camp Funston, Kansas and were part of the 89th Division who also saw service in France.
There were 874 men that either enlisted or were drafted from McPherson County that served during the World War.
We had men in France in 1919 as it took time to bring them home.
The actual formation of the American Legion took place at a great caucus held in Paris on March 15-17 1919 at the end of WWI with about 1000 representative officers and enlisted men.
It is my understanding that both Harry B Dorst and Fred Ellis attended the meeting in Paris France.
This Paris caucus convened and committees were set up in the various States and delegates were chosen for a National caucus which was held in St Louis May 8-9 and 10 1919. At this this time the American Legion went on record as a patriotic organization.
The American Legion was chartered under the laws of the United States on September 16th 1919. The National Headquarters was established in Indianapolis Indiana.
The Kansas Department of the American Legion was born in the Hotel Jefferson at St Louis on May 10th 1919.
There are approximately 13000 local Posts worldwide and current membership is 2.2 Million.
The Legion has been instrumental in the creation of a number of major institutions of American society including formation of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Creation of US Flag Code, passage of the GI Bill and More.
The American Legion is the nation’s leading advocate for Veterans, a strong national defense, patriotic youth programs and Americanism.
The American Legion Family of McPherson is excited to share both the legacy and vision of our organization. We’ve done a lot of good and intend to keep doing it for a second century.
At the State convention, three cities submitted applications to be the first Legion in Kansas. Topeka, Emporia and Columbus, They matched as to who would get the Post 1 and Topeka won. Emporia won the number 2 and Columbus 3.
The American Legion of McPherson County passed through three stages of development between the years 1919 and 1924: patriotic, Legion, and civic. McPherson County Post#1 received its first temporary charter dated July 14, 1919.
The men who signed the petition for that first temporary charter in August 2019 were: Fred E. Ellis, shoe salesman; Harry B. Dorst, painter; C. B. Hopkins, city worker; Louis C. Hubbell. druggist; A. W. Bremyer, insurance; C. L. Heaston, car dealer; G. Elliott; B. B. Blair; Paul Reemer, car dealer; Fred L. McMurray, window trimmer; Glenn Coughenour, mail carrier; Ross A. Etter, druggist; Thomas M. Canfield, printer; L. A. Mingenback, insurance; Robert Ranstrom, grocer; S. N. Mallison, doctor; Harry L.Cougenour, florist; and Lawrence S. Bailey, cook.
InAugust, 1919, manila-colored flyers were seen on the walls of McPherson County public buildings and propped against local department store showcases. Throughout McPherson County, as in other counties throughout the United State, soldiers, sailors, and marines who had served honorably between April 6, 1917, and November 11, 1918, were summoned to the ranks of the American Legion.
But very shortly after the post was organized one of its most prominent members Harry B Dorst having gone through the World War and was enjoying the fruitful life of a civilian, finally was stricken from this earth in August 1919 of blood poisoning caused by a crushed finger, and in token of the high esteem held by his fellow comrades the post name was changed to that of Harry B Dorst Post #1 in his honor on November 18th 1919..
Harry B Dorst better known as “Cull” was a Second Lieutenant in old company D and when the World War broke out, Cull was made a First Lieutenant and served in that capacity throughout the War.
Harry B. Dorst of McPherson had served in Company “D” of the 137th Regiment; during his service in World War 1. He was cited for bravery in action and offered a Captaincy which he refused on the grounds that this higher rank would take him away from his men.
Harry B. Dorst, better known as “Cull” was one of those officers that nothing was too good for his men and was always doing everything and anything he could for them. It was this trait of character that won for him good will and friendship of all of his fellow men.
During this era, the American Legion was meeting at Conn Hall, upstairs at 121 ½ N. Main. The county post proved to be inadequate for the number of people involved in Legion activities. The Harry B. Dorst Post # 1 was, consequently, to split into eight smaller and closely-knit posts in the early1920’s. These eight posts were organized in McPherson, Lindsborg, Marquette, Canton, Moundridge, Galva, Roxbury, and Windom. Dorst’s name survived the county organization transition and became attached to the city of McPherson’s local post#1
The Post became known as Harry B Dorst Post 24 why 24 number, we were the 24th to request a chart, and on Aug 1 1920 we received it.
Major Fred E. Ellis met his death on the morning of September 29th, 1921. He was the one wanting this post to be named Harry B Dorst and now the VFW of McPherson, is named in his honor.,
The early years of the American Legion in McPherson County and City were centered on the Legion’s sense of its responsibility to uphold national patriotism, the responsibility to the Legion itself as an organization of status and power, its responsibility to its members in social or personal benefit matters, and finally, its responsibility of civic duty.
Did you know that in November 1919 the Harry B Dorst Post #1 had an intelligence committee? A committee of three called the Commercial Club to explain why people in the county should speak the American Language. In December 1919 2 people were arrested for disturbing the peace and were instructed to teach English, United State History ,Civil Government and the Duties of a Patriotic Citizen rather than the German Language.
