American Legion, BRUNSWICK POST NO. 40 — 1924
On Friday night, February 28, 1920, a meeting of World War Veterans of Brunswick County was held in the Court House at Lawrenceville, for the purpose of discussing the organization of a Post of The American Legion in Brunswick County. After discussion, the veterans present voted to organize a Post of The American Legion in Brunswick, and the following officers were elected: E. P. Barrow, Alberta, Va., Commander; A. R. Meredith, Lawrenceville, Va., Vice-Commander; T. E. Warriner, Post Adjutant; W. M. Samford, Treasurer; Lorenza J. Hammack, Historian; S. H. Short, Jr., War Risk Officer; A. J. Malone, Sergeant-at-Arms.
Fifteen veterans applied for membership at this meeting.
At a meeting held March 16th, the new Post got down to a working basis, with several additional members.
At that time, the main problem confronting service men was the straightening out of their insurance difficulties with the Bureau of War Risk Insurance. The Post handled scores of cases for both white and colored service men in Brunswick County who desired to have their insurance reinstated, or whose insurance was in a confused state, due to the disorganized condition of the Bureau of War Risk Insurance at that time. There was not a single case which the Post handled which was not satisfactorily adjusted.
Impetus was given the Post on May 11, 1920, when the officers were fortunate enough to arrange a visit from John J. Wicker, Jr., National Executive Committeeman from Virginia, who made a forceful and interesting talk, beginning with the organization of The American Legion, and narrating in graphic detail a history of its accomplishments to that date. With Mr. Wicker were also J. Thompson Wyatt, Department Treasurer, and Mr. Ryan, Publicity Officer of The American Legion, who made talks.
One of the most important meetings of the year, however, was on Tuesday night, June 22d, when the Post voted to organize an Auxiliary, and to hold a meeting on Tuesday, July 13th, for that purpose.
At the meeting July 13th, J. Thompson Wyatt and J. K. Sheffield, of Petersburg, urged the importance of an Auxiliary, and told the benefits the Petersburg Post had derived from an Auxiliary. A number of ladies who were eligible for membership attended the meeting and expressed themselves as desirous of organizing an Auxiliary. Blanks were therefore delivered them for the purpose.
On August 10th, R. A. Harmon and E. P. Barrow were elected delegates to the Department Convention to be held in Richmond, September 2nd, 3rd and 4th.
The Post arranged a parade and celebration of Brunswick’s War Veterans on November 11, 1920. The Confederate Veterans of the County were also invited. The Auxiliary served the dinner. Nearly two hundred white ex-service men attended this dinner. The speakers were Hon. Patrick H. Drewry, Congressman, Fourth District of Virginia; Senator M. J. Fulton, of Richmond; Major Marvin Smithey, of Lawrenceville, and T. E. Warriner, Post Adjutant of the Brunswick Post. The Veterans gave themselves up to a good time; they sang songs, told tales, ate barbecue and smoked innumerable cigars and cigarettes. There was no cognac, but an abundance of pure water from the Lawrenceville reservoir, and steaming hot coffee prepared by the Auxiliary. At this celebration, approximately a hundred Victory medals which the Post Adjutant had secured were delivered to veterans.
On December 14, 1920, the officers for 1920 were elected. These were Commander, S. H. Short, Lawrenceville; Vice-Commander, F. Lee Elmore, Alberta; Adjutant T. E. Warriner, Lawrenceville; Treasurer, W. M. Samford, Lawrenceville; War Risk Officer E. P. Barrow, Alberta; Historian and Chaplain, Rev. F. B Tucker, a preacher who “toted a rifle.”
On January 11, 1921, Adjutant T. E. Warriner, presented several issues of a publication called “The Negro World,” published in New York, under the ownership of a negro named Marcus Garvey. He read certain articles in this paper which he said he felt were inclined to stir up enmity against the white people, in the minds of the negroes of the county, as he understood that a number of negroes in this section were subscribers to these papers. These papers advocated the use of force on the part of the negroes in the South against the white people of the South, and dwelt at length upon the activities of the Ku Klux Klan. The Adjutant stated that he had sent several copies of these publications to Congressman P. H. Drewry with the request that they be brought to the attention of the proper authorities in Washington, as he felt that the sending, of such news matter through the mails was detrimental to the peace of both the better class of white and colored in the South.
The State Adjutant, then W. L. Price, received copies of all this correspondence, and took the matter up with the State Executive Committee on February 12, 1921, by whom it was referred to the National Americanization Committee.
