100 Years Ago This Week: Each Company Gets a Victrola

Background: In September of 1917 My grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, joined the United States Army.  He was a private in the 20th Engineers whose primary purpose was to mill lumber and build the wooden structures needed by the soldiers. After training at Camp American University  he sailed in November to St. Nazaire, France aboard a troop transport ship.  He is assigned to the headquarters unit of Company A and is now based at a camp set up inside a bull ring in Dax, France.


From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday Feb 24, 1918– Field meet tonight.  Nearly  5000 people saw Co. A win the meet.  It reminds me of meets in the U.S.A.  Hdq won second in relay race. Supper at White Horse.

Monday Feb 25– Drew plan of garage and machine shop today.  Minstrel (?) show practice tonight.

Tuesday Feb 26– Mrs. Hartwick(?) has given a Victrola  to each company and one to hdq.  Ours was handed over to us tonight.

Wednesday Feb 27– Received a package of candy from Marion today.  I was wishing for some when it came.  Some candy too.

Thursday Feb 28– This is my father’s birthday.  Good luck to you dad and lets hope that your next birthday we will spend together.

Friday March 1– Joe and I claim the billiard championship.

Saturday March 2 – Shorty and Brundage with men from companies go after trucks and automobiles. Rainy season is on now with snow today.  


The White Horse Restaurant

Sunday Feb 24, 1918– “Supper at White Horse.”  

It appears that the White Horse ( Cheval Blanc in French) was a popular place for Poppa and his buddies to have dinner as he mentions it frequently in his journal entries.

A circa early 1900s picture of the White Horse restaurant in Dax, France.

Victrolas

Tuesday Feb 26– “Mrs. Hartwick (?) has given a Victrola  to each company and one to hdq.  Ours was handed over to us tonight. “

A pre-1920 model Victrola

Thomas Edison invented the Phonograph in 1877.  Victrola was a brand of phonograph manufactured by the Victor Talking Machine Company.  By 1915 many average Americans could afford to have one in their homes.

Sometimes Poppa’s handwriting isn’t legible.  It’s not clear in his journal who was making the Victrola’s available to the soldiers but it appears to be Mrs. Hartwick.  Edward E. Hartwick was Poppa’s commanding officer so maybe his wife provided the phonographs?   I have uploaded a picture of the journal page here.  Can you decipher the name?

In 1915, after a year of war in Europe, the phonograph was pressed into military service.   They could be used to provide entertainment for soldiers.  Apparently they were also used as an instructional tool.

 

Poppa’s older brother Hugh Clancy Jamieson (Great-Uncle Clancy) was also in the army in 1917.  It appears that he served in the states as the only address for his  brother in his journal is Camp Grant, Rockford, Illinois .  An article published in the (Madison) Wisconsin State Journal on Oct 15, 1917 indicated that “the Madison Boys in Company I want a Victrola to pass the time…”   According to the article the Victrola should be sent to Uncle Clancy at Camp Grant.

October 15, 1917 article from Wisconsin State Journal Journal
Camp Grant, Rockford Il, Early 20th century

Thursday Feb 28– “This is my father’s birthday.  Good luck to you dad and lets hope that your next birthday we will spend together.” 

Poppa’s father was Addison Jackson Jamieson (28 feb 1858- 22 April 1943). 

Addison Jackson Jamieson in undated photo

According to the “History of Columbia County Wisconsin” Addison’s older brother (Poppa’s uncle) Hugh Pierce Jamieson was said to be  “the first white chid born in Columbia County WI” in 1852.  HP also served in the Wisconsin State assembly in 1893.  Note that Poppa’s grandparents gave their sons middle names after US presidents that they liked.  

Poppa’s parents Eliza Duff Jamieson and Addison Jackson Jamieson circa 1921.

 

Saturday March 2 – “Shorty and Brundage with men from companies go after trucks and automobiles.”

Poppa mentions Shorty and Brundage frequently in in his journal.  It appears that they were friends.  Shorty is obviously a nickname for an unknown soldier.  In his address book Poppa wrote “M.R. Brundage, Sonora, California”.

Thanks to Michel Boquet for finding this picture of M.R. Brundage

Next Week:  A Lecture on “German Kultur”

Sources:

Schlenoff, Dan. “The Phonograph Goes to War, 1915.” Scientific American Blog Network. N.p., 06 Nov. 2015. Web. 21 Feb. 2018.

