Camp Ellis Newspaper Articles
transcribed by Gaile Thomas

 

"Camp Ellis News Notes"
News from the Various Units

"Veterans' Graves Dot Camp"

"Camp Ellis ordnance is exploded"
Lynn Merrick, Chas. Bickford Visit Camp Ellis
"Three Cemeteries on Reservation Are Restored"
"Camp Ellis Opens Army Emergency Relief Section"
"Where To Go - What To Do In Camp Ellis Vicinity"

 


 

VETERANS' GRAVES DOT CAMP
Four Cemeteries On Reservation
(Camp Ellis News, June 25, 1943)

 

---Signal Corps Photo
Chaplain S. H. Frazier straightens the American flag placed on the grave of James P. McCammet,
Civil War veteran, who is buried in the Zoll cemetery located behind the bayonet and grenade ranges off 19th St.


     Forty veterans of former American wars are buried on the Army reservation at Camp Ellis, according to Chaplain H. S. Frazier. Among them are 28 veterans of the Civil War, five of the War of 1812, two of the Blackhawk wars fought from 1832 to 1834, and one veteran of the War of the Revolution.
     Among the three veterans of World War I buried in cemeteries here is William Ellis, possibly a distant relatives of Sgt. Michael Ellis, for whom the Camp is named.


Four Cemeteries In Camp.


     These soldier dead are buried in four different cemeteries, according to Chaplain Frazier. Four lie in the Zoll cemetery, located behind the grenade and bayonet practice fields off R and 19th Streets.
     Among these four is the grandfather of Mr. Curtis Strode, Ipava, a member of the American Legion Post No. 17, of Ipava, which has cared for the graves, placed American flags on them on Decoration Day prior to the Army's taking over the land.
     Mr. Ben Etter, Commander of Post No. 17, with Messrs. Lloyd Derry, Stewart Marshall, Alzie Fisk, Morris Atherton and Curtis Strode, all members of the post, have paid these honors to the soldier dead each year.
     Alex Dobbins, Civil War veteran, is buried in the Dobbins cemetery located in the Station Hospital area.
     Twelve others who fought in the Civil War and Carl A. Hunter, who saw service in World War I, are buried in the Locust-West Bernadotte cemetery, which lies north of the firing ranges.
     Northwest of the Camp warehouse area is the Temple cemetery where soldiers of this country's first and last wars excluding the present conflict, are buried. William Ellis and John Buley, whose markers are placed here, were members of the Regular Army in World War I, and James Kitchen whose grave is close by, fought in the Revolutionary War of 1776.
     Also buried in the Temple cemetery are five veterans of the War of 1812, three who fought in the Blackhawk Indian war, and eleven veterans of the Civil War.
     Mr. Roscoe Lanz of Table Grove, another Legionnaire, has been seeing to the care of these graves, which are now within the limits of this Army reservation.
 

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Three Cemeteries on Reservation Are Restored
(Camp Ellis News, December 31, 1943)


     With the exception of the Locust or West Bernadotte cemetery, three of the four civilian cemeteries located on this military reservation have been restored and beautified under the supervision of the army chaplain, it is announced by Col. John S. Sullivan.
     The Locust cemetery, marked by graves of Civil War veterans, will be cleared and reconditioned as soon as the firing range over-looking the site can be closed without interfering with training schedules. The other grounds are known as the Zoll, Dobbins and Temple cemeteries.
     Many civilian residents of towns near camp, learning of the work which has been done, have visited the cemeteries and, according to a report on the burial sites submitted by Chaplain S. H. Frazier, camp chaplain, all were highly complimentary of the work that has been done.
     For many years, Chaplain Frazier reported three of the cemeteries with the exception of the Temple site, were in bad condition. Brush, undergrowth more than six feet high, grass, weeds and trees which had fallen across graves breaking monuments have been cleared and restored wherever possible, he said.

