Valentine’s Day 100 Years Ago And Beyond

Since this past Wednesday was Valentine’s Day, I wanted to take a look back through our newspapers and see if Valentine’s Day was celebrated one hundred years ago. Valentine’s Day landed on a Thursday, February 14, 1918. As most everyone knows, 1918 was a time of difficulty since the world was in the middle of World War I. World War I would not end until 11 November 1918, so in February, the war was still going strong.

I searched through five different newspapers, the Shakopee ArgusShakopee Tribune, Jordan Independent, New Prague Times, and the Belle Plaine Herald, to see if there would be any advertisements about the romantic day that is now so eagerly celebrated. Unsurprisingly, much of the newspapers were chalk full of information concerning the war at a local, state, and international level. The entire newspaper was not all doom and gloom, however. There were advertisements for local theatre shows and information on local individuals and their recent visitors. I had been expecting the heavy focus on the war in the newspapers, but was surprised to find that there wasn’t a single mention of Valentine’s Day in any of the newspapers published in February 1918.

In fact, I found mention of other days that were celebrated in February in 1918 that are not observed today, or if they are, only in certain states. The most mention was that of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, February 12. In 1918, all four newspapers had advertisements for the celebration of his birthday, but no mention of Valentine’s Day. Today, only Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, and New York celebrate February 12 as Lincoln’s Birthday. The advertisement below is from the 8 February 1918 edition of the Shakopee Tribune. Also mentioned in the 1918 newspapers was the celebration of George Washington’s birthday, February 22. In modern-day Minnesota, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington’s birthdays are celebrated as Presidents’ Day, which occurs on the third Monday in February.

Although Valentine’s Day is not an official holiday, I still found myself searching for that word ‘holiday’ when it came to that romantic day. An article in the Shakopee Tribune, published 8 February 1918, page 2, featured mention of holidays, as well as Abraham Lincoln’s and George Washington’s holidays. Again, no mention of Valentine’s Day, although the day most certainly was observed by Minnesotans at this time.

It wasn’t until I stumbled upon a New Prague Times article that was published the previous year, in 1917, that I found any evidence of Valentine’s Day. Amidst the information concerning local matters on the home-front of the war, there was this lovely advertisement that popped out at me.00001


































To my delight, there was yet another advertisement in the 8 February 1917 newspaper a few pages over.


Buoyed by this discovery, I searched the Belle Plaine Herald in both February 1917 and 1918, and was pleased to find another, small, advertisement concerning Valentine’s Day in the 8 February 1917 newspaper, but again, no mention of Valentine’s Day in the 1918 newspaper. 


It is interesting to know that Valentine’s Day was a day worthy of printing advertisements for in Scott County in 1917, but not in 1918. Perhaps individuals in the county could feel the end of the war, and wanted to focus on what was occurring overseas in their newspapers? That is, of course, just speculation on my part. What I do know is that WWI ended in November of 1918, and Valentine’s Day was once again a day to show off in the newspapers.

I did not search Scott County newspapers in the period of World War II, but instead chose to see what we had for Valentine’s Day memorabilia in the collection. We have many Valentine’s Day cards in our collection, and I chose a few of the cutest, and loveliest, to show you. Valentine’s Day is often thought of a day simply for couples, but as many of these cards indicate, it can also be a day for loved ones, be they from a daughter to a father, or a grandchild to their grandparent. These cards below range from the 1950s to the 1990s, and all were written with love. I hope that you have had a wonderful Valentine’s Day, whether you celebrated it on Wednesday, or plan to do so over the weekend. Or any day you please. Enjoy these cards, and if you’re interested in learning more about Valentine’s Day in Scott County, feel free to stop by.

