1920 – MEMORIAL DAY 1921
It was around December 1918, that ‘La Ligue des enfants de France et d’Amérique’ began its official existence in Paris. It was affiliated to the French government and took the poppy as its emblem. Madame Guérin’s branch in the U.S.A. followed – this was called the ‘American and French Children’s League’ but sometimes referred to as ‘The American Star’; the ‘Fraternal League of the Children of France’; and the ‘Inter Allies Children League’. It was not linked to the ‘Fatherless Children of France’ charity.
Apparently, this League was formed as the executive branch of a French State organisation called ‘Protection des Enfants des Régions dévastées’ (‘Protection for Children of the Devastated Regions of France’) – which was attached to the Ministry of Interior. Bisbee Daily Review, Arizona (29 September 1920) reported “The first purpose of the league is to render aid to the children of devastated France. Its ultimate purpose is friendship through understanding. That two great nations that have stood together as have France and America, each in the hour of their greatest need, 1776 and 1917, shall never grow apart.”
Numerous similarly-named societies were founded during the WW1 period, ‘twixt North America and France. Any individual charity could be found referred to by a concoction of names – lost in translation between the French and English languages. At the time, it may have caused some confusion – it certainly did for this author!
As briefly mentioned in Chapter 5, Anna Guérin began organising committees (state by state) for her ‘American and French Children’s League’ in 1919. This continued at a fast pace in 1920.
‘La Ligue des enfants de France et d’Amérique’ was created but the question was asked at a very early stage in the research: Did Anna establish and direct the whole League or did she just organise the activities in the USA? Certainly, the League’s headed paper (as below) confirms Anna’s position as far as America is concerned:- she is “Director”, under ‘National Officers in the US’; she is prominently listed as “Founder of the League in the United States”; and, additionally, her League’s link to the French Republic is proved.It was asked “if Anna was the founder of the whole League, wouldn’t she be sitting back in the French Headquarters, letting others work tirelessly in the US?” If it were any other person, “yes” could be the correct answer. However, it is Madame Guérin being discussed here – she was the one with great contacts in the US and the one with a commitment and passion to continue successful fundraising there.
Hartley Burr Alexander of Lincoln, Nebraska (President of US ‘American and French Children’s League’) stated in October 1920 that Madame Guérin was “the founder of the organization, both in the United States and in France” … “At the time of the armistice, Madame Guerin returned to France. There she was so deeply impressed with the needs of the French child victims of the war that she determined to return to America to continue her work in their behalf; and this she did after having first affected in France the organization of a distributing committee under the chairmanship of Mme. Millerand, wife of the president of France …”
The aforementioned text formed just a small part of an application submitted by Hartley B. Alexander to the Director National Information Bureau – to have the League recognised by that Bureau. Mr. Alexander was a greatly respected gentleman and he was making an official submission so it is considered rational to accept his aforementioned statement as the authentic version of events. Even though, very occasionally, a newspaper article credited the French president’s wife Jeanne Millerand as being the founder.
Research points to Anna Guérin having created the whole ‘American and French Children’s League’, but working under the ‘umbrella’ Paris-based committee of the ‘Protection for Children of the Devastated Regions of France’ organisation.The main Beneficiary Organisation was ‘Protection des Enfants des Régions dévastées’, whose first President was Alexandre Millerand – husband of aforementioned Mme Jeanne Millerand. A. Millerand was French Minister of War from 1914 until 1919, when he was appointed General Commissioner for Alsace-Lorraine. He was a lawyer before entering politics. All these posts could be a link to how he and his wife Jeanne could have become acquainted with Anna and husband Eugène. Alexandre became French Prime Minister on 20 January 1920. Upon becoming President of France on 23 September 1920, Alexandre relinquished the position of President of the ‘Protection des Enfants des Régions dévastées’ organisation to one Mlle. Chaptal – instead, he took the title ‘Honorary President’.
The above World War One paper “journee” measures a mere 3.25” x 2.5” – it is believed it was offered for a donation, to raise funds for the French Government’s war effort. It bears a sketch by the well-known French artist Émile Friant. Alexandre Millerand was only Minister of War for France (Ministre de la Guerre) from 26 August 1914 to 29 October 1915 – so this is an early piece of French war effort fundraising ephemera.
The second Beneficiary Organisation was the ‘Committee of Assistance for Alsace-Lorraine’ and the third was ‘Bidart House’, a sanatorium for children, near Biarritz.
Initially, it was believed that ‘Bidart House’ was le Château d’Ilbarritz/le Château du Baron Albert de l’Epée, which stands at Bidart (adjacent to Biarritz) – because it is recorded that the Château was a hospital during the First World War.
However, on-going research has proved that it was another property in Bidart which was the ‘Bidart House’ children’s home but the originally posted images and information on the Château was deemed interesting enough not to delete it, so it remains in situ here.
The ‘Château d’Ilbarritz’ had an interesting feature. A Biarritz local historian described le Baron de l’Epée (the Sword Baron), who built the Château, as “an original”. On the images above and below, an unusual row of “cahutes” (cabins/huts) can be seen running away from the château. These were built because the Baron wanted to walk down to the beach out of the wind, regardless of whether the wind was on or off shore. In order to achieve this, 3 kilometres of paths on the west and east sides of the steep terrain were created.
Thus, he was able to walk every day, whatever the wind direction – come rain or shine. The paths had covered walk-ways, with cahutes (cabins/huts) at ten metre intervals for respite. 14 pavilions stood at various points near the château – one for his dogs. There was a building on the beach which housed a piano. On days when great storms blew, the Baron played the piano facing the raging sea. It would certainly appear that the Baron was, indeed, “an original”. The Baron sold Château d’Ilbarritz/“Bidart House” in 1910.
The real “Bidart House” was ‘Maison Maurice Pierre’, Bidart – as shown below. It had been initiated by American woman Mrs. Dorothy Canfield Fisher and operated by the French Red Cross for children from war-torn areas of France including, in particular, Lille.
In reality, Dorothy was Dorothea Frances Canfield who had been born in Lawrence, Kansas, to University Professor father James Hulme Canfield and his artist/writer wife Flavia (nee Camp). Dorothy’s father, James H. Canfield, was the chancellor of the University of Nebraska when it passed from being a small college to securing the great status of being a state institution of learning. Thus, Nebraskans knew the Canfield family members well and followed their endeavours.
Dorothea was educated in France, as well as the USA. She gained a Ph.D. degree in modern languages in 1904. She married John Redwood Fisher in 1907 and the couple had one daughter and one son. Prior to WW1, she had visited Rome and witnessed Maria Montessori’s schools for children. She took this teaching method back to the USA.
In 1915, John Fisher joined the American Volunteer Ambulance Corps and went to France to serve with the French army. A year later, Dorothy followed her husband to France and, for two years, the couple carried out war relief work. After the war ended, whilst living and bringing up her children in Paris, Dorothy established a Braille press for blinded soldiers.
Dorothy championed racial equality; women’s rights; and education for all. The latter cause included adult education and, in this regard, Dorothy became known as a reformer of education and oversaw the USA’s first adult education programme. In many respects, Dorothy and Anna Guérin had similar opinions regarding education and women (see more on http://cdi.uvm.edu/findingaids/collection/fisherdc.ead.xml). Dorothy was one of many confident women Anna Guérin became associated with.
In a congratulatory letter to Madame Guérin (22 May 1920), from Madame Lebon (American and French Children’s League’s Chairman in France), more is learnt about ‘Bidart House’: “… The 35,000 francs that came from the poppy day of Pueblo will be employed to buy, if possible, the Children’s Hospital at Bidart. … We have written to the owners and we shall send all the details to the chairman of Pueblo. …”
The link between the American and French Children’s League funding of Dorothy’s ‘Bidart House’ and Madame Anna Guérin is NEBRASKA.
James H. Canfield, Dorothy’s father, was “the chancellor under whom the University of Nebraska passed from the status of a small college into that of a great state institution of learning”. Nebraskans, especially those living in Lincoln, knew the Canfield family members well and followed their endeavours.
Anna Guérin had made many influential friends in Nebraska – particularly in Lincoln. For instance, Hartley Burr Alexander (Professor of Philosophy at Nebraska University in Lincoln); Miss Mae Pershing & Mrs. D. M. Pershing-Butler (sisters of the U.S. General Pershing) – who all held prominent positions in Anna’s Children’s League in the U.S.A. General Pershing had, himself, made Lincoln his “home city”.
The following long article gives a descriptive insight into the life at ‘Bidart House’ (or ‘Maison Maurice Pierre’), much being written in Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s own words. It also tells of how Madame Anna Guérin and Dorothy became acquainted. The article appeared in Nebraska’s Weekly State Journal’ on 6 October 1920 [sic]:
“A Home For Little Francais in Which Nebraskans Are Interested. Nebraska’s Gift to France. Bidart House and the Work of the American and French Children’s League.
At Bidart, in France down on the edge of the bay of Biscay, is a hospital, a beautiful, comfortable old building and a long stretch of white beach where many a French child is emerging from the blackness of war into the sunshine of happier days. This home all Americans are interested in, but especially Nebraskans, for it was established by one of them, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, who spent the four years of the war in France in relief work for the refugees, the soldier blind and later the children whose lives had almost been wrecked by the cruelties of war. Another name which is closely connected with the Bidart house, and also in the minds of Nebraska people with the later days of the struggle, is that of Madame E. Guerin, who valiantly gave her services in the cause of the French children and succeeded in making the American and French children’s league a reality.
Below is a description of the home at Bidart, written by Mrs. Fisher, who is now resting at her Vermont home; also the story what has been done thru her efforts and those of Madame Guerin.
The Children’s Home At Bidart.
“I don’t know when I have ever loved my country more, or felt prouder of America, or closer to the best of her people, than very far away (as miles go) down in a remote sunny corner of France—near the Pyrenees, and on the edge of the Bay of Biscay. Every day it was a joy to me (in a period of heartache and apprehension at the dark period of the war) to walk along the firm white sand of the beach, in that soft brilliant sun-light, with the sweet sea-air like wine, and the sea-gulls wheeling over head. I was going to the children’s home, and smiled beforehand.
“I push open a gate in the high wall which shuts out the wind from the too-delicate ones, and find myself in an old garden, sunny, sheltered, with big hedges of wild-orange, and all blossoming with little children. This first group, four or five of them near the wall, in a pool of sunshine, playing in the sand, why are they so immobile? Because four years of war-privations, insufficient food, unheated homes, nervous apprehension, have so retarded their growth that they have never walked, altho some are five and six years old. Their thin little legs, where the bones have only the strength of little babies’ bone, have twisted pitifully under the weight, light as it is, of the children’s bodies. There is a little boy whose childish eagerness for activity rises above his weakness. See how he drags himself along on his hands to reach the flat stone which will make such a fine roof for the home they are building in the sand. You think, wincing, of a poor little kitten you saw once, whose back had been broken by a stone, dragging itself along in that tragic way. But the expression on the little boy’s face is as sunny and clear as the blue sky over him. For he is in paradise, who was in purgatory. He who had known nothing since the war began (almost the whole of his little life) but one small, cold, dark room, inhabited infrequently, by an anxious, careworn woman, too tired to talk, rushing in after a day’s exhausting work to cook the scanty food which did not nourish her children’s bodies. And here he is in sunshine and peace, with plenty to eat and such an air about him, that his little lungs fill up like bellows—and he goes to sleep singing, and wakes up smiling.
“And who has done this for the little boy? Why, who but my old cousin in far away Nebraska, going without things she’d like, devising little economies, saving here, and earning there, and with a divinely imaginative sympathy for the need of others, sending her money to far-away France where it fell upon the sad little boy and put him on a magic carpet and sent him down to paradise to escape the doom which hung over him.
“For he will recover. With the miraculous capacity for regeneration of human youth, his little body will straighten and strengthen and develop; and some day, not so very far away, three months perhaps, he will stand up on his own feet and take the first steps he has ever known, straight forward into health. And on that day, I am very sure that my dear old cousin in Nebraska will feel, wherever she is, a sudden warm lightness of heart, and will break out singing, where she stands, perhaps in the pantry, planning how she can make a cake without an egg so that she can go on saving. And if there is anything in the old talk of pearly gates and golden streets, I’m pretty sure that she will have a happy reunion up there with the little boy whom she never saw, but whom she helped to grow up into a strong, useful citizen of France—which needed him so sorely.
“Well, I pass on past that group to another of ten or twelve older girls, from eight to fourteen, who in neat, clean aprons are helping set the tables for lunch out in the clear winter sunshine. They are chattering like magpies as they step back and forth, of their school (for during their stay at the home they attend the village school) of their play, of the last long walk over the cliffs above the sea—of their work, but most of all of the incredible fact that this lovely spot, this hospitable rambling sunny old home—this glorious blue sea and white breakers, should be all for them, these piles of bread, and places of hot soup should be for them, who have known for the last four years nothing but the fact opposite of all this. They were all anaemic, scrofulous, pale, listless, silent, when they came—and now look at them. I stand listening to their light-hearted laughter, and wishing that the group of Club women in the American small town who are keeping them here could hear them too. Those women must feel a conscious thrill of inexplicable happiness from time to time as an echo of this blithe escape of youth from weakness to strength, from misery to sunshine, reaches from Bidart to Iowa by the wireless waves which carry human emotions around the world.
“I leave them and push open another gate in the wall and find myself on the beach, windswept, clean, sunny. A bright colored circular ten is set up on the sand, and a crowd of children, shouting and laughing, are playing in the sand with shovels and pails. Near them, where the splendid breakers come wheeling in from the blue expanse, white and steel blue themselves, casting up a long line of hissing foam on the sand, stands a little girl in a plaster cast which encircles all her thin body and holds her head too heavy for her enfeebled little spine. She stands there, the little girl, with wide eyes, gazing with a sort of hungry joy out on all that wild, free beauty. The sea breeze lifts her thin hair from her pale cheeks where a little pink begins, ever so faintly to show. She has only just come from such wretchedness caused by the war, a father returned from the trenches crippled and tubercular, a mother worn and disheartened, a home where, since the war began, there has been not enough food, or fuel, or hope to keep human beings alive. And ever since she arrived she has done nothing but gaze with an incredulous ecstasy out on the sunlit, tossing sea.
“I see the doctor making his daily round of visits to the children and when he leaves the little ones building their sand forts, I nod towards the new comer and ask him “Any hope for her?” He nods, “Oh yes, I’ll cure her. Nothing the matter but undernourishment and nervous tension. She’ll be as straight . . . if we can only keep her long enough, if the American help only holds out . . . she’ll be as straight as anyone, and as strong when she goes back . . . a help to her parents, and saved for herself.”
“I go over and stand close to the little girl, just out of her prison cage with hope instead of death before her, and a mist of tears forms before my eyes, thru which I have a glimpse of that sorrowful American mother who, instead of putting up a costly monument to the memory of her dear, lost son sent an offering to help save another child. And it seems to me that she is bending over the little crippled girl, and smiling.”
Such is the work, as Mrs. Fisher describes it, of the Bidart home for children, which Nebraska’s gift, thru the American and French children’s league, is helping to maintain today. How the league cam to be formed and Nebraskans became interested is a story by itself, having to do with another remarkable woman.
Bidart House and Nebraska.
It was upon her return to France, with the close of the war, that Madame Guerin met in Paris Mrs. Dorothy Canfield Fisher, and learned of Bidart house and its needs. Mrs. Fisher, as most Nebraskans know, is daughter of the late James H. Canfield, the chancellor under whom the University of Nebraska passed from the status of a small college into that of a great state institution of learning: and the resident for many years elsewhere Nebraskans still feel a possessional interest in one who, as a girl, was known to so many of them. In her own right she has made a name as one of our foremost novelists and writers upon affairs and few readers of our leading periodicals are unfamiliar with her work. Early in the war, and indeed long ere the United States became active therein, Mrs. Fisher accompanied her husband to France where he became connected with the ambulance service while she entered the relief work in Paris, first with refugees, later, with the men blinded by the war—for whom one of her accomplishments was the securing of Braille-printed literature and the teaching of them to read. But it was particularly the lot of the refugee children that seized upon her sympathies—the most helpless of the war’s victims. With meagre funds, partly the contributions of American friends, she undertook to establish a sanitarium for the emaciated, bewildered and often diseased little ones, remote from the seat of trouble. She found a house by the seaside in southwestern France, the “Maison Maurice Pierre” at Bidart (Basses-Pyrenees), which came to be known as the “Bidart House;” and there for many months parties of children were taken to find restoration and health of body and mind amid surroundings suitable to childhood. Of all the war charities this has been one of the most healthily and sanely inspirer, unpretentious but of inestimable benefit.
Madame Guerin carried with her to France letters from friends in Lincoln to Mrs. Fisher and when she heard of the work at Bidart, with Madame Lebon and others of the French committee, it was decided at once that this should be one of the institutions to benefit by the funds raised in America. As a matter of fact, the Nebraska committee of the league made special request that its funds, or such part of them as should be necessary, should go to this institution—for it was felt that Nebraska already had an interest in Bidart. This has been done with the sums already sent from Nebraska, now amounting to about ninety thousand francs.”
The Bidart sanatorium ‘Maison Maurice Pierre’ (‘Bidart House’) is listed as: “13. For the home at Bidart (Lille)”, within the “AMERICAN STAR” list featured below.
The photograph shown above is held within the papers of Hartley Burr Alexander, at the Nebraska State Historical Society. The following French and English text appears hand-written on the back of the photograph shown above [sic]:
“MAISON MAURICE PIERRE BIDART. Enfants de Lille reprenant de la santé a Bidart on Sea”
“MAISON MAURICE PIERRE BIDART. Children of Lille recovering their health at Bidart by the sea.”
The American & French Children’s League funded many additional needy causes and many will never be known. A list (shown below), documenting some of the work that the League had carried out 1919-1920 is held in Hartley Burr Alexander’s archive at the Nebraska State Historical Society:
American & French Children’s League funding list, 1919-1920
The following is the transcription of the list shown above [sic]:
“WHAT THE “AMERICAN STAR” (American-French League of children) has done for the children of the Devastated Regions of France 1919-1920
- Excess nourishment, Montescourt (Aisne).
- Purchase of cows at Verdun.
- Founding of an organisation for the distribution of milk at Senones.
- Establishment of a lying in hospital at Roye.
- Aid for tuberculous children (Aisne).
- Treatment of children at the Sea-Side (Merville-Nord).
- Purchase of cradles and baby carriages (Saint-Laurent-Blangy).
- Purchase of baby outfits at Saint-Quentin (Aisne).
- Financial Assistance to Boys-Scouts.
- Treatment of children at Sanatorium (Arras).
- Purchase of medicines and medical Supplies (Ternier-Nancy).
- Purchase of clothing and boots (Fourmies).
- For the home at Bidart (Lille).
- For the home at Sainte-Pierre-d’Albigny (Lille-Verdun).
- Purchase of clothing (Varennes-Meuse).
- Purchase of cows at Senones (Vosges).
- Founding of preventorium at Sissonne (Aisne).
- Treatment of children in the country.
- And at the Sea-Side (La Capelle-Pas-de-Calais).
Also mentioned within the “AMERICAN STAR” list above, are Moyenmoutier(s) and Senones (both of the Vosges department) thus:
- Founding of an organisation for the distribution of milk at Senones.
- Purchase of cows at Senones (Vosges).
The widows and orphans pictured above were being cared for by the ‘Union des femmes de France’ (U.F.F.) and it is deduced that they received funds from Madame Guérin’s charity ‘American-Franco Children’s League’, previously ‘American & French Children’s League’ – because the photograph ended up in Hartley Burr Alexander’s papers. The following text, in French, is written on the back of the photograph and an English translation and ‘Notes’ follows on from that [sic]:
“56 Enfants. Moyenmoutier. 2 visites du docteur par mois- fiches établies pour chacun après poids – date des visites, genre d’alimentation, observations y compris la section du Rabodeau. 108 mères de famille – tous secourus. Président Mademoiselle ? [Nicole/Priole], Infirmière Major Union des femmes de France. Madame Fragassé Senones Vosges.”
“56 children. Moyenmoutier* 2 visits from the doctor per month – records kept for each – after weighing – date of visits, type of feeding/nutrition, observations including the section of the Rabodeau**. 108 mothers – all rescued. President Mademoiselle Nicole, Nurse Major ‘Union des femmes de France’***. Madame Fragassé Senones Vosges.”
* Moyenmoutier: Moyenmoutier is a commune in the French Department of Vosges.
** Rabodeau: Le Rabodeau is a river in the French Department Vosges.
*** Union des femmes de France:
“Fondée en juin 1881 à Paris suite à la scission de l’Association des dames françaises. Union des femmes de France avait pour objet : “la préparation et l’organisation des moyens de secours qui, dans toute localité, peuvent être mis à la disposition des blessés ou malades de l’armée française”. http://data.bnf.fr/12191634/union_des_femmes_de_france/
“Founded in June 1881 in Paris, following the split of the ‘Association des dames françaises’. Union des femmes de France “had as its object:” the preparation and organization of the means of relief which, in any locality, may be made available to the wounded or sick of the French army.”
Société de Secours aux blessés militaires (SSBM) 1864-1940; Comité des Dames de la Société de Secours aux blessés militaires (CDSSBM) 1867-1940; Association des Dames de France (ADF) 1879-1940; Union des Femmes de France (UFF) 1881-1940. The aforementioned societies became la Croix-Rouge française (CRF) 1940-current [French Red Cross].
The photograph shown above appears to have been taken at an unknown convent-run orphanage (?). It is deduced that it also received funds from Madame Guérin’s charity ‘American-Franco Children’s League’, previously ‘American & French Children’s League’ – because it ended up within Hartley Burr Alexander’s papers, like the other photographs of orphans did. The following text, in French, is written on the back of the photograph and an English translation follows on from that [sic]:
“18 Dbre [décembre]1920 Madame Je viens vous accuser réception du mandat de 150 f [francs] pour pension de M[ademoiselle] Thérèse Morel. J’aime à croire qu’en son temps, vous avez été prévenue du départ de l’enfant le 3 Dbre [décembre]. Veuillez agréer Mme [Madame] l’expression de mes religieux sentiments. Sr [Soeur] Marie”
“18 December 1920 Madam I have to acknowledge the receipt of Miss Thérèse Morel’s 150 francs pension/lodging. I would like to think that you were notified in time of the child’s departure on December 3rd. Please accept the expression of my religious sentiments/feelings. Sister Marie”
The ‘American & French Children’s League’ state structuring is set out by Anna’s own hand (Hartley Burr Alexander papers [RG4028]):-
“In each state organized we have at the Head of our Committee:
The Governor of the State
The State Superintendent of the School
The Commander of the American Legion
The President of the Federation of Women’s Club
And in each town we have as Chairman the Mothers or a relative of an ex-soldier.
And with their help we have for the benefit of these children of devastated France what we call “Poppy Days.” camouflage for tag days – the tags being a Red Poppy of Flanders – the badges of the girls inscribed:
“In flanders fields the poppies grow.”
“The aims of the ‘American and French Children’s League” were:-
- To Remember.
- To keep and preserve the link of affection between the two nations.
- To help France care for the children of the devastated regions.
The French Committee disburses the money sent by the Committees of the United States and distributes it according to need among the French organizations recognized by the French Government.”
The above extract taken from February 1921 edition of ‘Le Semeur’ (Moina Michael papers). Courtesy of/permission from Hargrett Library, University of Georgia).
It appears that the American and French Children’s League asked for no membership fees initially. This situation must have been assessed because fees were introduced and they would have brought in valuable cash. This must have been very welcome for helping with administration costs and expenses.
We learn about the specific fees from The Des Moines Register of Iowa (02 December 1919): “Associated membership in the league costs $1. Sustaining membership, $5, and foundation membership, which I seek in Iowa most of all, costs $10; life membership, $100.”
No donated dollar went towards administration; expenses; etc: “… All money received is expended through the aid and help of the French government. All is expended to relieve the suffering of the little children. …”Anna chose her ‘American and French Children’s League’ people very carefully and astutely – here are just a few of the high-profile people working with her, and for her, in the USA:-
Hartley Burr Alexander, President. Hartley was born on 09 April 1873 in Lincoln, Nebraska – the son of a Methodist preacher George S. Alexander from Rhode Island, who had initially been a Quaker). His mother Abigail had died when he was three and this set in motion a “sense of abandonment”, which he felt all of his life. Father George remarried, purchased a newspaper but continued to preach. Hartley’s new step-mother was musical, artistic and loved speaking French. It is assumed that Hartley learnt the French language, as a result.
For various reasons, Hartley gradually turned away from the religious environment he had been brought up in. While still in high school, the Wounded Knee massacre of Sioux Indians by US military troops in December 1890, affected him so deeply that he wrote the poems ‘To a Child’s Moccasin’; ‘The Only Good Indian is a Dead Indian’; and ‘Her Robe is Broidered’ – as protests against that action. In his first year at university, Hartley’s step-mother died and then he lost his father. His father had suffered from facial cancer.
Hartley Burr Alexander had been Professor of Philosophy at Nebraska University in Lincoln since 1908. Also in 1908, he had married one Nelly Griggs whom he had known since his days as a student at the University. In 1909, son Hubert Griggs Alexander was born and a daughter Beatrice was born in 1912, but Beatrice died aged 15 months. It appears that Hartley and Nelly became great friends of Anna Guérin – perhaps she had made their acquaintance as early as 1918, when she was in Lincoln fundraising for the war effort.
In 1928, he took up a position at Scripps College in California and he held that until his death in 1939. The Introduction by the late Thomas M. Alexander in the 1998 reprinted book ‘The World’s Rim: Great Mysteries of the North American Indians’ (By Hartley Burr Alexander) is credited here, for the aforementioned information – in turn, he credits Emile Caillet.
Described as a “free speaker”, Hartley has been dubbed “Nebraska’s Renaissance Man”. His papers (RG4028), held by the Nebraska Historical Society, have proved to be an invaluable source of information about Anna Guérin and ‘American & French Children’s League.
The surviving letters from Anna to Hartley Burr Alexander, display a high regard for him and a degree of friendship with him and wife Nelly. A sense of professionalism and formality is gleaned from Anna’s writings to Hartley, as well as a confidence to trust him with personal views and feelings. Invariably, Anna starts her letters “My dear, dear Friends …” but either the era or their professional status is still dictating a degree of etiquette when she signs off as “E. Guérin”. In all the Poppy Day campaign letters discovered, Anna Guérin always had a good, complementary word to say about anyone she wrote about. There will be more about these letters further on in this chapter.
Robert Henry Tyndall, Treasurer. Robert lived in Indianapolis. He was also the National Treasurer for the American Legion, which had its Headquarters in Indianapolis. Anna settled on Indianapolis for her League Headquarters too – it was a logical move: “Indianapolis must be the heart of America because the American Legion has found it fit for its headquarters and what is good for the boys must be good for the children. I consider this my home as much as Paris, since I have spent so much of my time here.”
Initially, monies raised were sent directly to France but as soon as her National Committee was in place, all the money was sent to Robert H. Tyndall.
Robert Henry Tyndall (bn Indianapolis 1877) was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal; the Croix de guerre; and the Légion d’honneur for his services during WW1. By October 1921, he had attained the rank of Major General. In 1942, he was elected Indianapolis mayor – he died in 1947. See more: http://indiamond6.ulib.iupui.edu/cdm/ref/collection/IndyHist/id/10002
It appears that Robert also kept books for an American Legion fund relating to a ‘French War Orphan Fund’. It seems (from reading 18 January 1920 New York Times) that it was an organisation that began in March 1918, when the American Expeditionary Force’s newspaper ‘Stars and Stripes’ “opened its campaign with a front page story under the headlines: “Take as your mascot a French War Orphan”. Immediately the stream of francs began to pour in … Before long the bureau of the Red Cross that had been designated to administer the fund was swamped with work …” When the aforementioned article was written, the last of AEF men had not long left France – not only had “they left behind their legion of dead” but some 3444 French orphans who had benefited from the AEF “adoption”/sponsorship scheme.
The Junction City Weekly Union publication in Kansas printed a plea that had gone out on behalf of these French orphans (06 May 1920): “The French orphan convention in New York has decided to request all the adopted parents of French orphans here in the United States to keep them for another year. This is not a command but a request …” As it had been during the war, the Red Cross bore all administrative costs in order for 100% of money donated could go to the orphans.
Thus, the American Legion; Robert H. Tyndall; and Madame Guérin were all intrinsically bound together by French orphans in the devastated regions of France.
Madame Isabelle Mack, Assistant Treasurer & Secretary: Madame Mack was Mlle. Isabelle Henrietta Victoria Adolph/e. Isabelle was born on 08 Oct 1873 in Lille, France (although Isabelle’s Record for Nationalization states “1878”) – to German father Moritz Heinrick/h Adolph (Anglicised to Maurice Henry/Henry Maurice) and his Dundee-born wife Isabelle Drummond Baxter.
