Chapter 05 - Kenmore in the World War

CHAPTER FIVE Kenmore In The World War


April 6, 1917, The American Congress declared the existence of a state of war with Germany. In common with all parts of our country the village was already aroused with interest in the struggle going on overseas. A number of our men were in the National Guard and Regular U. S. Forces. Kenmore had a number of recruits on the Mexican border in Texas. Corporal Gordon P. Gilbert, 3rd Artillery, Lieut. Harry Crosby, Lieut. Lyman Shaw, and Privates Peel, Raeder, Yochum, Bleyle, Davis, Westfield, Warren and Berger were with the colors before war was declared.

On June 12, in response to the call of the Governor for a reserve National Guard, the 195th Company, 4th Brigade, Home Defense Reserve was organized in Kenmore at the Village Hall. A firing squad from the 74th Regiment, Buffalo, demonstrated a Lewis Machine Gun. General Edgar B. Jewett spoke on the aims of the organization. Captain Meier of the Buffalo Mounted Police formed and drilled a company of 87 men who signed the roll. The Company marched up Delaware Avenue to the city line and were dismissed. On August 21, the Company was mustered in by Major H. W. Brendel. Fifty men took the oath of service. September 4, the Company elected the following officers: Albert C. Towne, Captain; Robert L. Kimberley, 1st Lieut.; Fred C. Post, 2nd Lieut. Uniforms were provided by Erie County, and the men were armed with Marlin Rifles. Meetings of the Company were held in the Village Hall, and drill took place every Tuesday night. Frederick S. Parkhurst was appointed Sergeant, Company Clerk, and Chaplain, "Detached Service". On July 18, Captain A. C. Towne resigned and Lieut. Roy E. Perrigo succeeded in command. Frank C. Densberger was elected Second Lieut, in place of Fred C. Post, who entered the regular service and went overseas. Paul Condrell presented the Company with a silk flag 6x9 fringed with gold. The Company went into camp over Labor Day at Wheatfield Farm, on the banks of the Niagara River near LaSalle. Sunday September 1, Field Day services were held by Chaplain Parkhurst who led this singing and delivered an address.

Mr. Condrell who came from Greece when fifteen years of age and was exempt from the draft, having only taken out his first citizenship papers waived his claim saying, "I am glad to recognize the United States as my country, and am willing to do anything that Uncle Sam may want me to do." Three barrels of fruit pits used for making carbon gas masks were collected in September 1918. The Company took an active part in the several Liberty Loan drives and Red Cross work. The Kenmore Fife and Drum Corps was an outgrowth of Mr. Condrell's work in the Company. On February 25, 1919 the Company was mustered out by Major Fowler of Buffalo, 31 received honorable discharges, many others having entered the regular military service. The total number belonging to the Company was 96. The "Armory" was in the Tower Room of the Village Hall. No ammunition was ever distributed, not a shot was fired. Registration for the selactive Draft in Kenmore took place on Tuesday, June 5, in the Village Hall.


Kenmore went "Over the Top" in the several Liberty Loan drives. In the First Liberty Loan, $17,000 was subscribed being led by Matthew D. Young, Chairman; Clarence C. Miller, Sec'y; Otto Bleyle, A. L. Brainard, F. T. Hall, Andrew Steen and F. J. Wheeler. In the Second Liberty Loan $33,100 was subscribed led by J. M. Campion, Mrs. F. D. Booth, Chairman of the Women's Committee. In the Third Liberty Loan $58,150 was subscribed. In the Fourth Liberty Loan $93,400 was subscribed by the entire township of Tonawanda. In the Victory Liberty Loan floated in the summer of 1918 $71,100 was subscribed, an excess of $21,100. Mrs. C. L. Titus was Chairman of the Woman's Committee.


The Tuesday Culture Club was the first organization to take up Red Cross work in Kenmore. The club gave up their annual banquet in May 1917 using $50 to purchase a Base Hospital Bed in Buffalo No. 23, also a one man outfit $15. In June a gift of $10 was made to the Fruit Fund. In October a $6.45 welfare gift was made to the Kenmore boys in the U. S, Service. A total of 446 garments and pieces were made and given between May 4, and October 2, and for the 74th Regiment 113 pieces, a grand total of 559 pieces.


The Kenmore Branch of the American Red Cross was organized in the Village Hall April 20, 1917: Dr. W. J. M. Wurtz, Chairman; Mrs. C. L. Titus, Vice Chairman; Mrs. H. Haas, Recording Sec'y. ; Miss B. A. Myers, Cor. Sec'y- > Mrs. Louis Neustadter, Treas.; Committees on Ways and Means, Program, Press, Work, Membership, Amusements, Clubs, and Churches were appointed. The workroom was in the Kenmore High School, excepting six weeks in the winter of 1917-1918, when three meetings a week were held in the home of Dr. H. T. Gallager on account of coal shortage.

