While World War I was raging in Europe. Cedar City was quietly tending to its own needs. However, this does not mean Cedar City, and southern Utah for the matter, was not interested in or effected by the war. The Iron County Record reported on battles happening over in Europe in every issue from the start of the war right up to the war’s end. For example, the January 1st, 1915 issue discussed a storm which had stalled the fighting on the two fronts.1 This article was published two years before the involvement of the United States in the war, which means southern Utah had an interest in the war. This interest persisted through the war, and the Iron County Record even began a series in the summer of 1915 called “The European War a Year Ago This Week,” which reviewed events of the war. The recollections were kept short: “In furious battle north of Ypres, allies gained some ground. French repulsed attacks at Les Esparges and elsewhere. Germans gained in forest of Le Petre,” the Iron County Record recalled.2
Cedar City was affected by the Great War economically. The war had driven up prices on various goods. Europe’s demand for wheat increased the price up to $1.34 per bushel, which was a new war time high.3 Drugs also increased because of the demand placed on them during the war. The cost of Acetanilid, a drug used as an inhibitor of Hydrogen Peroxide decomposition, cost 20 cents a pound before the war, but cost $2 a pound in 1916. Calomel was 50 cents, then $1.50. Carbolic acid was 9 cents a pound, then 48 cents in 1916. Cod liver oil was $18 a barrel, then $87 a barrel.4
The economic struggles of Cedar City would continue after the war due to an economic depression. The demand which drove up the prices of goods during the war expanded some industries within Cedar City, but then those industries suffered when the war concluded and the demand evaporated. Mining, such as coal, copper, lead, gold, and silver were all looked into during the war due to their demand, but because Cedar City lacked railroads, nothing came of these ventures.5 Agricultural industries in Cedar City took a major hit after the war was over. Seegmiller described the post-war crash in Cedar City: “farmers increased production and herd sizes to meet wartime demand from 1914 to 1918 and were hard hit when post-war surpluses brought prices crashing down. Many had gone into debt for means to increase productions, such as tractors, trucks, and new wells and buildings.”6 Cedar City went through a rough economic period because of the war.
Despite these complications, once the United States entered the war, Cedar City fully supported the war effort. The Iron County Record encouraged and highlighted contributions to the war effort, and looked ahead to June 5, Registration Day for all men eligible to be in the army. “Registration Day… should be a day on which all loyal American people should give expression to their loyalty and willingness to aid their country’s way possible – with their labor, their wealth, and their lives if need be.”7 Serving, whether by conscription or volunteering, was celebrated in Cedar City. The first volunteers were named in the Iron County Record a week before Registration Day to honor them. In Cedar City, Registration Day was started off with a patriotic meeting in the tabernacle at 10 A.M. The response to the registration was overwhelming; five hundred and fifty-seven Iron County men registered in Cedar City. In July, a conscription list of 202 men was made to meet the county’s quota of forty-six.8 Cedar City, and its fellow cities in Iron County, went above and beyond the requirements given to them for the war effort.
The entire community of Cedar City mobilized the aid in the war effort. Dr. Menzies Macfarland, President of the Cedar City Commercial Club of the B.A.C., helped conduct the five Liberty Loan Drives the city hosted, and each successive drive went over the set quotas. The second drive, hosted a month after the first, raised $97,370 in Cedar City alone.9 Support of local businesses, such as electricity, lumber, plumbing, publishing, and a hotel, were called for to show “loyalty to your home town” and further develop Cedar City’s infrastructure.10 Women were encouraged to serve in the Red Cross. The Iron County Record reported a story of thirty-seven women of the town’s Relief Society “working industriously, for the most part clipping fine flocks of white cloth with which to stuff ambulance pillows, pads for crutches, etc.”11 Cedar City expanded its agricultural output in order to satisfy quotas given by the Federal Food Commission. Water was redistributed to accommodate 3,000 new acres of wheat. Boys too young to serve in the army were encouraged to help with the food production by working on farms. High school students above the age of sixteen were released from school with full year credits to work on farms.12
The Branch Agricultural College also made contributions to the war effort. The most notable was its function as a student military training camp. The Utah Agricultural College (now Utah State University), was designated as a state unit for the Student Army Training Corps. The B.A.C. was given the same position by extension, and because of the SATC, enrollment of students at the B.A.C. held steady during conscription. Members of the Corp were given $30 a month and lived in government erected barracks on the campus. By joining the SATC, students avoided being placed in combat by pursuing their school work and making satisfactory progress. With this alternative to serving in the army, it’s understandable that the B.A.C. experienced an increase in enrollment which counteracted the loss of students who volunteered for the war.13
The B.A.C. newspaper, The Student, encouraged its student body to participate in the war effort. It asked for students not only to consider volunteering for the war, but to help with the local food production as well. The 1917 Fall issue celebrated the creation and sending of thirty-nine boxes of sweets for student soldiers, in hopes of giving them some Christmas cheer.14 The Student served a function for its student body similar to the Iron County Record’s by celebrating patriotism among its audience. In an excerpt from the April, 1917 issue, The Student challenged naysayers of its dedication to the war effort: “loyal, did you say? Do not the flags, the military drills, the drummer boys, the Red Cross nurses, seen about our school, all prove that the B.A.C. is loyal? Yes, we are ready to defend our country, to give our lives, if need be, to protect it from injury or insult.”15 These words were meant to inspire pride in serving the country, and by celebrating those services, the B.A.C. encouraged support of the war effort.