Madame Mack’s maternal family had been big cotton producers and weavers in Dundee, Scotland. Her grandfather Robert was one of two Scottish Baxter brothers who had been asked, in 1839, by the French government to set up weaving in the north of France. They chose Lille for producing cotton because of its comparable climate to Dundee.
Moritz and Isabelle had at least four children: DORIS CAROLINE ADOLPH: born c1872, Lille, France; married on 30 July 1896 St. Simon, Hammersmith, Greater London, to Henry Ernest Walker (Engineer, living in Lille upon marriage); died Lille?; JESSIE DRUMMOND ADOLPH: born 1876; married on 18 April 1892 St. Simon, Hammersmith, Greater London, to John Drummond Spence – emigrated to U.S.A; MAURICE HENRI ADOLPH: born 1876; died 30 December 1896, Hammersmith, Greater London, Middlesex; and ISABELLE HENRIETTA VICTORIA – Madame Mack.
Isabelle’s ‘Declaration of Intention’ for US citizenship (dated 26 April 1917 in Seattle, WA) shows she arrived in Sumas, Washington State “on or about” 07 September 1912 (after arriving in Canada on 03 September 1912). That 1917 document gives Isabelle’s occupation as “Lecturer”. In the US 1920 census, Isabelle was living in Seattle and was a “Lecturer” for the Y.W.C.A. Her official address for the American and French Children’s League was in Indianapolis but “home” always seems to have been somewhere in Washington State. Isabelle died on 18 March 1968 in Enumclaw, WA – 42 miles from Seattle.
The following is an extract taken from page 13 of a family history document written by Enid, daughter of Isabelle Mack. It is a contribution made by Isabelle and it is transcribed here with the permission of the family [sic]:-
“Reminiscences of the First Poppy Days – by Isabelle Mack.
Having been born in the North of France, in Lille, the ancient capital of “Flanders”, my sister, Jessie E. Spence and I always had a tender heart towards “La Patrie” – France and French causes. We were in Seattle during the First World War, and active in many Allied and French movements. We organized the “Union Francaise”, planned the reception for Marchal Joffre, organized Bastille Day (July 14, French Independence Day) celebrations and so forth.
So it was natural that after the Armistice, we were asked to take part in raising money for French relief. France had she so much blood and lost so many men during the four years carnage, that there were a great many orphans and half orphans in need of financial help. The particular cause I was asked to help was the relief of the “Fatherless Children of France”. Mme. Millerand, wife of the President of France was the actual head of this work. The Poem “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, beyond the crosses row on row” was well known to everyone at that time, so the Poppy became the emblem of our cause. These first poppies that we sold were made in French Hospitals by disabled French soldiers. (See bottom of page and Page 13a).
During 1920 and 1921, I travelled all over the United States organizing “Poppy Day Drives”, lecturing in schools and before private and civic organizations on behalf of the “Fatherless Children”, and trying to get “Poppy Clubs” started in every town and to insure that every home knew of the work. All funds collected were sent by the head of the local sponsors to the receiving bank in New York and hence to France. I never handled any of the money – and usually did not know how successful or not my work had been financially.
In my travels I met many interesting and well known people. Senator and Mrs. Warrant Douglas MacArthur and Dr. DuBois of Indianapolis were others I met.”
This page 13 continues as written by Enid, as she understood the events:
“In 1921, Mrs. Isabelle Mack went to Indianapolis, headquarters of the then quite young “American Legion”. There she transferred the ideas, copyrights and all responsibility for the money raising business to the Legion. The American Legion now uses the idea and sale of poppies for the benefit of their disabled veterans. The Veterans of Foreign Wars have adopted the idea also. The American Legion printed Poppy Legion stamps – samples attached.
In the summer of 1920, I came back to Seattle, by that time Mother was on one of the lecture tours, and we closed up the house in Seattle and Aunt Jessie went back for two or three years to Europe. She came back later and had another four or five years in Seattle. …”
Perhaps Isabelle and Anna Guérin’s paths had crossed on the US war effort lecturing circuit before the First World War ended? They were born the same year; were both French; and both knew the struggles of France – they would have had a lot in common and shared the common goal to help France recover after the war.
Speaking to an audience with Anna, in October 1920, Isabelle was quoted as saying:- “I come from Lille. My family has run a large mill there with 12,000 employees but since the war we have done nothing. We have only 200 men, and can use no more because we can’t get the coal. All our buildings are practically useless too. Many of them are still standing but the vibrations from the guns has so weakened the walls that if we wish to use heavy machinery we have to have entirely new buildings. It is a serious question.”
Isabelle’s sister Doris Caroline Adolph (also born Lille, 1872) had married one Henry Ernest Walker in 1896 and Henry was an engineer, living in Lille at the time, so perhaps this is one family connection in the ruined city of Lille?
Isabelle’s other sister, Jessie, joined her in Indianapolis – helping her and Anna Guérin in the 1921 poppy distribution.
Jessie Drummond Spence née Adolph was Isabelle’s other sister. Jessie, too, had been born in Lille – in 1876. Jessie married John Drummond Spence on 18 April 1892 St. Simon, Hammersmith, Greater London. Jessie had emigrated to the U.S.A. before her sister Isabelle – she, and husband John, arrived in the port of Boston, Mass. on 2 September 1904, having departed from Liverpool, England, on 24 August. They had been living in Weston-Super-Mare prior to that departure.
John and Jessie settled in Seattle and this is probably why Isabelle Mack headed for that city when she emigrated to the United States – because sister Jessie was already there. It would appear, from the 1920 US census, Jessie became a Nationalized American citizen in 1915.
In the 1920 US census, neither John nor Jessie had any occupation noted. In the 1920 US census, Jessie’s marital status was widowed and “Keeper” of a “Lodging House”. That census noted that Jessie had become a Nationalized American citizen in 1915.
Jessie Spence was found arriving in New York on 10 March 1921 aboard ‘La Touraine’ – she had left from Le Havre, France on 26 February 1921. Her final destination was given as her sister Isabelle at “238 East, Tenth Str. at Indianapolis, Ind.” She gave her nearest relative as her “sister Mrs. Walker, 44 Turenne street at Lille (FRANCE)” … this was sister Doris.
It is deduced that Jessie had gone across to France to oversee the manufacture of poppies (made by the French widows and orphans) and to process the order of poppies – ahead of the American Memorial/Decoration Day. Subsequently, after arriving in Indianapolis, it was reported in newspapers that she had brought millions of poppies with her from France.
Additionally, Jessie could report back to Isabelle and Anna Guérin about the present state of the cities; the environs; and France, in general – confirming that the devastated regions of France still needed aid and charity.
Mrs. George Corbin Perine, Chairman. (Ione O.) Tyler Cooke was born in Virginia on 15 July 1878 to George “Wesley” Cooke and Josephine S. Rogers. Tyler was connected to the George Washington family. George Corbin Perine was an author/art dealer. They married on 08 June 1904 at St. John’s Protestant Episcopal Church in Washington DC.
Tyler and George had three children: Washington Corbin Perine bn 1905 Virginia; Anna Washington Perine bn 1909 Baltimore Maryland; and Mary Ball Washington Perine bn 1913 Catonsville, Maryland. A Washington relative, Mrs. M. B. Washington, was Vice-Chairman.
Mrs. Frederick W. Masters, Business Manager (of Chicago): This is believed to be Margaret (nee Barry) who was born in Canada on 29 April 1866 to Irish father Edward Barry and his Canadian wife Mary VanDell. Margaret married Frederick William Masters on 23 November 1887, in Chicago. English-born Frederick’s occupation was Brick Mason. The couple had three children:- Mabel I. bn 1888 Chicago; Charles Edward bn 1892 Chicago; & Harold Frederick bn 1894 Chicago). Margaret died on 11 June 1945 in Lake Villa, Lake, Illinois.
Mrs. Leonel Ross Campbell Antony O’Bryan (of Denver), National Organizer: Leonel’s birth name was Leonel Ross Campbell. She was born on 18 November 1870 in Jackson, Mississippi. She was a daughter of James McKinney Campbell and his wife Mary Elizabeth. At the age of 15, whilst at school in St. Louis, she eloped with one George Antony and married him. She was in Mexico for ten? years “living on wheels”, while George oversaw the building of ‘Mexican Central’ railway. She helped him entertain railway men, government officials and financiers.
She “gained intimate knowledge of the country and its people and thoroughly mastered the Spanish tongue.“ After the years in Mexico, Leonel became a journalist – working first for the New York World. She worked for several newspapers – including the Indianapolis Star; Chicago Evening Post; Louisville Herald; & Rocky Mountain News.
With the Denver Post, she was the paper’s first female reporter – she became “Polly Pry”. She married Philadelphia-born Attorney Harry/Henry J. O’Bryan in 1910 and was widowed a few years later, possibly in 1914. It was reported that Leonel went to Colorado, initially, for the health of her son. Eventually, Leonel worked freelance.
During the First World War, she was Commissioner of Publicity for the American Red Cross in the Balkans – travelling to France; Germany; Australia; Russia; Italy; Belgium; Holland; England; Greece; and Serbia during her service up until December 1919. During the 1922 poppy campaign, she was found described as “regional director and organizer of the Veterans of Foreign Wars”. Thus, Leonel was another valuable woman for Anna to have on her side, with many influential contacts around the United States of America. Leonel died on 16 July 1938, at St. Joseph Hospital, Denver – of a heart attack, after a long illness.
During WW1, she was Commissioner of Publicity for the American Red Cross in the Balkans – travelling to France; Germany; Australia; Russia; Italy; Belgium; Holland; England; Greece; and Serbia during her service up until December 1919. During the 1922 poppy campaign, she was found described as “regional director and organizer of the Veterans of Foreign Wars”. Thus, Leonel was another valuable woman for Anna to have on her side, with many influential contacts around the United States of America. Leonel died on 16 July 1938, at St. Joseph Hospital, Denver – of a heart attack, after a long illness.
An article reporting on her death stated “In her prime Polly Pry was a blond beauty who attracted attention wherever she went and was possessed of a radiant personality and a gift of conversation.” Anna Guérin described Leonel as “very clever, very shrewd” and “very faithful” in a letter. The two women had several similar characteristics and life experiences – perhaps, they had a good relationship because of this?
Miss Helen J. Ahern was born on 15 October 1890 in Whitney Point, Buffalo, New York State. She was described as a society girl and heiress. Helen worked for the American Red Cross in France; Italy; and Albania up until December 1919.
Leonel and Helen worked together in the American Red Cross, the age gap between them was 20 years. Independently, they have each been described as working for many months supervising 14,000 refugees. They had both been decorated for their work by the French government. In February 1920, on their way home from the Balkans, they spent the month in France “travelling over the devastated front” and were “thoroughly informed as to the conditions there.”
Leonel and Helen were well suited to touring the US on behalf of the American and French Children’s League, arranging “Poppy drives” to raise funds. They knew what they were talking about, when they described conditions in devastated France. There is more about these two women further into this chapter.
To return to, and properly commence, the year of 1920:-
Madame Guérin has not been discovered within the US 1920 Census but, surely?, she must have been somewhere in the country because she was found in Lincoln, Nebraska on 07 January – for instance, Lincoln’s census was taken on the 03 January 1920.
Anna was in Lincoln to meet with Mrs. Bessie Dredla, in relation to the ‘American and French Children’s League. Bessie was a prominent woman in the area – she had led local women in war work.
Bessie’s husband Anton ended up being mayor of nearby Crete in Nebraska a total of seven times. Both Bessie and Anton were born in “Bohemia”/Czechoslovakia and had arrived in the USA in the late 1890’s, with their parents. There were strong Czech enclaves in that area of Nebraska, in fact Omaha was known as ‘Little Bohemia’.
On 07 January 1920, the Evening State Journal printed one sentence about the meeting: “TODAY’S EVENTS. Mrs. Anton Dredla of Crete, who has been prominent in the state work of the American and French Children’s league, was in the city Wednesday to see Madame E. Guerin, the French representative of the league.”
On 19 January 1920, Anna gave the first of three consecutive evening performances of her Joan of Arc “impersonation” – at Lincoln’s First Christian Church. The performance was illustrated with coloured lantern slides. Alice Howell translated Anna’s French dialogue – Alice was a Professor (French/Languages) at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.
These performances may have been a personal arrangement for Anna, as the ‘American and French Children’s League’ was not mentioned. They would have been opportunities to help her personal finances perhaps – as she often spent her own money to pay for expenses. “Mme. E. Guerin has consented to give her famous dramatic impersonation of Joan of Arc in costume …” (‘The Nebraskan’ 16 Jan.). This suggests she was persuaded to perform but, additionally, it tells us that she was travelling with all her props … just in case.
Anna was introduced by Dr. F. M. Fling. This was Fred Morrow Fling, a professor who lectured in European History at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. He was a somewhat controversial figure inasmuch as he had publicly and strongly objected to the neutral stand taken by USA early in WW1. Fred was born on 04 November 1860 in Portland, Maine to Charles H. Fling and his wife Cynthia E. Fred died 08 June 1934 in Lincoln, Nebraska. http://www.nebraskahistory.org/publish/publicat/history/full-text/NH1981FFling.pdf
In her 1941 Synopsis, Anna recalled [sic]: “The Chamber of Commerce of Nebraska had given me their able Secretary ( who is still there ) to plan the campaign in Nebraska to raise the $ 10.000 with the help of the Gold Star Mothers . We made more than the $ 10.000 in Nebraska . By that time I had taken the habit to speak in each school of the town where we were planning to have the POPPY’S DAY , and each school was sending us girls and boys to tag with the Poppies – We had so many volunteers that it is why those tags days were such a success and ther SYMBOL emploid , “the Flanders’ Popy” was so endearing to the heart of the people that they began to call me every where the POPPY LADY and the Flanders’S Fields’ Poppy was considered everywhere and by every one THE BEST SYMBOL which could be found perpetuating the memory of the HEROES of the WAR .”
On 09 March 1920, Anna made “a magnificent appeal in chapel for aid to help the poor French children, victims of the war” at the Colorado College, Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs.
In Pueblo, which is 74 miles south of Colorado Springs, a Poppy Day also took place during Anna Guérin’s visit to Colorado. We know this from a congratulatory letter to Madame Guérin dated 22 May 1920, from Madame Lebon (American and French Children’s League’s Chairman in France): “… The 35,000 francs that came from the poppy day of Pueblo will be employed to buy, if possible, the Children’s Hospital at Bidart. …”
On 03 April 1920, still in Colorado, Anna Guérin was in Denver for “the first big” Poppy Day for the ‘American and French Children’s League’ – probably with the help of “Polly Pry” and Helen Ahern. Anna, in December 1921, described the weather on this day: “A blizzard, such as you cannot imagine here, spoilt it somewhat – but in spite of snow and ice our dear Poppy girls collected several thousand dollars.” The month of April ‘saw’ the League fundraising begin in earnest.
Utah was next on the list for Madame Anna Guérin … on 03 April 1920, the Salt Lake Telegram enlightened its readers about her visit [sic]:
“AID ASKED FOR ORPHANS IN FRANCE.
Madame E. Guerin of Paris will arrive in Salt Lake Monday to assist in a campaign to raise $10,000 in Utah for the orphaned children in war devastated districts of France.
Madame Guerin will speak at the University of Utah Tuesday morning and at the Assembly hall in the Temple grounds Thursday night. She will also speak to the students of the L.D.S. university and at a meeting of L’Alliance Francaise.
Mrs. Harry O’Brien, known in literary circles as “Polly Pry,” is in Salt Lake making arrangements for Madam Guerin’s lectures.”
Likewise, on the same day, The Salt Lake Herald Republican enlightened its readers [sic]:
“‘CHILDREN OF FRANCE’ DRIVE NEXT WEEK.
Funds must be raised immediately to aid the children of France, who, during the early part of the war, were driven from their homes by the on-rush of the Germans and who since that time have suffered untold privations.
Next week Salt Lake will do its share toward sending aid to the children of the war-stricken republic. The drive for funds here will be conducted by Madame E. Guerin. She has enlisted the aid of numerous Salt Lake societies in the project.”
On 05 April 1920, Madame Guérin arrived in the Mormon city of Salt Lake City. Mrs. Leonel Ross O’Bryan (“Polly Pry”) had arrived a few days beforehand, making plans ahead of Anna’s arrival.
On Friday 02 April, the Deseret News printed this [sic]: “WILL MAKE PLEA FOR HOMELESS CHILDREN. For the little children in France, 450,000 in number, not orphans, who were behind the German lines and have returned to their devastated and desolate homes with tuberculosis and brain diseases, arrangements are being completed for the appearance of Madam E. Guerin before a number of organizations here. “Polly Pry,” famous newspaper woman, in private life, Mrs. Leonel Ross O’Bryan, herself just returned from the Balkans, is in Salt Lake making final plans for Madam Guerin’s appearance here and also for “Poppy Day,” to raise funds for these children. She has called on Gov. Simon Ramberger, the First Presidency Supt. G. N. Child and local club women and has gained their co-operation in her work. A local bank will take charge of all funds gathered on “Poppy Day” and will send them direct to France. … No collections will be taken up at these lectures, which are designed merely to arouse the interest of the public. Mrs. O’Bryan Thursday evening will give a short talk on the Balkans where she has seen two years’ service with the Red Cross. Prof. J. J. McClellan will give musical numbers.”
Leonel had planned the week’s itinerary but it appears to have been flexible – what was first planned, and announced ahead of time, was changed and was reported on after each event.
Newspaper woman Leonel was always ahead of the game, as far as the Press was concerned. It was probably her who arranged for the following publicity article to appear in the Deseret News on the day Anna arrived in Salt Lake City (5th) [sic]:
“Will Sell Poppies For Relief Of War Waifs. Next Saturday Salt Lakers will be wearing bright red poppies patterned after the little flower commonly seen in French meadows. The little paper emblems will show that they have contributed to the fund being gathered here for children in the war zone who have been in towns behind the German lines. One hundred pretty girls of the city will be delegated to wage the poppy war for funds. Donations of whatever denomination the buyer wishes to give will be accepted for the flower. To interest Salt Lakers in the campaign, Madame E. Guerin, noted French lecturer, will arrive in the city today … The American and French Children’s League is directing the collection of $10,000 in this country for the French youngsters. The local collection will be placed with a local bank and forwarded direct to General Legrand-Girarde of the Credit Foncier d’Algerie of Tulsie, Paris.”
Madame Anna Guérin stayed at the Hotel Utah and, upon her arrival, she was interviewed by the Salt Lake Telegram [sic]:
“FRENCH WOMAN TO START DRIVE HERE. Madame Guerin Appeals in Behalf of Children.
Madame E. Guerin, who is speaking in the leading cities of the country in behalf of the French children’s league, arrived in Salt Lake today. A week’s campaign in Salt Lake will be started tomorrow. Madame Guerin is an officer of education in France and wears many medals for work done during the war. She has made nine trips to America in the interests of the Alliance Francaise.
When interviewed at the Hotel Utah the distinguished Frenchwoman said: “This past war has been more than battles. It is an epoch in the history of humanity for which we have had the martyrs of the great cause of civilization. Our Yankee boys are now sleeping in Flanders’ fields where the poppies will ever bloom in springtime. The poppy day we shall never forget. We must not forget. And next Saturday some of the prominent of Salt Lake women will aid our cause by selling these flowers, symbolic of our hero dead.
“It is in April, the day America declared war on the Huns in the splendid cause of humanity. The days in which American mothers were making in their hearts the supreme sacrifice. The day on which every boy in this country was prepared to give up everything in the noble cause. In memory of those boys who were chosen for the sacrifice, the French Children’s league will offer these poppies for sale.”
“The aim of the Alliance Francaise,” continued Madame Guerin, “is to promulgate and encourage the affection and friendship between the two sister republics. But the immediate aim and purpose of the organization is to aid the 450,000 homeless orphans in the devastated regions of northern France. And for that cause I have come to Salt Lake.”
Tomorrow Madame Guerin will speak to the students of the University of Utah at 11:30 a.m. and to the students of the East and West High schools in the afternoon. In the evening she will speak in French at the Hotel Utah and all who speak French are urged to attend. In the Assembly hall on the Tabernacle grounds, Thursday night, a general meeting will be addressed.”
The next day (06th), Anna Guérin spoke to the students of the University of Utah at 11.30 a.m. It is also reported that she spoke to the students of the Latter Day Saints University but it is not known when she did that.
At 8 o’clock in the evening, Anna spoke in French before l’Alliance Française members and a general audience, on the mezzanine floor of the Hotel Utah. The members agreed to assist Anna in her ‘Poppy Day’ venture.
The Hotel Utah stood on South Temple and Main Streets, which was across the street from ‘Temple Square’ – where the Mormon/Latter Day Saints Church Office Building stood in one direction; and the Mormon Temple and Tabernacle stood in another. In April 1920, the Hotel Utah was less than 9 years old. The Mormon Church was a major stockholder in the Hotel. The hotel shut its doors in 1987 and is now known as the ‘Joseph Smith Memorial Building’ – after being converted, it is now a “multi-purpose building” for the Church. Anna was staying at the Hotel Utah during her visit to Salt Lake City.
On the day, the Salt Lake Telegram printed this article [sic]:
“FRENCHWOMAN RELATES WAR OUTRAGES. Madame Guerin Addresses University Folk in Behalf of Starving Tots; Tells of Devastation.
Before a large crowd of University of Utah students, Madame E. Guerin, French lecturer and representative of the French government’s organization for the protection of the children of devastated regions, delivered her first lecture in Salt Lake today.
“For four and a half years the little children of my home country have lived in undescribable conditions. Hundreds have died, some have been taken care of by the government, but there are more than a million and a half fatherless and in some cases motherless children living in caves, cellars and dugouts. Many are paralyzed by rheumatism and scores are victims of tuberculosis.
THOUSANDS OF OUTRAGES.
“To add to the misery and horror of the homeless children, there are no less than 200,000 French girls that have been forced to bear unlawful German children. Never in the history of the world has such an outrage been forced upon any nation as has been forced upon the people of my country.
“The people of France fully appreciate to the very bottom of their hearts what the Americans have done for them. If any of you students ever hear the remark of ‘America did not win the war,’ then you can say ‘America might not have won the war, but at any rate she finished it.’ I could never in a lifetime tell you what your boys have done to help upbuild my country. In one year the Yankees built more factories, hospitals, buildings and promoted industry further and better than my people could have done in an entire generation.
PAY DEBT OF LAFAYETTE.
“America has more than paid the debt she owed to Lafayette, yes paid it with heavy interest. There is not a person in the entire country that does not look up to the Yankee soldier and to the entire American nation for its help in France’s darkest hour.
“Surely France will be on her feet much more quickly with help. We are the last nation to beg. Now that we have asked for help, we are only asking for help that is needed, and will be appreciated. Every cent of money that is raised in this country for the starving children of France will be sent direct to the French government to be spent in making the lives of the poor motherless children just a little sweeter. The people of France cannot do much to help these conditions. At present 45 per cent of all the properties and earnings of the people are taxed to help remedy conditions. The aid of American, France’s worshiped friend, has been asked.”
UTAH ASKED FOR $10,000.
Utah has been asked to raise $10,000 to help in the protection of the French fatherless children.
Saturday has been set aside as the campaign day to raise the fund, and young girls of the city, from the university and all of the local high schools, will canvass the business district asking for donations. If arrangements can be made the girls will also invade Bonneville park during the afternoon.
SMALL AMOUNT FROM EACH.
The amount of money asked from each individual will be very small, the amounts ranging from 25 cents to $1, or whatever the citizens may feel like giving to such a noble cause.
Madame Guerin will address the members of the L’Alliance Francaise this evening on the mezzanine floor of the Hotel Utah. She will talk in French, and the meeting will start promptly at 8 o’clock. Tomorrow she will visit the local high schools. Friday evening she will talk to the citizens in a public meeting to be held in the Assembly hall. No money will be collected at any of these meetings, but the drive will last all day Saturday.
Either late Saturday evening or early Sunday morning Madame Guerin and her secretary, Mrs. Harry O’Brien, known in literary circles as “Polly Pry,” will leave for Provo, where they will make a drive for funds. Later they will hold a campaign in Ogden, and then in Logan.
All the money collected in Utah will be turned over to W. W. Armstrong, who has been appointed to send the money directly to the French government. The following committee has also been selected to aid in the drive: Governor and Mrs. Simon Bamberger, Presidents Heber J. Grant, Anthon H. Lund and Charles E. Penrose of the L.D.S. church, Dr. T. b. Beatty, G. N. Child, Mrs. R. C. Gemmell, Mrs. Solomon Stegel, Mrs. G. Y. Wallace, Mrs. James Hogle, Miss Evelyn I. Mayer, Dr. John A, Widisoe, E. F. Colborn and the members of the L’Alliance Francaise.”
On Wednesday 07 April, there was a committee meeting to decide on arrangements for the Poppy Drive. Anna also spoke at West high school and Roland Hall academy on that day.
The Wednesday’s edition of the Salt Lake Telegram enlightened its readers [sic]:
“POPPIES BADGE IN FRENCH DRIVE. Girls Will Distribute Blooms in the Business District Saturday in Aid of the Orphans.
“A RED poppy for every citizen of Salt Lake,” was the slogan adopted this morning by the committee in charge of the drive which will take place Saturday for the purpose of raising money for the orphan children of France. Over 200 society girls of the city have volunteered to canvass the business district Saturday and everyone that donates his offering to the cause will receive a red poppy to wear.
According to plans made this morning the girls will carry sealed cigar boxes, with a slot cut just large enough for a dollar coin. The citizens will drop their offerings in the box and then at the close of the day the boxes will be opened by the committee and the money sent directly to France by W. W. Armstrong, who has been appointed to handle the matter.
GIVE AS YOU CAN.
Utah has been asked to raise $10,000 for the cause. No certain amount has been set for the individual to give. This will be left entirely up to the donator. Mrs. Harry O’Brien, who is assisting Madame E. Guerin in the campaign throughout the country, stated this morning that a large donation for the individual will not be necessary if everyone that is approached during the day will give something. In the recent drive for funds in Denver, she stated, it was the smaller donations that the girls raised from school children that brought the sum into large figures.
Miss Helen Hanchett, with twenty or more University of Utah girls, will invade Bonneville park during the afternoon and will extract the money from the baseball fans.
Madame Guerin visited the West High school and the Roland Hall academy this morning and addressed the members of the student body and faculties of both schools.
While Madame Guerin is visiting Utah to ask for immediate relief for the children of the devastated regions of France, she is also here for another purpose—the forming of an American and French children’s league to promote, through mutual understanding, the continuation of national friendship. In every state in which the quota is raised each school, club and organization assisting will receive a certificate that will entitle the community to free lectures by Frenchmen who will be sent annually to America. When the immediate need of France is met, the plan is to make a permanent endowment of free French lectureship in America.
Tomorrow evening Madame Guerin will address a public meeting to be held in the Assembly hall. A large crowd is expected at this meeting, as already a number of church and club leaders are urging their members to attend. Yesterday, at one of the sessions of conference, President Grant requested that the members of the church who could possibly attend the lecture to do so.
Madame Guerin has a big message for the American people and audiences that she has addressed while her in the city have fully appreciated the great work she is doing.
To wind up the drive Saturday, the American legion will give a French “poppy Dance” and the public will be invited. The proceeds from the dance will be turned over to the fund. The place of the dance has not been definitely decided upon, but the state capitol looms up as a probably choice of the committee.”
On Thursday 08 April 1920, Anna Guérin spoke at the East side high school in the morning and at St. Mary’s academy in the afternoon. In the evening, she spoke at a public meeting at the Assembly hall – all in Salt Lake City. On 08 April, again the Deseret News confirmed Anna’s engagements for that Thursday [sic]: “Madame spoke at the East Side high school in the morning; at St. Mary’s academy in the afternoon; and at the Assembly Hall in the evening. Big ball at the State Capitol on Saturday, 10 April – Poppy Day.
Speaks For French Children. In behalf of little French children in the war zone, Madame E. Guerin will speak this evening in the Assembly hall. Madame Guerin is a noted French lecturer and has come here not only to raise funds for these children but also to organize a branch here of the American and French Children’s League. …
Mrs. Emmeline B. Wells was yesterday named honorary president of the local branch of the American and French Children’s League, and Pres. Heber J. Grant was asked to serve on the honorary committee. Mrs. Jeanette A. Hyde, local chairman of the league, announced other officers as follows Miss Lucy Cann Cott, first vice chairman; Mrs. C.H. McMahon, second vice chairman.
Some 500 U. of U. and high school girls will on Saturday wage the Poppy Day fund campaign in the city. On Friday a preliminary campaign will be waged when twenty girls, members of “The Passing Show,” will be stationed at Main street corners for twenty minutes at noon to sell the poppies. Saturday at noon a parade will be held by school girls and Boy Scouts, the Boy Scout band leading the line of march. The same day 30 girls under the leadership of Helen Hanchett will invade Bonneville park. …
This morning plans were made for a big ball at the State Capitol Saturday evening as a wind up affair of “Poppy Day.” Mayor and Mrs. Bock will lead the grand march. A French artists will give several recitations and sing the “Marseillaise” to open the affair and Mrs. Bock will also be official chaperone for the occasion.”