2015.13.221954Notermann 1961.1978 (2)1978 (3)1978 (4)1978198019911995


Images of Football in Scott County

With the Super Bowl in Minneapolis this weekend, what better occasion could there be to share some historical photographs of football in Scott County from our collection? Pictures that begin around 1890 show an interesting progression of equipment, from padded body suits with a simple leather cap to the more recognizable shoulder pads and hard helmets with facemasks we’re familiar with today. Many of the later images were captured by LeRoy Lebens as part of his work as the official photographer for the Waniyetu Shakopee High School Yearbook, which are a part of his larger collection we are currently inventorying here at SCHS. If you’re interested in learning more about sports in Scott County or the LeRoy Lebens photo collection, come by and see us at the Scott County Historical Society!

1 20050600009 Frank Dierberger of Shakopee 1890
1890- Frank Dierberger of Shakopee
2 19990530075 Rock Spring 1905 George Vierling, Reno Ketterer, Ed V. Mertz, Math Klinkhammer, Joseph R. Witt, Emil Strehlow
1905 Rock Spring Team- George Vierling, Reno Ketterer, Ed V. Mertz, Math Klinkhammer, Joseph R. Witt, Emil Strehlow
3 20060180211 BP Minn Valley Champions 1914 Lorenz Woods, Bill Crahan, Emmett O'Neill, James McDevitt, Martin Donovan, George Brown, Mike Pendy, Tom Sheehan, Leo Pendy, Herman Beutow, Bo
1914 Belle Plaine Minnesota Valley Champion Team- Lorenz Woods, Bill Crahan, Emmett O’Neill, James McDevitt, Martin Donovan, George Brown, Mike Pendy, Tom Sheehan, Leo Pendy, Herman Beutow, Bob White and John Weibeler
4 20120140821 Leo Hartmann SHS 1922
1922- Leo Hartmann of Shakopee High School
5 20090490024 1922 SHS Team
1922 Shakopee High School Team
6 20090490015 1936 SHS Football
1936 Shakopee High School Team
7 20110200081 SHS 1939
1939 Shakopee High School Team
8 20110200082 1939 SHS
1939 Shakopee High School Team
9 20090450010 1942
1942 Shakopee High School Program
10 20130311332 SHS 1955
1955 Shakopee High School
11 20130312840 SHS 1958
1958 Shakopee High School
12 20130313601 SHS 1958
1958 Shakopee High School
13 20130315539 Small Fry 55-60
Shakopee “Small Fry” League 1955-1960
14 20130317865 Small Fry 55-60
Shakopee “Small Fry” League 1955-1960
15 20080050107 69-72 Sans is 16
Just for fun, from the Maurice Stans collection, the 1969-1972 Nixon Administration Cabinet as a football lineup. Maurice Stans can be seen in the middle of the middle row as #16

The Unboxing of Fallout Shelter Items – 56 Years Later

The very last donation of 2017 was given to SCHS by the Rahr Malting Company on December 21, 2017. It was exactly as if the we had received an early Christmas present. The donation consisted of five boxes, of both the small and large variety, and all that was written down on the paper was that they were civil defense supplies from 1962. Needless to say, it was very exciting opening and uncovering the items inside of these civil defense boxes. As it turns out, these boxes were like a Christmas gift to SCHS, just opened up fifty-six years after they were originally packaged. Although it may have felt like Christmas here at the museum, the items in these boxes were originally packed for a much darker and serious purpose: in the event that a fallout shelter was needed in the future.

The Rahr Corporation, established in 1847 in Michigan, has since expanded to several different locations, one of them happening to be on 1st Avenue West in Shakopee. The facility in Shakopee was built in 1937, and had been added onto in 1954, 1977, 1981, 1994, and 2016.1 The information that many may have forgotten, however, was that the Rahr Malting Company was designated as a fallout shelter in 1961-1962 for the citizens of Shakopee. The boxes that were donated to SCHS were chalk full of fallout shelter items, many of them having been undisturbed for more than fifty years.

