These days we don’t have to wait for our news. If something happens on the other side of the world, we know about it instantly. But on this date in 1919, North Dakota newspapers were still full of war news even though World War I had been over since November.
Ole Olson, an early settler in Cavalier County, shared the news that his son Peter had been honorably discharged and was returning home with eighteen citations for bravery. One incident during Peter’s time overseas involved acting as guide for General Pershing who was taking a tour of the front. The Germans fired a rifle grenade that landed within five feet of the General. Without thinking, Olson threw himself on the grenade. Fortunately, it was a dud and didn’t explode. Consequently, he was able to return safely home.
Other North Dakotans were also returning. The USS President Grant sailed from France with the 164th Infantry. The unit was formerly known as the First North Dakota. The North Dakota boys landed in Newport News, Virginia. From there they went to Camp Dodge in Iowa where they were discharged.
There was also news of Stanley Walker, who had left Langdon on October 1st, 1917. He served in the air corps and was training to go overseas when the war ended. His family was glad he wouldn’t have to go to the front.
But not all the news was so happy. Quintin Blair of Fairview and his wife received a telegram informing them that their son William had died in a French hospital. William had spent a year with the American Expeditionary Force in France. He survived the fighting, only to die of pneumonia on January 25th. It was also learned that Charles Corignan, a Langdon boy, had been killed in France the previous August. He had served on the front less than two months.
The Presbyterian Church of Langdon also held a memorial service for two of its members. John Robertson and Finley Ramage had both answered the call to serve their country and never came home, dying in France. There were sixty stars on the service flag in the church, one star for each local boy who went to war. Five of the stars had been changed from blue to gold, signifying those who had died.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
Courier Democrat. “Cited for Bravery Eighteen Times.” “Company C Coming Home.” “Son of Quintin M. Blair Dies in a French Hospital.” “Charlie Corignan War Victim.” “Sixty Stars on Service Flag.” 20 February 1919. Langdon ND. Page 1.