Almont’s Involvement in World War I as told by the Almont Herald

The Almont Herald was a once weekly local paper.  It consisted of a single newspaper sheet – four pages.  It technically is still in existence.  During World War II it merged with the Almont Times creating the Times-Herald.  In the 1960’s, the Times-Herald would absorb the Dryden News and the Capac Journal and eventually became known as the Tri-City Times.

Mr. Paton was the publisher during World War I.  He concentrated on local news.  It should be mentioned that at that time most households received their news through printed newspapers and most people read more than one newspaper to get their news.  They would receive one of the Detroit daily papers (News, Free Press or Times) as well as at least one of the local papers (Almont Herald, Almont Times or Lapeer County Press).

From the beginning of the war, the Herald included almost no news about the war.  When the war began, there was not large headline declaring war in Europe.  There were the rare occasions when a photo was included but never showing death and destruction.  There were no articles detailing battles.  There were no lists of casualties and death tolls.  No article detailing the devastation being done to the countryside and towns were printed.

In the April 12, 1917 edition (six days after we declared war on Germany) Mr. Paton wrote a lengthy article to discuss some of the rationale for going to war.  It also contained concerns about German spying and espionage in the United States and the suspicion that Americans would have toward those Americans of German ancestry.

The article detailed Germany’s attempts to re-instate old treaties made between the United States and Prussia in 1785, 1799, and 1828 and to modify them to keep American out of the war.  The Germans even held our ambassador hostage and insisted that he sign the revision to the treaties.  President Wilson’s response was a polite but stern no.  He emphasized that Germany had broken their treaties on so many occasions that it was meaningless to think that they would now comply with “a scrap of paper”.

This was the last article in the Herald about the war until about two weeks before the armistice was signed.  On May 23, 1918, the Herald carried a letter from Governor Albert E. Sleeper about the importance of Memorial Day.  On June 13, 1918, the newspaper carried a letter from Governor Albert E. E. Sleeper about “Flag Day” and a short article that detailed the Army taking over the overseas mail service for the service men.  In the October 24, 1918 issue, the paper carried an article about President Wilson’s reply to the German request for negotiations to end the war.  The article ended with the statement; “Only Unconditional Surrender will do.”

The paper only acknowledged the war by printing a “Service Directory”, which listed the men and women in service and where they were stationed.  The paper would also periodically print letters from the soldiers.  Letters were sent to their parents or siblings.

Almont had a total of 75 people serve in the First World War – 71 men and four women who I believe served as nurses.  At least 35 of the men and two of the women served overseas.

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