The Salt Lake Telegram printed an article too, on the same day [sic]:
“BOY SCOUTS WILL AID IN CAMPAIGN. Final Arrangements for Drive for French Orphans.
Boy Scouts have been called out to help in the drive for funds for the French orphans of the devastated regions, which will take place here Saturday. According to present plans made by Jeanette Hyde, chairman of the committee in charge of the drive, the Boy Scouts will open the drive early Saturday morning, when they will parade the downtown streets.
A local box manufacturer has agreed to furnish gratis the 500 boxes that will be used for collecting the donations.
Mrs. Lucy Van Cott, dean of women of the University of Utah, will see that at least a hundred university girls are on hand Saturday to help extract the money from the local citizens.
This evening Madame E. Guerin will address a public meeting in Assembly hall. No admission will be charged, and no collection taken. Madame Guerin has been addressing schools and clubs since her arrival Monday. This morning she visited the East high school, and this afternoon she will make an address at St. Mary’s academy.
It has been decided to hold the dance that will wind up the drive Saturday night at the capitol. Mrs. E. A. Bock is chairman of the dance committee. The grand march will be led by the mayor and Mrs. Bock.
An admission charge of 50 cents a couple will be made.”
It is not known, for sure, what Anna Guérin did on the 09 April, 1920 – it appears, in the absence of any newspaper report of any activity, that she may have had the day off from lecturing. On that day, however, there was a “preliminary” event to Saturday’s “Poppy Day” – where some girls sold poppies for 20 minutes at noon for the benefit of the Children’s League – so she would have probably been involved with that. Additionally, it is logical that she would have been making last minute preparations ahead of next day’s full Poppy Day.
On that day (09), the Deseret Evening News ran this article [sic]:
“FRENCH CHILDREN IN PITIABLE CONDITION AS RESULT OF WAR. Madame Guerin says Four Million Lack Homes and Proper Food. Picturing the “hope of France” as pitiful little children who have lost their minds, forgotten how to read and write, forgotten how to smile, children with hacking coughs and rheumatic limbs, Madame E. Guerin told of one outcome of the war last evening in the Assembly hall. She stated that France has 4,000,000 children without homes, without proper food and that 600,000 of these are in a dreadful condition of health. Forty per cent, she stated tubercular and a large majority have lost their identity, their very names being lost in the chaos of war. The sight of these pitiful little creatures has broken the hearts of many observers, the speaker declared.
Mrs. Harry O’Brien, Denver Newspaper woman who has done overseas service in the Balkans, declared that she hoped the people of Utah would appreciate the good that the money that they had contributed to the Red Cross was doing. She told how children were being picked from the very gutters dying from starvation and disease and were being cared for by the Red Cross. Prof. J.J. McClellan played the “Marseillaise” preceding the lecture.
Dr. James E. Talmage introduced the two ladies and A.W. Ivins gave a brief address.
Campaign for Funds. As a preliminary to “Poppy Day” Saturday, girls of the Passing Show began a campaign on the down town streets of the city to gather funds for the French children. They sold poppies for 20 minutes at noon for the benefit of the fund.
The following hostesses have been named for the ball to be given Saturday night at the State Capitol: Mrs. Torild Arnoldson, Miss M. Domenge, Mrs. W. Mont Ferry, Mrs. M.C. Jennings, Mrs. Lafayette Hanchett, Mrs. R.C. Gemmell and Mrs. J.A. Hogie, Jnr. Tickets for the ball may be obtained from the women who are to act as hostesses, Madame Guerin at the Hotel Utah, and will also be sold by the girls who are to sell poppies on Saturday. Fifty cents a couple will be charged. Refreshments will be served free and a band of 10 pieces will furnish the music. It is expected that the young people of the university and high school will attend in large numbers.”
And so … 10 April 1920 arrived … Salt Lake City’s ‘Poppy Day’.
However, the bad weather arrived too (as Anna recounted in her 1921 speech/report in Paris) and that ‘Poppy Day’ collection was cut short – but all was not lost … Salt Lake City would have another. A ‘French Poppy Dance’ was due to be held in the evening, at the State Capitol building, but had to be postponed.
There had been another Poppy Day held on 10 April 1920 – in Greeley, Colorado. The Greeley Daily Tribune stated: “Today Greeley has been turned into a poppy field. Every citizen wears a scarlet flower, on every street corner Greeley girls are selling poppies for the orphans of France. Under the direction of Mme Celeste Oliver Dixon and Mlle. Lucienne LeFraper, who are representing the American and French Children’s League today was made poppy day in Greeley. Mrs. Howard Price, instructor in French and Latin at the Greeley high school has been on the street all day chaperoning the fair poppy sellers. The poppy sellers will be on the streets until 10 o’clock tonight. …” It looks as though Anna had left Celeste and Lucienne to make sure all ran smoothly on the day.
Both Celeste and Lucienne were French. Celeste was a widow, born c1879 and living in Denver, in the 1920 US census. Her late husband had been one Oliver Dixon.
Lucienne Le Frapper was single – her occupation was a teacher, when she arrived in the USA in 1919. She was born c1895 in Pontivy, Brittany. “Mrs. Howard Price” was High School Teacher Mrs. Mary M. Price (nee McCutcheon). She was born 02 September 1879, in Illinois, and died 02 July 1965 in Greeley.
On the Monday (12 April), the Deseret News reported [sic]:
“ANOTHER POPPY DAY HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED FOR NEXT SATURDAY. Because the weather stopped the street campaign for funds for French children of the war zone Saturday it was stated this morning that the campaign would be taken up again at 2 o’clock next Saturday and a second half of Poppy day will be enacted in this city. Mme. Guerin stated that banks and business houses would not be visited again, but that an opportunity would be given the passersby usually on the business streets in good weather, to buy a poppy. She said that after her talk on Sunday afternoon in the tabernacle several persons in the audience offered her donations but she is not authorized by the society which she is representing to receive the money. She asks the donors kindly to send the amounts to the local committee appointed to receive them with Mrs. Jeanette Hyde, chairman, in the Bishops building.
Up to noon today the sum of $2.760 had been received through the Poppy campaign. As 25 cents in America money means 3.75 in France the committee are making the plea on local citizens to send in amounts, however small.
They are most hearty in their thanks to matrons, maids and schools of the city who helped in Saturday’s drive and especially mentioned the tiny children from Rowland hall who participated. These, some of them mere babies, collected $37 in their school and then assisted in the drive down town. Mrs. Eleanor Sears has been named chairman for the dance to take place at the state capitol next Saturday evening and she announces that tickets can be purchased down-town.”
In 1921, Anna reminisced: “where again the weather was against us”. Anna’s Synopsis (from 1941) personally enlightens us further: “In Salt Lake City the President of the Mormon delegated one of the President of the Women’s club, Mrs. Marriot of Ogden, to accompagn me in every town , until the $10.000 would be made … … The Poppies forwarded to us from Chicago were made in papers , and however they were making a touching sight in a town when in the evening every man , woman and child was wearing one of those poppy , as it was very often the case in the small towns.”
On Sunday morning (11 April), Madame Anna Guérin spoke at the Third Ward meeting house in Ogden, Utah, “on the condition of French orphaned children” – ahead of a Poppy Day there on 17 April. She was accompanied by Leonel O’Bryan (“Polly Pry”).
In the afternoon of the 11th, Anna Guérin and Leonel O’Bryan addressed “the regular afternoon meeting” at the Salt Lake City tabernacle. It is reported that Madame Guérin spoke at Ogden’s Third Ward meeting house in the evening too.
The next day (12 April), the Deseret News gave an account of the Salt Lake City tabernacle event [sic]. Here are extracts:
“Elder James E. Talmage introduced Madame E. Guerin and Mrs. Leonel Ross O’Bryan, representing American and French Children’s League, for the relief of the unfortunate children in Northern France, and the Red Cross.”
Leonel spoke first and said “She had traveled on tramp steamers, torpedo boats, battleships, any way to get from one place to another. She described the suffering she had seen amongst the people of devastated Europe. … She described various journeys she had made among the sufferers, the hungry and starving, the naked and freezing, and how the Red Cross supplies were given up where they would do the most good and most relieve suffering. She herself had read the burial service over many who had died of the terrible hardships. The destitution was so great that it has not been righted even yet. … The people have gone back to the sites of their homes and they have found only desolation and ruin. It is for those people who have gone back, she said, and who are struggling against such terrible odds, that the organization she represents is seeking help. They need bread, they need clothing, they need medicine, they need the care of the peoples of the earth.”
Then it was Madame Guérin’s turn to address the audience at the Tabernacle: “She paid eloquent tribute to the spirit of America and said that America will not abandon its noble principles of right and justice. Even now, she said, France needs the help and support of generous America; the children of France have every confidence that this great country that sent its best and bravest men across the sea to fight for a just cause will give out of the generosity of the great American heart, the sustenance that will give them live while they struggle to rebuild their homes. Madame Guerin related specific instances of suffering among the children of France; of blighted childhood; of the hope in little hearts that the great America will help. She spoke of the graves of American boys in Flanders fields. She had been to Chateau Thierry, she had gone over the ground where the brave Americans turned the Germans back. …
Speaking of the request for funds, Madame Guerin said it is not alms that France is asking, France is not begging. France is a proud nation, proud of the part she took to rid the world of a terrible menace. France gave all she had, she could not give more. The speaker said it is not flattery when she says frankly America is known today as the first nation of the earth and O, how proud! she said France is of the friendship of America! …
Madame Guerin spoke earnestly, fervently. Her manner of expression was sincere, unfeigned and straight-forward. Her speech was clear English, phrased with precision but given with an unmistakeable French accent. …
President Anthon G. Lund, at the conclusion of the services, said he desired to assure the visitors in behalf of the people whom they had addressed , that the same cause they espoused is heartily endorsed by this people and he recommended an earnest and helpful response to their appeal.”
In a congratulatory letter to Madame Guérin dated 22 May 1920, from Madame Lebon (American and French Children’s League’s Chairman in France), more is learnt about the money donated during the Salt Lake City Poppy Drive: “… With the money received from Salt Lake City we are opening a dairy to give milk to the wasted children of Verdun. The dairy is called Utah. …”
Soon after speaking at the Tabernacle, Anna Guérin left Salt Lake City to travel north to Ogden again. That evening, she spoke at Ogden’s Third Ward meeting house again – as she had done in the morning. Anna Guérin remained in Ogden for quite a while.
On 13 April 1920, Madame Guérin spoke at the Ogden High School; the Weber Normal College; and the Sacred Heart Academy in aid of the ‘American and French Children’s League. She was accompanied by Professor James Barker of the French department of the University of Utah.
Anna Guérin was also recruiting sellers for the Poppy Day, which was to be held on 17 April – they would dispose of poppy “boutonnières” in shops and business houses. Cadets and scouts would also help in the Drive.
On 15 April 1920, Madame Guérin spoke at the City Hall in Ogden, Mrs. Georgina Marriott accompanied her. The Ogden standard-examiner (16 April) reported [sic], under the heading of “Davis Speaks on Gen. Leonard Wood”:
Making it perfectly clear that he was not advocating the candidacy of General Leonard Wood as the only Republican possibility as a candidate for the presidency, J.C. Davis gave an interesting biographical address on the military man with presidential ambitions at the meeting of the Weber county women’s Republican committee meeting at the city hall last night.
Mrs. Georgina Marriott presided over the meeting.
Madame E. Guerin, representing the American and French Children’s League, spoke on the aims of the society and asked for the support of the women on poppy Day, which is to be celebrated here tomorrow, when the population will be tagged in behalf of the work of the society.
The meeting went on record as favoring federal laws for maternity insurance and child labor, and amending of the state law so as to provide school teachers with a living wage. Paul Wheeler gave two violin solos.”
On 16 April 1920, the Ogden Standard-Examiner printed an article headed “Three hundred school girls to sell poppies tomorrow for youth of devastated France”. It noted that “The funds raised by voluntary contributions of any amount desired will be taken in charge by Charles H. Barton, cashier of the Ogden Savings Bank and by him cabled to the Premier Millerand of France, not being handled by visiting representatives of the movement”. Anna (and volunteers for the League) did receive a nominal amount for expenses from a League account called the ‘National Expenses Fund’ – it is assumed that monies within this came from League membership fees.
On 17 April 1920, Ogden’s Poppy Day, the Ogden standard-examiner informed [sic]:
“OGDEN GENEROUS TO PRETTY GIRLS IN POPPY DRIVE.
With hundreds of pretty girls busy and enthusiastic, the sale of poppies for the children of devastated France went on apace here today. The general committee reported a generous response from the citizens of Ogden.
Madame E. Guerin, who is in Ogden as the representative of France for the American an French Children’s league declared she was highly pleased by the enthusuastic manner in which Ogden has responded to the appeal from the needy French children.”
Reportedly, $2000 was raised in that Ogden Poppy Drive. Anna was reported as being “highly pleased by the enthusiastic manner” in which Ogden responded. Anna also recalled, in 1921: “Ogden did splendidly, as did Binghamton, Provo, Logan and other towns.”
Anna spent most of April 1920 in Utah – she spoke on the aims of the ‘American and French Children’s League; asked for the support of the women and girls; and then set about organising the Poppy Days/Drives in places such as Brigham City; Logan; and Provo. The aforementioned are all found on Highway 15 and Anna ventured off it onto Highway 91, to Park City and over the State border into Idaho to Preston. Numerous other towns took part in the Drives, apart from those mentioned.
On Sunday 18 April 1920, The Ogden Standard-Examiner reported on the success of the Ogden Poppy Day and listed the names of school children who had helped. Transcribing the whole article serves to demonstrate just how many children helped [sic]:
“POPPY DAY IN OGDEN SUCCESS. Nearly $2000 Realized in One Day Drive for French Children.
Nearly $2000 was realized in Ogden yesterday by Ogden school children who sold poppies on the streets for the fund that will go toward alleviating the conditions of the children of war-ridden sections of France.
Mme. E. Guerin, who has been lecturing throughout the country in the interest of the drive, spoke at Ogden theatres last night.
Names of additional school children who aided during the drive include:
Committee arranging booths and tables in stores and hotels, Miss Vera Tracy, chairman. Members of the committee are as follows; Benice Harris, Theresa Pring, Sherma Hendershot, Lottie Baker, Mary Ann Conier, Louise Fisher, Bessier Larkin.
Madison—Erica Berne, Dorothy Matson, Blanche Scowcroft, Marion Ure, Mollie Brett, Margaret Jongsina.
Quincy—Lorna Jones, Grace Poorman, Alice Humsaker, Edytne Ashton, Mariana Ellis, Doris Wilcox, Lois Childs, Mellwyn Emmett, Lucile Stevenson, Dorothy Young.
Central Junior High—Leda Wilson, Joyce Reeder, Leah Welch, Gladys Mumford, Nellie Taylor, Marjorie Perrins, Ruth Goddard, Virginia Green, Loujean McKay, Norma Mattson, Vera Purdie, Madeline Reeder, Marjorie Minnoch, Elva King, Glorus Mortensen, Lea Anderson, Marguerite Dinsdale, Elma Taylor, Katherine Wheelewright, Marguerite Selbold, Illa Willie, Eleanor Shorten, Florella Cramer, Blanch Johnson, Bonita Scowcroft, Luella McCamant, Twila Mason, Dorothy Anderson, Ruth Brewer, Ruth Jensen, Hortense Kirkland, Pauline Sipprelle, Catherine Kelley, Mary Rienks, Sarah Holmes, Ethel Calvin, Lavina Ekins, Myrtle Summerill, Ethel Burnette, Dorothy Hyslop, Dorothy, Carlson, Stella Thomas, Katherine Cahill, Mary DeBry, Lucile Silver, Virginia Bingham, Dorothy Scowcroft, Ireta Taylor, Helen Boyd, Cora Wangagnard.
Sacred Heart Academy—Mrs. Geo. H. Matson, chairman; Mrs. D. L. Boyle, vice-chairman; Hazel Matchinsky, Ethel Thinnes, Agnes Carney, Sarah Miller, Florence Dunn, Monida Brown, Winifred Stillwell, Kathryn Shufflebarger, Helen Conroy, Ethel Always, Marie Clifford, Mary Mack, Madeline Kelliher, Genevive McKenna, Eileen Hanley, Beatrice Bletcher, Virginia Kaplan, Mary Luxen, Dorothy Kaplan, Lillian Davis, Sadie Carr, Phyllis Reed, MDary Louise Maginnis, Lillian De Graeff, Brent Dermody, Barbara Dermody, Mary Clements, Edunes Whitney, Grace Byrne, Gladys Kowski, Geraldine O’Neill, Winifred Carr, Catherine Boyle, Kathryn Krauss, Mary Matson, Genevive McCarty, Madelyn Toy, Margaret Wright, Margaret McCarthy, Agnes Thinnes, Margery Mullen, Catherine Carr, Mae Fife, Loretta McCormick, Eleanor McMullen, Pauline Storey, Marie Glenn, Catherine McCool, Nova Kelliher.”
Referring back to Mormon Heber J. Grant’s Mrs. Marriott, she was Mrs. Georgina B. Maroni Marriott. She became an “accredited representative of Madame E. Guerin, French director of the movement” – she was sent further along Highway 91, to Caldwell in Idaho. Numerous other towns took part in the Drives, apart from those mentioned. Georgina Marriott was the chairman of Anna’s committee that was raised in Ogden. Georgina (or Georgiana) Petrina Geertsen was born in Huntsville, Utah on 29 June 1865, to Danish parents Louis C. and his wife Marie/Mariane Pederson Gjoderum – she married Maroni Stewart Marriott. The couple had three daughters and one son.
A very short biography about Georgina (‘Women of the West, 1928) reported that she was a teacher for 15 years; a member of the State Fair Board for 6 years; a member of the Child Culture Club & State Federal Women’s Clubs; and known for writing articles for newspapers and magazines. Georgina sounds just the sort of woman that Anna would have sought out to help her in her quest. She died 07 August 1946.
On 20 April 1920, Madame Guérin was in Logan, Utah – with Georgina Marriott. The Logan Republican (22 April) ran a long article about her and the Poppy Day, to be held on 24 April [sic]:
“POPPY DAY” IN LOGAN.
Next Saturday all Logan will blossom out with poppies and each poppy will represent a contribution to help the orphan children of France. Like all things that come from France, Poppy day is a little more distinguished than tag day, the American article, but in reality it is the same thing. Every one would rather wear a poppy of red silk than an ordinary tag and the object is one that is wakening sympathy and interest all through the state. This feeling is due largely to the ardent way in which Madame Guerin, a French lecturer from France has been telling us of the needs of French children. On Tuesday morning she spoke before an interested body of A.C. students and in the evening she addressed a body of Logan people in the high school auditorium, presided over by Mayor Howell and Supt. Henry Peterson. These two talks, so dramatically given won many friends in Logan for Madame Guerin and the cause for which she is working so nobly. She made the horrors of the German invasion seem very real to us all. She was accompanied in her visit to Logan by Mrs. Marriot of Ogden and her tour throughout the state is being admirably managed by Mrs. Jeanette Hyde.
The plan for Saturday is for the school children to bestow the poppies on everyone and each in return is to make some contribution, no matter how small. It will be a flowery day for Logan and it is to be hoped that Logan will welcome this opportunity to help the children of France made orphans by the war.
The committee for the Poppy day are as follows: … …” [*Agricultural College students]
On Thursday 22 April 1920, Madame Guérin was in Brigham City and Park City. The Salt Lake Herald Republican (25 April 1920) reported on her activities in the columns for those cities [sic]:
“Brigham City. A special assembly was held at the high school on Thursday afternoon of last week, in order to hear Madame E. Guerin of France, who spoke of the French and American Children’s league. As a result of the meeting, Saturday was designated as Poppy day in Brigham. Poppies were sold by the high school girls, the money going to aid the orphans in France.”
“Park City. Madame E. Guerin, the French lecturer, was in the Park between trains Thursday. She spoke at the high school on behalf of the French orphans.”
On 24 April 1920, Madame Guérin’s ‘Poppy Drive’s took place in Logan, Brigham City and Park City. It was reported that Anna greeted Democrat Wm. Jennings Bryan (Congressman for Lincoln, Nebraska) when he visited Ogden on the 24th.
In the evening, Madame Guérin was at the State Capitol building in Salt Lake City. After being postponed three times, the ‘French Poppy Dance’ (also referred to as ‘The Tricolor Ball’ and ‘The Poppy Cyclone Ball’) finally took place. Local American Legion members organised it but Madame Guérin and Leonel O’Bryan had charge of the entertainment.
On 07 May 1920, Georgina Marriott of Ogden arrived in Price, Utah, to finalise arrangements for a Poppy Day being held the next day. Whenever Anna could not personally accommodate a location, there always seems to have been women willing to represent her in the poppy quest. A piece in Ogden’s ‘The Sun’ quoted Georgina [sic]:-
“We have helped to free France from the iron fist. We must help to free her from disease and death – desert and devastation. The lifting of the German veil from the devastated sections of France has revealed a sad plight. For four years and a half living in cellars and caves has paralyzed the children by rheumatism, thousands are succumbing to tuberculosis each year, many are maimed by shot and shell and poisoned by the German gas.
There are children under their teens who have lost their minds through the terrible scenes they have been compelled to witness. Children have been separated from their parents and have forgotten their names and can never be reunited with their families. All are starving and must be fed. There is only one hope and that is to appeal to the splendid generosity of the American people. Two million men of the flower of the young manhood of France have been sacrificed. One million more are blind and maimed. Thousands and thousands of children are living in the devastated sections without father and without homes and are using any kind of a hole for shelter that they can find.” Anna had obviously briefed Georgina very well, with regards the French orphans’ plight.
It appears that Anna Guérin was visiting Montana, Oregon and Washington State, during the period when Georgina Marriott was acting as her representative in Utah and Idaho. In the same letter part-quoted here, Anna wrote “… Mrs. Buckmaster came again to help me in Seattle. We had $4700 not half enough girls …”. The date for the Seattle Poppy Day is unknown.
On 09 May 1920, the Billings Gazette (Montana) printed a short piece which captures again the empathy for the poppy: “Landscape Gardening.” Mrs. Caukins … … urged the planting of more asters because of its being the city flower as established by the Woman’s club, and said “This year let us also have poppies everywhere in memory of our boys who made the supreme sacrifice in France.” She finished by reading, “In Flanders Field.”” Perhaps Madame Guérin had been recently lecturing in Billings?
On 22 May 1920, a Poppy Day was held in Caldwell, Idaho. Georgina Marriott addressed an audience there on 15 May – and recruited the girls. The Caldwell Tribune (18 May) printed this article [sic]:
“WILL HOLD POPPY DAY IN CALDWELL SATURDAY.
One hundred fifty high school girls will put on a tag day Saturday for the benefit of French children in the devastated sections of France, according to an announcement made Saturday by Mrs. G. B. Marrio Marriott, accredited representative of Madam E. Guerin, French director of the movement. The day is officially designated as “Poppy Day.”
Caldwell is assigned no quota. Whatever funds are raised that day will go to alleviate suffering and provide for needs of French children residing in the war stricken areas. Mrs. Amelia Anderson has charge of the campaign here.
Mrs. Marriot spoke Monday morning on her work at the local high school. She was assured hearty cooperation in putting on the drive here. Tags to he sold are in the form of a poppy.”
On that very same day (a Saturday), Anna and Georgina Marriott were in Preston, Idaho. The Ogden Standard Examiner Wednesday edition (26 May), reported that the two ladies had just returned to Ogden from Preston – after a “Poppy Day campaign” for “destitute children in France”.
On 24 May 1920, a “Poppy Week” in Milwaukee commenced – 24-31 May. It has been suggested the event was at the suggestion of Mary Hanecy (ref 06 June 1919). She was a member of the Milwaukee American Legion Post 1 Auxiliary & President of the 32nd Division Women’s Corp. http://www.legionpost1.org/history/ – and it was the Milwaukee American Legion Post No. 1 who organised the Poppy Drive.
This was not the “first” Poppy Drive per se. However, it was probably the first ‘Poppy Day’ organised and run by the American Legion in the USA. 31 May was designated “Poppy Day”
On 27 May 1920, Madame Guérin was in Boise, Idaho for a Poppy Day the next day.
Anna Guérin wrote to Hartley Burr Alexander from Boise on 27 May 1920, Idaho but gave her contact address as c/o Portland Hotel Portland Oregon. [sic]:
Written at right angles, down the left hand margin of this page: “Please do excuse this business letter I am absolutely worn out You guess all the questions I wish to ask about the health of Mrs. Alexander and about the Home. Please, my dear Professor, rush the money to France – They knew that it was to be sent, every $500 gathered”
“My dear, dear Friends, I do not know really if I have acknowledged the receiving of your beautiful letter of invitation, my dear Professor, the next day I had sent my night-letter. The letter was perfect I shall just change, with your permission, the orders of the names. But it is beautifully worded. If I tell you I am speaking on average of 6 to 8 times a day in order to obtain from the schools girls for our poppy days – you will, all of you, excuse me. I am very tired. But I do wish to send the million of frs before to go to France in order to be able to obtain what I like and for that we must have successful days and they are always successful if we have enough girls.
Did those ladies give you their $9000 or what they have, please, please? I am so crossed with them because you would have been able to send it the exchange was above 16 now it is hardly 13 – that means we are losing 3000 frs on each thousand or 6000 frs — it is a crime – enough to take care of 6 children a year. For what! For nothing – only carelessness. I have written a word to Mrs. Holden as if I thought the money had been sent long time ago asking her how much? Miss Epperson has several “Poppy Days this week – the money of course is to be sent to you from all those towns, please, will you see it is done straight away and will you cable it right away to General Legrand Bank Crédit Foncier d’Algérie et de Tunisie 43 rue Cambar, Paris less all expenses and salaries of course and less the 52% sent in a check thus: American and French Children’s League. Continental and Commercial National Bank of Chicago. addressed in an envelope to Mrs. F. Masters 2057 Kenilworth Avenue, Chicago, Ill.
Then I am also seeing that as the National Expenses fund owes me money if you had been able to send 2 weeks ago those $2000 in France and $100 for those 52% of the National Expenses fund I shall not be once the looser – Mrs. F. Masters could have credited me for those $100 2 weeks ago when they were worth 1600fr today they are worth 1280frs It is too bad, when I am working so hard! I thought those women had made the accounts right away. I am sure that Miss Epperson had her money right away. She looks to be a business woman – I hope she knows that all the checks are to be sent to you. Write to her a word, please c/o Fontenelle Hotel, Omaha. I am in Boise – tomorrow we have our Poppy day Monday I shall be in Pocatello next Wednesday to Portland probably for two weeks. Please write me there. Say to Mrs. Griggs that all the family of Mrs. Buckmaster is splendid that she does not show at all the marks of her bad fall and that they have been charming. Mrs. Buckmaster came again to help me in Seattle. We had $4700 not half enough girls – I hope to see you in Colorado beginning of July Until then best affections for all from E. Guerin”
On 29 May 1920, Plattsmouth in Nebraska was the next place found (in the newspapers) having a “Poppy Day”. A Mrs. R.P. Westover was appointed as the chairman of the committee running the Day. Ladies and campfire girls* distributed the poppies. Five days before the event, the Plattsmouth Journal wrote that Madame Guérin “was in charge of the efforts made to provide funds for the relief of the sufferers among the children of the war swept areas of France” but Anna was obviously not there to oversee the proceedings on the actual Poppy Day. *‘Camp Fire Girls of America’ – was the first organisation for girls in America which was multicultural and non-sectarian. Activities concentrated on the outdoors – camping etc.
On 31 May 1920, Memorial/Decoration Day Anna was in Pocatello, Idaho … two days later, she was in Portland, Oregon – on her mission (as discovered from Hartley Burr Alexander’s papers).
On 12 June 1920, it was “Poppy Day” in American Fork, Utah. The American Fork Citizen (of that day) reported [sic]:
“POPPY DAY IN AMERICAN FORK
Today is poppy day in American Fork. A campaign will be waged all day in the interest of the destitute little children who live in the devastated regions of France. Contributors will be given poppies in exchange for whatever sum the purchaser wishes to pay.
The people are appealed to, to aid liberally in the upbuilding of the devasted part of France and the care of her thousands of diseased children.
Hundreds of children are insane, as well as thousands of adults. Asylums must be built, sanitariums must be erected for the hundreds of tubercular children. France cannot do it. She is ruined financially. The children are orphans of the world war. Give freely to aid a country whose only hope lies in our generosity.
Mrs. Charles Pankratz has been appointed the local chairman of the French and American Children’s League. She will select a Captain from each ward of the city, who in turn will select ten girls who will do the soliciting.”
