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 Newspapers.com

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 Newspapers.com.
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 Ancestry.com. - 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.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Moritz & Marie Beyer: After the War

Rudolph came home from the Army and adjustments needed to be made. The Veterans Bureau gave him the choice of learning sign language or lip reading. Since none of his family knew sign language and would have to be trained, he chose to read lips. That way, he could communicate with his family and nearly anyone else without having to teach them a new skill.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Moritz & Marie Beyer: Oldest Son is Drafted

On April 6, 1917, the United States was formally entered the first World War by declaring war on Germany.  Since 1914, a brutal, grinding war had been raging between the "Triple Entente" - Great Britian, France and Russia - and the Central Powers - the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria.  The U.S. Congress passed a selective draft law on May 18, 1917, and the first American troops arrived in France on June 26, 1917.

My grandfather, Rudolph Ernest Beyer, was drafted into the Army of the United States on August 8, 1918, at Taylor, Texas.