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  • World War One Years

  • Charlton County During World War One

World War One Years

For the duration of World War One, Charlton County’s routines and habits changed to accommodate the war effort. Anxious parents worried about their young men who were in the armed service; wheat and sugar were scarce; savings accounts were used to buy War Stamps and Bonds; the government took control of the train systems.

Kitchen War Gardens were planted near many Charlton County homes to supplement the food supply. The Federal Food Administration in Georgia prepared a “Home Card” which defined Wheatless, Meatless and Heatless days. Monday and Wednesday were wheatless days and Tuesday was meatless day. Cooks were advised to save fat and sugar and use milk wisely while homeowners were asked to conserve heating fuel on heatless days.

Mrs. Doris Wright Askew, daughter of Hawley and Jenny Wright, recalled that when she was grade-school age, her cousin, young Seab Mills, Sam Mills’ son, walked to her home and asked to see the morning paper. He came each morning, sat on the front steps, stayed an hour or more and read all the war news. He wasn’t old enough to serve but felt he had to know what was going on at the fighting front. This was a daily ritual and stopped only when the servicemen began coming home to stay.

Much grumbling was heard concerning the train schedules. The government had taken over control of this transportation, the telephones and telegraph, but when the mail trains were continually ten to fifteen hours late arriving in Folkston, it disrupted many local businesses.

Responding to President Wilson’s proclamation of a Day of Fasting and Prayer, Rev. E.F. Dean asked all businesses to close for the day and everyone meet at Prospect Church for prayer and preaching at 11:00 a.m. on May 30th, 1918. They were to abstain from eating any kind of food and be engaged in earnest prayer for world peace when they met for worship. A capacity crowd met at the little country church for this special observance.

Tension against the European enemies caused Camden County to rename one of its communities.  Germantown, between Folkston and Kingsland, was re-christened “Brownland” and is now known as the familiar “Browntown.”

Immediately following the war, one of Charlton’s young men, John D. Raulerson of St. George, witnessed an important part of world history. In a letter to friends, he wrote, “I have been connected with the American Peace Commission over six months. My office has been the American Press Bureau ever since I have been here. I am with most of the newspapermen of the world. All the news in making the Treaty of Peace came through us. I was the only private soldier that saw the Treaty of Peace signed. I saw the Germans sign and all the Allies sign, so now I hope we will have peace throughout the world.” He had been elected and was serving as Clerk of Charlton Superior Court within two years of the end of the war.

“While it is right that we should hold in memory other wars, we should not let that “first” Great War fade from our national consciousness.” Wall Street Journal,  Sept. 22, 1988.

Lois Barefoot Mays

February 2006


Numerous articles in Charlton County Herald, 1917-1918

Interview with Mrs. Doris Wright Askew, 1992

Veterans of Foreign Wars Magazine, World War One Commemorative Issue, November 1993

Charlton County, Ga. Historical Notes 1972, p. 258


The effects of “The Great War”, 1917-1918, later referred to as World War One, covered Charlton County and touched nearly every family in many different ways.

President Woodrow Wilson called for a national registration of the draft in June of 1917 and 381 Charlton County men from Racepond to Moniac immediately responded. Within weeks, many of these men were in training camps and were soon in western Europe.

As far as can be determined William Leach of St. George was the only Charlton soldier who died on the battlefield. He died in France. Other casualties of the war were victims of pneumonia and flu in their military camps and included Thomas Howell, Frank Kennison, Charlie Rhoden and Winder Wainwright. Men who were wounded and returned home included John R. Banks, Walter Bussey, Arthur Davis, Fred Mizell, Edgar Stewart and Homer Wilson.

The war took the brightest and best educated together with the adventurous youth for the two years of fighting overseas. Most came back home to their families and led productive lives; some were outstanding leaders in their communities such as Dr. A.D. Williams, Colonel A.S. McQueen and Postmaster Edgar F. Allen.

Meanwhile at home, everyone from storekeepers to schoolchildren were involved in the effort to supply our servicemen with money for uniforms and ammunition. Quotas for War Bond Drives were oversubscribed each time. Young boys and hunters were kept busy searching for black walnut trees, as gunstocks were made from this wood.

Red Cross Chapters immediately sprang up in St. George, Homeland and Folkston with enthusiastic volunteers for many activities during this time. Mothers spent many afternoons at sewing machines in the Red Cross headquarters on the second floor of the Folkston Pharmacy building. Boxes of hospital bags, pajamas, handkerchiefs, etc. were cut out and stitched together, then packed and shipped weekly. Many women sewed the items at home in the evenings after their children were in bed in order to keep up with the Red Cross requests. They also knitted mufflers, sweaters and socks for the servicemen.

There were unusual items on the government’s most-needed list. It was discovered that sphagnum moss, said to be found only in Georgia and Wisconsin, when dried and medicated made an excellent dressing for wounds. Consumers were asked to save prune, plum, cherry and peach pits along with the shells of walnuts and pecans. This collection was needed to make charcoal for the soldiers’ gas masks. The air passing through the charcoal purified the poison gas; a handful of fruit pits made charcoal for one gas mask and saved some soldier’s life.

The war ended November 11, 1918 and Folkston held a noisy Peace Rally around a bonfire that evening in the sandy road in front of the county courthouse. It included bells, whistles and automobile horns amid wild cheers. Within days, homesick soldiers were returning home to stay.

Lois Barefoot Mays

January 2006


Numerous articles in Charlton County Herald, 1917-1918.

Booklet of Dedication Ceremony of Folkston Veterans of Foreign Wars dated May 25, 1998. p. 5.

from DeBrahm's Report
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