100 Years Ago – November 1918
The Haddams Celebrate Armistice
Selected from the pages of The Evening Press and lightly annotated by Sally Haase
Higganum, November 1, 1918: Services at the Congregational church will be resumed on Sunday as the board of health has consented. The churches in town have been closed for three weeks, on account of the epidemic, which has now subsided.
[These articles have by choice not used the names of residents who were ill or died from the Spanish flu. Local newspapers reported many names of those stricken with the flu in the Haddams. Surely there were many more who were not reported.]
Haddam, November 4, 1918: Maurice E. Sullivan of Hyannis, Mass., has brought suit against Emil Schutte [of Cremation Hill notoriety] of Haddam to recover $1,000 damages. He alleges that the parties entered into an agreement whereby the plaintiff paid over to the defendant the sum of $300 as a deposit on the purchase of certain real estate in Haddam amounting to upwards of 150 acres. The defendant executed a bond for a deed and agreed to give a warranty deed when the balance of $1,700 was paid. The plaintiff alleges that he tendered the balance but the defendant declined to give a warranty deed of the place. It further alleged that at the time of the agreement the defendant stated there were 1,000 hickory poles on the place of sixty foot lengths. This was part of the consideration for the sale. It is now set up that are not 1,000 hickory poles…and in fact there are not any hickory poles on the premises. It further alleged that the defendant agreed to give a warranty deed of the place and set forth that he was the owner thereof. As a matter of fact the plaintiff now claims that the defendant did not have the title to the same.
Middletown, November 7, 1918: Local Celebration Over Rumor. The local celebration starting at 1 o’clock over the reported peace news from abroad set the whole city in a fever of wild excitement and Main street presented an appearance something like old times prior to the war. The bell at W. & B. Douglas started to ring, while the whistles at the factory of Wilcox, Crittenden started to blow followed by other factory sirens and church bells. School children did not attend to their duties in school judging from the troops of youngsters following the parades and joining in the hilarity of the occasion. Plans were under way to have big demonstrations that evening, when the announcement came that the signing of an armistice had not been confirmed.
East Haddam, November 8, 1918: East Haddam did her part as usual in the premature celebration of yesterday afternoon. The siren on the bridge was blown inside and out, with the noise aided by small horns in the hands of old and young. Bells rang, and a parade with Grump at its head with the drum, marched through the village. Several parties autoed to Middletown last evening to witness the big celebration, which failed to materialize.
Washington, November 11, 1918: “The armistice was signed this morning. Everything for which America fought has been accomplished. It will now be our fortunate duty to assist by example, by sober friendly council and by material aid in the establishment of a just democracy throughout the world,” said President Wilson, in a brief statement.
Middletown, November 11, 1918: Middletown received the glad tidings of peace this morning the same as the country at large. A telephone message to The Evening Press was communicated to the Fire Department and the three six alarm was turned in. From that minute the city and surrounding country was alive. At 6:20 A.M. an extra edition of The Evening Press, telling of the signing of the armistice was on the streets. Parade after parade formed with autos bedecked with all the flags of the allies and pandemonium for the time reigned supreme. It seemed as though the whole town had deserted the breakfast table to help make the affair one to be remembered.
The dramatic headline from a Local Newspaper:
Moodus, November 12, 1918: At an early hour Monday morning, the people of this town were awakened by the ringing of bells and a report of guns, announcing the armistice was signed. A parade was started by Mr. Beckwith, with his base drum and Mr. W.N. Manee, with a gun at his shoulder. Their wives, bearing the colors of Old Glory, followed through Main street, the people falling into line. Musicians, with every kind of instrument, helped to swell the noise.
At 10:30 the people of East Haddam caught the spirit of the Moodus noises and proposed an automobile parade. A free pass was given over the East Haddam bridge, and the party went as far as the court house in Haddam. [Similar celebrations were held in Haddam from early morning to late in the evening.]
Editorial from The Evening Press, November 15, 1918: When the shouting and tumult shall have died away we may have time to think once more of Middletown and its homes. By taking heed as a nation we might have prevented the spread of influenza. The cost of the epidemic in men and money can never be estimated. We need a campaign of education to prevent the wastage in human life. In other words, it is as important to save our citizens at home as overseas. A trifling addition to our taxes would pay the salaries of health police to aid our health officer. Homes must be sanitary and not over-crowded, food must be adequate and public health consciences aroused and educated.
From Wilson’s Thanksgiving Message, November 18, 1918: “It has long been our custom to turn in the autumn of the year in praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God for His many blessings…..This year we have special and moving cause to be grateful and to rejoice. God has in His good pleasure given us peace. It has not come as a mere cessation of arms, a mere relief from the strain and tragedy of war. It has come as a great triumph of right. Complete victory has brought us, not peace alone, but the confident promise of a new day as well, in which justice shall replace force and jealous intrigue among nations.”
[Haddam: Walter Schutte’s War Record showed that he served at the Panama Canal Zone and was transferred to Fortress Monroe, VA October 30, 1918. There he wrote that he contacted “influenza, then pneumonia which caused a displacement of the heart.”]
Shailerville: Corporal William T. Woodruff was killed on October 16th, in the Argonne forest in France, by machine gun fire while going over the top.
100 years ago, much has changed and, then again, nothing has changed.