“The History of Columbia County, Wisconsin, Containing an Account of Its Settlement … Its War Record, Biographical Sketches … the Whole Preceded by a History of Wisconsin, Statistics of the State, and an Abstract of Its Laws and Constitution and of the Constitution of the United States.” Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2018

100 Year ago this week: A Visit from General Scott

Background:  In September of 1917 My grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, joined the United States Army.  He was a private in the 20th Engineers whose primary purpose was to mill lumber and build the wooden structures needed by the soldiers. In November he sailed to St. Nazaire, France aboard a troop transport ship.  He is assigned to the headquarters unit of Company A and is now based at a camp set up inside a bull ring in Dax, France.

—————————————————–

From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday Feb 17– A day of rest- the only thing of excitement was a football game which was not much good.

Monday Feb 18– General Scott visited our camp today.  As far as mess is concerned I would be fine to have a general visit camp everyday.

Tuesday Feb 19– I walked many miles around Mees today trying to locate route for telephone line.  Letter dated Jan 28 from Marion today.

Wednesday Feb 20 – Went to Casino today and saw a French show.  This show would hardly go in U.S. from a moral stand point.

Thursday Feb 21– Slightly indisposed today.  I do not feel like writing.

Friday Feb 22– Much better today.  One more letter today dated Jan. from Tampa.  One from home dated Jan 22.

Saturday Feb 23– Out to Co. A today.  10th engineers beat 20th today 1 to 0 at baseball.  14 innings.  Two bands with regular music from U.S.A.  Bands at casino tonight.


Monday Feb 18General Scott visited our camp today”.  General Hugh L. Scott had a long history of service by the time WWI started.  After graduation from West Point he joined the US calvary and server in the western US.  Early in his military career he was assigned to go to the Little Big Horn battle site to mark the graves of General Custer’s soldiers and was assigned the same living quarters most recently used by the Custers. 

General Hugh L. Scott

General Hugh L. Scott

He served as interim Secretary of War in 1916 and helped prepare the country for possible involvement in World War I.  He officially retired from the army in 1917 but He was recalled to active duty to tour the battlefields of Europe and to command the 78th Division at Fort Dix in 1918. He retired again in 1919.  Apparently between visiting battlefields he also looked in on the 20th engineers in Dax, France.

A less formal picture of General Scott

Wednesday Feb 20 – “Went to Casino today and saw a French show”

The uncertainty of war and what the future had in store made escapist entertainments such as the theatre popular in France during the war.   Nostalgic farces and outdated comedies showing the “good old times”  were popular. The gap between the reality of warfare and the world of make-believe on stage made the theatre attractive for new audiences such as working women as well as soldiers on leave and war refugees.  With the shortage of necessities such as fuel the theatre also offered a way to gather and to warm up again in winter.

Thursday Feb 21– “Slightly indisposed today.”  Did Poppa feel “indisposed” because he went to the casino the previous day?  Maybe he had one too many to drink during the show?

This 1917 image depicts a French soldier saluting a barrel of “father Pinard,” the wine issued to French soldiers throughout the war.

The relationship of American soldiers and Marines to alcohol on the Western Front was different than that of their allies from France, and  Britian. Unlike the French and British armies, the men of the American Expeditionary Forces were not issued alcohol in the trenches. This would have made for bad press considering that there was a  powerful temperance movement on the home front. Prohibition was about to start back in the states.  Behind the lines, YMCA camps offered “wholesome” entertainment for American troops free from alcohol and other vices. However, the temperance movement and YMCA ultimately failed to prevent American troops from consuming alcohol during the war.

“This show would hardly go in U.S. from a moral stand point.”-  Apparently Poppa is making an observation that French entertainment was more risque  than what he was accustomed to in America.

Saturday Feb 23- “10th engineers beat 20th today 1 to 0 at baseball.  14 innings.”  

The baseball team of the 20th Engineers second battalion, Company F.  Note the goat in the front row. Maybe their mascot?

Next Week:  Each Company Gets a Victrola

Sources:

“Hugh L. Scott.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Feb. 2018. Web. 11 Feb. 2018.

“Staging War. Theatre 1914-1918.” New Articles RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2018.

ohnson, Nicholas K. “World War I, Part 3: The American Expeditionary Forces and Prohibition.” Points: The Blog of the Alcohol & Drugs History Society. N.p., 19 June 2014. Web. 11 Feb. 2018.

Johnson, Nicholas K. “World War I, Part 1: The French Army and Wine.” Points: The Blog of the Alcohol & Drugs History Society. N.p., 28 May 2014. Web. 15 Feb. 2018.

