AS ANOTHER PART of their patriotic duty, private citizens were asked to contribute money to the war effort through the purchase of Liberty Bonds – so named because the money was “devoted to the establishment of liberty in Europe and on the high seas.”
Issued in eight denominations from $50 to $100,000, the bonds were sold during four nationwide Liberty Loan campaigns. Competitions sprang up between towns as to who could sell the most bonds. In the last campaign, concluded in October 1918, Sheridan County alone raised nearly a million dollars in donations ranging from five to five thousand dollars.
Although prosperous residents like the Kendricks gave thousands of dollars, bonds weren’t just for the wealthy. War Thrift Stamps were for those who couldn’t afford to give more than a few cents at a time. Sixteen of the 25-cent stamps could be exchanged for a $4 War Savings Stamp (called a Baby Bond). Twenty of these could then be converted to a War Savings Certificate worth $100 at maturity (after the war was over).
The voluntary fundraising effort was a tremendous success. Well over $21 billion dollars – nearly two-thirds of the cost of the war – was pledged between April 1917 and October 1918.
THE AMERICAN RED CROSS
VOLUNTARY SERVICE WAS an important way to contribute to the war effort. There were several organizations devoted to helping soldiers and sailors at home and overseas, among them the YMCA and YWCA, the Liberty League and – the biggest of them all – the American Red Cross. Between 1916 and 1919, some eight million volunteers were mobilized under the auspices of this nationwide health care organization.
With her husband serving in the U.S. Senate, Eula Kendrick spent the war years in Washington, where she volunteered with the Red Cross:
Nearly everyone [in the capital] is contributing his bit, either at home or in clubs, meeting in church parlors, club buildings, or as we, the Ladies of the Senate do, at the headquarters of the Red Cross. It is here the boxes are packed and shipped to the front.
Sheridan’s Red Cross volunteers had a variety of committees on which they could serve: the Hospital Garment Committee, the Surgical Dressing Committee, the Knitting Committee and – perhaps the one with the highest visibility – the Canteen Committee.
Opened in August 1918, Sheridan’s Red Cross Canteen was located at the Burlington Depot on Broadway. The 12’ x 20’ building was built entirely by volunteer labor using donated materials and was staffed by unpaid workers serving food prepared and donated by local businesses. Every single meal was free.
One of 700 such operations located across the nation, the canteen’s “clients” were soldiers and sailors traveling by train to training camps, embarkation points and military outposts. Because there were no dining cars on the troop trains, the men really appreciated the coffee, doughnuts, sandwiches, fruit and other snacks provided by the canteen. As the men of Montana State College’s Officers’ Training Corps noted in October 1918,
We sincerely and gratefully thank you and all personnel connected with the organization for the warm welcome and glorious repast and will do our best to repay you by worthy deeds “over there.”
It didn’t matter if it was day or night, sunny or snowing: everyone got fed. By war’s end, the Sheridan canteen had served over 7,300 soldiers, sailors and Marines.
A Whole-House Exhibit at the Trail End State Historic Site
April 2017 through December 2018
Detail from Poster, "Wake Up America," 1917 (LOC)
Sheet Music, 1917 (LOC)
State Historic Site