Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

It was just 37 years ago today that the United States Congress declared that a state of war existed between the United States and Germany. Immediately the local military unit, Company H, began to recruit soldiers in order to be at full strength, and soon a training camp was established at the golf links in East Warsaw.

The thing that really brought the war to our county people, however, was the Selective Service Act which required all young men to register for military service. This act was passed in May, with registration beginning in June. Then came the questionnaire for each registrant to fill out! In this day and age of social security and income tax forms, there is not much that we do but what becomes a matter of public record. In 1917, however most persons were not used to filling out probing questionnaires; consequently, the business-like methods of the draft boards came as a "jolt" to the people.

When the numbers were drawn out of the gold fish bowl in Washington, John R. Smith, of Pierceton, became the first potential draftee from our county. Altogether, about 500 volunteers and 1,700 draftees represented Kosciusko county in World War I.

The residents of our county were encouraged to loan money to the government by buying bonds. Altogether there were four "liberty loan drives," with our county usually going over the top. The third drive, under the county chairmanship of M. L. Gochenour, was particularly successful, in spite of some rather unfortunate local conditions. This drive was completed on May 4, 1918; the county quota was $450,000, but $622,800 was raised. A severe frost followed by a prolonged dry spell in our county came at the height of this drive.

James R. Frazer played a very important part in home front activities during the war. He chairmanned the first Liberty Loan drive, served as food administrator of the county, and was the head of the drive to sell savings stamps. Walter Brubaker was selected by the State Council of Defense to perfect a "Home Guard" to replace the state militia unit which was being pressed into national service. This home guard was soon recruited up to about sixty.

Warsaw Times-Union Tues. Apr. 6, 1954