East Coast Guard WW 1

Written by Cleve Powell
Originally published in the History Corner of the November 2007 OAI Newsletter

Having grown up as a young boy in Arlington during WW II, I remember what it was like having paper and scrap metal drives at school. Also victory gardens, war bond stamps, rationing and blackouts with the sirens blaring and search lights streaking across the sky. I remember my family going to work at five in the morning at Camp Blanding.

I also remember my Uncles and older cousins coming home on leave in Army, Navy and Seabee uniforms with stories of war. Going to the Atlantic Drive-in on Fridays to watch the newsreels on the fighting and seeing Kate Smith sing “God Bless America.” Nearly everyone who wasn’t fighting went to work at the shipyards. Cars, gas and tires were at a premium and I remember putting a “boot” in a tire to fix a break and how to patch and patch and patch tubes. We learned the names of all the fighting aircraft on both sides and the names of the battleships and officers.

So with all this said; I recently found a little booklet in my family’s things from the World War I era entitled “Constitution and Bylaws of the East Coast Guard, Arlington Florida”. It made me wonder what Arlington and Jacksonville was like in WW I, which I will discuss in part later. The list of members provides the names of some of the pioneers who helped form our community. I decided to list the members the way they were shown in the booklet and add a little information on them from the census records. Some of you will recognize many of the names.

Position Age From Occupation – Other information.
East Coast Guard Members
Clark, G. Dr. Chaplain
Long, Joseph Commander 49 Va. Salesman, widower one son (Jr.) 21
Maclean,* Donald 1st. Lieut. 46 Canada Merchant-Groc. Wife and 8 children
Maynard, F. Ingal Adjutant 34 Eng Bookkeeper shipyard wife-2 dau.
Miller, A. J. 2nd. Lieut.
Scheuyeaulle, James H. Paymaster 50 N.Y. Writer of books.


July first, 1918

Name Position Age From Occupation – Other information.
East Coast Guard Members
Scheuyeaulle, J. H. Lieut. Comm 50 N.Y. Writer
Allen, B.(Benjamin) C. 2nd. Lieut. 34 Fla Electrical Repairman
Anderson, J. Color Sergeant
Bradshaw, Wm. Exec. Staff 54 Eng. Grocer Wife and three Children
Breshingham, P. J. Father Honorary member
Bruce, F. W. Commander 63 N. H. Civil Engineer, Wife
Fleck. F. L. Second Sergeant
Graham, A. Albert Exec. Staff 48 Misour Broom Maker
Handley, W.(Wm.) 1st. Lieut. 28 Eng. Carpenter/shipyard wife-son/dau.
Hayes, Ed L. First Sergeant 39 N.Y. Engineer on Ferry
MacLean, Donald Exec. Staff 46 Can. Merchant-groceries.
Macy, A. C. Exec. Staff 52 N.Y. Operator of Ferry
Means, G. S. Physician
Miller, John Exec. Staff
Nelson, N. Band Master
Petrenovich, Aexander Paymaster 37 Ala. Engineer (bldg.) wife, Eliz., poultry
Name Age From Occupation – Other information.
Alderman, Wm. F. 44 Fla. Farming (Lone Star Area)
Anderson, Sven 22 Norway Tailor , Wife and son
Balentine, R.
Booth, Edwin 52 Eng. Telephone installer wife 3 children
Brennaman, Wm. D. 52 Penn Merchant retail groc. (Brenman)
Brown, David C. 52 Fla. Farm Wife and 3 Child. (Lone Star)
Burke, Wm. J. 40 Fla. Construction Engineer, Bridges
Burke, T.
Cameron, J. F.
Colcord, Russell, E. 43 Mass. Lawyer Wife (Helen)
Cranford, Alonzo L. 65 Geo. Carpenter/milling
Crews, A. R.
Feigel, F.
Freith, Wm. H. 51 England Farm (Lone Star area
Hall, Martin J. 71 England None
Hall, H. M.
Hardesty, John F. 63 Can. Electrician Wife (Floral Bluff Area)
Hicklin, Adera E. 37 Ohio mechanic garage
Howland, Richard S. 73 Mass. Farmer (Lone Star/ Rogero) started Cem.
Hull, James C. 66 Can. Nonewife/daughter
Johnson, Charles A. 53 Swed. Ships mate (Eggleston)
Leak, Peter J. 44 Fla. Watchman at shipyard
Luddington, G. Ed ? 32 N. Y. carpenter houses wife 4 children
Macey,* Louis (Lewis) 28 Fla. Capt. of Ferry Wife 2 Child. Lived in So. Sid
Malot, Ferdanan 45 Swed. Chicken Farm wife waitress in restaurant
May, J (Joe) 59 Ga. Fishing Boat (Floral Bluff)
Morrell, Henry W 50 Can. Carpenter, Boat Builder Wife
Munday, P. J. Col.
O’Elker, Chas. 43 Ohio Book Publisher Wife and four children
Pool, W. A. (pole) 6 7 W. Va. Guard at Shipyard
Porchette, A.
Schumaker, J. R.
Se(a)veland, Tobias 67 Norway Laborer
Sigler, George E, 49 Ohio Carpenter shipyard Wife & five children; Father of Hugh Sigler
Smith, Walter 34 Ohio Blacksmith Wife
Smith, J.(James) 67 Scott Carpenter @ shipyard
Sprinkle, H. L. 38 Ga Sales groc. Wife (Iva T.) Lake Butler
Trainer, J. H. B. 52 U. S. Salesman Lived at the Y. M. C. A.
West, S. W.
Yetter, Jacob, Jr 55 Ohio

