(From "In the World War")
State Historic Site
WILLIAM AUGUST BLANSKY was born in Riverton, Illinois, in 1894. By the age of eighteen, he was living and working in Sheridan County, Wyoming. The son of a German-born coal miner, Bill Blansky entered the family business when he was just a teenager.
From 1912 until he entered the service in 1918, Blansky worked as an underground coal miner at the Sheridan Coal Company mines in Dietz, Wyoming. After the war, he returned to Dietz, but was unable to get a job there. By 1923, he'd gone to work for the Acme Coal Company, but that job only lasted a few years: in December 1927, Blansky died at the age of thirty-three, leaving behind a wife and two or three small children.
During the war, Bill Blansky served as a Private First Class with the 44th Engineers. His letters home - mostly to his sister, Anna Kawamoto - were short and somewhat repetitive, but with good reason: censorship.
13 August 1918
Dear Sister - I suppose you have been wondering why I haven't been writing. I am now in France. I like it as far as I have seen. It seems sort of strange to not be able to talk to people. I can't tell you just where I am, but I guess it doesn't make much difference. I haven't received any letters here, but being so far from home we can't expect to hear from each other very often. I don't know of any more to write just now, but I will write later. Tell everybody hello for me.
21 August 1918
Dear Sister - I am well; we have changed camps since I wrote you the last letter. I like it better here. I have learned a few words in French since I have been here. When I get back, you will wonder what I am saying for I may forget and think I am in France. To tell the truth, it doesn't seem as though I am in another country, for all of the boys are here. I was glad to get the clippings you sent. There is an American paper printed here, but it does not give much news of the states.
I haven't heard from [mama] since I left Fort Benjamin Harrison. I guess they are busy getting in the crops. I guess I don't have to worry much about the mine this winter, but I hope I will be home next winter. It is getting dark now, and we have to use candles for light so I will have to close. Tell everybody hello for me and don't worry as I am getting along fine.
6 September 1918
Dear Sister - Just a few lines to let you know I am well. You said in your last letter you sent me a box of cigarettes. I didn't receive them. I don't know if I will ever get them; but I may, as I was in New Jersey when they were sent. After this, don't send packages of any kind, as you remember about me telling you I won't receive them.
Everything is about the same here. I guess I won't know the railroad when I get home again, will I? Have they gotten as far as Dietz with the double track? There are two things I miss in France and they are ice cream and candy. There is a movie here. They show some good pictures, but you can't make much out them as the leads are all in French. I don't know of anything else to write, so I will close. Tell everybody hello for me.
24 September 1918
Dear Sister - I haven't received any mail from you for a week, but expect you are still well. I am well. I am working pretty hard these nights. I sleep most of the day time. I guess you wonder why I don't write oftener than I do, but there isn't much to write about here and there are things which we cannot write about, which may be interesting for the people at home
It is getting a little cooler at night here. Some French men told me that they don't have much snow here, and I hope they don't. I received the cigarettes yesterday and I sure thank you for them, for I have not seen or smoked a Camel cigarette since I left the states. Hoping this letter finds you well. I will close for this time.
15 October 1918
Dear Sister - I received your long looked for letter a few days ago. I am glad to hear you are well. I am well and hope to stay so. There has been a little frost here, but it hasn't been cold. I am working nights and have been for a month. I like the work I am doing pretty well. Well, I don't know any more to write, so I will close, hoping to hear from you soon.
22 October 1918
Dear Sister - Received your letter of Sept. 15 today. I also received a letter from mother; glad to hear you are all well. I am well and working every night. It rains quite a little here; we all have our winter underwear on and will have stoves in our barracks in a few days. Some of the fellows think they are having some hardships to stand, but if we do, I don't know where it is. But you know there are some fellows that would find cause to kick if they were in a football game.
Mother didn't write much. I suppose she thinks I am listening to the cannons roar, but no such luck, for the only cannon I hear is at a training camp not so very far from us. I don't know of anything else to write in the way of news that would interest you ... but you just wait until I get back. I will have some news to tell you that will keep you awake at nights! I guess I will have to close, hoping to hear from you often, so good-bye.