CHARLTON COUNTY DURING WORLD WAR ONE
For the two years of World War One, Charlton County’s routines and habits changed to accommodate the war years. Anxious parents worried about their young men who were in the armed service; wheat and sugar were scarce; savings accounts were used to buy War Stamps and Bonds; the government took control of the train systems.
Kitchen War Gardens were planted near many Charlton County homes to supplement the food supply. The Federal Food Administration in Georgia prepared a “Home Card” which defined Wheatless, Meatless and Heatless days. Monday and Wednesday were wheatless days and Tuesday was meatless day. Cooks were advised to save fat and sugar and use milk wisely while homeowners were asked to conserve heating fuel on heatless days.
Mrs. Doris Wright Askew, daughter of Hawley and Jenny Wright, recalled that when she was grade-school age, her cousin, young Seab Mills, Sam Mills’ son, walked to her home and asked to see the morning paper. He came each morning, sat on the front steps, stayed an hour or more and read all the war news. He wasn’t old enough to serve but felt he had to know what was going on at the fighting front. This was a daily ritual and stopped only when the servicemen began coming home to stay.
Much grumbling was heard concerning the train schedules. The government had taken over control of this transportation, the telephones and telegraph, but when the mail trains were continually ten to fifteen hours late arriving in Folkston, it disrupted many local businesses.
Responding to President Wilson’s proclamation of a Day of Fasting and Prayer, Rev. E.F. Dean asked all businesses to close for the day and everyone meet at Prospect Church for prayer and preaching at 11:00 a.m. on May 30th, 1918. They were to abstain from eating any kind of food and be engaged in earnest prayer for world peace when they met for worship. A capacity crowd met at the little country church for this special observance.
Tension against the European enemies caused Camden County to rename one of its communities. Germantown, between Folkston and Kingsland, was re-christened “Brownland” and is now known as the familiar “Browntown.”
Immediately following the war, one of Charlton’s young men, John D. Raulerson of St. George, witnessed an important part of world history. In a letter to friends, he wrote, “I have been connected with the American Peace Commission over six months. My office has been the American Press Bureau ever since I have been here. I am with most of the newspapermen of the world. All the news in making the Treaty of Peace came through us. I was the only private soldier that saw the Treaty of Peace signed. I saw the Germans sign and all the Allies sign, so now I hope we will have peace throughout the world.” He had been elected and was serving as Clerk of Charlton Superior Court within two years of the end of the war.
“While it is right that we should hold in memory other wars, we should not let that “first” Great War fade from our national consciousness.” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 22, 1988.
Lois Barefoot Mays
Numerous articles in Charlton County Herald, 1917-1918
Interview with Mrs. Doris Wright Askew, 1992
Veterans of Foreign Wars Magazine, World War One Commemorative Issue, November 1993
Charlton County, Ga. Historical Notes 1972, p. 258