Just what action was taken by them, the Post has never learned, but the information has recently been conveyed to us that Marcus Garvey has been sentenced to a term in the penitentiary.
On February 8, 1921, the matter of holding an Easter dance for the purpose of raising funds was discussed. However, it appeared that a number of the members of the Post were opposed to the holding of dances, on account of the fact that it had become the practice in this section of the State for the young men and some of the young women to attend dances while under the influence of alcoholics, and therefore their behavior and mode of dancing was not what a number of the members of the Post thought would be in keeping with the influences of the American Legion. However, several members expressed the opinion that by advertising frankly that no intoxicated person would be admitted to the dance hall, and that no freak dancing would be permitted, and that a capable floor committee would see that these rules were carried out, the Post could conduct a dance which instead of being a reflection upon the Post, would create good-will to the Post, as a refined dance would be out of the ordinary. The result was that the American Legion sponsored a fancy dress ball in Lawrenceville Easter Monday night, 1921, in which over a hundred couples participated, without a single embarrassing feature. For this one thing alone, the conducting of a dance which was free of its objectionable features, the Post was congratulated by many of the townspeople, as well as by the local newspapers and ministers.
The Post staged the Microbe of Love Theatrical in Lawrenceville, August 16th and 17th, under the direction of the Wayne P. Sewell Production Company, of Atlanta, Ga.
T. E. Warriner and W. M. Samford were elected delegates to the State Convention in Norfolk, September 1, 2 and 3, 1921.
At the meeting of September 13, 1921, it was brought to the attention of the Post that several veterans in the County who had been disabled in service, or were unhealthy as a result of their war service, had been unable to secure Government assistance. The Adjutant was instructed to communicate with these men and endeavor to secure what aid might be appropriate from the Government, if practicable. This was done. As a result, one man is now drawing compensation far a shattered hand, while another is receiving training at V. P. I. in Animal Husbandry, which he had’ been forced to relinquish at the Call to Arms.
The Post also held another dance at Alberta in November, 1921, which, while not as elaborate as the Easter dance, was orderly and enjoyable in every respect and was also commented upon favorably by the parents of the better class.
At meeting December 13th the following officers were elected: C. W. Peebles, Commander, Lawrenceville; W. G. Riegel, Vice-Commander, Edgerton; T. E. Warriner, Adjutant, Lawrenceville; N. C. Foscue, Treasurer, Lawrenceville; E. P. Barrow, War Risk Officer, Alberta; F. B. Tucker, Historian and Chaplain, Lawrenceville; Lawrence P. Elmore, Sergeant-at-Arms, Alberta. Executive Committee-C. W. Peebles, T. E. Warriner, A. R. Meredith, F. L. Elmore, W. M. Samford.
On March 14, 1922, the matter of Adjusted Compensation was discussed for the first time at a meeting of Brunswick Post. At this meeting, certain misleading and erroneous statements published by The Chamber of Commerce of the United States regarding the so called “bonus” was read by the Adjutant. On motion, the Post favored the efforts of the American Legion in endeavoring to secure an adjustment of compensation for World War Veterans, and the Adjutant was instructed to write or telegraph our representative and senators in Washington at the proper time. conveying our wishes in the matter.
In addition to the usual assistance rendered ex-service men in their applications for government assistance, the untangling of their insurance problems, and in other matters in which the Legion could help, the Post also financed the taking of questionnaires for the Virginia War History Commission, and succeeded in securing about a hundred and fifty from veterans of Brunswick
T. E. Warriner and G. W. Peebles were elected delegates to the State Convention at Charlottesville, August 24, 25 and 26th.
The Post arranged for the moving picture “Cardigan” in November, 1922, which was shown at two performances, although the financial results were not satisfactory.
During the year 1922, the American Legion succeeded in getting the Business Men’s Association of Lawrenceville, the American Legion Auxiliary, the U. D. C., the Tuesday Afternoon Club of Lawrenceville and the Women’s Club of Lawrenceville interested in a proposed Brunswick County Memorial Building, which would be built as a memorial to Brunswick County’s soldiers of all wars, in which building the various clubs and organizations sponsoring the project would have their headquarters. The American Legion took an active part in endeavoring to create interest in this project among the citizens of the county at large, but met with so little response that the matter was abandoned.
