Morrisville and The Great War
In 1914, the murder of the Austrian Arch Duke, Ferdinand, sent Europe into the first of the World Wars. Fighting between the Central and Allied forces bogged down into trench warfare. Why would America, and specifically Morrisvillians, be pulled into this conflict three years later on the side of the Allied forces? Strong ties to Victorian culture indicate why we would side with our oldest friends in Britain. Meanwhile at home, people said goodbye to loved ones, learned to ration goods for a national cause, and women gained a new sense of power.
Entrance into the War
For the first three years of the European war, America remained neutral. In 1917, America joined the British side because of the sinking of the Lusitania. The Lusitania was a British passenger liner sunk by a German U-boat on May 7th, which cost the lives of 1200 individuals. One hundred and twenty-eight of these 1200 were American men, women, and children. After the Lusitania was sunk many Americans clamored for war, mostly Americans from the east coast. America joined the war to support the British because we had strong British ties.
Morrisville today has evidence proving that we were close to the British. Evidence is mostly shown in Morrisville's Victorian Fashions. The latest fashion in London was a normal silhouette. A "harem" skirt was a present day slacks. Most of the general skirts were about eight inches from the ground, which is shorter then earlier days, and they flared out. The men at this time wore tailored suits. A picture of the 1904 Peoples Academy student body shows these changes. Also present in the museum are collections of fashion magazines and the latest patterns straight from London.
The collection of the pitchers and the creamers owned by Mrs. May Terrill Cheney contains a wide spread of collectable portraits of the Royal Family. The coronation of the Royal Family during the reign of George V and Queen Mary in the year 1911 was commemorated of her pitcher collection.
During WWI there were 56 volunteers for active military service from Morrisville. There ended up being 63 men from Morristown to fight in WWI overseas. The twenty-sixth division and the Yankee division were popular infantry units for the men of that entered WWI. Three hundred fifty men were transferred from the Vermont infantry regiment to the twenty-sixth division. A lot of men joined other infantries and went overseas. The first person to go overseas from Morrisville was Perley Laird. Three of Morristown's son's were killed in action: Ernest Ward, Smith Warren, and Morton Stiles while Eugene Burroughs died of wounds. Three other men connected to and buried in Morrisville died during the great Influenza Epidemic.
When the United States had entered the war there was already shortage of food. But then when the soldiers needed more supplies the people that were left home had even less food. The United States had to maintain 4,500,000 men on the frontline The second year the allies needed 50 % more food from the United States, so that set us back even more. The government stepped in and made a new Act called the Food Administration. The United States had to prepare for after the war as well because there were going to be 180,000,000 refugees and victims of Germany without food. The Food Administration was designed to regulate what people had to eat so all people could have food. The menus was set up in the following way
Wheat less day and Meatless Meal
Tuesday + Thursday:
Meatless Day and Wheatless Meal
Wheatless meal and Meatless Meal
Porkless day and Wheatless Meal
Wheatless Meal and Meatless Meal
Women's Involvement in WW I
The war became a very big part of people's lives once it occurred and until it was over. Women for instance lent an important hand in this war. When the men left for war there were a lot of empty spots in a lot of jobs the women couldn't get before that they could get now.
Not all of the women stayed home and worked jobs however, a lot of them joined up. Almost eleven thousand wore Navy blue as "Yeomanettes," and about three hundred joined the Marines and were called "Marinettes." Some of the women were leaders during war time in such organizations as the Women's Camouflage Corps.
Some of the ones who did stay back home served a good use, young and old worked on socks, sweaters, mufflers, helmets, and other articles used to comfort the men while on the front. Other women worked on surgical dressings, bandages, knitted sponges, and all the other things used in the hospitals.
Many other women joined the Red Cross and the U.S. Army Corps of Nurses. In Morristown like Effie Smalley whose Navy Uniform and Red Cross certificate can be seen here.