“Chin Chin” at Liberty Theater, Camp Sherman, Ohio

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” played at the Liberty Theatre, Camp Sherman, (Chillicothe), Ohio on 4 April 1920

Vaudeville/Chin-Chin
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.“Chin Chin” played at the Grand Opera House in Canton, Ohio on April 1st. It is not clear if they played anywhere on April 2nd or 3rd, but the cast and crew arrived to perform at the Liberty Theatre at Camp Sherman, (Chillicothe) Ohio on April 4th, 1920.

Show Advertising

Even though the show was on a military base, advertising was like most cities that the show went to. I have been unable to find base papers, handbills, or programs, so all I have seen came from the Chillicothe Gazette, the nearby town’s newspaper. There was a typical “Chin-Chin” advertisement showing Walter Wills and Roy Binder about five days before the show. Long thin column ads ran on April 1st and 2nd mentioning that the show sold out in many locations before and those that want to see the show should get their tickets right away.

On the day before the show, another “Chin-Chin” ad ran in the Chillicothe Gazette showing the “Pekin Girls.”

There were no reviews nor was there any after show information regarding the show.

Liberty Theater, Camp Sherman

Liberty Theater, Camp Sherman

In the spring of 1917, the loss of seven ships and related heavy loss of American lives spurred president Woodrow Wilson to request of Congress a declaration of war against Germany. The declaration was approved on 6 April 1917, and America entered the war.[i]

A massive construction program created by the War Department resulted in the simultaneous nation-wide construction of 16 new National Army cantonments and 16 new Army National Guard training camps.

Approximately 5,000 workers had arrived by 5 July 1917, and construction started the next day.[ii] During the war construction never ended. There were 13 contracts for building during the war and there was constant expansion until Armistice Day. Besides barracks, the Camp included 11 YMCA buildings and three theaters.  Two for motion pictures and one building, the Liberty Theatre, that could do both motion pictures and live shows.

The theater was completed by December 1917. Most sources I have found indicate it had a seating capacity of 1,300 people,[iii] however, the Julius Cahn – Gus Hill 1922 Supplement indicates the seating capacity was 2,500. All agree that it was managed by a civilian.

Most of the Camp’s buildings were demolished during the 1920s.

Camp Sherman

Image of Woodrow Wilson created by 21,000 officers and men. Camp Sherman 1918. Photo: Public Domain via Library of Congress.

Camp Sherman is particularly well known for a formation they did consisting of 21,000 troops that formed an image of Woodrow Wilson. It is one of those truly amazing Great War photos.

The next day, the “Chin Chin” cast and crew played 150 miles north of Chillicothe at the  Sandusky Theater in Sandusky, Ohio.

 


Endnotes

[i] Camp Sherman, Ohio: History of a World War I Training Camp by Susan I. Enscore, Adam D. Smith, and Megan W. Tooker – Published by US Army Corps of Engineers – ERDC/CERL TR-15-25 – December 2015. Page 24

[iii] History of the Ohio State University – Volume IV, The University in the Great War, Part III, In the Camps and at the Front by Wilbur H. Siebert.

Harvey Nelson and the USS Mongolia

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I always enjoy a fresh, new, project. Jumping in and documenting a new tree getting to know new ancestors is my idea of fun. My client knew very little about her maternal line, so I began looking closely at her grandfather.  Certainly, I have more research to do for Harvey Nelson, however, this is a good start. Harvey was a wandering soul. Born in Wisconsin to Danish immigrants, he moved and bounced around quite a bit in his youth.  Finally, he settled down in Southern California, but still moved throughout the area living in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties.

Cassel Project 2017 – Ancestor #6

List of Grandparents

  • Grandfather: Harvey Nelson
  • 1st Great-grandfather: Lars Nelson

Harvey Nelson (1891-1974)

Harvey (NMN) Nelson was born on 19 April 1891 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin[i].  We know he had at least five older siblings — four brothers and a sister. His parents were Lars P. Nelson and Nicoline “Lena” Larsen. Lars and Lena were born in Denmark, married in 1872, and immigrated to the United States in 1873.

  • Chris born in 1874 in Pennsylvania.
  • Ann Elizabeth born in 1878 in Wisconsin.
  • Theodore “Ted” born in 1882 in Wisconsin.
  • Emil (or Amiel) born in 1884 in Wisconsin.
  • Arthur born in 1887 in Wisconsin.
  • He certainly had another sibling whose birth and death occurred before 1900.
  • It is unclear if he had one or two more siblings. He may have had a sister, Hortense and possibly brother, R.C Nelson.

Sometime between 1891 and 1900, the family relocated to Hastings, Adams County, Nebraska. They lived at 321 Kansas Ave.[ii]  Today, Realtor.com indicates the house at that address was built in 1920 so there does not appear to be a photo of the family homestead in Nebraska.

I am not sure where Harvey Nelson was during the 1910 Census. There are several Harvey Nelsons who were living in boarding houses around the country, but there are none that are clearly Harvey.