Officers for 1923 were: Commander, F. L. Elmore, Alberta; Vice-Commander, Rev. F. B. Tucker, Lawrenceville; Adjutant, T. E. Warriner, Lawrenceville; Treasurer, W. G. Riegel, Edgerton; Sergeant-at-Arms, R. T. Laird, Edgerton; Chaplin, Rev. F”. B. Tucker, Lawrenceville; Historian, C. W. Peebles, Lawrenceville; Service Officer, E. P. Barrow, Alberta. Executive Committee-F. L. Elmore, T. E. Warriner, H. W. Samford, E. F. Striplin, C. W. Peebles.
During the year 1922, Brunswick Post took the leading part in urging the election of Colonel E.. E. Goodwyn, of Emporia, as State Commander, and at the State Convention at Charlottesville, T. E. Warriner, Adjutant of the Brunswick Post, was chosen Campaign Commander by Colonel Goodwyn’s supporters. As a result of the advance barrage laid down by Brunswick Post, with the follow-up tactics of supporting posts, coupled with the popularity and ability of the Colonel, he was unanimously elected, despite his personal modesty, and the fact that he appeared to be making an effort NOT to be elected.
F. L. Elmore, Commander, and T. E. Warriner, Adjutants were elected delegates to the State- Convention in Fredericksburg in September, 1923.
The Post has the land for a club house, which, land was offered them free of charge two years ago by a local Legionnaire; plans have been drawn and tentatively approved and the Post has about six hundred dollars in cash with which to begin work. It is the idea of the Post to build perhaps a log cabin style of club house in the beginning, something which may be constructed economically as it is believed that a Post Home will add to the interest of not only Legionnaires but veterans and the public generally, in what the Post is attempting to do.
The Post took charge of Memorial Day exercises in Lawrenceville May 30, 1923, arranged for parade, band, and speaker Hon. P. H. Drewry, Congressman from this District, and Dr. C. L. Palmer and Hon. B. A. Lewis of Lawrenceville.
In the Spring of 1921, the General Manager of the Southern Railway Company donated a hundred foot iron flag pole to the Lawrenceville High School. No provision, however, was made by any one for getting the pole from the railroad yards to the high school and erected. The Local Post of the American Legion had the pole moved mostly by volunteer help, arranged with the help of the Business Men’s Association to have the foundation dug for the immense pole and its four anchors, most of which is in almost solid rock and had to be blasted, the cement work was done by members of this Post who worked on the job from 5 A. M. to 8 A.. M., then went to their respective offices where they did their day’s work, then went back to the cement work at the schoolhouse from 6 o’clock until 8 P. M. without supper. There were several days of this before these inexperienced masons finished the work, but they finished it, and the pole and its guy wires are still holding solid. On the day the flag pole was officially given to the school, the American Legion Post arranged for the National Guard Band from Petersburg, which provided music for the occasion; the Post also arranged for a speaker, Robert G. Hundley, World War Veteran and Legionaire of Richmond, who made a most inspiring address in which he urged that our people make war against war, and that we keep “Safe for Democracy” the world for which he and millions of other American’s had fought. Bob Hundley’s address has even a greater appeal as I think of it now, than it then had. The day he was here, we took dinner at the hotel (June 14, 1921) we had chicken for dinner. He could not carve his fowl on account of that shattered right arm. Later, as he spoke, his eloquent plea to make future wars impossible was emphasized as I watched his earnest face and then saw over and over again that helpless hand and arm. And now, he is paying still another penalty for his participation in the effort to make the World Safe for Democracy, in his permanent confinement in a sanitarium, I understand, but I know that wherever he is, and whether rational or not, he carries with him the good wishes of those who heard him at Lawrenceville on June 14, 1921, and that his remarks of that day will not be soon forgotten.
This Post held an oyster roast to which all the white veterans of the, county were invited January 30, 1924. Dan Hollenga, of Petersburg, came out and addressed the boys.
Our 1924 officers were as follows: Commander, A. R. Meredith, Lawrenreville ; Vice– Commander, D. O. Turner, Turner, Va.; Adjutant, T. E. Warriner, Lawrenceville; Treasurer. W. G. Riegel, Edgerton; Sergeant-at-Arms, E. P. Barrow, Alberta, Va.; Service Officer, T. E. Warriner; Chaplain and Historian, Rev. F. B. Tucker, Lawrenceville, Va.
