Friday, August 18, 2017

World War One Centennial: Part 3

April 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into WWI – the “war to end all wars.” To commemorate this historic centennial, the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum is featuring an exhibit called “Over There/Over Here” which runs through Labor Day weekend. Following are a few of the interesting local stories featured in the exhibit:

Bay Terrace: U.S. Navy Housing in WWI

During WWI, wartime 
expansion at Mare Island 
sparked the need for 
additional U.S. Navy 
housing in Vallejo. In 1918, the 
new  Georgetown housing 
project was dedicated. The U.S. Post Office soon pressed for a 
name change, since California already had a Georgetown in Placer 
County. Vallejo's "Georgetown" then became known as Bay
The century-old homes, located along Wilson Avenue, are today a 
part of one of Vallejo’s most popular neighborhoods.

Germans Sailors Held at Mare Island

When the United States entered the War in April, 1917, the U.S. government seized all German ships in American ports. Ships in the San Francisco Bay were brought to Mare Island and their crews were interned for the duration of the War.

Included in the exhibit are a bath towel and a toothpick holder from one of those German ships. Also shown is a hand-woven Sennett work ladies purse, made by the German P.O.W.s to pass the time during their internment.

German Ships at Mare Island

Among the German Ships interned at Mare Island during the War were the Halsatian, Pommern, Staatesekretar Kraetke, Elsass and Setos. Many of the German ships were repaired and put into service as American-flagged vessels. However, those repairs often proved costly and labor intensive because the German crew members had frequently sabotaged the vessels prior to their capture.

War Bonds, Liberty Loans and Saving Stamps

How to pay for the War was answered in October, 1917 with the passage of the War Revenue Act that increased personal and corporate income tax rates and established new excise, excess-profit, and luxury taxes. An income gap caused by initial war spending was addressed with short term borrowing in the form of Bonds, Loans and Stamps from the American public.

Local residents were urged to subscribe to Liberty Loans or purchase War Bonds at patriotic rallies such as this one that was held at Mare Island.

Vallejo’s Red Cross Helps with the War Effort

When U.S. involvement in WWI appeared imminent a group of local residents formed a new chapter of the Red Cross to support the War effort. The community rallied and participated in the Production Corps, producing garments and medical supplies for U.S. and Allied forces and citizens caught up in the War.

A new Red Cross building (shown here) was built at the corner of Marin and Capitol Streets, now the site of the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum.  Local trade unions provided both the material and labor to build the structure.