Monday, August 13, 2018

Dear Sister . . .

Rudolph arrived at Camp Cody, near Deming, New Mexico by train in August 1918.  Camp Cody was one of numerous training camps created nationwide beginning in May 1917.  Sixteen National Army cantonments included Camp Dix, Wrightstown, New Jersey; and Camp Travis, San Antonio, Texas.  Sixteen National Guard camps included Camp Bowie, Fort Worth, Texas; Camp Logan, Houston, Texas; and Camp Cody.  These camps were quickly erected with wood frame barracks, quarters, administrative buildings, hospitals, warehouses, kitchens and mess halls, plus tents on wooden platforms for most of the trainees.

Rudolph Beyer in UniformWhy Rudolph was sent to far away New Mexico instead of San Antonio, Houston or Fort Worth is unclear.  Other newspapers reported new draftees heading to these camps.  One report about a few Texas soldiers being sent to Camp Cody speculated that there were bunks needing to be filled.  What is clear is that in time of war the National Guard was merged with the Regular Army and Army Reserves.  All were serving the Army of the United States.
Rudolph mentioned "That Kruger boy from Taylor" who may have been Arthur Krueger mentioned in the Taylor Press article the morning Rudolph was drafted.  I have not been able to find a family connection to Arthur even though Rudolph married into the Andrew Krueger family after the war.  Arthur may have been from the Frederich Krueger family, which is more distantly related.  He also mentions "Carter from Beaukiss", who may have been Silas Carter, who also traveled from Taylor with him.

"Casual Camp" was apparently a temporary quarantine area for brand new soldiers to minimize influx if illness and to sort out which ones were best suited for different military assignments.  The army's program for managing health is also reflected in his comment about getting his first (vaccination) shot.

Rudolph asked Ella how they were getting along with picking.  Like most farming families in eastern Williamson County, the Beyer family grew cotton on their farm of more than 240 acres, purchased as undeveloped land and cleared by hand.

I can't imagine that Rudolph had traveled much before this time.  There was much work to do on the farm.  Although photos show that the Beyers may have had an automobile by then, this was the time of the Model T Ford, which was limited to about 45 miles per hour.  Horse and mule power were still common, especially on farms.  He wrote, "I wish you could see this country once . . . ."  He clearly enjoyed seeing new places, even as the landscape dried up as he was transported west to New Mexico.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

After a Year of Waiting, Rudolph Beyer was Drafted

Although Rudolph Beyer had registered early on National Registration Day for the draft, he wasn't actually drafted right away.  Registration order numbers (#15 for him) were selected on the basis of a lottery by the local draft board to determine who would be called up for the draft to meet national military force personnel requirements.  The local board lottery system was established to avoid problems experienced the last time mandatory conscription was enacted - in particular, draft riots that occured in New York during the Civil War!

This new draft lottery system was enacted July 20, 1917.  On July 24, 1917, the Taylor Daily Press published detailed instructions about how men would be notified that they had been called up, when to appear to complete required forms and physical examinations, how to file exemptions and appeals, and other details.  This notice filled half of page three of the newspaper under the headline shown above.

More than a year later, on August 8, 1918, Rudolph appeared before the local board and was drafted.  We can assume from the instructions in the newspaper that at some point he became aware that his number was coming up by checking lists posted at the local draft board office and that he completed all required forms and physical examinations before that date.  The next morning, August 9th at 4:55, he was ordered to board a train in Taylor, bound for Camp Cody, nearing Deming, New Mexico, along with eleven other men from Williamson County.  Grandpa Beyer was a soldier in the U.S. Army.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

One Hundred and One Years Ago, Today

On June 5, 1917, my grandfather, Rudolph Ernest Beyer, left his family farm in Beyersville, Texas, before the 6 o'clock sunrise and headed for Taylor.  He was a young, social, single man, 22 years of age and the son of German immigrants.  He had learned to work hard helping to clear mesquite brush, prickly pear cactus and rattlesnakes from his father’s cotton farm.  Although June 5th was a Tuesday with sunny weather, there would be little time for work that morning. 

