September 19, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

It did not take long for someone to rebut the article of the sixteenth in the Oregon Statesman reporting the address by Dr. Wislicinus to the Salem German society. Writing as “An American German,” the writer takes specific issue with the strong defense of Germany as contrary to the President’s advice to avoid taking sides:

In your issue of the 16th appears a report of an address delivered before the German society by Dr. Wislicinus of Salem. I am surprised at the temper of the address. Our president has advised that the citizen refrain from taking sides by way of controversy pertaining to the great war now going on in Europe. And it is wise advice to give. The reason is apparent to all. The doctor has gone ahead however, and uttered inflammatory sentiments, ill according with a calm and courteous presentation of the case. I am surprised that the Statesman should have admitted the address into its columns and that too without comment or criticism. One might infer that the editor is in accord with the address though this is not probable.

The writer of this while not born in Germany is of German descent, his ancestors were natives of the fatherland. It is to be hoped that few Germans born in this country are in accord with that address so full of the spirit of partisan and of race prejudice. It is most discourteous even to an enemy. We who are Germans, Anglo Saxon, Frank or Slav have little to boast of when we consider the block from which we each were hewn. The modern nations of Europe are decedents of the wild and savage barbarian hordes who swarmed into the old Roman empire and divided it up in the fourth, fifth and sixth centuries. They devastated the country with pillage, fire and sword, even as their successors in blood relationship are doing today. Slight improvement on the savage warfare of the centuries past. The doctor should be careful how he throws stones. You could pull Saxon and Frank out of the same sack of fighting cats.

The doctor stirs one with pity as he refers us to “Michael, the Archangel,” whoever that may be. He does not tell us who his idol is but leaves us to infer. If it is the present emperor he is guilty of the sin of presumption as no human being, be he lord or ruler is “like God” as the name Michael implies. The doctor seems to forget he is not living in Germany under the shadow of this “archangel.” He seems to be about swallowed up with the old superstition of the “divine right of kings.” That does not go in this country. If any body as to the rulership is divine here it is the people. We settled that a long time ago. I am not the doctor’s enemy nor a traitor to the fatherland. No, not at all. We are all of one blood. God is our creator and Jesus Christ is our common savior. Let us stop feeling hateful toward our enemies, and try to cultivate charity and good will. Let us pray that this cruel, frightful war may soon end and the dove of peace may soon come to the homes of all. As I am less German than American, I subscribe myself – An American German.

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September 18, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

The Capital Journal headlines relay the intense battles taking place:

Russians and Austrians In Death Grip Along the River San

Germany’s Imperial Chancellor Broaches Subject to American Ambassador
Counter Proposals by Germany Might Then Lead to Final Agreement

Extent of British Losses Not Made Known But They Are Said To Be Enormous Continue reading

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Mrs. Phillip’s Hymnbook?

WHC's Collections. X2013.016.0004

WHC’s Collections. X2013.016.0004

This 1849 Methodist Hymnbook (X2013.016.0004) caused a bit of a quandary this afternoon while we were cataloging and putting it away. The book was found in the Willamette Heritage Center’s collections in 2013 without any accompanying documentation. The only clue as to where it came from is an inscription on the back cover, which reads: Elizabeth Phillips Book.


WHC Collections. 2007.001.1469. Al Jones Collection.

While putting in the information into our collections management database, I stumbled upon some other materials related to an Elizabeth Phillips. This other Elizabeth Phillips, born Hibbard in Shaftsbury, England on July 17, 1821 to John Hibbard and Mary Ann Doughty, arrived in Oregon in 1845. She had married John Phillips on February 13, 1839 in New Orleans County, Louisiana. The family settled in Polk County, Oregon. This Elizabeth Phillips died May 18, 1902 in Spring Valley, Polk County, Oregon and is buried in the Spring Valley Cemetery.

While it is tempting to believe that because this hymnal made it to a museum in Salem, Oregon, that it belonged to the Spring Valley Elizabeth Hibbard Phillips. Reality, would urge caution. There are potentially thousands of Elizabeth Phillips Continue reading

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September 17, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

Germans Making Titanic Efforts to Break Through the Allies’ Center
Paris Pours Reinforcements Out as Battle Grows Hourly More Desperate

The paper’s headlines continued to report the epic battles underway: “The Franco-British and German forces in France were locked today in another death embrace.” The First Battle of the Marne, fought during September resulted in over 520,000 casualties. Of the casualties, 81,700 Allied soldiers were killed in action during the seven day battle. Continue reading

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September 16, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

“Germans Take Up Position On The Aisne” read the headline in the Daily Oregon Statesman, which marks the start of the First Battle of the Aisne. To forestall any further retreat, the Germans began digging defensive trenches. The Battle of the Aisne saw the start of entrenched and dug-in positions that would spread along the length of the Western Front. Gone was the mobile warfare both sides envisioned in their pre-war strategic planning, replaced now by a war rooted in trenches from which neither side could be moved without tremendous and often futile cost. During the course of the war, trenches would become deeper and more sophisticated and would be the norm for warfare over the following three and a half years.

Readers interested in trench warfare and how trench warfare affected those involved can learn more at the BBC interactive website: Trench Warfare. The BBC website on World War I also has excellent resources for students and teachers that invite viewing the war from the perspectives of an observer, soldier, nurse, survivor, and from headquarters. A further BBC website, Schools World War I provides further resources. With the war now a century in the past, archeologists have begun research on the trenches. The Durand Group has a series of videos that describe their work and the continuing danger that exists on these battlefields from unexploded ordnance. Continue reading

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September 15, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

The Capital Journal headlines consisted of reporting rumors and the high expectations of the Entente allies:


Germans Reach Defenses Prepared in Advance and Turn to Give Battle

Only Report Confirmed Is That Surrender of Austrian Army Is Probability Continue reading

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September 14, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

“Line of Retreat Is Strewn With Dead; Cannon Abandoned” headlined an article by William Philip Sims for the United Press. Reporting that the danger of a siege had ended, the military governor of Paris, General Gallieni, notified the government that it could be brought back from Bordeaux “at any time.” Sims reported his visit to the front: Continue reading

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