By JOHN KIENER
“PRUSSIAN WORLD DOMINATION PROVES TO BE ‘ONLY A DREAM’” chronicled the Jonesborough Herald & Tribune’s edition of Thursday, November 14, 1918. History records the date the fighting ended in World War I at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11.
Under the capitalized banner was a two-line full-column headline that announced: “Unconditional Surrender of Freedom’s Last Armed Foe Brings Tidings of Peace to War Cursed Earth and Joy to Souls of Men.” Under the headlines, the text provided: “Armistice terms were signed by German representatives at midnight Sunday night, October 10th, and the world war came to an end Monday morning at 6 o’clock.
“The terms of the armistice are of such a nature that Germany, having accepted them, will be absolutely powerless to renew hostilities even tho she desired to do so. It means unconditional surrender and the victorious termination of the mighty struggle that has drenched the world with human blood.”
Under the one column headline that read “JONESBORO CELEBRATES,” local reaction to the armistice stated: Monday, Nov. 11, will never be forgotten by the people of Jonesboro and surrounding country. When news that Germany had signed the armistice terms, reached the quiet old town, the whole populace became astir. Church bells ‘rang out the glad tidings, whistles blew, guns were fired, boys yelled, strong men wept and loyal women shouted.”
The article went out to describe the gathering of people downtown in Tennessee’s oldest town. They began shaking hands and a band arrived directed by J. T. Whitlock playing the national anthem. Merchants closed their shops and at one o’clock in the afternoon a convoy of 115 automobiles decorated with American flags and bunting gathered in downtown.
As the H&T article continued its description: the automobiles “…formed a line headed with W. P. Shipley’s hardware truck carrying the Jonesboro band. The procession marched thru Johnson City and back to the National Soldiers’ Home where 1200 veterans of bygone days with a unit of the American Red Cross and Boy Scouts marched to the music of the Soldiers’ Home band.
“Far into the night the bells chimed on and the celebrations continued, until at last, the weary crowds dispersed to slumber sweetly and to dream of peace.”
Other stories on the newspaper’s front page read, “NOV. DRAFT CALLS ARE CANCELLED; BOOKS FOR SOLDIERS SUPPLIED…, NO RELAXATION IN WAR ACTIVITIES and FOOD CONSERVATION STILL ESSENTIAL.”
Under the headline “KAISER BILL ABDICATES” the article announced, “Saturday morning Emperor William, with trembling fingers, signed a letter of abdication, saying as he did so, ‘It may be for the good of Germany.’
“Crown Prince Frederick also signed his renunciation shortly afterward.
“The Kaiser and crown prince took leave of their troops Saturday and in company with Von Hindenburg, immediately set out for Holland where they arrived Sunday to take up their abode…”
The Herald & Tribune’s Armistice edition was preceded by the paper’s Thursday, October 31, 1918 edition with headlines stating: GERMANY WAITS FOR TERMS OF ARMISTICE, AUSTRIA IS READY TO LAY DOWN HER ARMS, OVER TWO MILLION SENT OVERSEAS and HOW YOU CAN HELP SAVE A SOLDIER’S LIFE.”
The article with “TERMS OF ARMISTICE” stated, “A brief reply of the German government to President Wilson’s last note says that exceedingly vital changes to the German constitution make the military powers subject to the people’s government and that it is awaiting terms of an armistice.”
The article about Austria read, “In her reply to President’s note of Oct. 19, Austria accepts all his peace points and says she is willing without further preliminaries to negotiate peace and is ready for an armistice on all the Austro-Hungarian fronts.”
The American military presence noted, “In a statement given out last week, Secretary Baker disclosed the fact that 2,008,931 men had been sent overseas to participate in the war against Germany. Nearly one million of these have either embarked or landed in France since July 1st.”
Sad news awaited the readers of the paper in the Herald & Tribune’s edition of Thursday, November 28, 1918. Four separate stories listed the names of soldiers killed in World War I and another estimated war casualties.
Under the headline of “JONESBORO BOYS KILLED IN FRANCE” were listed the names of Serg. Bernia Daniels and Serg. Virgil C. Moore. Stating that the son of Jno. Daniels had been killed in action on Oct. 14, the story read in part: “Serg. Daniels was a member of Co. K, 6th Infantry. He volunteered in May 1917, took training at Ft. Oglethorpe, Ga., and went across in January of this year. He was 28 years of age…”
Stating that Geo. C. Mottern received a telegram Nov. 21 telling of his son’s death on Oct. 19, part of the text read, “Sergt. Mottern belonged to the Field Signal Battalion of the famed 20th Division which fought so furiously during the last days of the war. While holding a splendid position as an operator for the Southern Railway, he was called to service on Sept. 19, 1917. He went into training at Camp Gordon, was transferred to Camp Sevier and went overseas in May, 1918.
“He was 28 years of age…”
Only a brief paragraph under the headline “HARMONY BOY FALLS IN ACTION” read “Mr. and Mrs. Charles Holmes residing near Harmony in the 13th district have been officially notified of the death of their son William, who was killed in action in France a short time ago.”
“BLACKLEY CREEK BOY DIES IN CAMP” stated a front page article that announced, “Wm. Arlie Brookshire, a son of Mr. and Mrs. T. R. Brookshire, of Blackley Creek, died Nov. 20 of pneumonia at Camp Union, N. J. The body arrived here Tuesday morning and was taken to Pleasant Grove where interment was made.”
The newspaper under the headline of “WASHINGTON COUNTY BOYS MAKE SUPREME SACRIFICE” provided: “Recent casualty lists contain the names of the following Washington County boys killed in action in France. – Serg. Virgil Mottern, Jonesboro; Serg. Bernie Daniels, Jonesboro; Corp. Roby Hendrix, Johnson City; Pvt. Wm. Holmes, Jonesboro; Wesley Furchess, Embreeville, died of disease; Emmet Cole, Johnson City and Serg. Hobart B. Jones, Johnson City.”
A final article read: “ESTIMATED CASUALTIES OF WORLD WAR.” The first paragraph stated, “The New York Sun in a recent issue estimates the aggregate casualties during the four years of war at 27,875,000 of which the dead alone numbered as many as 10,000, 000.
“By nations, the casualties are estimated below [figures are not exact]: Russia – 7,000,000; France, 4,000,000; Great Britain, 2,000,000; Italy, 1,000,000; Belgium, 350,000; Germany, 6,900,000; Austria-Hungary, 4,500,000 and other nations, 1,225,000.”