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Camp Ellis Opens Army Emergency Relief Section
(Camp Ellis News, June 25, 1943)



     Designed to be a friend in need to soldiers, the Army Emergency Relief Section at Camp Ellis is now operating, under the direction of Maj. Carson A. Hatfield, Special Service Officer.
     One of the man [main] arrangements the Army makes to assure that no soldier or his dependents will suffer want or severe hardship while in the military service, Army Emergency Relief was established as an additional service to that furnished by the Red Cross.
     "The time of need often comes as a complete surprise, and we want to publicize our work only so that men will know where to turn when the need comes," says Major Hatfield.
     There is no exact line between cases handled by the Red Cross and those coming under the A. E. R. Deserving cases are caused by financial loss, emergency sicknesses of dependents requiring hospitalization, emergency furloughs, etc. Assistance is given by outright grants, loans, and sometimes relief in kind---paying the food bill, the railroad fare, etc. If legal assistance or plain common sense can solve the problem, such help is given.
     Assistance is given after the soldier or his dependents make application to either the Camp or home-town A. E. R. section. Maj. Hatfield has lists of all sections throughout the country, and anyone wishing to notify dependents where to seek help are directed to ask him at the Special Service Office, Telephone 442 Building T-11.

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Camp Ellis News Notes
(Peoria Journal Star, June 4, 1944)



Editor's note: The following news was compiled in part from the Camp Ellis News, official publication of the post.

     Minute-Men and Minute-Maids at Ellis rallied this week to accomplish 100 per cent participation by camp civilians in the Fifth War Loan Drive. Duties of the groups, it was reported by Lt. Robert O. Burton, camp war bond officer, will be to contact all civilian employes not yet on the payroll savings plan, and those desirous of increasing their present allotments.

     Approximately 25,000 Ellismen will take a half-hour off from their duties this week, designated as WAC recruiting week by Col. John S. Sullivan, commander, to see a 30-minute program combining topnotch entertainment with brief informative address by WAC enlisted personnel.

     Three civilian employes at Ellis were presented cash awards for their ideas for improving operations. Henry E. Thomas, a plumber of Beardstown, won $25; Clyde A. Todd, a plumber of Rushville, $10, and Earl A. Rah, yard foreman of Bushnell $5.

     Serving as a hospital for ailing cars and trucks of the post, is the repair section of the camp's motor pool, headed by CWO J. O. Beudek, who states the Army drivers are tough on their vehicles.
     "Army cars," he said, "are standard makes of all autos and trucks with a few changes designed to make them more durable. Any vehicle subjected to many different drivers, as is necessary in military work, will of course take more punishment than a vehicle that has the care of a solitary driver."

     Re-named and re-staffed, the coming Camp Ellis soldier show begins rehearsals this week with expectations of giving camp personnel a solid two hours of the best in entertainment.
     With the acquisition of Vocalists Ed Bowey and Mary Jane, WMBD radio personalities, Tap Dancer Joe Sike?, Magician Chandler Stevens and the Flovis? Brothers, comedy team, a topnotch cast has been assembled.

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Camp Ellis Ordnance Is Exploded

By JOHN FROEHLING of the Daily Ledger
(with reprint permission from the Canton Daily Ledger)
 
TABLE GROVE -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a public meeting Tuesday at VIT Community School to discuss cleanup of World War II-era military ordnance at the old Camp Ellis area near Bernadotte. All of that property is now privately owned. About 75 persons attended the meeting.

Two 81-millimeter mortar rounds and two practice land mines have been found in the area so far. Due to safety concerns of moving such unexploded ordnance, the items were detonated in place, said Walt Perro, project manager for the Army Corps.

He explained the mortar rounds contained fuses designed to detonate TNT, while the practice land mines had fuses but no explosive material such as TNT. The mines had 32-caliber blanks in the bases, so when they were stepped on or otherwise activated, a puff of smoke would be emitted as a result.

"It's still dangerous. You don't want to play with it. Like a firework, you don't want it going off in your hands," Perro added.

The mortars, on the other hand, "made a pretty good bang," even though they were unearthed 60 years after they had been made, he said.

The land mines had been found 30 inches below the surface of the ground in a field. The mortar rounds were located in a wooded area. One was found 12 inches beneath the surface and the other 18 inches underground. The items were found with metal detectors called magnetometers which are sensitive to metal located four to five feet underground, depending on chemicals in the area and iron content present.

Not all property owners in the former military camp area have consented to have their land inspected and cleared of any ordnance found. The U.S. Army Corps hopes to obtain permission to gain access to two areas, one covering 35 acres (area D) and the other five acres (area M). The work would be done after crops planted on ground in those areas are harvested in the fall of 2005.