100 Years ago this Week: John and Shorty Cannot Play Billiards

Background:  In September of 1917 My grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, joined the United States Army.  He is a private in the 20th Engineers whose primary purpose was to mill lumber and build the wooden structures needed by the soldiers. In November he sailed to St. Nazaire, France aboard a troop transport ship.  He is assigned to the headquarters unit of Company A and is now based at a camp set up inside a bull ring in Dax, France.

—————————————————–

From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday Feb 10, 1918 – Rather of a quiet day.  Took bath and a walk this A.M.  Going to civilization tonight.

Monday Feb 11– Out to Co. A after telephone poles.  The mornings are very foggy clearing up about noon.

Tuesday Feb 12– To Co. C today after more poles.  Received more letters today from home.  This is a holiday in France Mardigras.

Wednesday Feb 13– Not much to do today.  Bought some things to send back to the states today.  Two handkerchiefs and a collar of (?) patterns.

Thursday Feb 14Nothing in particular today except that John and Shorty cannot play billiards.

Friday Feb 15– All drove to Co C’s YMCA tonight in Joe’s truck and heard a very interesting lecture on why we are at war by Dr. Shanklin Pres of Weslyan University.

Saturday Feb 16 – Made several blueprints today.  The weather is very fine except foggy and damp during nights and nearly all A.M.s


Feb 10, 1918– Poppa mentioned getting a bath.  In a previous journal entry he wrote that he often had a bath on Saturdays.  Apparently he decided on a Sunday morning bath because he was “Going to civilization tonight”. The city of Dax, France where he was stationed had been famous since roman times for it’s hot springs.  Here is a picture from the early 20th century of the Dax baths:

The caption translated from French: Establishment of Saline Baths

Here is an aerial view of Dax, France taken in the 1960s that shows some of the locations that Poppa referred to in his journal:

Thank you very much to Michel Boquet for creating this picture and allowing me to use it!

Poppa lived and worked in and around the bull ring.  Presumably he got his baths at the Casino and Baths building.  He mentioned often that he and his buddies liked to go to dinner at the ‘White Horse’ Restaurant (‘Cheval Blanc’ in French).

February 12– “This is a holiday in France Mardi gras.  Mardi Gras is traditionally the last day Christians could eat fatty foods before spending 40 days of prayer and meat abstinence, until Easter. The day announces the beginning of Lent. The Nice Carnival in France is one of the world’s largest Mardi Gras celebrations. The earliest records establish its existence in 1294. This may make the Nice Carnival the original carnival celebration. Today the event attracts over a million visitors to Nice every year. The Carnival celebrations in Nice span a two-week period.

Feb 14– Poppa mentioned that “John and Shorty cannot play billiards”.  I have found pictures and addresses for some of his soldier colleagues but I don’t yet know anything about  the identities of John and Shorty.  

A Google search found this picture of a WWI soldier playing billiards who had lost both of his legs in the war.

February 15– “All drove to Co C’s YMCA tonight in Joe’s truck and heard a very interesting lecture on why we are at war by Dr. Shanklin Pres of Weslyan University”.

William A. Shanklin

William A. Shanklin was the president of Wesleyan University of Middleton, Connecticut from 1909-1923. He served with the YMCA in France with the American Expeditionary Forces from January to June 1918.

The Mill at Candale

Company C of the 20th engineers were stationed at the saw mill in Candale, which is 10.5 miles from Dax.

Next Week: A visit from General Scott

Sources:

“Mardi Gras.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Jan. 2018. Web. 04 Feb. 2018.

“Wesleyan’s Ninth President.” William A. Shanklin, Office of the President – Wesleyan University. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2018.

“Mardi Gras in France.” Living Language. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2018.

 

100 Years ago This Week: A German Sub Sinks the Tuscania

Background: In September of 1917 My grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, joined the United States Army.  He was assigned to the 20th Engineers whose primary purpose was to mill lumber and build the wooden structures needed by the soldiers.  In November he sailed to St. Nazaire, France aboard a troop transport ship.  He is now assigned to the headquarters unit of Company A and is based at a camp set up inside a bull ring in Dax, France.

—————————————————–

From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday Feb 3, 1918 – A rainy Sunday.  One letter from Clancy today.  Neiswanger returns from 2 weeks trip after trucks. Wild Ladies of Paris tonight.

Monday Feb 4 – Made a small plain table survey ad map for siding at Mees.  John and Tom both sick today.  Oh Remorse.

