American Legion, CHURCH HILL POST NO. 151 — 1924
Church Hill Post No. 151 was formed by a few far-sighted and enthusiastic Legionaires, who realized the crying need of a Post on Church Hill, in order that a certain group of World War veterans might be reached who otherwise were not being served, and who knew little or nothing about the Legion, or its activities and benefits.
This little group consisted of Dr. J. Gordon Boisseau, Arthur L. Brown, Wyatt L. Smith, Raymond W. White and a few other veterans.
The preliminary meetings, prior to organization, took place in the homes of Wyatt L. Smith and Raymond W. White. In the spring of 1923, application was made by about fifteen veterans for a temporary charter, which was granted about May 1, 1923, from which time the Post began to function, with the following officers: Commander, Dr. J. Gordon Boisseau; vice-commander, Archer L. Evans; adjutant, Arthur L. Brown; finance officer, Raymond W. White; historian, William Oxenham.
Arthur L. Brown and Archer L. Evans were selected to represent the Post on the Central Council.
During this trying period these veterans gave largely of their own resources to keep the Post going, and much encouragement and good counsel was also forthcoming from the three other Richmond Posts. Naturally, during this period the activities of the Post were confined largely to increasing its membership, putting the Post on a sound basis and perfecting organization.
On the 7th day of June, 1923, a permanent charter was granted to Church Hill Post, under which the above officers were confirmed to serve until January 1, 1924. During this six months’ period the State convention of the Legion was held at Fredericksburg courthouse and Church Hill Post sent as delegates Comrades Arthur S. Bell and Arther L. Brown. These representatives fostered and put through the resolution which gave us our “D” Day drive, which resulted in an enormous increase in the membership, of the various Posts throughout the State.
By January 1, 1924, the Post had grown to a membership of thirtyeight and the following new officers were elected and in due course installed by the Department Commander John J. Wicker, Jr.: Commander, Arthur S. Bell; first vice-commander, Wyatt L. Smith; second vice-commander, Otis L. Clarke; adjutant, Arthur L. Brown; finance officer, Raymond W. White; historian, Percy S. Smith; sergeant-at-arms, Edgar L. Andrews; chaplain, R. Carroll Francis; service. officer, Dr. Franklin L. Tyler; executive committee, Dr. J. Gordon Boisseau, John Dalton, Willard Parker; members Central Council, Arthur L. Brown, Dr. Franklin A. Tyler.
This new staff of officers set to work resolutely to put Church Hill Post on the map, and by means of two membership drives, one in February and the other in March, succeeded in increasing the membership more than four-fold. The actual membership at this writing is 175, with a distinct objective for the year 1924 of 200 members.
In February the Church Hill Post Auxiliary was organized with Mrs. Percy S. Smith as its first president. This unit was given a. good start by the good offices of two women, one of nation-wide, the other of State-wide reputation in Legion circles. Dr. Kate Waller Barrett, past National President of the American Legion Auxiliary, inaugurated the local auxiliary with a most inspiring address, and Mrs.. Ruby Faint, State Secretary of the Auxiliary, assisted materially in the organization of the unit, installed its officers and guided it through its period of infancy. As a result the Auxiliary has already attained a membership of thirty-four and is growing steadily.
During the spring of 1924, the Post instituted an educational program far the benefit of its members, those of the Auxiliary and the public generally. As a part of this program the following addresses, among others, were delivered:
“The Immigration Problem,” Hon. Josiah D. Hank, Assistant Attorney General of Virginia.
“Spirit of the A. E. F.,” Colonel John A. Cutchins, Virginia National Guard.
“Constitution of the U. S. A.,” Dr. Frank Pratt, Pastor, First Unitarian Church.
“The Race Problem and Its Solution,” Major Earnest S. Cox, Distinguished Ethnologist.
“Legislative Bodies in Virginia,” Hon. James H. Price, Member Virginia House of Delegates.
“Too Much Legislation,” Dr. Ernest L. Crandall, Director, New York Lecture Bureau.
Church Hill Post was among the first in the country, if not indeed the first, to advocate a Woodrow Wilson Memorial Fund, and had made its contribution to that fund through Department Headquarters within an hour after the announcement of the death of that immortal statesman and former commander-in-chief of the A. E. F.
Church Hill Post also subscribed the first hundred dollars to the Legion Memorial Fund and has already raised one-third of the quota assigned to it.
In addition, it participated in the Memorial Day exercises on May 10, 1924, at Oakwood Cemetery in honor of our Confederate dead and also in the Memorial Day exercises on May 30, 1924, at Hollywood Cemetery in honor of the dead in all wars. It has further borne its sad part in according due and fitting obsequies to all veterans of the World War, whose remains have been brought back from “Over There,” or who have unhappily passed away in our midst since the inception of the Post; notedly in a dignified service at historic St. John’s Church, on June 1, 1924, in memory of our Church Hill comrades of the Golden Legion. On this occasion the speakers of the day were our Department Commander, John J. Wicker, Jr., and the Rev. Thomas L. Ridout, assistant rector of St. Paul’s Church. This service was arranged and conducted by the Post chaplain, R. Carroll Francis. The Post is also indebted to the Rev. Dr. Hugh W. Sublett, rector of St. John’s, for offering his church for this service and for providing suitable music by his vested choir.
On May 12, 1924, the Post celebrated its first anniversary by an appropriate and attractive program. The Post was presented with a framed copy of Declaration of Independence by Department Commander John J. Wicker, Jr. In behalf of the Official Source’ Records Fund, the Post was also presented by Mr. R. M. Alexander with a history of the World War from the time of America’s entry into the conflict. This handsome volume was made in its entirety by disabled veterans, and contains beautiful bronze bookmarks made from captured German guns.
This celebration was made an overwhelming success by the wholehearted co-operation of our Auxiliary and of the three other posts in Richmond. At the same celebration Dr. J. Gordon Boisseau was presented by the Post with a gold Past Commander’s jewel, in affectionate token of regard for his work as first commander.
Church Hill Post is truly a Post of Legionaires and may well be proud of the distinction that sixty per cent of its members wear the silver Victory button, commemorative of wounds received in action “Over There.”
The Post also enjoys the distinction of being among the first, if not the first, in the department to adopt the official Legion cap as a unit. This distinctive headpiece is now seen upon the streets of our city worn by a majority of our members, as a reminder of the obligation of this and other communities to the men who bore the burden and heat of the day in the great world struggle.
Church Hill Post has not been backward in promoting social activities, having organized a splendid baseball team and is energetically preparing to inaugurate other athletic activities.
Under the inspiring leadership of Commander Arthur S. Bell, the dynamic forces and democratic spirit that have characterized Church Hill Post from its inception, have assisted materially in bringing about the splendid co-operative spirit which exists among the four Legion Posts of our city. The notable progress and conspicuous activity of this Post to date gives every promise of complete realization of our objective of a membership of two hundred before the year 1924 has rolled by.