The Corps of Engineers would employ an "adaptive clearance strategy" in which 200-foot grids target an area and move outward until a full sweep of the area has been made, Perro explained. Any "anomaly" that shows up on a magnometer indicates metal is present. It is then dug out by hand. Most of the time, it turns out to be scrap. Scrap dug out so far has been taken to Hitchcock Scrap Iron & Metal near Canton.

The process of examining and clearing the land involves minimal intrusion, and consideration is given to landowners' concerns, Ferro said. He urged those who did not grant access to their property before to reconsider and give permission.

An audience member asked why the project is being pursued now, 60 years after World War II, rather than 20 years later. Why wait so long? Hasn't the metal rusted away by now?

As for rusty old metal, Ferro pointed out the munitions found were exploded. He said the program did not start until the Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Act of 1986 was passed. The EPA has oversight of the program and reviews reports of the Corps of Engineers. Research and analysis of Camp Ellis began in 1993; it is one of 10,000 military training sites from World War I and World War II in the United States to be assessed. To date, $2 million has been spent on the program. Cost to complete the work on the 40 acres at the former Camp Ellis site is estimated at $600,000.

A 1996 review of archives revealed the type of ordnance used at Camp Ellis, which operated from April 1943 through 1945 to train engineers, combat soldiers, signal corps, medics and quartermasters. The camp also housed German prisoners of war. The facility was not designed for training infantry, however, so ordnance was of a less destructive scale. Still, it included 250-pound practice bombs, rifle grenades, 60-millimeter and 81-millimeter mortar rounds, 2.36-inch rockets, practice land mines, and 37-millimeter projectiles used for anti-aircraft fire.

The 17,445-acre Camp Ellis site was used after World War II for Illinois National Guard training from 1946-1950 and Air Force training in 1953. In 1955, the land was sold to private individuals, Ferro said.

Paul Lake of the Illinois EPA said hazardous waste will be checked in conjunction with the search for ordnance. A fuel spill is believed to have occurred when fuel was being transported by rail to Camp Ellis. However, he noted the fuel may have broken down in natural ways over the years, "so a lot of contamination may have abated."

Ola Anosike, a contractor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with the Fairfax, Va. office of a company called Parsons, said company work crews do the actual work of detecting and clearing ordnance. He told the audience the government program was prompted by two children in California who were killed in 1984 after handling some unexploded ordnance they had found. "The goal is public safety," Anosike said.

Perro said anyone who finds ordnance should not touch or move it. Most explosives will not detonate if they do not encounter physical pressure. Anyone who discovers such items should call 9-1-1 or the Fulton County Sheriff's Office at 547-2277.

No final action plan has been made yet to complete work at the Camp Ellis site. A draft report of the Army Corps studies and findings will be distributed to area libraries by December. The report also will be available on cassette disk (CD). Public comments will be considered before any final action is recommended. The public comment period runs through Jan. 31. Public comments may be made in writing by mail, fax or e-mail.

Send comments to: Mr. Walter Perro, Project Manager; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District; 600 Martin Luther King Jr. Place; Louisville, KY 40202; fax 502-315-6793; e-mail Walter.D.Perro@lrl02.usace.army.mil

Perro said the Army Corps conducts long-term monitoring on sites after ordnance has been removed. Reviews are conducted every five years for 30 years.

Anyone wishing to discuss granting right-of-way to their property may call Perro at 502-312-6832.

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Where To Go - What To Do In Camp Ellis Vicinity
(Camp Ellis News, August 4, 1944)