Tuesday Feb 5 – Rest today- Some mail including papers from home and a few letters from same place.  Package from george and Ollie Scott (?).

Wednesday Feb 6 – Took cross sections at Mees siding today.  Weather continues warm, similar to weather I am used to having in June.

Thursday Feb 7 – A day of mail – fourteen letters from U.S.A.  Most of them rather old dating as far back as Dec. 10.  One from Marion dated Jan 9th was the latest.

Friday Feb 8 The U.S. transport Tuscania was sunk Feb 5.  First news to reach us today.  We will get them later.  Drawing maps and making blue prints today.

Saturday Feb 9 – Staking out telephone line.  Papers from Marion, two packages from home and one from Ora today.  Payday every 1 has been busted for some time.


Sunday February 3, 1918– “Wild Ladies of Paris tonight”.  Author’s note:  Sometimes it is difficult to decipher Poppa’s writing so this entry is subject to interpretation.  If you want to form your own opinion check out a copy of the entry on this page.  Vaudeville shows were popular in the early 20th century so I think that is what he is referring to.  Especially since the next day he wrote  “John and Tom both sick today.  Oh Remorse.”  By “sick” did he mean hungover?

A French postcard humorously depicting the relationship between French women and soldiers during WWI.

Also on February 3rd Poppa wrote:  “Neiswanger returns from 2 weeks trip after trucks”.  In the address section of his 1918 journal Poppa has this entry: Joe Neiswanger, Brookville PA.  The April 5th, 1950 edition of the Tyrone (PA) Daily Herald newspaper states that Joseph Neiswanger, of Brookville, was a ‘veteran leader’ and past commander of the American Legion post.  Here is a picture of a grave marker for a Joseph Neiswanger who died in Brookville, PA in 1962.  He was born the same year as Poppa.  Do you think it is the same person?

 

Wednesday February 6– “Took cross sections at Mees siding today.”  Mees is the location of one of the lumber mills operated by the 20th engineers.  Mees is about 4 miles from the headquarters in Dax where Poppa was serving.

Pictures from the Mees Mill

Friday Feb 8 – “The U.S. transport Tuscania was sunk Feb 5.  First news to reach us today.”

The SS Tuscania was built in 1914 as a luxury liner for the Cunard Line.  It was named for the city of Tuscania, Italy.  In 1916 she was refitted and to serve as a troop transport.

On February 5, 1918, the Tuscania, traveling as part of a British convoy and transporting over 2,000 American soldiers bound for Europe, was torpedoed and sinks off the coast of Ireland by the German submarine U-77.

The German submarine U-77, with its crew of 34 men under the command of Captian Wilhelm Meyer, spotted the Tuscania and its convoy on the evening of February 5, just eight miles off the Irish coast. After moving into position, Meyer fired two torpedoes at the Tuscania. The first torpedo missed, but the second torpedo scored a direct hit on the starboard side.

Captain Meyer and the crew of U Boat U-77

Of the 2,397 American servicemen on the Tuscania, the convoy was able to rescue 2,187, along with the majority of the ship’s British crew.  About 200 men died.

The sinking Tuscania

Next Week: John and Shorty Cannot Play Billiards

Sources:

Vents, Une Picorreuse à Tous. “Articles à Propos De 1914-1918 Sur La Biblogotheque.” 1914-1918 – Page 4 – La Biblogotheque. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2018.

Steamship Tuscania Is Torpedoed and Sinks.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2018.

“SS Tuscania (1914).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Jan. 2018. Web. 28 Jan. 2018.

100 Years ago This Week: Thirty Cents for a Bath!

Background:  In September 1917 My grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, joined the United States Army.  He was in the forestry unit of the 20th Engineers whose primary purpose was to mill lumber and build the wooden structures needed by the soldiers. In November, 1917 he sailed to St. Nazaire, France aboard a troop transport ship.  He is assigned to the headquarters unit of Company A and is now based at a camp set up inside a bull ring in Dax, France.

—————————————————–

From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday Jan 27, 1918– A morning walk, writing letters, attending football game, and a good supper and pleasant evening at White Horse.

Monday Jan 28– This is a city of about 20,000 people.  I think they are getting more cordial to US soldiers.

Tuesday Jan 29Some mail at last.  One letter and book from Marion.  1 letter from Will Mair.  Was mighty glad to get them.

Wednesday Jan 30 – Spent day waiting for gravel in sunshine sitting on stone wall reading and writing very warm in sun

Thursday Jan 31– The last day in this book.  Never before have I spent as warm as January.  If I had been home I might have been playing in the “International” this week.