Also on 12 June 1920, there was a Poppy Day/Tag Day in Kansas City (Kansas) – under the direction of a “Mr. and Mrs. M.H. Gray of Denver”. There was controversy just before this event took place because someone must have discovered that the American and French Children’s League was not yet on the National Information Bureau’s approved list and this proved a concern – not that it had for any other location. But the Poppy Day went ahead, under the proviso that funds collected would be held and not passed on to the League until after an investigation. Mr. and Mrs. Gray had produced letters from the Governor and others, as credentials, but to no avail. In 1921, the League applied for, and was granted, a formal endorsement by The National Information Bureau – after a change of name and structure.
On 19 June 1920, a week later, “Madame E. Guérin and Ogden’s Georgina Marriott” were found holding a “Poppy Day” tag sale in Rexburg, Idaho.
Also on 19 June 1920, there was a Poppy Day in Helena, Montana. Miss Genevieve Parke carried out the arrangements made earlier by Anna – Genevieve had 200 girls to call upon to distribute poppies. This was Genevieve H. Parke born 15 October 1885 at Fort Sidney, Nebraska. In the US 1920 census entry (taken 01 January), she was found living in Hartford, Connecticut – her occupation was “Lecturer” in Women’s Suffrage. On 25 March 1927, Genevieve married Ferdinand E. Prochnow in Dillon, Beaverhead, Montana. Genevieve and Ferdinand do not appear to have had any children. She died 15 July 1977 in Montana.
A week later, Genevieve “of the American and French Children’s League” gave a short talk in Great Falls, Montana. She explained the needs of fatherless children in devastated regions of France.
The “auxiliary” (women of the American Legion Auxiliary?) members “expressed themselves willing to assist in whatever way they may with the poppy day which the league expects soon to put on through Montana. At this time, poppies, reminders of poppies of “Flanders Field” immortalized by Col. McCrae, will be sold on the streets.”
On 04 July 1920, The Ogden Standard Examiner reported “Mrs. Georgiana Marriott has returned from a two months’ trip through Idaho and Montana, where she conducted “Poppy Drives” for the relief of the children of the devastated section of France. She was assisted by Madame Guerin, who is interested in relief work. Mrs. Marriott is state organizer for Idaho of the American and French children’s league.” Of course, the reality was the other way round – Georgina was assisting Anna.
Next stop for Madame Anna Guérin was Sacramento. She was there at least eight days and the Sacramento Union newspaper ran a series of articles mentioning her:
On 08 July 1920, Madame E. Guérin gave a speech and the Sacramento Union (09 July) printed an admirable review of it. It made the reader wish they had experienced it, had they not been present [sic]:
“PICTURE OF SUFFERINGS OF FRANCE DRAWS MANY TEARS. WOMAN PAINTS DESOLATE PICTURE. Scores of villages in heaps of charred ruins, fields, disfigured by gaping shell holes, and half-starved women and children living in the cellars of their ruined homes, was the desolate picture painted for the Lion’s Club yesterday by Mme. E. Guerin of devastated but heroically struggling France.
Mme. Guerin is a speaker of national fame and wife of a French officer. During the great war she toured the country in the interests of the Liberty loan drive, delivering over 4000 lectures and selling more bonds than any person in the country.
DRESSED IN BLUE UNIFORM. Dressed in the familiar field blue of the French poilu, with her face flushed and eager because of the Intensity of her emotions. Mme. Guerin seemed yesterday the living embodiment of the spirit of Joan of Arc. Pleading for relief of the thousands of orphaned children and war mothers of France in her quaint broken English, she personified the undying spirit of an unconquered race.
As picture after picture of the ruin wrought by the mailed fist of the Hun was flashed on the minds of her audience, a wave of horror passed over the crowd that such indignities could be permitted, to be followed by a feeling of intense pity as she spoke in low tones of the misery and suffering incidental to the cataclysm. More than one man openly showed his emotion when she told of the children brought to the headquarters of the Red Cross, mutilated and famished.
AGES SIX YEARS. “After the veil was lifted from those districts the Huns had occupied for four long years, I visited them.” the Frenchwoman said. “I was there only six weeks, but oh! I was aged six years!
“I visited one town that had formerly had a population of 250.000, When the Germans came they drove the people out and burned the city to the ground. The people came back and huddled in the cellars to starve, die of tuberculosis, or worse, become the prey of the conquerors.
VILLAGES IN RUINS. “There were thousands of such villages and towns.” she continued, “Just heaps of blackened stones and broken brick. And the children there. What pitiful objects they are!
“I saw there one poor little girl sitting on the edge of a ruined home. ’Where is your mama?’ I asked. ‘I do not know, Madame’ she said. ‘She is dead, perhaps. I cannot find her’. There are thousands such as her and they need your assistance.”
Indignities too horrible to recount were undergone by the women of these districts, Mme. Guerin said. “Ah, they were so sure, so sure,” she cried. “They thought we would never break through. Two hundred thousand girls were outraged systematically and made to bear German children. They are the martyrs; we must take care of them, too.”
700,000 WIDOWS IN FRANCE. There are 700,000 widows in France, the speaker said. There are one and a half million fatherless children. “They cry to you across the water to give aid, just as your heroic soldiers gave aid,” she said.
“lf you are asked to give a few cents, do not say you are tired of hearing about It,” she pleaded. “Your boys who went over the top at the command of their officers knew they were not giving money—they were giving their life’s blood.”
When the speaker had concluded, Chairman Fred Johns arose and assured her the club would not fail if called upon for assistance. Judge Peter J. Shields, as the next speaker, said:
HEARERS EXALTED. “We have been touched and exalted today as perhaps never before. Let us carry the picture Mme. Guerin has given us in our hearts. We will be better for it.”
Several members of the New Jersey delegation were present and made short talks. A similar address was given by Madame LeGrande-Girarde*, wife of the noted French general, before the Rotary Club and at a meeting of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in the courthouse last evening. The speaker made a moving appeal for continued American sympathy and and to the struggling French people.” [*Madame LeGrande-Girarde: wife of French WW1 General Émile Edmond Legrand-Girarde]
On 09 July 1920, Madame Guérin spoke at a meeting in the Sacramento Capitol assembly hall. The Sacramento Union (10 July) printed a piece about it the next day [sic]:
“APPEAL MADE FOR CHILDREN. Mme. E. Guerin Urges Help for Martyred Children of France.
Mme. E. Guerin, noted Red Cross and Liberty loan worker, pleaded the cause of the war orphans of France at a meeting in the assembly hall of the Capitol last night.
She described in touching fashion the pitiful plight of the million and more children whom the war has orphaned and whom she characterizes as the “martyrs of the world.”
“Though France may know how to die for humanity, she yet does not know very well how to ask for something for herself,” she declared.
“Yet is she asking—not as a charity —but as a duty, that the world do something for these children, who can do nothing for themselves.
“They need clothes to cover their bodies, and food to nourish them; they need books that their little minds may not starve. Everything they need that their fathers would give them, had these fathers not already given to France and to the world the utmost that mortal men can give; their life’s blood, red as the crimson poppies that bloom above their graves.
“On Wednesday next little children of Sacramento—little girls and boys who are not orphans, with baskets filled with crimson poppies, will be seen on our streets.
“They will not sell these poppies. They will give them away, and whatever gift is given in return, whether it be a dull penny or a bright half dollar piece, will go to aid those other little ones across the sea, the war orphans—the ’martyrs of the world.’ ”
On 12 July 1920, the Sacramento Union (California) announced [sic]:
“Madame Guerin Here in Interest Of French Children. Madame Guerin, official representative of the French Government, is in the city in behalf of the needy children of France. The Madame gives a very graphic and clear description of the condition of the children in the devastated areas of France and is calling upon the people of the United States especially through the children of the land. The City Commission has given official sanction to the solicitation of funds on July 14, which is to be Poppy Day. On the day in question persons of the city will he waited upon by the children of the city and will be asked to buy a poppy, giving for same whatever they desire.”
On 13 July 1920, the Sacramento Union wrote [sic]:
“Poppy Drive to Be Held Tomorrow. All is in readiness by the various committees of women’s organizations for the big poppy drive tomorrow in this city by 300 school children as a benefit for the homeless and starving children of France.
Madame Guerin, official representative of the French government, will supervise the drive. Madame Guerin has aroused much enthusiasm in this city by her quiet and unassuming portrayal of the trials of the suffering of the devastated area in France.
Mrs. Walter Longbotham and Mrs. A. W. Clements are anxious to get more children to assist in the drive for funds. Those who are willing to help are requested to be at headquarters in the St. Francis Hotel, Tenth and I streets, not later than 9 a. m. tomorrow. The boxes in which the children will collect money have been prepared by the youths of the playground department. Over three hundred boxes neatly trimmed have been furnished by the McKinley School Playground League, under the direction of Mrs. W. J. Cutter.
On the same page, another article appeared [sic]: “BASTILE DAY TO BE KEPT. Program in Honor of France’s Holiday to Be Given Tonight.
“BASTILE DAY TO BE KEPT. Program in Honor of France’s Holiday to Be Given Tonight.
The French national holiday in celebration of the Fall of the Bastile will be observed at Joyland park Wednesday night, July 14. The French colony of Sacramento has prepared a splendid program for the event and a big crowd is expected to be at the open air theater at the park.
The program is under the auspices of the Ladies’ Patriotic and Fraternal Organizations, Mrs. W. Longbotham and Mrs. A. W. Clements, general chairmen.
Charles A. Bliss, president of the City Commission and Chairman of the evening will make the introductory remarks which will be followed by the following program:
“La Merseillaise,” Mrs. Gertrude Warren Barry; address, George E. Foote; “In Flanders Field,” Mrs. Louis D. King; instrumental solo, Miss Maria La Barba, late of the Orpheum circuit; address, Madam Guerin of France; community singing, under the leadership of Mrs. W. Longbotham. … …”
On 15 July 1920, the Sacramento Union reported [sic]: “Bastile Day Is Observed Here. ‘‘Your 70,000 boys, with their out-stretched hands, lying as they are together with the tortured women and children of my dear France, are calling upon you, my American friends, my sisters and brothers, to come to the aid of those children who through four years of hardship, torture and violence are left, homeless, parentless and hungry.” said Madame Guerin last night at Joyland on the occasion of the celebration of the Fall of the Bastile held under the auspices of the French colony of this city.
More than 200 persons with bared heads stood at attention as Mrs. Gertrude Warren sang the Marseillaise, the French national anthem, at the opening of the open-air exercises. Attorney George Foote spoke on the’ “Fall of the Bastile,” giving a history concise and to the point, of the struggles of the French revolutionists in 1789 to establish a government of the people, for the people and by the people, so that autocracy might perish from the earth.
Miss Marie Ea Barberiere rendered several operatic selections on her piano accordion. Miss Lucy King recited “On Flanders Field,” a poem dedicated to the memory of the dead of the great war. With Madame Guerin’s stirring appeal the exercises came to an end.”
By 17 July 1920, Madame Guérin was in San Francisco. She was getting great, informative press coverage during her visit. The San Francisco Chronicle (18 July) reported [sic]:
“FRENCH WOMAN OF NOTE BRINGS MESSAGE TO U.S. Represents American, French Children’s League to Cement Friendship.
“As long as the French republic lives, so will live the love of the French people for America, for it was America that has made it possible to save thousands of our dearest possession, our children.”
With this message to America, Mme. E. Guerin, famous French educator and wife of Justice Guerin of France, is in San Francisco in the interests of the American and French Children’s League. The object of the league is to cement for all time the bonds of affection between the two great republics.
“Administered through the league, which is attached to the Department of the Interior,” she said, “the French are carrying on the work started by the people of the United States through the money sent to France by the members of the league. It is entirely voluntary and no subscriptions are being solicited.”
TO HOLD POPPY SALE
The American institutions of relief in France are being perpetuated by the league, and San Francisco club women who are interested in the movement are planning a mammoth poppy sale to raise funds to secure the memory of the part California played in the war relief work. Thousands of little children are being nursed back to health in France and are being returned to homes through the generosity of the American people who, through the league, are carrying the work to a successful conclusion.
Mme. Guerin made public yesterday a letter from Mme. Andre Lebon, one of the officers of the league in Paris, which states Utah has purchased a herd of cows for the debilitated children in Verdun.
DAIRY IS PROVIDED
The letter follows:
2 Rue de Rournon, Paris, May 22, 1920.
My Dear Madam—I wish to tell you immediately our great satisfaction. We have received the checks from Pueblo, Col., and Salt Lake City. The 35,000 francs that came from the poppy day of Pueblo will be employed to buy, if possible, the Children’s Hospital at Bidart. (This hospital was opened by the Red Cross for the children of the Argonne during the war and was operated by Dorothy Canfield, the writer.) We have written to the owners and we shall send all the details to the chairman of Pueblo.
This morning at our meeting we decided to found a maternity hospital at Roye, in the Somme. It will have the name of the Delaware Foundation, as it will be founded with the money received from Mme. Du Pont’s committee in Wilmington, Del.
With the money received from Salt Lake City we are opening a dairy to give milk to the wasted children of Verdun. The dairy is called Utah.
We are doing a great deal of good and are doing it at a time when the necessity is great, for these children have suffered much.
You may be proud of the wonderful work you are doing. It is in haste we are sending you these words with our affectionate sentiments.
MME. ANDRE LEBON, Chairman.”
Madame Guérin was in San Francisco to organise a League committee plus a Poppy Day being held on Saturday 26 July. One of Madame Guerin’s first money-raising plans was a “poppy day” sale held in San Francisco and thousands of dollars were realized. The poppies were made in France. Another plan she has thought out is to have motion picture actors get out their address books and inaugurate a national drive among their thousands of admirers.
Anna addressed “the women at the Fairmont meeting. Poppy Day badges and banners inscribed:- “In Flanders Fields the Poppies Grow”” (in apartments of Mrs. James W. Reid, Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco). Mrs. William H. Crocker was going to head the women. She was also there to establish an American and French Children’s League committee.
On 27 July 1920, Anna Guérin and one Miss Patsy A. Epperson were in Berkeley, California to organise a committee for the American and French Children’s League. They addressed a meeting of women, after which a committee was formed to make arrangements for Poppy Day two days later on 29 July. Patsy Epperson was a “delegate” of the American & French Children’s League’s “middlewest committee” in Kansas City, Missouri.
Here is the article the Californian Oakland Tribune printed on Tuesday 27 July 1920 [sic]: “BERKELEY PLANS ‘POPPY DAY’ FOR FRENCH ORPHANS.
Team captains were named today for “Poppy day,” which is to be staged Thursday when poppies will be sold on the streets by college girls and society women for relief work for French children.
Mme. Guerin, wife of Justice Guerin of the Supreme Court of France, who came to Berkeley to assist in establishing a branch of the American and French Children’s League, for which she is delegate and lecturer to the United States, addressed a meeting of women today, after which an executive committee was named to take charge of “Poppy day.”
MEMBERS OF COMMITTEE. The committee is headed by Mrs. Harry Allston Williams. Other members are Mrs. V. T. McGillicuddy, Mrs Eli Witter, Mrs. T. W. Wentworth, Mrs. J. Pomeroy and Mrs. J. H. Pape, vice chairman; Frank L. Naylor, treasurer; Miss Etta Fraser, secretary, and Miss Borghill Foss, assistant secretary.
In speaking of the movement to aid the children in devastated France Miss Patsy A. Epperson of Kansas City, delegate of the middlewest committee, who is here with Mme. Guerin, said:
“America has saved France from the iron fist; the German is gone, the veil is lifted from the battle fields. What is left of 4,000,000 enslaved French haunt the ghosts of their plundered and ruined homes. Their misery is appalling.
“The American and French Children’s League is organized to help them in saving and protecting their children – the children of devastated France.
“Until the armistice those children had never been helped by any-one. They were under the yoke of the Germans. We could not reach them, helpless little martyrs of war. They had been for four years under-fed, underclothed, many of them wounded by shells; other paralyzed by nervous commotion and rheumatism. They have seen such terrible things that many of them have a wild, terrified look, many of them have forgotten how to write or to read, many of them have forgotten how to laugh and smile. Every one of them is emaciated and under-sized.””
On 07 August 1920, Oakland in California held a Poppy Day. The Oakland Tribune had alerted its readers on 19 July that Oakland would be having a Poppy Day on 07 August – “the affair is being handled by Mrs. Leonel Ross O’Bryan” aka “Polly Pry”.
The Oakland Tribune promoted the Poppy Day again on 05 August: ‘POPPY DAY TO BE SATURDAY’. “Poppy Day in Oakland will be Saturday when California’s native blooms will be sold to help French orphans. Mrs. William Thornton White has been appointed chairman of the day and will superintend the sale of the blossoms by several score by the younger girls. Madame Guerin is at the head of the committee raising funds for the erection of an orphanage for the fatherless children.”
On 09 August 1920, Miss Patsy A. Epperson arrived in Santa Cruz, California. She was representing the American and French Children’s League and was there to attend the “preliminaries” – ahead of Poppy Days planned for the 14 August 1920 – to be held in Santa Cruz; Capitola; East Santa Cruz; and Davenport. Madame Guérin followed during that week.
The Santa Cruz Evening News told of the Poppy Day success, in its edition of 16 August 1920 [sic]: “POPPY DAY A SUCCESS IN CITY OF THE HOLY CROSS.
Taking into consideration other drives of a like nature made for worthy causes in Santa Cruz, Poppy day was an unqualified success in Santa Cruz and other nearby districts. The bevy of young girls mustered in by the Native Daughters as volunteer distributors of poppies filled their duties well and the presence of the little red artificial flowers as emblems of sales made were conspicuously noticeable on Saturday and worn by nearly all.
Miss Finkeldey and Miss Epperson report that the returns from the sale of the poppies for the French and American Children’s league was $475.-19. Of this $407.34 was from Santa Cruz; Capitola $19.93, East Santa Cruz $15.95, and Davenport $31.97.
Miss Epperson, one of those interested in the state campaign work, is well satisfied with the showing made by Santa Cruz and will next confine herself to missionary work of this character in San Diego and Los Angeles.”
By 17 August 1920, Madame Anna Guérin was in Los Angeles – to arrange a committee for her Children’s League and organise a Poppy Day on 03 September. The Los Angeles Herald printed a long article [sic]:
“SEEKS L. A. AID FOR FRENCH WAR BABIES.
Thousands of ‘Roses’ Made by Blind Women to Be Sold to Raise Funds Paper poppies by the tens of thousands, made in France by blind women, for the most part, will be sold by pretty girls on Los Angeles’ streets Sept. 4 in an effort to gather funds to care for a portion of the 450,000 French children left homeless by the destruction of their dwellings during the war.
Mme. Guerin, French commissioner from the American and French Children’s league, of which Mme. Alexandre Millerand, wife of the prime minister of France, is the president, and Gen. Le Grande is treasurer, has arrived In Los Angeles and has established headquarters at the Ansonia apartments, 2205 West Sixth street, where plans for the drive are being made.
“Throughout the entire west,” said Mme. Guerin, who wears a uniform of French blue with a saucy tam o’shanter to match and whose native French chic and charm cannot be concealed under a uniform of any kind, “our aims and purposes have met with quick sympathy and ready response.”
“This convinces me that the peoples of America and France are destined to be linked together in the bonds of better understanding of each other, as no nations have ever been.
“While we shall ask Los Angeles to buy poppies, there is a deeper significance to the league than mere money. Of the latter we seek for but $85,000, a sum which already has nearly been realized.
“Eighty-five per cent of this will be cabled to France on the Monday following the collection and on the next day a quota of children who have not known a tight roof or a dry bed since the German invasion of 1914 will be cared for. The other 15 per cent is used for the furtherance of the purposes of the league.
“Chief of these is the creating of a better understanding of the French by the Americans and of the Americans by the French. To this end local committees established throughout the United States for the purposes of the drive are being continued in existence to co-operate with similar committees throughout France. Eventually we hope for an exchange of lecturers, to speak in the public schools of the two countries and thus create that sympathy and understanding of which I spoke.
“The Los Angeles committee is well under way. Its personnel will soon be announced. The graciousness with which I have been received and the cordiality shown Mrs. L. R. O’Bryan and Miss Helen Ahearn, who are acting with me in this work since our arrival in Los Angeles, convince me that our welcome here will be of the warmest and that the response in money and in co-operation for the future, which is of the greater importance, will be complete.”
It is here a reference to Moina Michael needs noting: twixt 18-20 August, the Georgia Department of the American Legion held a convention in Atlanta. The Ironwood Daily Globe (30 May 1944 edition) reported: “At the inspiration of Miss Michael, the poppy was adopted as the official memorial flower by the Georgia department of the American Legion in August 1920. Georgia delegates were instructed to present a resolution to the Legion’s national convention in Cleveland that fall to make the flower the official memorial flower of the national organization.”
By 22 August 1920, we know that Anna had moved south to Long Beach, California – we know this from Hartley Burr Alexander’s papers. The League’s PR ‘machine’ continued to do its job well because, a few days on, newspapers in different states kept Anna in the ‘public eye’ – reporting on the establishment of the San Francisco committee and noting that “Madame Guerin carries many citations for heroic work during the war.”
On 23 August 1920, Anna wrote to Hartley from San Diego, California. She gave her postal address as c/o Ansonia Apartments, Los Angeles (which stood opposite MacArthur Park). It is appropriate that the majority of that letter is quoted below [sic]:
“My dear Friends, not only am I happy to have received so quickly news of all of you but I am so proud to have received such a letter from Dr. Alexander.
I have so much to say that really I shall be more serious if I do not start and if I wait until I am in Lincoln, as soon as possible. I am here at the State Convention of the American Legion – this morning I saw the Governor who will give me a personal letter (as did the Mayor of San Francisco) for our invitation – Admiral Willis (Commander of the Legion d’honneur) who will be on our National Committee and others.”
“Dr. I don’t want a lady with a Cigarette, I don’t want any other but you as the President of this work who can become a splendid international work —- you, because you are so much above all others that it will be always on hand to be with you —- you – because you must not be so proud and stand alone above us – just looking down with a _ smile _ which says much. …”.
Anna’s Mrs. O’Bryan (Polly Pry) was mentioned: “My Mrs. O’Bryan is very clever, very shrewd, I am willing to see her earn a lot of money if she does the work next year because she has been very faithful to me – but — there is a limit.
And as here, I am asking only my expenses (France will give me what they think best) I can discuss their salary. …”
Anna also wrote about her democratic plans for the American and French Children’s League 1921 committee … “I have made in San Francisco helped by the lawyer of the Consul General the by-laws and the plans of the work for next year Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur …” – Mr. Brun “will stay on the Committee as Attorney at Law and Counsellor of the Organization. I shall send to every person who will be a National Officer or on the Advisory Board of the Directors the By-laws and the plans and they are to return them with their approval, their objections and their suggestions. It will be their vote. And when that will be established nothing will be changed.”
Madame Guérin’s attorney “Mr. Brun” was Samuel Jacques Brun, who was born 07 February 1857 in Saint-Gilles, Gard, France. He arrived in the United States of America in 1880; he married Hanna W. Otis in 1982, in New York; and he became Nationalized in 1885. In 1896, Samuel wrote a book called ‘Tales of Languedoc’, in English (San Francisco, W. Doxey).
More information was gleaned about Samuel Brun from a document prepared by the Los Altos Historical Commission (Santa Clara County, California): Samuel’s wife Hanna was a writer and the couple had four children – only two survived: Valley Percival Brun (1889) & Otis Gorham Brun. Samuel worked as “faculty in Stanford’s French department* in the 1890’s”. [*Stanford University – 5.5 miles from Samuel’s Valley Street home].
Samuel built and lived in a property at 275 Valley Street, Los Altos, before moving to San Francisco. The property 275 Valley Street “is listed on the Los Altos Historic Resources Inventory as a Historic Resource and is assigned the California Register Status Code 5S1.” (http://www.losaltosca.gov/ – search “275 Valley Street”).
Additionally, Anna wrote [sic] “… I am asking only my expenses (France will give me what they think best) …” then Anna shares with Hartley the detail of her “big idea” ….
“My big idea is this one: ”Have the Poppy as the Memorial flower and have the people of America wear a Poppy for Decoration Day – at least for 3 years.” I am going to order 10 millions poppies — silk poppies to the poor women and children of devastated France, get for them the silk etc — and during the week before Decoration day our Committees will see that these Poppies will be sold 5¢ 10¢ anything they like.
I am going to ask here and at the National Convention (of) the American Legion to pass an amendment for that and to order to the League, our League _ their poppies for 1 million ½ of their men at 10¢. I am going to ask the same thing to the War Mothers — War Veterans (It is why I stay at their Conventions) And as I shall try and try to have those poppies if 1¢ 1/2 or 2¢ all the benefit will be for the League – to take care of the Children to begin their endowment.
I know it can be done – it will be done, my friends, if you help me and sustain me. Yes – I am tired and I am looking tired. Mrs ____ yesterday in Long Beach told me that I had aged much and it is because I am making the sacrifice of my temporary happiness that I must — succeed — for France and America.
I have six ladies working for me — all jealous of the time I give to the other because her percentage after is not so good — — four of them older than I am – everyone, even, Miss Epperson ready to pull on her side – I must just smile and will what I will and obtain it. It is a little hard — sometimes –
“I saw in Long Beach a lady at the Head of the Fatherless Children Miss Rogers (very clever) when I told her that Professor H.B. Alexander would be the president she said with admiration: “You don’t mean Hartley B. Alexander of Nebraska? — Yes, this one — Well, with such wonderful man at the head only his name will carry the work in the educational world. —Do you know him? —No, but I have read his books — and go and see Mrs. Cornell in Los Angeles — she will speak to you about him — And I was to go before you wrote me asking her and your sister-in-law and I was to see also Mr. and Mrs. Prince just to speak about Lincoln and you.
Mr. W____ has dared to write to me. I pity him and I do like him. But I must stop to write business letter. What can I bring to you, my dearest friends of America from the golden coast? What can I find good enough? “
Anna concluded “I am going to work very, very hard (that will not change me much – until I shall report to you in order to bring to you an organization naturally organized. Here, for every one especially for Mrs. Griggs*** and Mrs. Alexander I send only best and most affectionate love – (I was going to put kisses but the gentlemen of the family will object). Yours E. Guerin”.
At right angles, down the left hand margin of this page, Anna Guérin wrote: “Jette* has been operated again by Dr. Harris – she is quite alright now. No, I was not sick physically but sick at heart because my husband had written to me before to leave for Africa an harsh letter. ** Lovers quarrel (?unreadable word). I have no time to be sick.”
*“Jette” was the nick-name of Anna Guérin’s sister Juliette. She had a limp; **It is deduced that Anna’s husband Eugène Guérin must have been a very patient man but sometimes, just sometimes, he must have expressed some frustration about Anna working so hard – away from home, away from France. That said, Eugène Guérin was carrying on his career, away from France; ***Mrs. Griggs was Hartley’s mother-in-law.
Anna wrote in the aforementioned August letter of seeing Dr. Barrows in San Diego, who was the President of the University of California and the Commander of the State of the American Legion. He had just returned from France and she was going to see him for a second time – to ask him to be on her Committee (presumably for California).
She described David Prescott Barrows as “clever, nice, powerful” but she wrote that he not possess the “radiance” or “splendid soul and big heart” of Hartley. “I am so proud to have you as National President that now I am going to form a “wonderful Committee” you will see, No – you will have nothing to do I promise you – just be there, after you as all the National Officers will have said once for all what we ought to pay our workers …”
David P. Barrows was born on 27 June 1873 in Ravenswood, Chicago to Thomas Barrows and his wife Ella Amelia Cole. David married Vermont-born Anna Spencer Nichols on 18 Jul 1895, in Pamona, California – whom he had met at College. They had three daughters and 1 son.
Between 1900 and 1907, David worked in the Philippines – first as the Superintendent of Schools in Manila and, then, as Director of Education. He and Anna would have similar experiences to share, having both been involved with educating an indigenous people.
During the First World War, David served in Belgium with the American Commission for Relief. In 1917, he became a commissioned Major in the US Army and was stationed in the Philippines. He went to Serbia with the AEF in July 1918, as a Lieutenant Colonel Intelligence Officer. After the war ended, he continued to serve in the US National Guard.
David Prescott Barrows was first a student at the University of California; then a lecturer; and then, in 1919, he became the ninth President of the University. He left the post in June 1923 and spent the next year trekking in the French Sedan – perhaps he met Anna’s husband Eugène Guérin there? His wife Anna died in 1936 and he married Wisconsin-born Eva Jane Scheide (Widow White) in 1937. David died 05 September 1954 in Walnut Creek, Contra Costa County, California.
Returning to August 1920 … by 26 August, Madame Guérin was in Los Angeles. On that day the Los Angeles Herald printed the following article, accompanied by an edited image of the two women [sic]:
“HOTELS TO AID L. A. ‘POPPY DAY’ DRIVE
Mrs. Charles O. Canfield, chairman of the Los Angeles committee of the American and French children’s league, of which Mme. Alexandre Mlllerand, wife of the premier of France, is the head, has completed plans for the Poppy Day drive to be held on the streets of this city Sept. 3.