Included in the items were lists for Medical Fallout Shelter Kit “A”, which was one of the smaller boxes that could treat 50-65 shelter occupants, and for Medical Fallout Shelter Kit “C”, which was one of the larger boxes that could treat 300-325 shelter occupants. Each list identifies the items and the quantity of each item. Kit “C” contained the exact same items as in Kit “A”, just in larger quantities due to the larger number of proposed occupants. Also included was a brochure titled Fallout Shelter Medical Kit Instructions, dated July 1962, as well as a thicker brochure titled Family Guide: Emergency Health Care, which detailed instructions on caring for individuals while in a fallout shelter. These lists and brochure can be viewed below.

The items that were packed in these boxes were medical supplies, which would be extremely necessary in the event of needing a fallout shelter. Any and all items that could fit were made to sit inside their own individual brown cardboard box, the name of the item written on the front of the box. Items included several different kinds of bandages, scissors, thermometers, tweezers, safety pins, isopropyl alcohol, surgical soap, toothache remedy, eye and nose drops, diarrhea medication, many different kinds of pills (sulfadiazine, penicillin, aspirin, cascara (a laxative)), as well as tins of baking soda, petroleum jelly, and bottles of table salt. Also included were small bottles of iodine pills that would have been used to treat water in fallout shelters. All of these items were necessities when living in a closed off fallout shelter, be it with either 50-65 people, or 300-325. These items were chosen and packed with care, ready to offer aid to those who were sick. Although many of these items were labeled as being packed and stored in 1962, we, unfortunately, don’t have information on which building on the Rahr Malting campus was to be used as the fallout shelter.

Nonetheless, these items are a museum’s treasure, and very much a look into the past when nuclear war felt very much like an imminent threat. These boxes stored in the Rahr Malting Company show that a very national fear was felt by everyone everywhere throughout the United States, even in small Shakopee, Minnesota.

Many of these items have not been viewed since the 1960s, so I am pleased to allow you a secondhand look at these fallout shelter items. Enjoy.

All of the items unpacked from their boxes, gathered together by type of item.



Snowy Scenes of Scott County: Winter Images from the LeRoy Lebens Collection

As a man who seemed to always have a camera on hand, LeRoy Lebens managed to catch great photos of life in Scott County, even in the cold depths of Minnesota winters. As we continue an inventorying of his collection here at the Scott County Historical Society, a number of his photos have stood out, showing the beauty and life of Scott County in winter. Despite our current frigid temperatures, I feel that these photos are a great way to celebrate winter. If you’re interested in finding out more about the Lebens Collection, please come visit us at the Scott County Historical Society.


Shakopee House (Dangerfields) and Mill Pond
Ducks on Mill Pond

20130310131 (1)

Lebens’ Home on Fifth Ave
LeRoy Lebens shoveling his sidewalk after a blizzard
Sometimes a bigger shovel is needed
Train at Shakopee Depot 1950-1960
Shakopee Depot 1950’s
Jordan High School
Rahr Malting
Rahr Malting
Aerial photo of West Shakopee


Thanks to SCHS volunteer Paul for sharing with us this holiday season.  Enjoy!

‘Twas the day before Christmas, with things all a bustle.
As Mama got set for the Christmas Eve tussle.
Aunts, uncles, and Cousins would soon be arriving,
With stomachs all ready for Christmas Eve dining.
While I sat alone with a feeling of dread,
As visions of lutefisk danced in my head.
The thought of the smell made my eyeballs start burning.
The thought of the taste set my stomach to churning.
For I’m one of those who good Swedes rebuff,
A Scandahoovian boy who can’t stand the stuff.
Each year, however, I played at the game,
To spare Mama and Papa the undying shame.
I must bear up bravely.  I can’t take the risk
Of relatives knowing I hate lutefisk.

Then out in the yard I heard such a clatter.
I jumped up to see what was the matter.
There in the snow, all in a jumble,
Were three of my uncles who had taken a tumble.

From out in the kitchen an odor came stealing,
That fairly set all of my senses to reeling.
The smell of the lutefisk crept down the hall,
And wilted a plant in a pot on the wall.
Uncles Oscar and Lars said “Oh, that smells yummy,”
And Kermit’s eyes glittered while he patted his tummy.