During the first year the following output was made: Surgical Dressings, 23,760; Knitting, 757; Garments, 1556; Money raised, $1251.91; Extras, $326.89; Total, $1578.80. All materials were supplied by the Buffalo Chapter. During 1918 the same officers served with the exception that Miss B. A. Myers was elected Vice President. $3128.11 was contributed to the Second Red Cross War Fund, the quota being $2000. 138 meetings were held. The following work was done: Garments, 2383; Surgical Dressings, 14,708; Knitting, 782; 196 magazines and books were sent to the Soldiers' Camp in Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo. 2250 pounds of clothing for refugees in Europe. Money received, $1049.13 which was paid to Civilian Relief; Regular Funds $326.18.

After the armistice the Kenmore Branch continued to "carry on" during 1919 sewing for the refugees, peace programs, and home nursing. Kenmore was one of the first in Erie County to engage a Red Cross Public Health Nurse, This wonderful record does not cover all the work done and money spent by the organization. Many of our citizens worked and subscribed through the Buffalo Chapter. This was true also in a general way during the war. The majority of our people work in Buffalo and belong to various social, fraternal, and benevolent organizations in that city, and also patronize Buffalo banks, and places of amusements. The Buffalo record shows that subscriptions and work were given that did not pass through the Kenmore organizations. Kenmore "carried on" up to the limit and beyond during the war.


Capt. Henry A. Brown reported for duty at the Rock Island, Ill., Arsenal on June 12th. Henry Hider a yeoman in the navy was appointed Stenographer on the staff of Admiral Sims. Howard Dobson received the appointment of radio operator, and Willard Dobson to hospital service. Capt. D. W. Bailey, a pioneer citizen and member of the G. A. R. died July 15th, 1918, aged 82. The new fire alarm system for the village was completed and in use September 25th, 1918.


The first mail delivered by carriers went into effect April 1st, 1918 from Station H. Buffalo. Rev. Dr. C. H. Norris died May 3rd, 1918. Dr. Norris was a prominent member of the Genesee Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church for 36 years. His seven years of retirement from effective service were spent in Kenmore. The L. P. A. Eberhardt property at Delaware Avenue and West Hazeltine Avenue was purchased by the War Council of the Y. W. C. A. and an addition built for a Cafeteria, The institution housed twenty-five girls engaged in war work. Thus passed into semi-public use the two brown stone residences at the entrance to Kenmore from the south, built in 1893-4. The fire-proof vault addition was built adjoining the village hall in November at a cost of $4000.


During the war Kenmore felt the benefit of the Curtiss Aeroplane Company, which operated the world's largest aeroplane factory. The testing grounds occupied thirty acres on Elmwood Avenue and Military Road, partly within the village limits. Kenmore provided homes for many of the workmen.

On May 29th, Milton Brounshidle and Irwin Brounshidle, Romaine Heald, Fred C. Post, and William F. Thorn left for Camp Dix.


Lieutenant Harry E. Crosby, formerly of the 74th Regiment and later of company K, 108th Regiment was killed going "over the top" at the head of his men in Bony, France, on September 29th, 1918. Milton J. Brounshidle made the "supreme sacrifice" at St. Mihiel, France, September 28th, 1918. Lambert J. Keller laid down his life for his country in the Argonne drive, October 2nd, 1918. Winfield B. Kimmins fell at Champagne, France, October 6th, 1918. Frederick B. Eberhardt Jr., died at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station January 20th, 1919. Joseph Leo Byrnes died at Tours, France, February 5th, 1919. J. Owen Fisher died at Coblenz, Germany, March 1st, 1919.


"In memory of those who gave their lives in the great world war," a Memorial Tablet in memory of those who fell in the great struggle was unveiled on Memorial Day May 30th, 1920 on the lawn in front of the village hall, one of the most conspicuous locations in Kenmore. The ceremony was of a military character in charge of Brounshidle Post No. 205. City Judge Patrick J. Keeler of Buffalo who served as Captain in the 106th Artillery in France delivered the address. Rev. Dr. F. Hyatt Smith, of the Presbyterian Church made the invocation. Dr. Walter J. M. Wurtz, Chairman of the committee to procure funds and erect the tablet made the presentation. Arthur R. Atkinson, President of the Village accepted the tablet in behalf of the Town of Tonawanda. Captain Henry A. Brown, U. S. Engineers, of the American Legion removed the flag which covered the bronze tablet. The Rev. Arthur Partington of the Methodist Episcopal Church offered a prayer for the repose of the dead. The Rev. Father Bank of St. Paul's Parish offered the closing prayer.

The monument is of solid rough-faced granite, six feet in height, three feet nine inches in width, and two feet eight inches in depth, a lasting memorial to the boys who never returned from the war.