Determined that nothing shall be left undone to insure a splendid harvest of silver for the homeless French children, she has enlisted the aid of the hotels. This followed a meeting of the committee, which was addressed by Mme. E. Guerin, Mme. Millerand’s representative in America.
Mrs. Lou Anger of the Los Angeles Committee has been entrusted with the work of obtaining proper co-operation from the hotels of the city to the end that guests and patrons of each of them will have ample opportunity to donate toward the fund, which is destined for the aid of 450,000 French children, who for four years dwelt behind the German lines in the ruins of their shell-razed dwellings.
Since 1914 those children lived in the basements of the buildings destroyed by the German invasion. While much has been done to remedy their condition, the French government has as yet been totally unable to house them. As a result they still live amid the ruins of their once beautiful homes, without proper food or clothing and in habitations which are not dry and cannot be warmed.
Co-operation of the hotels has been assured and Mrs. Anger is making all preparations to the end that no person who lives in one or who enters one on “Poppy Day” shall fail to have an opportunity to buy a paper poppy and give toward the fund such price for it as pleases him.”
Mrs. Charles O. Canfield was Pearl Rose Canfield (nee Shafer) was born 08 October 1893 Illinois. She was a daughter of Advertising Agent Ohio-born Nicholas Shafer (whose father was German) and Ohio-born Candas Leonore Felky. Pearl married Charles Orville Canfield (an American citizen, born in Mexico) on 08 October 1912 in Tucson, Arizona.
Charles Canfield was an “Oil Operator” in the 1920 US census. Charles was son of wealthy oilman Charles Adelbert Canfield and, as such, inherited a multi-million trust fund in 1918 when his father died.
Pearl and Charles Canfield divorced in 1930. Pearl died 31 December 1964, in Los Angeles and is buried in Inglewood Park Cemetery, Los Angeles.
Also on 26 August 1920, The Salina Daily Union (Kansas) belatedly alerted its readers that Madame Guérin was back in the country [sic]:
“Distinguished French Woman in America. Madam E. Guerin who talked one Sunday during the early part of the World War at a Band Concert at Convention hall for the Fatherless Children of France is again in America seeking funds to feed the impoverized children, an off-spring of the war. She has just established a branch at San Francisco an dexpects to do the same all over the United States. Madame Guerin carries many citations for heroic work during the world war.”
On 31 August 1920, Madame Guérin was again mentioned in another interesting Los Angeles Herald article about Poppy Day [sic]:
“WOMEN IN TEAM TO WIN POPPY DAY CUP
Five Los Angeles women headed by Miss Lucile Roos have formed a team to capture at least one of the loving cups donated by Maurice Tourneur, moving picture director, to be awarded the girl who obtains for the homeless children of devastated France the largest amount of money in the Poppy day drive Friday.
Included in the team are two recent arrivals in Los Angeles, Miss Melita Silverman of Chicago and Miss Brunette Fox of Little Rock, Ark. The others are Miss Alice Urner and Mrs. Lee Koenigheim.
“Our plan to lift at least one of the Tourneur cups is a secret,” Miss Roos said, “but we believe it to be certain of success. We have been planning a big part in the drive ever since it was broached to us by Mme. E. Guerin and the local committee, and before Mr. Tourneur announced the cups as added incentives to the girls to secure money for the homeless children of devastated France.”
The cups are on display at the Hotel Alexandria where the drive will have its headquarters. Any woman or girl is welcome .to make an effort to win the cup and all are urged by the local committee, of which Mrs. Charles O. Canfield is chairman, to do so. Application should be made at Parlor F Friday morning.
In addition to Mrs. Canfield the committee includes Mrs. J. M. Danziger, Mrs. Robert Heffner, Mrs. Charles Jeffras, Mrs. Lou Anger, Mrs. Victor Rossetti, Mrs. James S. McKnight. Mrs. Al G. Faulkner. Mrs. Charles E. Ray, Mrs. Raymond Bradford, Mrs. Earl Remington, Mrs. James C. Haggarty, Mrs. Harrold English, Mrs. Jean Harzis, Mrs. George Middleton, Mrs. Edwin R. Collins, Mrs. O. Barry.”
— Tell Your Neighbor—Bonds “Yes.” —
On 02 September 1920, the Los Angeles Herald ran yet another long interesting article about Madame Guérin’s LA Poppy Day on 03 September [sic}:
“THOUSAND L.A. GIRLS WILL SELL POPPIES FOR FRENCH KIDDIES. City’s Drive for Homeless Little Folk in Devastated Districts Begins Tomorrow. More than a thousand women and girls tomorrow will solicit funds on the streets of Los Angeles for the relief of 450,000 children homeless in the devastated districts of France. The Poppy Day drive, which has been in course of preparation for two weeks, bids fair, according to Mrs. Charles O. Canfield, chairman of the local committee, to exceed in receipts any similar event held in ibis city since the signing of the armistice.
FRENCH GIRL ACTIVE. Of the fund solicitors, who will offer for sale —“for what they will bring, no change” — poppies of those which Flanders’ fields, none has been more active than Miss Lucile Roos, 2608 Ellendale place, a French girl, whose whole heart has been thrown into the work.
She has organized a team of 21 of her friends, with five leaders, and has announced her purpose to make the team’s receipts exceed those of any other in the drive.
The leaders assisting Miss Roos are Alice Urner, Brunette Fox of Little Rock Ark.; Mrs. Lucile Koenigheim and Melita Silverman, the latter a recent arrival from Chicago.
TOURNEUR OFFERS CUPS. Maunce Tourneur, celebrated motion picture director, has created added Interest in the drive by donating two silver loving cups, to be awarded the two girls securing the largest and second largest amounts of money by their individual efforts. These cups, Miss Roos’ team declares, are to become the property of two of its members. But there are more than a thousand other women and girls who have an equal interest in the cups and the winning thereof, and none of these will agree with the determined ones of the team. Operating on her own initiative is Marjorie Euvrard, another Los Angeles French girl, who says that if she wins a cup she will dispose of it In some way that will insure a further swelling of the fund for the French children.
LEADER VISITS SCHOOLS. The success of the drive, it is recognized by Mme. E. Guerin, commissioner of the American and French Children’s league, and organizer of the enterprise, depends almost entirely upon the number of girls working on the streets.
Accordingly, with the and indorsement of Mrs. Dorsey, superintendent of schools, Madame Guerin devoted yesterday and today to a series of addresses before Los Angeles high school classes, urging the misses there to lend their aid after school hours.
The theaters of the city have given permission for the girls to work on the streets in front of the playhouses and as near the lobby entrances as the crowds will permit without inconvenience to passers-by.
HEADQUARTERS AT HOTEL. Each of 16 department stores have donated the services of six girl employes to work in the drive. The Alexandria hotel, through the courtesy of Manager Charles Baad, has been selected as headquarters during the drive, and Parlor F on the mezzanine floor has been set apart for the use of the local committee without charge. It is there that the drive will officially begin at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning.
Mrs. A. G. Faulkner is the treasurer of the local committee. She will have exclusive control of the money, using the Los Angeles Trust and Savings bank as depository. Immediately after the drive closes tellers from that bank will open the sealed boxes which the vendors of the poppies will use as coin receptacles, and count the money.
CABLE FUND TO PARIS. Of the total sum Mrs. Faulkner will on Saturday cable 85 per cent to the secretary of the French organization, Gen. le Grand-Girarde, at Paris, and on Monday it will be put to work in the relief of as many children as the sum secured will serve. It is believed this system of application of relief funds is the fastest and most efficient ever brought to the attention of charity workers, with the exception of some of the relief exploits of the American Red Cross.
The remaining 15 per cent is held by the American treasurer in Chicago as an expense and contingent fund, and when the drives in America are finished the balance remaining in that fund will also be cabled to France for the use of the children.”
On 03 September 1920, Los Angeles Poppy Day occurred.
Another event to note, which was happening elsewhere, was the preparation for a ‘Poppy Drive’/Tag Day in Phoenix.
On 11 September 1920, Red Cross Leonel Ross O’Bryan “Polly Pry” and Miss Helen Ahern arrived in the city representing Madame Guérin’s League – undoubtedly, rallying the local women. Leonel was described as “the director of the American-Franco Children’s League regional headquarters”, which was located in the Symes building, Denver.
On 14 September 1920, the two women told guests at a Kiwanis meeting* of the plans under way for a “poppy drive” in Phoenix on Saturday, 18th – for the benefit of the children of the devastated regions of France. The “poppy drive” was to be a tag day, with workers on downtown street corners selling scarlet poppies, replicas of those “that grow in Flanders fields”. *Kiwanis groups have been “Proudly serving the needs of children in Phoenix since 1917”.
In Phoenix’s ‘Arizona Republican newspaper (14 September), this article appeared: “Mrs. Leonel Ross O’Bryan (of Denver), known to the newspaper fraternity and readers of the feature pages as “Polly Pry”, is in the city (Phoenix) in the interests of the American and French Children’s League for the relief of the little children in of devastated France. Mrs. O’Bryan is touring the country arranging “Poppy drives” to raise funds for the French kiddies and when she arrived here she met Jimmy Curley and Billy McCann, old friends of the O’Bryan family. Curley and McCann tried to figure out some way to assist Polly Pry in her work and they hit upon the idea of a boxing carnival. The plan appealed to Polly and she agreed to let the boys try it out – hence the big show at Tally’s arena Saturday night.”
Amongst Leonel Ross O’Bryan’s papers, held in the Denver Public Library Archives, is the following image and its accompanying text:
“Anna Mae Griggs: Phoenix, Ariz., Sept 18th, 1920: Ann Elizabeth
UNDER THE WIRE AND TAGGED.
The sacred precinct of horses and trainers, at the State Fair Grounds, Phoenix, Ariz., Sept. 18th, 1920, was invaded by Poppy Girls to swell the fund for Orphans in France. Miss Helen J. Ahern, society girl and heiress of Buffalo, N.Y., a volunteer in the services of the American Red Cross for over 2 years, in Europe, one year of which she had supervision over 14,000 refugees. Miss Ahern has, just, recently been decorated by the French government, and is seen decorating, Bolza Bola, a 7 year old by Red Lock, owned and developed by Thomas Pollock of Flagstaff, Arizona. The Black Beauty seems to approve of a decoration by the war heroine, as she, too, has a record worthy of mention, having trotted and won as a 2 year old at the Phoenix State Fair Grounds, again as a 3 year old, and won second as a 4 year old. Her trainer in the sulky, is none other than Charles L. De Ryder, veteran trainer, colleague of the famous Pop Geers, and Grand Circuit driver. Now, training Thomas Pollock’s string of horses.”
In Arizona, there were Poppy Days in Mesa, Glendale, Peoria & Phoenix on 18 September. The Poppy Day in Phoenix made $1000.
To return to Anna, as already noted she was elsewhere …
On the afternoon of 09 September 1920, Madame Guérin arrived in Santa Ana, Orange County, California – Mrs. Georgina B. Maroni Marriott was with her. They were there to arrange Poppy Days/Drives on 18 September 1920.
Four cities in Orange County were visited – Santa Ana; Orange; Anaheim; and Fullerton. Anna spoke that evening at the regular meeting of the Santa Ana Post of the American Legion. She also spoke in Orange and at a band concert in Anaheim. On 09 September, the Santa Ana Register wrote [sic]:
“Poppy Day in Santa Ana Will Raise Money to Aid French Children.
The poppies that bloom on Flanders field will be artificially duplicated for sale in Santa Ana, Orange, Anaheim and Fullerton, Saturday, Sept. 18.
The purpose of this Poppy Day is to raise money for the aid of French children living in ruins of devastated portions of France.
Madame E. Guerin, famous French war worker, is to arrive in Santa Ana this afternoon to outline preliminary plans for making Poppy Day a success. She will speak tonight at the regular meeting of Santa Ana Post, of the American Legion. She is to speak at Orange tonight, and also at the band concert at Anaheim.
Poppies are to be sold on the streets by girl volunteers. Similar poppy day sales have been held in a number of other cities under Madame Guerin’s direction.
The Rotary Club of Santa Ana has endorsed the project.”
The Santa Ana Register continued to inform its readers in another article about Madame Guérin on 10 September:
“POPPY SALES TO AID WAR WAIFS.
Mme. E. Guerin, wife of the president of one of the federal courts of France, and herself an officer of public education, addressed members of Santa Ana Post No. 131, American Legion, at the interests of the Poppy Day campaign to be waged here tomorrow to raise funds to aid the half million homeless, sickly and half-starved children in the devastated parts of France.
Orange county was the last county visited by Mme. Guerin before returning to France. She left Santa Ana today for Los Angeles and from there she will depart tonight on her long homeward journey. She has been in … (Continued on Page Ten)
POPPY DAY TO AID MARTYR CHILDREN (Continued from page nine.)
… this country since 1914, during which time she has delivered more than 5000 public talks. She has been in every state in the Union and declared that the four cities of Orange country which she visited—Santa Ana, Orange, Anaheim and Fullerton impressed her as the wealthiest she has seen.
Mme. Guerin was greatly impressed by the number of automobiles here. “They must give the cars for nothing,” she said. “I have never seen so many cars in town when it is not Saturday.”
Mme. Guerin told the legion members that being among them was just like being with her brothers.
Mme. Guerin says that of the 500,000 children found in the devastated area after the war many had been wounded and that thousands were underweight because of a lack of proper nourishment. Others, she said, had lost their minds because of the terrible things they had witnessed and that many had symptoms of tuberculosis as a result of the conditions under which they were forced to live.
“These children must be revived—must become men and women,” Mme. Guerin declared.
She referred to these children as the greatest martyrs of the war and said that everything possible must be done to save them as a means of making up the loss in man-power sustained by France during the war.
Mrs. G. G. Marriott, who came to Santa Ana with Mme. Guerin will remain here to take charge of the fund campaign in which she will be assisted by the Legion and other patriotic organizations. Poppy Day will be in memory of the men sleeping in Flanders Fields and the funds will be received by girls carrying baskets of poppies, a poppy to be the receipt for each contribution.
The local campaign is part of a national plan for the raising of funds being directed by the American and French Children’s League.”
On 10 September 1920, Madame Guérin left Santa Ana. She headed east across the U.S.A. and was next discovered in Indianapolis – some 2000+ miles away.
‘Twixt 19 and 25 September 1920, Madame Guérin attended the ‘Grand Army of the Republic’ and the ‘Sons and Daughters of the G.A.R.’ Encampment – which took place in Indianapolis. At that Encampment convention, Madame Guérin spoke to the veterans and asked for permission to use Decoration Day (30 May 1921, also known as Memorial Day) for her Annual Flanders’ Poppy Day in the U.S.A. – part of her ‘Inter-Allied Poppy Day’ idea. At this Encampment, the delegates endorsed Madame Guérin’s idea and she was successful in her quest.
In her Synopsis, written in 1941, Anna Guérin described [sic] how she had then stopped “off at Indianapolis to speak to the ENCAMPMENT CONVENTION of the G A R and THE SONS AND THE DAUGHTERS OF THE G A R to ask them the permit to use the DECORATION DAY – 30th of MAY – for the ANNUAL FLANDERS’ POPPY DAY of the American Legion Men.”
“I spoke to the ENCAMPMENT explaining to them that not only there would be a NATIONAL POPPY DAY each year ON DECORATION DAY but also that DAY the graves of the Heroes of this last War would be decorated with a wreath of POPPIES while the old graves would be decorated with the flag. That was my Idea and it has been done during many years in many places. The ENCAMPMENT endorsed the Idea and it is with their approval that I arrived at the Convention in Cleveland.”
That convention and many other patriotic societies endorsed Anna’s “poppy proposition”. “The poppy of Flanders Field to be worn on Memorial Day by all those who wish to pay homage to the fallen heroes of the World’s War.”
This is an iconic photograph of Poppy Lady Madame Guérin. Almost certainly, it shows Madame Guérin pinning a poppy “tag” on a ‘Great Army of the Republic’ veteran. The photograph was taken at the 1920 Encampment Convention of the ‘Grand Army of the Republic’ and the ‘Sons and Daughters of the G.A.R.’ at Indianapolis (19-25 September).
The photograph above forms part of Hartley Burr Alexander’s archive, held by the Nebraska State Historical Society. It is reproduced with permission of Nebraska State Historical Society©, under Agreement No. 20170059.
The National American Legion’s second Convention (27-29 September 1920) was the next event on the calendar for Anna Guérin. She had travelled another 300 miles (north east) to Cleveland, Ohio.
It is here we have to regress to August, when we know Anna was in San Diego – speaking to the California State Convention of the American Legion. Once again, Anna shared her “big idea” for an annual ‘Inter-Allied Poppy Day’ scheme at this Convention. Veterans in attendance advised her to contact Col. Frederick W. Galbraith Jr, who was running to become the second National Commander of the American Legion (and did, incidentally).
Again in her aforementioned Synopsis, Anna Guérin wrote about Colonel Galbraith and that Cleveland Convention [sic]: “I knew him and wrote to him explaining my Idea . He wired me THAT HE WAS MAKING A RESERVATION FOR ME AT THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE LEGION IN CLEVELAND AND THAT HE … thought that a NATIONAL FLANDERS’ POPPY DAY would be , each year , the Best MEMORIAM given to their comrades who had given their live for Humanity . I have his telegramm. …
I was received amongst the guests of Honor they had ; MARSHALL PETAIN – ADMIRAL BEATY – GENERAL DIAZ and it was a wonderful Convention . The Flanders’ Fields Poppy Idea was adopted first by the Committee of the 48 States Presidents, to whom I spoke presented by Colonel Galbraith , Colonel Parman of Chicago and General Haufman of Oklohama . It was accepted unanimously by them, as later on, it was accepted by the Convention from the platform . And when all the speeches by all the Officers , by the President of the GOLD STAR MOTHERS and by the Guest of Honor were over , just before the election was going to take place . General Hoffman came in front and showing me in the logs , near the platform , said : WE CANNOT CLOSE SUCH WONDERFUL MEETING WITHOUT HAVING A FEW WORDS FROM MADAME GUERIN – OUR POPPY LADY WHO HAS GIVEN US THE FLANDERS’ FIELD’S POPPY Symbol in Memoriam for our Heroes.
Without leaving the loge I said few words and the ovation I received from that 5000 American men and their guests is a Memory never to be forgotten . After the Convention I was nearly carried on shoulders and Colonel Galbraith and Marshall Petain told me that THE FLANDERS’ FIELDS’ POPPY would make an other lien between France and the U. S.”
Thus, Anna arrived at the Convention armed with the blessing of the ‘Great Army of the Republic’ and attended it in her own right, representing her ‘American & French Children’s League’. No evidence has been discovered to support Madame Guérin being a Y.W./Y.M.C.A. secretary – which has been widely reported. The fact that Anna appeared on the same fund-raising ‘platform’ as the Y.W./Y.W.C.A. sometimes may have created this misunderstanding.
Coincidentally, Moїna Michael was connected to that organisation. However, evidence relating to Frederick Galbraith’s reservation does prove a valid, alternative reason for Madame Guérin attending the Convention – in her own right.
The Georgia State branch delegates (connected to Moїna Michael) did as they had intended and duly tabled another independent resolution to adopt the poppy as the Legion’s memorial emblem. No contemporary proof within publications has been discovered to suggest Miss Moina Michael was present at this convention, perhaps accompanying the delegation from Georgia. Certainly, it is Anna who is mentioned and photographed amongst those who attended within the 15 October 1920 edition of the American Legion Journal.
So many American Legion State Commanders already knew (or knew of) Anna and her fundraising work, that it must have been a foregone conclusion that her poppy idea would be adopted at the convention. The idea was adopted – in the form of the ‘Shirley’ poppy. Apparently, the American Legion’s records show that the resolution put forward by the Georgia department was adopted “after tabling of a similar one presented by the American and French children’s league, with which Madame Guerin was associated.”
Anna’s poppies were made by the widows and orphans of the devastated areas of France and, for the first US ‘Poppy Drive’ in 1921, it was agreed all distribution proceeds would go to them.
Explaining more about that particular time in her 1941 Synopsis, Anna wrote [sic]: “After the Convention was over I gave few more lectrures to complet the million frsa I had promised to the Committee Of the Children of Devasted France : in Cleveland , Toledo , Detroit , always making Tags DAYS with the Flanders’ Poppies , always continuing to spread the Idea. I was hurrying as it had been decided after the Convention that the first NATIONAL POPPY DAY ON DECORATION DAY would be for the benefit of the CHILDREN OF DEVASTATED FRANCE and would be made with the aid of the American Legion.”
While Madame Anna Guérin was occupied with the aforementioned Conventions, her faithful Leonel Ross O’Bryan and Helen Ahern were very busy elsewhere – on her behalf.
Prior to 25 September 1920, the Leonel and Helen had arrived in Tucson, Arizona. They were there to form a State committee for Madame Guérin’s American and French Children’s League plus arrange and take charge of a “poppy tag day” in Tucson on the 25th. The Arizona Daily Star promoted the ‘Poppy Day’ [sic]:
“POPPY DAY TO BRING HELP TO HUNGRY BABIES. War Workers to Head Sellers of Flowers for Children of Heroes of France.
Poppies, reminiscent of those which grows in Flanders fields, will blossom on the Tucson streets Saturday. The poppies – baskets of them – will be carried by fresh-faced young girls, and every pedestrian and bystander will be asked to purchase them in the name of the suffering children of France.
The poppy tag day is to be held under the management of Mrs. Leonel Ross O’Bryan and Miss Helen Ahern, who are in Tucson to organize a branch of the American and French Children’s league. Mrs. O’Bryan, who is better known as “Polly Pry,” formerly a Denver newspaper writer, has recently returned from Europe, where she acted as commissioner of publicity to the Balkan States. Prior to this appointment she had served, during the years of the war, with the American Red Cross in France. Miss Ahern is also recently home from service with the Red Cross along the French frontier. Both women are thoroughly conversant with conditions in the war devastated district; are full of an understanding sympathy for the innocent victims of the destroyed cities and towns and keen to do their share in the work of construction.
The object of the American and French Children’s lague is the raising of funds to aid the ovrseas children to a better way of life than theirs at present. The plan of the league includes the forming in each state of a committee which will co-operate to raise as large a sum as possible, the goal set being $10,000. Funds are remitted immediately through a central depositary to the league’s general treasury in France. The head of the organization abroad is Madame Millerand, wife of the French premier, and Madame Millerand’s accredited representative in this country is Madame Guerin.
Arizona is the last state to be visited by Mrs. O’Bryan and Miss Ahern, who already have held a successful “poppy day” in Phoenix, where they perfected the state organization. Governor Campbell accepted the state chairmanship, members of the central committee including Senator M. A. Smith, Judge H. D. Ross, Elmer Coker and T. J. Hurley. The active committee in Phoenix includes Mrs. Charles de Sales Wheeler, chairman; Mesdames Thomas E. Campbell, Dwight B. Heard, Mit Simms, W. W. McNeff, Fred E. Townsend, John Thompson, Harold Baxter, Mary Lee, Cort Hughes, Misses Alice Birdsall and Margaret Hurley.
Mrs. R. B. von KleinSmid has accepted the local chairmanship of the league and associated with her as active committee workers will be a group of prominent Tucson women. A meeting of the committee to organize will be held today.”
On 28 September, Leonel and Helen arrived to stay at the Copper Queen Hotel in Bisbee, Arizona – prior to a Poppy Day/Drive there on 06 October.
The next day (29 Sept.), the Bisbee Daly Review ran a long article about the two women and the interview they had given the previous evening [sic]:
“American red Cross to Launch Drive in Warren District for Benefit of Babies Devastated Regions of French Republic. Mrs. Leonel Ross O’Bryan, commissioner of publicity for the American Red Cross in the Balkans, who recently returned from two and one-half years service in Europe, arrived at the Copper Queen Hotel yesterday. As the representative of Madam Alexander Millerand, wife of the president of France, Mrs. O’Bryan is here to prepare the details for a drive, for the benefit of the children of the devastated regions of France.
With Mrs. O’Bryan is Miss Helen Ahern, also of the American Red Cross, who was recently decorated by the French government for the great work she did in the Bourses district, where for many months she had 14,000 refugees under her supervision. Mrs. O’Bryan and Miss Ahern on their way home from the Balkans through France, spent the month of February this year travelling over the devastated front, and are thoroughly informed as to the conditions there.
In an interview last night Mrs. O’Bryan said: “I have come to your public in behalf of the ‘American and French Children’s League’ and ‘Protection for Children of the Devastated Regions of France’. The officers of the organisations are Madame A. Millerand, wife of the President of France, President; Madame Andre Lebon and Madame du Vivier de Streel, Vice-President; General Legrand Girarde, Treasurer. The officers of the “Protection for Children of the Devastated Regions of France” (which is attached to the Ministry of Interior) are Active Chairman, A. Millerand, president of France; General Secretary, M. Louis Mayer.
The American Officer is Madame E. Guerin; delegate and director of America, Leonel Ross O’Bryan, national organizer, and Mrs. Frederick Masters, Chicago, Ill., treasurer. The national depository for the League is the Continental and Commercial Bank of Chicago.
The purpose of the organization known as the “Protection for Children of the Devastated Regions of France” is indicated by its name. The American and French Children’s League was formed as the executive branch of this organization. The first purpose of the league is to render aid to the children of devastated France. Its ultimate purpose is friendship through understanding. That two great nations that have stood together as have France and America, each in the hour of their greatest need, 1776 and 1917, shall never grow apart. By the aid of France we achieved this republic. By our aid, France was saved. The enemy did not pass but alas, wherever he planted his standard, wherever he touched the land, there desolation, ruin and woe unspeakable followed. Four million people were rendered homeless. Two thousand four hundred cities, towns and villages were laid in the dust. There are cities with populations greater than Arizona in that devastated area in which there isn’t a fragment of wall left standing. In Lens, which had two hundred thousand people, with beautiful churches, fine government buildings, great schools, office buildings, shops and factories, and at her door the coal mines that gave fuel to half of France, the tallest bit of wall left standing is not 10 feet high.
All is ruin, and the mines – they were not satisfied to destroy the machinery, they planted explosives everywhere and touched them off, and then they turned the river into the yawning cavern. Today the experts say that it will cost millions of dollars and two years more of labor to put the mines into working condition.
“Albert, Arras, Amiens, Lille, Roubaix, Chateau Thierry, Verdun – but you know them; they were the battlefields of this war. At Verdun last February I stood on a heap of stone and brick and looked out to where four hundred and twenty thousand Frenchmen lie entombed where they fell in a wreckage so appalling that the government stands helpless before the magnitude of its task, and four hundred and twenty thousand men still lie where they fell, their graves unmarked, where all about are more dead. 12,000 graves here. 10,000 there. 17,000 over beyond, and everywhere a desolation so complete so overwhelming, that you are lost in amazement that anyone could have remained alive, but there, as everywhere, you find what is left of the civilian population, and with them the pallid children. In the devastated area behind the German lines, there was found, after the armistice was signed, four hundred and fifty thousand of these little martyrs of the war, your war and my war, the war for which seventy thousand of our men died, for which one million eight hundred thousand Frenchmen died, and for which the world gave its bravest sons, its uttermost treasure. It is for these we ask your aid.
“France is doing her best to rebuild her devastated regions, but her burdens are enormous. The indemnity from Germany has not been paid, and according to the statement of President Barrows of Berkeley University, California, who returned from France a month ago, there is little or no prospect of its ever being paid unless American and England enforce its payment. Moreover, because of the German menace, France is compelled to keep her army almost up to war strength, at a vast cost in money and a frightful cost in the way of weakened morale. At the same time to bring her exchange back to a healthy level she must repay the money she was compelled to borrow or see herself forced into bankruptcy. In the meantime the ruined homes are unbuilt, the factories, shops, stores are near heaps of dust, the people live in cellars, shacks, dugouts, the children huddle together in barracks, schools and suffering and want are universal.
“We have done our part, you say. No. No fair minded person can claim that. We have only touched our task. It cannot be complete while France stands covered with wounds, bleeding at every pore, struggling with her mighty task of rehabilitation. It cannot be complete while children, dragged from under the trampling feet of the ruthless invader are still sick and shelterless. We have helped, yes, but what we have done is only a drop in the ocean of their misery. Miss Ann Morgan is trying to rebuild a section, what she is doing is splendid, but it is as if she had taken over the rebuilding of a single home, if the whole of California and Arizona was laid in ashes.
“France is doing her best but that best of pitifully inadequate, and so we come to you as we have gone to 18 other states to ask your help.”
In the Warren District of Bisbee alone, nearly $500 was collected during the 06 October Poppy Day – a ‘Morris’ ham made $50 on its own. The Bisbee Daily Review of 08 October reported thus: “the girls who sold the “poppies” both day and night have come in for much commendation by the committee. The work was divided into shifts and it was started at 8 o’clock and not stopped until after 10 at night.”
On 08 October 1920, Anna Guérin’s American and French Children’s League President Hartley Burr Alexander wrote to the Director of the National Information Bureau in New York City – asking that the League be officially recognised by the Bureau. He supplied the Bureau with much historical information about Madame Guérin; the ‘Fatherless Children of France’ charity; etc. – details of which are included in this account, in appropriate places.
