Remembering World War I: St. Tammany Parish Answers the Call to Battle, Part 3

New military technologies and the horrors of warfare brought grim and ghastly levels of carnage and destruction. By the end of World War I, more than 16 million people--soldiers and civilians-- were dead. Measures to protect the economy were implemented. In St. Tammany Parish, civilians were asked to invest in war saving stamps and a proclamation from the President of the United States was noted in the local newspaper.

In the June 22, 1918 issue of the St. Tammany Farmer, the President’s proclamation stated, “To the People of the United States: This war is one of nations-not of armies-and all of our hundred million people must be economically and industrially adjusted to war conditions if this nation is to play its full part in the conflict." The governor of Louisiana also stated, “Whereas, thrift is at all times a virtue, and the nation that saves is the nation that prospers and mirrors the happiness and contentment of its people.” St. Tammany Parish businessmen also placed ads to warn citizens of the possible closure of their businesses due to draft enlistment. P.E. Smith, a local jeweler appealed to the citizens of St. Tammany to pick up any jewelry and watches for repair because he was drafted into the army and will close his business on July 15 (1918).

St. Tammany Parish continued on as usual in spite of war conditions in Europe. The St. Tammany Farmer, Saturday, July 13, 1918 issue reported town council meetings, police jury meetings, district court night sessions and school board proceedings. However, reminders of the war infiltrated the local paper with grim battle stories, steel ships being launched for the U.S. Navy from Madisonville and Slidell, and a listing of men and their place of residence that left the parish for training at military camps for the war.

The St. Tammany Parish Fair continued during the period of World War I. The headline from the front page of the Saturday, August 8, 1918 issue of the St. Tammany Farmer stated, “Get Ready for Fair." Sugar was a precious commodity during this time and governing rules concerning the sales of sugar by retailers were outlined in the St. Tammany Farmer, October 5, 1918 issue. One guideline stated that not more than two pounds of sugar will be allowed per person.

News breaking headlines from the November 11, 1918 St. Tammany Farmer stated, “The War is Over, Germany Quits”. Another article stated, “Kaiser Flees Germany Following Abdication; Crown Prince Also Out”. St. Tammany residents were overjoyed and their glee over the end of the war was happy, loud and joyous. According to the November 11, 1918 issue of the St. Tammany Farmer, the article, “How News Was Received Here” stated:

“Telegram to local board advises to go ahead with draft order. A little before 8:00 o’clock this morning, the whistle of the St. Tammany Ice & Manufacturing Company started the shrill blast that announced the war over. The news came over the wire and over the telephone, and soon auto horns, factory whistles, cowbells, drums and all kinds of noises told the people of Covington that the Kaiser’s reign of terror was over and that our boys had won the war. The day was beautiful and the faces of all the people shone with happiness. At 4:00 p.m. all the churches to unite in prayer and thanksgiving at the public square of the courthouse. Flags floated from vehicles and doorways and were waved from cars as they passed. At Slidell and Madisonville the shipyard employees broke loose into streaming, shouting parades. Mills all over the parish joined in the parade of jubilation and each town did its share in announcing the joy that was in the heart of all. There was pandemonium for a time, but it was a pandemonium of joy and there were tears in the eyes of some as they laughed in glee. The Local Board was advised by wire to proceed with the movement of drafted men as per order. Mayor Lacroix issued a proclamation authorizing a half holiday”.

Gold Star Casualty Search: Louisiana, St. Tammany Parish

Southeast Louisiana Veterans Cemetery
St. Tammany Parish Veterans Affairs Department

St. Tammany Parish World War I Memorial, a War Memorial

World War I Draft Registration Cards