Each week we’ll take a step back into the history of Great Bend through the eyes of reporters past. We’ll reacquaint you with what went into creating the Great Bend of today, and do our best to update you on what “the rest of the story” turned out to be
One hundred years ago this week, the world was just beginning to feel the fallout of the murder of the Romanov family, which occurred on July 17, 1918. The family was assassinated in the basement of their home by Bolsheviks in 1918, as the White Army approached to liberate them from their captors. Their bodies were buried in secret unmarked graves, but Russian historians found them in the late 1990s, and through testing determined they were indeed the Romanov family members.
Russia buried Tsar Nicholas II and family 80 years after they died. The country was led then by Boris Yeltsin, buried five of the seven members of Tsar Nicholas II family, 80 years after their death. Two members, however, were buried in a separate grave that was not discovered until 2007. By then, Yeltsin had turned power over to Vladimir Putin, and the Russian Orthodox Church had regained its footing of power in the country. Now, the identities of the entire family are again in question.
But, this did not make news in The Great Bend Tribune. Instead, the headlines contained updates on the fighting in France and advances being made on the Germans. Major headlines in all caps included, “American troops have crossed the Marne defeating Germans,” “French dominate railroad on Marne front,” “The Allies continue to hold all hat they gained yesterday,” “Every defense is feeble and weak,” and “The big drive has slowed up little but advance still continues.”
Most of the local news was war related too, as civilians back home strove to show their patriotism and support for the troops, tending war gardens, learning to substitute flour and sugar in their baking, honoring the young men called to the front, and supporting the Red Cross.
“To hear the ladies talk about the cooking demonstration in charge of Miss Susanna Schnemayer at the Presbyterian church yesterday afternoon just makes your mouth water. The ladies, and there were about 150 present, were so enthusiastic over the splendid results obtained that Miss Schnemayer was asked to give a second demonstration tomorrow, which will be on sugar. Yesterday’s demonstration was on wheat. They say she makes a “scrumptious” cake out of substitutes. One lady who went home to look after her baby during the demonstration had to hurry back she was so interested.”
Red Cross Donation
A short time ago Frank Harmison offered to give a half a day’s run of his threshing machine to the Red Cross and tomorrow afternoon has been set for the time. The men of the crew are not to be outdone by Frank so that they have donated their time and beginning after dinner all the receipts from the afternoon’s run will belong to the Red Cross. The price for threshing is 15 cents a bushel and if the run should amount to 1,500 or 2,000 bushels the red Cross would receive $225 to $300. Anyone who wants to help can pitch wheat or get in as they please. The machine will stand all they want to give it.
Mrs. Harmison and Mrs. Breeden are going to take a party of ladies out tomorrow afternoon and it is thought there will be a great many who would like to go. All who wish to are invited to attend and see the run, particularly the members of the Red Cross. It is to be held at the Mike Keenan place three miles west and one south of the Sam Gwinn corner, just west of town.”
Off to Camp
“It was another morning for a large crowd at the Santa Fe depot for this morning 11 of our colored boys left for Fort Riley where they will don the khaki and do their part for Uncle Sam. They marched to the station with the Great Bend band leading the procession. The members of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) stood at attention in front of the G.A.R. hall until the boys had passed then they dropped in behind and marched with them. There was a big crowd of people at the train to give them a rousing send-off and the train pulled out with them yelling “on to Berlin,” and on to Berlin it will be too, for the colored soldier is mighty proud of the U.S.A. and he will never retreat before a menace to that country and what it is fighting for.”
Tending the garden
“Mrs. Peyton’s Sunday School class have been busy today weeding and caring for their war garden. They have planted the lot at the Mrs. Dave Harris place, Broadway and Morton, in pinto beans and for a time this summer it looked like there would be no crop but the recent rains changed things and the beans are coming out in fine shape.”
81 to fight the Kaiser
A few days after the 11 black soldiers left Great Bend on the Santa Fe headed for Fort Riley, a much larger group assembled at the depot.
“If ever Barton county was well represented it was last night when 81 of her boys left for Camp Funston to help swell the throng the Huns are pleased to call “Devil Dogs.” and Fritz has every reason to believe devotedly in his self termed title, for the American boys according to the dispatches are giving him all he ever knew or hopes to know of hell and its imps.
6.000 people from all parts of the county surged up and down the platform, tracks, box cars and every available place human feet and bodies could find. Everybody shaking hands with the departing boys, wishing them good luck, a speedy and safe return. The band played the songs of the Civil War that sent the “boys in blue” to the front with tout hearts and cheering voices -- so went the Barton County boys last night. The only hitch was the delayed train, which came in an hour after scheduled time; and pedestrians grew weary resting like a stork, first on one foot and then the other. But the enthusiasm never ceased and when the train pulled out the cheering thousands made the welkin ring. The registered boys were escorted to the depot by the band, the Home Guards and a long procession of automobiles and one of the cherished memories will be the farewells waved by proud fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives and sweethearts. It sort of made every man feel like packing up his kit and singing “We’re coming Uncle Samuel, 300,000 strong.”