History of the Merritt Lamb Post No. 102 American Legion
At the close of the World War, while the American Expeditionary Force were still in Europe, and The Army of occupation was still quartered in the Rhine Provinces, a committee of distinguished American soldiers met in a rather information meeting in Paris, France, and decided that there should be formed an association of the men who had taken part in the Titanic struggle which had just closed the treaty of Versailles. The object of this association was to defend and uphold our National Constitution, to promote and maintain peace on earth, to safe guard the interests of the Veterans who had seen service under the flag, and to perpetuate the friendships and contacts that had been formed in the service during the war.
This movement culminated in the second, and a more formal meeting of the ex-service men of the American Expeditionary Force in Paris in March 1919. Nearly one thousand men about equally divided between officers and enlisted men attended this preliminary caucus representing practically every overseas organization of American soldiers. They outlined a Constitution, chose a large executive committee, and decided, after much debate, to call the new organization The American Legion. Owing to the cosmopolitan character of the American army it was also decided at this meeting to keep it out of politics and to draw no religious, or racial lines, in the membership. The abolition of rank in the membership was also a prominent plank in the constitution, because it was very evident to the soldiers that many of the offices were not fit to command, that some of the brightest men in the army were in the ranks as privates and non-commissioned officers.
At a second meeting in Paris, in April 1919, a committee of fifteen was chosen to inaugurate the movement in American and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. and Bennett Clark were chosen as co-chairmen, because their fathers were prominent leaders in the two principal political parties in the United States, thus insuring the non-partisanship of the new society. This committee calle for a caucus in May 1919, which was held in St. Louis, Missouri, which place was chosen on account of its central location, thus avoiding any sectional feeling among the delegates. It was decided to hold the first convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota, another central location and Henry M. Lindsay, a banker from Dallas, Texas was elected Chairman of this Convention. Many other matters of importance to the policies of the organization were acted upon, such as what disposition should be made of conscientious objectors, slackers, etc. Also a resolution condemning the I.W.W., the International Socialists and the Anarchists was passed; a program of rehabilitation for disabled soldiers was mapped out, and a non-partisan policy in politics and industrial disputes was recommended.
At the Minneapolis convention Franklin D'Olier, a Philadelphia Cotton merchant was chosen the first National Commander, and Indianapolis, Indiana was selected as the site of the National Headquarters of the organization, where, during the next year or two, a ten million dollar building was erected to hold the national offices. Since that time the Legion has steadfastly maintained a campaign of Americanism to improve citizenship. It has labored steadily to protect the interests of the men who bore arms for the flag. It has been indefatigable in its efforts for the widow and the orphan, and in the re-habilitation of the disabled. It has a record to be proud of. About one-fourth of all men who bore arms in the World War have been enrolled as members of the American Legion. It is the largest fraternal organization in the world today.
Early in August of 1919, after it was decided at the St. Louis caucus to hold a convention in Minneapolis, and after the Michigan delegates to this caucus had decided to establish a Michigan Department of the new order, an organizing committee was chosen to arrange for the formation of posts throughout the state. The metropolis of Detroit organized Post No. 1 and Grand Rapids formed the Carl Johnson Post No. 2. Marion Porter, a member of this committee was summoned to Rockford to help organize a Post here, and with the help of local soldiers he had no difficulty in getting the signatures of fifteen charter members. A temporary chart was issued on this request which was shortly afterward ratified and made permanent. The fifteen men who signed the application for a charter are the following -- Claire McNaughton, Hollis L. Baker, Vernon Billings, Iden L. Eadie, John R. Lamb, Robert Whittington, J. F. Peppler, Elmo R. Weller, Charles A. Sedgman, Clarence Lamb, Charles A. Saxon, Ellis J. Weller, Rex E. Baker, Alfred K. Werner, Ralph Elkins.
Upon the issuance of the temporary charter the committee called a meeting of all ex-service men of the World War in or about Rockford to take place at the G.A.R. Hall for the purpose of forming a Post of the American Legion in Rockford on the evening of September 16, 1919.
Claire McNaughton was chosen chairman of this meeting and J.F. Peppler acted as secretary. After a very glowing tribute to Merritt Lamb by his comrades under arms, it was unanimously agreed to name this Post the Merritt Lamb Post after him, and the Department gave us the No. 102 which means that were the one hundred and second to be organized in the state. The signal honor of being elected our first Commander was bestowed on John R. Lamb, brother of Merritt U. Lamb.
