In August, 1918 William Thies from Schaumburg Township received a letter from the President of the United States. The letter informed him that he should report to the Village Hall in Des Plaines for induction into the military service of the United States.  World War I was raging and the Allied Forces were successfully advancing.  To finish the effort, the United States was still enforcing the draft and Mr. Thies was one of a number of men from Schaumburg Township asked to serve.

After reporting on September 4, 1918, Mr. Thies and the other inductees boarded a train for Camp Grant in Rockford.  After a short stay there, the troops made their way to Camp Hancock, GA which was near the town of Augusta.

While William was enthusiastically experiencing life outside of Schaumburg Township for the first time, his family was at home sorely missing him.  Yes, they missed his strength and his extra pair of hands but it was his warm, outgoing personality and ready conversation that was lacking in the family circle of his mother, brother and three sisters.

This letter from his brother, Henry, after victory was declared, details the family’s activities in William’s absence:

Monday December 23d 1918  8 P.M.

Dear Brother! 

[Page 1]
Received your letter of Thur. the 19th in which you think that you won’t be home for a while.  Which we don’t believe.  As we read a statement from Baker in the Tribune the other day.  In which it says that they are going to bring the number of men to be discharged from every camp up to 1000 a day.  And we can’t understand why they would not do the same with your Camp.  Am also sending you that letter from Wash. D.C. back again.  And I hope that it will do you a lot of good.  Could hardly eat dinner when I read your letter.  But we still live in hopes of seeing you soon.  It is snowing here tonight so that the ground is white already and freezing too.  And I have got only one horse sharp.  Frank/have got Prins sharp too.  But can not use him for going to Church. He might drop.  So will have to call up Troyke tomorrow morning.  If he can shoe Tom for me.  So that if something should happen to me.  The girls can go to Church.  As you know there always something on the Farm that might keep a fellow from going to Church.  And as you know they can’t drive the Kicker.  Say we are striking it lucky this year.  We don’t have to haul milk on the holidays.  Did not haul on Thanksgiving either.

[Page 2]
Will have to haul milk tomorrow.  But if Troyke has time to take the milk to Rosselle.  We have some awful roads to Meacham.  Fred was down to Melrose with Potatoes.  Which he sold in the fall.  Was always waiting for good roads.  So he could take the Truck.  But now he went with the milk wagon.  Frank Quindel had a sale today.  He is moving to Ontarioville.  Richard Gerchefsky has rented the place.  Our Engine went wild the other day.  One of the Governor brackets came loose.  And one of springs was hitting the ground so hard it threw earth right against cow barn window.  This is about all I can think of tonight.  Probably I will know more Wed night.  Say You better take a picture of Your tree when You have it fixed up.  Well as this letter will reach You after Christmas I wish that You had a merry Christmas.  Hoping that good luck will come through this paper to You.  I Remain as ever

Your loving brother

O God of love, in mercy look Now on thy chastened world,
And let the gory battle flags lie at thy Altars furled!
On all the nations far and wide Thy blessings rich increase
And make the message of the Cross
The Warden of Sweet Peace!

With that prayer at the end, the relief of having the war over and peace declared  is palpable.  The minutiae of everyday life, however, also fills the letter and certainly conveys how much he is missed—especially at this time of the year.  Considering how important Christmas church services were for these good German Lutherans, this must have been particularly tough for the Thies family.

His family’s Christmas prayers were answered, though, on January 15, 1919.  On that day William Thies Jr. was honorably discharged from the United States Army.  But, that brief, five-month period had changed him.   From that time forward, his journey from his little corner of Schaumburg Township profoundly influenced the way he farmed, raised his family and thought about the world.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

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