Hancock County commemorates the ‘war to end all wars’


You don’t hear much about the “war to end all wars” in Hancock County, but it was a big deal in town. There were 840 residents who participated in World War I. Of those, 18 died, and there is a plaque commemorating their service in the Hancock County Memorial Building. Their names are inscribed on it.

In fact, the Memorial Building, which was built in 1925, is a memorial to the World War I effort. When it was constructed, the American Legion was housed at the site and the Legion had first rights for facility use.

Taylor Murford, a veteran of the Civil War, dedicated the building and laid the cornerstone. Out front of the Memorial Building, there were at one time two World War I cannons, which were melted down for scrap to be used in World War II.

During the World War I era, there was a Red Cross organization in every township. They knitted socks and rolled dressings. On the home front, everyone had a victory garden and rationing was in effect. There was a county rationing board. You could have two pounds of meat per week. There also were guidelines for the slaughter of animal, use of sugar and the use of food, which might have been considered a military necessity. Starting in 1918, you had meatless days, wheatless days and porkless days.

Starting in 1911, there was a Hancock County Council for Defense, and Judge Earl Sample appointed the members.

This council was responsible for the enrollment requirement of women for service, the Home Guard and the selling of liberty bonds. Each township had a defense council.

The Shirley Historical Society is beginning to update its published history. Do you have anything to contribute? Let me know.

Enough. I have told you everything I know and some things I don’t. Talk to me.