It was on 16 October 1920 that Anna Guérin and Isabel Mack visited Indianapolis, to establish the headquarters for ‘League of American and French Children’. On that day, the Indianapolis News reported “Mme. Guerin has been decorated three times by the French government. She has given 5000 lectures in forty-five states.” Isabel Mack had “done a little campaigning in sixteen states.” The conditions in France were described … no machinery; no coal; butter $2 a pound; $1.15 for two pounds of sugar; 600,000 homes destroyed; canals out of action.
On 22 October 1920, Madame Guérin wrote again to Hartley Burr Alexander from Chicago and gave her contact address as c/o Miss J. Boulle 2825 Prairie Avenue Chicago, Ill. Here is the full transcript [sic]: “My dear Friends, As I said in my night letter I cannot stand any longer my recourses – and just when I was taking this paper to write to you my sister writes to me that you are asking what to do with the money which is still at the Western Union?
When I had your telegram I thought I was to write to “Adams Hotel” to send back my money – so I did it immediately. I do not know why I didn’t think that the money was back in Lincoln.
So, please find enclosed the receipt of those $60.00 and my dear Mr. Alexander, will you kindly take them and give them to the furrier who is fixing my coal. I was to pay C.O.D. $75.00 for the coal – then tell him that I shall send him a check of $15.00 when I shall receive the coal to take those £60.00 in advance please to rush the coal.
It was to be here last week. Let him believe I am to start next week for France. I hate when things are done at the last minute. Thank you again and thank you much.
I went to New York where I did start a splendid committee with the help of our Vice National Chairman Mrs. George Corbin Perine helped by Mrs. Washington (Mrs. M.B.W) – both from the George Washington’s family. The Secretary will be the sister of Mrs. Stein, Mlle. De Mare. Very clever also.
The Information Bureau will put us on their list when they have those two sheets we discarded signed by the auditor of Chicago and Paris.
I shall have the books audited here tomorrow — I have received a report of General Legrand which I hope will take place of the other while it comes back from Paris. I wish they would do it immediately. The French High mission will back us now on. Oh! I did forget to let you know and (I am sorry for that) Mr. Tyndall our Treasurer has chosen the auditor of the American Legion books – Mr. George S. Olive who will audit the books every three months. Before to leave I shall have a meeting at the Bank. Fletcher National Bank, Indianapolis with Mr. Tyndall, Mr. Olive, Mr. Nicholas – the lawyer and all the ladies working for us —- to open the books and fix everything. The Secretary will take the minutes of the meeting and I shall send them to you.
I am leaving for Chicago this evening. As long as my big Poppy days which will allow us to see the continuation of our work without so many worries are not over, I shall live on pins. Please have you one or two or your splendid article on me —- —– my poor husband has not yet been served and I have only one left and I dare not part from it – send it to me please. Best love to Mrs. Griggs, Mrs. Alexander and Herbert, for you, my dear Mr. Alexander my best affection. E. Guerin
Towards the end of October, according to Hartley Burr Alexander, the ‘Fatherless Children of France’ charity was preparing to close its books. In his letter to the Information Bureau, Hartley wrote that Madame Guérin’s League would carry on the work of the ‘Fatherless Children of France when that charity ceased – which it did in the December (1920).
Amongst Hartley Burr Alexander’s papers was an undated, typed, draft document by Anna – part of it gives an insight into her shrewdness for getting the most from her fund-raising [sic]: “Before leaving New York I went to see about the way to have our boxes of poppies taken out from the pier without paying any custom. I found a broker who kindly told me he would do the work for us very cheaply and he did send one of his men with me to see the chief of the Custom of New York. These gentlemen were very nice but they told me we must go Washington to ask the special privilege. I thought it would be better that the National Chairman of the organization would present the request for me.” It is apparent that Anna was always looking to save money where possible – because every dollar and franc counted.
… and so 11 November 1920 dawned … the second Anniversary of the Armistice.
Poppy Days were held throughout in the U.S.A. on and around Armistice Day, under the auspices of the American-Franco Children’s League. However, some events were Legion organised, for its benefit – as opposed to the Children’s League.
For example:- In New Castle, Pennsylvania: On 13 November 1920, the New Castle Herald informed [sic]:
“High School Girls Set Pace for Tag Day Collectors for Legion.
The high school girls in charge of selling poppies on Armistice day set a pace that future tag day promoters will work very hard to equal.
Prizes were offered to the team collecting the greatest amounts for the flowers. These prizes did not come from the amount realized by the sale but were donated. … [teams and amounts followed] …
There was a captain and four girls in each team.
In addition to the prizes and honourable mention earned by the above girls all the 102 girls who helped in the sale will be tendered a dance by the Leigon in the near future.
The tag day netted the Legion 42,339.92, Post Commander W. E. Ferver reports today.”
… and … Ellwood City (in Pennsylvania) followed New lead and held a Poppy Day on the 27th: “GIRLS WILL SELL POPPIES SATURDAY. ELLWOOD CITY, Nov. 24 – Following the example of the Perry Gaston post of the American Legion at New Castle, High school girls will hold a poppy tag day here on Saturday.
The proceeds will go for the benefit of the American Legion, J. Wilbur Randolfe post. Poppies signifying those of Flanders Fields, will be sold by the girls, each one giving a piece of silver or as much as they care to.” (New Castle Herald, Pennsylvania, 24 Nov.)
On 11 November 1920, Madame Guérin was in Louisville, Kentucky. She spoke at the Louisville Girls’ High School. The Courier Journal of Louisville, Kentucky (12 Nov.) reported: “Madame Guerin of the American and French Children’s League, made an appeal for French orphan children who have none to provide for them.”
On 13 November 1920 and 114 miles away, Madame Guérin and Isabelle Mack were in Indianapolis (home of the American Legion’s headquarters for a Poppy Day … “… Mme. E. Guerin, who presented the poppy to the American Legion in Cleveland, …” assisted in a Poppy Drive there.
The Indianapolis Star newspaper printed this article [sic]: “TODAY’S POPPY TAG DAY. Every Flower Bought Will Help Suffering Children of Devastated France. Today is Poppy tag day for the children of devastated France.
High school girls, college girls, and many other young women will be stationed throughout the downtown streets offering poppies of Flanders fields in exchange for donations. Mrs. R. E. Kennington and members of the post-war council have organized the council, each section being assigned to a block in the center of the city. Any person who wishes to help in the drive is asked to apply at the headquarters of the organization, 131 North Pennsylvania street.
Meaning of Emblem. Next May the members of the American Legion will wear a memorial day poppy made in France by widows of the great war. The emblem offered today is a reminder of the suffers who inhabited the devastated regions. To buy a poppy will mean food and clothing to many children of France. It will mean a message of love and joy sent from Indianapolis.
Mme. E. Guerin, who presented the poppy to the American Legion in Cleveland, and Mrs. Isabella Mack, who has been in Indianapolis for several weeks lecturing before the city schools and clubs, are assisting in the drive.
Similar tag days are being held today in a number of other cities of the state.”
The Indianapolis News reported on how a Poppy Tag Day had been observed in that city (and others in the State of Indiana) on that day. It had been carried out by the ‘League of American and French Children’ “… before noon many persons were wearing the little red poppy showing they had contributed to the fund. The poppies were made by French women. Any amount of money is acceptable.”
In the latter half of November 1920, after all those November Poppy Days, Anna Guérin set sail for France. From Anna’s Synopsis, we learned that she was accompanied by Mrs. Marie de Mare from Denver, Colorado.
Marie Edith de Mare was born in Paris, on 11 December 1877. Marie’s parents were the well-known French Artist/Etcher/Author Tiburce De Mare and his wife English-born wife Agnes Louisa Healy. Marie was a grand-daughter of the well-known American artist George P. A. Healy, the well-known American Artist. George was a historical and portrait painter – also, he been a photographer at one time – having a studio in Rome.
On her ‘Petition for Nationalization’ form (11 May 1905), Marie wrote she had arrived in New York, U.S.A. as an immigrant on 01 January 1900, from Le Havre, France – on the ship ‘La Normandie’. However, Marie was found on earlier Passenger Lists. On 21 May 1894, 16 year old Marie arrived in New York on the ship ‘La Touraine’, from Le Havre. Marie was accompanied by her mother Agnes and sisters Louisa (23) & Jeanne (10).
Eleven months later (29 April 1895), Marie arrived back in New York from Le Havre, on the ship ‘Bourgogne’. One Mme Charles Bigot was also a passenger – she was Marie’s maternal aunt (Marie aka Mary nee Healy became a US citizen in 1911). A year on, Marie (aged 18) was on the ship ‘St. Louis’ – when it left Southampton on 31 July 1897, bound for New York.
Marie submitted her petition for U.S. Nationalization on 16 December 1911 – the address she gave was 2930 East Fourteenth Avenue, Denver, Colorado.
In 1954, Marie put together a book about her grandfather called ‘G.P.A. Healy American Artist; An Intimate Chronicle of the Nineteenth Century’, with an Introduction written by Eleanor Roosevelt. Marie died on 24 June 1958 in New York. Upon her death, Marie was described as a Lecturer and Author.
Returning to the end of 1920, Anna’s Synopsis documents [sic]: that she and Marie de Mare “went directly to the ELISEE PALACE to see Mrs Millerand the wife of the President of France to explain to her the march on of the Flanders’ POPPIES .
She had followed it by my letters and all the letters she had received during our Campaign, from Governors or influential people of the different States , who were sending the money collected , directly to her , on my request .
And I had had a letter from Mrs Millerand published in many State papers saying : “We thank you infinitely and all those who are helping you in your Flanders’ Fields’ PoppyS’ Days .
We have just received money from Delaware , Maryland , Colorado , South Dakota , Wyming , Minnesota , Nebraska and other states are writing that they will send other money very soon .
I pray you to tell to all those you are soliciting their help how urgent and immence is our task of rehabilitation . Express to them our gratitude for the fraternity they are showing indefatigably towards our Country. Let the Flanders’ Fields’ poppy be the voice of the poor children of the Devastated France were only the Poppies are blooming amongst the ruins . etc .
When Mrs. De Mare and myself explain to the Committee in Paris that we must have at least 5 millions of silk Poppies made in the orphanages of France ready to be shipped in April to the American Legion for the First National Flanders’ Poppy’s Day on Decoration day , the Committee found that not one cent of this million Francs could be used for the fabrication of the Poppies , even in view of the large sum of money that the Poppy day would bring to the poor children . The statuts of the Committee were irrevocable : every cent sent from the U. S. was to be used for the welfare of the poor children and only for that .
As Originator of the Poppy’s Idfebruaryea , and the sponsor and knowing how philantropic this Idea could become , I ordered , on my own responsibility not 5 but 3.000.000 of silk poppies .”
… and so 1921 dawned, another busy year of Madame Guérin ’s life:
Again, Hartley Burr Alexander’s papers enlighten the researcher about Madame Guérin’s work. On 19 January, Anna wrote similar letters from France to the “War Mothers” or “Mothers of Baltimore”; “Service Star Legion”; and “clubs etc” plus the “Grand Army of the Republic”; “Commanders” of the American Legion; and “Allied organisations”. These documents included the following extracts [sic]:-
“I am now in France superintending the making of millions of red silk poppies (to be sold at 10 cents each) by the widows and daughters of French soldiers. I know that the members of your club will consider it a sacred and loyal obligation to wear the Poppy of Flanders Fields on May 30th.”
In a draft speech for the Mothers of Baltimore later in the year (also with the Hartley Burr Alexander’s papers), she underlined the fact that it was there that she shared on her poppy plan. Of her ‘Poppy Days’, Anna wrote [sic]: “Those days have been glorious days in the towns where they have been held. The Mayors having made for them a special proclamation. Towards the evening when you see everyone wearing a Red Poppy for which he has given what he liked – it seems like if the souls of those Boys, of those Men sleeping in Flanders fields are all over the town, smiling, blessing the town which is finishing the work of reconstruction reparation.”
At the behest of Madame Guérin, Isabelle Mack placed an advertisement in the American Legion Journal edition of 04 February 1921:
For a couple of weeks after the American Legion Weekly advertisement, near identical articles were printed in newspapers – similar to the following, which appeared in the Daily Ardmorette (Ardmore, Oklahoma) on 06 February 1921:
“Red Poppy for Memory. Oklahoma City, Feb. 5.
On the lapel of every member of the American Legion in Oklahoma as well as in every other part of the world will appear a blond red poppy on memorial day according to plans being made by state officials of the American Legion as announced here today. The poppies will be worn on May thirtieth in memory of the gallant American soldiers who lost their lives in the poppy-grown fields of France.
Millions of red silk poppies are being made by the American and French Children’s League for Legionaires. Legion posts will send their orders for poppies for members to Madame Isabelle Mack, 23rd East Tenth Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, before February 28 so that delivery may be made in ample time.
Each poppy is to cost ten cents and all of the money obtained by the League is to be devoted to helping French and American war orphans. Payment is to be made to the treasurer of the society, Robert H. Tyndall, who is also Treasurer of the American Legion.
In addition to the local memorial services which are to be held in every community in the state which has a post of the American Legion the veterans will undertake the tremendous task of decorating the grave of every American soldier now sleeping on French, English, Belgium or German soil.
The red poppy which will be worn by every member of the American Legion on Memorial day was chosen as the national memorial flower of the organization at the second annual convention at Cleveland last September.”
On Thursday 10 February 1921, the Morning Register (of Eugene, Oregon) printed a long article which referred to that aforementioned The American Legion Weekly edition [page 19, Volume 3, No. 5 (February 4, 1921)] [sic]:
“POPPY WILL BE MEMORIAL FLOWER OF LEGION POSTS. Plans Being Made to Sell Them May 30.
“In Flanders fields the poppies grow Among the crosses, row on row.” And these bravely waving flowers, standing as a mute sentinel over the graves of those who died in foreign land while defending the life and liberty of their loved ones, have been adopted as the memorial flower of the American Legion and the women’s auxiliary throughout the nation.
At the last national convention of the American Legion, held in Cleveland, the following resolutions were adopted:
“Whereas, a movement has been instituted to adopt the poppy as the memorial flower of the American Legion throughout the nation, and
“Whereas, Out of this should come some symbol to perpetually remind us and to unfailingly teach the coming generations the value of the ‘Light of Liberty’ and our debt to those who helped to save it for us by paying the supreme sacrifice, and that we may not forget that
‘In Flanders fields the poppies grow Among the crosses, row on row”—
“Therefore, Be It Resolved by the American Legion in convention assembled, that the movement to have the poppy adopted as the memorial flower of the American Legion be endorsed; and be it further
“Resolved, That the National convention adopt the popy as the official flower of the American Legion.”
Madame E. Guerin, who is called the “Poppy Lady of France,” has written headquarters of the American Legion and her letter has been published in the official publication of the Legion, The American Legion Weekly. Widows and daughters of men of France who lost their lives during the world war are making millions of red silk poppies which will be sold at ten cents each in the United States and Europe between now and Decoration day under the auspices of the American and French Children’s league, of which Mme. Guerin is the founder and the director. The Children’s will apply the money raised for the relief of children in the devastated regions.
The children’s league of Europe has opened offices in Indianapolis, and its treasurer is Robern N. Tyndall*, treasurer of the American Legion. The “Poppy Lady” has asked that all orders for these silk poppies to be worn May 30th be sent to this Indianapolis address.
Lane post of the American Legion and the women’s auxiliary will take up the matter of securing a large number of these poppies and every citizen will be expected to purchase one of the bright little blossoms made immortal through the verse, ‘In Flanders Field.” [*Robert N. Tyndall]
On 17 February 1921, Anna arrived in New York from Le Havre, France. The information Anna supplied for the Ship Manifest was:- ‘Occupation’: “Teacher”; last ‘Permanent Address in USA’: “Chicago”; and ‘Nearest Relative’ was “Mr. Guérin au Mas des Aires, Vallon”. Anna was accompanied by her daughter Raymonde Rabinit and her sister Juliette Boulle. The destination for all three women was “Mr. Tom Masters, 2057 Kenilworth Avenue, Chicago, Ill.”- who must be Frederick William Masters, husband of the American & French Children’s League’s Business Manager Margaret Masters. Certainly, “F.W. Masters” was shown living at 2057 Kenilworth Avenue in ‘The Rogers Park directory’, June issue, 1919.
Anna Guérin’s 1941 Synopsis enlightens us that she arrived in New York with her 3 million poppies [sic]: “The Customs’ duties were so high that I went in Court (of the Customs) as the Originator of the Idea explaining the purpose of this coming campaign in such a way that the Government refunded me $ 12.000 of duties , sending them to Mme E. Guerin the Founder of the National Flanders’ Fields’ Poppy’s Days. This judgement is recorded Customs’ Court.”
In the same Synopsis, Anna wrote that Mrs. Irénée Du Pont of Wilmington, Delaware “did a lot to help us in every way” with regard to the organisations for the 1921 poppy campaign. Mrs. Du Pont was Elizabeth Canby Bradford Du Pont. Catherine was a daughter of the Hon. Edward C. Bradford of Wilmington. Mrs. Du Pont was a widow when she helped Anna – her husband Alexis Irénée Du Pont was a member of the Du Pont Powder company; a lawyer; and politician). He had died in 1904 at Wilmington.
Additionally, Anna wrote [sic]: “We started the Drive from the Headquarters of the American Legion in Indianapolis . Colonel Galbraith – then National President of the American Legion … giving us all the help possible as Major Colonel Lemuel Bolles . the National Adjudant.
I had choosen 6 ladies … to travel throughout the Country to lecture and organise the States with the help of the American Legion Posts. I myself was going from one State to the other to help them. Mrs Irenee Du Pont from Wilmington , Delaware, had accepted to be the National President and did a lot to help us in every way.
As this drive was taking a tremendous development and as , at that time , the Headquarters of the Legion was not very large , it was decided that we should come to New-York and would put the Drive in the hands of a very important Corporation used to make such National Drives. Mr. Jenkins was put in charge and thousands and thousands of pamphlets were sent out sSaying : Mme E. Guerin – Originator and sponsor of the National Flanders ’ Fields ’ Poppy ’s Days has brought back from France millions of silk Flanders Poppies etc etc.”
Madame Guérin’s “very important Corporation” in New York may have been the fundraising company that became ‘Ward, Wells & Dreshman’, although no records have been found to confirm this. There appears to have been no other firms like Ward, Wells & Dreshman until after World War Two. That company virtually had a monopoly on the industry of fundraising. It may be just a coincidence but this is the company Colonel Samuel Moffat ended up working for.
Also in Anna’s Synopsis [sic]: “I ordered – on my own responsibility, 3 millions more of those silk poppies , as we were running short , to Angelo Alpi Co. in New-York …”. Madame Guérin’s New York artificial flower maker “Angelo Alpi co” was ‘Alpi and Company’, owned by Italian brothers Angelo and Pietro Alpi. The company manufactured artificial flowers in their factory at 69 Houston Street, New York City.
The book ‘The Journey of the Italians in America’ (by Vincenza Scarpaci) states: “They employed over two hundred workers, mostly Italian immigrant women who chose to work with other women in locations near their homes. These employment choices conformed to Italian traditions, which relegated primary care of the home and family to women.” Census returns and passport applications show that Pietro was born in June 1868 and younger brother Angelo was born 05 June 1873. Their father Francesco H. (Frank) Alpi had been an “Artifical Flower Manufacturer” before them.
At some point, Blanche Berneron eventually met up with Anna, Raymonde and Juliette or, at least, she must make a rendezvous with Juliette for the distribution of poppies. The Toronto Globe edition of 07 December stated that Mlle. Boulle and Mme. Berneron had arrived “from France last Spring to carry on the organization work connected with the sale of poppies on Armistice Day. Mlle. Boulle’s sister was the originator of the idea, which attained such unusual success among all former allied nations.”
On 19 February 1921, Isabelle Mack put pen to paper and wrote to Moїna Michael from the American and French Children’s League headquarters in Indianapolis. Accompanying the letter was the February 1921 edition of ‘Le Semeur’. These documents form part of Moїna Michael’s papers, which are held at the Hargrett Library at the University of Georgia, USA. Moїna Michael and Madame Anna Guérin did correspond with each other but few examples exist.
Returning to Isabelle Mack’s contact, she wrote flatteringly to Moїna [sic] – as one poppy supporter to another:- “My dear Miss Michael, I am sure you will be interested to hear about the report of our work in 1920 up to November 1st. I am sending Le Semeur, your beautiful poem is quoted in it as the most perfect answer to “Flanders Fields”, so fitted and suitable in every way that one cannot separate one from the other. …Yours most sincerely ..”
The full article on the American and French Children’s League’s report for their first year of October 1919 – October 1920 begins on page 12 of Le Semeur: “AMERICAN STAR” … “American and French Children’s League” … “The After-War Work”.
Members of the French National Committee are documented first, then the American National Committee with “Madame E. Guerin (Officier d’Instruction Publique” being noted as “Official Delegate to the United States and Founder”. “Both Committees count some of the greatest personalities of the two countries.” The aims of the League were set out and the accounts followed after the clarification that the period October 1919 – March 1920 was “especially a work of organization”.
The States organised in 1920 were listed, along with the funds collected therein: Delaware 47,390fr; Maryland 4,720fr; South Dakota 77,078fr 50; Nebraska 96,835fr; Wyoming 31,835fr; Colorado 91,867fr 90; Utah 90,388fr 40; Idaho 43,988fr 75; Washington 119,142fr 40; Montana 30,203fr; California 247,100 fr; Arizona 36,305fr; Missouri 1,755fr.
Some of the aforementioned money was still in the Indianapolis bank – set aside for completing the organisation in the USA and the National Information Bureau endorsement.
Month by month, recipients of League money were listed with the amounts given and the sub-total of that list was 390,232fr 50; money held in Paris and US banks was 425,296fr 53; expenses for the poppy campaign was 111,312fr; and the account total was 926,296fr 03.
Anna’s full speech to the “French Committee and Guests Assembled in Paris, Thursday, December 9th, 1920” followed [sic]: “Ladies and Gentlemen: I shall not apologize for coming before you as those soldiers who, after a long campaign, return with a shabby uniform — but with hope and strength because “over here” they felt that Victory was – approaching. . . . I am here in the same condition. After 20 months of struggle, at last I see the full success of our great work of Justice, Humanity, Fraternity and Remembrance. This great hope makes me forget all: My shabby uniform, my physical and moral fatigue – I am happy, bringing to you wonderful tidings from all our friends and supporters in the United States.
Before Anna spoke on the first year’s work, she spoke about the USA and the attitude she found there towards the League [sic]: “The United States, marvellous country, whose immensity, power, energy and richness would overpower you if, at each step, you did not feel its big heart throbbing with generosity, a great mind full of wonderful ideals for Humanity – France being considered a very loved part of Humanity. . . . Do not judge the United States without having been there, do not judge before knowing them as I do, for then you will understand why I love them so dearly, why I hope so much from this young, strong nation who loves France like an older sister, wounded and worthy of the most tender care. … …”
Of course, it had not always been ‘plain sailing’ – Anna spoke of “unfortunate experiences, due to misunderstanding generally – many judged France by the streets of our big towns – and from such misunderstandings, cleverly by German propaganda, a feeling of disaffection towards France was arising. Oh! How many false reports, foolish stories I had to deny. . . . But everywhere I spoke, sincerity soon got the better of distrust; in their Commercial Clubs, in their Women’s Clubs, sympathy, admiration was expressed not merely by applause but by donations and help.”
Anna also spoke about her love for the American schools and students: “But I do love especially the school children, the students of High Schools and Universities, all this generous new generation which seems to me the best part of America, from whom we can expect great things. Always ready to deprive themselves of their pin money, of their leisure time to help every one of the relief committees, they were my dearest friends. I wish I had time to tell you some of thing done for us by the schools of Dubuque and Burlington (Iowa) — the response from the schools of the Iron Range in Minnesota. I would like to name every one of them: Tower, Anrora, Biwabick, Gilbert, Eveleth, Virginia, Mt. Iron, Buhl, Chisholm, Hibbing, Keewatin, Nashwark, Marble, Coleraine, Grand Rapids. . . . These names are nothing to you: to me they are as sweet as the people were kind”
Anna spoke about the poppy being immortalised in the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ and recited it to the Assembly. She then read out Moina Michael’s poem, calling it “admirable”. Anna generously stated [sic] “Those two poems were my inspiration for the “Poppy Days”. Yes, the red poppy would finish the work – it would be the national emblem, the international one, that would allow the American and French Children’s League to carry on the work of Justice, Humanity and Remembrance. And we went from town to town having Poppy Days. … …”
“The Poppy idea was growing, and I realized that since we were forgetting too soon those sleeping in Flanders fields, the “poppy” should become a symbol and be the memorial flower.
So I went to all the Conventions of the patriotic societies: In Des Moines for the Service Star Legion, in Indianapolis were the G.A.R., Sons of the Veterans, Daughters of the Veterans, Auxiliary of the Sons of the Veterans, Ladies of the Grand Army, Women of the Relief Corps; I asked them all to adopt the following resolution:
Be it resolved that every member, if possible, and his (or her) family shall wear a silk poppy on Decoration Day in memory of those who gave their lives for Humanity. … … Everywhere the resolution was adopted with emotion. … … The same Resolution was adopted also by the American Legion at its National Convention in Cleveland.”
Anna spoke about how important it was to have the support of the American Legion – it was the “backbone of the country” … a total of “about one and a half million men, and their Auxiliaries, composed of wives, mothers, sisters, daughters of ex-service men must count several millions.”
When the resolution was adopted by the American Legion, my joy was so deep that tears filled my eyes and I could hardly contain my emotion when they asked me for a speech in their Convention Hall. They called me “the Poppy Lady from France” . . . . I do not wish a more glorious title than this one.”
Anna talked about being “confronted with the tremendous work of having the millions of poppies made and furnishing the money to pay for them. We shall accomplish a “miracle” and have as many poppies ready as possible for next May – but the obtaining of funds now is not only urgent, but it is a question of life for our League – the After-War Work – and once more we are going to make an appeal to our committees, American and French, and we know that it will not be in vain.
In closing this report I wish to express my deep gratitude to all who helped me, every one of the officers of our State Committees, every child and student of the schools who joined in the work, every one of the devoted national organizers who, in defatigably [sic] have sewn, in spite of all difficulties, the beautiful seed of the “Poppies”, and who will go on carrying the work for God, for France, for Humanity.
With gratitude and sincere love for America, E. Guérin.”
Additional interesting facts were gleaned from this speech of Anna’s but not quoted here – these have been covered by being reproduced earlier, in the relevant time-line slots.
By 23 February 1921, Madame E. Guérin was in Indianapolis. She was staying at the Hotel Severin, along with her sister Juliette Boulle and her daughter Raymonde. On 23 February 1921, the Logansport Pharos Tribune (Indiana) printed this short piece that had come out of Indianapolis [sic]:
“POPPY LADY HERE TO COLLECT FUNDS FOR FRENCH “KIDS”.
INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 23.—Mme. E. Guerin, known in Paris as “the poppy lady” has arrived here with ten million red silk poppies, made by widows and daughters of the fallen heroes of France, which will be distributed to patriotic organizations in the United States, Canada and Cuba to be worn on decoration day. Mme. Guerin came to the United States under the auspices of the American and French children’s league. Proceeds from the sale of the artificial flowers will be used in caring for fatherless children of France. The wearing of the French poppy on Decoration day was endorsed by the American Legion at its last national convention.”
The next day, more news from Indianapolis was printed. In The Republic (Columbus?) on 24 February 1921, the first paragraph had the same details as Logansport Pharos Tribune but further facts were contained [sic]:
“RED SILK POPPIES FOR DECORATION DAY.
… Mme. Guerin, who is accompanied by her sister, Mlle. Juliette Boule and her daughter, Mlle. Raymonde Rabanit, are not staying at the Hotel Severin, but soon will establish headquarters at the home of Edouard J. Duboise, 238 East Tenth street. Mr. Dubois is an inspector in the federal health service and is assisting in the work of the league.
Will Tour Canada.
From this headquarters all of the 10,000,000 poppy remembrances will be distributed. Mme. Guerin will leave Indianapolis soon after establishing the headquarters and will tour Canada and Cuba in the interests of the campaign. Mlle. Boule will take over the secretaryship of the office here, which for the last month has been held by Mrs. Isabelle Mack. Mrs. Mack has canvassed women’s clubs to place orders for poppies and reports that all organizations are enthusiastic in support of the project. Mlle. Rabanit will stay here to assist Mlle. Boule.
Mme. Guerin, in explaining the purpose of the campaign for wearing poppies on Decoration day, said: “Lest we forget that many heroes lie in Flanders fields, where the poppies grow, a number of patriotic societies, among them the American Legion, resolved at their last national convention to urge the wearing of a poppy made in France by the widows and daughters of French soldiers on Decoration day, 1921.
