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Coles County at War: World War I


Eastern Illinois University

Charleston, Illinois


Coles County



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World War I on the Homefront:

Coles County 


Sending Men Off To Fight    
The war in Europe had been going on for over two years before America trainentered into World War I on April 6th, 1917. Immediately after America announced its plan to send troops over to Europe, men all over the country signed up for the draft. In Coles County, Illinois, roughly 2,765 men registered for service by June of 1917.   

On September 5th, 1917, Coles County sent its first men off to fight. The community held a huge parade and dinner in honor of  the first twelve soldiers from the county to leave. Several citizens crowded the train station to wish them well. 


redcrVolunteering for the War Effort

All over the county, citizens joined various organizations and volunteered their time and skills to help support the soldiers going overseas. One of the most recognized organization was the local Red Cross. Many Coles County women offered to hand out care packages filled with writing supplies, toiletries, a pair of socks, a sewing kit, cards, chewing gum and the "Gospel of St. John" to all the soldiers leaving for war. The local Red Cross also held lawn parties to help raise funds for supplies and for the war fund.   

Other local organizations that helped to raise funds for the war were the Soldiers' Comfort Club, the Y.M.C.A., the Knights of Columbus, and the United War Work Organization.    


Liberty Bond Campaignbonds

As part of the national effort, Coles County established a war bond committee to
set up war bond campaign drives. The local community was urged to purchase Liberty War Bonds to help finance America's war effort.   

During one bond campaign drive held in Coles County, a thermometer was placed just outside the county courthouse to show the county's progress in reaching its sale goal. Coles County raised over $83,000 during the war bond campaign held in October 1917. 





driveRationing Goods for the War

Other ways citizens of Coles County helped to support the war effort was through rationing food and other materials. Citizens all over the county were asked to limit the amount of food and materials they used so more supplies could be sent overseas to help the American soldiers.   

In addition to keeping the county informed of the latest war events, the Charleston Daily Courier newspaper also printed out ways a family could conserve their food supply.  



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