Call for collections: 100th Anniversary of U.S. Entry into World War I

By on May 1, 2017
Glen Fishbaugh was Hilton’s first casualty in World War I. Provided photo

Glen Fishbaugh was Hilton’s first casualty in World War I. Provided photo

In the history business, historians are always looking back to see what happened 100 years ago. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the United States involvement in the “Great War to End all Wars.”

Philosopher George Santayana once stated, “those who forget their history may be condemned to repeat it”… so as historians, we like to bring interesting events of the past back to the surface for general reflection.

In February 1917 with diplomatic relations broken down with Germany, it was revealed that Germany was preparing to attack U.S. vessels at sea. On February 5, President Wilson moved to protect the home front by activating the first and 10th Regiments of the New York National Guard. Events multiplied from then on until the country was in full tilt for its role in the Great War.

All cities, small towns and villages across the land began recruiting the young men in their realms; Hilton, New York was one of them. U. S. patriotism ran high along with anti-German sentiment within communities.  In Hilton, Harlan Cooper and Kenneth Smith were the first two young men to enlist. They were just about the right age and eagerly stepped up to the call.

Harlan became a pilot (1917 was just a short time after the Wright brothers made flying in an airplane a reality). Following the War, Harlan, before returning to Hilton to marry and settle down in the community as a future leader, went out west and became a “Barnstormer.” That is the term used for crop-dusting.

John Harlan Cooper. Provided photo

John Harlan Cooper. Provided photo

There are many interesting stories such as Harlan Cooper’s that are being collected and organized into a book commemorating “Hilton’s 100 GALLANT MENT”… honoring those who are on record as having enlisted in the Town of Parma, and Village of Hilton.

This effort is being encouraged by the Monroe County, New York historian, and several towns and villages are following suit with their own original books honoring their World War I soldiers. In Parma-Hilton, this project is being headed up by the Historian’s Office in the Hilton Community Center.

While we have much information at hand from old Hilton Record’s, family collections, and scrapbooks, it is possible that there might be information still in the community about World War I soldiers who served. We are especially interested in obtaining photographs of the men in uniform who are listed. If any readers have such photographs or information on an individual who enlisted from Parma-Hilton and served in the Great War, we would be interested in hearing from them in hopes they would share their information to make this project more complete.

One hundred copies of the book will be printed and sold at cost to the first to request a copy. Anyone wishing to share information about a Parma-Hilton World War I soldier can contact the Village of Hilton Historian’s office at historian@hiltonny.org.

David Crumb

Hilton Historian