Mama announced dinner by ringing a bell.
They rushed to the table with a whoop and a yell.
I lifted my eyes to heaven and sighed,
And a rose on the wallpaper withered and died.
Then Mama came proudly with a bowl on a trivet.
You would have thought that the crown jewels were in it.
She set it down gently and then took her seat.
And Papa said grace before we could eat.
It seemed to me, in my whirling head,
The shortest of prayers he ever had said.

Then Mama raised the cover on that steaming dish,
And I had to face the quivering fish.
The plates were passed for Papa to fill,
While I waited in agony, twixt fever and chill.
He dipped in the spoon and held it up high,
As it oozed to plates, I thought I would die.

Then it came to my plate, and to my fevered brain.
There seemed enough lutefisk to derail a train.
It looked like a mountain of congealing glue,
Yet oddly transparent and discolored in hue.
With butter and cream sauce I tried to conceal it,
I salted and peppered, but the smell would reveal it.

I drummed up my courage, tried to be bold,
Mama reminds me, “Eat before it gets cold.”
Deciding to face it, “Uffda,” I sighed.
“Uffda, indeed,” my stomach replied.

Then summoning up resolve for which we are known,
My hand took the fork as with a mind of its own.
And with reckless abandon the lutefisk I ate,
Within 20 seconds, I’d cleaned up my plate.
Uncle Kermit flashed me an ear-to-ear grin,
As butter and cream sauce dripped from his chin.
Then to my great shock, he spoke in my ear,
“I’m sure glad that’s over for another year.”

It was then that I learned a great wonderful truth,
That Swedes and Norwegians from old men to youth,
Must each pay their dues to have the great joy,
Of being known as a good Scandahoovian boy,
And so to tell you all, as you face the great test,
“Happy Christmas to you, and to you all the best.”



Most people attribute this poem to “Boone & Erickson” – a team of WCCO radio personalities in the Twin Cities who recorded it years ago – or “Anonymous.”  The actual author apparently is a man named Dan Freeburg, who copyrighted it in 1978 but seemed to have given up trying to enforce it. 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Snow falls gently outside the frosted window. Candles and cookies fill the house with a comforting aroma, mixing with the sharp scent of the pine tree in the corner. Small lights twinkle in the darkness, lending their glow to the darkness. The music of Irving Berlin and Andy Williams croon from the radio. There is only one time of year where all of these things come together, and that is Christmas. Christmas has been celebrated in nearly every town in Scott County with special events for many years, and the Scott County Historical Society houses records of many of these events. Prior Lake, Jordan, and Shakopee perhaps have the most significant events, but the stories that come from the surrounding communities are equally, if not more so, interesting.

In Prior Lake, Christmas celebrations included a wide variety of activities, such as theatre parties, visits from Santa Claus himself, and a blood drive sponsored by the Red Cross. While these happenings seem fairly standard, in 1975, an unusual Christmas story appeared in the local newspaper. Lorraine Borka returned home one day to discover a package on her front doorstep. Curious, she ripped open the paper to reveal a child’s sled. Though it seemed strange, to Lorraine, the sled held a much deeper significance. 35 years earlier, she had received a sled for Christmas from Santa. She had gotten dressed to go outside to try the new toy, but at the end of her very first slide, a group of boys stole the sled and proceeded to ruin it beyond repair. The new sled was given, 35 years later, by the same group of boys who had spoiled the fun so long ago

In Jordan, festivities often involve the entire town. In the past, variety shows were put on by the area schools, as well as a Red Cross Christmas Seal Program. Christmas carolers were a common sight to see, and the all-around spirit was a happy one. Santa also visited Jordan on various occasions, and all the children were given the opportunity to see him and receive a small gift bag of Christmas goodies. The Jordan Theater also hosted two different movies for kids to enjoy during the holiday season. Agnes Morlock, a longtime Jordan resident, recalls in As I Remember Scott County, “Our Christmas tree was the most beautiful. It was usually a large tree with real white candles. These were only burned once, while we sang Christmas carols. The ornaments were animal cookies…cut out and frosted in white on both sides. These cookies and candles were intermingled with garlands of strung white popcorn. What a sight!”