During the year 1924, the Brunswick Post took an active part in getting published in the newspapers, and getting otherwise before the public in this section, the justice of Adjusted Compensation; the Post also urged our representatives in Washington to support the measure, although none of them did so. The Adjutant also had letters sent by various Legionaires in the county, in addition to the efforts of the Post, feeling that the support of individual veterans might be of more benefit than simply the activity of the Post itself, which was to be expected.
Brunswick Post held Memorial Day Exercises in Lawrenceville May 30, 1924, with appropriate observances in the public square of the town and also at the cemetery; arranged conveyances for Confederate Veterans from the courthouse to the cemetery; arranged for the Pythian Band of Norfolk to provide music, and arranged for speakers, Colonel Junius F. Lynch, of Norfolk, and Colonel E. E. Goodwyn, of Emporia, both Past Department Commanders of the American Legion, Department of Virginia.
The following delegates were elected to attend the Danville Convention: D. O. Turner and J. A. Williams.
For the past two years, the Adjutant of the Brunswick Post has also been the local representative of the Citizens Military Training Camps movement, which movement has the endorsement of this Post.
Continuing through all the period covered by the foregoing, this Post has carried on, of course, in service to ex-service men, their families and their dependents; the Post has disseminated information through the local newspaper, by letter and in meetings regarding the adjusted compensation law; we have assisted in the filing of over a hundred applications for adjusted service pay; we have continued to give information and assistance to those veterans who seek rehabilitation and hospitalization because of their war service; we have helped stranded Legionnaires en route to their homes or who were seeking work, all of whom promised to repay the loan, but from none of whom have we ever heard. We used our utmost efforts in 1922, to prevent the removal of an efficient Legionnaire Postmaster, who was postmaster before and after his war service, but who was removed because he did not affiliate with the political party in power, and a man who was not a veteran and who had no experience in post office work, was placed in his stead. This was done by the party in power, notwithstanding their pledge not to remove veterans holding civil service appointments. To that extern this Post entered into politics.
This Post also urged upon our representatives in the State Legislature that a room in the new office building be assigned the State Headquarters of the American Legion. Both these gentlemen assured us that they approved of this and would use their influence to have suitable quarters assigned the Legion in the new office building. (The Department Headquarters now occupy spacious and attractive offices in that building.)
This Post called the attention of the Department Commander on January 4, 1924, to a communication from an organization styled “The National Bonus Committee, New York,” in which the National Bonus Committee called on the individual Posts of the American Legion to have a called meeting immediately, and pass a resolution to be forwarded forthwith to our representatives in Congress. This resolution approved the principle of adjusted compensation and petitioned the Congress to enact the bill, containing a provision requiring the raising of the necessary revenue by means of a “sales tax.”
Inasmuch as the American Legion had steadfastly refused to refer to adjusted compensation as “bonus” and the further fact that they had also refused to specify how the money should be raised, this Post felt that there was evidently something wrong with this request, and that to pass such a resolution would be contrary to the wishes of the American Legion, State and National, and might defeat the real object the Legion had in view. Therefore, the matter was referred to the Department Commander immediately, who in turn referred it to National Headquarters.
On the Fourth of July, 1924, the American Legion participated in a county gettogether meeting and picnic, in which the various civic organizations of the county provided speakers. The American Legion was the only patriotic organization in the county which took part in this meeting. We succeeded in getting J. Thompson Wyatt, of Petersburg, here for the occasion, who made an excellent address on “The World War Veterans’ Part in the Making of the Community.”
We have distributed booklets on Flag Etiquette to the School here and have had members of the Auxiliary speak to the classes in the Lawrenceville School on “Respect for the Flag.” Our Chaplain, Rev. F. B. Tucker, has also spoken to the High School on Americanism.
When the Memorial on the site of Fort Christanna near here was unveiled last May, in the presence of a distinguished gathering of Colonial Dames of Virginia, descendants of Governor Spotswood (the founder of the Fort School), and members of other patriotic organizations, the American Legion paid for the material and built the speaker’s stand. The American Legion was not requested to take any other part in the ceremonies of the occasion, although our Post Commander who assisted in the building of the stand, and several Legionaires were on the grounds to be of service if needed.
Our objectives for 1925 are to increase our membership to a greater number than we have ever had before; to support any movement which may be undertaken by our community which we feel may be beneficial to our community as a whole; to help in the formation of better citizenship; to have a Legion Club House before Christmas 1925, and “to consecrate and sanctify our comradeship by our devotion to mutual helpfulness.”