In November 1919 The Post resolved to keep McPherson County 100 % American in every detail and to combat all organizations and individuals who opposed the traditions and ideals of American government. The Legionnaire’s also pledged themselves to act as a vigilante group to guard the county against the encroachment of the International Workers of World, a most radical leftist non-American organizationwhichcamesquarely to the top of the American Legion list of bad organization.
Legions Posts along the main line of the Rock Island Railroad formulated a plan whereby suspected radicals and Communist would be loaded aboard trains of that line and conducted to Pratt by American Legion patrols. They eventually were sent to Mexico.
On October 24, 1922, the Post moved from Conn Hall to the 3rd Floor of the County Courthouse where a room could be had at no cost to the Legion.
Did you know the Legions dues in 1922 was $4
Did you know that Wrestling and Boxing were legion pastimes? By 1922 wrestling matches had already been held involving such talent as Vernon Breedlove the featherweight champion of the world and Dan Star Italian champion lightweight. The legion sponsored various amateur bouts on its mats until fighting followed each regular meeting.
Basketball held a very prominent place in the legion over the years as we won an American Legion Championship in 1948.
An item of interest I came across in 1922 the McPherson Legionnaires backing the construction of a community building. The Legion BULLETIN which is like our newsletter, stated that “the spirit in support of the project at the meeting showing plainly that the Post has taken a determined stand in its purpose to get back of community interests and help make McPherson one of the best equipped cities in community improvement in the state. The Post planned to purchase the building site with funds secured from the veterans of the community. The Legion working with the chamber of commerce received 777 signatures for the community building and the City commissioner accepted the Legion work and scheduled an appropriate bond election.
In an article in the paperJune211928 it was announced at the regular meeting of Harry B Dorst Post in the city hall that thebusiness men of McPherson had arranged for new quarters for the local post in the assembly hall over Kerns store and had paid one year’s rent as a gift to the legion. Anyone know where the Kerns Store is.
During the years 1928-29, a committee was appointed to find more suitable quarters for the American Legion. The City of McPherson extended an invitation to the Legion to renovate the 2nd floor of the City Hall for its use. The first meeting was held in the new Post Headquarters at 115 South Main (present Peoples Bank parking lot) on March 12, 1929.
Did you know in 1930 the legion voted to authorize the Painting of McPherson on the top of the Opera House in accordance of government specifications?
Did you know in 1931 the legion had a team in the horseshoe tournament and the Legion team took all the laurels of the city?
Did you know that in 1934 the Legion sponsored a Donkey basketball game?
Did you know the American Legion Donated an iron lung to the local hospital? How many of you have ever heard of an iron lung?
Did you know that the Post held a Water Carnival at Lake Inman June 10 1934? It was the largest and fastest boat race held this side of the Mississippi during the past three years.
Did you know that in 1935 with land donated by a legionnaire on a plot of ground 2 miles east of McPherson to build a Boy Scout cabin? It was built by Legionnaire’s on Sunday.
In 1936 the legion sent there first person to Boy’s State his name was Arthur Rolander Jr.
The Post purchase a home at Chestnut and Marlin which it occupied from 1943 to 1947. After extensive remodeling at a cost of $75000 the post took occupancy in 1947.
Now 28 years later and for the next 72 years we will talk about our Post home.
On January 9, 1947, the Post purchased the land and building at 401 N. Main from V C & Erma Anderson,Chesterand Mary Anderson and John and Vala Hyer. This was for the building only.
On March 3rd 1976 Evelyn Strahan a widow sold the parking lot north of the building for $10 dollars to the Legion.
April 4th 1997 Leonard Zietlow owner of the building south of the legion was able to buy the land South of the Building he owned and south of the Legion for $10000.
The Legion purchased this land for $5000 with the intent of donating it to the city for a parking lot. At this time Roy Wash donated a flag pole in honor of Wanda Brother and Roy Step-father and four uncles who served In WW II one of whom survived the Bataan Death March,
Under Wayne Blue commander a quick claim deed was made Dec 1 1999 with the city owning the land with the understanding a flag pole would be erected in the Parking lot.
Over the years, many have thought of a new building and relocating but every time this building has been remodeled and remained home for Post 24. It seems to be place to be for many community activities.
We are the anchor of North Main. This is where a lot of activities start Including the legion.
The McPherson Auxiliary was started March 10 1923, The SAL Aug 8 1985 and the Riders June 11th 2006.
Harry B. Dorst Post 24, 401 N. Main, is the home of the American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion and the American Legion Riders all working together with dedicated to helping build a bettercommunityandamericiasm in McPherson, Kansas.
The American Legion 100th Anniversary mantra is “Legacy and Vision”—both a celebration of past accomplishments and a renewal of the organization’s resolve to serve communities, states and nation for a second century.