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WE WANT YOU!

Uncle Sam POSTER

The Brazos County World War I Centennial Committee is seeking photographs, memorabilia, artifacts, correspondence, uniform items, etc. from anyone who was a veteran of World War I AND was:

  1. Living in Brazos County at the time of their enlistment
  2. Born in Brazos County
  3. Attending Texas A&M
  4. Working at Texas A&M
  5. Buried in Brazos County

We hope to preserve and commemorate the service of your loved one by photographing these items and have plans to exhibit those photographs to educate our community on the contributions Brazos County made to the war effort.  Please contact us at brazoscountyww1@gmail.com if you are interested.  Thank you!

“Women of Resilience” OPENS

“Women of Resilience” focuses on Brazos County’s women veterans of World War I and the contributions of women at home. It tells the stories of nine women who served as nurses and as yeoman during the war, including Maud Pigford of Bryan, one of only fourteen African American women who served as U.S. Navy yeomen; Lena Wright Perry who served in France and Irene Evans Claghorn who began her nursing career in 1918 and would complete three decades of service to Aggies as the superintendent of nurses at the College Hospital. On the homefront, the American Red Cross played a vital role in encouraging those at home to knit socks and mufflers, sew bedshirts, make comfort kits, and take nursing classes. In addition, women were raising money for liberty bonds, planting gardens, and preserving food through canning clubs. An important advocate of these efforts was the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution who distributed 44 bulletins nationwide on how women could help. Bryan’s William Scott Chapter NSDAR raised money, knitted articles, attended to sick sodiers on the A&M campus, and supported four French orphans.

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This exhibit is an initiative of the Brazos County World War I Centennial Committee chaired by Dr. John Blair of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. It was prepared by Dr. Shawn B. Carlson, Curator of Collections and Exhibits at Star of the Republic Museum and Regent of La Villita Chapter NSDAR, Mary Shearer, Regent of William Scott Chapter NSDAR, and Pamela Marshall, Honorary Regent of Come & Take It Chapter NSDAR.

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REMEMBERING GEORGE WATSON SPLAWN

Born June 26, 1894 at Greenwood, Texas, George received his early education in the public schools.  In 1914 he joined the Class of 1917 at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas where he was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, Corps of Cadets and served with the Bugle Corps.  After three years at A&M, he transferred to the North Texas State Normal College at Denton, Texas.  On February 23, 1918 he was inducted into the U.S. Army at Hall County, Texas and sent to his initial training at Camp Travis in San Antonio.  Promoted to the rank of corporal and assigned to Company E, 359th Infantry, 90th Division, he sailed with his unit to France on June 20, 1918 and immediately went into action.  By August George had been promoted to sergeant and was leading men in the fighting around St. Mihiel and into the Meuse-Argonne campaign.  It was during this combat that he was wounded.  George lived long enough to see the Armistice on November 11, 1918, but died of his wounds fifteen days later.  His father received his World War I Victory Medal with three battle clasps: St. Mihiel, Meuse Argonne and Defensive Sector.  On April 26, 1919, the Normal College at Denton held a memorial service for George and ten of his fellow classmates that “commemorated the greatest of sacrifices.”  When George’s sister married, she named two sons after him: William Watson Clifton and George William Clifton.  The photo here is in the possession of William “Bill” Watson Clifton, Jr., Texas Aggie Class of 1974.  The Brazos County World War I Centennial Committee honored his sacrifice on May 29, 2017 as a member of the Texas Aggie Class of 1917

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George Watson Splawn ’17

Five Forgotten No Longer

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In recognition of Memorial Day, May 29, 2017 beginning at 10:00 a.m. the Brazos County World War I Centennial Committee placed this wreath at the WW1 Monument on the campus of Texas A&M University, College Station.  LCDR (ret.) Tom Powell led the over fifty guests present in prayer to open the humble ceremony that featured remarks by chairman John Blair and a roll call of those who sacrificed their lives in service to our nation read by Blair and Greg Bailey, committee member and University Archivist.  For the first time the names of John W. Butts ’10, Hubert R. Florence ’11, Joseph Z. Sawyer ’16, Ira W. South ’17 and George W. Splawn ’17 were included — they are forgotten no more.

Exhibits commemorating the Centennial

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Opening of “Over There: America in WWI” at the Museum of the American GI.
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“The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas: Military College and Federal Training Camp”

On April 6th, 2017 a photo exhibition, “The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas: Military College and Federal Training Camp” opened in conjunction with “Over There: America in WWI” at the Museum of the American GI.  The photographic exhibit shows the College on a war footing with ROTC training for Aggies as well as scenes of the Federal training programs. These Federal programs were in three areas, Land Division of the Signal Corps (radio communications and electricians), Mechanic and Technician Detachment (auto mechanics, blacksmiths, farriers) and the Signal Corps School of Meteorology, and were trained by campus faculty.  Reproductions of the the March 21, 1917, Faculty Resolution offering the faculty and campus facilities to the federal government and news coverage from the Bryan Weekly Eagle are present, as well as portraits of President Bizzell, Commandants of the Corps of Cadets, and Capt William Martin.  Also on display are proclamations and letters of support from city, county, university, and state officials about the Centennial. 

“Over There: America in WWI, a centennial commemoration of America’s role in the Great War” explores American life before the war, its build up as the US recruited and equipped its soldiers, the efforts to fund the war effort through bonds, frugality on the home front, and life for the men and women who served “over there.” The exhibit features original posters, uniforms, restored trucks, and the only operational FT-17 Renault tank in North America! The exhibit will host special events to highlight the machines of World War I and the men who operated them. For more information, visit the homepage of The Museum of the American GI.

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FT-17 Renault

Service Flags Return Home

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(L to R): Sen. Schwertner, Francesca Marini, Jelain Chubb (TSLAC), David Carlson, Greg Bailey, Mark Smith (TSLAC), Karen Watson, Gen. Joe Ramirez.

On April 6, 2017 a ceremony was held at the Texas State Library and Archives (TSLAC) where two replica service flags that were created in 1929 were returned Texas A&M University.  The Service Flags were given to the State Senate and House during a visit on May 6th 1929 by of State Legislators to the College. President T.O. Walton presented to Speaker of the House, the Honorable W.S. Barron the service flags and a resolution was read on the House floor on May 29th, 1929 to recognize the contributions of the College and stated that the flag would hang in the House of Representatives.

Service Flags were designed to honor those who served in armed conflict with blue stars representing a family member in service and a gold star to represent each one who had given the ultimate sacrifice.  Organizations of course had much large flags to represent those who had served. , the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas created a service flag in 1918 and unveiled it as part of that years commencement activities. The wool muslin flag measures approximately 12’ 10” x 25’ and has an estimated 1963 maroon stars, rather than the traditional blue, and fifty gold stars.  Campus lore says that is was sewn in the students’ tailor shop in the basement of the Academic Building.  The flag subsequently hung in Guion Hall where Rudder Tower stands today. Over the next few years additional former students were recognized for their service and is reflected the flags that had been given to the State Legislature as they were composed of 2200 blue stars and fifty-five gold stars.

Nearly ninety years after there were given to the State, they return to Aggieland.  Representing Texas A&M University were Provost Karen Watson, Commandant Gen. Joe Ramirez (Ret.), Dean of the Libraries David Carlson, Director of Cushing Library Francesca Marini, and University Archivist Greg Bailey.  Also present were Senator Charles Schwertner and Rep. John Raney, both of whose districts contain Texas A&M University.

The flags were accepted on behalf of Texas A&M by Provost Watson and Gen. Ramirez and will be housed as part of the University Archives permanent collections in Cushing Library along with the original service flag.