The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Spotlight On Business: The American Legion

by: Deb Olson, The Quill

101 1st Ave, La Harpe

As we begin the 100th anniversary of US entry into World War 1 in 1917 it seems appropriate to spotlight a veteran's organization that had its origin at the end of that war.

The La Harpe American Legion Post # 301 was organized November 5, 1919. The post had thirty -one charter members. They were: Otis Mills, Harlow W. Lefort, Atlee E. Hancock, Jarrel Burrow, Truman E. Bradshaw, George Peasley, Oscar J. Yanson, Gerald Marlott, B. A. Hedges, R. D. Bradshaw, Millard R. Tilton, John P. Shea, Paul B. Pyron, Fred D. Gittings, Charlie H. Bright, Earl O. Negley, L. W. Neber, Earl M. Hamilton, Charles D. Moon, Donald J. Melvin, Kent Shriver, William Lester Hamrich, W. C. Towler, Clifford Ingram, Lloyd Brill, Harry B. Krieg, James O. Fife, Charles W. Greenin, Alfred Salisburg and Lloyd Rich. The first Commander of the Post was B. A. Hedges.

The post operated until 1923 when its charter was returned and it disbanded due to financial difficulties. The post was re-chartered on March 24, 1930. At this time, there were fifteen charter members, five of whom had also been on the charter of 1919. The charter members of 1930 were: H. E. Puckett, John J. Emrich, Dan Lovitt, Fred Worley, Roy Alexander, Harry L. Bennett, Edgar M. Gleason, Robert M. Gittings, Jr., Paul B. Peyron, Frank Dannenhauer, Millard R. Tilton, Earl M. Hamilton, Kent Shriver, Walter C. Brown, and Charles D. Moon.

The first commander of the newly re-chartered post was Henry Andrews.

The first post meetings were held in the Gittings Seminary Building from 1930 through 1952.

In 1952, a building was purchased from the Camp Ellis Military Reserve, near Table Grove. This building continues to serve as the present Legion Hall in La Harpe. It has been remodeled and maintained over the years.

Current American Legion Post officers are: Harry R. Fark, Commander; William Bennett, Sr. Vice Commander; Darrell Kraft, Jr. Vice Commander; John E. Lee: Adjutant; Roger Johnson, Finance Officer; Charles Pindell, Service Officer; Michael Blythe, Chaplain; Danny Gillett, Sgt-At-Arms; Glen Boyd, Judge Advocate and John E. Lee, Historian.

Post 301 meets regularly on the first Thursday of the month at 7:00 p.m. at Legion Hall. Recently members of the Blandinsville Post have joined with La Harpe's Post #301.

La Harpe also is home to American Legion Auxiliary #301. This group was founded in 1931.

The following were charter members: Nettie Puckett, Margie Lovitt, Phyllis Bell, Lena Welch, Pearl Brown, Margaret Casey, Carrie Gebhardt, Flossie St. Clair, Pauline Morton, Pearl Bennett, Mina Dickson, Neoma Gittings, Marie Peyron, Mamie McCance, Violet Edmunds, and Reva Long.

Pearl Bennett became the first President of the Auxiliary.

Currently, the La Harpe American Legion Auxiliary #301 has approximately 70 paid members. They hold meetings on the 1st Tuesday of every month. Regular meeting time is 7 p.m. however during winter months the group meets at 3 p.m. at the Legion Hall.

Current officers are: Joan Siegworth, President; Georgia Cox, Vice President; Chris Little, Secretary/Chaplain; Deloris Rodeffer, Treasurer; Louise Collins, Sgt-At-Arms; and Pauline Jones, Historian.

Auxiliary activities include: sale of poppies made by vets in veteran homes; support of D.A. V. once a month; providing tray favors at the nursing home; as well as being in charge of the Memorial Day program.

President Joan Siegworth remembers poppy sales being door to door when she was a junior member. She first became involved with the Auxiliary in 1940 with her mother Phyllis Bell.

Auxiliary members volunteer locally and the number of these volunteer hours are turned into the state at the end of the year.

In addition, the auxiliary raises money to support 3 general scholarships of $200 each which are given to daughters or granddaughters of veterans. They also give one nurse's scholarship per year of $1000. This scholarship is renewable during the student's training.

The Auxiliary is tentatively planning a project for this summer's 4th of July celebration.

Invitations were recently sent out for a birthday party for the legion to be held on March 16.