Shakopee also hosts quite the number of holiday activities. The local historical park, The Landing (previously Murphy’s Landing), presents their award-winning “Folkways of the Holidays” demonstration every year. The official description describes the event as “a recreation of the ethnic holiday traditions of the Minnesota River Valley which focuses on frontier life from 1840-1890. Music, dance, food, and folk arts combine to illustrate the cultural diversity of the region. The festival showcases holiday traditions as celebrated by a variety of immigrant and religious groups.” The different cultures that are celebrated include French Canadian, American, Norwegian, Finnish, Czechoslovakian, Moravian, Swedish, and Victorian English. The Landing demonstrates the different specialty desserts, formal dinners, and other important traditions. In downtown Shakopee, there is a tree-lighting ceremony complete with photos with Santa, hot chocolate and apple cider, Christmas lights, decorated storefronts, ice sculpture, a petting zoo, and caroling.

Recollections from older residents of the community are featured in the anthology As I Remember Scott County, and many of them mention the Christmas season among their favorite memories. Edna Weckman, from New Market, describes, “The one thing I’ll never forget is going to midnight mass on Christmas Eve with the horses and the sleigh. We bundled up to keep warm. The stars shining brightly, the church lighted up and the Christmas songs made one feel happy and peaceful.” She is not the only one who fondly remembers mass. Patrick Devine of Belle Plaine mentions attending the 4:00 mass, and then returning home to open gifts. Stockings commonly held apples, oranges, and nuts, and occasionally a new shirt or handkerchief would be presented. After the gifts, the family would visit his grandmother’s house for dinner, and Patrick recalls that she “always made the best pies.”

Though the gifts and festivities are fun, the most important part of Christmas is not lost on the Scott County residents. To love and be loved in return, to spend time engaged with those around you, listening to stories of days past, is what Christmas is all about. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Handwritten Recipes

December is a special time for many people – it is a month full of wonder, for the holiday spirit is just around the corner. For many of us in Minnesota, it is a time of beautiful snow flakes outside and of cuddling together with a blanket before a fire or a television. December is a time of sweet smells of crisp air, pine trees, and of course, delicious aromas of food.

Nothing brings individuals together like that of a warm meal or tasty dessert at the table. Before long, families and friends will be together to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. In honor of this time of feast, I thought it appropriate to look through SCHS’s collections and see what we have concerning food and their recipes.

The first thing that came to mind was cookbooks. We have many different types of cookbooks – indeed, the museum holds nearly fifty-five cookbooks, many from the various churches or clubs in the county, and standard cookbooks manufactured from around the United States. The oldest cookbook we have is one from 1890 called the “Compendium of Cookery and Reliable Recipes”. Upon seeing that SCHS has so many cookbooks, my interest was piqued on what we had for handwritten recipes.

A recipe can tell you a lot about the people that used it. A recipe can give one hints of their heritage, pride, and interests. Specific ingredients in a handwritten recipe can also give us insight on the easy or difficult times individuals faced, depending on whether or not ingredients could be gathered. Unfortunately, due to their profound usage in a kitchen, many recipe cards may not live very long lives. Many get wet, torn, or perhaps just thrown away. Many do not get the chance to be preserved in a museum. Below are a handful of handwritten recipes that are being preserved here – for yourself, and for future generations to view. These recipes were all handwritten on some medium of paper, be it notebook paper, recipe cards, or other types of paper.  The most interesting handwritten recipes that I found, however, were written on wallpaper samples!

Please enjoy looking at the handwritten recipes below. The first recipe was most likely written between 1910-1940. The wallpaper sample recipes were most likely written between 1925 and 1935. The last recipe was written in 1985.

