While the American Legion Post 122 in Warrenton stopped serving members in 2017, the post ends its existence looking back on a 100-year history and the continuance of a post in Marthasville it helped create.
With the signing of the Armistice, Nov. 11, 1918, World War I ended and the most important thing for American soldiers was returning home. The longer they remained in France, the more restless they became. General headquarters thought something should be done to improve the moral of the troops and authorized a meeting of 20 National Guard and reserve officers to obtain recommendations. The group met in Paris, France, Feb. 16, 1919, and drafted a series of recommendations that were designed to improve the welfare of enlisted personnel of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) and make life more attractive while they waited for ships to take them home.
Theodore Roosevelt, one of the delegates, believed the time was right for some kind of organization for veterans. It was a critical time. Four thousand men were being demobilized from service and would need employment. Many soldiers needed hospital care.
After a series of caucuses, including one in St. Louis, the American Legion was chartered by an act of Congress on Sept. 16, 1919.
In Warren County, in accordance with a letter from Adj. Gen. H. C. Clark of Jefferson City, temporary chairman for Missouri, ex-servicemen invited to the courthouse April 26, 1919, to select delegates to the American Legion Convention in St. Louis May 8-10, 1919. In response, 20 soldiers met at the Warren County Courthouse and formed a temporary organization in Warren County. Capt. A. W. Ebeling was chosen temporary chairman, Henny Poisse, temporary secretary, Arthur Johannaber was chosen delegate to the district convention in Mexico, Mo.
After the convention, a group of World War I veterans from Warrenton decided to start an American Legion Post, the first American Legion in Warren County. The application for that first charter was made Nov. 10-12, 1919. These are the veterans who filed:
Andrew P. Busekrus
The charter was granted for Warren County Post 122, Feb. 28, 1920. The members met in the Eisenstein building in downtown Warrenton. They purchased 2 acres of land at the edge of town on North 47. At the time, it was all land. Today, it’s where Burger King and Wendy’s are located. With Friedens Evangelical Church, now Friedens United Church of Christ, moving into a new location, the Legion made arrangements to use building materials from the old church to build the first American Legion Hall.
The hall was built by members and with help from the community. It had a full basement, a bar and a ballfield, with lights added later. Money was raised by holding dances, dinners and hall rentals. The hall had a hand-fueled coal furnace and the pipes, which froze in winter, had to thaw before functions. The floor was even less reliable. Every time the Legion had a dance, repairs were needed. Another problem arose as bricks fell from the old furnace.
The first location lost some of its land to the state highway department when it bought land in preparation for what would eventually be Interstate 70. Eventually, the building was sold and meetings were moved to Truesdale Community Hall, now Truesdale City Hall. From there they moved to 1209 East North Outer Road, and then to a location off Highway W. That would be the last in Warrenton, but a post in Marthasville is still active.
The American Legion in Warrenton helped establish the opening of the Marthasville American Legion Post. On Dec. 3, 1930, the Warren County Post came to Marthasville to hold one of its regular meetings there. Along with the meeting, they held a membership drive, a drum and bugle corps., and parade. They were invited to open a local post. They met Feb. 3, 1931, in the old Evangelical Church building and applied for a charter.
Here are the Charter members for what would become the Marthasville American Legion Post No. 180:
G.C. Johnson, MD
Edward F. Lichtenberg
H.H. Schmidt, MD
The history of the American Legion in Warren County was compiled by Wilbur Harlan, who was commander of the post in 1962-1965, 1971-1972 and 1989.
At its end, American Legion Post 122 closed its hall, also known as Beachhead Bar, in February of 2017. The Sons of the American Legion Squadron 122 stated, via Facebook, that financial issues were partly responsible for the closing.
This story was provided by the Warren County Historical Society, which is funded by donations and run by volunteers. The museum is located at 102 W. Walton in Warrenton, and is open from 10 to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, to attend an event or to make a donation, call 636-456-3820 or email museum@warrencountymohistory. com.