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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Letter 92 ~ November 11, 1918

Celebrating the armistice in nearby Leonardville, Kansas, on November 11, 1918
Courtesy of Jim Olson.

I receive a pass to leave camp on November 9-10. I surprise Minnie by driving up to Sherman Township and bring her home to Manhattan for the weekend. Minnie writes me following our visit, beginning her letter on Monday evening, November 11, and finishing it the following morning. She tells me that news is received of an armistice.

Addressed to Pvt. Ward C. Griffing, Co. E 20th Infantry, Camp Funston, Kansas

Sherman [Kansas]
Monday evening [November 11, 1918]

Dearest Boy:

Well I suppose you are still at Camp Funston. You know Ward you wrote your address on that letter and I left them laying there on [the] dining room table. But I guess I remember your address. I ought to as many times as you have told me.

Well today has certainly been a hurrah old time everywhere – the stores were closed all day. Parkerson’s went over to Leonardville [Kansas]. I wish I could have gone somewhere but didn’t get to.

They gave the general ring early this morning before I was up. Then Mama called tonight about five o’clock but I wasn’t home. I came home from school tonight by moonlight. She said they had been [celebrating] in Manhattan all day.

My, just think how many happy people can go to bed tonight to rest their first night of peace. Of course we don’t know what may happen when it comes to talking peace, but certainly the worst fighting is over.

I must go to bed, it’s 10 o’clock. I’ll write more in the morning. I had to write to the folks tonight. I want Mama to get something and send me for my teeth and gums. I can’t hardly talk, they hurt so bad. (A bad condition for me to be in.) Goodnight dear Ward.

Tuesday morning [November 12th]

My, but this is sure a swell day – just like spring.

I wonder if you will get a pass again Saturday. I should think you would. Are they going to send any of the 10th [Infantry Regiment] away or keep them drilling right there?

You know I said that everybody would know just who came after me Saturday and all about it. Well they did. Monday morning one of the boys came in laughing. He said, “Teacher, you didn’t go home in the Ford or the Hudson either one Saturday, did you?” He also saw us sitting on the front porch at home. The little Wickstrum boy said, “We saw you teacher run out of the school house to meet that soldier. We were looking from the window.” I never heard tell of the like of it. But I don’t care a bit. And they all like soldiers so it doesn’t make any ‘dif.’

They are having revival meetings up here on the hill. We may go some evening this week. I wish I could be in Manhattan yesterday and today.

You said you bet the folks didn’t like it because you came after me Saturday. I don’t remember what I said, but you sure don’t need to think that they weren't glad. Some of them would have come for me that evening if you hadn’t so they were glad you came. Then they thought I would be so surprised and glad to see you that they wanted you to come.

Well Boy, I must go to school. Keep good care of yourself and be happy. You don’t know how nice it is to see you just the picture of health, and that sure is what you are. Mr. Parkerson said, “My, but he is a great big husky fellow, isn’t he?” You sure look good. Good bye, -- Minnie

  • The Allied powers a signed a cease-fire agreement with Germany at Rethondes, France on November 11, 1918, bringing WWI to a close. Between the wars, November 11 was commemorated as Armistice Day in the United States, Great Britain, and France. After World War II, the holiday was recognized as a day of tribute to veterans of both world wars. Beginning in 1954, the United States designated November 11 as Veterans Day to honor veterans of all U.S. wars.
  • The Manhattan, Kansas newspapers reported that the largest crowd that the oldest inhabitant ever saw in Manhattan gathered on Monday afternoon, November 11, to celebrate the coming of peace and the burial of the Kaiser and Crown Prince and Von Hindenberg. The news came by A.P. service at three in the morning and was announced by blowing of whistles and ringing of bells. At nine o’clock the celebration started all over again.
  • Possibly Lloyd or Glen Wickstrum, the young sons of Charles and Nancy Wickstrum of Sherman Township, Riley County, Kansas.


  1. One unintended consequence of the celebrations over the Armistice was the general collapse of all the public health regulations intended to stem influenza. People danced in the streets and held parades. In Seattle, after a period of decline in influenza cases, the sickness rate went up again.

  2. Influenza decimated the National Army troops at Camp Devens in Ayer, Mass. Hundreds died every day with the result that bodies were stacked in a barracks building which was converted into a temporary morgue. Special trains were needed to take the bodies away...

  3. Charles and Nancy Wickstrum (my paternal grandparents) did not have a son named Guy.

  4. Charles And Nancy Wickstrum (my paternal Grandparents) did have son named Guy Glen Wickstrum, he went by G. Glen everyone called him Glen. He was often called Swede, Wick and a few other nick names. He was a good man and my favorite Uncle.