Take a look through your own collections and see what interesting recipes you can find! Try some out – particularly for a delicious Christmas dessert. Most of all, please do your best to preserve such lovely recipes. The future’s generations stomachs will thank you!




Pause & Think

Friends – please bear with me on this long blog. This time of year you will be receiving year-end appeal letters, asking for support for nonprofit organizations. There will also be chart after chart and image after image flooding the internet telling you to choose nonprofit organizations who are deemed ‘good’ because they have something called “low overhead”. You’ll be inundated with images that say things like “Only $.62/$1.00 you donate goes to direct services”. Or, “Give only to organizations who don’t waste money on paid staff.” Or, “This CEO makes too much for a nonprofit”.

While I would never tell you how/where to put your charitable giving; I would caution you to pause and think carefully, on behalf of many nonprofits, about these messages.

“Overhead” means things like lights, water bills, the copier. It also means things like having telephones that work, internet and computers, and producing and mailing the tax receipts you need. As an museum-based nonprofit, it means paying the cleaning crew, replacing the damaged or worn materials, and advertising.

My wage as an Executive Director allows me to live, raise my children, and buy groceries. Like most nonprofit CEOs/EDs, I work very long hours performing a myriad of duties and am available 24/7 to my board of directors and staff. I don’t live lavishly, drive a used car, and shop at thrift stores. I have also worked a second job to cover some tight times.

When Apple provides daycare for their staff, top chefs for their cafeteria and ergonomic, collaborative everything, they are ‘revolutionizing the workplace‘. When I replace computers still running Windows 95 and try to make sure my employees have enough supplies, I scramble for overhead $$.

Friends, overhead is NECESSARY to provide direct services, whatever those services are. It’s self defeating to believe only the ‘privileged’ (those who can work for almost nothing) should be in this field. It’s unfair to ask workers to do outstanding, often taxing work, with little or no resources. And I guarantee that some of the most painful overhead most of us in the nonprofit world have, is having to replace good people and train new staff because the ones we have burn out from giving too much and working too hard to provide services with too few resources. It’s patently wrong to penalize nonprofits for trying, even in the slightest bit, to be a compelling place to work. We cannot live on loving our jobs.

You want my services and programs in the community and you want them provided efficiently, professionally and with quality. That’s the definition of overhead.

christmas-money-2947947_1920So this year, as you sift through those solicitations, I’d urge you to consider your heart. What tugs at you? Is it preserving our history? Is it educating our children in new ways? Is it protecting animals? Is it helping hurricane and wildfire victims? Go that direction.

Google the company, look them up on Guidestar, go to their website or even give them a call. And think – would I want to work here? Would I want my children to take a job here? Could they afford to? Would they be happy?

If you love their work, love their mission and the answer is ‘yes’ – give a gift. If you love their work, love their mission and the answer is ‘no’ – give a bigger gift.

This year I’m urging you to look well beyond overhead – look to impact, look to results and look to keep the nonprofits you love giving and serving.


Kathy Klehr, SCHS Executive Director

This was paraphrased from another executive director’s post on a closed Facebook group with their permission.

If you’ve read this far, consider dropping a couple bucks on us for overhead; click here, and THANKS!

Learning To Do More With Less: Thanksgiving During the Great War

Thanksgiving, perhaps the most quintessentially American holiday, has been celebrated in one way or another since the days of the Pilgrims 400 years ago. It offers us a time to gather with family and friends to reflect on things that we are thankful for and to feast on the year’s bounty. Typically, celebrated with tables full of as much food as they can hold: turkey, ham, gravy, potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, pies and cakes. However, in 1917 America was forced to face Thanksgiving in an entirely new way, as they found themselves part of the largest war yet fought, World War I. How would America celebrate with demand for food in Europe at an all-time high and millions of men away from home? The celebration would still occur, just with less.