Expect Increased Sales.
“This year, because the project is a new one, we have brought only 10,000,000 poppies, and will feel that we have succeeded if we sell that number. Next year and in succeeding years, we hope to sell many millions more.
“The wearing of the poppy on Decoration day gives to that day a double significance. Originally Decoration day was intended to honor the veterans of the civil war. France has adopted May 30 as a celebration day in honor of the veterans of the world war, and America also has added to that day the same significance.”
Mme. Guerin was in Indianapolis to address the annual convention of the Grand Army of the Republic, last September. In October she returned to France to supervise work on the poppies.”
Thus, the home of Edouard J. Duboise (238 East Tenth Street, Indianapolis) became Poppy Headquarters, from whence all the French-made poppies were distributed. Correspondence was to go to that address and orders for the poppies were requested in before 28 February 1921 – to ensure delivery before 30 May.
Edouard J. Duboise was Edouard Julien Dubois. Edouard was born on 19 September 1867, in Vincennes, France. He had married one Marie Victoire Doré in Paris, France, in 1889 (Banns 15 September 1889). It is reported that the couple had a son, René (born in France, c1892?), who was killed at Verdun whilst serving in the French army – certainly, a René Dubois was killed on 26 December 1916, at Verdun). It is assumed that Marie died before Edouard left for the U.S.A.
Edouard had arrived in the United States of America on 14 October 1893, from Le Havre – on the ship ‘SS Champagne’. On 23 June 1897, Edouard married Illinois-born Helen Hickey in Indianapolis. Edouard became a Nationalized Citizen of the U.S.A. on 23 September 1899. In the 1900 US census, both Edouard and Helen were “Teachers”. Helen Hickey’s sister was of one of the earliest female physicians and surgeons in the U.S – Dr. Rachel Hickey Carr of Chicago.
Edouard became a physician, by profession – he qualified in 1905, at the Central College of Physicians and Surgeons, Indianapolis. More biographical information about Edouard can be found in ‘The Service Club of Indianapolis’ by Howard C. Caldwell (page 252).
In the US 1920 census, Edouard was a “physician for the State Board of Health”. Edouard died on 17 January 1923 in Indianapolis, of “cardiac asthma”. At the time of death, Edouard was noted as physician and homeopath. He is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis.
In her Synopsis (quickly written in 1941), Madame Anna Guérin wrote about the 1921 headquarters of her Poppy Drive moving to New York. This only happened after the American Legion parted company with Anna and she began working with the Veterans of Foreign Wars instead.
Around the end of February/beginning of March 1921, near identical articles were printed within newspapers about Memorial Day being “Poppy Day”. The newspapers found, to date, are: The Arkansas City Daily Traveler (16 Feb. 1921); The McPherson Daily Republican (18 Feb., 1921); The Great Bend Tribune, Great Bend, Kansas (18 Feb., 1921); The Evening Kansan Republican (18 Feb. 1921); Topeka Daily State Journal (19 Feb. 1921); The Alta Vista Journal, Altavista, Virginia (24 Feb. 1921); The Columbus Weekly Advocate (24 Feb. 1921); The Alma Enterprise, Alma, Kansas (25 Feb. 1921); Kinsley Graphic, Kingsley, Kansas (03 Mar. 1921); Osawatomie Graphic, Osawatomie, Kansas (10 Mar. 1921); Westmoreland Recorder, Kansas (10 Mar. 1921). This is the Westmoreland Recorder’s version [sic]:
“Memorial Day will be “Poppy Day” with American Legionnaires. The red poppy has been adopted as the national memorial flower of the Legion and it is planned to have every Legion member wear a red poppy on Memorial Day, in memory of the comrades who lost their lives in France’s poppy-grown fields. Millions of red silk poppies are being made by the American and French Children’s League. Each poppy will cost ten cents and the money obtained by the League is to be devoted to helping French and American war orphans. Posts can send their orders for poppies for all members to Madame Isabelle Mack, 238 East Tenth Street, Indianapolis, Ind., immediately, so delivery may be made in ample time. Checks should be made payable to Robert H. Tyndall, treasurer of the League, who is also National Treasurer of The American Legion.”
On 05 March 1921, an article in The Barre Daily Times (University of Vermont) enlightened its readers about Madame Guérin, the poppy and the contents of a letter sent by her to the Barre Woman’s club [sic]:
“In anticipation of a demand by the American Legion members and other patriotic people of Barre Woman’s club has put in an order for 500 red silk poppies, the flower which has endorsed as the memorial flower of the American Legion at the national convention in Cleveland last September. These poppy emblems are being manufactured in France by the widows and the daughters of French soldiers under the superintendence of Mme. E. Guerin, director of the American and French Children’s league. Writing to Mrs. N. D. Phelps, president of the Barre Woman’s club, Mme. Guerin says: “I have communicated with the president of the Federation of Women’s Clubs in your state, and feel sure that the members of your club will consider it a sacred obligation to wear the poppies of Flanders Fields on May 30. It will be a sign of respect and admiration for one of the most noble chapters in America history. If possible let every child in your district wear also the poppy as a means of further Americanization.””
It would appear that the aforementioned letter from Anna is a prime example of communications sent by her to all and sundry in the USA, ahead of Memorial Day.
On 13 March 1921, the Charlotte News of Charlotte (North Carolina) printed a short piece on Madame Guérin and her poppies, within a Club Women column:
“ACTIVITIES OF CLUB WOMEN By C.S.P.”:
To the writer’s mind this suggestion of Madame E. Guerin, “The Poppy Lady of France” asking American women to wear the poppy of Flanders Field May 30, one of the sweetest and well deserved tributes for us to pay to those who gave their lives in that great struggle. Mrs. Guerin states that these poppies made by the millions out of silk by the widows and daughters of the French soldiers, can be procured by ordering them through Madame Isabelle Mack, 248 E. 10th street Indianapolis, Ind., at 10 cents each. Let us in Charlotte make May 20th Poppy day.”
On 20 March 1921, The Oregon Statesman (Salem, Oregon) ran a poignant article about wearing poppies over hearts on Memorial Day for the local boys who fell [sic]:
“A Poppy and a Memory –
Will you wear a red poppy on Memorial day? A red poppy, made by the widows and daughters of French soldiers, close to the battlefields in France?
Local patriotic and civic bodies have received letters from Madam E. Guerin, known as “The Poppy Lady of France,” asking that every person wear one of these poppies on May 30, as a sign of respect and admiration for those who gave their lives for their country.
It seems a slight but lovely thing to do, and in all probability will meet with favour here.
Not for him alone but for all the Aubrey Jones in the world should Salem folk pin the crimson flower of Flanders Field over their hearts on Memorial day. No member of Salem war heroes’ families but would proudly don the expression of love and appreciation of the services of all the Aubrey Jones which the world war produced. For all the Ernest Eckerlens, Wayne Jacksons, Milton Koormans and Captain William Smiths – in some of our hearts, “rank on rank they filed” as we saluted their flag, flying half-mast over the town they loved.”
“If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
On Flanders fields.”
PRIVATE AUBREY P. JONES, from Lebanon/Salem (Oregon), was a local hero. He was born 27 December 1894. He had been one of the Company M, Third Oregon National Guard “Boys”, who went across to France in 1917. It was reported that he was cited for bravery 4 (four) times and killed in battle, in a daring charge on 26 October 1918 – at Meuse-Argonne. He was only 23 years old. His body arrived in Salem on 20 October 1921, for a Military Funeral on the 24th. The following article is one of many printed about him (Oregon Statesman, 20 March 1919) [sic]:
“AUBREY JONES THRICE CITED FOR BRAVERY IN ACTION ERE HE FALLS IN CHARGE.
To be cited three times for bravery in action and then to die in battle after being the first of his company to volunteer for a daring charge was the fortune that attended Aubrey Jones of Salem. The account of his heroism comes to his mother, Mrs. F.A. Baker, in a letter from Lieutenant George L. Goodridge, commander of Company G. 101st infantry, of which Jones was a member. His commander expected to promote him had he come through the action.
“Your letter of January 4 to the commanding officer asking for particulars concerning your son’s death came yesterday and was given to me.” writes Lieutenant Goodridge.
“Aubrey joined the company just before the Chateau-Thierry fighting. I was in command of the company then and continued in that position until after the armistice, so I knew him very well.
During all the fighting Aubrey did his part well. He was afraid of nothing and the others all looked up to him. I do not remember a time that I met him, that he was not smiling, no matter how trying and terrible the conditions. He was a friend of everyone, everyone liked him.
“In Belleau Bois which is north of Verdun about 20 kilometers, the Boche put over a small counter attack on October 28 and drove back some of the men from another company who were trying to hold the line. The companies were very small there, so small that a battalion was not as strong as a full strength company. I went to where our battalion was staying in support, and called for volunteers to help in getting the old line back again. I was nearest our own company at the time and Aubrey was the first man to reach me with his chauchat (French automatic) ready.
In a few minutes we were rushing the line, Aubrey beside me. A machine gun bullet struck him and he dropped. I could not stop then but just after the affair was over and the line retaken, I went back to look for him and found him lying where he had fallen with a bulet hole through his chest. As the fire was too heavy there he was not buried until two days later when Chaplain Rollins and Father O’Connor of the regiment buried him with prayers in a little cemetery near where he had fallen.
“Aubrey’s personal effects were in all probability taken by the chaplain and sent to the personal effects depot where they will be sent to you. I will see the chaplain and if I am able to find out anything about the effects will let you know at once.
“Your son was a brave man and besides my knowing him well, he attracted my special attention of several occasions by his action under fire. I should have promoted him had he only come through this action. He was cited in orders three different times for bravery in action.
Aubrey was a straight-forward, brave little man at all times, and I feel that I can not praise him too much. I have often overheard the men in the company and regiment with whom he associated speak of what a splendid man he was. I wish there were more like him.
“I wanted to write you earlier but we are not allowed to precede the official government casualty list and I delayed writing not knowing when you would be notified of this sad happening.”
Returning again to the aforementioned undated, typed, draft document by Anna, the date has been narrowed down to March 1921. This is the full transcription (suggesting there is a missing first part) [sic]:
Before leaving New York I went to see about the way to have our boxes of poppies taken out from the pier without paying any custom. I found a broker who kindly told me he would do the work for us very cheaply and he did send one of his men with me to see the chief of the Custom of New York. These gentlemen were very nice but they told me we must go Washington to ask the special privilege. I thought it would be better that the National Chairman of the organization would present the request for me.
On Sunday I had heard this wonderful orator L’Abbe’ Coubet who is surely one of the best French orators. On Monday I saw him and he told me that if the League could pay him his travelling expenses after Easter he would be able to give lectures for us in the United States for the Alliance Francaise and in the French part of Canada. I shall speak to you about that because it seems to me it would be a splendid publicity. Surely this man would put enthusiasm in the French circles and they could take charge of the poppies in their towns. We shall see what we can do for the towns as Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore, Washington, for which expenses would be not great and anyway, probably those Alliance Francaise could pay their share of their expenses. He does not ask any salary. I know that we shall use him in the French Canada where he will arouse the patriotism of all those Catholic people. As I told you he is the cousin of Mlle. Chaptal who has taken the place as President of the Protection of the Children of Devasted France for Mr. Millerand, our French President, since he was elected President. Now he is the Honorary President of the Organization. But about those lectures we shall speak after.
I arrived in Indianapolis on Tuesday and was much delighted, I could even say astonished to see what beautiful work Mrs. Mack has accomplished with the help of those dear American Legion boys. You know she had an add put in the American Legion Weekly paper following the desire of the National Adjutant of the Legion who could not give to her all the addresses of each post. But the weekly paper is received by three quarters of millions of people and in spite of that Mrs. Mack did send a special request to each State Commander of the Legion approved by their headquarters. With that she wrote to all the Presidents of the patriotic societies who did endorse the idea last September and many, many other organizations. In fact, she did send about 3000 letters. The answers are coming fast; each one bringing an order of poppies and the assurance that our work is looked upon as a beautiful patriotic and elevating work, besides the charitable purpose. We have already hundreds of splendid letters. The National Chairman of the Federation of the Women’s Club did answer immediately that 6000 women’s clubs …
Page #2 … federated will be notified and that is only one example. I went to the headquarters of the American Legion where they are keeping the book-keeping of our work. Everyone thinks that more we shall arrive near Decoration Day the greater will be the enthusiasm. The next day I had a business meeting with the National Treasurer Mr. Tyndall, the National Adjutant of the Legion and we discussed plans.
I said to Mr. Tyndall that the National Chairman, Mrs. Perine, had accepted to be the Active Chairman responsible as Mr. Alexander would be National President. That Mrs. Perine would make all vouchers for checks to be paid by the Treasurer and would come, if necessary, to discuss with him. He said that as long as Mrs. Perine would write to him to make such and such checks it would not be necessary for her to come now until Indianapolis. I told him that we had made an application through Mr. Dennis, one of the lawyers of Baltimore, to have the League incorporated. He was very pleased to hear that and he said to me that he hoped that would be done as quickly as possible.
I told that the names for the incorporation of the work would be just: Madame E. Guerin, Founder of the A. F. C. L. in the U. S.; Mr. H. B. Alexander, President; Mrs. George Corbin Perine, Nat’l. Chairman; Mrs. M. B. Washington, Nat’l Vice Chairman; Mr. Robert H. Tyndall, Nat’l Treasurer.
And as Mr. Tyndall thinks that the National Secretary must be near her National Chairman or in New York or near Baltimore, Mrs. Perine will choose one.
In fact, it is the National Chairman and the National Treasurer who are the most active ones.
Mr. Tyndall said that in the By-laws it must be well stated that the National Chairman is to ask the Treasurer to pay check, or to delegate someone for that. Also, what amount of money from all money collected is to be kept in the United States to do the work. All that was discussed and put in the By-laws which were drawn at the meeting at Mr. Alexander’s home in October. I am sending those By-laws and anything Mr. Dennis will see necessary to change he will notify each officer before to do it and ask his approval. In the By-laws will have, if you remember, a provision of 15% had been made for the work here, 10% to pay all workers and 5% for general expenses. I do not think it can be less for this year of real organization. That does not mean we shall use the full 5% of general expenses but I do think we shall use the value of 10% for the workers because we are already late …
Page #3 … for the work, and we shall be obliged to rush. Of course, next year as we shall have the addresses of all the people and committees who are ordering poppies this year we shall not expend so much. I know we cannot mention percentages to please the Bureau but that is between us to see exactly on which proportion we can make the work. Since I have seen how well the work is started from headquarters I am nearly confident of a full success. Don’t laugh and don’t think I am Frenchy when I say to you that I am already planning to order 5,000,000 more of poppies, which would make the 10,000,000 they are speaking of in the enclosed clipping.
To please the Bureau I have nothing to do on the work to raise the money, I am just the founder of the work and the official delegate of the French Committee, so, Mrs. Perine will have as National Chairman to appoint everybody. From headquarters we shall make the letters of appointment in order that she will have to sign them. She will also sign the contracts with the organizers. Of all that we shall settle next week when I shall see her. Because I do hope that it will be possible for her and me to go to Cuba in order to make some money to push the work during April and May. I have brought back from France as much of my own money as I could in order to help the work in lending it. I did the same in Paris in ordering the poppies.
I am already half rewarded in seeing those hundreds of letters in which the Poppy Lady from France from one end of country to the other. Of course, the American people will never like me as much as I do them. Endorsement* or not I feel sure now that in working the poppies will be taken with enthusiasm by the people. The Bureau is not America.
This afternoon I found in Chicago a woman very powerful who will see that 500,000 poppies will be disposed of in Illinois State.
I am going back tomorrow to Indianapolis where I shall help Mrs. Mack to teach my sister and my daughter to be splendid secretaries. They will have to send 200 letters a day and answer as many and send also all the boxes of poppies asked for. Mrs. Mack is too splendid organiser not to be in the field and two or three French ladies advancing their money are coming to the rescue. To thank Mr. Alexander for all that he has done and for the splendid letter he wrote to the Bureau to please Mrs. Perine, Madame Millerand and Madame Lebon and especially for France and America we are bound to make a success of it and we shall make it. You must excuse my typewriting and my broken sentences but I am by heart and thought all the time with you. Until very soon,” (*Endorsement of the League by the US National Information Bureau).
Referring to Mrs. Perine, it is interesting that Anna wrote that she hoped it would be possible for the two of them to visit CUBA “in order to make some money to push the work during April and May”. It is understood that Cuba had extended her an invitation to visit, with regard to her poppy campaign. To date, there has been nothing discovered about such a visit made to Cuba by Anna and Tyler Perine. However, we know that promotion of the poppy emblem was made in Cuba by sister Juliette (Boulle) and Blanche (Berneron) and the poppy was adopted as a memorial flower prior to the 1921 Memorial Day.
A ‘National Poppy Day Committee’ was established in Cuba, to organise the arrangements. It is highly probable that a “Madam” at “La Bourse, Prado 36, Bajos, Havana” was on this committee because this was who Juliette and Blanche stayed with during their visit in December 1921 and January 1922. Whilst in Canada in early February 1922, Anna wrote: “… My two delegates arrived yesterday from Cuba where they have sown the Idea splendidly. …”
However, any of the three French women would have felt comfortable promoting the Inter-Allied Memorial Poppy in Cuba. Interestingly there was an American Legion Post in Cuba so A.L. members must have helped promote the poppy campaign and members of the French enclave would have been willing helpers.
Cuba was intrinsically linked to France. French immigration into Cuba had begun in the 18th century and increased in the early 19th century, when there was an influx of French people into Cuba from Haiti. At the time, Haiti was a French colony and the indigenous people were fighting for their independence from France. Santiago de Cuba was a popular place for French people to make their home and some settled so well that they married Cubans – as in the case of Anna’s Rabanit in-laws, probably.
Cuba had been ruled by Spain from the 1820’s but when, in 1898 control of the island was relinquished, Cuba became a U.S. protectorate – until its independence in 1902. But a bond to the US still existed. When USA declared war in 1917, Cuba followed. Up until that point, Cuba was allowing German ships to dock at its ports. For several reasons, the President felt Cuba could not remain neutral any longer. It was an enthusiastic decision – apparently, one made without pressure from any country. Cuba seized the German ships and became a base to protect the area from U-Boat attacks. Many Cubans enlisted, but the war ended before they could be sent to fight.
The aforementioned quote of “To please the Bureau I have nothing to do on the work to raise the money, I am just the founder of the work and the official delegate of the French Committee …” appears to be just one of the Bureau’s conditions. It leads on to another possible condition laid down, which is not fully understood by the author. It is deduced that the National Information Bureau (?) suggested that Anna’s American and French Children’s League should have a wider scope and be more aligned with its French based ‘umbrella’ organisation ‘La Ligue Americaine-Francaise des Enfants’.
Apparently, a merger with newly formed ‘American-Franco Children’s League’ was favoured – which had Bishop Herbert Shipman as its President. The two Leagues merged on 27 April 1921, at the New York Waldorf Hotel. Developments later in the year illustrated just how much of an upset this merger caused. ‘American and French Children’s League members were split, to some degree.
The New York Times printed an article under the headline “Rival Societies in War of the Poppies” (12 May 1921). A group from the ‘American and French Children’s League, including one Mrs. Mercedes McAllister Smith, would not join the new League. Miss Smith had held the post of American and French Children’s League’s Committee Chairman in New York State. This group continued a poppy campaign under the auspice of the ‘American and French Children’s League’ name. They even succeeded in having US President Harding accept the post of Honorary President of that League.
However, Anna and the ‘La Ligue Americaine Francaise des Enfants’ committee in Paris had “lined up with the ‘American-Franco Children’s League” – as did the American Legion and The National Information Bureau. This turmoil must have been the last thing Anna and her League wanted or needed in the ‘run-up’ to Memorial Day – with Poppy Days arranged in every State during Memorial Week. But the campaign had to go on and it had been going on during all this controversy.
On 05 April 1921, The Oakland Tribune (California) reminded its readers about Madame Guérin and her poppies, with this article [sic – for “March” read “Mack”]:
“The Poppy of Flanders Field” will be worn on Decoration Day in all the countries which sent men into the world war. The babies of France will receive the benefit from the sale of the significant red silk blossoms made by the widows and daughters of French soldiers. The California Federation of Women’s clubs, through its district federation and local clubs, is supporting the memorial which will be translate into practical help to the children of the devastated country. Several weeks ago Oakland War Mothers sent for their allotment of the Flanders Poppies, which they are expecting to arrive daily.
Mme. E. Guerin is known as “The Poppy Lady of France.” Miss Isobel March is overseas superintending the making of the millions of scarlet flowers.
America’s Memorial Day has been adopted by the Inter-Allied Veterans as the occasion consecrates to the memory of their fellow comrades.”
By 17 April 1921, we know that many Federated Clubs had received letters from “… Mme. E. Guerin, who is known as “The Poppy Lady of France”, with the same message. The following article appeared in the Abilene Daily Reporter (17 April) [sic]:
“The American Women Are Urged to Wear Poppies On May 30.
The Federated Clubs are in receipt of letters from Mme. E. Guerin, who is known as “The Poppy Lady of France” urging that the women wear poppies of Flanders Field on May 30. Mme. Guerin, who is director of the American and French Children’s League, who has spoken about five thousand times in this country before clubs, meetings and conventions of patriotic societies states that her poppy proposition has been indorsed every time. The letter in part follows.
“At the National Convention of the American Legion in Cleveland Sept. 1920, the following beautiful resolution was passed.
“Be it resolved, by the American Legion in convention assembled that the movement to have the Poppy adopted as the memorial flower of the American Legion be endorsed.”
I am now in France superintending the making of millions of the red silk poppies by the widows and the daughters of French soldiers close to the battle fields.
I have communicated with the President of the Federation of Women’s Clubs in your state, and feel sure that the members of your club will consider it a sacred and loyal obligation to wear the poppies of Flanders Fields on May 30. It will be a sign of respect and admiration for one of the most nobile chapters in every child in your district wear also as a means of furthering Americanization.
Please send your order as early as possible to Mrs. I. Mack, 238 E. 10th, Indianapolis. Checks to be made to Mr. R.H. Tyndall, National Treasurer of the American and French Children’s League. (Poppies ten cents each).”
On 27 April 1921, The Bismarck Tribune of North Dakota reproduced a letter written to groups of ‘War Mothers’ by Madame Anna Guérin, “The Poppy Lady of France” :
“POPPY LADY OF FRANCE AT WORK. In January of this year Madame E. Guerin wrote the officers of the various groups of War Mothers as follows:
“I need not introduce myself, you all know the “Poppy Lady of France” who, for the last two years has attended so many conventions and meetings of Patriotic Societies. At the National Convention of the American Legion in Cleveland, the following beautiful resolution was passed:
“Be it resolved, by the American Legion in convention assembled, that the movement to have the poppy adopted as the memorial flower of The American Legion be endorsed and, be it further “’Resolved, that the National Convention adopt the poppy as the official flower of the American Legion.’
“America’s Memorial Day has been adopted by the Interallied Veterans as the day consecrated to the memory of their fellow comrades, and may I add commemorating the brave deeds of all those who served in the World War.
“I am now in France superintending the making of millions of red silk poppies (to be sold at ten cents each) by the widows and daughters of our French soldiers. I know that the members of your group will consider it a sacred and loyal obligation to wear the poppy of Flanders Fields on May 30th.”
On the same day, 27 April 1921, Madame Guérin’s sister Juliette was arriving in Lincoln, Nebraska. On that day, The Lincoln Evening Journal announced [sic]:
“A movement to have the poppy universally adopted as the Decoration day emblem is being fostered in Lincoln by the American-French children’s league, of which Prof. H. B. Alexander is president, and the league has a representative here in the person of Mll. Boulle, sister of Mme. Guerin, who visited Lincoln some time ago in the interest of French war orphans. Mlle. Boulle arrived Wednesday morning and will spend several days in Lincoln.”
On 28 April 1921, Madame Isabelle Mack was in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania – on ‘Poppy Day’ business. The next day, The Wilkes-Barre Record newspaper reported on her visit:
“CONFERS WITH COMMANDER. Madame Isabelle Mack of Paris Discusses Plans for Observance of Poppy Day.
Madame Isabelle Mack of Paris, representative of the American League for the relief of poor children of France, was in this city yesterday conferring with Commander William Healey of Diamond City Post, American Legion. Madame Mack came in the interest of Poppy Day, which will be held on May 28. After hearing the plans of the local post outlined, the French woman expressed her satisfaction and commended Commander Healey.
A meeting of the various school committees and delegates representing women’s societies of the city will be held at the Legion home on Monday afternoon at 4:30 o’clock. At that time the committees will receive instructions of a preliminary nature relative to the sale of poppies through the valley. Committees will also be appointed.”
During the month of April 1921, numerous newspapers across the United States of America carried near-identical articles – only the headlines separated them, as can be seen by the examples below. They drew Americans’ attention to personality “Madame Anna E. Guérin”, alone; Memorial Day, the American Legion; and the Poppy. “Oh my word” … how rare it is to discover all those words gathered together in one sentence today.
In 1921, those aforementioned words were being seen together all the time in articles being printed in newspapers across the U.S.A. Probably based on a statement issued by the American Legion, the Associated Press circulated the facts that formed the articles shown above and those which also included the following publications:-
Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, NY) 15 April 1921; The Topeka Daily Capital (Kansas) 17 April 1921; The Washington Times 17 April 1921; The Kansas City Kansan 17 April 1921; The Chillicothe Gazette (Ohio) 18 April 1921; The Lead Daily Call (South Dakota) 18 April 1921; The Moberly Monitor Index (Missouri) 18 April 1921; The Salisbury Evening Post (South Carolina) 18 April 1921; The Twin City Daily Sentinel (Winston-Salem, North Carolina) 18 April 1921; Ironwood Daily Globe (Ironwood, Michigan) 18 April 1921; The Ottawa Herald (Ottawa, Kansas), 18 April 1921; The Times (of Shreveport, Louisiana) 18 April 1921; The Webster City Freeman (Webster City, Iowa) on 18 April 1921; The Grand Forks Herald (North Dakota) 18 April 1921; The Lawrence Daily (Journal World) 18 April 1921; Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico) 19 April 1921; Eau Claire Leader (Wisconsin) 19 April 1921; The Altoona Tribune (Altoona, Pennsylvania) 19 April 1921; The Courier News (Bridgewater, New Jersey) 19 April 1921; The Gettysburg Times (Pennsylvania) 19 April 1921; The Scranton Republican (Scranton, Pennsylvania) 19 April 1921; The San Bernardino County (California) 19 April 1921; The Morning News (Wilmington, Delaware) 19 April 1921; The Tonopah Daily Bonanza (Nevada) 19 April 1921; The Gastonia Gazette (Gastonia, North Carolina) 19 April 1921; Durham Morning Herald (North Carolina) 20 April 1921; Pittston Gazette (Penns.) 20 April 1921; The Bremen Enquirer (Bremen, Indiana) 21 April 1921; The Chronicle (Shippensburg, Pennsylvania) 21 April 1921; The Weekly Pioneer Times (Deadwood, South Dakota) 21 April 1921; The Ogden Standard Examiner (Utah) 22 April 1921; The Chanute Daily Tribune (Kansas) 23 April 1921; The Chanute Daily Tribune (Kansas) 23 April 1921; The Columbia Evening Missourian (Columbia, Miss.) 23 April 1921; Logansport Pharos Tribune (Indiana) 23 April 1921; The Asheville Citizen Times (North Carolina) 24 April 1921; The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa) 24 April 1921; The Laredo Weekly Times (Texas) 24 April 1921; The San Antonio Light (Texas) 26 April 1921; The Harrisburg Telegraph (Pennsylvania) 28 April 1921; The Bourbon News (Paris, Kentucky) 3 May 1921; Lenoir News Topic (Lenoir, North Carolina) 5 May 1921; The Harrisburg Telegraph (Pennsylvania 5 May 1921; The Yale Expositor (of Yale, Michigan) 5 May 1921; The Oskaloosa Independent (Kansas) 6 May 1921; Honolulu Star Bulletin (Hawaii) 7 May 1921; and Great Falls Tribune (Montana) 8 May 1921.
On the same day, 28 April 1921, The Junction City Weekly Union (Kansas) enlightened their readers a month before Memorial Day [sic]:
“Poppy Lady Brings Flowers”. The Poppy Lady of France has come to America again.
She has brought with her millions of tiny red silk poppies, the kind that ‘blow on Flanders Field,” and she is going to help America unit with France on Memorial day in honouring the brave dead who sleep in French soil.
The poppy has been adopted by the American Legion and other patriotic organizations as their memorial flower. It was at the American Legion convention last fall that Mme. Anne E. Guerin was christen “The Poppy Lady of France,” a name by which she is now known on two continents.
The Poppy Lady is the founder of the American and French Children’s League in France and America. This is a growing movement which seeks not only to aid the little martyrs of devastated France, but, still more important, hopes to teach the children of both nations to remember, and to foster the friendship which had its inception on a battlefield.
