Did You Know? World War I


By Audrey Schiesser | Local Happenings

Stories Inspired From "World War I Period" by Elmer Sword

In our sixth edition of “Did You Know?” with local tales from our county’s history, we are heading to the time period of World War I.

The Alert Is Sounded

The afternoon of March 27, 1917 was a well remembered one by the Portsmouth residents. At 1:00pm Captain W. J. Keyes, Commander of Company K, of the 7th Regiment of Ohio National Guard, received a long distance call from Adjutant General Wood who was stationed in Columbus. He instructed Captain Keyes to mobilize thirty enlisted men and two officers for immediate guard duty. They were to head to the new C&O northern bridge at Sciotoville.

Not long after a loud shrill blasts from the siren at the Selby Shoe company plant. The men of Company K knew it was their alert signal. They rushed out of their homes and workplaces to their Armory which was located Seventh and Chillicothe streets.

All Willing To Serve

Once the alarm sounded men piled in to help out. They gathered eight more men than they needed. When the First Sergeant told eight men to leave, nobody moved a muscle. They were all ready to serve their country. More men piled in to help later but were sent home. Once they were organized the men departed for Sciotoville. Residents gathered around to send them off with an ovation of love and encouragement.

Recruiting Tent At Esplanade

Two days after the alert a recruiting tent was opened on the Gallia street esplanade in an effort to recruit 30 and 35 men. They had several young men stop by for information on how they can join. Doctors William D Schafer and W.E. Gault signed up that day.

Local Red Cross Chapter Organized

The National Red Cross had come to Scioto county as a benefactor in 1844 and 1913 when the disastrous floods hit. Our local chapter was not organized until 1917. The needs of the local soldiers and their families became so great that locals came together to help out their neighbor. Attorney Harry W. Miller became the first chairman.


We hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of “Did You Know?”. Check back next week as we fast forward to “The Depression Years”.


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