The Eleventh Hour Of The Eleventh Day Of The Eleventh Month

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“Wellington Enterprise,” 10-2-1918, pg. 4.

Today marks the one-hundredth anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I. While I generally avoid writing about the twentieth century (I vowed long ago not to print stories about people still remembered by loved ones) this seemed too important a milestone to ignore. Initially, I wanted to write about what sort of coverage the ceasefire received in the local press, and what types of celebrations, if any, Wellington engaged in on the day. Sadly, the issue published most immediately after the end of hostilities, which would have come out on Wednesday, November 13th, was not included in the preservation microfilm of the Wellington Enterprise. Hopefully a copy or two still survives in private hands.

Instead, I decided to offer a brief post showcasing some of the numerous illustrations featured in the Enterprise in October and November of 1918. Henry O. Fifield was owner and editor at the time. The formatting and content of the paper are very similar to issues published in peacetime. What immediately catches the eye in looking at the wartime issues are the large number, and size, of the advertising illustrations. Some filled a full page, and almost all were intended to encourage the purchase of bonds to finance the war.

 

The two small drawings above were both printed on November 20th, pages 2 (r) and 4 (l). Both encourage fuel conservation to help with the war effort. Tiny images like these were sprinkled throughout the text of the paper, serving as content breaks or space fillers. The image on the left was printed right next to Henry Fifield’s announcement that he was selling the Enterprise after nearly two decades at its helm.

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“Wellington Enterprise,” 10-2-1918, pg. 6.

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“Wellington Enterprise,” 10-16-1918, pg. 3.

The October 16th issue announced that something called “Uncle Sam’s Trophy Train” had passed through the village five days earlier (pg. 4). The train was apparently loaded with captured German armaments. The Enterprise reported that more than two thousand people came to view it, and purchased $7,500 in war bonds to support the troops as they ended the conflict in Europe.

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This advertisement had been printed regularly in the weeks leading up to the Armistice, but previously read “…Help Lick the Kaiser.” Once victory was assured, the ad copy was altered. “Wellington Enterprise,” 11-20-1918, pg. 3.

 

Wight’s Jewelry Store published several different advertisements, encouraging people to do their patriotic duty by purchasing war bonds, and “then if you have money left for purchases in our line, you will find our word as good as bond” (10-2-1918, pg. 4). A month later, they were advising the public to purchase silver as Christmas gifts, arguing that silver has historically been a good investment in wartime (11-6-1918, pg. 8).

The Enterprise featured a number of full-page advertisements, such as a letter printed on October 9th purporting to be from President Woodrow Wilson himself, asking Americans to continue to purchase bonds even as the war drew to a close. Public service pieces such as these, no doubt appearing in papers across the nation, were paid for by local businesses so that publishers would not bear the brunt of continual advertising revenue loss. Such ads were labelled, “This Space Contributed to Winning the War by…” followed by the name of the Wellington merchant.

 

Cartoons such as these, all included in the October 9th edition, reinforced the message that the most patriotic action any citizen could take, short of military service, was to keep buying bonds until all hostilities ended and all soldiers were brought home safely.

According to the “Roster of Wellington’s Deceased War Veterans,” over 130 citizens of the village served their country in World War I. The list includes many names still familiar to us today: Bradstock, Broome, Brumfield, Fortney, Gott, King, Simonson. As the bells toll out in solemn remembrance this morning, take a moment to give thanks for the peace we enjoy as a result of their sacrifice. If only the Great War truly had been the “War to End All Wars.”

3 thoughts on “The Eleventh Hour Of The Eleventh Day Of The Eleventh Month

  1. Stuart Bradley

    When I was young we had a family friend who was a veteran of WWI. One time he told us in tears of the death of his best buddy. Let’s call it the tenth hour of the eleventh month of the eleventh year. His friend knew the armistice was coming at 11 AM but curiosity got the best of him and he looked over the trench top and was immediately shot in the head.

    Reply
      1. Tim Russo

        Nicole,

        I wonder if you know Henry Fifield’s Civil War record. I’m an attorney and writer in Cleveland, and have just registered a 116 page screenplay with the WGA about the suicidal charge of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. The First Minnesota’s charge, against 4-1 odds, at the most crucial moment of the entire battle, saved the field, the war, and America itself.

        Henry Fifield served in the First Minnesota.

        Mr. Fifield was not in the charge July 2nd. Fifield served in Co. C, which on July 2nd was detailed to provost guard at Meade’s HQ. Fifield was present, however, on July 3rd, for Pickett’s charge. Fifield was the Principal Musician of the regiment – you can see his drum at this link.

        http://firstminnesota.net/#/soldier/264

        I came across your website because my screenplay tells the story of the charge in flashback from the 1897 dedication of the monument to the charge at Gettysburg – Mr. Fifield attended the 1897 dedication, right before he returned to Ohio to buy the Wellington Enterprise, and the house at 226 South Main St. I am so thrilled to find you online, your work on Mr. Fifield, and that house!!

        Would you mind emailing me when you get a chance? I would love to come out to Wellington and learn more about Mr. Fifield, the Enterprise, and his home. I may actually write Mr. Fifield into the next revision of the script. You can learn more about my research into the First Minnesota at the link below. Hope to hear from you soon, and thank you for such great content.

        http://www.timrusso.org/tag/first-minnesota/

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