     When the expanding railroads built water holes and reservoirs in western Illinois in the early years of the twentieth century in order to feed their parched engines, they were unwittingly contributing to the recreation of Camp Ellis soldiers.
     During this week's caravan of your WHERE TO GO reporter and photographer, we came across two delightful spots at Avon and Galesburg that owe their origin to the railroads.
     Avon is the only town we know of in this vicinity that has a country club for a town of less than 1,000 inhabitants. Typical of the generousity [generosity] of small towns, the club and all its facilities are open free to soldiers from Camp Ellis. They do require one small concession, however; a soldier will not be admitted with a female companion. Soldiers and their wives are required to pay a $5 membership fee if they care to join. We don't know the reason for the exclusion of female companionship but we would like to believe that the girls of Avon and its vicinity who swim at the club don't care for competition.
     Whatever the reason, the 20-acre lake at the Avondale Country Club, is a swell swimming hole. It has a 20-foot diving tower and four rafts of various sizes on which to sun. The lights are on until midnight but Mr. R. C. Lake, the manager of the club, will let you stay after the lights are dimmed. Fishing is good, he says, and boats rent for 25 cents an hour.
     There is NO direct transportation to Avon except by GI bus that leaves the main gate for Galesburg on Saturday and Sundays at 4:00 and 8:00 PM. These buses are free. If traveling by auto, take routes 10 and 41. Avon is 29 miles from camp. The lake is a mile and a half from the main highway.
     Galesburg, however, is the big lure for most soldiers who dare to adventure 49 miles from camp. It's on the way from Avon. The big attraction there, of course, is famous Lake Storey, a picturesque man-made body of water built by the Santa Fe Railroad and leased to the city of Galesburg. The lake is on highway 151 about three miles out of town. It's by far the prettiest swimming spot we've seen up to now in this area. Winding for more than a mile, the lake extends across the highway to Lincoln Park, the home of Bunker Links, the finest 15-hole municipal golf course in the middle-west.
     The atmosphere at Storey is gay. A water wheel, two chutes, rafts and a sandy beach are diverting features. And, it doesn't cost a cent! However, there is a ten cent charge for checking. Swim trunks rent for 25 cents and towels for a dime. The bath house on the beach level of the lovely, red brick, spanish-style pavillion, is adequate but dingy, a rather sharp contrast to the peneral (general) attractiveness of the building. At the other end of the lake there is also a beach for the Negro residents of the city. For the angler, there is plenty of fishing. Boats rent for 30 cents an hour on weekdays and 40 cents on Sunday.
     Near the entrance to the golf course at Lincoln Park there is a lush garden bedecked with multi-colored flora. Golfers returning to the 19th hole said the course was stimulating but tough. Twelve holes have water hazards. Rates are 25 cents to servicemen on weekdays and 50 cents on Sundays. The pro has seven sets of clubs to rent at 50 cents each.
     The main servicemen's center on Ferry and Cherry Streets in Galesburg has scores of unusual attractions. The two pin-ball machines are free and so is the golf putting game. We've noticed that most USO's have similar features but each one generally has an attraction that sets it apart from the others.
     The Galesburg center, for instance has 116 sleeping accommodations for soldiers who want to stay overnight. Double-decked beds rent for 35 cents and folding cots 25 cents. The charge is nominal and covers the cost of laundering the fresh linen. If you expect to spend a Saturday night there, you will be allowed to come in at any hour. Someone will be there to show you to your bunk.
     Charles B. Harrison, the venerable director, says he has an "in" at the Hotel Knox and that he probably can get you a room for a dollar.  His USO has a budget of $750 a month which is two-thirds financed by the USO and the rest by local organizations.
     Sunday morning breakfasts are a real treat, he says. For 15 cents you get tomato juice, two eggs with bacon, toast, coffee and jelly.
     The buses to Lake Storey only run on Sundays, on a 20-minute schedule. Round trip is 20 cents.
     Reliable eating places according to Mr. Harrison are the American Beauty, Pawlings, the Hotel Custer restaurant and the Oriental Inn, where you can get a good chicken chow-mein and chop suey dinner.
     Galesburg has another USO an exceptionally fine one --- located at Depot and Berrien Streets. Built and operated by the federal government, it is known as the Carver Servicemen's Center. Mrs. Dela Robinson, the center's hospitable director did Negro community service work at Rockford, Ill., for 12 years.
     A tidy, unpretentious restaurant is the main attraction of the Carver Center. Plate luncheons and dinners on weekdays are 50 cents and special Sunday spreads can be had for 65 cents.
     We dine you, house you, and entertain you, should be the slogan of the Carver Center. After hours the dance floor of the compact, modern building, becomes a dormitory for jitterbug weary soldiers. Equipped with 40 folding cots, a 50 cents charge covers clean sheets, pillow cases and shower towels. Remember, however, you can huff and puff at the door as much as you want but you will not be admitted after 1:00 AM on Saturday nights. Other nights the curfew is 11:00 PM.
     Saturday and Sunday are dance nights. Outdoor activities include badminton and horseshoe pitching.


Any contributions, corrections, or suggestions would be deeply appreciated!

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Updated January 13, 2006