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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Letter 24 ~ September 25, 1918

Minnie tells me she closed her school early one day because she was sick. She also shares more school stories and tells me she plans to give exams to the school children during the next two days.

Addressed to Mr. Ward C. Griffing, 25th Company, 164th Depot Brigade, Camp Funston, Kansas
[Sherman, Kansas]
Wednesday evening, 10 P. M., [September 25, 1918]

Dear Boy:

Well I wonder where you are tonight. You must be out of the Detention Camp by now. I noticed in tonight’s paper that several boys from the 164th D. B. had been visiting Manhattan. I suppose they are from your bunch but in a different Company. I hope you will be in Manhattan before very long.

I have certainly had a day of it today – seemed a year long. I got so sick in school this morning but I thought I could tough it out, but after dinner I couldn’t stand it any longer so I told the children if they would just as leave, we wouldn’t have any recess and hurry through all the subjects. They said they would so we had all the recitations and then I dismissed school about a quarter of three. One of the girls, Zelphia, helped me sweep and then I came home and went to bed. I feel better this evening tho. I got up awhile ago and drank a cup of tea. That’s all the supper I get. I’m sure glad I didn’t get awful sick like I do at home sometimes. Mrs. Parkerson is so good. She would do anything for me but she isn’t very well today.

Yesterday afternoon the 3rd grade tore up three [news]papers into fine pieces and I put them on the stove and boiled them about four hours. We wanted it to form a paste for making maps. It didn’t seem to work very well yet so I guess I’ll cook it some more. It’s supposed to be fine, but the children said the teacher last year failed to make it work right.

I’m going to give exams to about half the classes tomorrow and the rest on Friday. I want something definite to go by in grading them. I hate to make out the grades for the first time. I’m so afraid I won’t give the children the grades they should have. Some of them are not doing passing work in some subjects and I sure hate to mark them so low, but I guess I’ll half to. It seems like to me these children cry easier than any children I’ve ever seen. Two of my older boys cried today about the smallest things. One of them dropped his pencil on the floor and the boy behind him picked it up. I asked him why he wasn’t at work and he said Ora had his pencil. Then he just began to cry like something awful was the matter. Then I helped one of the boys with a problem and at least fifteen or twenty minutes afterward he held up his hand again and wanted me to help him with the very next problem. I asked him if he hadn’t worked any problems all that time. He said, “No” but that he had been trying. Then he began to cry. Well it seemed to me everybody had got up on the wrong side of the bed. I expect I don’t have the patience I ought to sometimes but this boy is so “dum.” He’s in 5th grade arithmetic [while] everything else [is at the] 7th grade level. And do you know that boy can’t add and subtract correctly? I’m just at sea sometimes to know what to do. He may get one problem out of a hundred right, not any more.

Our mail will come a little better now [that] the regular carrier comes [and] he waits for the freight.

Well, I’m tired and sleepy and that bed looks too inviting so I guess I’ll half to finish this in the morning. I wish you had a nice soft white bed to crawl into tonight. I’ll bet it would feel good to you. Clock struck 10:30. – Good night.

Sherman School, Thursday morning 8:35 [September 26, 1918]

Dearest Boy: I thought I would bring your letter up here to finish and mail it when I see the mail man go by. I guess I won’t get much of a chance to write tho. I see four of the boys coming. I wish I could be planning on seeing you this weekend but I guess that’s almost impossible. I do wonder tho where you are. I love you, Ward. --- Minnie G. Frey

  • Zelphia M. Klein was the 8 year-old daughter of 31 year-old farmer Ross M. Klein and his 32 year-old wife Jadie who lived in northern Grant Township, Riley County, Kansas.
  • Minnie and her students were trying to make paper mache maps from newspaper pulp.
  • Ten year-old Ora Condry, Jr. lived with his grandmother, Mary E. Condry, on Mill Creek Road in Grant Township, Riley County, Kansas.


  1. Wonderful letter from the Home Front and very nice site. I've posted a link to it from mine. Stop by for a visit to Soldier's Mail when you have the chance to march along with Sgt. Sam Avery on the front lines of WWI from the hot sands of the Rio Grande to the cold mud of the Meuse.

  2. I have seen your blog and read with great envy the wartime experiences of Sam Avery. I never went to "over there" myself but I sure wanted to! I hope you'll sign up to follow along on my blog anyway as I post up many more letters; I have some great stories to tell about my efforts to avoid the Spanish Flu and in fighting bed bugs, if not German bullets. Thanks for putting a link to my blog on your beautiful website. -- wg

  3. What was the Detention Camp that Minnie mentions?

  4. The soldiers were placed into temporary detention camps while being trained and remained there until permanently assigned to Infantry Divisions. Ward's detention camp was located north of Junction City in the Republican River Valley and named Camp Republican. There were no barracks in these Detention Camps; only large tents that would sleep several men. During WWII, I think Camp Republican was renamed Camp Forsyth. -- wg