After the war was over, Cedar City experienced a moment of clarity.”The celebration in Cedar City, if not subdued, was calm, as though nobody could quite imagine the world without war,” L. W. Macfarlane, son of Menzies Macfarland, stated.” While some of the citizens pondered the great problems of reconstruction that lay ahead of the nations of Europe, others thought of the needless sacrifice of young lives, ten million of them.”16 The celebration of the soldiers coming home was set for May 21, 1919, perhaps because of the town closing down because of the Influenza Epidemic. Cedar City held a parade honoring their volunteers, ran funeral processions for the few who had died, gave speeches in the Tabernacle, and allowed the soldiers to give demonstrations of war by detonating black powder.17 Cedar City continued to celebrate Armistice Day right up until the Second World War, and the city erected a monument to the WWI veterans in 1928.
Cedar City’s experience with the Great War is a captivating example of how a small community united together to contribute to a cause much larger then themselves. Although its contributions were ultimately small in comparison to the sacrifices made in Europe and other areas of the United States, the amount of devotion give to its effort is nothing to be scoffed at. Cedar City’s war legacy is one to be remembered.
1.”Battle Proceeds During Storm,” Iron County (UT) Record, January 1, 1915, http://udn.lib.utah.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/ironco1/id/53544/show/53509/rec/625 (March 14, 2014).
2. “The European War a Year Ago This Week,” Iron County (UT) Record, April 28, 1916, http://udn.lib.utah.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/ironco1/id/70903/show/70888/rec/1141 (March 14, 2014).
3. “Price of Wheat Goes Up: Sales to Europe on Chicago Board Estimated at 3,000,000 Bushels,” Iron County (UT) Record, January 8, 1915, http://udn.lib.utah.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/ironco1/id/51479/show/51424/rec/638 (March 14, 2014).
4. “Drug Prices Still Soaring,” Iron County (UT) Record, April 28, 1916 http://udn.lib.utah.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/ironco1/id/70903/show/70881/rec/1133 (March 14, 2014).
5. Janet Seegmiller, A History of Iron County: Community Above Self (Salt Lake City: Iron County Commission, 1998),106.
6. Ibid., 161.
7. “Registration Day,” Iron County (UT) Record, June 1, 1917,http://udn.lib.utah.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/ironco1/id/53268/show/53210/rec/1613 (March 14, 2014).
8. Seegmiller,A History of Iron County, 102.
9. L.W. Macfarlane , Dr. Mac: The Man, His Land, and His People (Cedar City, UT: Southern Utah State College Press, 1985), 126
10.”More Patriotic Duties,” Iron County (UT) Record, June 15, 1917, http://udn.lib.utah.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/ironco1/id/69647/show/69563/rec/1633 (March 14, 2014).
11. “Cedar Ladies Do Red Cross Work,” Iron County (UT) Record, January 11, 1918, http://udn.lib.utah.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/ironco1/id/66408/show/66305/rec/1866 (March 14, 2014).
12. Seegmiller, A History of Iron County, 103.
13. “Students’ Army Training Corps,” Iron County (UT) Record, August 30, 1918, http://udn.lib.utah.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/ironco1/id/49090/show/48991/rec/192 (March 14, 2014).
14. “Sweets for our Soldier Boys.” The Student, Fall Issue, 1917, 11.
15. The Student, April, 1917, 13.
16. Macfarlane, Dr. Mac, 130.
17. Seegmiller, A History of Iron County,106.
Fig. 1. Image Courtesy of Colin Nimer, “Experience in the War Zone,” Iron County Record, March 3, 1916, Accessed April 22, 2014, <http://udn.lib.utah.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/ironco1/id/57524/show/57337/rec/19>.
Fig. 2. Reproduced with permission from Janet Seegmiller, Veterans’ Parade, Still Image, Sherrat Library, Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah, Accessed April 22, 2014, <http://contentdm.li.suu.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/DUP/id/105/rec/149>.