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Waco Citizens Remember the Great War

Oral History Accounts Concerning WWI


The Great War naturally brought many changes to the world, but those changes were also felt here locally in the Waco area. The construction of two military bases inside the city proper, Camp MacArthur and Rich Field, had a huge impact on the city's size, demographics, and economy. Local schools and universities suddenly had to contend with a new wartime dynamic in their daily operations, and many German Americans found themselves in tenuous situations as a wave of patriotic fervor swept the nation. In addition, a terrible flu epidemic took its toll on local soldiers and citizens alike.

The Baylor University Institute for Oral History (BUIOH) is proud to present a series of interview excerpts from the archives of the BUIOH chronicling the WWI era in Waco. To begin, highlights from five interview series are available containing the perspectives of individuals ranging from an established political family to rural German American immigrants. Each selection includes the actual audio of the interview as well as transcript excerpts covering the content of the recording. This initial release represents approximately 1/4 of the discovered materials covering local topics on WWI. Further interviews are currently being processed for digitization and will be added as they become available.

Video Interviews

Oscar Emil Hessdoerfer

Longtime Waco Resident and Grocer

Oscar Hessdoerfer WWI Memories

(Click the link above to open the video in a separate window)

Topics: Impact of WWI on Waco businesses, Waco entrepreneurs during wartime, German-American culture in the early 20th century, German club in Waco, anti-German sentiments, rationing practices, Mollie Adams and Waco's red light district, Interurban train service and other transportation options

Full Interview Transcript

Audio Interviews

Anna Gladys Jenkins Casimir

Graduate of Waco High School/Baylor University - Longtime Calvert School Teacher

Topics: Older Brother's Service in WWI & Return to Baylor, Spanish Flu Epidemic

Casimir Audio Clip

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Full Interview Transcript

Harlon M. Fentress

Chairman, Board of Directors - Newspapers Inc., a Texas newspaper chain

Topics: Waco's Changing Demographics, Spanish Flu Epidemic

Fentress Audio Clip

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Full Interview Transcript

Lee Lockwood

Waco Businessman and Masonic Leader

Topics: Camp MacArthur's economic impact, military presence at Waco High, Waco's patriotism, theatre promotions during the war, Waco's effort in securing Rich Field, Spanish Flu Epidemic

Lockwood Audio Clip

Lockwood Audio Clip2

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Howard Herbert Matthies and Olefa Koerth Matthies

Rural German American Grocers

Topics: German American backlash, Liberty Bond quota pressure, Armistice Day celebration and relief, Spanish Flu Epidemic

Matthies Audio Clip

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Full Interview Transcript

Louie Edward Mayberry

Descendent of the Founders of the African-American Community of Lincolnville

Topics: School policies for Spanish Flu, Working as a child during the war, Armistice Day celebrations

Mayberry Audio Clip

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William Robert "Bob" Poage

US Congressman, 11'th District of Texas - 1936-1978

Topics: Changes Camp MacArthur brought to Waco, early construction of Rich Field, early color blindness tests, Zimmermann Telegram's impact

Poage Audio Clip

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Full Interview Transcript

Mary Kemendo Sendon

Latin Teacher - Waco ISD

Pre-War Topics: Cotton Palace, parades, downtown theaters, circuses and promotions, Waco as "The Athens of Texas"

Sendon Pre-War Audio Clip

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WWI Topics: German business impact, German POWs, hosting soldiers for dinner, Armistice Day celebrations, mustard gas health complications, French replacing German in high school, patriotic sheet music, Camp MacArthur football games, French culture becoming trendy, Liberty Bond drives, Rich Field aviator pranks, Spanish Flu's impact on Camp MacArthur, military influence on Cotton Palace programming

Sendon Main Audio Clip

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Full Interview Transcript

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