Barberton During WWI
By: Sarah Hays, Local History Librarian
2018 is the centennial year of the United States joining its European allies in World War I, and many are remembering the impact of the “War to End All Wars.” Though it is frequently called “the Forgotten War,” its outcomes continue to influence our world. In Barberton, the Lake Anna Park cannon is the only tribute to those who served in the military during World War I, and though their names do not appear on the Barberton Honor Wall, their contributions and service to the country should not be forgotten.
On April 6, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson formally declared war on Germany. Three days later, Barberton hosted a large patriotic demonstration and parade in support of the war effort. Five hundred people participated in the parade, including school children, three bands, and veterans of the Civil War. Each person marching in the parade carried an American flag. Many prominent officials, such as J.W. Bishop, Barberton’s mayor; U.L. Light, the superintendent of schools; and A.J. Heiman, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, gave speeches encouraging citizens to do their part to help the United States in the war effort. During the demonstration, the factories showed their support by blowing their whistles continually for over half an hour.
Later that month, Barberton organized a Home Guard, designed to be a force that would drill for special home duties. A.J. Heiman was in charge of the group, and many people volunteered to help prepare and protect the city if necessary. In addition, many of the citizens who remained at home also took an active part in supporting the war effort by planting and maintaining war gardens and buying liberty bonds.
The draft was authorized in the summer of 1917. On July 20, thirty-six Barbertonians were selected in the first government drawing. Several of Barberton’s best-known and most popular citizens were among this first group of men, including: Ray Morton, the city solicitor; J.H. Pietrowsky, the superintendent of water works; L. Steinbeck, of the Steinbeck Drug Co.; John Adamson, of Adamson Bros. Grocery; and Fred Flickinger, real estate agent.
Next month, as this series about World War I continues, we will explore other home front activities that supported the soldiers.
On Thursday, August 16, join us as we discuss Barberton Landmarks. The program will be held in the Spillette Meeting Room at 6 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.