Remembering the Fallen

The send off at the Susanville Depot. Courtesy of Lola L. Tanner
For some, they may wonder where the year went as November is upon us. This month, of course, we observe two important holidays—Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving Day.

It was in November 1919 when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the 11th as Armistace Day, to observe the first anniversary when fighting ceased in World War I, then known to many at that time as the Great War.

The United States entry into World War I occurred in April 1917. At that time there was an all out effort throughout the nation to seek volunteers to fight in the war. On August 10, 1917 sixty-five men from Lassen, Modoc and Plumas Counties gathered at Susanville’s Methodist Church for roll call as members of Battery F, Second Light Artillery Division. Afterwards the men marched down Susanville’s Main Street and proceeded to the Southern Pacific Depot to begin their journey to fight in the Great War. The initial group were dubbed the “grizzilies,” who originated the monicker is not known.

In late 1918, discussions were held in Susanville as to what type of memorial should be erected for all the men from Lassen County who perished in the war. It was first proposed that a monument be built on the bluff overlooking Susanville, that would be “inspirational.” Thus, this local landmark finally was given the name of Inspiration Point, and would later become Susanville’s first city park. For reasons unknown, no action was ever taken on this proposal.

The issue, however, did not go away. In 1922, saw the construction of the Highway 36 into Susanville at its western end. It was at this point where a bronze plaque was placed with the names of the fallen. The plaque remained there until 1966 when the highway underwent numerous improvements and it was removed and given to the Lassen County Historical Society. This organization still possesses it, though not on display.

However, the story does not end there. In 1940, the United States was gearing up to enter World War II, and patriotic fever was on the rise. Even though a bronze plaque had been placed at the head of Susanville’s Main Street, as previously mentioned, the local American Legion Post wanted to do a living memorial.

As part of a beautification project around the Lassen County Courthouse square, the legion decided to plant sixteen American sycamore trees, one each for every Lassen County man that perished in the war. It was their intention to place a small brass plaque at the base of each tree with that service man’s name. However, only one was done for Thomas Tucker, for whom the local American Legion Post was named for. Events changed rapidly and all energies were focused on the war effort, so placing of additional markers would have to wait for another time. By the time the war had ended, the project, like so many other community projects were forgotten.

The following is the list of names of the men from Lassen County who died in World War I: Harry Fitzhugh McKinsey, Clyde A. McKea, Howard Edward Waller, Frank Fleener Woodmansee, Irving R. Bullock, Thomas Tucker, George David Hatch, Thomas Jefferson Cary, Russell Ore Landis, George Roy Metcalf, Joe Carretto, Charles David McNamee, William W. Mankins, Howard S. Wilson, Guiseppe Ellena and Carl C. Bearup.

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