Outside of physically joining the fight, there were few things more important one could do on the home front during the war than produce and conserve more food for export to Europe. It would’ve been nearly impossible to escape the propaganda that “food will win the war”, particularly in rural areas like Scott County. During his 1917 Thanksgiving Proclamation, President Wilson made clear that the United States was in a special position to help:

“We have been brought to one mind and purpose. A new vigor of common counsel and common action has been revealed in us. We should especially thank God that in such circumstances, in the midst of the greatest enterprise the spirits of men have ever entered upon, we have, if we but observe a reasonable and practicable economy, abundance with which to supply the needs of those associated with us as well as our own.”

         Every citizen was told they needed to do their part on the home front in three critical areas: increasing production, limiting consumption, and shifting eating habits. Increasing production meant farmers planting more wheat, over other staple crops, and every citizen growing their own small gardens and canning the produce to ease the burden on the commercial food markets which could then sell more directly to the government. Limiting consumption and shifting eating habits often went hand-in-hand as they required citizens to eat less than many had been used to and involved what were often known as “-less” days, where depending on the day of the week a family would have meatless or wheatless meals and instead substitute them for foods like corn, rice, oats, potatoes, fish, or chicken. The reason for using these other staples was that wheat was desperately needed in Europe and foods like corn and potatoes didn’t transport overseas well and most European mills weren’t equipped to process other grains like oats, on top of the fact that European tastes weren’t accustomed to the different grains. To aid in the effort the government, businesses, and newspapers offered an abundance of recipes and cooking-aids which enabled families to make wheatless or meatless foods or better use of left-overs and ingredients which many had never used.


                These conservation efforts had an impact on how the average American family celebrated Thanksgiving. Rather than a table filled to the brim with food, a sparser offering was the norm. For example, cranberries and cranberry sauce may have been noticeably absent from many tables as they required far too much sugar to prepare or pies and breads made with no flour or fat. The President and his family tried to set an example with their White House dinner: cream of oyster soup with slices of hot buttered toast, turkey with trimmings, garden vegetables (sans cranberries), and pumpkin pie.

Despite the conservation going on at home, a special effort was made so that the fighting men and women, most of whom were experiencing their first holiday away from family, received a full Thanksgiving meal. Whether training at camps throughout the nation, on a ship in the mid-Atlantic, or in the fields of France, they were to receive a full hot meal that could have been expected before the war. Efforts were taken to ensure they got the items that people at home were doing without, like cranberry sauce and ice cream. The meal had by the soldiers at Camp Dodge, Iowa serves as a good example of what the troops enjoyed:

Appetizer: Grapefruit Cocktail and Cream of Celery Soup with Croutons and                                      Olives

Main Course: Roast Turkey, Chestnuts Dressing, Cranberry Sauce, Giblet Sauce,                                Baked Ham, Sweet Potatoes, Baked Potatoes, Green Peas and Fruit Salad

Dessert: Mince Pie, Ice Cream, and Cake

After Dinner: Cheese, Nuts, Candy, Coffee and Cider

According to the Jordan Independent, letters home indicated great satisfaction with the meals from the soldiers in service.

The Thanksgiving of 1917 was the only Thanksgiving which America had during World War I, as by the time it rolled around again in 1918, an armistice had been declared. November 11, 1918 saw the cessation of hostilities and the bringing of peace to a war-torn Europe. “Victory,” as General Pershing said, “was the Thanksgiving gift to the American Nation,” and that was something everyone could be thankful for.






Food Will Win The War

After nearly three years of war, by 1917 Europe was facing starvation.  Farms were transformed into battlefields or left un-planted as workers were forced into service.  Transportation routes were disrupted, making access to food challenging to say the least.

On August 10, 1917, congress passed a controversial piece of legislation:  “An Act to Provide Further for the National Security and Defense by Encouraging the Production, Conserving the Supply, and Controlling the Distribution of Food Products and Fuel.”  It also banned the production of “distilled spirits” from any produce that was used for food. This Act created the Food Administration and the Fuel Administration; President Wilson appointed Herbert Hoover to head the Food Administration.  This gave Mr. Hoover authority to fix food prices, license distributors, coordinate purchases, oversee exports, act against hoarding and profiteering, and encourage farmers to grow more crops.