World War I started on August 4, 1914, and the US entered the war on April 16, 1917. The war ended November 11, 1918 (which became Armistice Day) Why did this group of men wait until January 7, 1918 to form this organization? Reading the Preamble it said in part, “This organization is patriotic and is called into being by reason of the condition of war, in which our country is now involved, and to render the best assistance possible in all national war measures, good government and support of all law, whether national, state or local.”

By this I take it that resources and local law enforcement and troops were possibly strained much as they are today with the wars we are presently involved in. The East Coast Guard met on Mondays twice a month, and elected officers twice a year in January and July, hence the two groups of officers shown. To join, you had to be 18 and pay 50 cents and then be voted in, annual dues were $3.00.

As to the State of Florida in that time, Park Trammel was Governor from 1913 to 1917 and Sidney J. Catts (a former Baptist preacher) was Governor from 1917 to 1921. From Cutler’s History of Florida published in 1923 “As in the Spanish American War, Florida was ready and anxious to serve the interest of the U.S.. There were approximately 46,000 men from Florida in the war. (approximately 1,000 were lost) Florida furnished two regiments of National Guard. The Second Regiment was under the command of Col. Albert H. Blanding, and the First Regiment was under Col. Edward C. Harrison. Blanding was made a Brigadier General and was in command of a brigade of troops from New York. Some of the ones listed by Cutler as receiving the Distinguish Service Cross are Spessard L. Holland, First Lt., Bartow, E. C. Desossure, First Lt., Jax., Fred J. Glassbremer, PFC, Jax., Roy Harris, Private, Jax.

From Jacksonville’s Architectural History: “As early as 1835 local military companies were formed in Jacksonville to protect the populace from marauding Indians, until the 1880s when all Florida troops were consolidated a dozen of these local army’s wee located in the county. They quelled riots and generally were on call to keep the peace. (probably a major use of the East Coast Guard). They had colorful names such as the Duval County Cowboys and the Jacksonville Rifles”. They occupied different buildings until the county Armory was built in 1897. It burned in 1901 and after an interim location, the new Armory on Hubbard Street was completed in 1916. It was reported to have Florida’s largest drill hall. (I was in the 48th Quartermaster’s there in 53).

Hartley Steeves reminded me of Camp Johnson, which was discussed in Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage as follows: “In World War I quartermaster troops were trained at Camp Joseph E. Johnson on Black Point, established in 1909 as a Florida National Guard Camp Site of the second largest rifle range in the U. S. It was renamed Camp Foster after the war, and again occupied by National Guard. It was converted to one of the largest military air installations in WW II as Jacksonville N A. S. commissioned in October of 1940.” Richard Steeves sent me a note that they captured gases from the toilets to fuel the laundries in WW I.

During WW I, my mother, Mary Louise Johnson, was 10 years old when the U.S. entered the war, living on her family farm on Lone Star Road. Her dad, Cleve Johnson, was working for a dredging company, which may have contributed to the war effort by keeping the harbor channels clear. F. W. Bruce, her grandfather, was involved with the construction of the Merrill Stevens second shipyard on the Southside and the East Coast Guard. I inherited F. W. Bruce’s 30-40 Craige rifle, which was a WW I gun. I now wonder if he had it as part of the Guard effort.

Based on the occupation of many of the guardsmen, shipyards were a thriving industry. From Cutler’s history: “During the emergency of the World’s War, six shipbuilding plants were in local operation, engaged in the construction and outfitting of vessels, building steel ships up to 9,000 tons and concrete ships of even heavier tonnage.” (Richard Steeves saw a concrete ship break in two when it was launched.) Three of these became permanent plants (1923). The center of Naval activity in Florida was at Key West, there was no Naval activity in Jacksonville until NAS in 1940.

The business district of Arlington was located on the river at the foot of Arlington Road, and the Ferry was in daily service to Jacksonville. Children went to the school in Eggleston, which put out a patriotic souvenir booklet in 1916-17 that had “Education is the Chief Defense of Nations” on the cover and listed 28 students. Others went to school in Fairfield and later to Duval High. I’m sure they had equivalent programs to the ones we had in WW II.

There were small shipyards in Arlington and one is right across the river. I don’t know if we had an observation tower in Arlington like the one in the Babcock’s yard during WW II but I have heard that lookouts were posted on Mt. Cornellius on Ft. George Island. Knowing the families I grew up with I’m sure Arlington was behind the war effort one hundred percent.