First Vice Commander was Claire McNaughton; 2nd Vice Commander, Clarence Lamb; Post Adjutant, J.F. Peppler; Finance Officer, W.C. Young; Sergt. at Arms, Rex E. Baker; Historian, Carl Denton; Chaplain Iden L. Eadie; Trustee, Hollis Baker, Trustee, Elmo Weller, Trustee, Vernon DePuy.
The Post Commander and Adjutant were delegates to the first State Department Convention held in Grand Rapids on October 12, 13 and 14, 1919.
The first real activity of this Post was the attendance in uniform of the Grand Homecoming Welcome tendered the returning soldiers by the Knights of Pythias of Rockford. The member of the Post attended in khaki uniform and made quite an impression.
Rockford, and this immediate vicinity, sent one hundred and twenty men into the service, but of this number we enrolled but thirty-two as members. From the very start the Rockford Post of the American Legion has been a very active one. We have taken part in all Civic activities of the town, and have been a prominent factor socially by giving series of good clean dances, amateur theatrical performances, picnics, etc. We have taken part in all community activities, and were instrumental in naming the streets and numbering the houses. This Post enjoys a fine reputation in State Legion circles as being a livewire Post. During all major catastrophes in this country we put our shoulders to the wheel to help the Red Cross and the Salvation Army in their efforts at relief work. Each year we supervise the sending of five outstanding boys to the Boy's State Conference in Lansing for training in citizenship. We are active in our support of the Roosevelt American Legion Hospital for Tuberculosis at Camp Custer and make it an annual visit. We contribute to the support of the Otter Lake Billet for orphans of soldiers. During the wave of crime and bank robberies that was present in this country during the Depression we organized and outfitted a Vigilance Committee that worked in conjunction with the state police to form a network for the apprehension of criminals. Each year we have a Christmas party for the underprivileged children of the community.
The Legion and its Auxiliary are the parent sponsors of one of the finest Junior Drum and Bugle Corps in the state. An organization that Rockford can justly be proud of. We own our own hall.
Roster of Officers of Merritt Lamb Post
Year, Commander, Vice Commander, Adjutant, Treasurer
1919, John R. Lamb, Claire McNaughton, J.F. Peppler, W.C.Young
1920, Iden L. Eadie, Lawrence Loveless, J.F. Peppler, F. B. Squires
1921, Iden L. Eadie, Claire McNaughton, J.F. Peppler, F. B. Squires
1922, Hollis Baker, Carl Denton, J.F. Peppler, Rex Baker
1923, Carl Denton, Elliot Oatley, J.F. Peppler, Rex Baker
1924, W. Zimmerman, Welton Brisbin, J.F. Peppler, V. DuPuy
1925, Welton Brisbin, Rex Baker, J.F. Peppler, V. DuPuy
1926, Ernest Blanchard, Geo. Streeter, J.F. Peppler, V. DuPuy
1927, Geo. Streeter, Harold Hill, J.F. Peppler, V. DuPuy
1928, Frank Dunlap, Dewey Alchin, J.F. Peppler, E. Blanchard
1930, W.C. Young, C. Harris, Homer Burch, E. Blanchard
1931, Chas. Harris, C. Lamb, Homer Burch, E. Blanchard
1932, J.F. Peppler, Geo. Bennett, Frank Dunlap, E. Blanchard
1933, Clarence Lamb, Geo. Bennett, Cecil Porter, E. Blanchard
1934, Geo. Bennett, F. Winters, Iden L. Eadie, E. Blanchard
1935, F. B. Squires, H. Crothers, Iden L. Eadie, E. Blanchard
1936, H. D. Crothers, L. Salzman, Iden L. Eadie, E. Blanchard
1937, L. W. Salzman, Rex Humphrey, Iden L. Eadie, E. Blanchard
1938, Rex Humphrey, W. Robbie, Iden L. Eadie, E. Blanchard
1939, Walter Robbie, E. O'Brien, Iden L. Eadie, E. Blanchard
Transcriber: Jennifer Godwin
Created: 6 February 2000