The Great War

When the Great War draft occurred in June 1917, Harvey was living at 1732 ½ Derby, Portland, Oregon. He was single, 5 feet, 9 inches tall, medium build, slightly bald, light hair, and had blue eyes[iii].

Library of Congress photo of the USS Mongolia
U.S.S. Mongolia covered with soldiers

Harvey enlisted in the Navy on 10 Oct 1917[iv] and served aboard the U.S.S. Mongolia. The S.S. Mongolia was launched on 25 July 1903 as a 616 foot, 13,369 ton, passenger/cargo liner. In March 1917, the Mongolia was chartered as an Army transport and received a self-defense armament of three 6-inch/40 caliber (150 mm) guns which were manned by U.S. Navy gun crews. It was the first American vessel to encounter, and drive off, German submarines after the US’s entry into World War I.

On 27 April 1918, the US Navy requisitioned the vessel, reconfigured her for greater troop capacity, and commissioned her on 8 May as USS Mongolia (ID-1615). She completed twelve turnarounds at an average duration of 34 days and transporting over 33,000 passengers, before being decommissioned on 11 Sept 1919.  Harvey Nelson was on board during this time.

Photo of U.S.S. Mongolia
U.S.S Mongolia – First American ship to sink a German U-Boat after the US entered the war.

Harvey wrote a letter to his sister, Mrs. William Binderup of 6320 East 44th Street, Portland, OR in July of 1918 and said:

“The new German submarine is 318 feet long and has eight-inch guns. They don’t travel alone anymore, but go in squads. They get a range on a ship then they take a chance on getting hit. It is hell when you see a bunch of four or five of them come up and you don’t know from one minute to the next how long you can float. But, we made the trip fine and dandy and are still floating. We have good gun crews, the best in the navy. We had target practice going over and every gun got four shots out of five good square hits. We worked like a lot of Trojans going over, had 4000 men and they all got sick and had a rotten time of it for a while. They were mostly drafted men. Coming back, however, we had it fine.[v]

U.S.S. Mongolia 10 April 1919

Harvey was released from Military duty on 20 August 1919. Three months later (Nov 1919), he applied for a marriage license to marry Florence Hanson.

Marriage:

It wasn’t until 17 March 1920 that Harvey and Florence (or Flora) Hansen tied the knot. Both were living in Long Beach, California. Harvey worked as a steelworker.

The young couple lived throughout southern California for the rest of their lives. Laguna Beach in 1930[vi], Los Angeles in 1940[vii], Corona Del Mar in 1942[viii], San Diego in 1960[ix], and Encino in 1974.  Harvey worked as a painter through much of his adult life.

Harvey Nelson died on 22 December, 1974 in San Diego, California. I have not been successful in finding funeral information regarding Harvey, so far.

Endnotes


[i] Los Angeles, California, Ralph Thomas Cassel – Rosalie Elizabeth Nelson – 18 Sep 1942. “California, County Marriages, 1850­1952,” database with images,: 28 November 2014), FHL microfilm 2,114,963. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8VT-K9C.; Family
[ii] 1900 Census, Family Search, Lars P Nelson – Hastings, Adams, Nebraska – ED 12, Sheet 2A. Line 1 – Accessed 2 June 2-17. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M3BN-DGD.
[iii] U.S., World War I Dra  Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Ancestry.Com, Harvey Nelson – Birthdate: 19 Apr 1891. See:  U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 – Harvey Nelson.pdf. http://Ancestry.com.
[iv] U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010, Ancestry.Com, Harvey Nelson – Birthdate 19 Apr 1891 – No Image. http://Ancestry.com.
[v] Oregon Daily Journal (Portland, OR), 1918-07-09 – Page 5 – Harvey Nelson. Story at bottom of 1st column. http://Newspapers.com.
[vi] 1930 Census (FS), Family Search, Harvey Nelson – Laguna Beach, Orange, California – ED 30-47, Sheet 6B. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XCDK-CWL.
[vii] 1940 Census (FS), Family Search, 1940 Census – Harvey Nelson – Los Angeles, California. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K9HL-VR1.
[viii] U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942, Ancestry.Com, Harvey Nelson. Residence 1942 – Corona Del Mar, California. http://Ancestry.com.
[ix] 1960-08-25- Ann Elizabeth (Nelson) Powers – Obit.pdf., Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, California (Newspapers.Com).

New York Times – Rotogravure – 30 June 1918

The Library of Congress has a new collection of The New York Times Rotogravure from World War I.  I was excited to see that the Library of Congress had the same material that I have which meant that I could use it and not need to scan my own collection. The LoC quality was excellent; they had whole pages instead of my partial pages. Then I saw that they don’t have all of the issues.  I looked at my collection and the next one I was going to write about was the June 30, 1918, issue. It isn’t available in the Library of Congress Rotogravure collection. My search of the collection showed they have June 2, June 9, June 16, and June 23, but not June 30, 1918.