Its members in France, war widows and orphans, have made the millions of red poppies — exact replicas of the poppy of Flanders field – which America is to wear on May 30. This blood hued blossom, immortalized in poetry, has come to symbolize the spirit that sustained the victorious nations during the years of struggle when the outcome of the conflict was in doubt. It is a symbol, too, of the love and gratitude France bears for America.
On this Memorial day France will cover the graves of American soldiers with poppies, while every patriotic man, woman and child over here will wear a poppy to show that the “brave dead have not died in vain.”
Ahead of the 1921 Memorial Day, near identical articles appeared in American newspapers – accompanied by the same image of Madame Guérin e.g. Lawrence Daily Journal (Kansas) 20 April 1921; The Bismarck Tribune (North Dakota) 21 April 1921; The Leavenworth Times (Kansas) 21 April 1921; Altoona Tribune (Pennsylvania) 22 April 1921; Concordia Blade Empire (Kansas) 22 April 1921; The Salina Evening Journal (Kansas) 22 April 1921; The Coshocton Tribune (Ohio) 22 April 1921; The High Point Enterprise, High Point (North Carolina) 22 April 1921; The Petaluma Argus Courier (California) 22 April 1921; The Record Argus (Pennsylvania) 23 April 1921; Olean Evening Herald (New York) 23 April 1921; The Pittston Gazette (Penns.) 23 April 1921; The Pittsburg Sun (Kansas) 23 April 1921; The Quad City Times (Iowa) 24 April 1921; Greensboro Daily News (North Carolina) 25 April 1921; The Wilkes Barre Record (Pennsylvania) 26 April 1921; The Asheville Citizen Times (North Carolina) 27 April 1921; The Huntington Herald (Indiana) 30 April 1921; The Charlotte Observer (North Carolina) 3 May 1921; New Castle Herald (Pennsylvania) 05 May 1921; The Daily Ardmoreite (Oklahoma) 10 May 1921; Joplin Globe (Missouri) 20 May 1921; Lincoln Evening Journal (Nebraska) 23 May 1921; Muncie Evening Press (Muncie, Indiana) 23 April 1921; The Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota) 8 May 1921; The Daily Times (New Philadelphia, Ohio) 23 May 1921; Nevada State Journal 26 May 1921; etc:
“The Poppy Lady” Brings Flowers from Flanders Field for Memorial Day. The Poppy Lady of France has come to America again! She has brought with her millions of tiny red silk poppies, the kind that “blow on Flanders Field,” and she is going to help America unite with France on Memorial Day in honoring the brave dead who sleep in French soil.
The poppy has been adopted by the American Legion and other patriotic organizations as their memorial flower. It was at the American Legion convention last Fall that Mme. Anne E. Guerin was christened “The Poppy Lady of France,” a name by which she is now known on two continents.
The Poppy Lady is the founder of the American and French Children’s League in France and America. This is a growing movement which seeks not only to aid the little martyrs of devastated France, but still more important, hopes to teach the children of both nations to remember, and to foster the friendship which had its inception on a battlefield.
Its members in France, war widows and orphans, have made the millions of red poppies – exact replicas of the poppy of Flanders field – which America is to wear on May 30th. This blood red blossom immortalised in poetry, has come to symbolise the spirit that sustained the victorious nations during the years of struggle when the out-come of the conflict was in doubt. It is a symbol, too, of the love and gratitude France bears for America.
On this Memorial Day, France will cover the graves of American soldiers with poppies, while every patriotic man, woman and child over here will wear a poppy to show that the “brave dead have not died in vain.”
In the afternoon of the 05 May 1921, Madame’s friend and assistant Blanche Berneron spoke at a meeting of the Stephen Decatur Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The Decatur Herald reported on all of the proceedings within its ‘Society’ column – which included a couple of sentences about Blanche within the following short paragraph:
“… French Woman Speaks. The treasurer’s report showed that $330 has been given to patriotic education during the year. Mrs. Monroe and Mrs. Pegram gave reports of the Continental Congress in Washington. Mme. Blanche Berneron was introduced by Edward Powers and spoke to the women on the Memorial day sale of poppies made in France. The proceeds of the fund will go toward clothing and feeding children in the devastated regions of France. She urged that the women help. …”
On 07 May 1921, the Women’s Council advisory board in Decatur held a meeting in the afternoon. When The Decatur Herald reported on it the next day (under the ‘Society’ column), Mme. Blanche Berneron and poppies were given a mention:
“In a meeting of the Woman’s Council advisory board Saturday afternoon it was decided that the women will sell poppies for the benefit of the devastated regions of France. These poppies are made in France and are to be worn on Memorial day in memory of the men who fought in the World War. Mrs. Lynn Barnes will be in charge of the sale with the headquarters in the Red Cross office.
The women decided to sell the poppies after Mme. Blanch Berneron had talked to several organizations represented in the Council. The women decided to order 3,000 small poppies and 100 large ones. The small ones sell for 10 cents and the large ones for 25 cents each.”
Although every State had its own poppy committee, significant women connected to the Children’s League were found over-seeing State campaigns. For example, Blanche was conducting the campaign in Illinois “…Let every American man, woman and child wear the poppy of Flanders fields next May 30 …”.
Additionally, Blanche was reported on in the Rock Island Argus and Daily Union publication (Illinois, 07 May):
“POPPY FAVORED AS TRIBUTE TO DEAD SOLDIERS. Although the Rock Island post, American Legion, has received no advices that Madame Blanche Berneron who is touring Illinois to arouse interest in the wearing of a red poppy on Memorial day as a tribute to America’s soldier dead, the patriotic organizations of this city have endorsed the movement and the ladies’ auxiliary of the American Legion will hold a sale of the poppies on Saturday, May 28. This city was included on her itinerary, announced yesterday.
The poppies are made by the people in the war devastated regions of France and the money received is sent to assist in the support of the children of the poilus.
Madame Berneron has come to Illinois direct from these regions and told of the conditions over there at the inauguration of her campaign in Springfield. She said “I recently visited Flanders field and saw the very large number of crosses, each bearing the name of a soldier sleeping there. The beautiful red poppies waving in the wind seem to send a message from the dead asking the people not to forget them.”
… and Isabelle Mack was known to have helped in Pennsylvania. In April, she was handing out “… instructions of preliminary nature relative to the sale of poppies …”
Isabelle Mack was also in Pennsylvania in May – the Pittsburgh Daily Post (15 May 1921) printed this very informative article: “Poppy of Flanders Fields Will Be Worn in America. … Madame Mack spent several days in Pittsburgh recently organizing the clubwomen for the sale of the poppy and arousing sentiment among the children by the appealing talks in the Latimer Junior, Peabody and Allegheny High schools, through the courtesy of Dr. C.H. Garwood. The latter is in close sympathy with the movement owing to his knowledge of condition in France, where he has been recently, and where hr represented the Junior Red Cross of America.
Any auxiliary, society, club or federation of clubs, which wishes in a patriotic and loyal spirit, to undertake the sale of poppies in their town or country, will receive 200 poppies for every 1,000 population, payment for these to be made after Memorial Day when returning unsold poppies. The women’s clubs of Philadelphia are united to work the Eastern district.
Several borough clubs, notably in Bellevue and Crafton, have organized for the sale of the “flower of remembrance;” the Daughters of Betsy Ross and some other societies are acting independently in arranging for the disposal of poppies and doubtless as the day draws nearer, although there has been no central committee formed in Pittsburgh as in the Eastern cities, there will be many more loyal women who will organize into little groups in memory of the boys who never came back.
Headquarters for Pennsylvania are in the Hotel Walton, Philadelphia, with Mme. Isabelle Mack in charge. Poppies for sale will be distributed to different centers from headquarters on demand addressed to Mme. Mack
In some states the Service Star Legions, the G.A.R., Sons of Veterans, Ladies of the G.A.R. and Women’s Relief Corps, in sympathy with the World war veterans, will not only wear the poppy with the Red, White and Blue, but have adopted the following resolution:
“Be it resolved: That every member, if possible, of his (or her) family shall wear a silk red poppy on Decoration Day in memory of those who gave their lives for humanity.”
The poppy movement has been indorsed by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. In his endorsement, President Harding says: It represents a sentiment that I hope will never be lost from our American hearts and the cultivation of which, I trust, may make greatly for the perpetuation of those international sentiments which have so long persisted between the French people and the people of our own country.”
As the flag stands for service, honor ad glory, let the poppy stand for heroic death, for rest and remembrance.”
… and we know that Leonel R. O’Bryan was Director of the Regional HQ in Denver, Colorado.
Dated 14 May 1921, a Washington DC letter was sent to the Postmaster in Jerome, Arizona. From it, we learn that the Post Office Department wanted to support these poppy events. They advised: “all loyal Americans” to wear the poppy flower “in honor of their fellow countrymen who so heroically sacrificed their lives to the cause of liberty the cause of liberty and now rest beneath the poppy-carpeted battlefields of France.”
The letter began with: “Hubert Work, the First Assistant Postmaster General, authorizes the Jerome postmaster to post information publicizing an international Memorial Day to benefit the American and French Children’s League. Red poppies were crafted by children and mothers who suffered during the first world war and sold to help fund medical care of the League. (Letter held by Arizona State Library).
In a 2014 Denver Post blog, an archived article from its 15 May 1921 edition was featured:
“MILLIONS OF FLANDERS POPPIES HERE TO LIE ON HEROES’ GRAVES”.
“Made by Children of Northern France, Stricken by War Ravages, They Will Be Used On May 28 and 30 to Honor Dead Of Two Nations.” “Remember May 28. It’s Poppy Day all over the United States and France. And then comes Memorial Day – the day of devotion to the soldier dead – May 30 – when the Flanders poppy, the flower of the American Legion, will be worn on every American breast – and on every French breast, for France has joined the United States in making May 30 her Memorial Day. … …”
The aforementioned blog also contained “an archive image showing girls in the Queen of Heaven Orphanage in Denver making paper flowers in 1921.” This supports the feeling that, on occasion, poppies had to be out-sourced when the amount of French-made poppies available was considered too small for the predicted demand.
On 18 May 1921, Madame Guérin’s sister Juliette Boulle arrived in Detroit, Michigan. The next day (19 May), she met with American Legion officials to organise the poppy campaign in the city. The Detroit Free Press (20 May) enlightened its readers [sic]:
“SALE OF BLOOD RED POPPIES TO AID STRICKEN FRANCE.
Soft winds of peace now blow on Flanders’ fields, and the blood red poppy that a few years ago symbolized the lives so freely given in the Great War has become the emblem of America’s reverence for the soldier dead.
Official flower of the American Legion, the glowing poppy’s counterpart, fashione in millions by the hands of children and women of the devastated area in France, have been brought to America to serve a double purpose on Memorial day – proclaiming America’s remembrance of its 70,000 dead, and bringing help and hope to the scores of thousands of needy, underfed and suffering inhabitants.
With the aid of the American Legion, the American-Franco Children’s league hopes to supply all the United States with these artificial blood red poppies. The league and other patriotic organizations, including the Daughters of the American Revolution, have approved the plan, and Mlle Juliette Boule, of Paris, France, arrived in Detroit Wednesday to organize for the work of disposing of the flowers.
It is hoped to have all people of Detroit wear one of these little emblems Memorial Day – the proceeds will be devoted entirely to the relief work for the French children of the devastated area.
The war is long since over, but the devastated area is not yet rebuilt; the factories are only here and there emerging from their ruins; money for industry is still almost wholly wanting; the French government cannot, until Germany makes substantial reparations payments, begin the work of reconstruction on a scale sufficient to do away with suffering and want.
So France asks more aid from America. Until there is money, there will be no work, but the children must live. Learning of the sentiment of America, and the American Legion, toward the blood red bloom that covers all of northern France, the idea of employing women and children to make, by hand, artificial poppies was conceived.
Ten million of these flowers have been shipped to the United States in two sizes – one for lapel wear, the other, larger, for interior decorative purposes. Mlle. Boule spent Thursday with American Legion officials and it is hoped to interest churches, civic organizations and citizens generally in the disposal of the flowers. It is probable that one day of next week will be set apart for street sale of these flowers and women’s organizations, churches and the American Legionaires will be asked to assist.
Mlle. Boule is being assisted by Norman C. Orr, of this city, and the American Legion headquarters, 84 Lafayette boulevard, will be the information station, where individuals and societies may obtain directions for procuring a supply of the French children’s handiwork.
On 20 May 1921, The Bridgeport Telegram (Connecticut) printed this article [sic]: “Poppy Sale Starts. The American Legion poppy sale is on. Poppies can be bought from any of the ex-service men at the cost of ten cents each. A large shipment was received from the Allingtown hospital, Allingtown, Conn. The disabled veterans made these flowers and the proceeds of the sale goes to them.
Also on 20 May 1921, the US National Information Board granted their formal endorsement to the ‘American-Franco Children’s League, Inc.’. On granting this, the NIB stated “it is the only organization authorized by the Ligue (‘La Ligue Americaine Francaise des Enfants’) to collect funds for it in the United States and the only organization endorsed by the Bureau.”
On that same day, the American Legion Weekly ran a joint advertisement headed “WEAR A FLANDERS POPPY” – for the American Legion and the ‘American-Franco Children’s League, Inc.’.
So … 23 May arrived … the start of Memorial Week.
Throughout the week Poppy Days were conducted by the American-Franco Children’s league in all the States – the first National Poppy Drive in the United States of America. Newspapers all over the USA ran articles calling everyone to wear a poppy; reiterating that the American Legion had adopted the poppy as their emblem; and reporting that ‘The Poppy Lady of France’ was back in the USA for Memorial Day … “She has brought with her millions of tiny silk poppies, the kind that “Blow on Flanders Fields”.” (Daily Record, Hickory, North Carolina)It would appear that Poppy Drives were held on various days throughout the States during Memorial Week, but 28 May was officially designated as “Poppy Day” or “Tag Day. The idea was to wear a poppy on the 28th and, on Memorial Day (30th), place it on a/your soldier’s grave. Families were given the option of having the remains of loved ones repatriated to US soil and this repatriation was carried out by the American Graves Registration Service. Just over 2/3rds of US war dead was repatriated. Of those who remained buried in France, it was reported that French children would lay poppies at their gravesides.
Articles, such as that which appeared in the Topeka Daily Capital (Kansas), reported along the lines that the poppies would sell for “10 cents up, the amount the buyer wishes to pay being left to his own discretion and individual patriotism.” Chaperoned girls and women of all ages were assigned streets/areas and businesses were canvassed as well as passers-by. The Daily Capital even named individual lady “team captains” and the streets they would be responsible for. Women visited the railway stations at times the trains were due to arrive.
Additionally, it seems that any small profit made (over and above the purchase price paid to the League) would go to the American Legion – e.g. in Coffeyville (Kansas) any profit was destined for the local American Legion Post’s memorial fund.
On Saturday 28 May 1921, the Concordia Blade Empire newspaper (Concordia, Kansas) enlightened its readers about Concordia’s Poppy Day and, quite rightly, credited Madame Guérin with successfully persuading the American Legion to adopt the poppy:
“Wear Flanders Poppy On Memorial Day. Wear a poppy. Every American should wear a poppy for Memorial Day. The Woman’s Auxiliary of the American Legion sold poppies today, and if there are any left they will sell them Monday. They are being sold over the state of Kansas and over the United States. Where there are no Auxiliary Posts, a woman’s club is selling the poppies.
The poppy was adopted as the official memorial flower of the American Legion at the National Convention and should be worn on Memorial Day. Madame Guerin, the French “Poppy Lady,” succeeded in getting the resolution through the convention. The poppies are made by French orphans and widows and all the profits will be given to the relief of children in devastated France. The poppies are being sold for ten cents.”
On 29 May 1921, the day before Memorial Day, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne, Indiana) ran a full page spread promoting the poppies and the face of the Poppy Drive, “Poppy Girl” Carolyn Ferriday. This article probably appeared in newspapers all over the U.S.A. The image shown above headed the page. The article name-dropped Mme. A. Millerrand, wife of the French President (head of the French branch of the American and French Children’s League) – Madame Guérin was not mentioned in the article [sic]:
“Just for today and tomorrow the great red poppies of Flanders Fields, which in war-stained France burn their way into notice with the profusion of the daisy in the United States, will be transplanted to America. Thousands and thousands of them will be seen in every town and city throughout the country, born in artistic baskets by charming young society girls selling them for the benefit of the crippled and blind soldiers and the child victims of the war.
Yes, the poppies will be imitation. But they will have the spirit and the appearance and the tender memories of the poppies on those homely, honorable graves in France where rest the doughboys who fell in conflict. They will bear a Memorial Day message from those hallowed dead to living Americans—a message asking help for the fatherless children and for those who, deprived of limb or sight or both, must linger on, every hour enduring added suffering—the price they paid for glory.
“Will you wear a poppy?”
The pretty vendors will ask the question today and tomorrow and none should say “No.” Take the flower, give what you can afford to give, and, as you wear it, think of your neighbour’s lost boy or, perchance, that young widow’s children. Macterlinck tells us that to think of the dead is to send them a message. Those who lost one of their family need no reminder. The poppies will serve to give a gentle hint to the more fortunate whose only sufferings were the inconvenience of wartime diet and the necessary things that are concomitant with war.
The poppies are fashioned of silk and little colored pins will go with them with which to fasten the proud badge to the coat lapel. Their price will be 10 cents each, but the warm heart will probably find ample reason for raising the figure. The sale will be under the supervision of the American Legion.
The Legion will be assisted by the American and French Children’s league, of which Mme. A. Millerrand, wife of the President of the French Republic, is the head. The National Chairman is Mrs. George Corbin Perine of Baltimore.
The photograph on this page is that of Miss Carolyn Woolsey Ferriday, debutant daughter of Mrs. Henry McKeen Ferriday, who was chosen as the ideal of the “Poppy Girl.” She is one of the young women of fine American ancestry who willingly consented to peddle the Memorial Day poppies.
While the patriotic men and women in the United States pay tribute to their fallen heroes, the French people will show the same mark of respect to the American graves in France. The French government recently set apart May 30—instead of Armistice Day—to honor the American dead.
Millions of poppies to be used in celebration of Memorial Day here are being made by little children—inmates of orphan asylums of New Jersey, New York and elsewhere.
In a letter sent out asking the co-operation of the clergy and business houses, patriotic societies and civic organizations, Mrs. McAllister Smith, chairman of the New York state board, said:
The recent war with its horrible and needless bloodshed has awakened in our nation a recognition of the beneficent government under which we live, and has reinstated in us the kinship of love for those nations who have fought for which our forefathers died.
“If an ideal is worth while it is worth fighting for, it is worth dying for, and still more, it is worth living for and making the children of the future generation realize their free and lofty heritage.
In memory of this great brotherhood, the American Legion has adopted the poppy of Flanders as its insignia, and the American and French Children’s league, under its auspices, is offering these poppies and appealing to every patriot to wear one on Memorial Day in commemoration of our dead heroes and to show loyalty to the flag and allegiance to the cause which has made us a nation.”
A large part of the fund raised from the sale of the poppies on Memorial Day will be used for the benefit of the tubercular children of France, as hundreds of children from the liberated regions there, Mrs. Smith says, are today suffering from this malady. Contributions mean food and food is the greatest enemy of the white plague. It was lack of proper nourishment during the terrible war conditions that lowered the vitality of the little sufferers and made fertile field for the development of the dread disease. The dollars of America can restore bloom to pallid cheeks and instil new life into little limbs too weak even to romp as children should.”
Carolyn Woolsey Ferriday was born on 3 July 1902, in New York City. She was daughter of Henry McKeen Ferriday and his wife Eliza. After World War Two ended, she helped to bring Polish women (who had been used for experiments in Nazi concentration camps) to the U.S.A. for treatment. She never married and she died 24 April 1990, at Bethlehem, Litchfield, Connecticut. She is found described as a wealthy heiress and a philanthropist.
On 30 May 1921, Memorial Day (also known as ‘Decoration Day’), Miss Pauline Frooks (a representative of Madame Guérin, “poppy lady of France”), gave an address in Galveston, Texas – at an American Legion meeting. The Waco News Tribune (30 May) reported an Associated Press release dated 29 May [sic]:
“By The Associated Press. GALVESTON, Texas, May 29. – Dr. Guy O. Shirley, of Fort Worth, state commander, and Charles W. Scruggs of Dallas, state adjutant have been here for a week perfecting plans for the all-Texas mass meeting.
Major General James G. Harbord, commanding Camp Travis and newly named assistant chief of staff of the army, is scheduled to reach Galveston tomorrow forenoon, as are others, including Colonel Henry D. Lindsley, the first national commander of the American legion. Miss Pauline Frooks, Denver, Colo., representative in the United States of Mme. Guerin, the “poppy lady of France,” is on the program for an address tomorrow night.
According to estimates of legion officials, approximately 1500 out-of-town legionaries are expected to be in attendance at tomorrow night’s mass meeting which is to be held in the city auditorium here.”
Also on Memorial Day, 30 May 1921, The Morning News of Wilmington, Delaware, published this informative article about Madame Guérin and her poppy idea [sic]:
“DOUBLE MEANING TO POPPY TODAY. Memory to Soldier Dead and Aid to French War Orphans. Idea Conceived as Sponsor Watched Children Pick Flowers for Yank Graves.
There is a double meaning to wearing of the red poppy of France today. First, in honor of the blood of American youth who blended with those flowers in the spring and summer of that year of fate, 1918. Secondly, and hardly less important, as an aid to the war orphans of France, for whose deliverance those dead fought, and towards whose help the proceeds from the sale of the flowers go.
That bit of red on the coat has a big significance. They were made by the children of France, not far from fields where the American dead lay. The flower one wears may have been made by the chubby little fingers of a child whose father lies near the grave of some American soldier the wearer knew.
Wearing the poppy ofr remembrance was the inspiration of Madam Anna E. Guerin, “The Poppy Lady of France.” In her own words of the incident that lead to her inspiration she says:
“About eight months after the Armistice I stood near the American cemetery at Romange and watched some boys and girls picking poppies, which they fashioned into crude wreaths for the American graves. They were the first poppies of the spring, and their crimson petals stood out in startling prominence against the new grass.
I felt a great urge within me. I wanted to do something for the brave Americans who sleep there, and my heart went out to the poorly clad children who picked blood-red poppies for the graves. Somewhere along the front their fathers and brothers lay, perhaps in unmarked graves, yet they were giving their one short hour of play in the day to making wreaths for their deliverers’ graves. Does that not prove to the Americans that we in France will never forget your dead? Although they were Americans, they died for France, and because of that we have enshrined them with our own poilus. I saw that the frail blood-red flowers could be made the strongest binding link between our two countries.”
With this inspiration, Madame Guerin conceived the idea of the American and French Children’s League, an organization that is aiding the children of the devastated regions of France. Mme. A. Millerand, wife of the French president is national president of the society.”
American Legion Posts voted and authorised their ex-servicemen to wear the poppy emblem: e.g. “A unanimous vote in favour of co-operating with the members of Cass county Post No. 60 American Legion in the wearing of the symbolized poppy on Decoration Day, in memory of those of made the supreme sacrifice during the World war, was taken Thursday night by over 100 members of Captain David S. Bender Post.” (Logansport Pharos Tribune, Indiana: 23 April 1921); “Ex-servicemen in uniform will also wear the poppy, according to a decision reached by members of the local post of the American legion …” (The Charlotte Observer, Charlotte, North Carolina: 30 May 1921).
On 05 June 1921, the Sunday Evening Star of Washington DC ran a short piece about the opening of the city’s Poppy Drive on 03 June [sic]:
“In opening the “poppy drive” last Friday in this city to introduce the wearing of the Flanders poppy on Memorial day, Miss Beatrice Evelyn Wilson, acting for the American Legion, pinned the first poppy on President Harding’s lapel in his office at the White House. On learning the price of the flower to be 10 cents the President said he thought the first one ought to be worth at least a dollar and dug down in his pocket and handed Miss Wilson a bill, which she folded tightly and tucked away for preservation. Later Miss Wilson was dismayed to find on examination that the supposed “one” was a “twenty.” And now, although Mr. Christian, the President’s secretary, assures her that Mr. Harding knew it was a “twenty” all the time, she still isn’t quite sure she doesn’t owe the President $19 change.”
Miss Beatrice Evelyn Wilson was born 14 May 1897 in San Francisco, California. Her parents were Harry Linden Wilson (born Centerville, Indiana) and his wife Nellie McHale Nelon (born Manchester, UK. Father Harry was a Clerk in the U.S. Senate in the 15 April 1910 U.S. Census. On 30 July 1910, he and the family left the United States to travel to Berlin, Germany – where Harry took up a new post of Clerk at the American Consulate. He remained in that post for 5 years, leaving on 31 May 1915 – to return to the USA. He was 54 years old and had been in Government service for 30 years.
It appears that, in 1921, Beatrice was a member of the “Loyal Legion” auxiliary (the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States/MOLLUS) or was, certainly, collecting on their behalf – as, not only did she catch one VIP (President Harding), she caught General Pershing as shown below.
On 20 June 1921, Madame Guérin addressed a meeting of the American Legion Delaware Post No.1 in Wilmington, Delaware. The Evening Journal (25 June 1921) reported on the meeting within the column “What Legion Men Are Doing”. This included a paragraph on Madame Guérin:
“Delaware Post No. 1 at a large and well attended meeting on Monday last in St. Andrew’s parish house, Eighth and Orange streets, took action on the death of the late National Commander Galbraith and sent a set of resolutions of regret to his family. It also sent resolutions to the new National Commander Emery, telling him that the post was with him in the administration of the Legion’s affairs.
The Post was addressed by Madame E. Guerin, “The Poppy Lady of France” and official representative of the American-Franco Children’s League in the U. S. Madame Guerin spoke of the American League’s aid to France both during the war and since, and thanked the post for its help in the poppy sale last month, when Delaware was the only State to oversell its quota. She also presented a silk flag of France to the Post as a token of the esteem. … …”
Following on from that address, the Morning News (Wilmington, Delaware, 31 June 1921) published the following article about Madame Guérin and the State of Delaware’s poppy campaign [sic]:
“FRENCH POPPY LADY BRINGS THANKS TO DELAWARE POST. Says State Did More Than Share in Selling Little Red Flower. PLEADS FOR FRANCE. Madame Guerin Asks for Better Understanding Between the Two Republics.
Madame E. Guerin, the “Poppy Lady of France,” who had charge of the sale of poppies through the country on Memorial Day for the war orphans of France, brought a special message of thanks to the members of Delaware Post No. 1, American Legion, at its meeting, last night in St. Andrew’s Parish House.
“The Poppy is part of the very soul of the Allied dead who sleep in Flanders’ field,” Madame Guerin said. She complimented the State, saying that Delaware had done nobly in selling far more than its share of the little red flowers on Memorial Day.
Pleads for Friendship.
Madame Guerin pleaded for a better understanding between this country and her native France. The American soldier had viewed France during the most trying days of her life as a nation and could not fairly judge the country by what he had seen, she said.
“France will never forget what you have done. Her soldiers, who were your comrades, testify to your courage, and their praise can be summed up by saying that you were wonderful fighters,” the poppy lady said. She spoke of the warm welcome that the American would always find in France.
Speaking of the thousands of orphan children in the war torn sections of her country, Madame Guerin said, “The great generosity of the American people in their purchase of thousands of the little red poppy will make their lives happier. For this and the noble things that you have done in the years of the war you will always have their prayers and well wishes.”
… and so, 1921 Memorial Day and the associated nation-wide Poppy Days conducted by Anna’s American-Franco Children’s League were over.
Referring to this time and her Poppy Days, Anna Guérin wrote in her 1941 Synopsis [sic]: ”… and the Poppy’S Days was a great success . Hundreds od thousand of dollars were sent to Mme Millerand by the treasurer of the American Legion Colonel Bolles and Mrs. Irenee du Pont. At that time – Colonel Lemuel Bolles received the Legion of Honor from France.
Anna’s Synopsis continued [sic]: “… meanwhile the Idea had grown and Colonel Galbraith who was very much interested to create the FIDAC, “the Association of the Veterans of all the Allies”, told me to go and organise the Allied Countries with the Flanders’ Poppies , that he would follow after to organise them as the FIDAC.” (The ‘FIDAC’ was the ‘Fédération Interalliée des Anciens Combattants’ or it was also called, in English, the ‘Inter-Allied Ex-Servicemen Federation’. It was founded in November 1920).
Anna Guérin added “It was thus decided that I should go first to Canada and Colonel Galbraith gave me a letter for the National President of the Canadian Veterans introducing Mme E, Guerin – Originator Of the National Popy’s Days etc etc .”
By the beginning of June, Anna Guérin was in Canada – ready to commence organising a ‘Canadian-Franco Children’s League’. The Toronto Star for that day reported that she, “The Poppy Lady of France”, had arrived on a “special mission …”.
However, the fight for the poppy was not over in the USA … more on this in CHAPTER 8: THE ALLIED NATIONS SAY “AU REVOIR MADAME GUÉRIN”