100 Year ago This Week: The show was a big success!

  Background:   WWI is over and the soldiers of the American Expeditionary Force are being sent home from France.   My grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, has been in France with the 20th engineers for over a year.   He was assigned to the headquarters unit of Company A based at a camp set up inside a bull ring in Dax, France.  He is anxiously awaiting his orders to head home.   Here are the journal entries he wrote one hundred years ago this week.


From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday February 23, 1919– Spent day getting over it.  Practicing show, writing letters and sleeping.  

Monday February 24– Spent most of day getting show material in casino, rehearsing parts of show and getting ready.   Big rehearsal this evening. Looks as though show will go pretty well after all.

Tuesday February 25– Band practice in A.M. The show was a big success.  Everything went off very well. The (?) Engineers made the big hit. But everything was pulled off soberly, smoothly and successfully.  

Wednesday February 26– Made about 1150 francs clear on the show.  Tonight we had a big banquet at Hotel du Voycrgus (?).  Supper was good, wine very good. Everyone had enough to feel like a million dollars but none enough to make them drunk, troublesome or disagreeable.

Thursday February 27– At last some mail came today.   Two nice letters from Marion and others from home.  Worked all day and part of night on some maps for Major Brookings who is leaving here tomorrow for his new job in Paris.  With the H(?) Commission.

Friday February 28– Lt. Col Benedict ordered all work to stop today.  Hope it means home soon. Gen. Pershing in this part of country.  He may be here tomorrow. Today is my father’s birthday. Hope he enjoys the day and has many more birthdays to celebrate.  

Saturday March 1– Drove to Pontenx today after tires. Gen. Pershing inspected the troops from this district this afternoon.  Gave us a nice little talk and very brief inspection.

The Frolics

The Dax Casino circa 1919

WWI is over and there is not much for the soldiers to do.  For several days those in Poppa’s unit have been rehearsing for a show they planned to put on.  He was obviously looking forward to it.  It was held at  the Dax casino on the evening of February 25th.  Here are pictures of the 4 pages of the program:

The program cover indicates that the show was held at the Dax casino at 8:30 PM.  The French at the bottom identifies the printing company and their address.
It looks like each soldier played several roles in the show.  For example, Poppa’s  friend named Kraft apparently appeared as  ‘Eddie’ Kraft, ‘Nero’ Kraft, and the soprano ‘Katherine’ Kraft.  Bon Soir means good evening.


The back of the program shows that Poppa was the “Bass Drummer”.  The French statement under the heading band “Nous ne savon Pas”  translates to “We don’t know” (who is in the band).

I don’t know how talented the soldier/musicians were but Poppa had some musical experience as he played trombone in his high school band and was part of the Ripon College band in 1910.

Ripon College Band 1910-11. Poppa is far left middle row.

Poppa wrote that they made 1150 francs from the show.  In 1919 that was equivalent to $162 but is equal to the buying power of $2400 in 2019 dollars.  Apparently that helped fund the dinner and drinks the next night at the Hotel du Voycrgus (Not clear from his handwriting if this is correct spelling of hotel).

Major Brookings Leaves Dax

Walter DuBois Brookings was Poppa’s commander.  On February 27th Poppa wrote that he was leaving for Paris to work on the (illegible) commission.  Paris was where the commission was held that set the terms for the defeated powers.  It resulted in the Treaty of Versailles and the start of the League of Nations. Although Poppa said Brookings was going to Paris,  Brookings Obituary says that after leaving France, “as a representative of Herbert Hoover he took the first shipload of relief food to the Baltic Region, landing in Libau Latvia” in March of 1919.  Ten years before he was president, Herbert Hoover led the commission for Relief in Belgium.  According the Wikipedia the commission’s purpose was to supply food to German occupied France and Belgium during WWI.

February 28, 1919 – Birthday of Addison Jackson Jamieson

Addison Jackson Jamieson was Poppa’s father. February 28th, 1919 was his 61st birthday.  Addison died in 1943.

March 1, 1919 – General Pershing inspects troops

General Pershing

On March 1st Poppa wrote that General John J.  “Black Jack” Pershing inspected the troops.  Pershing was the general in charge of the American war effort in Europe.  This is at least the third time that Poppa had crossed paths with Pershing since he enlisted.  After victory in Europe Pershing returned to America a hero and some of his most ardent supporters encouraged him to run  as a candidate for president of the United States.  Pershing had little enthusiasm but agreed.  He was not nominated by either party.

Next Week: Made THE purchase in Paris!


Thanks to Michel Boquet for finding the “Frolics Program”


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.


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”


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