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.
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.
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.”