A 1918 Time Capsule, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Humanity

Not long ago I came upon a mystery packet of photos and documents, including this 1918 photo. It’s 8 inches high, probably 4 foot long (ish), packed in a roll, and fragile. I was afraid to unroll the whole thing lest I damage it. It was, of course, in my basement. Here’s a detail:

Company 'B' S.A.T.C. Lawrence KS, 1918. The armistice came in November. I hope these soldiers didn't have to go.

Company ‘B’ S.A.T.C. Lawrence KS, 1918. The armistice came in November that year. I hope these soldiers didn’t have to go.

With this photo were two High School yearbooks from Kansas City MO, 1916 and 1920. At first I couldn’t imagine how these things came to be in a box with my stuff, then I found names on some accompanying documents and realized they were papers that belonged to the people who lived in my Kansas City house before I did. I bought the house from their estate.

We came to Georgia in a corporate move. I can only think that when the company sent movers to pack up the house, they were able to find some cubbyhole I never happened to run across when I lived there.

I’m sorry the photo has been rolled up and stored for decades, first in one house, then another, in what to photographs is likely a hostile environment. Still it’s an interesting picture, with the geometry of its composition — all those crossed legs on the front row — and its poignant glimpse into preparation for a long-ago war that caused such devastation. Here’s a look at a larger portion of the photo:

SATC Lawrence KS 1918

S.A.T.C. Lawrence KS 1918

 Something else occurred in the fall of 1918 that may have threatened some of these soldiers. The “Spanish Flu” epidemic of 1918 started that October, a deadly pandemic that killed more people than the war did. According to the article I’ve linked to below, the S.A.T.C barracks were used as makeshift hospitals.

This is as far as I unrolled the picture:

S.A.T.C. Lawrence KS 1918

S.A.T.C. was a precursor of R.O.T.C. (Reserve Officers Training Corps)

My house’s former owners were Leonard and Elsie Rehard. I see on their marriage certificate that she was Elsie V. Walker. I don’t think they had children, but I don’t know for certain. There is an Elsie Walker as a Senior in the 1920 yearbook that was stored along with this photo. I didn’t see Mr Rehard in either book, but there were a couple of Walker boys. Perhaps Elsie had a brother among the soldiers.

I emailed the Kansas Historical Society in Topeka about the photo (they took Bob’s yearbooks), and I’m happy to say they wanted it. I’ve already mailed it out and it should arrive soon.  I’ll save the yearbooks for another post, but here’s a teaser…

The Overall Club - Northeast High School 1920

The Overall Club, Northeast High School, Kansas City MO, 1920

So glad the war is over — What do you think? Handsome, yes?

Related articles:

S.A.T.C. The Student Army Training Core at Lawrence Kansas

1918 flu: The grim reaper closes (Kansas University) campus.

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Humanity

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14 thoughts on “A 1918 Time Capsule, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Humanity

    • The Kansas Historical Society wanted the soldiers, so I’ve sent it to them. As for the yearbooks, I just got a reply from Missouri that they already have those yearbooks. I’ll check around some more and if I don’t find someone, I think I’ll post them on eBay and hope a collector sees them. (Or maybe a friend with an ancestry.com logon can find a relative for me)

  1. A Note to Hoarder Comes Clean………..I have a Photo Very Similar to yours, being a Kansas Jayhawks (Lawrence, Ks.), I was tickled to get it………..The Difference between mine and yours, is that mine is Titled “Company A S.A.T.C. K.U. Lawrence, Kans. Dec. 11th 1918″………..It is 36″ Long and 8” Tall………..My Photo was taken in front of a Building with a Number “5” at the Top of it, and it looks to be a Barracks Building……….I ALSO have a Longer Photo, which is approx. 65″ Long and 8″ Tall……….It is Titled “Section A&B S.A.T.C. Kansas University Lawrence Kansas 1918 Capt., B.T. Scher U.S.A. Commanding”………..At the Far Left side of the Crowd of Soldiers, is a Large Drum which says “KU Concert Band”, and a number of the Soldiers are carrying Musical Instruments…………..The Photo was taken in the Football Stadium, and has a Group of Bleachers, along with a Goal Post in the Background………..I was able to determine from this Photo, that your Photo was also taken in the Football Stadium, as I can Identify the Background being the same as mine, though not nearly as Long……….Thought you might find this interesting………….Take care, and Rock Chalk !!…………Sonny J. Lovewell in Cambridge, Kansas.

    • Thanks so much, and yes, I do find it interesting. I no longer have the photo that I found, but I kept the digital copies. Mine is now in Topeka KS, with the KS Historical Society. I recently found a book of Kansas township maps and many photos of central KS small towns, homes, and businesses, plus portrait photos of townspeople. I’ve written to the Hist society about it but they haven’t responded. I’m hoping they do, as it’s a great window into that part of the country at that time. Thanks for writing!

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