Friday Feb 1 (New Book)-The new book and new month started well for me the mail bringing a long waited for letter from Tampa and one from Loretta and a package from home.

Saturday Feb 2– Every Saturday (at least) I get a hot water bath at the bath house.  The bains Publick and “Bains Salins” 30 cents.  Plenty of hot water and towels.  

————————————-

Note:  I have added another page to this blog.  It contains pictures from posts cards that I found with Poppa’s journal.  Although most are not identified they likely show the work of the forestry unit in France during WWI.

I Just found this picture online of Forestry Headquarters in “the only bull ring in France”.  Since Poppa was assigned to a forestry unit headquarters in a bull ring this must be his camp.  It’s interesting to think about how the internet has changed things.  When Poppa died in 1981 there was no internet.  I now have access to pictures and information about his experience in France that he probably didn’t even know existed.

According to the Military Archive this is: Headquarters Forestry Department in the only bull ring in France. Camp Cannondale, Bordeaux, France. Aug. 27, 1918. Thank you to Michel Boquet for finding this picture.
Outside view of Dax bull ring. Taken about the time it was built in 1913.

Sunday, January 27, 1918– Poppa mentioned several times in his journal that he had supper and/or a pleasant evening at the White Horse.

The Cheval Blanc (White Horse) restaurant. Date of picture unknown. Thank you to Michel Boquet for the picture

Thursday, January 31–  With Ancestors from Scotland the Jamiesons have been participating in the sport of curling for many years.   Poppa indicated that if he had been home he might be “playing in the International this week”.  I remember him telling about how he and his curling teammates would ride on the train to distant competitions.  These days curling stones are always provided by the club hosting the event.  However, Poppa curled in a time when curlers brought their own stones to a competition.  Imagine having 2 forty pound stones and a broom in your luggage when traveling on a train!  The Duluth Curling Club has  an event they call the “International Bonspiel”.  This picture was likely taken in January of 1917,  8 months before Poppa joined the U.S. army.

Poppa and his teammates pose for a team picture at the Duluth Northwest Bonspiel in 1917. Thanks to Terry Thompson of the Poynette Area Historical Society and the Poynette Curling Club for this picture.

Friday, February 1–  Poppa indicated that he was starting a new book. He is referring to the fact that he started writing in a new journal.  Prior to this date he made an entry for every day in a pocket size calendar which was intended for use in 1913.  One mystery is why he chose to use this for his 1917 entries.  When I first discovered the journals if was confusing.  What I eventually determined was that he started his journal 3/4 of the way into the 1913 calendar when he enlisted on September 24th, 1917.  On January 1st, 1918 he began making his entries at the beginning of the same book.  These pages were blank since he had only written in the Sept- Dec. section.  On February 1st of 1918 he switched to a new book.  All of his journals seem to be in very good shape considering he lived in tents in France through all types of weather.  I wonder if he mailed home the 1917 journal (labeled 1913 on the cover) when he switched to his new book for 1918?

Poppa’s 1917 and 1918 journals. Why did he use a pocket calendar intended for 1913 for 1917 and the first month of 1918?

Also on February 1st he received a “long waited for letter from Tampa”.  In a previous entry I noted that he had started courting Marion Clarkson Brown, who would become by grandmother.  The Brown family was from St. Louis, Missouri but apparently also had a home in Florida.  In the beginning pages of his new book he has 2 addresses for Marion, one in the St Louis area and one in Tampa Florida.  Here is a Google Maps picture of current day 2207 1/2 Ola Avenue, Tampa Florida.

2207 Ola Avenue, Tampa Florida

Saturday, February 2– Poppa indicated that at least every Saturday he gets a bath.  The Town of Dax, France where he was stationed had been known for it’s hot springs since ancient times.  Apparently Poppa took advantage of this feature of his temporary home.  ‘Bains Publick” translates to public baths.  “Bains Salins” means saline baths.  Apparently he thought a 30 cent bath was a good deal!

Next Week:  A German sub sinks the Tuscania

 

Sources: 

National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, catalog.archives.gov/search?q=111-SC-23269. Accessed 25 Jan. 2018.

? “Sud-Ouest Généalogie.” Dax – Carte Photo – Restaurant Du Cheval Blanc Et Imprimerie Jean Mauriet, www.so-genealogie.fr/photo-ancienne/40/dax/restaurant-cheval-blanc-et-imprimerie-jean-mauriet/1465.html. Accessed 25 Jan. 2018.