Below is one of my recent World War One era postcards finds:
The card is post marked from Rockford, IL and dated November 20, 1917. World War One would have one more year to go before the brutal fighting would be over. The US declared war on Germany in April of 1917 and was well on its way to mobilizing the National Guard and implementing the draft. I imagine that the sender of this card was a member of the National Guard or a recent draftee.
The Wisconsin National Guard was ordered into federal service on July 15th, 1917 about 3 months after the US declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungary. The organization of the Wisconsin Guard can be found here: Wisconsin National Guard, July 1917
The theme of the card reflects a common theme that soldiers and sailors from all countries involved in war express-the missing of sweethearts, wives and often children.
The soldier in this case appears to be a typical “doughboy” wearing the distinctive campaign hat. He is dreaming of his sweetheart and imagining the two of them together again. She appears in a rather ghostly type image and together they look like they are in a park. The scene seems to remind them of a time when war did not interrupt their plans of being together.
The painting is signed by Archie Gunn a well-known painter and illustrator during the period.
The card is addressed to Miss Bertha Nelson of Briggsville, Wis[consin] RR#1. RR stands for Rural Route. Briggsville is a small rural community in the Wisconsin Dells area.
A quick Google search for Bertha Nelson turned up quite a few hits but none that seemed to match the approximate age of the name on the card in 1917. Perhaps someone doing genealogy will find this post and recognize Miss Bertha Nelson.
The card is from “Walter.” My wife translated his writing into something legible. This is what he had to say:
Dear Bertha: Recd your letter and pictures. Thank you for them. Am well and hope this finds you all the same. Forty of our men left for Arkansas Saturday. Walter P. and Soren had to go. They say they were not so well fit for the artillery. I think they go in infantry. That’s what we hear anyway. I don’t think there was anything wrong with Soren or Walter. But we have to do what they say and not what we want about all the friends we made are gone but I know most all the rest and hope we stick together. With love, Walter.
Judging from what Walter has to say here he is most likely assigned to an Artillery Regiment. If it’s the Wisconsin National Guard unit mentioned above it would be The First Wisconsin Field Artillery Regiment.
My research on the Wisconsin soldiers of the National Guard seem to verify the Walter was a member of the First Wisconsin Field Artillery Regiment because after mobilization they were sent to Camp Grant, Rockford, IL. The Wisconsin National Guard was combined with the Michigan National Guard to form the 32nd Infantry Division known as the “Red Arrow” Division which saw service in both World Wars.
This is a wonderful addition to my small collection of post cards. I hope a relative of Miss Bertha Nelson finds this on the INET. I’d be happy to donate it to an appreciative family member.