Top half of the first of six pages included from teh New York Times, 30 June 1918, Rotogranure
Top half of the first of six pages included from my 30 June 1918 collection. This half of the page includes: “Jitney Tank;” Lieutenant Aviator Leps; Lieutenant Guerin; Lieutenants Reno, Fonck, and Milton; a Shell-Shelter Village; and a Camouflaged French Road. Click the image or here for the OCRed pages.

Oh my — my collection suddenly became much more important. If I have editions that the Library of Congress does not have, then my collection might be unique. If so, I really need to preserve it digitally. Sadly, in the pages that I have for 30 June 1918, one photo was cut out. It affects that page and the reverse side but not the other pages. I photographed all the pages I have from this June 30th 1918 edition. Then I OCRed (used Optical Character Recognition) the images. There is one page that contains a full-page ad for Tintex, but no war photos, so I did not OCR that page and did not include it in my final product.  I assembled the OCRed images into a single Portable Document File. I wish that I had the technology to either photograph the entire image or to be able to adequately stitch the images together; however, I was not happy with the results of my trying to electronically stitch the images.

Here is my attempt with the 30 June 1918 issue.  I hope you find the images and stories as interesting and as fascinating as I do.

The 42nd: Shell Shelters, Headquarters, and In the Trenches.

Over There

This Veterans Day, like most Veterans Days, I honor my veteran ancestors. This day was originally known as Armistice Day because an armistice – the cessation of hostilities – went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

Original 42nd Division Rainbow Patch.
Original 42nd Division Rainbow Patch.

Today, I also take a look at the men of the Forty-Second Infantry Division, U.S.A. Known as the “Rainbow Division,” Douglas MacArthur suggested its formation from multiple states that would “stretch over the whole country like a rainbow.” The division was created in 1917 from 26 states, including Maine, and was one of the first divisions of the American Expeditionary Force to go to Europe. Douglas MacArthur was promoted to Colonel as the Division’s Chief of Staff.

The photo below is of some of the Forty-Second Division soldiers hanging out at a shell shelter.  Two of the men are sleeping, one on the cold ground, the other on what looks to be a really uncomfortable ridge of the shell. However, it is the expressions of the other soldiers that makes me wonder.  They are all looking at something off to their left. Two of the men have odd smiles on their faces.  I wonder what they are seeing. Something definitely interesting.

Shell Shelters in use by men of the Forty-Second Division, U. S. A.

Next, we see a commander’s post.  It is unclear if this with the 42nd Division’s command post during the Champagne-Marne campaign (15–18 July 1918) or sometime before that.

A commander’s Post of the Forty-Second Division.

Finally, the New York Times gives us a glimpse of the 42nd in the trenches.  Crowded, guns at the ready, bayonets affixed. Ready for combat.

In the Forty-Second Division’s Front Trenches
From March until July, 1918, the Germans were losing about 20,000 soldiers a month on the Western Front. Total causalities were well over 100,000 soldiers a month during the same period. Four months after this picture, the armistice was signed and the bloodiest war in European history (at that time) was over.

Yes, today is a day to remember our veterans and thank them for their service. But it is also a day to reflect upon the “war to end all wars.” As a Vietnam veteran, I wish we could just find a way to only create peacetime veterans and not have any wars. Deterrence is better than battle.

The Great War – Over There – 7 April 1918

By Don Taylor

Wartime Wednesday
This week, I continue with images from the New York Times this time from “over there.”

A BRITISH TANK GOING INTO ACTION
IN THE MESSINES SECTOR.
(© Underwood & Underwood.)New York Times – 7 April 1918

This first image is one of the most iconic images I know of regarding the Great War.  The desolation of the landscape, the smoke of the diesel engines of the tank, the trench fortifications, all add together to provide an image of war.

Next, American Troops in the Aisne Sector, believed now to
be among those fighting side by side with the French and
British against the German Drive halting on a
hillside for “chow.”
New York Times – 7 April 1918

I found the photo of the American troops eating “chow” on a hillside very interesting.  It doesn’t appear that any of the people are interacting. No smiles, just serious eating or personal contemplation gazing off in the distance.

These soldiers didn’t know that a few weeks later, on May 27th, the Germans would have a major attack along the Aisne River and overrun the French and British positions along a forty-mile front.

The French, owing to the scarcity of horses, making
increasing use of dog teams.  Here is an American husky
hitched tandem fashion to one of the new French rubber-tired
 ammunition carts in use on the Front.
New York Times – 7 April 1918

Finally, I am reminded that “necessity breeds invention.” According to Wikipedia, the first practical pheumatic tire went into production in 1888, Thirty years later they found use in ammunition carts and, as we can see, gained further use as the basis for dog drawn transportation. For some reason, this image brings a smile to my face. I can visualize myself riding in a cart like this. It would be fun today, but, I’m sure, wasn’t fun in 1918 France.

An image of the entire page in context is available from The New York Timespages on Newspapers.com.  My images for this date are here.

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