Similar psychological effects followed the great world war that were experienced in common with the rest of the country and the world. A reaction followed the strain under which the people had been working. A letting loose of pent-up feelings; a freedom from restraint, a prodigality of spending, a questioning of old accepted standards in ethics and religion, a larger independence in the attitude of women in regard to dress, industrial life and politics. The propinquity of Buffalo to Kenmore naturally affected the daily life of our village in all the expressions of thought and action. Yet during the progress of the war the affairs of the village under the administration of Matthew D. Young, and Arthur R. Atkinson went on, so far as improvement and orderliness were concerned, with regularity and tranquility. THE VILLAGE LOCKUP

In July 1919 the Commissioner of Prisons ordered the village lockup closed within ninety days, because it was below the required standard fixed by the State. In September an extension of time was asked by the village until January 1st, 1920. Meanwhile it was decided to remove the "Cages" from the Fire Hall and turn the matter of incarceration of prisoners over to the town authorities. Thereafter those under detention were kept in the Tonawanda Police Headquarters in the old Laundry Building which was purchased, located on Delaware Avenue at Norway Street.


The brick pavement on Delaware Avenue went to pieces under the heavy truck traffic and a new pavement of concrete was laid during the summer of 1919. Bonds were issued in the amount of $8500.00 to meet the expense apportioned to the Village. Transfers were given on No. 9 Street Cars to our residents and the public who lived on Delaware Avenue and streets adjacent thereto as far as the north village line.


The outskirts of any city are always the last to receive the improvements accorded the thickly populated sections. This is naturally the case. Witness the fact in the condition of South Eugene Avenue at the Buffalo city line, also Virgil Avenue and Kenmore Avenue, both east and west. Attention was called by the Village to the Buffalo International Railway terminus at Elmwood Avenue and Hinman Street where passengers must wait in all kinds of weather without shelter. Like conditions have existed at other points since the founding of the village. The people of our progressive village have certainly been numbered among the "long suffering public" in matters of public transportation.


The coal situation was very acute in 1920. A committee was appointed by the Village Board to try and regulate the supply and demand. Two cars of forty-five tons each were secured by Mang & Ebling, and L. Spring & Sons. One ton lots were sold to a customer, after inspection of the coal bin, and on order of the Coal Committee. Nor were these periodic privations to see an end at the close of this struggle in our economic life. "The worst was yet to come" during the winter of 1925-1926. Kenmore co-operated with the Bureau of Fuel Administration.

Arthur R. Atkinson retired as President of the Village on March 21st, 1921. On surrendering the position to Walter Ducker, President elect, he gave a resume of his experiences thanking his co-laborers and the public for their co-operation and congratulating Mr. Ducker on his incumbency. Frank C. Moore was re-appointed Village Clerk.


With the rapid growth of the Village the question of restriction in the location and kind of buildings erected was inevitable. This became necessary in order to prevent deterioration of property values, the invasion of purely residential sections by business concerns, and the erection of cheap and unsightly dwellings. In 1922 a committee was appointed by the Village Board. Henry C. Premus and the Village Attorney Fred J. Blackmon, and later Frank C. Moore rendered invaluable aid in this direction. "The Village Beautiful" must be watched with eternal vigilance in order to retain its beauty. Unsightly bill boards, "hot dog" stands, uneven sidewalks, accumulation of rubbish left by careless contractors, the erection of signs, placing of telephone poles, unnecessary removal of shade trees, as well as parking of automobiles, street names and numbers must be carefully watched in order to preserve the neatness and ornamental appearance of the Village. The intrusion and carelessness of a few should not destroy the caution and artistic taste of the many.


It was learned in 1923 that twenty-eight streets in Kenmore duplicated the names of streets in Buffalo and as Kenmore's mail is delivered from Buffalo numerous complaints of mail delivery were made. This would be provided against if Kenmore had a postoffice, which it should have. However, to conform to the wishes of the postoffice department, the names of several streets were changed on suggestion of President Walter Ducker of the Village and in naming new streets the custom of choosing the names of prominent deceased citizens is commendable. The community spirit is alive in our village. A common interest is recognized by our citizens. This is necessary for orderly government and invaluable as an asset.


In the Revolutionary War John Marshall led a company of soldiers armed with flintlock guns, and Franklin worked at night by the light of tallow "dips." Our grandfathers used ox teams for farm work and road travel. Even when horses superseded as a means of rapid transit six miles an hour, or fifty miles a day was "going some." But in the year of grace 1921 the speed limit for motor vehicles passing through our village was limited to "twenty miles an hour." Infractions of the law led to a fine of $50. Kenmore became a "Speed Trap," so motorists said. How to safe-guard pedestrians and at the same time prevent traffic congestion on Delaware Avenue is a problem that may be partly solved by widening our main artery of travel.


In 1922 the American Legion having acquired a naval gun which did service on the Von Steuben in the German navy during the world war, permission was asked to place it on the triangle village green which was granted. The trophy is not only an interesting relic, but provides any amount of amusement to school boys who take a sight along the barrel, manipulate the gears and shoot down imaginary enemies.

The street connecting Elmwood Avenue and Military Road near the west end of LaSalle Avenue, was designated "Keller Avenue," in honor of Lambert Keller who made the "supreme sacrifice" in France during the world war.

On March 6th, 1922 the Village Tax Budget was $68,676.34

SOURCE:  History of Kenmore Erie County, New York; 1926; Frederick S. Parkhurst, Ph.D. Local Historian