I looked at a lot of newspaper microfilm for the Sayre Evening Times, The Towanda Daily Review and the Elmira Star Gazette and was able to put together the beginning of several of our local American Legions when the veteran’s organization was founded.
The American Legion was founded March 15, 1919 and chartered by the United States Congress September 16, 1919.
What is the American Legion was the title of one article I came across: Briefly the American Legion is the organization of the veterans of the World War. It is nonpartisan, nonpolitical and non-sectional. It is essentially a civiler organization, neither military nor militaristic. It neither makes nor permits distinction of rank and holds no distinction between overseas men and men who did not go overseas. Its purposes are happily expressed in the phrase policies not politics. “The American Legion exists to put something in the government, not take something away from it.”
The following is the preamble of the American Legion Constitution:
For God and country, we associate together for the following purposes: To uphold and defend the constitution of the United States. To maintain law and order. To foster and perpetuate 100 per cent Americanism. To preserve the memories and incidents of our associates in the great war. To inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community, state and nation. To combat the autocracy of both the classes and the masses. To make right the master of might. To safeguard and transmit to posterity the principles of justice, freedom and democracy. To concentrate and sanctify our comradeship by our devotion to mutual helpfulness.
Those who are eligible to membership in the American Legion are: Every man or woman who wore a uniform of the Untied States between April 6, 1917 and November 11, 1918, who has been honorably discharged or is eligible to honorable discharge by the army or navy department. Its ranks are also open to all America citizens who fought with any of our allies during the entire period of the great war. Conscientious objectors are excluded.
This article ended with the following: Let every ex-service man in Waverly or South Waverly be at the meeting at the town hall on Tuesday evening August 12, 1919 and join your comrades in one of the greatest American orders of the future.
August 19, 1919. A temporary organization of a local post of the American Legion was made August 18, in the Athens Protective Hose company rooms. There were about thirty of the World War soldiers, sailors and marines present. The officers elected were all temporary, John Mullins was chosen chairman; Hubert Smith, secretary; Thomas Kelly to take care of the soldiers’ insurance, and Bryan Winters, employment committee.
T. M. Stalford who represents the American Life Insurance company of New York appeared and gave the soldiers much valuable information on how they may be able to transfer their policies over to old line companies and how to renew the policies which have been dropped.
J. W. Beaman, temporary organizer explained in detail the benefits to be derived and gave much better information concerning organization.
August 20, 1919, A preliminary organization, which will later become a part of the American Legion, was formed at a meeting of about a score of soldiers, sailors and marines, which was held in the Sayre Town Hall August 19.
Charles Enberg was chosen chairman and Harrold Tuberty was chosen secretary of the temporary organization. An application for charter was prepared and was signed by those present. No other business was performed. Copies of the application for a charter are now at Jump’s drug store and at the office of Harold Williams, tax collector of Sayre, where they may be signed by soldiers, sailors and marines who served their county during the World War. Those wishing their name to appear on the charter must sign the application.
On December 1, 1919 Sayre camp 283, American Legion made application with the Sayre Borough Council to use the third floor of the town hall for quarters of the organization that at that time had between 300 and 400 members. The request was granted until the group could find a suitable place for the organization to have meeting rooms.
On December 9, 1919 a meeting of Sayre Camp No. 283, American Legion was held at the Coleman Memorial Parish House.
A business meeting was held first and entertainment followed. George Swartwood, a comedian of Waverly, made the nations defenders laugh. George Baxter entertained with a solo, T. A. Morrisey added to the capacity of the occasion with a monologue and Charles Boyle rendered a solo. Charles E. Mills delivered the address.
In December of 1919, the Fort Sullivan Post American Legion, Athens gave a dance at the Ingersoll Rand Club House. The Waverly Post gave a dance at the Masonic Temple on December 30. The American Legion Post No. 193, Ulster gave a dance at the P.O.S. of A. hall at Ulster with 50 couples present. Ammerman Post No. 193, was in its infancy, a complete organization having just been organized.
In January of 1920 the Athens Fort Sullivan Post was looking to buy a Home.
The Sayre American Legion had quarters on Desmond Street in Sayre until July 16, 1925 when it purchased the property at 124 South Elmer Avenue in Sayre. The American Legion had meeting rooms there on the second floor for many years. In 1939 they Legion shared the building with the new Sayre Public Library the library taking over the first floor of the building and the Legion making its home on the second floor. On November 20, 1964 the Sayre American Legion sold the building to the Trustees of the Sayre Public Library with a deed restriction giving them life use of the second floor of the building or fifteen years which ever came first. August 5, 1987 the building was torn down to make way for the new Sayre Public Library building on the corner of Packer Avenue and South Elmer Avenue, by this time the J. E. Wheelock Post No. 283 American Legion was in their new building on Cayuta Avenue in Sayre.
Henry Farley is a founding member and a current board member of the Sayre Historical Society. He is also president of the Bradford County Historical Society.