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.
Tuesday Feb 26– “Mrs. Hartwick (?) has given a Victrola to each company and one to hdq. Ours was handed over to us tonight. “
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.
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).
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.
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”.
Next Week: A Lecture on “German Kultur”
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