World War I came to the United States in the midst of the Progressive Era – when efficiency and expertise were highly valued.  This mindset provided a platform for the government to establish agencies to address issues of economy, society, and production for the war effort, and avenues to motivate people.

In January 1918, President Wilson issued a proclamation calling upon Americans to demonstrate their patriotism by following Hoover’s guidelines.  Hoover did not want to impose rationing, so he pushed compassion and patriotism to encourage volunteerism for food programs.

Hoover introduced “Meatless Tuesdays”, “Wheatless Mondays”, and “Sweetless and Porkless Saturdays”.  Local food boards offered guidance to comply with these programs by demonstrating how to prepare meals, alter recipes, and preserve food, such as canning.  They also encouraged development of  “Liberty Gardens” where people could grow their own food.  Homeowners were urged to sign and publicly display pledge cards that testified to their efforts to conserve food.  As a result of these efforts, food shipments doubled within a year, while consumption in the US was reduced by 15% between 1918 and 1919.  This continued after the end of the war as an effort to feed millions of displaced people in Europe.  Hoover earned the nickname “Great Humanitarian” for his efforts. (He insisted on no salary – arguing it would give him the moral authority he needed to ask Americans to sacrifice to support the war effort.)

To provide adequate nourishment to troops and allies, a series of posters were created to encourage reducing consumption on the home-front to secure food needed for troops – such as meat, wheat, fats and sugar.  Slogans like “Food Will Win The War” and “Sow The Seeds of Victory” encouraged people to eat locally, reduce waste, and alter eating habits to allow for increased food shipments to soldiers.


4-P-129_2006_001_AC.jpg    4-P-59_2006_001_AC-2.jpg

All of these posters testify to the intent of the government to mobilize the food effort during World War I. As much as possible, it did so under a banner of volunteerism, rather than coercion. In doing so, the Wilson administration created a program that affected the everyday lives of Americans during World War I.  These programs also paved the way for future home-economics!

Local Scott County Newspapers:
January 1917: “Would you help a starving child?.. Thousands of babies in war-torn Europe are starving this winter.  The Children’s of America’s Fund is rushing aid as fast as possible.  Ten cents will give a starving child a day’s life, three dollars a month’s life.”

“Government Fixes Wheat, Flour Prices.  For the first time in U.S. history, the government has taken a hand in price-fixing of farm products and food products.  The first items being regulated are wheat and flour.  Since August, prices in local markets have been governed buy the National Food Control Board.”

“With cream $.46 pound, live hogs $14.80 per hundred weight, wheat $2.37 and beef on the hoof $.11/pound in local markets, it is apparent that the farmer is getting war-time prices for his products.  One way to fight the high cost of living is to either plant a garden and take care of it or increase the garden you already have.”

April 1917: “There will be little or no waste land in Jordan this season.  The high cost of every kind of food causes people to think.  Every available bit of vegetable garden land will be put to use.”

“Meatless days are being observed by millions of Americans on Tuesdays, and Wednesdays are being observed as wheatless days, thereby helping conserve the food supply.”

May 1918: “Don’t forget to provide against possible sugar shortage by planting some sorghum.  It can be planted until May 10. An experience farmer suggests breaking up a corner of pasture land and fencing it off, then planting the tract to sorghum.”

November 1918:  “The world is hungry.  America now plans on relieving the distress in Austria, Russia…in addition to what it had been doing before the Armistice.  We must all co-operate to eliminate waste, to save our of our abundance in order that the needy of other lands may have food.  Food won the war.  Food will save humanity.”

You are invited to learn about Thanksgiving in WWI at SCHS on Thursday, November 16 with a talk at tasting of WWI recipes. (click on the image below to register)

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