This was National Registration Day.  Two months before, on April 6th, at President Woodrow Wilson's urging, the United States Congress voted to declare war on the German Empire.  A few weeks later, The Selective Service Act of 1917 was passed, authorizing the federal government to raise an army through conscription.  All able-bodied men from age of 21 to 30 were required to register for the military draft on June 5th. 

Registration for the draft in Taylor was organized by the Taylor Council of National Defense, a committee of ten persons appointed to cooperate with the National Defense Council and the State Defense Council in a number of ways, including "To assist and list all available men and women in this city and county for the different needs of the nation and aid for such recruiting as is required by the government from the lists when so completed, for the army, navy, Red Cross, motor and all other essential departments of the government."  (The Taylor Daily Press, April 23, 1917, page 4).

The response on that Tuesday morning in Taylor was remarkable.  "Throngs of the young men of this city between the ages of 21 and 31 were anxiously awaiting the opening at 6:30 o'clock.  When the poll opened at exactly 7 o'clock a mad rush was made to offer their services to the United States in this great fight of Democracy vs. Autocracy.  Ferguson Allison was the first to register and Paul Baur, second." (The Taylor Daily Press, June 5, 1917, page 1).

Registration Card for Rudolph Beyer, age 22, June 5, 1917.  Note that his was registration #15.
Since Rudolph was number fifteen, he was near the front of the line of young men waiting for the doors to open so early that morning.  In Taylor alone, so many young men were on hand to register, officials had to go to Georgetown, Texas, to get more registration forms.  In all, 957 men were registered that day.

Taylor Registers 957 Young Men
The Taylor Daily Press, June 6, 1917, page 1,
retrieved from

I do not know whether Grandpa was simply eager to join the fight or if he was anxious to show he was more American than some people might have assumed because his parents came from Germany - he may have had other reasons as well.  In later years Grandpa often talked about doing his part by serving in the army.

At the time, Grandpa lived with his parents and three of his four living siblings.  The oldest, sister Olga was 29 and had been married to Fritz Becker for six years.  Sister Ella was 25.  Brothers Emil and Ewald were 18 and 14, respectively.  The family may have gone to town together to see the huge patriotic parade and rally, and perhaps gather with friends.  

Taylor Shows Appreciation of Young Men Who Regiser
The Taylor Daily Press, June 5, 1917, page 1, 
retrieved from
Click image for larger version.
Rudolph Ernest Beyer would be drafted a year later on August 8, 1918.  He frequently wrote letters to his sister, Ella Beyer, while he was away from home.  I have copies or originals of about twenty of those letters that I want to share as their 100th anniversary dates come up.  

Grandpa's life was defined by his family, his faith, his community and his vocation, but as lives so often happen, the forces that came into play during his military service transformed every part of his life thereafter.  

Edits:  Date correction in first sentence - June 5, 1917.  Replaced image of registration card with one that is much clearer from - KRH

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Where Should I Go from Here?

I started this blog with the stories of Moritz and Marie Beyer because I had a lot of information, thanks in large part to my Grandpa Rudolph Beyer and Great-aunt Ella Beyer Hardi, whose notes and writings made up the most important parts of my posts.  I merely filled in the blanks and lined everything up by date.  It was a lot of fun.

Now I have to choose my next project and I'm a bit stymied.  There are several ancestral lines from which I can choose.  I don't have a wealth of personal stories for most of them like I do with Moritz and Marie Beyer, but I find them interesting anyway.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Moritz & Marie Beyer: Family Group Sheet

Moritz & Marie Beyer: The Senior Years

About 1925 – Back row: Olga & Fritz Becker, Sam Hardi, Emil Beyer, Rudolph & Augusta Beyer
Seated: Ella Hardi with daughter Elfrieda, Moritz & Marie Beyer & Ewald.
Ella's daughter Marie Hardi & Rudolph's son Hugo Beyer in front. 
On December 18, 1920, just three days before his son Rudolph and daughter Ella celebrated their double wedding, Moritz Beyer's land acquisitions were completed when he purchased 158 acres from Herman Schmidt, in the southeast portion of the Rutersville College Survey. He now had a total of about 400 acres of farmland.