The Great War, 100 years later

Posted 11/7/19

One hundred years ago on April 6, 1917, Americans left home to fight in World War I. Among them were more than 400 people from Warren County who volunteered to serve. By then the war had been ongoing …

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The Great War, 100 years later

One hundred years ago on April 6, 1917, Americans left home to fight in World War I.Among them were more than 400 people from Warren County who volunteered to serve.By then the war had been ongoing since 1914 in Europe. The United States had adopted a neutral position until the German military downed American passenger and merchant ships off the coast of England.The sinking of the passenger ship Lusitania changed minds in the United States and led Congress to declare war.Woodrow Wilson, who was the president of the United States for the duration of the war, was quoted saying this would be “The war that will end war.”The war was fought by air, sea and on land in trenches using the most technologically advanced weapons any previous war had seen.Warren County men and Central Wesleyan students served as cooks, blacksmiths, musicians, wagoners, mechanics, officers, gunners and foot soldiers. Women served as Red Cross nurses.As Germany continued its aggression, drawing Europe and the United States, into World War I, Central Wesleyan College in Warrenton played down its German heritage.In areas settled by Germans, some of the Old World customs that were discarded during that time would never return.Two World War I soldiers were honored in Warrenton for a long time.John W. Humphrey was born in and reared in Truesdale. He enlisted in the National Army in Butte, Mont. Humphrey served in France until he was killed in action July 18, 1918. He was the first Warren Countian to give his life for the great cause.Louis R. Schwerdt was the second Warren Countian to make the sacrifice in the line of duty. He was from the Bernheimer area. Schwerdt enlisted Oct. 5, 1917, and was killed in action Sept. 30, 1918.The Veterans of Foreign Wars in Warrenton was named in memory of Humphrey and Schwerdt.By the war’s end, 48,000 had enlisted and 108,000 were drafted by the Selective Service Act, which Congress had passed May 18, 1917. By the end of April 1917, more than 3,700 volunteers from Missouri had answered the call to serve.Missouri suffered 11,172 casualties during the length of the war. Warren County suffered 29 fatalities by the end of the war.A monument to the Central Wesleyan men who had fought for the country was erected on the college campus and then moved to the Warrenton City Cemetery.The archives at the Warren County Historical Society has a proclamation dated Monday, Nov. 11, 1918. It is signed by Mayor A. E. Klingenberg.It reads: “Out of regard for the signing of world peace treaties and for the closing of the world war the City Board of Aldermen hereby declares a holiday. All businessmen and the citizens of our City are asked to observe this important event in a fitting manner.”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 information, to attend an event or to make a donation, call 636-456-3820 or email

Central Wesleyan College created a monument to recognize the men who fought in World War I. It was originally erected at the college and then moved to Warrenton City Cemetery. Submitted photo.